Category archives for: Agriculture

Rwanda: Agri-Exporters to Benefit From Export Growth Fund

Photo: The New Times

Horticulture exports (file photo).

By Emmanuel Ntirenganya

Donatilla Nibagwire acquired a $100,000 (about Rwf80 million) loan from Export Growth Fund in 2016 to further her market penetration. She doubled her export volumes from two tonnes of fruits and vegetables.

Nibagwire exports bananas and eggplants, among other produce, mainly to Belgium, Gabon and India. She has been engaged in the business since 2001.

“The airline that used to charge me $1.6 a kiliogramme has since reduced the charges to $1.25 because the trade volume increased,” she said.

Nibagwire was speaking on Wednesday during a local producers and exporters’ breakfast meeting in Kigali, which intended to find solutions to financial, production and market related issues.

The Export Growth Fund (EGF) was initiated by the Government in November 2015 to help spur the country’s export mainly through supporting small and medium enterprises engaged in exporting local products, which had difficulties accessing financial services.

The Fund was started with Rwf1.5 billion from the Government and, in 2016, KFW, a German development bank, bankrolled the facility with Euro 8.5 million, bringing the total amount in the Fund to about Rwf10 billion.

Farmers and exporters who attended the meeting said that they used to get bank loans at interest rates of between 16 to 20 per cent. But due to the intervention, interest rates now stand at between 10 to 14 per cent, thanks to a 6.5 per cent subsidy.

However, Dr Livingstone Byamungu, the chief investment officer at the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), said there is a low uptake for the facility’s support as only eight projects have been financed at a tune of Rwf1.35 billion.

He said there was little interest to use EGF’s services due to lack of awareness about the facility and how it works.

“We want the agri-business sector to use the money to scale up exports,” Byamungu said, pointing out that the Government will be injecting Rwf1 billion annually into the Fund.

Kinazi Cassava Plant managing director Emile Nsanzabaganwa said EGF can support farmers to solve the issue of lack of raw materials.

The Rwf10 billion plant, which processes cassava for both the local and export markets, has been operating at about 30 per cent of its daily capacity.

How the facility works

The president of the Chamber of Rwanda Farmers at the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Christine Murebwayire, said, thanks to the Fund, farmers will help ensure sustainable produce and market and lessen the country’s import bill.

“As farmers, we have to change our mindset and improve operations. We should use this facility and other government financial opportunities to increase both the quality and quantity of our produce,” she said.

Epimaque Nsanzabaganwa, the horticulture division manager at National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), said they have been negotiating with airlines such as RwandAir and KLM to reduce transport charges for agro-exports.

EGF is designed as a single facility with three separate interventions.

The first is an investment catalyst fund which provides a 6.5 per cent subsidy on the interest rate of loans targeted toward private sector investments in export oriented production.

The loan currently does not exceed Rw900 million, according to Byamungu, who revealed that the government wants to go beyond such limits to further support exporters.

The second support is a matching grant for market entry or penetration related costs. This grant covers 50 per cent of the cost of the exporter’s needed promotional activities for their product and does not go beyond $100,000. The beneficiary should prove that they covered the required 50 per cent before being given such a facility.

The third assistance is an Export Guarantee Facility, which provides transaction-related guarantees to commercial banks to secure export finance transactions up to 80 per cent of the value.

This facility is intended to help an exporter carry on their business when they have not yet been paid for their products. The beneficiary has to settle the dues after being paid for their exported commodities. The facility is valid for nine months.

Byamungu said that about three weeks ago, BRD signed a memorandum of understanding with Bank of Kigali and BPR to offer financial services under EGF, adding that it seeks to work with more banks.

Rwanda’s agricultural exports generated $272.46 million in the Financial Year 2014/15 up from $217.62 million in 2013/14, according to NAEB’s 2015 report.

South Africa: Minister Senzeni Zokwana On Sun Farming Technology

press release

Minister Senzeni Zokwana yesterday called for a partnership between government, higher learning institutions and the business. Zokwana visited the SUNfarming project at the North West University in Potchefstroom.

The solar powered vegetable project was born from a partnership between SUNfarming and the University of Potchefstroom in 2013, establishing the first Solar Training centre in South Africa. The centre has trained over 450 people since 2013, providing skills on solar PV technology.

