Category archives for: Agriculture

Nigeria: Customs Intercepts N4 Million Worth Foreign Rice in Jigawa

By Yusha’u A. Ibrahim

Kano — The Kano/Jigawa states’ Command of the Nigerian Customs Service has intercepted foreign rice worth N4, 167,825.45 in Jigawa state.

Briefing the newsmen on the seizure yesterday, the Command’s Comptroller, Mr Abutu Mathais Onoja, said a trailer loaded with the rice was impounded by the service at Shuwarin village in Kiyawa local goverment of Jigawa state.

Onoja, however, said nobody was arrested in connection with the intercepted goods.

He said the driver and conductor of the trailer abandoned the vehicle and ran away after they were ordered to disembark from the vehicle to witness a search on the goods they were carrying.

He said the smugglers covered the rice with some bags of Nigerian Sugar, used tyers and gallons of paints among other items.

“We have realized that the smugglers have nowadays changed tactics in their quest to smuggle foreign goods into the country, but we will continue to track them and bring them to justice,” he assured.

He, however, apealed to the headquarters of the service to look into the problem of the command’s warehouse which he said was filled up with seized goods.

Onoja said the command had donated 420 bags of rice to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) last year and that presently a total of 6, 143 bags of rice are being kept in the warehouse.

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Gambia: Agriculture Project Worth Over D.5 Million Inaugurated in Foni Sintet

By Sheriff Barry

An agricultural project worth D714,375 (seven hundred and fourteen thousand three hundred and seventy five dalasis), inaugurated in Sintet village in the Foni Jarrol district, sponsored by Engelhart on Saturday. The CEO and founder of Fonteris Company in Germany who is a member of Socialis for The Gambia was present.

The inauguration came as several members of the Socialis for The Gambia are in the country to visit some of their project sites. Their first port of call was Sannehmentereng Kindergarten and Lower Basic School in Brufut. This school has received unprecedented support, including free education, uniforms, scholarship, a skills centre, infrastructure and other amenities worth millions of Dalasis.

The Socialis for The Gambia is a German charitable organization based in The Gambia. The organization has been instrumental in providing support in education and agriculture at both Sannehmentereng Kindergarten and Lower Basic School in Brufut and the community of Sinteh in Foni Jarrol District since its inception. The relationship between the organization and the community of Sinteh was started in 2010 by Lamin Sowe, a native of the village who has lived in Germany for many years.

In his inaugural speech, Hatab Beyai, the coordinator of Socialis for The Gambia, spoke of the importance of the project, describing it as a milestone achievement not only for the people of the area, but for the country as a whole. “With the dedication and hard work of all members of the association the Sinteh Skill Centre was officially opened in providing free skills training for the youth of the area.”

He went on to add that, it is envisaged that providing knowledge and training for citizens is an empowerment tool for the sustainable development of their livelihood. Socialis for The Gambia has partnered with the government of The Gambia for the past couple of years in complementing the efforts of the government in the provision of free education for all, regardless of sex or tribe and, “today we are proud to inform the gathering that we are providing free education to over 600 students our Lower Basic School in Burufut, 45 students at our skills centre in Brufut and over 40 students in our skills centre in Sintet.”

He finally, thanked the members of Socialis for The Gambia for their unflinching support and also acknowledged the contribution of other people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the project came to fruition. Among those he thanked was Lamin Sowe, a native of Sintet and Executive member of Socialis for The Gambia, Samba Sowe coordinator Sintet project, the contractor, the seamstress and students of Sintet Skill Centre and the community of Sintet village.

For his part, Engelhart, the CEO and founder of Fonteris Company in Germany, who is the main sponsor of the Agricultural project, said the idea of the project came when he was invited to go to Kenya by a group of German friends who has established meaningful agricultural projects in Kenya. He stated that those projectshave been exporting produce to Germany.

This, he said, inspired him to start a similar project in The Gambia so that in the near future it can also bring success and development to the inhabitants of the area. “In my opinion this was a reasonable project, this is why I founded this through Socialis for The Gambia. This project is intended as ‘help for self help’. The only way to move forward is through sustainable help that keeps on working after we are gone. If we all work together to help you and you help yourself; success will be achieved for the betterment of all and sundry. I will continue to work with you and give support where necessary to achieve the desired goal,” he said.

He thanked the members of the Socialis for Ther Gambia and all those who contributed in one way or the other for making it a successful project.

