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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Namibia needs to adapt to climate change

Experts have forecasted extreme dry spells and exceptional heavy downpour of rain in Namibia, hence Namibia has no other option than to adapt to the change in weather conditions.

IPSNews reports that with the commencement of the heavy rainfall in early February raising 8cm higher than that of 2009, at least, 21 school children have drown with damages to roads, buildings and other infrastructure.

Notable is that 30 per cent of Namibia Gross Domestic Product is generated from agriculture and initial research revealed that the impact of the climate change could reduce its GDP by six per cent costing about $30m over the next two decades.

Speaking at the Namibia Climate Change Adaptation Youth conference, Ephraim Nekongo, chairperson of Oshana Regional Youth Forum said the consequences of the climate change will affect human health directly or indirectly. Read more

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

International Youth Day: Boosting Agro-business with ICT

Awosanya Yinka Olusanya
The International Youth Day (IYD), celebrated around the world every August 12 started in the year 2000. The purpose for IYD is to recognize efforts of the world's youth in enhancing global society.
Youths, the part of the population that fails between the ages of 15 and 34 years forms the largest part of the population of a given developing nation, like Nigeria.
This same set of people are being faced with the problem of unemployment as tertiary institutions would not stop producing graduates on a yearly bases, into the already saturated labour market.
These youths, most of whom have no interest in agriculture, the backbone of growing economies in developing countries, even those that studied agriculture-related courses, majorly would prefer to work in the banking sector or a simply white collar job, thereby leaving agriculture to suffer great neglect.
The realization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) values and its attendant adaptation by the Nigerian youths have really gone a long way in providing employment to a large number of the youths, and if this knowledge of ICT is being put into practice in the agric sector, definitely Nigeria is going to witness a drastic reduction in the rate of unemployment.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) among others have at one point or the other lamented the risk associated with youths’ non-interest in agriculture. Pointing out some of the needs to get youths involved in agriculture, such as food security, employment generation and climate change involvement.
Food production at the mercy of older generations, some school of thoughts argued, could lead to an increase in the cost of food as more mouths are chasing a few supplies.
As it’s now evident across the world and Africa precisely, youths have high percentage in the usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT); therefore, it would not be out of place to state linking the youths with agriculture through ICT tools for development (ICT4D).
Experts have noted some reasons why the youths are not showing enough interest in agricultural business to include lack of infrastructural facilities in the rural areas; which is really contributing a great deal to the manner this class of the society see agriculture.
Also, governments at all levels attach no priority to youths’ involvement in agriculture despite the fact that 60 per cents of the population are youths, with unemployment taking up two-third of the sixty per cent.
There is need for a bridge to be created in an effort to boost youth’s interest in agriculture, As youths’ involvement in agriculture will give a great difference as they will bring into agriculture practice experiences and knowledge of other sector especially ICT.
It is indeed necessary to integrate ICT experience into agricultural practice right from the school, which has the potential of luring the teaming youths into the agricultural sector even before they graduate from post-primary level, despite the fact that more youths are becoming extremely conscious of the power of ICT, especially in bridging the gap, even at the rural areas where most farm settlement are located.
The ICT sector, being ever growing and improving, if the youths having the larger population are carried along it would be of a great deal in bringing to life the failing state of the agricultural system by initiating some projects in this regard, considering that ICT offers knowledge and knowledge is power.
Additionally, youths’ involvement in agriculture would go a long way in increasing the rate of production as more hands would now be involved with wide range of new intelligent ideas, innovations and technologies introduced.
Equally important is the adaption of ICT and other related tools in the production processes as well as other areas of agriculture.
Deploying technology so to say, would pave the way for the quality of farm produce to be well preserved. Just as the youths would put into practice the knowledge they had gained in school.
Youth’s involvement is an excellent source of ideas and innovation and areas of interest in the agricultural sector as intellectual intelligences are welcomed and given a fair chance to partake in the agricultural processes of food production.
Other merits of youth involvement comprised of reduction in crime rate in our society as well as rehabilitating some whose behaviour are not socially acceptable by providing them with a gainful employment.
In her welcome address at the Nigeria 10th Year Telecoms Anniversary award night, the honourable Minister of the newly created Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson said Nigeria has a well developed and robust ICT for development strategic plans with potential of boosting agriculture.
She said the strategic plans articulate how the deployment of ICT could be used to tackle challenges, giving opportunities in health, agriculture, education, human resources development, and e-government among others.
Youth’s employment and wealth creation, she said form part of opportunities this will give due to the comfort of the youths with technologies.
She further said that ICT in the next decade will provide infrastructure to improve agriculture productivity, connecting farmers in the rural areas with their buyers from the urban through better pricing policy with mobile solutions that will provide the needed information about soil, weather conditions and agricultural extension services.
However, there are certain issues that needed to be resolved in order to attract the youths into the business of agriculture; poor state of infrastructural facilities is one of the major factors.
Lack of funds and land are other agents that are responsible for the rate at which youths are involve in agriculture. Even as the issue is lack of machineries to be use as they are too expensive for individuals.
Youths’ involvement and bringing about of ICT would give room for export opportunity as productivity will be increased thereby creating mutual relationship with other nations of the world.
In an effort to achieve this, there should be provision of adequate infrastructure and facilities, and machineries by the government and corporate bodies.
Improved health care services in the rural areas and social amenities would largely encourage the youths who may not have business going to cities to really focus on available businesses at the rural communities, bulk of which is centre on agricultural business.
Inclusion of agriculture as a compulsory course of studies in secondary schools would go a long way to help grow the interest of youths in agriculture, through hands-on at school gardens.
Government’s hand-on training for the youths in agriculture in the form of seminar or orientation programme for the prospective young farmers on the basics and different aspects of agriculture and its processes will add value to the course of engaging the youths of nowadays in agriculture deeply connected with technologies.
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Nigeria is world biggest cassava producer

