Agriculture

Hunger intensifies in 9 countries in Africa, others – UN

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have disclosed that food insecurity or lack of access to enough food has continued to worsen in 16 countries torn by conflict, highlighting further that is was of “extremely critical importance for humanitarian support of the affected countries.

The agencies listed the countries monitored to include Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

The others are Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The countries are classified as  most affected by acute hunger.

Conflict is a common factor undermining food security in all 16 countries covered in the report, which formed part of the bi-annual briefings to the UN Security Council on food security.

According to the report, the intensification of conflicts is a key reason behind the recent resurgence of world hunger levels, following decades of steady declines.

Among them, Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, CAR, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Somalia have a quarter or more of the population facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger.

In Yemen, 60 per cent of the population, or 17 million people, are affected by acute hunger.

These figures are 45 per cent, or 4.8 million, in South Sudan, 33 per cent, or 6.5 million, in Syria, and 33 per cent, or 1.9 million, in Lebanon – a country hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.

But these are far from being the only countries flagged as cause for concern.

In the DRC, where serious food security concerns have been overshadowed by crises in other parts of Africa, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, the report warns.

There, 11 per cent of the population is now in the crisis phase or above, adding up to 7.7 million people who are coping with acute hunger.

In Sudan, 3.8 million people are in the crisis phase or above, in Iraq, that figure is 3.2 million while in the Lake Chad basin, the number is 2.9 million people.

In Burundi and Haiti, it is 1.8 and 1.3 million, respectively.

According to data, the number of hungry people worldwide rose to 815 million people in 2016, up from 777 million the year before.

The report stated that majority of the hungry, or 489 million people, live in countries wracked by conflict.

Health

Durban based scientist adds voice to the global development discussion

Following a rigorous selection process, Dr Denis Chopera, Programme Executive Manager of the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE), based in Durban, South Africa, has been selected as an Aspen New Voices Fellow. The Aspen Institute announced the 2018 class of this ground-breaking programme on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018. It is designed to ensure experts from the developing world have a voice in the global development discussion.

“I am so excited to join fellow global development experts from the developing world,” said Chopera. “What a great opportunity to contribute to dialogue on development issues affecting the African continent!”

Originally from Zimbabwe and now working from SANTHE’s lead institute – the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) – Chopera is responsible for the implementation of the SANTHE programme objectives and strategic management, which aim to provide a platform for promising African scientists to realise their goals of contributing to solving Africa’s health challenges. Having lost four siblings to AIDS while growing up, his goal is to make a positive impact in solving Africa’s health challenges. He believes strongly that HIV and TB research capacity building in Africa constitutes sustainable development on the continent and will go a long way in enabling Africans to contribute to solving their health challenges.

The 20 new Fellows are leading public health specialists, doctors, scientists, activists, social entrepreneurs, policy experts, researchers, and economists, and come from 12 countries across Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

“Across the world, local experts and local communities are taking charge of their own futures,” said Andrew Quinn, New Voices Fellowship Director. “These are the voices we should be listening for when we listen to the story of global development – because these are the voices that show the way forward on humanity’s greatest challenges, including infectious disease, food security, good governance and climate change.”

During the programme’s first five years, New Voices Fellows, who are accepted by nomination only, were featured over 2000 times in media outlets and delivered numerous TED and TEDx talks. Under a training partnership with The Moth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, New Voices Fellows have told their stories to live US audiences and through radio and podcast syndications.

Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Societies Foundation, the New Voices Fellowship was established in 2013 to bring the essential perspectives of development experts from Africa and other parts of the developing world into the global development conversation. The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organisation. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The US institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.

AlphaGalileo

Agriculture

Press Release: CRU, OCP to bring 500 global fertilizer leaders to the Phosphates 2018 conference

The CRU (www.CRUgroup.com) is bringing Phosphates 2018 (http://APO.af/ESWVFf), the global phosphates industry’s most important conference, to the Mövenpick Mansour Eddahbi Hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco on 12-14 March 2018. The event is organised in participation with International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and will be hosted by OCP, Morocco’s national phosphate company (www.OCPgroup.ma).

