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EDITO
Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report showcasing the 110-fold increase in adoption rate of biotech crops globally in just 21 years of commercialization – growing from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares (457.4 million acres) in 2016. ISAAA’s report, “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016,” continues to demonstrate the long-standing benefits of biotech crops for farmers in developing and industrialized countries, as well as consumer benefits of recently approved and commercialized varieties.

As we celebrate this year's Europe Day, May 9, we have great confidence and satisfaction in the many ways in which our partnership with the government and the people of Kenya is progressing. Looking back over the past year, the strength of this relationship has enabled us to respond effectively to crises, most notably the stalling last summer of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and more recently, the impact of drought on Kenya and its neighbours. By working closely together, we've been able to maintain the free access of Kenyan exports to the European Union, which is this country's biggest export market, despite the delays of the other countries in signing the EPA.

Irish charity Gorta-Self Help Africa has won a €6.5 million contract to run an EU-backed food production project in Kenya. The new project focuses on increasing the production and processing of high quality cassava. Millions of people in developing countries rely on the root cassava for its carbohydrate content but the quality of the crop is often low. Cassava can tolerate temperature extremes and marginal soil, and it grows particularly well along Kenya’s low-lying coastal savannahs. Farmers who sign up to the project will receive training in the production and processing of cassava and of other crops. Some 28,000 rural poor farmers will be targeted for the project, and more than half of them will be female.

The European Commission and the EU’s foreign policy chief on May 4 presented a revitalised framework for joint action, to build a stronger strategic partnership between Europe and Africa for more prosperity and stability in the two continents. The 27-country bloc is Africa’s closest neighbour and main partner. The Communication presents innovative proposals in a number of key areas – such as peace and security, migration, job creation or energy, the Commission said, noting that this comes ahead of the Africa-EU Summit in November this year, which will put a specific focus on youth. Closer EU-Africa cooperation would help tackle global challenges such as terrorism and transnational crime, climate change, epidemics, pressure on natural resources, humanitarian crises, irregular migration.

It will now be easier and faster for the business community in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to report trade barriers within the tripartite regional economic bloc, thanks to a new short messaging service (SMS) system. According to experts, the innovation that was launched last week will help improve regional trade. Souef Kamalidini, the Director General of Customs of the Union of Comoros, said the SMS tool will supplement the current web-based online system for reporting, monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) used by COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A similar system is used by the Northern Corridor countries to report NTBs. The tripartite online reporting system is a real-time mechanism for reporting, processing, monitoring and resolving NTBs.