The project began production in June 2016 producing tomatoes, spinach, cauliflower and other herbs. No soil is required to grow vegetables in the tunnels and water productivity is increased through drip irrigation.

The project has three tunnels with six young women trained per tunnel. Sola tunnel production has much higher yields compared to conventional farming.

“The project provides an opportunity to grow affordable and nutritious food in local municipalities. This is an opportunity to effectively address household food and nutrition insecurity.

This is innovative technology for agriculture and we want to see this replicated in other parts of the country as it effectively deals with the issue of climate change and the scarcity of water and land, said Zokwana.

Buni Maretlwa, one of the workers at SUNfarming said she was excited to have been in the first group of people who were trained on this project. “We are no longer planting our vegetables using the soil, but coco fibre. Our system of farming saves water. Our vegetables pots irrigated on time and we produce fresh vegetables,” she said.

“The North West province is blessed with a lot of sunshine and all that was needed was creative innovative minds to come up with great initiatives to make use of this sunlight in order to increase agricultural production in the area.

Sun farming is good for our future and what we experienced here today with the Minister was great. In Potchefstroom, we have more agriculture land that must be utilised “said Prof Fika Janse van Rensburg, University of North West Potchefstroom Campus Rector.

“I am excited about the project and the potential it has for our municipality and I want to pledge our full support to this project “said Councillor Kgotso Khumalo Executive Mayor for Tlokwe municipality.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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Zimbabwe: Tobacco Sales Rake in U.S.$126 Million

TOBACCO growers have sold 47 million kilogrammes of tobacco valued at US$126 million during the first 21 days of the 2017 tobacco marketing season.

According to the Tobacco Industry and marketing Board (TIMB), deliveries at both auction floors and contract sales significantly rose from daily average sales of three million kilogrammes to four million kilogrammes per day because most farmers were eager to sell their crop before the Easter and Independence holidays.

The seasonal average selling price of US$2,68 is one percent lower than the average selling price recorded in a corresponding period last season which was US$2,70 per kilogramme.

The auction daily average prices are higher than daily average prices of US$2,69 per kilogramme for the past three seasons.

Tobacco bale rejection rate for 2017 is lower than rejections recorded for the last two seasons. The rejection rate is now at 6,04 percent down from the rejection of 7,1 percent recorded during the same period last years. Price rejections account for 22 percent of the rejections while the remaining 78 percent is for various defects.

The 2017 tobacco export volumes are now at 42,5 million kg which is 14 percent higher than volumes exported in the corresponding period last year, while the average price of US$4,81 is 21 percent lower than the 2016 average price of US$6,12.

Zimbabwe’s tobacco export destinations include China, Indonesia, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.

Cash challenges continue as some banks are failing to meet the withdrawal limits of US$500 set by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Currently, banks are limiting cash withdrawals, with some dispensing as little as US$20.

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Zimbabwe: Will Govt Import More Maize?

opinionBy Eddie Cross

MAIZE or “corn” as it known in other jurisdictions is a crop developed from a plant grown naturally in South America and has become one of the world’s largest food grains.

Yellow maize is grown all over the world as a feed source for livestock — poultry, pigs and cattle and white maize is grown as an industrial feed stock to produce starch and alcohol.

But in Africa, maize is largely grown as a staple food for the people.

In Zimbabwe, most people feel that they have not eaten until they have had “sadza” with its associated “relish” — either vegetables or meat.

It is estimated that we need about 1,8 million tonnes per annum to provide the basic staple in most people’s diet, feed livestock and supply industry with raw materials.

Maize is a relatively cheap product — in the United States, probably the largest producer of maize in the world, the current market price in the Midwest, is about US$170 a tonne delivered to the silo.

At this price a sizable percentage of all production goes into the production of ethanol which is then used a substitute fuel for motor vehicles.

But by far the majority of the crop is used to feed livestock.

The same ratio in Africa is probably 70-30 — use as a staple and as stock feed.

Because of its nature and widespread use, maize is regarded in many African States as a strategic commodity.

Every government knows that this is one commodity that has to be kept in free supply.

Since the main sources of surplus maize are in the America’s and they are a long way from African markets, it has always been policy in Zimbabwe to maintain at least five months stocks.

Zimbabwe has a very variable climate — this year our main cropping areas have had on average 1200 mm of rainfall — last year it was about 600 mm — half of what we received this year.

