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Forest products critical to fight hunger – including insects / New study highlights role of insects for food and feed consumption

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Africa Business

ROME, Italy, May 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Forests, trees on farms and agroforestry are critical in the fight against hunger and should be better integrated into food security and land use policies, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today at the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome (13-15 May).

 

“Forests contribute to the livelihoods of more than a billion people, including many of the world’s neediest. Forests provide food, fuel for cooking, fodder for animals and income to buy food,” Graziano da Silva said.

 

“Wild animals and insects are often the main protein source for people in forest areas, while leaves, seeds, mushrooms, honey and fruits provide minerals and vitamins, thus ensuring a nutritious diet.”

 

“But forests and agroforestry systems are rarely considered in food security and land use policies. Often, rural people do not have secure access rights to forests and trees, putting their food security in danger. The important contributions forests can make to the food security and nutrition of rural people should be better recognized,” Graziano da Silva said.

 

Frittered critters – wild and farm-raised insects

 

One major and readily available source of nutritious and protein-rich food that comes from forests are insects, according to a new study FAO launched at the forests for food security and nutrition conference. It is estimated that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least 2 billion people. Insect gathering and farming can offer employment and cash income, for now mostly at the household level but also potentially in industrial operations.

 

An astounding array of creatures

 

With about 1 million known species, insects account for more than half of all living organisms classified so far on the planet.

 

According to FAO’s research, done in partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands, more than 1900 insect species are consumed by humans worldwide. Globally, the most consumed insects are: beetles (31 percent); caterpillars (18 percent); bees, wasps and ants (14 percent); and grasshoppers, locusts and crickets (13 percent). Many insects are rich in protein and good fats and high in calcium, iron and zinc. Beef has an iron content of 6 mg per 100 g of dry weight, while the iron content of locusts varies between 8 and 20 mg per 100 g of dry weight, depending on the species and the kind of food they themselves consume.

 

First steps for the squeamish

 

“We are not saying that people should be eating bugs,” said Eva Muller, Director of FAO’s Forest Economic Policy and Products Division, which co-authored “Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security”.

 

“We are saying that insects are just one resource provided by forests, and insects are pretty much untapped for their potential for food, and especially for feed,” Muller explained.

 

Farming insects sustainably could help avoid over-harvesting, which could affect more prized species. Some species, such as meal worms, are already produced at commercial levels, since they are used in niche markets such as pet food, for zoos and in recreational fishing.

 

If production were to be further automated, this would eventually bring costs down to a level where industry would profit from substituting fishmeal, for example, with insect meal in livestock feed. The advantage would be an increase in fish supplies available for human consumption.

 

Bugs get bigger on less

 

Because they are cold-blooded, insects don’t use energy from feed to maintain body temperature. On average, insects use just 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kilo of insect meat. Cattle, at the other end of the spectrum, require 8 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of beef.

 

In addition, insects produce a fraction of emissions such as methane, ammonia, climate-warming greenhouse gases and manure, all of which contaminate the environment. In fact, insects can be used to break down waste, assisting in the composting processes that deliver nutrients back to the soil while also diminishing foul odours.

 

Enabling policies lacking

 

However, legislation in most industrialized nations forbids the actual feeding of waste materials and slurry or swill to animals, even though this would be the material that insects normally feed on. Further research would be necessary, especially as regards the raising of insects on waste streams. But it is widely understood by scientists that insects are so biologically different from mammals that it is highly unlikely that insect diseases could be transmitted to humans.

 

Regulations often also bar using insects in food for human consumption, although with a growing number of novel food stores and restaurants cropping up in developed countries, it seems to be largely tolerated.

 

As with other types of food, hygienic production, processing and food preparation will be important to avoid the growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms that could affect human health. Food safety standards can be expanded to include insects and insect-based products, and quality control standards along the production chain will be key to creating consumer confidence in feed and food containing insects or derived from insects.

 

“The private sector is ready to invest in insect farming. We have huge opportunities before us,” said Paul Vantomme, one of the authors of the report. “But until there is clarity in the legal sphere, no major business is going to take the risk to invest funds when the laws remains unclear or actually hinders development of this new sector,” he explained.

 

SOURCE

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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Kenya’s Newest Payments Innovation: Equity and Google launch Electronic Payments

Posted on 30 April 2013 by Africa Business

Consumers can enjoy quick and easy cashless bus ticketing with BebaPay: convenient for

passengers and operators

www.beba.co.ke

About BebaCard

BebaPay is an Equity product regulated by CBK, powered using technology by Google, a global leader in technology who bring their expertise in mobile and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

About Equity Bank

Equity Bank commenced business in Kenya on registration in 1984.It has evolved from a small Building Society, a Microfinance Institution; to currently the all-inclusive financial services provider which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and Uganda Securities Exchange.

Equity Bank Group is one of the region’s leading banks whose purpose is to transform the lives and livelihoods of the people of Africa socially and economically by availing them modern, inclusive financial services that maximize their opportunities. While the Equity brand is associated with empowerment of un-banked & the poorly banked segment of population, the Bank has evolved to become an all-inclusive bank for all. With nearly 8 million accounts, Equity Bank is the largest bank in the region in terms of customer base. The Bank has operations in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Tanzania. www.equitybankgroup.com

About Google Inc.

Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin,Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.google.com/africa and our Google Africa Blog: google-africa.blogspot.com.  You can also follow Google’s Africa team on Twitter: twitter.com/googleafrica

 

 

Nairobi, 30th May 2013: Equity and Google today announced BebaPay, Kenya’s newest cashless innovation to make payments easy and more convenient for consumers and merchants. With BebaPay, bus passengers can sign up for a card and top up for free at Equity agents. Customers can also top up their cards via mobile money. BebaPay helps to overcome the problem of using cash and receiving the correct change when paying for public transport on the bus or “matatu”.  BebaPay is the first payments system of its kind for Kenya.

BebaPay makes it easy to pay for your bus fare and helps you budget and track your spending.  All you do is swipe your card on the card reader in order to pay. You also get free SMS receipts and the BebaPay website makes it easy to budget and manage your expenses on your mobile or computer.  You can get a BebaPay card for yourself, family members or co-workers.  Bus conductors can use BebaPay on a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled Android phone to accept payments from BebaPay smart cards.

Dr James Mwangi, CEO, Equity Bank, says that “The BebaPay card is a first for Kenya and will change the transport industry when it comes to payment. It is a convenient local payment solution that makes it easy to budget and manage one’s expenses on a mobile phone or computer”.

“Research showed that technology could help bus operators and passengers to ease the process of ticketing, so we’re pleased that Nairobi commuters can now enjoy the advantages of BebaPay”, says Joe Mucheru, Google Kenya Country Manager.  “Using NFC is part of Google’s efforts to improve transactions for both businesses and consumers. NFC makes it easier for people to pay for goods and services, and gives merchants extra ways to connect with their customers using technology and the Internet”.

Lucia Atieno, a daily commuter who has been using BebaPay card for over 6 months, said “I now spend less on bus fares, since I can plan in advance how much money I need for a particular period of time. The conductors never leave with my change, which used to happen a lot if I forgot to as ask for it.  Greatest of all, no more chunks of paper in my handbag in the name of receipts!

Equity Bank and Google will be using affordable NFC-enabled Android devices that are available in Kenya and can be used for BebaPay.  Currently BebaPay is only available at key bus stops such as Kencom House. Equity Bank is working on rolling out BebaPay to more locations over time.

Note: Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

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Zimbabwe’s new found diamonds, a curse or blessing for local communities?

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Wallace Mawire

When communities in Zimbabwe’s Manicaland province in the Marange/Odzi region constituting Chimanimani, Marange, Buhera and Chipinge heard of diamond discoveries in their area they thought that their impoverished lives were going to improve.

Little did they know that things could turn to the worse.

A shocking report released by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) following an investigation has unearthed rampant abuse of environmental ethical standards with potential negative consequencies on the livelihoods of the affected communities.

ZELA has released the report on the scientific investigation of the impact of Marange diamond mining operations on water quality in the Save and Odzi rivers including assessment of the health, environmental and livelihoods impacts, according to Shamiso Mtisi, a Projects Lawyer with ZELA.

Mtisi says the study of the impact of mining activities on the water quality of the Save and Odzi rivers was commissioned by the ZELA  in the period 5 – 13 July 2012.

“This followed widespread reports that water quality had deteriorated to the extent that most ecosystem services (potable water, livestock watering and irrigation) that used to be derived from these natural ecosystems had been lost,”Mtisi said.

The objectives of the study were to determine the water quality in the Save and Odzi Rivers and make appropriate conclusions about the state of the environment and the potential impacts on human health and livelihoods in the Marange diamond mining region.

Ten study sites were sampled and this included suitable reference sites  selected on each river outside the diamond mining areas to give comparison of the effects before and after mining discharges.

Twenty physical and chemical water quality parameters were measured; along with nine heavy metal elements and four microbiological parameters.

According to ZELA, the results were evaluated against established W.H.O. standards and Zimbabwe Effluent Standards.

ZELA reports  that the results of the study have shown large scale impacts that include siltation, chemical pollution and also heavy metal pollution.

“All these arise as by products of the mining processes,” Mtisi says.

He added that turbidity and total solids exceeded the environmental limits.

“Water of high turbidity (hazey, murky water) cannot be used as potable water, and the high total solids also imply that it cannot be used as irrigation water as well as this will damage infrastructure,”he said.    The ZELA investigation also revealed that downstream of mining activities the water has turned into a red ochre colour, thereby affecting the health of the river system.

“When in contact with the skin, the water and mud were itchy. It is most likely that the subsistence artisanal fishing that took place before is no longer possible at affected river sites, thereby impacting negatively on people’s livelihoods,” ZELA says.

The reports says similarly, pH was in the high alkaline range as well as C.O.D. These parameters are reported to be  indicative of some chemical pollution in the rivers. The pH that is alkaline (hard water) is reported to be corrosive and can damage plumbing equipment and clothes.

High levels of fluoride in the water are said to pose the risk of diseases such as dental and skeletal flourosis. Dental flourosis relates to the poor development of teeth, while skeletal flourosis is a bone disease caused by excessive consumption of fluoride.

Levels of heavy metals were reported to show high concentrations of iron, chromium and nickel in the water. The report notes that these elements are the major constituents of ferro-silicon, a chemical compound used in the diamond extraction process.

