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CAR: Food crisis looms

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

NEW YORK, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Food assistance is emerging as an urgent humanitarian priority in the Central African Republic (CAR). Assessments carried out earlier this year show that many people cannot afford the little food that is available in markets, and that farmers have begun to eat the seeds that were meant for planting this season.

Humanitarian agencies are now warning of critical food needs in both rural and urban areas as the country enters the traditional lean season between April and August/September. Food reserves are already low with many people forced to borrow or trade for food, or resort to fishing and hunting.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable. Irene, a 35-year old mother of two, lives in Bangui.

“I do not remember the last time my children and I had a balanced meal. If you visit the markets, you will see that virtually nothing is being sold there,” she says. “I often put an empty pot on the fire half an hour before the children’s bedtime to make them believe they will have dinner.”

Irene’s husband left in late March when the Seleka rebels took control of Bangui, fearing reprisals as he was associated with the former regime. Irene hasn’t seen him since.

“We have a small garden behind the house which provides us with vegetables, but we rely on the kindness of other women to provide us with cassava. When we eat, our meals consist of ngoundja (cassava leaves) cooked in salty water and cassava dumplings,” she says. “I see my children losing weight, but there is nothing I can do about it.” Her only income is around 100 Central African francs per day, about a quarter of a US dollar, from selling garden vegetables.

The crisis in CAR, which started in December 2012 when rebels launched an offensive against the government, has affected all of the country’s 4.6 million inhabitants. More than 173,000 have been displaced inside the country. A further 49,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries.

Even before this crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 80,000 people would be at risk of severe food insecurity during the 2013 lean season. This number is now expected to increase. WFP also projects that 13,500 children under the age of five will become severely malnourished.

“Over two million people are in need of critical health, nutrition and food assistance,” says Kaarina Immonen, the Humanitarian Coordinator for CAR. “But without access and security, our programmes cannot reach these people in need.”

In April, WFP identified 42,000 people in need of food assistance in Bangui, in the northern city of Kabo and in the central town of Bambari. Food distributions started on 25 April at Bangui’s community hospital and within a week nearly 3,000 people, most of them women, had received food rations. The agency is now focusing on reaching 7,500 particularly vulnerable people, including those living with HIV, malnourished children, and pregnant and lactating women.

WFP plans to assist some 400,000 severely food insecure people across the country by the end of this year. However insecurity continues to hamper access and to complicate efforts to supply humanitarian aid to Central Africans in desperate need.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

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IFC Support for Country Bird’s Expansion Encourages Agribusiness, Employment in Southern Africa

Posted on 03 May 2013 by Africa Business

About IFC

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit http://www.ifc.org.

 

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a convertible loan of $25 million to support poultry producer Country Bird’s expansion in Africa. IFC’s investment will allow Country Bird to increase production and operations; encouraging a thriving agribusiness enterprise and creating employment opportunities in Southern Africa and beyond.

 

With operations including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia, Country Bird’s business comprises poultry breeding, broiler production, stock feed, and processing. IFC funding will support Country Bird increase chick production over the next three years in Zambia and Botswana, expand feed mill capacity in Zambia, and add poultry processing facilities and two soybean plants in South Africa.

 

Country Bird’s expansion will provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa, create jobs in the rural areas where the company operates, and increase revenues for its 21,500 maize farmers and 112,000 workers employed through the company’s supply chain.

 

Kevin James, Founder of Country Bird, said “In just a decade since we started operations, Country Bird has become the third largest integrated poultry producer in South Africa. We are seeking to expand our production, so we can meet increasing consumer demand in the region. IFC’s investment supports Country Bird’s growth and our goal to provide more affordable proteins in Southern Africa.”

 

With increasing urbanization and disposable incomes, per capita meat consumption is expected to double in Africa by 2030, particularly that of poultry, which is cheaper relative to other meats.

 

Saleem Karimjee, IFC Senior Country Manager for Southern Africa, said, “IFC is committed to investing in companies like Country Bird that catalyze growth in this important sector. Africa needs dynamic regional agribusiness companies that help encourage competitiveness and can expand successful models outside their home markets.”

 

 

Agriculture accounts for one third to one half of GDP in most African countries, and 80 percent of the poor in Africa live in rural areas.

