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EDITO
Thursday, 19 July 2018

South Africa Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana said that the country will have to import five to six million tonnes of both white and yellow maize due to a severe drought. The minister disclosed this at a press briefing in Pretoria, adding that combining this with the predicted regional needs such as Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, import needs will be at 10, 9 million tonnes covering other commodities such as soya and wheat. Zokwana added that from the food security standpoint, South Africa’s infrastructure might struggle to cope with the volume of maize imports required if a drought aggravated by the El Niño weather phenomenon further decimates the local crop.

Rules governing international trade of food and agricultural products should be crafted with an eye to improving countries' food security and other development objectives. For this, a pragmatic approach that would align agricultural and trade policies at the national level is needed, a new FAO report argues. The expected increase in global trade of farm products along with shifting patterns of trade and multiples sources of risks to global supplies will give trade and its governance a heightened influence over the extent and nature of food security everywhere.

There is need for effective coordination at regional level to control plant pests and diseases that threaten food security for countries in the Southern African region, experts say. Plant-disease scientists who gathered in Harare for a two -week Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) regional plant health sanitary and phytosanitary (relating to the health of plants, especially with respect to the requirements of international trade) management (SPS) workshop said the region harboured hundreds of unreported crop pests and diseases which posed a significant threat to agricultural productivity.

Southern Africa, parts of which are experiencing the worst drought in more than a century, will need to increase grain imports to meet demand as farmers struggle. Nations in the region, which includes Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, will need to find 10.9 million metric tons of grains such as corn, wheat, and soybeans, South African Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana told reporters Friday in Pretoria, the capital. This includes 5 million to 6 million tons of corn for South Africa, which is usually a net exporter of the commodity and was last a net importer in the 2008 season. Last year, rainfall in South Africa was the poorest since records began in 1904, the weather service said Thursday.

PineBridge Investments East Africa Senior Investment Manager, Edward Gitahi, told a media briefing in Nairobi on Tuesday that East Africa has been less impacted by the weaker global commodities prices. “We expect the East Africa region to grow on average by six percent in 2016 compared to Southern and Western Africa region which is expected to grow by between three and four percent,” Gitahi said. Gitahi said the East African economies were resilient in 2015 and are expected to remain so in 2016.

Jamaica’s merchandise trade deficit fell by 13.4 per cent to US$2.9 billion for January to September 2015, when compared to the US$3.3 billion recorded over the similar period in 2014. Co-Chair of the Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC), Richard Byles, credited the improvement to the reduction in food imports and lower oil prices. He said the decrease in food import is due to domestic agriculture and manufacturing becoming more competitive, despite the drought conditions.

According to the latest Human Development Report, sub-Saharan Africa countries, even those classified as middle-income countries, have disappointingly low human development indices (HDIs). HDIs are worse in Africa’s conflict zones. A reading of the literature suggests three things in order to boost intra-Africa trade

South African competition authorities said on Tuesday they would investigate allegations that soaring maize prices were being manipulated by traders to the detriment of the poor majority. The move followed a complaint from trade union federation Cosatu that it wanted an expediated investigation expedited and “perpetrators to be jailed for undermining South Africans’ food security through price manipulation”.

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The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has recommended the lifting of a ban on imports of genetically modified organisms as the body prepares to decide on applications by companies, including Monsanto, for environmental release of their products in the country.Kenya imposed a ban on GM crops in November 2012, citing concerns that the organisms pose a danger to public health. The decision locked out exporters including South Africa, the biggest maize producer on the continent.“We recommend lifting the ban,” National Biosafety Authority chief executive Willy Tonui said in an interview this week in Nairobi.

Monday, 25 January 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday launched the construction of a road to link Mombasa port and Moi International Airport, a project expected to spur trade in the East African region by decongesting the coastal city and linking to the newly constructed container terminal. The Sh3.1 billion road project, jointly funded by Kenya (Sh1.1 billion) and the British government through the Department for International Development (Sh2 billion), will see Port Reitz road turned into a dual carriageway from the Port of Mombasa to Moi airport.