In fact this is not exceptional as the mean variation in rainfall from one season to the next, over the past century has been 40 percent.

In the main cropping zones of the USA it is only 5 percent.

For all of these reasons maize marketing has always attracted a great deal of attention and support.

From a pricing perspective, when maize is in short supply in the region, prices rise to accommodate the shipping and logistics costs, when the region is in surplus, the opposite happens.

So in the past marketing season (April to March) we have seen severe shortages in all regional markets; this has resulted in massive imports running to many millions of tonnes.

To give you some idea of what that entails, if imports to the SADC region were 14 million tonnes in the past year, this would entail some 600 sea going ships and 47 000 wagons or road vehicles.

The cost would be US$4 billion in purchase and transport costs before the maize could be put into circulation.

In the current year we have South Africa with a potential 14 million tonne crop, Zambia and Malawi with three million tonnes each and most other States in the region will either requires fewer imports or be self sufficient.

Some seven to eight million tonnes will be surplus to demand in exporting countries with perhaps three million going to deficit States and the rest overseas.

What this all means is that the basic needs of the maize industry from a marketing perspective are: price stability; adequate and sound storage and a good transport infrastructure that can move maize around in large quantities; and finally good efficient Port facilities to handle the incoming and outgoing volumes when needed.

Prior to Independence, the Government of the day (often called the Farmers Union at work) established an organisation called the Grain Marketing Board.

Over the years the GMB established a national net work of Depots and Silos with a combined capacity of perhaps 1,5 million tonnes.

In addition the GMB was mandated to maintain stocks at a minimum of five months consumption in order to make up any shortages that might be experienced because of drought conditions and before imports could arrive.

The GMB maintained farm gate prices at a reasonable level negotiated annually by farmers and then sold the maize it had in stock at a price negotiated with the milling industry.

Because of the controlled nature of the market for maize, the GMB was given a monopoly and financial support whenever it incurred a loss.

Transport costs were met by the Board and in this enabled a standard price which was maintained throughout the country for both consumers and producers.

The GMB at that time was a remarkable organisation, once it was decided to build concrete silos for storage purposes, the Board contracted companies to build them and a system was adopted where concrete was poured on a continuous basis until an individual silo of a standard size was completed.

In this way silos were constructed in all centres of major consumption or production.

Maize could then be delivered in bulk straight off the farm, raised in elevators to the top of the silos and delivered to selected units.

When required for fumigation or sale purposes the grain was simply dropped down onto conveyors and recycled.

Where silos were not justified, the Board built stacks of grain bags and anyone who knows the game, knows how skillful the staff had to be to get that right. Losses to either insects or moisture were tiny.

The Board had a proud financial record and I can think of few corruption scandals although they occurred, in my 20 odd years of association with the Board as an economist.

Certainly payments for deliveries and purchases were always made within a few days or immediately at the depots.

In the United States and many other countries all of these functions would be undertaken by the private sector, here because of the magnitude of the financial needs, only the State could carry the responsibility.

Prices in the States are set by supply and demand in the form of large markets for commodities such as the Commodity Exchange in Chicago which turns over more transactions in financial terms than the New York Stock Exchange.

From a production perspective, maize is a natural crop for the heavy soils in the main cropping zones of Zimbabwe.

It is also a useful crop to follow tobacco and Zimbabwe remains one of the largest producers and suppliers of flue cured tobacco in the world.

Research stations at Henderson in the Mazoe Valley and elsewhere became world renown for crop breeding and hybrid varieties such as SR 52.

In fact the Mazoe Valley held the world record for maize yields for a number of years.

Because of our variable climate, large scale commercial farms built over 10 000 farm dams – the largest concentration in Africa, and developed the capacity to put water on crops when they needed it to supplement the rain.

At Independence in 1980, they were able, at a push, to irrigate 300 000 hectares, not a great deal, but enough to ensure some stability in supply, delivering from that sector alone, about 600 000 tonnes of maize per annum.

The majority of the crop however, came from the small scale communal farmers who planted perhaps two million hectares a year in an effort to be self sufficient.

In a good year, this meant that the country had substantial surpluses and at one stage deliveries to the GMB averaged 2,5 million tonnes per annum. White maize attracts a small premium on world markets and despite UN mandated sanctions, this surplus of a million tonnes a year was sold on global markets, often for conversion into various forms of alcohol.

