February 2016
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 Video guest: Erich Schaitza



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Tuesday, 09 February 2016

The work has been supported by DFID-India, and has been led by colleagues linked to the Future Agricultures Consortium (in Ethiopia, Kenya and the UK), as well as at the RIS in Delhi. The final report, put together by Dominic Glover, is just out. It is accompanied by a shorter briefing paper too that focuses on the generics drugs-seeds comparison. The briefing opens; “Experts agree that Africa’s farmers need quality seeds, but the continent’s share in the global seed trade is very low. African countries often lack the institutional capacity to support the growth of seed markets in the continent, an issue that cuts across regulation and other areas.

The European Union’s Trade Related Assistance and Quality Enabling (TRAQUE) programme will, this year, focus on speeding up the process of establishing a National Accreditation Body for conformity assessment bodies, the Programme Director, Mr Michael Senayah has said. He said the programme last year focused on the refurbishment of laboratories and the provision of equipment to various conformity assessment bodies, but would this year channel its resources into taking the establishment of the National Accreditation Body to an advanced stage.

Fiji has huge potential in its agriculture sector in relation to agro-processing, but requires the assistance of development partners for these to materialise. This remark was made by Minister for Agriculture Inia Seruiratu as he sought assistance from his Japanese counterpart, Hiroshi Moriyama, when they met in Tokyo last week. Mr Seruiratu's visit to Japan is a follow-up on the issues discussed between the two leaders of Japan and Fiji during the PALM 7 Summit held in May last year where leaders confirmed their commitment to promoting trade and investment between Japan and Pacific Island countries.

Outside of Asia, rice is as big a part of diets in west and central Africa as in any region of the world. Though cultivated for over 2,000 years in the Niger River flood plains, local rice production decades ago ceased to keep pace with the rapidly increasing consumption of burgeoning urban populations. Consequently, the 20 or so mostly coastal countries extending from arid and sparsely populated Mauritania to lushly forested Congo and anchored by regional giant Nigeria now account for more than a quarter of global rice trade. Roughly 12 million tonnes gets imported, complementing local output approaching the same amount. Collectively, and in most cases individually, the countries of the vast region have sufficient arable land and water resources to be self-sufficient and even generate large surpluses for export.

Government is reviewing the agreement made by the European Union (EU) and the previous administration to pay ex-cane farmers, and until the review is completed, there will be no distribution of funds. This according to Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat who said the money will be paid, but only when there was a full understanding of what the intentions of the agreement were.