Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

October 2017
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EDITO
Wednesday, 18 October 2017

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.

Nigeria has commenced exports of vegetables to the United Kingdom, Coordinating Director, National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Vincent Isegbe has disclosed. He also stated the country is expected to earn about $100 billion from the export of pigeon peas to India following an offer received from the Indian government. Abuja, Isegbe said: “Currently, we have been able to introduce vegetable exports. Initially, it was done in a disorganised manner."Explaining how to do successful exports, he said interested exporters must first register with the NAQS and indicate the commodity to export. He added the Service will then conduct pest crop surveys on the farm to ensure that whatever is being exported from the farm is licensed and acceptable abroad.

A delegation of business people from Ghana are in the Netherlands to look for opportunities in food processing technologies and packaging, a joint press release from the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana says. The 23-member delegation from Ghana led by the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and GhanaVeg is on a week-long tour with the goal of promoting cooperation, investment and knowledge exchange between Ghanaian and Dutch businesses, the release said.The release noted that the delegation is visiting a wide range of companies in the Netherlands active in fruit and vegetables processing, aquaculture and other industries.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Operationalizing the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Customs Union, which will result in the removal of barriers to free trade in the region, is being strengthened through a series of regional capacity building consultations being undertaken by the OECS Commission. These sessions will provide a clearer understanding of the new era in domestic, regional and international trade for the seven OECS Protocol Member States, which would include the removal of import formalities on goods traded within the Customs Union and the harmonization of border and regulatory procedures with respect to goods imported from countries outside of the region. To date, the Commission has held consultations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis on the work undertaken to establish the Customs Union and Free Circulation of Goods.

The African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of ministers began a meeting here yesterday with a call on the 79-member grouping to meet their financial obligations so as to allow their group to better survive a changing global environment.The Guyanese ACP Secretary General Dr Patrick I Gomes, addressing the 105th Council Session, said that a prerequisite to the continued well-being of the ACP Group in general, and the Secretariat in particular is to better serve all our stakeholders. “I would therefore like to appeal to member states to continue your efforts towards the timely payment of statutory obligations in order to improve our self-reliance and the smooth functioning of the secretariat

The European Commission (EU), confirmed that the EU-Africa Business Forum held a consultation with African business leaders. The EU announced its €4.1 billion External Investment Plan (EIP) ahead of the 2017 Africa-EU Heads of State Summit, at a Dialogue co-hosted by Africa investor (Ai) in Durban, South Africa on 3 May 2017.The EIP was announced for the first time in Africa and will exist to encourage investment in Africa and to strengthen partnerships that contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The facility is expected to leverage more than €44 billion of investments between now and 2020 and it will also facilitate blended finance instruments that catalyse EU and African private sector development.

Monday, 08 May 2017

Namibian President Hage Geingob over the weekend implored African governments and the private sector to aggressively champion industrialisation in their economies and curb over-reliance on raw commodity exports. Geingob, who was on a three-day state visit to Zimbabwe, spoke at the official opening of the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, where he noted that the challenges facing the African continent and rising youth unemployment could only be addressed by harnessing regional linkages and pursuing a robust regional industrialisation agenda anchored on value addition and beneficiation. He bemoaned low intra-regional trade and reliance on imports from developed economies, which he blamed for the continued use of economic models that serve colonial interests.

The European Union (EU) is concerned about South Africa’s ability to deal with exposure to prohibited medicines and growth hormones with regard to its poultry and other commodities. Briefing the portfolio committee on trade and industry at Parliament on Tuesday, Dessislava Choumelova, EU counsellor for trade and economics, said there are serious concerns about South Africa’s ability to conduct strict sanitary controls. According to Fin24, the understaffing at state veterinarians and “problems” at South Africa’s laboratories were cited in residue and public health audits conducted in February this year as reasons for health and safety concerns. “We (the EU) need to be convinced and sure of South Africa’s ability to deal with exposure to prohibited medicine and growth hormones,” Ms Choumelova said, “not only for poultry but for all commodities.”

For too long, neoliberal ideas have dominated issues in development economics, and it is easy to see why. When richer countries put their success down to increased trade openness and capital mobility, it is understandable that developing countries would want a taste too. The most famous argument for this line of thinking is that as countries move goods more easily between each other, it encourages the flow of ideas and innovation. The question of how regional trade can promote development in Nigeria is an important one. Over time, regional trade blocs have cropped up across Africa – a response to the argument that Africa's underdevelopment is due to low intraregional trade.

Peter Sotamaruti’s 2-acre farm near Bungoma, a village in western Kenya, is minuscule by the standards of the developed world. But it’s double the acreage he tended five years ago. Sales of surplus corn have allowed the 49-year-old farmer and his family to trade up from a mud hut to a three-room brick house with solar-powered lights. His modest profits also cover school fees for his four high school-age children and pay for health insurance, a luxury among farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. “We now treat our farm as a business,” says Sotamaruti, who plans to expand to 4 acres in the next year.