Promoting agribusiness in Africa is a key priority for IFC as is food security, given that the sector employs a large percentage of Africa’s labor force, and has a strong impact on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

 

SOURCE

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank

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NEW SEED LEGISLATION SPELLS DISASTER FOR SMALL FARMERS IN AFRICA

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Wallace Mawire

Civil society organisations from the SADC region, and around the world have condemned the SADC draft Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Plant Breeders’ Rights) as spelling disaster for small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa and around the world have submitted their concerns to the SADC Secretariat. They are calling for the rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society before it’s too late.

According to the groups, the Protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a “one-size-fits-all” plant variety protection (PVP) system on all SADC countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems, social and economic development. It is modelled after the 1991 International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialized countries to address their own needs.  UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing their customary practices of freely using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds.

According to Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF): “The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights, but in doing so, disregards and marginalizes small farmers and their plant varieties. It fails to recognize that small-scale farmers and their customary practices of freely exchanging and re-using seed for multiple purposes, constitute the backbone of SADC’s agricultural farming systems.”

About half of SADC members are Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and are not currently under any international obligation to put in place any such PVP system. Indeed, the majority of SADC members have limited or no experience with PVP systems, or the impact these systems will have on food security, farmers, farming systems and livelihoods in the region.

According to Elizabeth Mpofu, a small farmer from Zimbabwe: “Small farmers in Africa play a vital role in keeping food costs down, and contribute immensely to the development of locally appropriate and adapted seeds, and to the diversity of crops. Any PVP system that fails to support and promote these farmer managed systems, and instead adversely impacts on them, is clearly a recipe for disaster for the region’s farmers.”

Like UPOV 1991, the Protocol is severely lacking in flexibilities to allow vulnerable states to address their particular socio-economic problems. The Protocol imposes a “one grant system” whereby the SADC Plant Breeders’ Rights Office will have the full authority to grant and administer breeders’ rights on behalf of all SADC members. “This top-down approach effectively undermines the rights of SADC member states to take any decision related to the protected plant varieties; decisions that are at the very core of national socio-economic development and poverty reduction strategiesThe Protocol also does not contain concrete measures to prevent misappropriation of plant genetic resources and does not live up to international commitments of the majority of SADC members to promote the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and plant breeding with the participation of farmers” pointed out Andrew Mushita, of the Community Trust for Development and Technology, in Zimbabwe.

“The whole rationale and underlying premise for the Protocol is unknown to us because we, as civil society, have been locked out of the process. What specific consultations have taken place, and with whom? What data and impact assessments have guided the development of the Protocol?” asks Mariam Mayet, of the African Centre for Biosafety.

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9th SugarWorld ASIA Summit in Yangon on 28-30 April, 2013

Posted on 06 April 2013 by Africa Business

International experts at the 9th SugarWorld ASIA Summit in Yangon on 28-30 April, 2013 will take a broad view on global sugar outlook, starting from world’s leading sugar producer, Brazil, before zooming into Asia’s market such as Philippines, Cambodia and China.

 

Currently, global sugar prices are weak and cheaper imports in the international playground are putting downward pressure on China’s domestic sugar market, prompting the Chinese government to implement limits to sugar imports to better protect the domestic market.

 

In Philippines, sugar producers and farmers are planning to increase production as demand in Asia is expected to increase significantly over the next five years. However, production costs would be an issue as production efficiency is still not up to expectation.

 

Join Vice Chairman of China Sugar Association, Mr. Liu Hande, and Sugar Regulatory Administrator, Ms. Regina Bautista-Martin, as they elaborate on China’s Sugar Production & Import Outlook, and Philippines’ Sugar Market Outlook & Preparation for AFTA 2015 respectively.

 

A must-attend for all sugar industry stakeholders, the event is the perfect networking platform for C-level professionals from investment firms, equity/fund management companies, plantation companies, sugar & sweeteners manufacturers, trading companies, consumer markets, F&B sector, ethanol producers, machinery suppliers, logistics companies and many more.

 

On top of the one and half day summit, you’ll also have the option to sign up for 2 separately bookable programs below:

 

1) Pre-Summit Workshop on LAND & Land Lease Contracts – Legal, Commercial & Tax Aspects

2) Post-Summit Workshop on Optimizing & Innovation in Brazil’s Sugar Cane Industry

 

View the FULL 3-day program agenda and accompanying workshops here.