Chromium and nickel are potentially carcinogenic agents (cancer causing agents) and therefore they pose an immediate health risk to people and livestock. “The high levels of iron in water suggest that the local populations could be at risk of iron poisoning, as they exceeded stipulated W.H.O. standards. Dangerous levels of bacterial contamination (high total and faecal coliform counts) mainly of faecal origin, were detected in the water,”according to ZELA.

The investigation revealed that the exact sources could not be determined but the mines have to explain and show how their sewage is treated and disposed of in the mining area. It adds that this means sewage treatment facilities must be in place for evaluation.

ZELA says in the report that the presence of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella also represents an immediate health risk for the local communities. A water quality index (WQI) was calculated for each of the river sites, and results showed that most of the river sites were classified as BAD water quality and the reference sites as MEDIUM quality.

According to ZELA the results of the study clearly show the environmental and potential health risks to people and their livelihoods as a result of poor mining practices in the Marange diamond region. “Access to this area is severely restricted, but the mines can only be exonerated if they allow independent studies to evaluate the environmental impacts arising from their mining activities,” ZELA says .

The organization has recommended that the necessary infrastructure to process all waste water from the mines should be put in place, and as part of their community responsibility, the mines must facilitate the clean up process.

“The problems of water quality and environmental degradation need to be addressed in the Marange area before there is irreparable damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods,” ZELA says. ZELA says in its report that mining, due to the nature of its operations, has been traditionally associated with problems of environmental degradation. In Zimbabwe, mining is a significant contributor to the country’s GDP like most countries in southern Africa.

The problems and economic losses associated with environmental degradation include damage to vegetation, health effects on livestock and humans, shortages of water in terms of quality and quantity. Thus, the long-term impacts on the health of livestock and humans ultimately depend upon the physical and chemical characteristics of pollutants and the exposure to such pollutants.

According to ZELA, like many other developing countries, a number of rivers in Zimbabwe are heavily polluted from anthropogenic activities which include industrial, sewage discharges and mining.

“The discovery of diamonds in the Marange region of Zimbabwe has translated the country into a mining giant. However, the pursuit of economic benefits must not be at the detriment of the natural environment upon which our biodiversity thrives as well as the livelihoods of millions of people who may not derive any direct benefits from mining activities,” says Mtisi.

The investigation has also revealed that mining by its nature, is a major environmental disturbance as it alters the landscape in many ways as minerals are mined and processed.

The two main complex processes involved include moving large quantities of earth thereby exposing toxic elements to the environment; and the processes of mineral extraction from the ore generates large amounts of liquid waste that must be disposed of.

In order to protect natural resources such as river courses, Zimbabwe has enacted legislation which include the Environmental Management Act and the Water Act (1998).

Communities in the Marange/Odzi region of Manicaland (Chimanimani, Marange, Buhera and Chipinge) have for long relied on the Odzi and Save Rivers for potable water, domestic chores, bathing, fishing and other ecosystem services such as reeds used for the basket making industry.

Irrigation schemes that draw water from the Odzi and Save Rivers in the Nyanyadzi, Tonhorai and Birchenough areas have been key to the sustenance of livelihoods of local Communities.

According to ZELA since the start of the diamond mining operations, the services that were derived from these rivers have slowly diminished as the water quality has progressively declined. “This is to such an extent that communities cannot use the water for drinking purposes anymore whilst coming into contact with the water and mud cause an itching of the skin,”ZELA says.

It adds that the use of ferro-silicon which is an alloy containing silica, iron, chromium, nickel, aluminium and calcium is suspected to be linked to the prevailing environmental problems. Downstream of mining activities the water has turned into a red ochre colour effectively affecting the health of the river system and ecosystem function.

“It is likely that the subsistence artisanal fishing that took place has been somewhat affected. There have been some studies on the Odzi River well before mining activities  but the sampling sites were situated well before the Marange area,” according to Mtisi.

The Odzi River is situated in the Save River basin, which is one of the seven basins/watersheds of Zimbabwe. It is the main river in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, where it originates at an altitude of 2500m in the Inyangani mountains.

According to ZELA, there are four mining companies operating in the Marange area namely: DMC, Mbada Diamonds, Anjin and Marange Resources.

“Communities have raised concern about effluent discharge from Anjin, Marange Resources and DMC mines,”ZELA says.

ZELA has concluded in its  investigation that the water quality of the Odzi and Save Rivers in an area where there is diamond mining has highlighted serious environmental problems that need to be urgently addressed.

It says the Save and Odzi rivers were already in a vulnerable state before the mining activities began mainly due to problems of siltation from the communal areas.

The start of mining ventures is reported to have resulted in large volumes of silt-laden water being discharged into the rivers.

“The problem of silt from mine washings is not a difficult one to deal with if the will is there. The mines need to construct tailings dams which act as sedimentation ponds. They should then discharge the water into the tailings dam and allow sediment to settle,” ZELA says.   Its adds that the water can then be pumped from the tailings dams and recycled.

The investigators have revealed that the levels of suspended silt in the rivers means the water cannot be used for irrigation as this would cause damage to pumps and other irrigation infrastructure.

