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Monday, November 28, 2011

Female economists petition LDCs on water predicament

A total of 34 female international economists have petitioned Least Developing Countries (LDCs) and some eleven donor organization over the concerns on water and sanitary predicament.

NaijaAgroNet investigations revealed that an open letter was recently detailed to the leaders of eleven donor and developing country governments in order to draw their attention to the international water and sanitary crisis.

Confirming this development, the Chief Executive, WaterAid International, Ms. Barbara Frost said that governments of both donor and developing nations have it in their capacity to save children’s in their hundreds of thousands yearly by increasing what they spend on water and sanitation support.

“Investments in these basic services are engines of economic growth and prosperity in developing countries, but unless we grasp this opportunity we will be failing the millions of poor people whose health, livelihoods and opportunities suffer because they lack these essential services,” she said.

Yinka Awosanya
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Monday, November 21, 2011

WaterAid says sub-Saharan Africa may not achieve MDGs in 2015 -

WaterAid, an international charity organization had revealed that most countries of sub-Saharan African may fail to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) pledge to have half of their populace in good sanitary position by 2015.

A press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, endorsed by the Chief Executive of WaterAid, Barbara Frost, the 2015 MDG target will take over 20 years for Sub-Saharan African states to meet the sanitation goal.

According to the international charity organization, only 20 countries in the region are on the tract to meet the water MDG target of 2015, and this have great effects on child mortality rate on the continent.

WaterAid advised countries in the region to spend not less that 3.5 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in order to get the sanitation and water target of the MDGs for the region.

Additionally, they called on donor countries and organisations to increase their global aid flows to water, sanitation and hygiene by making a yearly priority of extra US$10billion, about N1, 587 trillion.

WaterAid emphasized that the poorest people on the continent are those left behind, revealing that poor people in Africa are five times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and over 15 times more likely to practice open defecation than rich Africans.

Further, WaterAid advised governments to tackle the inequity by targeting of water, sanitation resources and services to the poor.

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2008 rice crisis cost Africa N570bn - AfricaRice

African countries spent an estimated US$3.6billion, about N570.6 billion on imports alone in the year 2008 and the global rice stocks are at their lowest level since the 1980s, according to AfricaRice Centre.

This, the centre said followed the world food crisis of 2008, which effect saw to the agricultural investments in Africa and food price also skyrocketed in 2009 and still on the increase.

AfricaRice Center, a leading pan-African research organization with the mission to alleviate poverty and food security, made this disclosure in it’s report of 2008 recently made available to NaijaAgroNet.

It also showed that based on this and to up the rice research agenda in Africa, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) established a joint office in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

During the year under review, the training, information management and extension linkages (RiceTIME Unit) was also created to lead AfricaRice's contribution to the Emergency Rice Initiative and to rice information management and capacity building.

Director General of AfricaRice, Dr. Papa A Seck, said that African nations’ rice economies will increasingly become exposed to unpredictable external supply and price shocks, and that the rise in the prices of cereals with the low level of global reserves could unleash the widespread food riots in the continent.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turning waste into wealth by Dr. Pimbert

A principal researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Dr. Michel Pimbert has said that there are economic models that reintegrate food and energy production with water and water management which also could create jobs and income for rural and urban dwellers.

Pimbert was quoted in a public statement from IIED made available to NaijaAgroNet, as revealing a picture of an alternative future in which food, energy and water suppliers are sustainable and in the control of local communities.

Pimbert who co-authored a book on 'Virtuous Circles: Values, Systems and Sustainability,' noted that a typical example of unsustainable system is the global food system depending on fossil fuels which in turn contribute to local pollution coupled with the global warming.

In her foreword, Dr. Caroline Lucas, Member of Parliament from the Green Party of England & Wales, welcome the contribution of the book to the debate on ways to redesign and re-localize food systems in sustaining diverse local ecologies and economies.

The challenge, according to Dr. Lucas, is in the designing of a resilient food system with, by and for citizens so as to reduce ecological footprints and to foster democratic control over the means of life.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Support for developing nations on NAPs unknown

Wealthy countries have committed to support developing nations in establishment of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

NAPs are expected to identify long-term priorities for responding to challenges of climate change at country levels.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that all parties to the UN Framework convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Cancun Adaptation Framework at the 2010 international climate negotiations in Mexico.

