Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

June 2018
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EDITO
Monday, 18 June 2018

New developments within the agricultural sector, which include new bilateral, regional and multi-lateral agreements as well as the current and expected impacts of climate change and agricultural land reform have prompted the revision of the National Agricultural Policy which has been in existence since 1995. The new policy was launched last year in December by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa. At the launch the minister said that the document has been revised to provide a broad guideline to Government, its agencies and all stakeholder in the agriculture sector to work in uniform and collective efforts.

Ugandan farmers are increasingly inter-planting coffee, the country's primary export, and banana, a staple food, as a way of coping with the effects of climate change. In densely populated Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains, the two crops have been planted together on smallholder farms despite recommendations under the colonial agricultural extension system to separate these in Central and Western Uganda where land was believed to be plentiful. With growing population pressure and climate change, this is no longer possible. But studies by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and partner organizations show that a Ugandan farmer gets 50 per cent more income from inter cropping coffee and banana than from growing either crop alone

At the close of 2015 there were concerns coming out of the rice industry as local farmers were anxious that the containers of Guyanese rice sitting at the Big Creek Port in southern Belize would have been allowed on the shelves for consumers to purchase, thus giving them, the local farmers, a disadvantage particularly because of the difference in price.  The containers of imported rice are still at the port and it seems that now they will either be discarded or sent back to Guyana as Justice Sonia Young did not grant leave for the application on judicial review, submitted on behalf of importer, Jack Charles.

A tripartite free trade agreement signed in June by three African regional blocs was urged to be ratified quickly, according to the outcome of a meeting of Council of Ministers of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) received on Monday. The tripartite free trade agreement was launched in June this year by COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Egypt. But the COMESA Council of Ministers has expressed misgivings that a number of countries have not even signed the agreement while those that signed it have not ratified.

Lillian Malambo, 36, is an HIV- positive woman in Zambia’s Southern Province. She tested positive to the virus that causes AIDS during her last pregnancy in 2010. Ms Malambo’s HIV positive status meant that she had to make changes to her lifestyle and this included improving her nutrition. But she could not manage to do so due to lack of funds. She as such ventured into agriculture with the intention of growing enough crops for consumption and the surplus for sale. “I did venture into farming but my yields were usually low. Nature was mostly to blame. Most times, the rains were erratic and sometimes we experienced drought. And this had an impact on my health as well as providing for my family’s dietary needs,” Ms Malambo said.

The past year has been a wakeup call for southern Africa as crop output has collapsed in nearly all States except South Africa and Zambia which will have small surpluses from the past season. The combined deficit of all SADC States this year for maize will be about 6 million tonnes and all of this will have to be sourced from abroad at a landed cost of about US$1,8 billion. The reasons for this failure during the past season are difficult to tie down to any single factor but it would seem that to some extent it can be linked to climate change.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

CARICOM Chairman, the Rt. Hon Freundel Stuart said that while 2015 tested the Region’s resolve, it was also a year of great importance to the Caribbean. His characterisation was based on the influence the Community brought to bear in the international arena, and its progress in cementing regional integration. The Prime Minister of Barbados said in an end of year message that the past year demonstrated “in no uncertain terms” the value of the regional integration project and the influence that its united front could yield internationally.

Monday, 11 January 2016

A special alert issued by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns that food security could be acutely affected in southern Africa in the year ahead. The UN agency’s Global Information and Early Warning System said on Tuesday that agricultural prospects in southern Africa were weakened by the El Niño weather phenomenon that has seen a widespread drought in southern Africa and higher temperatures. Reduced farm output would follow last year’s disappointing season, which has already raised food prices and could acutely affect the food security situation in 2016, the alert said.

Maize trade within Comesa states is set to improve after member countries agreed to harmonise standards and regulations on quality to ease importation and exportation. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Mutual Recognition Framework was launched in Kampala, Uganda on Thursday to streamline analytical results and recognition of certificates of analysis issued by the laboratories of the participating countries. This will eliminate the need for multiple testing by both the exporting and importing country.

The Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TANTRADE) and partners has launched an initiative known as product development scheme under the slogan ‘From the Farm to the Dining Table’. The plan is to build the capacity of 94 spice farmers from two Divisions in Morogoro rural more than 300km from Dar es Salaam. The motive behind this scheme are the challenges revealed by TANTRADE that hinder the swift development of spice farmers due to the fact that the challenges hinder these farmers from having a strategic focus as a priority before producing their crop then seek for market especially domestic market before embarking to seek for foreign markets.