Samba Sowe, the coordinator of project, underscored the significance of the project saying the organization built a skills training centre for the community which is now training the youth and women in tailoring. The vision of the centre, he added, is to ensure that the youth and women are involved in the development agenda of the country and that they be given the support they need to build their capacity to be responsible citizens.

He added that its mission is to provide skills training for the rural youth and women in the areas of tailoring and agriculture so as to help job-creators who will generate income and live independent lives.

The two newly constructed agricultural buildings are to train farmers in modern farming techniques and agro-based processing to drive and empower the youth of the area to nurture agriculture and discourage going the back way to Europe. The building contains offices, classrooms, workshops and a proposed storage (cooling) room for the operation of the centre.

He thanked both the philanthropists for their unflinching support and for their vision and mission to transform the lives of the needy communities.

A host of other speakers, included Karin Neumuller, the Co-president of Socialis for The Gambia and Josef Kiener; one of the visiting members of the Socialis for The Gambia. All were overwhelmed by the performance and achievement of the organization over the years and they assured their continued support for the project.

South Africa: National Minimum Wage Could Hurt Small Firms and Rural Workers

analysisBy Dieter Von Fintel and Marlies Piek

Stellenbosch University — South Africa will formally adopt a national minimum wage of R20.00 per hour on Worker’s Day next year. There are questions as to whether this is enough to be termed a victory for the country’s working poor? If historical trends continue, our research shows that this might be beneficial for some workers. Others, especially those in small firms and rural areas, may not be so fortunate.

Workers in rural areas and those currently working in small enterprises could be particularly susceptible to job losses as a result of the national minimum wage. The policy framework acknowledges these vulnerabilities. Its recommendations provide temporary exemption for small employers in particular, but none for rural jobs. That means that workers in rural areas could be adversely affected.

We found that most retail jobs were secure after minimum wages were introduced in that sector in 2003. But when we broke this down, we traced many job losses in rural areas. Similarly, many rural farm jobs were destroyed. In addition, if minimum wages continue to be poorly enforced many workers may still be paid wages below acceptable poverty lines.

The challenge is that from May 2018, the minimum wage will be imposed across the country in much the same way. It won’t take into account the different conditions under which businesses operate. The result is that some will experience more stress from a minimum wage than others, leading to unintended consequences.

The case for and against the minimum wage

With its raging unemployment and many low-paying jobs, South Africa faces a dilemma as it introduces a national minimum wage. Higher wages are necessary for better living standards; but wage growth can potentially exacerbate already high unemployment and consequently reduce living standards.

Simple economic models predict that minimum wages destroy employment. However, decades of intense research show that the basic model is not an empirical certainty in all circumstances.

Consensus is slowly shifting, with greater recognition for the role of minimum wages in reducing inequality. Latin America is a case in point where inequality was initially extreme, but declined (at least partially) in response to minimum wages at the turn of the century. One might expect the same benefits in South Africa, which has remained close to the top of world inequality rankings.

Existing evidence on the potential costs and benefits of minimum wages in South Africa is mixed. With the first formal minimum wages introduced only in 1999, local experience is limited. Traditionally minimum wages have been applied only in certain industries and with special provisions. Variations existed by area and firm size. The effects of a minimum wage on employment are varied, depending on what policies are in place and the economic environment within each industry.

Few developing countries have implemented national minimum wages (in other words they are broadly applicable in the same way in all sectors and firm types). This is because informal activity still contributes largely to developing economies. Wages are difficult to regulate in these settings. Nevertheless, countries such as Cape Verde have embarked on national minimum wages in 2014.

Overall, economists argue that wage growth is a hindrance to employment creation in South Africa. For example, in better paying sectors (such as manufacturing), wages negotiated by collective bargaining councils have reduced employment by about 10%.

But the effects in worse paying, non-unionised sectors are not that obvious. These sectors are typically covered by government imposed minimum wage legislation. Only commercial agricultural enterprises cut jobs when minimum wages were introduced in 2003. Non-agricultural minimum wage jobs, on the other hand, have generally been safer.

A national minimum wage therefore has the potential to raise wages without destroying jobs. But we contend that these broad strokes cover up vulnerabilities in vital segments of the labour market. In particular, rurally based and small firms are likely to experience the most stress in response to a minimum wage that covers the whole country in exactly the same way.

The effect on small farmers

Our new research shows that employment on large farms grew after agricultural minimum wages were introduced in 2003. In contrast, smaller farmers bore the brunt of minimum wage legislation whose employment levels declined. By all indications, minimum wages displaced workers from vulnerable farms to those that were already doing well.