But, it was also gathered that the framework requires every nation to develop a National Plan of Action (NPA) that will identify medium and long term needs and priorities for adapting to climate change and outlining strategies as well as activities to address these.

Industry watchers anticipated that the NAPs of the developing nations would be funded by richer countries, although the ‘how’ of the funding is still unknown, as this would top agenda at the forthcoming UN negotiations in Durban, South Africa, between November 28 and December 9, 2011.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Edo State, China joint force against unemployment

The Edo State government is proposing a partnership with the Chinese government in an effort to combat the ever growing unemployed youths in the state.

According to 234next, Guo Kun, the Chinese consul-general to Nigeria affirmed the partnership that China is ready to partner with Edo state to set up a technology village that will house industries in the agricultural, and information and communications technology sector in Edo state.

In his words, he said Edo state has a bright future as it is a state endowed with natural resources and a good climate condition.

While expressing his excitement for the partnership, Edo state governor, Comr. Adams Oshiomhole promised that the state government will give the Chinese government all the needed supports.

"Time is not on our side and immediately we will set up a group to deepen the conversation," Oshiomhole affirmed. Read more

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IIED canvass support for NAPs in developing nations

“Wealthy nations have committed to support developing countries to establish National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) that identify long-term priorities for responding to climate change challenges. But how and when will this support be given? Past experience suggests that national adaptation planning in expectation of future international funding is fraught with difficulties. Contributors to fast-start climate finance should release funds to developing countries straight away. These funds must be sufficient to plan longer-term adaptation strategies as well as implement immediate priorities. Equally importantly, recipients of these funds must decide for themselves how best to spend it.”

At the 2010 international climate negotiations in Mexico, all parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Cancun Adaptation Framework. The framework includes, among other things, a requirement for all countries to develop a National Plan of Action (NAP) that identifies medium- and long-term needs and priorities for adapting to climate change, and outlines strategies and activities to address these. The NAPs of the developing countries will be supported with funds from richer countries.

The details of how NAPs will be designed and implemented are still being thrashed out and will be discussed during the forthcoming UN negotiations in Durban, South Africa. A mix of 18 country governments and international organisations has already submitted their views and suggestions to the UNFCCC to inform the Durban meeting.

The big questions for NAPs centre on how they will be funded and implemented in developing countries. These countries are the most vulnerable to climate change and its impacts and need immediate adaptation funding. They cannot afford to sit tight through the laborious and time-consuming process of preparing and approving a NAP before they receive funds to prevent harm in climate-vulnerable communities. Neither should they have to.

Past Mistakes

Wealthy parties to the UNFCCC have promised to finance NAPs in developing countries. But it is not clear when the money will come through. From past experience, the default option being considered is to give out enough money to prepare NAPs, but then wait to hand over funds for implementation until sometime after priority projects have been identified and submitted to the UN.

It’s not the first time that the 48 least developed countries (LDCs) have been asked to write an adaptation plan so that urgent projects can be funded through the UNFCCC. Experience tells us that planning in expectation of future funding is fraught with problems.

At the 2001 UN negotiations in Marrakesh, Morocco, the LDC Fund was established to sponsor the preparation and implementation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). This fund, which is managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and dependent on voluntary contributions from wealthy nations, gave each LDC approximately US$200,000 to conduct a NAPA to identify ‘urgent and immediate’ adaptation projects.

The expectation at the time was that as soon as priority projects were identified, the LDC Fund would co-fund implementation. Almost all 48 of the LDCs have completed and submitted their NAPAs to the UNFCCC.

This in itself is a considerable achievement that merits recognition and support.

And yet today a decade later, the funds disbursed are inadequate for the adaptation tasks and most countries are still waiting for the resources to address their most pressing adaptation needs. This has caused a major gap between planning and implementation that has given rise to suspicion and scepticism between developing and developed countries.

A question of time and power

In part, the problem has been one of time. It takes time to create detailed adaptation plans — particularly for poorer countries that face complex climate adaptation needs and sometimes lack critical institutional, technical and policy capacities to respond to climate change impacts. Timor-Leste, for example, did not submit its NAPA until September 2011.

Meanwhile, the climate change costs clock is ticking and in most vulnerable countries and communities, adaptation action is needed now.

