Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

September 2017
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EDITO
Saturday, 23 September 2017

Driving through the western maize belt in the North West bordering Botswana, vast stretches of normally lush and green fields lie dry and brown. Farmers are battling the worst drought on record, which has transformed parts of agricultural lands into what looks like desert, says Wandile Sihlobo, grains economist at Grains SA. So far five out of the country’s nine provinces have been declared drought disaster zones, as crops fail and livestock perish. And it is not just SA. The whole Southern African region has been hit by an intense drought since early last year that was brought on by El Niño weather phenomenon. With SA being an important regional grain exporter, international food and aid agencies are fearing that millions of people will require humanitarian aid this year.

As many as 49-million people in Southern Africa could be affected by a drought that has been worsened by the most severe and longest El Nino weather pattern in 35 years, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday. The WFP, which has previously said 14-million people face hunger in the region, said the El Nino conditions had caused the lowest recorded rainfall between October and December since 1981. The forecast for January to March indicated a high probability of below-normal rainfall in Southern Africa, which would result in one of the worst droughts on record, it added.

Thursday, 03 March 2016

The European Union is set to give Zimbabwe an additional $4.5 million with a view of raising more funds to ease a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon and a crumbling economy. EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Phillepe Van Demme, told journalists in Harare on Thursday that the regional body confirmed the funding Wednesday. “We will obligate another $4.5 million for Zimbabwe for close monitoring of the challenges and quantification  … through the quick assessment being organized by ZIMVAC that will have more precise figures which will allow not only the EU but member states of the EU and other international partners to go back to their capitals and find out whether additional support can be mobilized.”

In addition to the 42 million Euros the German government committed for drought resilience programmes, a 959 million Br fund was extended for mitigating the impact of the current drought in the country. The fund is earmarked for programmes to be implemented through specific development institutions and development partners-not directly by the government. Joachim Schmidt, Germany's Ambassador to Ethiopia, in a release sent to media described the act as a "gesture of solidarity with the people of Ethiopia" and the government as the lead in mitigating the drought impact.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Brazil is shipping maize to South Africa, a traditional maize exporter suffering from an El Niño-related drought, as it seeks new markets for its growing corn production. razil exported 321,662 tonnes of corn to South Africa in 2015, up from none the previous year, data from the Trade Ministry showed this week. Three more cargoes are on the way or likely to leave Brazilian ports soon, according to shipping data as well as a South African trade source.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) and Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) recently said they are strengthening their partnership with a new agreement that will benefit future collaborations on a multitude of fronts. "FAO and DFID share a vision for a world where communities are food secure, their productive assets are protected and the world's natural resources are managed sustainably," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, said.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

African countries such as Ethiopia would benefit from growing quinoa, a plant that is both resistant to very long periods of dry soil as well as one of the most nutritious crops, according to a development aid organisation. The Danish development aid organisation Folkekirkens Nødhjælp is working on a project that encourages Ethiopian farmers to grow quinoa as climate changes have lead to poorer harvests. The organisation says that the changing local weather patterns can determine whether a family lives or dies and therefore, the new experimental fields need to show the local farmers that quinoa is not only able to grow, but is also able to improve the whole family's nutritional status.

With nearly 4 million people estimated unable to meet their food needs, South Sudan is on the brink of famine.  As the situation in South Sudan worsens and aid delivery is increasingly challenging, the European Commission has released €20 million in new humanitarian assistance for the country. Food insecurity is at emergency levels. An estimated 40 000 people will face famine if aid is not provided urgently, especially in southern Unity State. The country's health system is also in a critical condition with ongoing measles and malaria outbreaks. "The suffering of the people of South Sudan is beyond imagination.

Crop production prospects in Southern Africa have been weakened by the El Niño weather phenomenon that has lowered rains and increased temperatures, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said. A reduced agricultural output would follow on last year's disappointing season, which has already contributed to higher food prices and "could acutely impact the food security situation in 2016," according to a special alert released on Dec. 22 by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

As the proverb says, bread is the staff of life, the southern African country Mozambique knows it well. Four years ago, Rudy Manuel, a Mozambican youth, could not imagine that his father's farm, located in Xai-Xai district in Mozambique's southern province of Gaza, can reach a yield of up to 4,8 tonnes of grain per hectare. Before cooperating with China WanBao Co., Ltd. in 2011, Manuel's 42-hectare farm only had the capacity of producing an average of 1,5 tonnes of grain per hectare. It is not an exception in Mozambique, which possesses large alluvial plains as arable land, but is still plagued by a food deficit of nearly 300 000 tonnes of grain, constrained by its primitive farming techniques.