Today the government is still the “Farmers Union” at work but they are of a different hue and character.

The GMB is a heavily politicized body which is a shadow of what it once was.

The decline has been gradual, in 1992, in my view it saved the country from chaos by importing massive quantities of food when the wet season failed almost completely.

It no longer has that capacity and no longer performs the dominant role it played in the past.

Pricing policies are an unmitigated disaster with the government instructing the Board to pay a price for maize at US$390 a tonne which is double global prices and well above regional prices which will average this year at about US$230.

The result, farmers have grown maize and ignored other essential crops and the price of maize has risen to US$650 a tonne in retail stores — almost double what it was two years ago. Contrary to what the Cabinet ministers are saying, Zimbabwe will have to import maize again this year, half of what we have done this past year but we have still not produced enough to meet demand — but that is another story.

Eddie Cross is a renowned economist and an MDC-T Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South.

Zimbabwe: Cash Crisis Hits Tobacco Farmers

Photo: The Herald

Tobacco farmers at auction floor (file photo).

SCORES of tobacco farmers spent the Easter and Independence holidays at the three tobacco auction floors in Harare, while waiting for their banks to release cash upon their reopening on Wednesday.

While some of the farmers had to seek refuge at their relatives’ homes in the capital city, and in other satellite towns namely Chitungwiza, Norton and Ruwa, others were not so lucky.

The unlucky ones were forced to stay put at the auction floors until the banks re-opened for business on Wednesday.

This year, the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) licensed three auctioneers to buy the golden leaf — as the tobacco crop is affectionately known — from farmers.

These are the pioneering Tobacco Sales Floor owned by TSL Limited; Boka Tobacco, founded by the late business magnate Roger Boka; and Premier Tobacco Auction Floors — the smallest of the three.

It was a sad tale of despair all round at the auction floors as farmers braved the five-day holiday away from their families, waiting to access the elusive cash from their banks.

Zimbabwe is deep in the throes of a cash crisis linked to several factors.

At the core of the liquidity crisis is the country’s inability to produce enough for export. With imports chewing a huge chunk of Zimbabwe’s earnings, it has been difficult for banks to keep the country well oiled in terms of its cash requirements.

As a result, depositors have not been able to get their cash on demand.

Currently, banks are limiting cash withdrawals, with some dispensing as little as US$20 per week.

Last month, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) directed banks to be more generous with tobacco farmers whom the nation is banking on in terms of its foreign currency requirements.

Last year, tobacco earned US$1 billion in export revenue receipts ahead of platinum and gold.

The previous season in 2015, export earnings were around US$855 million as sales volumes increased 12 percent on prior year to 152 million kilograms (kgs), with cigarette makers in China buying 62 million kgs for US$513 million or 60 percent of total earnings.

So far this season, farmers have sold tobacco worth about US$126 million.

Farmers planted 32 208 hectares of tobacco during the 2016/17 season, from 28 865 hectares planted during the same period last year.

There was also an increase in the number of registered growers with 73 492 registered for the 2016/17 season, an increase from last year’s 69 518.

All indicators point to a better 2016/17 season.

For the typical indigenous farmer, having money in the bank is not good enough.

They still need physical cash to transact in their respective communities where plastic money is still an alien concept.

To cater for their cash requirements, the RBZ recently directed that tobacco farmers should be given US$1 000 per initial sale, hoping to put smiles back on their faces in the wake of the cash shortages.

This has, however, turned out to be a pie in the sky for a lot of the tobacco farmers who still cannot access the cash as per central bank’s directive.

Before the Easter and Independence holidays, most banks could only manage to dispense US$300 per day for initial sales, with some farmers even failing to access that amount.

As a result, most farmers spent close to a week at the auction floors in a bid to withdraw the full US$1 000. Last month, police had to be called in to quell protests at the tobacco auction floors when farmers ran riot when banks reduced the withdrawal limit to US$300.

Banks were clearly overwhelmed last week.

Some of the banks could only manage to serve 40 clients per day due to dwindling cash reserves.

By the time people took a break for the holidays on Thursday last week, hundreds of farmers were yet to receive payment for their initial sales, a month after the auction floors opened on March 15.

As for Prosper Mutabe from Nembudziya in the Midlands Province, even though he has relatives in Harare, they could not accommodate him over the Easter and Independence holidays because they had made prior holiday arrangements outside the big city.

At the same time, he could not go back to his rural home empty handed because his workers were also expecting their dues in the hope of making the Easter holiday a memorable one for their families.

“I came from Gokwe and my relatives who stay in Harare have gone away for the holidays so I am stuck here,” he said.

“Back home, my workers need their payment in cash, but I am failing to access my money. I thought selling my crop this year would come with good fortunes because the price was fairly good, but here I am — struggling,” he said.

Many other farmers had sad stories to tell about sleeping in the open.

To make matters worse for them, it was exceptionally cold throughout the holiday.

Those without any cash to spend were issued with US$1 sadza coupons at the auction floors, allowing them to have meals on credit, which would be repaid once their accounts are credited.

The only other source for cash for most farmers became the cash-back facility at some retail outlets. But then again, the RBZ has set the maximum limit for any cash back facility by retailers and wholesalers at US$20 or $20 bond notes only, which means that option has become unviable for the tobacco farmers.

Because of desperation, some of the farmers have had to move their bank accounts from one bank to another in the hope that they would get better service.

To some, it became the case of jumping from a frying pan into a fire as their payments were still to reflect in their new accounts at the time of going for the holiday break.

Jesta Maunganidze, a farmer from Makonde in Mashonaland West, was one of those who had to regret the accounts switch.

“Those who bought my tobacco told me to change my account because they were failing to process payment using the account I had given them, but up to now, four days later, the transaction is failing to reflect. I cannot go back home like this, so I will wait to hear what they have to say,” she said.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive officer, Rodney Ambrose, regretted the bottlenecks in the payment system, which he said needed urgent attention.

“There have been some bottlenecks in the systems that need to be ironed out so that farmers do not have to spend so much time at the auction floors,” he said.

“This is why farmers are spending days at the floors until they get their last batch of cash. The challenge is that they are given so much money per day, so banks reduce the daily limit so that they are able to serve more customers,” added Ambrose.

RBZ governor, John Mangudya, has come to the defence of banks, saying balances in their nostro accounts were continuously declining hence they were unable to release all the cash on time.

“Tobacco is paid for upfront. Sometimes banks might take time to credit the merchant account because it is not yet funded. The merchant’s account has to be debited for the farmer’s bank account to be credited, but you will notice that banks’ nostro accounts have to be funded,” Mangudya was quoted saying recently.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president, Wonder Chabikwa, said tobacco farmers should be prioritised in getting their cash because they are the country’s only hope of improving the liquidity situation.

“This is worrisome because we had agreed that farmers who deliver their first crop would get US$1 000 (for initial sales) and US$500 for the second so that farmers can cover their cash needs like labour. They failed to do that because farmers still cannot get money from banks,” he said.

“This is inconveniencing the farmers. We are worried that what we agreed upon is not being implemented, all players should work together to prioritise the farmers because we cannot afford to kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” he added.

There is a school of thought that says by demanding cash when they could use Point of Sale facilities, tobacco farmers are exerting unnecessary pressure on an already desperate financial situation whereby the country is facing one of its worst liquidity crises since dollarisation in 2009.

Apart from the cash crisis, the tobacco selling season has also been dampened by the malfunctioning of the e-marketing platform on the initial day of sales, forcing TIMB to revert to the old manual system.

The selling season has also been dogged by the deteriorating quality of tobacco due to incessant rains in the country’s tobacco growing areas.

While this has an effect of pushing down prices of the golden leaf, it also dampens the spirits of farmers who would have toiled in the fields in anticipation of better returns.

As of Wednesday last week, tobacco seasonal sales rose by 42 percent, raking in US$126 million, compared to the same period last year as deliveries increased ahead of Easter and Independence holidays.

TIMB said the volume of tobacco sold was up 42 percent to 47 million kg compared to 33 million kg valued at US$89 million kg during the same period last year.

The average price per bale was US$2,68 , down from US$2,70 recorded over the same period last year.

The tobacco selling season is expected to improve the liquidity situation and assist in addressing the cash shortages.