The problem is also one of decision-making power. A major cause of delay in implementing NAPAs was that LDCs had no real authority to decide for themselves how best to spend adaptation funds. Instead, it was the GEF that assessed individual adaptation projects within NAPAs and decided whether they merited funding. And even the GEF could not be approached directly.

Individual countries have to go through intermediary ‘implementing agencies’ such as the World Bank or the UN Development Programme. This approach has proved problematic and ineffective. Although NAPAs provided a list of priority actions, they were only designed to generate brief project outlines some of which were inadequate as a basis for evaluation. The problem was subsequently tackled by providing LDCs with extra funds to prepare full project documents, and several of these have since been financed through the LDC Fund.

But progress has been slow. The approach refuses LDCs the sole right to decide what projects are urgent and immediate, and how to spend money to carry them out. International principles for aid effectiveness — reflected in the Paris Declaration of 2005 and built on many years of assessing the successes and failures in aid delivery — underline the importance of promoting national ownership and leadership of both resource allocation and decision processes to ensure that multi-and bilateral funds are used effectively and reach those most in need.

Developing countries increasingly emphasise the need for more ownership in adaptation finance, calling for ‘direct access’ funds, where money flows directly to countries rather than through multilateral agencies.

This kind of approach would not only reflect lessons learnt in aid effectiveness but would also go a long way in reducing the gap between planning and implementation and in rebuilding confidence in climate finance.

Decisions for Durban

As negotiators in Durban sit down to chart a course for NAPs, it is vital that they build on the experiences gained through the NAPA process and learn from past successes and failures. In practice, this means agreeing to two things.

First, if the developed countries are genuinely committed to helping developing countries adapt to adverse climate change impacts, they must pledge an adequate and transparent amount of funding upfront for both carrying out the NAP as well as implementing priority adaptation responses.

LDCs already have long lists of actionable priorities that can be developed into investment plans. And other countries can have the same relatively easily. It is vital that developing long-term adaptation plans in NAPs does not delay implementing initiatives that address the urgent needs identified in NAPAs.

Second, if developing countries are to truly address the most pressing needs of their most vulnerable communities, they must be given ownership of adaptation finance and allowed to prioritise actions and projects for themselves.

One option for achieving these twin goals is for those countries that have promised ‘fast-start’ finance for adaptation to pledge enough money to give each LDC at least US$20 million to simultaneously begin developing their NAP while also implementing their highest priority, adaptation projects as defined by them and identified in their NAPA.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NDE trains 300 Zamfaran youths on agro-biz

The Rural Employment Promotion Programme of the National Director of Employment (NDE) has trained over 300 Zamfara youths on farming and allied activities, reports AllAfrica.

Alhassan T. Mohammed, the Zamfara State coordinator of NDE said the participants were trained in the areas of crop production and processing, livestock production and allied ventures.

According to the state coordinator, over 30, 000 employed youths of Zamfara have benefited from the programme since its inception.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Rural Agricultural development Training Scheme at Damba in Gusau, Muhammed said the programme is aimed at encouraging unemployed school leavers and graduates that resides in rural areas to engage in agriculture.

Expressing his delight over the graduands, Mohammed said the graduating youths having gained basic knowledge of agricultural enterprise can make their own livestock.

"Evidence abound in Zamfara of beneficiaries of NDE programmes who have received training and necessary support are now employers of labour, with some of them having an annual turnover of over N500, 000," he said. Read more

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Dog research attracts N128m grant

The Wellcome Trust has granted fund for research to look into the life of man's best friend, dog, worth the sum of £500,000 about N128.044 million.

The research launched by University of Manchester researchers is to be the largest studies into the relationship between man and dog.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that the study is to explore how humans had influenced the behaviour of domestic dogs as a result of the way man breed, feed, train and socialize with them.

Lead researcher of the project, Professor Michael Worboys of Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Faulty of Life Sciences said, it is a cliché that 'dog is man's best friend', given its modern position as a domestic companion.

Worboys also said that dogs have been neglected by social scientists despite their importance in many people's lives.

The research, he said, would examine the interactions between and influences humans on stray and dangerous dogs as well as the use of dogs in the laboratory for health and medical research.

"We will study how changing ideas and practices with breeding, feeding, training and treating have essentially remade the modern dog. Whether as pet, a show dog or working animal," said Michael Worboys. Read more
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Empower small-scale farmers, get a hunger-free nation – Farmers

Nigeria farmers have said that the empowerment of small-scale farmers in the country would engender a hunger-free nation.

