Search NaijaAgroNet

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

'Heathrow expansion, danger to Paris deal on Climate Change’

Climate change and energy policy expert, Prof. Alice Larkin has kicked against the United Kingdom (UK) plan to expand the popular Heathrow Airport in the capital city of London, citing climate change concerns, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Larkin, who is a professor of Climate Change and Energy Policy at  the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Mechanical, Civil and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Manchester, was reacting to the plan proclaimed Tuesday by UK government.

NaijaAgroNet notes that at a cabinet committee on Tuesday, the government approved plans to build a third runway at Heathrow, thus expanding UK airport capacity. Although, there will be a public consultation on the effects of the expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation, Professor Larkin urged the government to pay attention to climate change scientists.

She pointed out that in the 2000s, research fed into a heated debate on airport expansion in the UK and based on some of the work, arguments were made against further airport expansion, on the grounds that this would be at odds with climate change commitments.

“Just a few years on, with an additional 180 Giga Tonnes of CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere, global climate change policy objectives have been strengthened, and air travel is still dominated by the privileged few,” she said.

Larkin also lamented that the approval of a third runway at Heathrow that will expand capacity and support further passenger growth, stressing that it would be reasonable then to ask some questions.
“Has there been a new, groundbreaking technical solution to decarbonise the aviation sector? Can an increase in air travel somehow sit comfortably alongside the Paris Agreement’s goals? Did we just get the maths wrong the first time around? Sadly, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding ‘no’” she argued.

As said by her, there have been improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency, which have been incremental, pointing out that alternative fuels continued to be researched, their mainstream global penetration to propel civil aircraft remains decades away and not just for technical reasons.

She emphasised that the only real saving grace from the climate perspective is that growth in UK-related passenger numbers has been lower than previously forecast. This has been partly due to the global economic downturn and also, in-part, due to a constraint on airport expansion. In other words, we’ve been somewhat successful in limiting high levels of CO2 growth from the UK’s international flights by maintaining the existing level of airport capacity.

Larkin posited that all this suggests that climate change science is being overlooked to an even greater extent than it was before, in favour of poorly evidenced arguments in support of expanded airport capacity to increase economic growth.

“What is particularly shocking about this turn of events, is that this is happening just days before the Paris Agreement comes into force.  The unavoidable reality is that the highly constrained carbon budget that is consistent with the Paris Agreement requires all sectors to urgently reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate away from using fossil fuels. Of course some sectors will achieve this sooner than others, but no sector can be excluded.

Technically and operationally, she said, options for decarbonising the aviation sector within a timeframe consistent with the Paris goals remain few and far between, which means that demand-side measures that constrain further growth, and have been constraining growth in the past, must receive much greater attention.

She maintained that policy measures aimed at increasing capacity and supporting further growth in air travel, such as the third runway at Heathrow, are at odds with the Paris Agreement. Such developments risk future stranded assets, and are inconsistent with tackling climate change. Researchers will need to raise their voices to new levels given this week’s decisions.

NaijaAgroNet further notes that the upcoming call from the Environmental Audit Committee for evidence of the impacts of the third runway is a welcome opportunity on the horizon, but the government has to be willing to sit up and pay attention to the evidence of climate change scientists and prove their commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Remmy Nweke/ED, Ops
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Monday, October 24, 2016

Anambra speaker, Rita Maduagwu says property rights for women non-negotiable

The Speaker of the Anambra State, House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Barrister Rita Maduagwu, has said that property rights for Nigerian women is no longer negotiable, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Maduagwu in a lecture entitled “Property Rights of Women, Nigerian Perspective,” to the Anambra State Women Association Lagos (ASWAL) at the Colonedes Hotels Ikoyi, Lagos, to mark the 25 years of the association, said that constitutionally, this issue has been taken care of over 17 years.

Rt. Hon Maduagwu also identified cultural inequalities and gender barriers to property rights ‎drawing comparisons in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa customs.

She cited extant laws to drive home her argument for equal opportunities, and pointed out that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has abolished most of the discriminations against women.

She further said that the abolition affords Nigerian women to own properties in the country.