Tanzania: Use Weather Data to Boost Economy, Farmers Urged

By Abela Msikula

Tanzanians, particularly farmers, have been urged to effectively utilise weather information, as efforts to transform the country into an industrial economy.

It is because the transformation depends much on the agriculture sector, mostly for provision of raw materials, enough to feed all industries; the Deputy Director for Centre for Foreign Relations (CFR), Benard Achiula, said.

He was speaking on Tuesday during the winding up of Protocol and Public Relations short courses availed to Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) staff by his organisation.

CFR offered a five-day short course from 21 to 25 of April, with intention of increasing expertise in communication, given that TMA personnel communicate with the world. “The same effectiveness in communication means a lot for our farmers, as it will tell when to engage in farming activities.

The information also helps agriculture experts to direct how and which kinds of crops to grow in certain areas,” he said.

He added that apart from promoting industrialism, reliable weather information contributes to the national economic growth through the tourism sector, since it tells foreign tourists when to conduct tours in the country.

TMA Director General (DG), Dr Agnes Kijazi urged participants to effectively apply the knowledge; saying the organisation’s information was useful world-wide, not only to Tanzanians. She clarified that TMA exchanges weather information with other Agencies in the universe through the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), hence, the graduates should consider, precision, clarity and professionalism when communicating with the world.

“Weather information has lots of benefits, locally and internationally. For instance, when the information leads to the increase of agricultural products in Tanzania, the same information gives status of the climate world-wide.

This is where environmentalists get the start on how to tackle climate change, a serious challenge facing the universe,” she said. At the same time, the DG advised Tanzanians to effectively utilise the on-going rains for farm activities; insisting that as TMA announced earlier, the country will continue experiencing rains until the end of next month.

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Kenya: Low Earnings for Tea Farmers Due to Severe Drought

By Brian Ngugi

Drought has cut green leaf tea deliveries by 25 per cent, especially hitting areas with the best quality teas, industry managers have said.

This sets farmers, most of who are small-scale growers, up for lower earnings at the end of the year, a reversal from the 2015/16 bonus pay they enjoyed.

Factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are now operating below capacity with the worst hit areas being premium quality tea producers of Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Embu counties.

The delivery fell to 705.2 million kilogrammes in the nine months to March compared to 936.6 million kilos in a similar period last year.

“This year’s production is, however, largely in line with the average annual green leaf delivery, bar exceptional years that see above normal rainfall,” said the world’s single-largest black tea exporter on Wednesday.

The KTDA warned the production dip and lower prices at the Mombasa Tea Auction mean output is unlikely to match the Sh84 billion generated last year, translating to lower earnings for the 560,000 smallholder farmers.

The sharp drop in green leaf has been attributed to the prolonged dry spell.

February was the worst hit month with deliveries dropping 52 per cent to 54.3 million kilogrammes compared to 114 million kilogrammes in the same period last year.

March saw a drop of 35.8 per cent to 77.9 million kilogrammes.

KTDA chief executive Lerionka Tiampati said factories in the worst hit areas operate for two days a week to cut costs.

The decline has been fuelled by the stark differences in weather over the two years.

The El Niño rains in the 2015/16 year led to a bumper crop while the current prolonged dry spell has hit output.

Rainfall recorded in the smallholder tea growing areas decreased to 761.5mm in the nine months from 1,360.2mm with January registering the least amount at 23.5mm compared to 134.7mm in January last year.

Prices at the Mombasa Tea Auction have also been lower at an average $2.5 (Sh258.25) per kilogramme in the nine months to March. This compares poorly with the $2.74 (Sh283.04) average for a similar period last year.

The depressed prices are mainly due to the surplus tea in the market carried over from last year.

The closure of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in late February depressed tea prices at the Mombasa Auction.

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Zimbabwe: Vendors Benefit From Tobacco Farmers

By Yvonne Mutava

The tobacco marketing season is characterised by a lot of activities outside the selling of the golden leaf. Most of the activities are beneficial to the economy whilst others are illicit.

As a result, it is not only tobacco farmers who look forward to the marketing season as informal traders also make a windfall during this time through selling food and other wares required by tobacco growers.

A food vendor, Doreen Muteremuka (27) said during the marketing season she experiences brisk business at the auction floors compared to off season when she sells sadza in Harare’s Mbare high density surburb for a small profit. She said the tobacco marketing season is a stepping stone for most vendors.

