Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

December 2017
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EDITO
Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Cameroonian government will soon launch a development programme for its horticultural sector, financed by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), we learned at the end of a workshop organised in Douala on 16 and 17 May. The meeting, we learned, was meant to identify the levers on which it is necessary to act, to give an impulse to the development of horticulture in Cameroon. Labelled “Fit For Market” (FFM), this programme is meant to support the horticultural sectors in African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries, whose main horticultural products exported to European Union territories are increasingly in demand.

At a time when nearly one million South Sudanese have crossed into northern Uganda, creating one of the world's largest refugee settlements, Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), arrives in Kampala 25 May to discuss efforts to support small scale farmers and increase food security in the country. According to a recent analysis, some 4.9 million South Sudanese are food insecure and 100,000 are at risk of famine. The arrival of nearly one million refugees in Uganda puts additional strain on local farmers and food production. The situation underscores the fact that rural areas are often neglected by development but are crucial for national and global food security.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to make the continent self-sufficient in food production within a decade. AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina made the pledge at a press conference in Ahmedabad, India Monday morning, a day ahead of the official opening of its 52nd annual meetings. Dr Adesina noted that Africa was currently spending $36 billion every year on food imports. "If things don't change, Africa's annual spending on food import would reach $110 billion by 2025.""Last year, we invested a total of $800 million in agriculture in eight African countries, which is the biggest in our bank's history," he said. AfDB has been supporting the improvement of agribusiness in Africa for several years.

The East African Community is divided on whether to sign a key trade agreement with the European Union. ALON MWESIGWA explains how the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) would affect the region. It is midday on a Sunday and Tom Sajje organises his fishing net in Kitooro on the shores of Lake Victoria, preparing for the evening's journey to fish. "These days, we struggle to get fish; it is no longer as available as it used to be," Sajje said, referring to the dwindling fish stock in the lake.Sajje, who is clearly using archaic methods, says they have not been helped much to improve their fishing methods and their general well-being. People like Sajje have a special mention in the EU-EAC EPA trade deal. It promises "ensuring preservation and priority of particular needs of the artisanal/subsistence fishery."

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

“We believe that to help a friend and provide aid it must be without conditions,” Mr. Lopez said in an interview late Saturday at a meeting of Asia-Pacific trade ministers in Hanoi, Vietnam. “We would appreciate all aid but we would just request that there be no conditions,” he said. “We would simply not want to be questioned and we follow the principle of non-interference and independence in foreign policy.” The Philippines has told the EU it will no longer accept new development grants, which could mean foregoing around 250 million euros ($280 million) in assistance, unless they come with no strings attached. The EU has criticized President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s war on drugs, which has led to the deaths of thousands of suspected dealers, and his planned reintroduction of capital punishment.

The maximum volume of rice that private traders can ship in annually will remain at 805,200 tons until 2020, with the tariff also kept at 35%, the order signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on April 27 showed. The Philippines, one of the world’s top rice importers, is supposed to lift the import restriction by July 1 this year under an agreement with the World Trade Organization (WTO). It was not immediately clear if Manila needs to seek another waiver from the trade body from its obligation to open up the domestic rice market. In 2014, Manila won WTO approval for a waiver but, as part of the agreement, it pledged to increase the annual import volume from 350,000 tons and reduce the rice tariff from 40%. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, who believes the Philippines could be self-sufficient in rice production by 2020, had been pushing for a two-year extension of the restriction, saying local farmers are not ready to compete with cheap imports.

Civil Society organizations have called on government not to completely remove taxes on imported rice. This follows a proposal by government through the Ministry of Finance to remove taxes on imported rice so as to cater for the food insecurity situation in the country. The same idea is being hatched in South Sudan too. The Office of the Prime Minister is already distributing food items including rice, maize flour and beans in different parts of the country. But CSOs led by the food Rights Alliance (FRA) said whereas the idea is good for now, it is not good in the long term. FRA executive director, Agnes Kirabo, said the exemption will be for one year and yet Ugandan rice matures in a space of 90 days

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

North Eastern Kenya was one of the regions in the country that experienced perennial drought. One proactive and sustainable option for insulating the region and indeed, the entire country, against the negative effects of drought is through large-scale investment in desert agriculture. With the availability of labour and a virgin territory five times the size of Rwanda, there is no better place to experiment with desert agriculture. Some of the farm produce harvested locally already signifies the great potential for agriculture in the region.They include lemons, bananas, watermelons, pawpaws, mangoes, tomatoes, kales, onions, cassava and millet.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The European Union has cautioned President Museveni to go slow on his plans to hurriedly implement donor-funded projects, warning that it could end in shoddy work and increased corruption. The World Bank and European Union are some of the biggest funders of agriculture and infrastructure projects. At last week's World Economic Forum in Durban, South Africa, Mr Museveni criticised international financial agencies funding infrastructure projects in Africa as "unserious", citing "frivolity" on their part.Ambassador Kristian Schmidt, the head of the European Union Delegation in Uganda, (EU) in a rejoinder said whereas the President's comments were not directed at the EU, they "strictly follow and monitor our projects".

Countries in the tropics and sub-tropics are particularly vulnerable to climate change, as extreme weather conditions pose a serious threat to their food security. In India, droughts and damaging floods are continuously affecting the well-being of a growing population, of which the vast majority reside in rural areas and are highly dependent on natural resources for their food, shelter and income. To address these issues and find solutions to climate-related challenges for Indian agriculture, ClimaAdapt, an interdisciplinary and integrated research project, was initiated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu states in 2012. The project had its final meeting in May 2017. ClimaAdapt's coordinator, Dr Udaya Sekhar Nagothu from the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, NIBIO, explains that active participation and continuous dissemination of research results and other information between researchers, policy makers and stakeholders, has been essential in the project.