 

For more information on attending the summit as a delegate, speaker, exhibitor or sponsor, just email me at hafizah@cmtsp.com.sg or call me at Tel. +65 6346 9218.

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World Water Day: South Africa has most progressive water policies, but fails with implementation

Posted on 19 March 2013 by Africa Business

African Utility Week to look at municipalities’ key water challenges

On 22 March World Water Day will be celebrated globally.  But South Africa has little to celebrate according to Harold Smook, founder of Urban Roots – Sustainable Communities Initiative and registered Professional Engineering Technologist.

“We can celebrate our water policies – the most progressive policies in the world, but when it comes to implementation we have nothing to celebrate,” says Smook who will be speaking about water security aspirations at African Utility Week which is taking place in Cape Town from 14 – 15 May.

Poor performance due to environmental devastation
South Africa was recently 128th out of 132 countries on the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy’s 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) which measures a country’s performance in terms of water, air quality and overall environmental performance.   “South Africa’s poor performance is mostly because of the environmental devastation caused by the overexploitation of our limited water supply,” says Smook.

He explains:  “acid mine drainage, water system losses and pollution, lack of holistic approach to water security, poor demand management, unchecked mining activity and our continuous hunger for coal fired power plants has resulted in 84% of South Africa’s 112 unique river ecosystems being classified as threatened and a disturbing 54% critically endangered.”

 

Water – energy – food
Harold Smook says furthermore that most of South Africa’s water resources have already been allocated and water licences have been expropriated from farmers to provide water for the mining and energy sectors – especially in the Vaal River system.  He continues:  “the interrelatedness of water, energy and food has to form part of any attempt to improve water security. Once water stressed conditions arise there are significant trade-offs resulting from the water-food-energy nexus. In South Africa the conditions of our natural ecosystems combined with the increase in coal fired power plants and increased mining activities, is an indication that government is focused on economic growth at all costs rather than the basic human needs of the people; water and food security.”

 

Agriculture biggest water consumer
Smook emphasises that while there are alternative sources of energy there is no replacement for water.  “South Africa has an abundance of natural beauty, but if the rivers start dying, ecosystems are destroyed with devastating consequences.”

Smook cites population growth, prosperity and pollution as the ultimate reasons for our escalating water crisis.   Agriculture is the biggest national and global consumer of water and growing populations demand more food.   Furthermore, a person rising out of poverty prefers protein based diets, which requires significantly more water to produce than carbohydrate foods.

Water budget deficit
According to Smook R670 billion is needed over the next ten years to: service previously unserviced communities (17%), to grow and maintain the water infrastructure (34%), and to rehabilitate the existing infrastructure (49%).

However, the South African Government only has an available budget of R332 billion, which leaves a budget deficit of R342 billion rand.

A part of the solution lies in demand-side driven solutions says Smook.  “Consumers need to realise how important it is to use only as much as we need and as efficiently as possible. Governments and business need to realise that economies cannot grow indefinitely with limited water resources. We need a paradigm shift and to start living within our planetary limits.”

Dedicated municipalities
Despite the water challenges, there is some reason for optimism -  many of the country’s municipalities  have dedicated individuals working behind the scenes to ensure that the public has 24/7 access to potable water and safely managed waste water, according to Nicolette Pombo-Van Zyl, programme manager of the water track at African Utility Week.

“It is easy to forget that water management includes the collection, transportation and treatment of millions of litres of raw sewage that must undergo due diligence in ensuring that public health is protected and that our drinking water resources remain uncontaminated,” says Pombo-Van Zyl.

There has been considerable progress in the water sector as indicated in the 2011 Census and the State of the Nation address earlier this year:  nine out of ten households have access to water; the roll out of 315 000 solar water geysers to homes that never had running hot water before; and the construction of the bulk water distribution system for the De Hoop Dam that began in October 2012, to supply water to the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities.

Pombo-Van Zyl:  “At African Utility Week we will be addressing the key challenges of Integrated Water Resource Management including bridging the gap between water security aspirations and economic reality. With platforms such as these South Africans can celebrate the advancements made towards proactively managing this scarce resource now and in future.”