“The marketing season presents us with an opportunity to make money through selling different wares to the farmers.

“Whilst during the season I can sell an average of 75 plates at a dollar each, during the off season sometimes we get so desperate to the extent of selling a plate for 50 cents,” Muteremuka said.

She added: “Not all the days are the same at the floors but there is always a reasonable demand for our services and wares and every single day is better than in Mbare.

“At the floors we always have something to take home.

“I have been selling food at the floors for the last three years and every year we look forward to the tobacco marketing season.

“We plan the year with the marketing season in mind we hope to do better each year.

“I have managed to buy household property using money I made from on -season sells, something which I could never have done if I only operated in Mbare.”

She urged other young women to identify similar opportunities and make money.

Another vendor only identified as Mai Ropa said the tobacco marketing season is not only important to farmers, but to everyone who was born with business in mind.

“This season has been great. There are more farmers hence an increase in the demand for food.

“Unlike in previous seasons where we played cat and mouse with council authorities, this season we were licensed and given places to operate from where we in turn pay rent. We find this very convenient.

“I usually run my business in Highfields Machipisa, but the returns are not as pleasing as I get here.

“On a good day I make $200, something which is plausible. Not in my wildest dream can I make such money in Machipisa, not even in two days.

“We all look forward to the marketing season,” she said.

Most vendors who sell different wares during the tobacco marketing season at auction and contract floors have seen this period as the time to fulfil their dreams.

After 26 days of the marketing season, growers of the golden leaf have been paid $170 million dollars after delivering 62million kgs compared to $136million that had been paid out to farmers by the same time last year after they had delivered 49million kgs.

The average price on the auction floors is $2.72 whilst on the contract floors it is $2.73.

Zimbabwe: Govt Sets Aside U.S.$199 Million for Grain

Government has set aside $199 million to purchase grain delivered by farmers following a successful 2016/ 17 agricultural season, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said. He said Government resolved issues of inadequate grain storage, with capacity now available for 3,2 million tonnes against expected deliveries from farmers supported under the Presidential Input Scheme and Command Agriculture of 2,2 million tonnes.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has put aside $199 million to purchase the grain,” said VP Mnangagwa.

“The $199 million will take on board a total of 500 000 tonnes of grain. The Grain Millers Association has also come forward offering to purchase 800 000 tonnes of grain and they are paying that in advance, that is in the kit, so we are just waiting for deliveries to pay farmers.”

VP Mnangagwa said Government would first need to deal with harvesting capacity, as the country had 130 combine harvesters, with only 80 of them being functional.

He said addressing internal harvesting capacity would allow swift transition from summer to winter cropping, which was critical for the country to achieve optimal yields from its winter crop.

VP Mnangagwa said Government mobilised the requisite funding to repair the faulty harvesters.

“We have identified the make, manufacturer or dealer of each of the harvester which requires attention,” he said.

“We have mobilised funds for rehabilitation and repairing of harvesters that require repairing, but that is not adequate to cover all the requirements in the country.”

Zimbabwe

MP Mliswa Attacks Mugabe for Protecting ‘Corrupt’ Minister Chombo

NORTON member of parliament Temba Mliswa has accused President Robert Mugabe of protecting the “corrupt” Home Affairs… Read more »

Nigeria: 57,000 Farmers Receive SMS On 2017 Fertilizer Distribution – Lalong

By Lami Sadiq

Jos — Governor Simon Bako Lalong has said 57,000 farmer in Plateau State have so far received text messages on where and how to receive their 2017 fertilizers after payment under the special Fertilizer Intervention Scheme, a new arrangement to make fertilizer easily accessible to farmers.

Lalong said at the flag-off of sales of fertilizers for the 2017 farming season at College of Agriculture Garkawa, that the scheme expected each state of the federation to blend a specified quantity of assorted fertilizers for its citizens, adding that Plateau State had received approval to blend 20,000 metric tonnes for distribution this farming season.

He pleaded with farmers who were unable to register, adding that due to paucity of funds, government was constrained to provide fertilizers for only farmers who had registered so far.

Nigeria

Truck Crushes Motorcyclist to Death in Lagos

A commercial motorcyclist was crushed to death by a heavy duty truck at Daleko area of Lagos on Thursday. Read more »

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