Farming has become increasingly concentrated among large commercial operators over the long-run; minimum wages have contributed to intensify this existing trend. These shifts indicate larger – and not smaller – inequalities in agricultural ownership as a result of minimum wages.

Small players must overcome specific challenges – including their wage bill – to remain competitive in local and international markets.

Businesses adopt various coping strategies to survive. An example of this is the 50% wage increase that followed a strike in the Western Cape at the end of 2012. Surprisingly, no jobs were cut. However, farmers across the country increased their defiance of minimum wages. Many more workers were paid below the legislated benchmark compared to before the hike. Growing non-compliance undermines the central objective of paying a living wage to workers. But this illegal practice appears to keep some smaller players afloat.

There was another unintended consequence to the 50% hike in the sectoral wage. Our research shows that agricultural workers who benefited from the wage hike found that other fringe benefits – such as housing and food provision – were cut back during this period.

The eventual path from a legislated wage increase to better living conditions is therefore far more complex than one might imagine.

Rural workers could be hurt

While jobs in the retail sector were previously shown to be immune to the imposition of minimum wages, our research shows that the impact isn’t uniform. Workers in urban areas benefited from higher wages and without job cuts. On the other hand, retail jobs in rural areas were cut.

As with small players in the agricultural sector, retail operators in areas that are separated from central markets face additional challenges in keeping their businesses viable. Some retailers might raise the prices of their products to afford wage hikes. However, customers in impoverished rural areas are likely to cut back on their purchases. Some rural firms therefore struggle to remain profitable.

Vulnerable sectors may cut jobs without extra support

The evidence suggests that minimum wages are not obviously good or bad for all workers. Some segments of the economy – those already vulnerable – are likely to cut jobs when the national minimum wage comes into full force. Time will tell whether a blanket approach will be effective at increasing the standard of living of vulnerable low-wage workers. Complementary policies to specifically support small and rural firms may be essential for minimum wages to reduce inequality in South Africa.

Disclosure statement

Dieter von Fintel receives funding from the National Research Foundation. He is affiliated with Cause for Justice.

Marlies Piek receives funding from the National Research Foundation.

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Kenya: Millions Needed to Battle Armyworms

By Lynet Igadwah

The Agriculture ministry requires an additional Sh320 million emergency funding to combat crop-eating caterpillars known as fall armyworms that are ravaging maize fields, further threatening food security.

The government had set aside Sh100 million to tackle the fall armyworm following reports that it had invaded farms from neighbouring Uganda.

“We have requested the Treasury to allocate us an additional Sh320 million because the fall armyworm invasion is bigger than initially thought,” said Clement Muyesu, the assistant director of Agriculture.

The funds will help smallholder farmers access identified pesticides amid concerns on lack money or expertise to use insecticides effectively.

The worms, which breed fast and can migrate 100 kilometres a day, were first reported in Kenya in mid-January.

Among counties that have been invaded are Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Busia and Bungoma, with the pests mainly attacking maize.

These are agricultural rich counties and a widespread attack could aggravate the ongoing food crisis that has seen prices skyrocket.

Kenya is suffering from a drought that has left about 2.7 million people in need of food aid and driven up inflation to a near-five year high.

“The rainfall was better this season so we all expected a very good harvest. The outbreak of fall armyworm undermines what we expected would be a different story,” Mulila Mitti said by phone from Nairobi, where the FAO is meeting to discuss the infestation.

Some countries with confirmed outbreaks have faced bans on exporting their agricultural products.

Experts currently meeting in Nairobi said spotting the pest early –when it is still a larva – was key to prevention.

“We need to put in place effective surveillance systems and respond in time to confirmed outbreaks,” Gabriel Rugalema, FAO country representative in Kenya, said in a statement.

The experts warn that unless the spread of the fall armyworm is contained, the attack is likely to result to a humanitarian crisis as the crop basket is at risk.

“It is all about communicating with the smallholder farmers and dispensing with formalities. We need to move as quickly as possible,” said Joe DeVries the Vice President at Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

The experts from African governments, agricultural research organisations, NGOs, national plant protection organisations and donor agencies are currently meeting in Nairobi to develop a continental management plan on the fall armyworm pest.

The caterpillar can fly long distances, leading the United Nations to fear it could reach Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years.

Tanzania: Researchers On Deadly Banana Disease Outbreak Lookout

Photo: Daily News

Banana plants.

By Abduel Elinaza

Tanzania’s agriculture researchers are on high alert to contain the outbreak of a deadly banana disease, said to wipe-out 100 per cent of a plantation.