 

BLUE DROP

Blue Drop is a project of the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs to encourage municipalities to improve the quality of drinking water. In 2012 the province of Gauteng received the accolade for having the highest quality water, followed by the Western Cape with average percentages of higher than 90%. The Department expressed serious concern about the Eastern Cape where some municipalities had percentages as low as 5,9 %.

The positive results of the Blue Drop initiative are clearly visible in two municipalities in Mpumalanga.  The Victor Kanye local municipality scored 18.26% in 2011 and improved tremendously in 2012 to an astonishing 80.07%.  The Thembisile local municipality obtained a mere 27.77% in 2011 but through the use of Blue Drop processes managed to reach 78.30% in 2012.

Says Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl:  “Many people are unaware of the impact their behaviour has on water resource and water quality. The Blue Drop initiative provides tools that everyone can work with to make a difference at ground level, as shown in the two Mpumalanga municipalities above.”

She adds: “Gaining Blue Drop certification is an indication that the authority has complied with a stringent set of procedural, chemical, biological and other requirements. Blue Drop certificates are an indication that the municipality is promoting a healthy environment and this encourages economic investment.”

African Utility Week site visits
African Utility Week brings together the entire ecosystem for the African water and power sector, from high level government representatives, utilities and municipalities, regulators and power pools to consultants, vendors, service providers and energy intensive power users for the purpose of sharing and determining the future development of Africa’s power industry.

The water site visit on 16 May takes delegates on a tour of the City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation department’s full range of facilities including the Athlone Wastewater Treatment Works, the Mandalay Pressure Management Project and the Faure Water Treatment Plant.

The dates for African Utility Week are:

Exhibition & Conference: 14-15 May 2013
Pre-conference Workshops: 13 May 2013
Site Visits: 16 May 2013
Location:  CTICC, Cape Town
Website: www.african-utility-week.com

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Standard Bank Group increases investment in agricultural leadership and business development

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

Standard Bank Group will increase its investment in the Standard Bank Centre for AgriLeadership and Business Development at Stellenbosch University to R5.13-million over the next three years. This is up on the R3.45-million support Standard Bank Group provided over the past three years.

Willie du Plessis, head of Agribusiness at Standard Bank South Africa, says, “It is important that we maintain the momentum of the centre’s success since its launch three years ago. The centre has driven crucial engagement and thought leadership in theSouth African agricultural sector. It has established itself as a credible and independent source of insight, both for government and the agri value chain as a whole.”

The centre has initiated a number of ‘imbizos’ or leadership laboratories in which industry leaders contribute information and ideas to address sector concerns such astransformation, land reform, employment and unity. It is part of Stellenbosch University’s Hope Project initiative.

Input from the imbizos was incorporated into the National Planning Commission’s chapter on agriculture.

“We were fortunate to have Professor Mohammad Karaan, dean of Agrisciences at Stellenbosch University and a commissioner on the National Planning Commission, contribute as an imbizo facilitator,” says Professor Johan van Rooyen, director of the Standard Bank Centre for AgriLeadership and Business Development. “He was able to interpret the outcomes of the imbizos for the National Planning Commission.”

Prof van Rooyen says that because the centre is recognised as independent and neutral within the agro-industry, opinions and ideas are freely expressed. The imbizos therefore allow some of the best minds in the industry to collectively deliver constructive outcomes for agriculture and the broader economy.

“The centre also played a pivotal role in establishing the Agri Sector Unity Forum (ASUF) last year. This body aims to drive a unified approach to the sector’s challenges, which will be the fastest way to resolve industry issues as they arise,” he says.

The centre will continue to host imbizos throughout the next three years, extending discussions to issues such as the future of agriculture, training and skills development, water governance and renewable energy, the continued focus on productivity and competitiveness, and reinvestment to grow the sector.

“Future imbizos need to continue contributing new information to hotly debated topics in agriculture,” Professor van Rooyen says. “The centre will also commission research into these topics, providing fresh views and triggering new thinking. A number of case studies have already been published.”

Apart from industry engagements, the centre will also be refining its approach toward mentoring new and small-holder farmers and providing leadership and business management skills.

“Standard Bank’s Enterprise Development division and PriceWaterhouseCoopers have developed ashort course for the centre through which Business Development Support (BDS) providers in the agricultural sector can gain accreditation,” Mr du Plessis says.

“The accreditation of BDS providers will ensure that small holder and medium scale commercial black farmers get structured support to access markets, finance and other players in the value chain.”