NaijaAgroNet notes that Anambra State Women Association Lagos was formed 25 years ago by Anambra women resident in Lagos with the aim of promoting peaceful coexistence among ndi-Anambra,  welfare of the members  to enlighten women on their roles  towards building Anambra State and to help the vulnerable and the poor in the society to name a few.
Ozo Nweke Ozo/GEE
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Experts say climate change may cause decline in nutrients

Experts have raised alarming over the global effects of climate change to food which may lead to loss of nutritional content of some foods, such as declining zinc, iron and protein counts in staple cereals, and trigger new health issues, including diarrhoea for humans and an array of transboundary animal diseases, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Experts at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, beyond 2030, scientific evidence has shown negative pressures on food production will be increasingly felt everywhere. Until then, adverse impacts of higher temperatures are sharply skewed towards developing countries, pointing to dimmer prospects for their food self-sufficiency.
They said that helping smallholders adapt to climate change risks is critical for global poverty reduction and food security.
Close attention, FAO experts said, should be paid to removing obstacles they may face and fostering an enabling environment for individual, joint and collective action.
Further, FAO urged policy makers to identify and remove such barriers, stressing that these obstacles can include input subsidies that promote unsustainable farming practices, poorly aligned incentives and inadequate access to markets, credit, extension services and social protection programmes, and often disadvantage women, who make up to 43 percent of the agricultural labour force.
The report stresses that more climate finance is needed to fund developing countries' actions on climate change.  International public finance for climate change adaptation and mitigation is growing and, while still relatively small, can act as a catalyst to leverage larger flows of public and private investments. More climate finance needs to flow to sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry to fund the large-scale transformation and the development of climate-smart food production systems. Adaptation and mitigation of climate change must  occur in tandem. 

Without action, agriculture will continue to be a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. But by adopting climate-smart practices and increasing the capacity of soils and forests to sequester carbon, emissions can be reduced while stepping up food production to feed the world's growing population, the report said. Food systems can further contribute by minimizing food losses and waste, as well as by promoting healthier diets that also leave a lighter environmental footprint.
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Saturday, October 22, 2016

American climate change youths plot Trump’s downfall

The Young Americans may be spoiling for way as they are galvanizing global climate change advocates against Mr. Donald Trump, alleging the presidential candidate for the Republican party wants to destroy the Paris Climate Change deal, reports NaijaAgroNet.

To this end, they are muscling up global youth campaign using the Short Messaging Service (SMS) otherwise known as ‘texting’ to make sure they fail Mr. Trump by simply texting.

Confirming this resolve, in an online petition via Avaaz, the lead advocate, Emma Ruby-Sachs, insisting that Mr. Trump is trying to destroy the global deal on Paris climate change, hence he deserves global campaign against him.

“Trump wants to tear up the Paris climate deal, and that's just the start of his horrifying plans! But now there's a way we can all help stop him, just by texting,” Ruby-Sachs said. 

NaijaAgroNet recalls that Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. Avaaz means "voice" or "song" in many languages has memberships in every nation of the world; whereas its team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. 

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Friday, October 21, 2016

Agriculture on high agenda @22nd COP in Morocco

Agriculture will be high on the agenda at the forthcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) slated for Morocco starting November 7, 2016, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Revealing this position, the Director-General, FAO, José Graziano da Silva, said in Rome that the year 2016 seems to be a year of commitment, therefore deserves to have more action than ever before.

"2016 should be about putting commitments into action," he said, noting the international community last year agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement, about to come into force.

“Agriculture will be high on the agenda at the 22nd Conference of the Parties in Morocco starting  November 7,” he declared.

The FAO report underscores that success in transforming food and agriculture systems will largely depend on urgently supporting smallholders in adapting to climate change.

Developing countries are home to around half a billion smallholder farm families who produce food and other agricultural products in greatly varying agro-ecological and socio-economic conditions. Solutions have to be tailored to those conditions; there is no one-size-fits-all fix.

The FAO report describes alternative, economically viable ways of helping smallholders to adapt and making the livelihoods of rural populations — often the most exposed to the downside risks of climate change - more resilient.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Don’t under-rate contribution of agriculture to greenhouse

The role of agriculture cannot be over-emphasised in efforts to curb the greenhouse gas emissions, says the leadership of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Director-General, FAO, José Graziano da Silva while presenting the report of the State of Food and Agriculture 2016, said that agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and livestock production, generate around a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture, he said, must both contribute more to combating climate change while bracing to overcome its impacts.

"There is no doubt climate change affects food security. What climate change does is to bring back uncertainties from the time we were all hunter gatherers. We cannot assure any more that we will have the harvest we have planted," he said.