Now in its 11th year, the event attracts over 500 commercial and operational decision-makers from across the phosphates and fertilizer supply chain to explore the supply and demand dynamics and the latest mining and production technologies.

Morocco is a hub for investment and innovation in phosphate mining and processing. OCP has been driving an ambitious expansion programme both at home and overseas. Registered attendees will have the chance to see the phosphate and fertilizer production first hand by visiting OCP’s Khouribga mining site and the Jorf Lasfar industrial integrated fertilizer platform.

Chris Lawson, CRU’s Head of Phosphates, believes this is a particularly interesting time for the industry: “Phosphate market dynamics have diverged significantly through 2017. Phosphate fertilizer producers are cautiously optimistic, with prices exceeding expectations throughout the past twelve months. Meanwhile, phosphate rock prices continue to slide lower with low cost Moroccan rock winning more market share in 2017,” said Mr. Lawson.

“The 2018 CRU phosphates conference has a broad agenda that helps to provide clarity into not only the global market dynamics, but into developments in the specialty/niche fertilizers space and how technology is rapidly changing the future of farming and ultimately, fertilizer demand,” continued Mr. Lawson.

The conference programme features numerous networking opportunities and the chance to explore a lively exhibition of over fifty providers of the latest innovations and services to the industry.

Agriculture

Global cassava coalition calls for support for cassava transformation in Africa

 By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) has called on policy makers, donors and the international community to support all efforts that would bring about cassava transformation in Africa.

Made ahead of the international conference on cassava, the call is coming at a time when cassava is becoming central to food security of over 600 million people in the developing world and has become the fourth most important crop after maize, wheat and rice.

Presenting the upcoming conference on cassava to donors and the international community in Cotonou on Thursday, the Director of GCP21, Dr Claude Fauquet said that the productivity of cassava was low in spite of its role in Africa’s food security.

“Despite the key role cassava is playing in Africa’s food security, its productivity has remained low (about 9 tons per hectare), keeping the growers in the trap of poverty. When compared to Asia, cassava productivity in that continent is more than 21 tons per ha—a situation that gives Asia competitive advantage in global cassava trade. Addressing the yield gap requires more funding for cassava research and development (R&D) from all stakeholders, if the world wants to help farmers towards ending hunger and poverty in Africa,” Fauquet said.

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He noted that the conference with the theme: Cassava Transformation in Africa, which will hold between 11th and 15th June, 2018 in Cotonou, Republic of Togo, is one of the ways the GCP21 was contributing for the transformation of the root crop.

While calling for the participation of all stakeholders, Fauquet emphasized that the conference would provide a unique opportunity for donors, investors and policy makers to see and access the latest innovations and discoveries in the cassava sector.

Hosting the press conference, the French Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, H.E. Veronique Brumeaux said the conference was timely and would go a long way in addressing the constraints of cassava production while at the same time proffering opportunities for investors and farmers alike to harness new innovations from the research community.

Cassava

The Benin Republic’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, H.E. Dossouhoui Cossi Gaston underscored the importance of cassava to Benin and Africa in general. He said that the importance of cassava would continue to increase as its consumption per capita was high and the root crop is resilient to climate change.

Also, the Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Mme Attanasso Marie-Odile said that Benin was proud to host the conference, noting that cassava’s development and transformation would offer opportunities for youth engagement which the country and other African countries.

At the press conference were representatives of the embassies of France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Japan, Canada, United States, and European Union. Others were representatives of development agencies: AfDB, USAID, JICA, GIZ, AFD, EU, UNDP, and FAO.

This year’s conference is being organised by GCP21, in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (INRAB), Faculte des Sciences Agronomique – Universite Abomey-Calavi (FAS-AUC).

Other supporting institutions are: The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB); Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research (WECARD), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), International Center for Agricultural Development (CIRAD), and the Institute for Research & Development (IRD).

 

Agriculture

African smallholder farmers to benefit from world’s largest non-governmental climate insurance programme

Over 690,000 families totaling up to four million people living in six low-income countries stand to benefit from a new climate insurance programme launched by VisionFund International, World Vision’s microfinance arm and Global Parametrics, a new venture funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and by the InsuResilience Investment Fund, set up by German development bank KfW and managed by Swiss-based impact investment manager BlueOrchard Finance.

Financing for the initial preparation and assessment required to implement the programme came from the Rockefeller Foundation and FMO, the Dutch development bank.

The programme known as the African and Asian Resilience in Disaster Insurance Scheme (ARDIS) is thought to be the world’s largest non-governmental climate insurance programme.

ARDIS will increase access to finance and provide post disaster recovery lending to rural families and smallholder farmers who live below the poverty line and participate in VisionFund’s microfinance network. In its first year, ARDIS protection will be provided to VisionFund’s clients in Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Zambia, Cambodia and Myanmar, of which around 80% are women.

This programme will effectively meet one per cent of the G7 goal to increase access for up to 400 million uninsured people in developing countries to insurance products that protect against climate risk.

The ARDIS programme allows beneficiaries to receive swift access to much-needed credit required by farmers and small businesses after a climate shock. Recovery lending, essentially small loans with special terms, is provided through VisionFund’s microfinance institutions.

Such loans are disbursed immediately during and after disasters to help clients maintain or restart economic activities, complementing relief aid which is required for urgent survival needs in disaster situations.

Fast recovery lending to the client is enabled by the provision of liquidity to the microfinance institution in order to bolster its resources to cope with increased demand. Global Parametrics’ advanced climate-based data modelling verifies the climate event and triggers access to both contingent liquidity and risk capital by VisionFund’s microfinance institutions.

This injection of funds to the microfinance institutions restores their balance sheets, thus ensuring business continuity or enhancement of operations and services despite the common disruptions created by such calamities.

For example, typically in disasters when clients cannot repay loans and there is higher demand for lending, microfinance institutions suffer a reduction in the amount of capital they hold and are therefore required to curtail their lending.

The contingent liquidity for ARDIS is provided by the InsuResilience Investment Fund which is managed by impact investment specialist, BlueOrchard Finance, and backed by KfW on behalf of BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Risk capital is provided through the Natural Disaster Fund that is managed by Global Parametrics and currently funded by the British government via DfID. The structure offers an affordable and sustainable system for disaster recovery lending at costs of approximately half a per cent of loan portfolio value per annum payable by the microfinance institution.

Michael Mithika, President and CEO, VisionFund International said: “ARDIS uses an innovative financing structure making recovery lending scalable. This scalability means greater opportunities for more people to access emergency finance to restart businesses and restore incomes. We’ve already seen the benefits of recovery lending initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016/2017 which were supported by a £2 million returnable grant from DfID. We are excited about rolling this out on a wider scale.”

Jerry Skees, Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Global Parametrics, said: “We are thrilled to have worked jointly with VisionFund to develop this innovative programme. Together, we have the potential to meet ambitious social goals that improve financial inclusion, facilitate recovery lending and build resiliency for communities. The adoption of ARDIS also assists microfinance institutions to protect their exposure to climate risk, ensure continuity of services and continue business growth. The closing of this transaction is a major milestone as we build market-changing risk models and offer solutions to communities needing them most. We plan to repeat this type of offering with other firms serving the poor and vulnerable in emerging markets.”

Stefan Hirche, Chairman of the Board of the InsuResilience Investment Fund said: “African and Asian countries are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural catastrophes. We are looking forward to partnering with VisionFund International and Global Parametrics to reduce the vulnerability of small businesses and low-income households in these regions and to contribute to achieving the G7 goal to insure 400 million vulnerable people.”

Financing for the initial preparation and assessment required to implement ARDIS came from the InsuResilience Investment Fund, DfID, Asian Development Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, and with focused support to launch the program provided by the Dutch development bank FMO.

FMO’s contribution was provided by the MASSIF fund, which is managed by FMO on behalf of the Dutch government. MASSIF supports small businesses and micro-entrepreneurs in emerging markets by providing resources to financial intermediaries.

MASSIF supports innovations in inclusive business, such as ARDIS, targeting households at the base of the pyramid which are often situated in rural areas.

Michael Mithika concluded: “ARDIS consolidates VisionFund International’s leadership in the provision of on-the-ground agricultural finance. This is the first step for VisionFund in the use of climate science and Financial Disaster Risk Management tools to create extremely low cost climate protection. We are already working on additional countries, risks, features and services with Global Parametrics to build on ARDIS.”

www.visionfund.org

Agriculture

Tambuwal flags off sale of locally produced organic fertilizer

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has flagged off sales of organic fertilizer produced by a local firm, Sokoto-IML Company Ltd.

The company was established in 2017 as a joint-venture entity between the Sokoto state government and IML Industries Ltd.

Speaking at the flag-off ceremony, Tambuwal said the event is a clear testimony of his administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance the economic well-being of the people of the state.

He said apart from the fertilizer company, other policies have been implemented in order to put the state economy in the right direction.

“The micro and macroeconomic policies of both the federal and Sokoto state governments have started yielding positive results. As we can see, positive results have been churned out from sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, entrepreneurship development and other areas in the social investments chain.

“It worthy to note that governments at all levels are making progress in empowering the people to become self reliant with a view to addressing socioeconomic challenges bedeviling the country,” he added.

Tambuwal said Sokoto state is one of the few states in Nigeria endowed with lots of unexploited natural resources adding that significant progress has been made in the last two years in harnessing such resources for the benefit of the people.

He said government’s strategic investment plan has been worked out and is being implemented through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) under the management of Sokoto Investment Company.

He also announced the purchase of two trucks of the fertilizer for each of the 23 local government areas in the state totaling over N104 million.

In his remarks, the Managing Director of the company, Alhaji Bilya Sanda, said when in full operation, the company can produce 20,000 bags of organic fertilizer daily.

Agriculture

Reps move for Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in fish production

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committees on Agricultural Production and Services and Water Resources to collaborate with relevant agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria became self-sufficient in fish production in the next two years.

This followed the House’s unanimous adoption of a motion by Hon. Olawale Raji (Lagos-APC) at plenary on Wednesday.

The house tasked the committees to ensure that enabling environment existed for increased private sector investments and development of a policy framework for implementation of a phased ban on importation of fish and fish products.

The green chamber also mandated its Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, and the Committee on Navy to ensure effective monitoring and protection of Nigeria’s fishing waters from non-indigenous ship operators.

Moving the motion, Raji said diversification of the economy from crude oil to other key sectors like agriculture remained pivotal to the realisation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the present administration.

He said that the fisheries sub-sector remained a vital component of the nation’s economy, accounting for about four per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Raji said that the sub-sector was largely under-developed in spite of the potential to provide cheap sources of protein, income, employment and foreign exchange.

He said that local production arising from artisanal fishing, aquaculture and industrial captures was estimated at about 800,000 tonnes.

According to him, that accounts for only 30 per cent of the total annual fish demand estimated at 2.7 million tonnes.

The lawmaker revealed that Nigeria had resorted to importation to meet the deficit of about 1.9 million tonnes in domestic fish supply at an estimated cost of 625 million dollars in foreign exchange annually.

He said that the escalating demand for foreign exchange for fish importation was not sustainable in the light of the pressure on the country’s foreign reserves and fluctuating earnings from crude oil.

According to Raji, Nigeria has now become a dumping ground for all manners of frozen fish, most of which are unwholesome in quality and highly detrimental to the health of consumers.

He said that with the abundant marine and inland fisheries resources comprising 923,768 kilometres in land area, 47,934 kilometres continental shelf and 853 kilometres of coastlines.

Others, he said, were network of rivers, flood plain, natural and man-made lakes, adding that Nigeria had all it took to become self-sufficient in fish production and a hub of fish exportation in West African Sub-region.

He charged the Federal Government on the need to vigorously pursue self-sufficiency in fish production so as to ensure food security and reserve for export. (NAN)