The centre has attracted international attention, engaging with Britain’s Royal Agricultural College and the African Fellowship Trust on the African Leadership Programme, an exchange programme in which South African agribusinesses offer internships to students from the rest of Africa who are engaged in various agribusinesses, for the purposes of knowledge and skills transfer.

“We are pleased with the contribution the centre is making to the long term sustainability and productivity of the agricultural sector in South Africa,” Mr du Plessis says. “Our objective for the next three years is to broaden and deepen its impact.”

For more on Stellenbosch University, visit http://www.sun.ac.za.

For more on Standard Bank South Africa’s specialised agricultural service visit www.standardbank.co.za/businessbanking.

Source: StandardBank.com

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Standard Bank South Africa’s agri conferences bring provincial role players together

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

Standard Bank South Africa’s agricultural division is hosting a series of provincial roadshows in South Africa aimed at engaging major role players and sector leaders in discussions about generating growth in their region.

“Prospects for South African agriculture are positive,” says Willie du Plessis, head of Agribusiness at Standard Bank South Africa. “However, the potential won’t be converted into reality unless everyone involved acts collectively to remove obstacles to sustainability and create fresh revenue streams for primary and secondary operations.

“South African agriculture is perfectly positioned to implement the vision of the National Planning Commission and we see the roadshows as a way of cascading that very positive information all the way through the agricultural value chain.”

Mr Du Plessis says agriculture has now entered a bullish longer term growth phase. He points out that commodity prices have been good and will remain firm going forward. Interest rates have alsobeen favourable, with the dollar exchange rate supporting export initiatives.

Farmers are encouraged to invest in assets, whether in the form of equipment or property, and to expand their range of crops and livestock.

“This sets the scene for growth, not only for individual farmers, but right across the value chain. It is also an opportunity to make cutting edge changes that will move a farming operationinto a new league.

“Primary and secondary operations need to do things differently and better. Technology, mechanisation, precision farming, and better integration up and downstream will go a long way towards making agriculture more efficient and more profitable. This will keep farmers on the land and ensure that farming becomes an attractive proposition. In turn, this will provide South Africa’s growing population with food security.”
He says that a profitable agricultural sector will create not just more jobs, but also better paying jobs, noting that government too has a role to play in ensuring the profitability of farming.Innovation focused on productivity can also transform the sector from a labour perspective and provide farm workers and their communities with a better living.

“As with many other service sectors, financial institutions also need to develop cutting edge funding solutions that will pro-actively help the sector grow,” Mr du Plessis says. “We need to stay abreast of the obstacles and issues confronting the full spectrum of role players in agriculture, including government.

“Our provincial conferences are geared to enable us to gain the insight to do that.”

Each day-long conference includes a morning briefing session during which industry influencers including John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber, and Professor Mohammad Karaan, a member of the National Planning Commission and Dean of the faculty of Agrisciences at the University of Stellenbosch, brief the 100 invited attendees on opportunities and challenges confronting agriculture from a national perspective.

Provincial agricultural role players also provide information on their respective areas of influence.

Each afternoon session is interactive, with panellists taking questions from the floor and members of the audiencetalking about their successes.

“Certainly, we need to identify challenges,” Mr Du Plessis says. “But the theme of the conferences is ‘cutting edge’. Each session is growth orientated, focused on helping agri stakeholders become more efficient by capitalising on the many factors in the industry’s favour.”

In addition, input from attendees that has the potential to impact the future of agriculture will also be communicated to decision and policy makers.

“The conferences serve to supplement the solution-seeking imbizos that Standard Bank hosts through the Standard Bank Centre for AgriLeadership and Business Development. These imbizos have provided valuable feedback to the National Planning Commission,” says Mr Du Plessis.

“As a bank, we see ourselves as not just as a financier, but also as an integral contributor to the development and transformation of the sector. Our commercial insight and capabilities can be game changers. We believe it is important to bring together people and organisations that don’t often have a chance to engage with one another and have them work together. It calls for teamwork to enable a cutting edge sector.”

For more on Standard Bank South Africa’s specialised agricultural service visit www.standardbank.co.za/businessbanking.