As said by him, the uncertainty also translates into volatile food prices, noting "Everybody is paying for that, not only those suffering from droughts," warning that "business as usual" approach could put millions more people at risk of hunger compared to a future without climate change.

Most affected, he said, would be populations in poor areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia, especially those who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Future food security in many countries will worsen if no action is taken today.

He pointed out that overhauling farming and food systems will be complex due to the vast number of stakeholders involved, the multiplicity of farming and food processing systems, and differences in ecosystems. Yet, efforts must begin in earnest now as the adverse impacts of climate change will only worsen with time, the report emphasizes.

"The benefits of adaptation outweigh the costs of inaction by very wide margins," Graziano da Silva said.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE 
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology
Pix: Graziano da Silva

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Political will needed to fight against hunger

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has declared that the fight against hunger is essentially a political issue, reports NaijaAgroNet.

"Italy maintains that the fight for food security is, at this point in history, a question of politics with a capital ‘P'," he said while speaking at a session  in Rome to mark the 2016 World Food Day.

He also said, that the international community needs to urgently address the problems of inequality and injustice.

“Italy would strive to ensure that these themes are at the top of the international agenda, including at two important events in March next year: the G7 summit, which Italy will host and preside and a meeting of European Union leaders,

Renzi noted that Europe should reject a "culture of waste". Italy recently passed a new law aimed at curbing food waste, one that was based, "more on collaboration and less on punishment".

Another keynote speaker at the ceremony, Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco, whose country is hosting next month's COP22 climate talks, said these would be "action-oriented" and geared towards implementing the Paris Agreement.

"The Moroccan Presidency will seek to nurture and promote the spirit of mobilization which prevailed in Paris in terms of increasing climate funding, developing expertise and ensuring the transfer of technology. It will lay special emphasis on adaptation, primarily for the countries of the South and for Small Island States." Princess Hasnaa said.

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

UN stresses need to eradicate poverty

In marking the 24th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), the United Nations has underscored the need to recognize and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, noted that as the world work together to honour the pledge to build a life of peace, prosperity and dignity for all, the world must recognize that prejudice and discrimination seriously impede efforts.
“To end poverty, we must commit to respect and defend the human rights of all people and end the humiliation and social exclusion that the poor face every day,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that this year marks the first commemoration of IDEP since the launch of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals in January 2016. Recent estimates show that despite significant gains since 2002 – the number of people living below the poverty line dropped by half – 1 in 8 people still live in extreme poverty, including 800 million people who do not have enough to eat.
Equally, NaijaAgroNet gathered that an estimated 2.4 billion people have no access to improved sanitation, 1.1 billion people have no access to electricity and 880 million people live in urban slums. Opportunities continue to remain scarce for the world’s most vulnerable people – 59 million children of primary school age are out of school and the youth unemployment rate is 15 per cent, more than three times the rate of adults.
“With its central pledge to leave no one behind, the historic and ambitious new 2030 Agenda recognises that development will only be sustainable if it is inclusive,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo.
“We need to change the course of human development from one characterized by exclusion, inequalities, conflict, and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, to one that is more inclusive, equitable and sustainable,” Hongbo said.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lack of hand washing, kills over 300,000 in 2015 – UNICEF

The spate of cholera in aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and with a new outbreak of war-in Yemen, have made it difficult for children, families and communities to make washing hands with soap a habit to help prevent the spread of diseases, says United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as UNICEF said over 300,000 lives should have been saved if hand washing has become a habit globally.

Chief of Communication for UNICEF Nigeria, Ms Doune Porter, told NaijaAgroNet that as the world celebrate the Global Handwashing Day, UNICEF has discovered that, in 2015 alone, over 300,000 children under the age of five died globally from diarrhoeal infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation – a rate of over 800 per day.

“Yet many of these deaths could have been prevented through the simple act of handwashing with soap,” she said.

Porter quoted the UNICEF’s global head of water, sanitation and hygiene Sanjay Wijesekera as saying that every year, 1.4 million children are dying from largely preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.

“These are staggering numbers, but they could be greatly reduced by working with children and families to adopt a very straightforward solution – handwashing. We know, for example, that handwashing with soap before meals and after using the toilet could reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal infections by 40 per cent,” Sanjay said.