The disease, Fusarium wilt Tropical Race 4 (TR4) affecting Cavendish banana has already been reported in northern Mozambique — near the country’s southern border.

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Plant Virologist, Dr James Legg said Fusarium — Panama disease — is more deadly than the TR1, currently ravaging banana plantations in Kagera. “The best way of battling the disease is to contain it in Mozambique.

Hence stopping it from spreading to other countries,” Dr Legg told the ‘Daily News.’ He said that the disease spreads through infected planting material, soil and water, and it is widely recognised as the greatest threat to banana production.

To stop it reaching other areas, strict quarantine regulations are needed whereby moving infected soil, plants or parts of plants and stopping banana production in affected farms, should be done.

Dr Legg, a researcher based in Dar es Salaam, said they are worried that continued spreading of pathogens, beyond the current infested area, could have far-reaching consequences for Africa where banana is fourth most important food crop.

Despite the fact that TR4 affects Cavendish banana eaten as fruit when ripe, researchers currently do not know how many of local cooking banana will react to the TR4 infection. In Africa and Tanzania as well, over 75 per cent of banana are starchy cooking types. Tanzania ranks fourth in banana production in Africa.

It is estimated that Tanzania produces about 3.7 million metric tonnes annually on 403,000 hectares. Kilimanjaro and Kagera are the most famous banana growing regions, which jointly produce about 2.5 million metric tonnes annually.

According to a report by CGIAR, in northern Mozambique, it is estimated that affected farms has already lost more than 7.5 million US dollars due to TR4 infection. Also, over 500,000 plants — more than 300 hectares — have been affected by the pathogen since the outbreak, some three years ago.

The report further revealed that the farm is losing around 15,000 plants per week, equal to about 5.5ha translating to 235,000 US dollars a week. IITA is working closely with the Ministry of agriculture and currently surveillances are needed to assess the current status of TR4 since the country faces high-risk of the spread.

In East Africa, according to Analysis of the Banana Value Chains in Tanzania and Uganda 2012 report, bananas are an important staple and nutritional food and play a key role in food security. “In Uganda and Tanzania banana consumption –in total and per capita –is among the highest in the world.

They provide 10 per cent of the calorie intake of more than 70 million people,” the report revealed.

Over 4 million smallholder households cultivate bananas and plantain which provides an annual house-hold income of about 1,244 US dollars – one of the highest smallholder income-generating agricultural commodities in the region.

Malawi: Group Promotes Production of Sweet Potatoes

By Marvelous Zinga

Mangochi — People in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Chowe in Mangochi have embraced the cultivation of orange fleshed sweet potatoes being advocated by the Malawi Lake Basin Programme (MLBP).

The orange fleshed sweet potatoes are known for their potential in increasing a person natural defense against diseases and infections.

Speaking in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) Thursday after a field day at Kawinga Village in the area of TA Chowe, one of the lead farmers at Maiwa Extension Planning Area (EPA), Masautso Kachitsa said he has already witnessed the benefits of the orange fleshed sweet potatoes in his family.

“The programme has taught us that orange fleshed sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of Vitamin A which also helps the body’s natural defense against illnesses and infections,” he said.

Kachitsa said a lot of people in the area were heavily affected by last year’s food crisis but his family was food secure because the sweet potatoes in his farm survived the drought which affected the production of crops like maize.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer for MLBP in Mangochi, Mwabi Sichinga said they organized the field day to provide an opportunity to farmers in the area to appreciate the production of the six varieties of the orange fleshed sweet potatoes of; Kadyaubwelere, Zunde, Chipika, Matutu, Ana akwanire and Kaphulira on the mother plot at Maiwa EPA.

He pointed out that the objective of the programme is to encourage farmers to grow orange fleshed sweet potatoes because of its health benefits especially to children under the age of five and lactating mothers while increasing crop production at household level.

“For nutritional purposes, we would like farmers to prepare orange fleshed sweet potatoes for their under five children and we will still call them on the nutritional field day so that they will witness cooking demonstrations on how to prepare nutritious food from the prestigious crop,” Sichinga said.

He added they use mother – baby approach in their interventions whereby 18 farmers are mother farmers who cultivate both the six varieties while 918 farmers cultivate only one variety.

“We have used all the six varieties on the small plot because we want to research and promote the varieties which the farmers will choose and which will adapt to their localities so that we can afterwards produce on a larger scale,” the Officer hinted.