Source: StandardBank.com

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AGRIBUSINESS’ POTENTIAL IS CENTRAL ROLE TO AFRICA’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

About Agri-Vie

Agri-Vie is a private equity investment fund focused on agribusiness in Sub-Saharan Africa with a mission to generate an above average investment return, as well as demonstrable socio-economic development impacts through its equity investments. The fund was initiated by SP-aktif and Sanlam Private Equity with the cooperation of South African and international investors as well as the Makotulo BEE Consortium. The fund’s vision is to be a catalyst for sustainable growth through investing in one of the foundation sectors of Africa’s economies. Agri-Vie seeks to realise this vision through deploying development capital and management know-how according to sound investment and business principles. Agri-Vie Investment Advisors is a financial services provider authorized by the Financial Services Board, Registration number 33826. Visit www.agrivie.com for more information.

 

March 2013: The potential of agriculture and agribusiness in Africa is immense and is a central to Africa’s economic development, but only if properly and effectively harnessed.

This is according to Ernest Tettey, Chief Portfolio Officer at the African Development Bank (AFD), who says that within the Sub-Sahara African (SSA) economy, agribusiness forms a significant and growing sector. “For several SSA countries, the share of agribusiness services and manufacturing are expected to account for at least a third of GDP growth rate.”

The AFD has a mandate to contribute to the sustainable economic development and social progress of its regional members by mobilizing and allocating resources for investment in its regional member countries.

Herman Marais, managing partner at Agri-Vie, the Sub-Saharan private equity fund investing in food and agribusiness, agrees stating that investing in emerging farmers without them having ready access to markets can be counter-productive. “Africa has more than 60% of unutilised arable land globally. Investing in vertically integrated food and agribusinesses that offers off-take opportunities to contract farmers and outgrowers goes hand in hand with technical assistance that empowers emerging farmers with know-how on good agronomic and business practices.”

 

Herman Marais

The AFD is a key investor in Agri-Vie, who provides an appropriate vehicle to channel funds for meeting Africa’s growing investment needs in agriculture. “The AFD holds a seat in the private equity’s advisory board, which ensures that other important crosscutting objectives are mainstreamed into investee companies.

“The Bank’s presence further seeks to align Agri-Vie’s fund structure and terms with international best corporate practice. It also seeks to ensure compliance with international E&S standards,” Tettey says.

Several countries in SSA have comparative advantages in agriculture in terms of land availability, soil fertility, good climatic conditions and water availability. “However, with the challenges in the global food situation, the need to invest in the region’s agriculture sector has become more imperative than ever. These investments will contribute to job creation, enhancement of food security, income generation, poverty reduction, and skills transfer,” Tettey states.

Marais says that Agri-Vie’s fund is on track to delivering its targeted, risk adjusted return in excess of major stock market indices. “Agri-Vie multi-disciplinary investment team has established strategic relationships in its target sectors and countries, giving the fund access to an ongoing flow of often exclusive investment opportunities. With sustainability as a key investment criterion and its cross continent investing, investors benefit from specialist sector knowledge and a risk-diversified portfolio of direct investments.”

“Being only the first private equity fund of scale US$ 110 million focusing on the food and agri-sector, and launched from South Africa in 2008, Agri-Vie has completed more than half of its capital deployment and envisages to complete its current investment programme over the next two years,” say Marais.

“Private equity investments of this nature also aim to support infrastructure development. Under its mid-term strategy, the Bank seeks to increase selectivity and develop a more robust private sector,” concludes Tettey.

 

 

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Zimbabwe to host international beekeeping conference

Posted on 16 March 2013 by Wallace Mawire

By Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe will in 2014 host an international beekeeping conference, API-Expo Africa, an international beekeeping conference meant to promote beekeeping in the country and Africa at large.
According to Beekeepers Association of Zimbabwe (BKAZ) National Coordinator, Chaipa Mutandwa,API-Trade Africa in Uganda is the organizing body and secretariat of the expo.

Mutandwa said the expo is also to be co-hosted by the local Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development. “The Ministry of Agriculture is the responsible institution since the Bees Act falls under the ministry,”Mutandwa said. He added that the expo will be held under the theme:Beekeeping for economic empowerment for Africa.

Mutandwa says at least 3 000 delegates are expected to attend the expo, who include exhibitors, local producers including service providers, just to mention a few.