In addition, NaijaAgroNet gathered that a recent survey conducted by UNICEF in Nigeria found that about 10 per cent of households did not know about the critical times to wash hands and could not demonstrate proper handwashing techniques.

The survey, Porter further said revealed that only 12 per cent of households have handwashing facilities with soap or ash located at their latrines.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Friday, October 14, 2016

Africa: Bracing up for post AGOA period

Next time you pick up sporting gear or a pair of jeans in a U.S. mall, do check the label. It may have been made in Lesotho, a small, mountainous and land-locked country completely surrounded by South Africa, with a population of around two million

Lesotho is a beneficiary of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows over 6,400 products from eligible sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free. The country has made big strides in the garment industry with U.S. exports estimated at US$330 million in 2015, against US$140 million in 2000. Today, according to the Lesotho Textile Exporters Association, about 80% of Lesotho's textile and garment exports go to the U.S.   With 44,000 employees, the garment industry is the country’s largest private sector employer.

There are other ‘Made in Africa’ success stories that have emerged since AGOA was introduced in 2000 and extended by 10 years in September 2015.  According to the 2016 AGOA report released by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, non-oil exports to the United States under AGOA nearly tripled from $1.4 billion in 2001 to $4.1 billion in 2015. Automobiles from South Africa and apparel from Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, and Swaziland were the leading exports.

The gains from AGOA are undeniable, despite criticisms that the agreement favours petroleum products and that it excludes some agricultural products in which Africans have a comparative advantage. There have also been concerns that the export of Africa’s agricultural products to the United States is made even more difficult by complex health and food safety regulations. This, however, has not stopped bolder, export-ready, African countries from capturing shares in the U.S. market. In July, for instance, Namibia became the first African country to be eligible to export boneless (not ground) raw beef products to the US.

A key challenge for Africa will be to ensure that its industries that have thrived under AGOA do not collapse, that the thousands of jobs created in the automobile and automobile parts, apparel, fruit and nut, cocoa, footwear, and flower industries are sustained and continue to grow beyond 2025.

This will demand that Africa strengthens its skills base and capacity to compete. Failure to do so could see competitors such as Vietnam erode its growing market share in especially textiles and apparel should the United States ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.   The US textile and apparel market is estimated at US$350 billion. Africa, despite its large potential, supplies a paltry one per cent of this. A challenge for the continent is use the next nine years up the end of AGOA in 2025 to build competitive industries in the sector. A country that could emerge as key player is Ethiopia.

A 2015 McKinsey survey of 40 global chief procurement officers in the apparel industry, for the first time named Ethiopia as a possible global sourcing destination. Like with many other African countries, the challenge for Ethiopia is to shift from being of the world’s leading sourcing options to becoming a priority.

For responsive countries, AGOA has provided invaluable lessons that Africans can use to stimulate the growth of their export industries and seize market share elsewhere.  It has also helped enhance intra-African trade by enabling producers in different countries to create new value chains that deliver mutual benefit. Botswana, for instance, now exports leather to South Africa where it is processed into upholstery for luxury car exports to the United States.

Meanwhile, the AfDB will continue to play its part by building infrastructure to improve Africa’s competitiveness in U.S. markets. This will include promotion of regional integration that enhances trade and skills for greater global competitiveness.  Equally important, within Africa is the creation of solutions for export-oriented small and medium enterprise (SME) to help bridge the unmet demand for trade finance in Africa, currently estimated at US$ 120 billion.  Work in this direction is already well underway. Established in February 2013 the Bank’s Trade Finance Program (TFP) has already supported more than 85 domestic banks in 27 African countries, catalyzing approximately US$3.4 billion of trade in vital sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and construction and energy.  More than 60% of the transactions supported are on account of SMEs.   Furthermore, the Bank’s emphasis on regional value chains in its “Industrialize Africa” strategy recognizes the opportunities that anchor industries in one country can provide to industries in neighboring countries.

African governments are aware of the challenges. At the September 2016 Ministerial AGOA Forum, African trade ministers recognised the urgent need to plan ahead.  They committed to the creation of a task force to outline strategies for US-Africa trade and investment relations beyond 2025. This is a good start. Now, the clock is ticking and the bell signaling the end of AGOA privileges will soon resonate across Africa.  We must be ready when it rings.

*Moono Mupotola is the Director of the NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department at the African Development Bank (AfDB)
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology