Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

July 2018
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Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Jamaican Government is currently looking into expanding its cassava industry with support from the Columbian government. Currently, the government is exploring how to catalyse public-private partnerships, in particular with the University of the West Indies. The Jamaican beer company, Red Stripe has already been working with the government on using tubers as part of its brewing processes. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said, “As this new industry develops, I look forward to the opening soon, of a new cassava processing plant in Elim, St. Elizabeth, and thanks to the Government of Colombia for having provided this gift (…) We are also strengthening the cassava industry by working with the University of the West Indies, to produce cassava flour for use in the baking of bread.”

Angola and Argentina are working together to strengthen their cooperation in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and to improve trade.  This new cooperation shall boost bilateral relations between the two countries but also, it contributes to enhanced South-South cooperation. Argentina's Secretary of Institutional Coordination and Emergency Agricultural Policy, Javier Rodriguez said, "The representatives of Angola are visiting the fishing system of our country. Then we will have another meeting where we will advance the lines of concrete work in cooperation." The Angolan Minister of Fisheries, Vitória de Barros Neto, said that "our main topics of interest for the sector are making new small fishing boats, acquisition and tool making for fishing as networks, a system to monitor and locate fish resources and cooling systems, areas in which we believe Argentina is leader."

Brazil and Angola are discussing a series of steps tp be taken to develop the countries’ cooperation in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The head of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA), Helder Barbalho said, "we are reaffirming the bilateral interest in building the two activities," and in particular, he emphasized the importance of aquaculture. His Angolan counterpart, Minister Victoria de Barros Neto, at the headquarters of the MPA said, "It was very good. Our entrepreneurs and government representatives had the opportunity to learn about the management of the Ministry and to visit fish farms (…) We want to improve aquaculture, especially tilapia farming. We know that Brazil has a lot to help us."

On the 36th anniversary of Kiribati’s independence from Britain last week – July 12 – the Prime Minister of Fiji, Voreqe Bainimarama, recognised the plight of the small island state of Kiribati faces from climate change and sea-level rise. Previously, at an address to the UN General Assembly the Fijian Prime Minister pointed out that the rising sea level caused by climate change is already forcing the evacuation of coastal villages in his own country. In light of the high risk and threats posed ot Pacific islanders, it is no doubt that they are signatories of the new declaration seeking “climate justice”.   In the declaration, the Pacific Islands committed to legal action “that would investigate the human rights implications of climate change and hold the big carbon polluters accountable to appropriate international bodies or processes”. Leaders of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) equally made it clear that “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies.”

Leslie Brereton, senior agricultural officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, led a delegation of representatives involved in agro-processing and agri-technology to Chunguang, Foodstuff Co. Ltd and Hainan Xia Da Food Factory in China. Brereton said that it was an eye opening trip: “Our delegation was not only impressed by the sheer scale of the automated operations, as product throughout totalled several tonnes per day, but also by the focus on [research and development] and new product development (…) What was foremost in the minds of delegates during the tour of these two companies was what can be done to bring local agro-processors to a similar level of sophistication of production in terms of operating within facilities which meet a number of international standards, using market trends to produce new products and seeking non-traditional markets.”

The 4th meeting of ACP Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture was held at ACP House in Brussels, from 22 to 23 July 2015. The roadmap highlights, inter alia, the points raised in the meeting: (i) adequate financial resources and collaboration with key partner institutions to support CAP fisheries, notably EU, FAO, IFAD, UNIDO and the World Bank; (ii) ambitious goals at COP21 in order to mitigate the negative effects that climate change has on the fisheries sector; (iii)  enhanced coordinated action to fight both Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy; (iv) development of aquaculture and fisheries sector as a means for creating decent jobs, especially for youth and women, as well as the preservation of aquatic biodiversity; (v)  coherence and appropriate policies among regional economic integration organisations and regional fisheries organisations to achieve this aim.

During the third Tanzania’s Agribusiness Expo 2015 - “Enhancing innovation in agribusiness to increase productivity and food security” held at the Arusha-based Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) - EAGC Chief Executive Officer Gerald Masila called on farmers across the region to increase the production of legumes. 500 farmers and exhibitors from across the country attended the event.  Masila said, “EAGC officials recently visited India, and when we were introduced as coming from East Africa, people asked us to carry out an intensive  serious campaign for our farmers to embark on growing various types of legumes, such as beans and peas, because there is a big market for them there.”

Chinese funds are considering taking long positions in agricultural products such as corn, soy and palm oil in order to mitigate any weather-related crop damage caused by an El Nino weather pattern. Agricultural products given are less sensitive to economic growth and can mitigate risk an El Nino hitting crops such as corn. Weather bureaus say there is a risk of a strong El Nino this year, which can cause scorching heat in Asia and East Africa and heavy rains in South America. "Many people are keen to bet longs of agricultural products because the weather this year has not been normal," an analyst at another fund said.

Wednesday, 05 August 2015

Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry is booming again as production is up 235% compared to 2009 figures and accounts for 18% of GDP. Exports are dominated by sales to China. This is a turnaround in the industry following the policies of Mugabe, which led to a 45% drop in commercial agriculture output: 90,000 farmers are now growing tobacco, known locally as "green gold", compared to the 5,000 mostly white farmers in 2000. Compared to the traditional cereal crop, the tobacco market is more stable, payment is guaranteed and funding is provided in advance for seeds and equipment.  Zimbabwe’s flue-cured tobacco is deemed to be of higher quality and pays better than Malawi’s and Zambia’s burley tobacco.

Thursday, 30 April 2015


Efforts to remove trade barriers in East Africa showed the essential role that private sector can play: it can collaborate with governments and nonprofits to help  drive sustainable economic growth and lift people out of poverty. Underdeveloped infrastructure, nontariff barriers like rules and regulations, slow and uncertain transit times, and some of the highest transport costs in the world remain big challenges for trade in the region. USAID’s East Africa Trade and Investment Hub and nonprofit partner TradeMark East Africa involvement helped reduce transit times from the port of Mombasa to Kampala and Kigali for example. Private sector engagement in East Africa is key to TMEA meeting its target of creating 5 million jobs over the next five years