The farmers under the aegis of Voice for Food Security (CFS) and Association of Small-Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), in their manifesto made available to NaijaAgroNet, also said that investment on farmers will make Nigeria a stronger nation.

They called on governments at all levels to meet the 2003 African Union (AU) Maputo Declaration of an irreducible benchmark of a minimum of 10 per cent of national budgets to be allocated to agriculture.

They noted that AU’s commitment was demonstrated in 2010 when the union reaffirmed the 10 per cent minimum allocation by setting a new timeline of 2015 for all African countries to meet the benchmark.

The groups further asked for a 60 per cent of the agriculture allocation to be put aside for small-scale farmers.

For the two groups, women should be given special consideration in any new agricultural policy, sustainable development and investment plans as their roles as farmers could be overlooked in Africa and particularly in Nigeria.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Market Access: a major constraint for African farmers

Market accessibility has been identified as a major challenge for formers, which has prevented them from selling their agricultural outputs adequately.

NaijaAgroNet notes that this has affected productivity as there is no point in producing more products when the already produced ones are not being marketed, either due to lack of access road or middlemen’s exploit.

With more than 60 per cent of rural people living and growing their crops in places that are more than 2 kilometres away from a road where vehicles could pass year-round, and half of these rural roads are also in poor conditions and others completely un-motorable; these result in increase transport costs with its effect on food prices.

SPORE recorded that country like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has had her internal movement of foods cut off as farmers could not get their products out any longer unless they are being carried by women or on bicycles.

In order to control the bad roads in Africa, there is a need for huge investment and the involvement of all sectors which may include donors, private companies, local communities and of course governments. Good road is a necessity if farmers will have to supply their agricultural outputs to local, regional and national markets.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feeding Africa’s 2 bn population by 2050?

With a projection that Africa’s population currently a billion will be doubled by 2050, couple with the state of food insecurity on the continent, one imagines the feasibility of Africa feeding the projected populace of 2 billion in the next 39 years.

One of every three Africans, have been reportedly underfed and ironically three quarter of these set of people are farmers; those supposed to be charged with the responsibility of feeding the continent.

Spore, an agriculture and rural development magazine has it that malnutrition level is on the increase especially in Central Africa where the increase is more than doubled from 36 per cent in the 1960s to up to 56 per cent from 2000.

With under-nutrition becoming chronic some regions of the continent especially the eastern part, families have to make do with just a meal per day or even every two days.

Countries that have been affected by one conflict or the other have the larger portion of adults living below 2,000 calories per day.

With Africans relying massively on imports to meet its domestic food needs, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations warns that most vulnerable countries will witness an increase of up to 14 per cent in food prices following the raise in food prices on the international markets.

FAO also made a prediction that developing nations will have to boost their availability of crop-based energy by 175 per cent, increase supply by 414 per cent. Those relying on cassava or yam as their staple food will need to increase production of plant-based energy by 617 per cent.

According to FAO, there will also be need for East African nations to cultivate the two-third of their uncultivated arable land in an effort to increase agricultural outputs by up to 14 times.

Posing an unprecedented challenge for Africa is how it’s going to feed its population when it is doubled in the next 40 years. And in order for every West Africans to have enough food to eat, the total area of the cultivated land at present will need to be increased by four fold, all at the expense of forests and savannas.
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African small scale farmers need protection - Experts

Experts from the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) has called on African governments to implement policies that would encourage fair competition in order to protect small farmers from the exploits of middlemen, reports AllAfrica.

Though African farmers need the governments and donors for investments to increase agricultural productivity, the investments could depress commodity prices and farm incomes if not linked to fair market opportunities for farmers.

An agricultural economist at ACET, Francis Mulangu said an increase in competition among processors is good for the farmers while the opposite will have negative effects on the farmers.

This he said at the sixth African Economic Conference in Addis Ababa. He also said that an increase in production of traditional export crops has not translated into much growth in farm incomes.

Also speaking is the Economic Advisor at United Nations Development Programme’s ountry office in Chad, Ginette Camara affirmed that the weakness of the existing institutional frameworks is hindering the development of proper market structures that can benefit small farmers.

"Governments must create credible institutions that will ensure proper competition in the market to protect farmers," said Ms Camara. Read more

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