Between 2002 and 2009, Nigerian farmers boosted cassava production by 10 million tons with the help of better and improved cassava varieties.

The new Minister of Agriculture, Mr Akin Adesina, disclosed last month, that trillion was spent to import food.

This, he said, led to the country's overtaking Thailand as the world biggest producer of cassava, yet the country still spend trillions of naira yearly to import food, reports next

He said Cassava, being consumed by Nigerians in their millions is also used by industries to produce starch and other products like sweeteners, glues, plywood, and paper among others.

The new Minister equally that over N635 billion was spent on wheat importation; N365 billion on rice, N217 billion on sugar, and N97 billion on fish importation.
Read more

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Monday, August 15, 2011

2.5m Kenyans in need of food

It is estimated that 2.5 million Kenyans are in dare need of food, the figure which is expected to increase to three million soon according to the United Nations, reports AllAfrica

In an effort to fight this food insecurity a controversial move has been made by the Kenyan government to allow the importation of Genetically Modified (GM) maize from South Africa.

Embracing modern biotechnology crops was aimed at cushioning Kenyans against their current drought, said Hellen Sambili, Kenya Science and Technology Minister. Read more

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United States may assist North Korea on food security

State Department of the United States may still provide food aid to North Korean even though North Korea, a communist nation is responsible for feeding her own people, reports YonHapNews

US State Department spokesman, Victoria Nuland said the food security of the Asian nation is the sole responsibility of the nation as its governmental policies contravene that of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

While stressing the importance of boosting the food security systems in hunger-stricken nations, Secretary of the States, Hillary Clinton announced an additional $17million about N2, 618billion in aid to fight famine in Somalia and other affected African nations. Read more

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

AU member states urged to increase agric funding

African Union (AU) members have been urged to increase the funding meant for agriculture in other to boost food security and as a means of reducing poverty among Africans, reports CAADP Newsletter

This call was made at the end of the 7th Partnership Platform meeting of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.

Rhoda Peace stressed that priority should be given to agricultural sector as it provides employment for African youths and women.

The session with the theme “Mutual Accountability in the formulation and implementation of country CAADP investment plans” had over 260 participants, with at least 21 countries in attendance at Yaoundé in Cameroon meeting.

CAADP Newsletter also revealed that the roles of development partners are being appreciated while noting that no success will be recorded without their active partnership.

While drawing attention to the need for an increased mutual accountability structures and process in Africa, Rhoda Peace, reaffirmed AU continued commitment in taking leadership collaboration with partners.

Ms Julie Howard who speaks on behalf of the developing partners assured the gathering of their continuous support in capacity building and regional CAADP plans in ensuring that the plans are being achieved. Read more

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Namibian government to help Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia with N75m

The government of Namibia will give the sum of $500, 000 to aid Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia to fight drought, one the worst drought in decades, reports NewEra

Recently an appeal was made to international community by the United Nations to assist Somalia and other affected countries with emergency aid.

'Save Somalia', an initiative of the Namibia Red Cross Society and Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) has also been launched to assist people of the affected nations.

While looking at proper channel to fund the needs of targeted populace, Utoni Nujoma, Namibian Foreign Affairs Minister disclosed decisions by government to assist Somalia at the launch of 'Save Somalia'. Read More

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Food Security: Global food prices increase by 40.4%

An analysis by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revealed that the price of global food has increased by 40.4 per cent between July 2010 and February 2011, reports TheDailyStar.

Also, ADB noted that demand and supply sides as major factors affecting the rate at which the price increases, other factors, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FAO said these include increase in world population and strong income growth in developing economies.

The use of food grains like corn and rapeseed oil in the production of bio-fuel, the study said contributed a great deal to the food price inflation.

Further, the study stated that with agricultural land being converted to commercial use, a rise in the cost of input, neglect suffered agricultural investment, low crop yield all reduces the farm produce which in really affects the price as more people will be after few supplies.

A study by The Oxford Economics Global Models reveals that the food price hike will lead to higher inflation, reducing economic growth rate of developing Asia but this will lead to an increase in GDP of food exporting countries like Thailand, China and Korea.