MLBP is a consortium of five organizations and other three local partners in National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi, Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives and Farmers Union of Malawi.

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Botswana: Communal Farmers Certification for EU Market Process On

By Mothusi Galekhutle

Ghanzi — The veterinary department on Tuesday started the roll out of qualifying and certifying communal farmers for access to EU market.

Botswana Animal Information and Traceability System (BAITS) coordinator, Dr Nlingisisi Babayani said during the roll out in Xanagas, Ghanzi south that they had re-defined the guidelines in an effort to allow communal farmers to access the lucrative EU market.

“The department has come up with guidelines to qualify the communal farmers to sell directly to the EU market without going through the feedlots,” Dr Babayani said in an interview.

The initiative, he said would be rolled out to a total of 13 farmers identified from Xanagas, Tsootsha and Karakubis in Ghanzi South.

After implementing the guidelines, he said the EUwould be informed so that they could audit it with a view to agree and modify it to their preference as they were the ones who prescribed the requirements.

Dr Babayani was confident that their guidelines would satisfy the EU market requirements.

He stated, “our hope is that once we have qualified these farmers we will snow ball and cover the whole district and subsequently the whole country. Farmers will stand to benefit on the prime returns from the EU market.”

He noted that all along farmers had to go through fenced farm or feedlot to sell to EU market.

He said the requirement was that their cattle spent 40 days in the fenced farm or feedlot before accessing EU market.

Dr Babayani said this was very difficult to fulfill under communal set up hence they sold their cattle through feedlots.

The redefined guidelines requires a farmer to clock all cattle husbandry management practices including watering, kraal-ling milking and vaccination.

“We are not changing the way the farmer has been doing things, what we are saying is that document it,” the BAITS coordinator explained.

Under this re-defined guidelines a farmers should choose type of holding to be classified under and it is easier to clock the husbandry management activities.

Though he said they have five types of holding namely water point, feedlots, integrated farming, ranch and kraal, only three are applicable to communal farming which were water point, kraal and integrated farms.

He said when the farmer chooses the type of a holding, one must consider that all cattle in the selected holding should comply with requirement of EU market for instance all must be ear tagged and must be registered in BAITS.

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Namibia: Prison ‘Donates’ Maize to Hungry Agriculture Students

ABOUT 20 agricultural students at the government’s Mashare Development Institute Training Centre near Rundu say they had to beg for a bag of maize from the Divundu Correctional Service after going for two months without their staple food.

The training centre, which produces vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, spinach, tomatoes and green pepper, is run and funded by the ministry of agriculture.

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Angola: Governor Suggests Fuel Line for Agriculture

Malanje — The governor of Malanje, Norberto dos Santos, wants the country to produce a fuel line directed only at agricultural activity and a bank that only serves peasants and businessmen.

Speaking on the sidelines of the X Consultative Council of the Ministry of Commerce that is taking place in this city, the official said that like other countries, the Angolan Government can adopt this measure and support the peasants.

“The Government should look for ways to help peasant and cooperative associations so that they can expand production areas,” he said.

For the governor, Malanje should be considered an agricultural province par excellence, because everything that is cereal, legume and other cultures, the province would be responsible for its large-scale production for the country.

On the other hand, the governor is of the opinion that the current prices of the fuels do not correspond with the possibilities of acquisition of the peasants and entrepreneurs.

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Africa: How AfDB Provides Power, Food Security for Africa – Adesina

By Hamisu Muhammad

The President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has revealed the progress report on his stewardship after 19 month in office at the just concluded World Bank-IMF spring meetings.

Adesina, in his speech at the Centre for Global Development in Washington, DC, recently, said the vision he outlined in his inaugural speech, the five development priorities known as the High 5s, were being rolled out across the continent.

“Our vision for Africa at the bank is encapsulated in the High 5s: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” Adesina said, enumerating the initiatives the bank is undertaking.

“We launched the New Deal on Energy for Africa, with a commitment of $12 billion from the bank over the next five years, with the goal of leveraging $45-50 billion. Our goal is to connect 130 million people to the grid, 75 million via off grids and provide some 150 million with clean cooking energy.

“We’ve set up a whole new vice presidency just for power and energy: the first and only Multilateral Development Bank to do so. Last year, we financed $1.7 billion in the power sector across 19 countries, and will increase this to $2 billion this year, leveraging $5-7 billion.

“Just as electricity powers an economy, so does food provide energy for people. Africa’s annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent,” Adesina said, noting that $35 billion is just about what the continent needs to close its power deficit.

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