Delegates are also expected to come from the SADC region, Africa including other countries in Europe. He added that the expo is to be attended by manufacturers of beekeeping equipment from countries like German, Poland and Italy.

The manufacturers are expected to showcase modern equipment for the beekeeping sector. The expo will also focus on researches,sharing of knowledge,ideas including new technologies in the sector, according to the organizers.

Mutandwa is the Secretary to the local organizing committee for the expo.

BKAZ was launched in March 2003. He added that the expo will create a networking platform,provide an opportunity for sector members to lobby for favourable policies and create market linkage opportunities for producers.

Mutandwa adds that the beekeeping sector in Zimbabwe has over 50 000 producers. He said his association is planning to put in place a desk to target farmers wishing to enter into commercial beekeeping.

“We want to promote commercial production of honey in Zimbabwe,” he said. The expo is also expected to promote value addition in  the sector which is reported to be lagging behind.

“We wish to change the mindset of the local producer, to see the importance of value addition,” Mutandwa said.

The expo is also expected to create a platform for local producers to penetrate high value markets.

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SATH initiative to focus on minimizing groundnut aflatoxin contamination

Posted on 16 March 2013 by Wallace Mawire

by Wallace Mawire

 

credit:SATH

 

The Southern Africa Trade Hub (SATH) is planning to partner with organizations in need of technical assistance along the groundnut value chain to minimize risk of aflatoxin contamination, according to a SATH spokesperson.
According to SATH, groundnuts are one of Southern Africa’s most important crops, but contamination by the carcinogenic fungus aflatoxin has become a public health issue and a significant barrier to trade. Risks associated with the fungus include liver cancer, impaired growth for children under five and suppression of the immune system.

“Shipments of groundnuts with aflatoxin levels over 4 parts per billion cannot be sold. Consignments are tested for aflatoxin levels prior to export and are rejected if they fail, damaging exports, undermining food security and lowering farmer profits. The trade losses attributed to aflatoxin contamination overall are US$1.2 billion globally and US$450 million per annum across Africa,” SATH says.

In response, the Southern Africa Trade Hub reports that it has devised a system of interventions applicable at critical points along the groundnut value chain to decrease the risk of aflatoxin contamination. The Hub says it is partnering with organizations in need of technical assistance to put these methods into widespread practice.

Post-Harvest Interventions:

·        Infield drying/ curing

·        On farm storage

·        Stripping

·        Pre-sheller grading

·        Buying incentives

·        Transport and warehouses

·        Mechanical shelling

·        Sorting

·        Blanching

·        Oil Extraction and filtering

·        Detoxification of peanut meal

·        Packaging, transport and storage

·        Aflatoxin testing

In November 2012  the Trade Hub reports that it rolled out an “Aflatoxin Roadshow” to educate traders, processors and farmers’ unions on effective methods to reduce contamination.
In collaboration with Twin, a UK-based NGO, the Hub educated value chain actors on improved post-harvest handling practices to prevent the growth of aflatoxin and protect the market value of this important crop.

The roadshow is reported to have  made stops in Lilongwe, Malawi; Napula, Mozambique; and Lusaka, Zambia.
It was attended by 94 participants, including groundnut exporters and importers, farmer associations, NGOs, research institutions, government officials and processors.
“Via these attendees, the information has the potential to reach four exporters in the region, 520 affiliate associations, 130,000 farmers and to impact 20,000MT of groundnut production valued at US$16 million in Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi,” SATH says.

The roadshow is said to have presented the results from last year’s joint study between the Trade Hub and Twin on aflatoxin mitigation measures and focused on critical control points such as field drying, shelling and bagging for storage.

Through the roadshow and other measures, the Trade Hub is acting as a catalyst to encourage cooperation among all the players of the groundnut value chain, which will help transform the industry and increase smallholder farm earnings.
“With collaboration, the industry can obtain the support it needs for significant growth: including financing, a certified laboratory for testing and central collection points for mechanical shelling,” SATH says.

The roadshow was co-sponsored by USAID’s Feed the Future programs Profit+ in Zambia, AgriFuturo in Mozambique and INVC in Malawi.
The workshops will be followed up with a strategy to accelerate adoption of aflatoxin-reduction strategies by producer organizations in order to help Zambia, Mozambique, and Malawi become trusted sources of peanuts, increasing demand and encouraging exports to regional and international markets.

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