Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

August 2017
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EDITO
Saturday, 19 August 2017

New Holland Agriculture, part of the CNH Industrial Group, has decided to take a firmer hand in their South African business through opening a direct branch which will be based in Centurion, Tshwane. The reason was summed up by Federico Bellotto, business director of New Holland South Africa: “We are number one in Africa and the Middle East – we’re not number one here. I think we deserve to be number one here. We have the product offering, we have the service, we have the heritage, the credibility, the history.”

While there is acute interest in South African navels, particularly from the Far East, some exporters warn against pushing prices to artificial levels that cannot be maintained. In areas unaffected by navel splitting, like Mpumalanga and Limpopo, exporters tell FreshPlaza that their phones have been ringing off the hook for the past couple of weeks, as importers from the Far East look for alternatives to Eastern Cape navels. Exporters from the Western Cape, where navel damage is estimated at around 17 to 20% of the crop, similarly report that the Far East “is screaming for navels

The Gambia government has launched a US$11.4 million project, funded by the European Union, to improve food security and reduce stunting growth among children in North Bank, Lower River, Central River and Upper River regions. The 30-month project, to be jointly implemented by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was launched at Kairaba Beach Hotel on Thursday. It would be implemented in close partnership with the Department of Agriculture (and its specialised units), the National Nutrition Agency, the Ministry of Health, the National Disaster Management Agency, the Gambia Red Cross Society, Farmer Based Organisations, and the Women’s Health, Productivity and the Environment NGO (BAFROW).

It is often said the macroeconomic standing of the agricultural sector has diminished, an argument supported by the sector's declining share of GDP, which fell from 4.2 percent in 1996 to 2.3 percent in 2015. However, what is not captured in this narrative is that the value of the agricultural sector has grown 40 percent, from R50.5bn to R71.4bn over that period. This translates to a fairly modest average annual growth rate of 2.1 percent over the past two decades, which explains why agriculture's relative share of the economy has been declining. Agriculture is not becoming insignificant -- it is just that other sectors, particularly the services sector, have grown at a faster rate from a lower base.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Weeks after President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf issued Executive Order #84 for the regulation of Liberia's fishing industry, the European Union (EU) has expressed concern over the order. In a letter to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the EU expressed concern over the implications of Executive Order number 84. It further said it was surprised to learn about the order through the media considering the longstanding cooperation existing between Liberia and the Union which culminated in the signing of the EU- Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) in December 2015. Through its Ambassador to LiberiaMadam TiinaIntelmann, the EU said based onexperience in other countries, it believes that some of the measuresintroduced under Section 2 of the EO will not lead to sustainable investments.

The Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries has called for action on farm trade issues for the WTO’s upcoming ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this December, tabling an informal paper that notes “overwhelming” support for an outcome on agricultural domestic support. The new paper is the first joint statement of the Cairns Group’s stance after separate papers were tabled by sub-sets of its members last year. The coalition includes nearly 20 countries from both the developed and developing world, including different world regions. The group’s paper calls for action on three areas addressed under current WTO rules on agricultural trade: domestic support, market access, and export competition.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Representatives of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) met in Addis Ababa on May 10, 2017 and agreed on a roadmap for the implementation of the partnership agreement signed between the two entities in January 2017. During the meeting, which was held under the theme, "Achieving agricultural transformation in Africa," participants identified and agreed on four key programme areas including, enhancing rural entrepreneurship and employment for youth and women; addressing natural resource degradation and scarcity, conflicts and migration; ending hunger, nutrition and poverty in Africa; and effective response to climate change.

A fresh approach toward utilisation of Cassava and Sorghum flour in bread production has been estimated to save Nigeria as much as $3.5billion every year. The initiative aims at achieving 20 per cent Cassava flour inclusion in bread and it is projected that if the objective is achieved more Cassava growers would empowered as the project would scale up domestic Cassava flour processing to the tune of about 1.2 million metric tons yearly. Also, the project will create 3 million jobs for Nigerians. Nigeria spends about $6 billion annually to import wheat, according to the director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim Umar-Abubakar.

Lack of storage forces farmers to sell their harvest at low prices - but changing that can help them get ahead Surveying his village's stocks of rice, sesame, millet and other food in a storehouse piled high with bags, Amadou Hassane is satisfied - but still a little anxious about the oversupply of baobab leaves. With the rainy season set to start soon in Niger, Hassane and his fellow farmers need buyers for their leaves before the rains come, driving the prices down as fresh leaves sprout and supply surges across the western region of Tillabery. "Life is hard because it is difficult to know when the first rains will come," Hassane told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, holding a list of each farmer's contribution to the village's stockpile.

Do Zimbabwean smallholder farmers know that they are sitting on a potential $60 million earnings per annum from beef exports? That money can be realised through adding value to livestock production. Scholar Blasio Mavedzenge and his research colleagues Ian Scoones, Felix Murimbarimba and others in 2010 noted that with the right environment, incentives and support structures, smallholder farmers can be used to launch the rehabilitation of commercial beef production. In their research paper, "Changes in the Livestock Sector in Zimbabwe Following Land Reform: The Case of Masvingo Province", Mavedzenge and his colleagues argue that this would benefit all parties by improving the off-take of beef production in Zimbabwe. They further argue that this would also begin the process of restoring Zimbabwe's beef exports with the prospect of earning US$50-US$60 million per year.