Increasing food production worldwide has become the first priority now for meeting the challenge of growing demand of food this year, with FAO giving an estimation of two per cent increase in the production of cereal. Read more

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

N246m boost for sugarcane production in Africa

Yinka Awosanya

The United Nation’s Common Fund for Commodities has given $1.6 million about N246m for a research project on Ivory Coast and Nigeria to test different species of sugarcane in an effort to boost production, reports Reuters.

Head of the Ivorian National Center for Agronomic Research, Amoncho Adiko, affirmed that researchers from the two West African nations would test about 40 different types of sugarcane with the aim of helping small-scale farmers boost output.

This effort, NaijaAgroNet gathered would increase the production for small-scale farmers which covers just 3,700 hectares of land, whereas large-scale uses up to 22,000 hectares of land for sugar cane production in Ivory Coast.

Adiko said the two nations will contribute the remaining amount needed for the project as the total amount required is $2.1m about N315million.

Part of the essence of the project is to identify sugarcane that small-scale farmers could grow during rain, in order to bridge the gap between them and large-scale farmers that uses irrigation on their farms.

“Villagers need a variety of cane that grows with the rain,” Adiko said

The test is to be taken on varieties of sugarcane from Mauritius, Brazil, Sudan, South Africa and Swaziland. The research is expected to last for about half a decade after which the new varieties of sugarcane will be distributed. Read more

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Two-thirds of Africans derive income from agriculture

Yinka Awosanya

With two-thirds of African population depending on agriculture for their incomes, yet between 50 and 80 per cents of these are spent on food; these two figures well illustrate the importance of agric to the continent.

To this end, the former Prime Minister of Niger, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, said that its necessary to invest in the agricultural sector as it’s the only sector that could absorb millions of youths, noting that over the last two decades aid dedicated to agriculture have declined from 18 per cent to four per cent.

Mayaki, warned that Africans could be left to face a phenomenal bomb if youths are not fully engaged in agriculture; a means to curb the high rate of unemployment in youths on the continent. Read more

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cocoa affected by economic crisis - ICCO

Yinka Awosanya

The London-based International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) has said that the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 affected the cocoa industry.

ICCO in its annual report 2008/2009 made available to NaijaAgroNet revealed that Cocoa grinding within the year under review was affected by the global economic crisis, although the year was a good year for cocoa farmers and the cocoa exporting nations.

The annual report showed that despite the 6.6 per cent estimated global decline of cocoa grinding, Asia and Oceania had the hardest hit in cocoa grinding upon having a decline of 20 per cent in the two regions.

The effect of the crisis has a limited effect on chocolate production and consumption with price development remaining positive.

Confirming this, the chairman of ICCO, Dr. Victor Iyama, noted with the expiration of the current International Cocoa Agreement of 2001 in 2012, also gave high priority to the preparation of a future International Cocoa Agreement since signature and ratification of concerned nations takes time. Read more

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GTBank loans N5.55billion to agricultural projects

In an effort to boost capacity, increase production and employment opportunity in the nation’s agriculture sector, GTBank has given out N5.55billion in loans to eight commercial agricultural projects across the country.

Vanguard reports that the funds provided by the bank through its Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS) have been put to use in almost all aspects of agriculture ranging from crop and animal farming to fishery.

Segun Agbaje, the Chief Executive of GTB was quoted as saying they believe that profitability potentials inherent in the agriculture sector would be enough to attract financing, making it a sustainable profitable business for banks like GTB. Read more.

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Nigeria contributes 5% of world cocoa - ICO

A recent report by the International Cocoa Organization (ICO) revealed that Nigeria only contributes five per cent of the world cocoa production at present, reports NigerianTribune.

The report noted that decades ago cocoa generated about 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange, even as most of today's leaders were trained with the income from it and monuments built in the South West part of the country from the same income.

Also, the report stated that Nigeria is the only country whose cocoa production has reduced drastically of all the six leading producers in the world, despite contributing a record of eight per cent of the total cocoa production in the world, coming fourth after Ghana in 1982. Read more

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Zambia records bumper maize harvest

The 2010/2011 farming season in Zambia ended with a massive harvest of 3,020,380 metric tons maize to beat the previous season's harvest of 2,795,485 metric tons by eight per cent, reports ThePost.

Brain Tembo, the Executive Chairman of Zambian Agriculture Commodities Exchange (ZAMACE) said there are no reasons to celebrate the abundant harvest since there is a break in the marketing policies and government also spent uncontrolled expenditure on the grains.

He also advised the government to make setting up silos storage centre an investment priority and the establishment of community dryers to discourage small holder farmers from relying on sun to dry their crops. Read more

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Extinction awaits freshwater fish - Scientists

Scientists have blamed human activities for the extinction of freshwater fish, even as more than one third of the fish is threaten to extinct by overfishing and construction.

Telegraph have it that with more than 7.5million African relying on fresh water fish for food and income, the scientists further warned that the loss survive by the fish could have terrible repercussion for human.

Manager of freshwater unit at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List in Cambridge said with some gaps in their knowledge, 36 per cent of the 5, 685 species accessed are threatened. Read more


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