“It is not fit for consumption by livestock and humans. The fluoride concentrations in the water, especially where there is strong influence of mine discharges, is of serious health concern (causes bone and teeth diseases) and needs to be investigated further,” Mtisi says.

The organization says the second major problem that was clearly identified was that of chemical pollutants being discharged into the rivers after the washings were done.

It says according to the technology that is being used, the ferro-silicone must be recycled after the diamond extraction.

It is said to be not clear why this is not being done but the results confirm large amounts of ferro-silicone are also being discharged with waste water into the rivers resulting in the problems of itchy skin and unusable water for irrigation and domestic use.

The metal concentrations especially that of chromium which is carcinogenic (cancer causing), are of particular concern being close to or higher than W.H.O. standards for drinking water.

ZELA says the problems of bacterial contamination in the water are of serious concern and pose an immediate risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.

“Since it is not possible to gain access to the mining area and assess how mines dispose of their human waste, it will be prudent to make the assumption that they could also be contributing to the problem,” the investigators concluded.

It is also said to be obvious that the water quality problems in this region have far-reaching socioeconomic implications for the livelihoods of local communities and the mines must take full responsibility in accordance with the various legal instruments that protect the environment.

“There is need for a regular monitoring programme to be instituted to assess for seasonal changes in the water quality of these rivers,” according to ZELA.

According to ZELA’s Veronica Zano at a recent media workshop on promoting transparency and accountability in Zimbabwe’s extractive sector, her organization wrote to the mining companies concerned and only ANJIN responsed informing them on the need to practice sound environmental operations.

She also revealed that the study was conducted by ZELA in collaboration with the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and a group of local scientists in Zimbabwe. Zano also revealed that her organization also lodged a case with the High Court of Zimbabwe which is still pending on the issue in a bid to protect the livelihoods of the affected communities. It now remains to be seen whether the interests of making money will overcome people’s health concerns.

Photo 1. Site 1 on Odzi River near Nenohwe village (5 July 2012).

Photo 2. Site 2 on Save River near Nechishanye village but upstream of Odzi/Save confluence (5 July 2012).

Photo 3. Site 3 near Nechishanye village at the confluence of Odzi and Save Rivers (5 July 2012).

Photo 4. Site 5 at Bazeley Bridge upstream of Anjin Mine and Marange Resources discharge points (6 July 2012).

Photo 5. Site 7 on Save River River at Dune/Banda- Maundu Village in Buhera.

Photo credits: ZELA

 

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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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Madagascar needs more than $41 million to end locust plague / Half of the country infested by locusts – food production seriously at risk

Posted on 26 March 2013 by Africa Business

ROME, Italy, March 26, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Madagascar needs more than $22 million of emergency funding by June to start fighting a severe locust plague that threatens the country’s next cropping seasons and the food security of more than half the country’s population, FAO said today. The agency underlined, however, that a three-year strategy is needed – requiring an additional $19 million.

 

Currently, about half the country is infested by hoppers and flying swarms – each swarm made up of billions of plant-devouring insects. FAO estimates that about two-thirds of the island country will be affected by the locust plague by September 2013 if no action is taken.

 

In view of the deteriorating situation, the Ministry of Agriculture of Madagascar declared a national disaster on 27 November 2012. In December, the Ministry of Agriculture requested technical and financial assistance from FAO to address the current locust plague, ensure the mobilization of funds as well as the coordination and implementation of an emergency response.

 

The emergency funding that has to arrive by June will allow FAO, together with the Ministry of Agriculture, to launch a full-scale spraying campaign for the first year.

 

Nearly 60 percent of the island’s more than 22 million people could be threatened by a significant worsening of hunger in a country that already has extremely high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition. In the poorest southern regions, where the plague started, around 70 percent of households are food insecure.

 

The plague now threatens 60 percent of the country’s rice production. Rice is the main staple in Madagascar, where 80 percent of the population lives on less than a dollar per day.

 

The locust swarms would also consume most green vegetation that might normally serve as pasture for livestock.

 

From start to finish

 

“We know from experience that this plague will require three years of anti-locust campaigns. We need funds now to procure supplies and to timely set-up the aerial survey and control operations,” said Annie Monard, FAO Senior Officer and Coordinator of the FAO locust response.

 

“Failure to respond now will lead to massive food aid requirements later on,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of the FAO Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.

 

“Campaigns in past years were underfunded, and unfortunately it means that not all locust infestations were controlled,” said Monard. She compared it to not uprooting the roots of a weed, in which case even more weeds come back.

 

Current national efforts

 

The national Locust Control Centre has thus far treated 30 000 hectares of farmland since the six-month rainy season began in October 2012, but some 100 000 hectares that need to be treated haven’t been, due to the government’s limited capacity.

 

In late February, the situation was made even worse by Cyclone Haruna, which not only damaged crops and homes but also provided optimal conditions for one more generation of locusts to breed.

 

The first year of the FAO strategy to control locusts would rely on large-scale aerial operations. Some 1.5 million hectares will be treated in 2013-14, which declines to 500 000 hectares in the second year and 150 000 hectares in the third and last year of the strategy. All the operations will be implemented in respect of human health and the environment.

 

The strategy also includes:

•    establishment and training of a Locust Watch Unit inside the Plant Protection Directorate, for monitoring and analysis of the locust situation over the whole invasion area;

•    aerial and ground survey operations;

•    monitoring and mitigation of locust control operations to preserve human health and protect the environment;

•    training in pesticide and spraying operations management.

 

An impact assessment of the locust crisis on crops and pasture will be conducted each year to determine the type of support needed by farming households whose livelihoods have been affected.training in pesticide and spraying operations management.

 

SOURCE

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

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Africa’s Agriculture and Agribusiness Markets Set to Top US$ One Trillion in 2030

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Africa has the potential to create a trillion-dollar food market
  • But farmers need better access to help them grow and trade their products
  • A new report outlines challenges and solutions to Africa’s Agriculture and Agribusiness sectors

WASHINGTON –A new World Bank report “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness,” says that Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.  The report calls on governments to work side-by-side with agribusinesses, to link farmers with consumers in an increasingly urbanized Africa.

“The time has come for making African agriculture and agribusiness a catalyst for ending poverty,” says Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region. “We cannot overstate the importance of agriculture to Africa’s determination to maintain and boost its high growth rates, create more jobs, significantly reduce poverty, and grow enough cheap, nutritious food to feed its families, export its surplus crops, while safeguarding the continent’s environment.”

New Findings

Good prospects: Africa’s food and beverage markets are projected to reach $1 trillion by 2030. By way of comparison, the current size of the market is $313 billion, offering the prospect of a three-fold increase, bringing more jobs, greater prosperity, less hunger, and significantly more opportunity enabling African farmers to compete globally.

Performance boost needed: Africa’s agriculture and agribusinesses are underperforming.  Many developing countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Thailand now export more food products than all of Sub-Saharan Africa combined.  Even as export shares are falling, import of food products is rising.  The report argues that these adverse trends can be reversed through good policies, sustained public-private investment, and strong public-private partnerships backed by open, transparent procedures and processes along the entire value chain.

Untapped land and water: Africa has more than half of the world’s fertile yet unused land.  Africa uses only two percent of its renewable water resources compared to the global average of five percent.  Post-harvest losses run 15 to 20 percent for cereals and are higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure.

While pointing to the need for significant investment in infrastructure the report carries an unequivocal warning: in the rush to allocate land for agribusiness, care needs to be taken so that acquisitions do not threaten people’s livelihoods and land purchases or leases are conducted according to ethical and socially responsible standards, including recognizing local users’ rights, holding consultations with local communities, and paying fair market-rate compensation for land acquired.

Adding Value

The report took an in-depth look at entire value chains – the process for taking products from farms to markets – for five commodities, rice, maize, cocoa, dairy and green beans.  Africa is the world’s leading importer and consumer of rice, paying US$3.5 billion for import bills. By increasing rice production, Senegal can help meet local demand but more capital is needed together with greater investment in irrigation and easing restrictions on access to land. Ghana, another top importer, produces more varieties of rice but at significantly higher cost.

“Improving Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors means higher incomes and more jobs. It also allows Africa to compete globally. Today, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand each export more food products than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined.  This must change,” says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region.

Success Story

Although much of Eastern and Southern Africa is well suited to dairy production, only Kenya has established a competitive dairy industry. Kenya’s industry is based partly on a formal sector for processed milk and other dairy products, but its dynamic informal sector (based mostly on raw milk) is even more important, supplying over 80 percent of the market. Kenya’s success largely comes from the entrepreneurship of smallholders’ who choose high milk-yielding cross-bred cattle, improved feeds and paid better attention to animal health.  Also, Kenya success points to the importance of improving linkages to the formal sector through cooperative milk collection and milk cooling centers. Even though challenges remain government policy, especially flexibility in setting quality and safety standards for the informal chain were vital.

Looking Ahead

The report says agriculture and agribusiness should be at the top of the development and business agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa. Strong leadership and commitment from both public and private sectors is needed.  For success, engaging with strategic “good practice” investors is critical, as is the need for strengthening of safeguards, land administration systems, and screening investments for sustainable growth.  Concluding on an upbeat note, the report says Africa can draw on many local successes to guide governments and investors toward positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

“African farmers and businesses must be empowered through good policies, increased public and private investments and strong public-private partnerships,” says Gaiv Tata, World Bank Director for Financial and Private Sector Development in Africa.  “A strong agribusiness sector is vital for Africa’s economic future.”

 

Source: WorldBank.org

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Africa’s Food Markets Could Create One Trillion Dollar Opportunity by 2030

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

WASHINGTON, March, 2013 - Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods, and if African governments can work more closely with agribusinesses to feed the region’s fast-growing urban population, according to a new World Bank report launched today.

According to the Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness report, Africa’s food systems, currently valued at US$313 billion a year from agriculture, could triple if governments and business leaders radically rethink their policies and support to agriculture, farmers, and agribusinesses, which together account for nearly 50 percent of Africa’s economic activity.

The time has come for making African agriculture and agribusiness a catalyst for ending poverty,” says Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region. “We cannot overstate the importance of agriculture to Africa’s determination to maintain and boost its high growth rates, create more jobs, significantly reduce poverty, and grow enough cheap, nutritious food to feed its families, export its surplus crops, while safeguarding the continent’s environment.”

Agribusiness: strong growth opportunities

Due to a combination of population growth, rising incomes and urbanization, strong demand is driving global food and agricultural prices higher.  Supply issues – slowing yield growth of major food crops, slowdown in research spending, land degradation and water scarcity issues, and a changing climate all mean that prices will remain high.  In this new market climate, Africa has great potential for expanding its food and agricultural exports.

Africa holds almost 50 percent of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops, comprising as many as 450 million hectares that are not forested, protected, or densely populated. Africa uses less than 2 percent of its renewable water sources, compared to a world average of five percent. Its harvests routinely yield far less than their potential and, for mainstay food crops such as maize the yield gap is as wide as 60 to 80 percent. Post-harvest losses run 15 to 20 percent for cereals and are higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure.

African countries can tap into booming markets in rice, maize, soybeans, sugar, palm oil, biofuel and feedstock and emerge as major exporters of these commodities on world markets similar to the successes scored by Latin America and Southeast Asia.  For Sub-Saharan Africa, the most dynamic sectors are likely to be rice, feed grains, poultry, dairy, vegetable oils, horticulture and processed foods to supply domestic markets.

The report cautions that even as land will be needed for some agribusiness investments, such acquisitions can threaten people’s livelihoods and create local opposition unless land purchases or leases are conducted according to ethical and socially responsible standards, including recognizing local users’ rights, thorough consultations with local communities, and fair market-rate compensation for land acquired.

Improving Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors means higher incomes and more jobs. It also allows Africa to compete globally. Today, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand each export more food products than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined.  This must change,” says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region.

Value Chains are essential

Rice: Africa has become a major consumer and importer of rice, and Africans import half the rice they eat and pay top dollar for it, $3.5 billion per year and more.  Ghana and Senegal are significant importers.  Senegal is competitive among its neighbors, but it is held back by the difficulty farmers have in accessing land, capital, finance for irrigation expansion and appropriate crop varieties.  Ghana produces fewer varieties of rice than Senegal, but at significantly higher cost, and levies 40 percent tariffs and other charges on imports. Poor grain quality, cleanliness and packaging are major deterrents for consumers constraining the sector’s performance.

Maize: A food staple for many Africans, maize is grown on 25 million hectares or 14 percent of cropped land. In Zambia where people eat on average 133 kilograms of cereals a year, maize provides half the calories in their diets.  Zambia is competitive when importing maize but fails on exports.  High transport costs, higher labor costs and lower yields combine to increase costs by one-third compared to Thailand, a major international producer of rain-fed maize.  The report argues that Zambia’s future competitiveness depends on raising yields, reducing costs, and removing disincentives for the private sector in markets and trade.

In addition, the study reviewed value chains for cocoa in Ghana and dairy and green beans in Kenya.

African farmers and businesses must be empowered through good policies, increased public and private investments and strong public-private partnerships,” says Gaiv Tata, World Bank Director for Financial and Private Sector Development in Africa.  “A strong agribusiness sector is vital for Africa’s economic future.”

Solutions

Agriculture and agribusiness should be at the top of the development and business agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report calls for strong leadership and commitment for both public and private sectors.  As comparators, the report cites case studies from Uruguay, Indonesia and Malaysia. For success, engaging with strategic “good practice” investors is critical, as is the strengthening of safeguards, land administration systems, and screening investments for sustainable growth.

The report notes that Africa can also draw on many local successes to guide governments and investors toward positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

 

Source: WorldBank.org

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New UN Report Warns of Uncertain Future for African Elephants / Elephant Poaching Doubled & Illegal Ivory Trade Tripled in Last Decade Endangering Already Fragile Populations / Enhanced Law Enforcement, International Collaboration and Reducing Demand Required to Avert Crises

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Africa Business

BANGKOK, Thailand, March 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Populations of elephants in Africa continue to be under severe threat as the illegal trade in ivory grows – with double the numbers of elephants killed and triple the amounts of ivory seized, over the last decade.

 

According to a new UN report entitled “Elephants in the Dust – The African Elephant Crisis”, increasing poaching levels, as well as loss of habitat are threatening the survival of African elephant populations in Central Africa as well as previously secure populations in West, Southern and Eastern Africa.

 

The report – produced by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC) – says that systematic monitoring of large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia is indicative of the involvement of criminal networks, which are increasingly active and entrenched in the trafficking of ivory between Africa and Asia.

 

At sites monitored through the CITES-led Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme alone, which hold approximately 40 per cent of the total elephant population in Africa, an estimated 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2011. Initial 2012 data shows that the situation did not improve that year. However, overall figures may be much higher.

 

These threats compound the most important long-term threat to the species’ survival – increasing loss of habitat as a result of rapid human population growth and large-scale land conversion for agriculture, providing for international markets.

 

 

 

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said, “CITES must re-engage on illegal wildlife crime with a renewed sense of purpose, commitment, creativity, cooperation and energy involving range states and transit countries to consuming nations of products such as ivory.”

 

“The surge in the killing of elephants in Africa and the illegal taking of other listed species globally threatens not only wildlife populations but the livelihoods of millions who depend on tourism for a living and the lives of those wardens and wildlife staff who are attempting to stem the illegal tide,” he added.

 

John Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES “This report provides clear evidence that adequate human and financial resources, the sharing of know-how, raising public awareness in consumer countries, and strong law enforcement must all be in place if we are to curb the disturbing rise in poaching and illegal trade.”

 

The report recommends critical actions, including improved law-enforcement across the entire illegal ivory supply chain and strengthened national legislative frameworks. Training of enforcement officers in the use of tracking, intelligence networks and innovative techniques, such as forensic analysis, is urgently needed.

 

“Urgent action is needed to address the growing challenges elephant populations are facing, but it will only happen if there is adequate political will to do so,” said Dr Holly Dublin, Chair of the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group.

 

Better international collaboration across range states, transit countries and consumer markets – through the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, CITES, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, the World Bank and other international actors – is needed in order to enhance law enforcement – from the field to the judiciary – to deter criminal activities and combat illegal trade.

 

These efforts include the need to fight collusive corruption, identifying syndicates and reducing demand.

 

“Organized criminal networks are cashing in on the elephant poaching crisis, trafficking ivory in unprecedented volumes and operating with relative impunity and with little fear of prosecution,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s ivory trade expert.

 

Elephants are also threatened by the increasing loss of habitat in around 29 per cent of their range as a result of rapid human population growth and agricultural expansions.

 

Currently, some models suggest this figure may increase to 63 per cent by 2050, a major additional threat to the survival of the elephant in the long-term.

 

 

Other key findings from the report

 

• Large-scale seizures of ivory destined for Asia have more than doubled since 2009 and reached an all-time high in 2011.

 

• Large movements of ivory that comprise the tusks of hundreds of elephants in a single shipment are indicative of the increasingly active grip of highly organized criminal networks on Africa’s illicit ivory trade.

 

• These largely Asian-run, African-based criminal networks operate with relative impunity as there is almost no evidence of successful arrests, prosecutions or convictions.

 

• Globally, illegal ivory trade activity has more than doubled since 2007, and is now over three times larger than it was in 1998.

 

• The prevalence of unregulated domestic ivory markets in many African cities, coupled with the growing number of Asian nationals residing in Africa also facilitates the illegal trade in ivory out of Africa.

 

• In 2011, poaching levels were at their highest since MIKE began monitoring the trends in illegal killing in 2001, and indications suggest that the situation did not improve in 2012.

 

• Poaching is spreading primarily as a result of weak governance and rising demand for illegal ivory in the rapidly growing economies of Asia, particularly China, which is the world’s largest destination markets.

 

• The high levels of poaching are, in some cases, facilitated by conflicts that, through lawlessness and ensuing abundance of small arms, provide optimal conditions for the illegal killing of elephants.

 

 

The report – released in Bangkok, at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CITES convention – combines information from sources including the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) African Elephant Specialist Group, MIKE and the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of CITES.

 

SOURCE

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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Africa’s Food Markets Could Create One Trillion Dollar Opportunity by 2030

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Africa Business

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods, and if African governments can work more closely with agribusinesses to feed the region’s fast-growing urban population, according to a new World Bank report launched today.

 

According to the Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusinessreport, Africa’s food systems, currently valued at US$313 billion a year from agriculture, could triple if governments and business leaders radically rethink their policies and support to agriculture, farmers, and agribusinesses, which together account for nearly 50 percent of Africa’s economic activity.

 

“The time has come for making African agriculture and agribusiness a catalyst for ending poverty,” says Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Africa Region. “We cannot overstate the importance of agriculture to Africa’s determination to maintain and boost its high growth rates, create more jobs, significantly reduce poverty, and grow enough cheap, nutritious food to feed its families, export its surplus crops, while safeguarding the continent’s environment.”

 

Agribusiness: strong growth opportunities

 

Due to a combination of population growth, rising incomes and urbanization, strong demand is driving global food and agricultural prices higher. Supply issues – slowing yield growth of major food crops, slowdown in research spending, land degradation and water scarcity issues, and a changing climate all mean that prices will remain high. In this new market climate, Africa has great potential for expanding its food and agricultural exports.

 

Africa holds almost 50 percent of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops, comprising as many as 450 million hectares that are not forested, protected, or densely populated. Africa uses less than 2 percent of its renewable water sources, compared to a world average of five percent. Its harvests routinely yield far less than their potential and, for mainstay food crops such as maize the yield gap is as wide as 60 to 80 percent. Post-harvest losses run 15 to 20 percent for cereals and are higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure.

 

African countries can tap into booming markets in rice, maize, soybeans, sugar, palm oil, biofuel and feedstock and emerge as major exporters of these commodities on world markets similar to the successes scored by Latin America and Southeast Asia. For Sub-Saharan Africa, the most dynamic sectors are likely to be rice, feed grains, poultry, dairy, vegetable oils, horticulture and processed foods to supply domestic markets.

 

The report cautions that even as land will be needed for some agribusiness investments, such acquisitions can threaten people’s livelihoods and create local opposition unless land purchases or leases are conducted according to ethical and socially responsible standards, including recognizing local users’ rights, thorough consultations with local communities, and fair market-rate compensation for land acquired.

 

“Improving Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness sectors means higher incomes and more jobs. It also allows Africa to compete globally. Today, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand each export more food products than all of sub-Saharan Africa combined. This must change,” says Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region.

 

Value Chains are essential

 

Rice: Africa has become a major consumer and importer of rice, and Africans import half the rice they eat and pay top dollar for it, $3.5 billion per year and more. Ghana and Senegal are significant importers. Senegal is competitive among its neighbors, but it is held back by the difficulty farmers have in accessing land, capital, finance for irrigation expansion and appropriate crop varieties. Ghana produces fewer varieties of rice than Senegal, but at significantly higher cost, and levies 40 percent tariffs and other charges on imports. Poor grain quality, cleanliness and packaging are major deterrents for consumers constraining the sector’s performance.

 

Maize: A food staple for many Africans, maize is grown on 25 million hectares or 14 percent of cropped land. In Zambia where people eat on average 133 kilograms of cereals a year, maize provides half the calories in their diets. Zambia is competitive when importing maize but fails on exports. High transport costs, higher labor costs and lower yields combine to increase costs by one-third compared to Thailand, a major international producer of rain-fed maize. The report argues that Zambia’s future competitiveness depends on raising yields, reducing costs, and removing disincentives for the private sector in markets and trade.

 

In addition, the study reviewed value chains for cocoa in Ghana and dairy and green beans in Kenya.

 

“African farmers and businesses must be empowered through good policies, increased public and private investments and strong public-private partnerships,” says Gaiv Tata, World Bank Director for Financial and Private Sector Development in Africa. “A strong agribusiness sector is vital for Africa’s economic future.”

 

Solutions

 

Agriculture and agribusiness should be at the top of the development and business agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa. The report calls for strong leadership and commitment for both public and private sectors. As comparators, the report cites case studies from Uruguay, Indonesia and Malaysia. For success, engaging with strategic “good practice” investors is critical, as is the strengthening of safeguards, land administration systems, and screening investments for sustainable growth.

 

The report notes that Africa can also draw on many local successes to guide governments and investors toward positive economic, social and environmental outcomes.

 

SOURCE

The World Bank

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Commissioner Piebalgs to launch new food security and energy projects during his visit to Burundi

Posted on 20 February 2013 by The African Press Organization

BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, February 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ During a two-day visit to Burundi (21-22/02), EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will announce an €18 million new project on food security for the benefit of around 20,000 households and to treat 80,000 undernourished children in the country. He will also launch a second project, worth €50 million, to provide access to sustainable energy for a million of Burundi’s citizens, particularly for those living in rural areas.

 

Commissioner Piebalgs said: “We cannot forget about the biggest scourge of our times – child hunger. In Burundi, the current level of chronic malnutrition rate of 58% of children under 5 is one of the highest in more than two decades. EU aid is an important instrument to achieve a hunger-free world and I am determined to help families and children in Burundi, so that they also can have a chance for more decent life”.

 

The food security project, called PROPA-O, is part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Initiative – set up to help those countries who are especially off-track with the MDGs, or reward those who are making particular progress in meeting them. The initiative will aim to improve access to quality agricultural products such as seeds and fertilisers and by helping farmers to access markets (through improved storage, transformation and collection processes).

 

Another focus of Commissioner’s visit will be energy. In Burundi, only 3,5% of people have access to electricity. Lack of access to energy remains a major brake to further development of the country. As Commissioner Piebalgs explained: “There can be no development without energy and, unfortunately, the energy situation in Burundi remains one of the worst in the world, with daily power cuts being experienced by most people.” The new initiative (€50 million) could include rural electrification, small and medium hydro projects and measures related to energy infrastructure. The project will also bring the Commission one step closer to delivering on its pledge to provide energy access for 500 million people by 2030 which was made within UN-led Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

 

Tentative Programme of the Commissioner

In addition to the meeting with President Nkurunziza, Commissioner Piebalgs will also meet Vice-President Gervais Rufyikiri, Minister of Finance and Planning Tabu Abdallah Manirakiza, Minister for Health and Minister for Agriculture. He will also meet the UN Special Representative for Burundi, as well as representatives of various international organisations such as UNDP, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He will also hold a meeting with civil society organisations. During all these meetings, Commissioner will insist on the need for the country to accelerate the agenda of reforms and to follow up on commitments that the Government has taken during the International Conference of Geneva in October 2012. Commissioner Piebalgs declared: “While recognising that a number of reforms are on the right path, we must encourage our Burundese friends to move forward and to accelerate the reforms that will ensure sustainable development of the country. The 2015 elections are an important rendez-vous that cannot be missed. The EU will remain an important partner for Burundi to face all those challenges”. Finally, Commissioner Piebalgs will also visit a series of EU-funded development projects to evaluate their implementation, in the area of governance, health and food security.

 

Background

Since 2004, the EU has financed more than 45 projects all over Burundi in the field of Food Security which have been implemented by almost 25 different organizations amounting to nearly €40 million. These projects have benefited thousands of households, mainly farmers and vulnerable people, through the rehabilitation of rural production factors (land, infrastructure, equipment); the re-launching of production (e.g. increased agricultural productivity, provision of farm inputs, animal husbandry, training capacity building towards farmers and farmers’ organisations); the diversification of rural livelihoods and increase to rural incomes, and the support of the transition from a subsistence agriculture to market oriented one and, most recently, addressing chronic malnutrition. Nevertheless, because food insecurity is a structural issue, a long-term response is needed.

 

SOURCE

European Commission

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