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Monday, December 24, 2012

The way back to the forest

Data from the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has shown that Asia-Pacific region, especially China, takes the leading position in the global forest products industry.
The forest industry also grew by 1 to 4 per cent in 2011 as against 2010 which signifies that countries globally are coming out of the recession slowly.
Whereas the new data shows that production of wood-based panels and paper in 2011 was above the pre-crisis levels of 2007 and appears to be growing relatively strong in some regions.
Nigeria records highest deforestation rate
Investigations by NaijaAgroNet revealed that Nigeria is one of the countries on the continent that has the highest rate of deforestation, recording about 2.6 per cent annually. And as at 2004, Nigeria has 693,000 hectares of forest plantations.
Within the time under review for Nigeria had as at 2004, contributed about 1.3 - 3 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for a larger part of domestic energy, food and medicinal supply, which were not fully represented in the formal national statistics.
The increase in deforestation in the country has over the years worsen by livestock grazing, soil erosion, drought, desertification and growing demand for cropland, thus, greatly putting the state of forest of the nation’s under threat.
China leads global forestry business
However, leading the forestry industry is the Asia-Pacific region with China as the world's second largest producer of samnwood after United State of America, thereby overtaking Canada.
Notable is that in 2011 alone, China contributed 11 per cent of the world's sawnwood, 38 per cent of its panels and 26 per cent of its paper, hence it played a key role in the international forest products market, even as the Asian country also claimed the fifth largest importer of paper and paperboard after recording a huge increase in domestic production since 2007.
Also in 2011, China imported forest products worth $43 billion, about N6.79 trillion, accounting for 16 per cent of the global total imports.
The forest product statistics database by the United Nations' agency contains 1.2 million entries and cover production and trade of 52 products, 21 product groups of 245 countries and territories.
Meanwhile the Russian Federation that have the largest forest in the world has experienced decline in industrial round wood export in the last five years. The decline, NaijaAgroNet further gathered stood at about 60 per cent with an increase in sawnwood production by 8 per cent over the same period.
Calls on investors to look into forestry
Meanwhile the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in the last quarter of 2012, said that the investment guideline that was originated from The Forests Dialogue (TFD) on behalf of Growing Forest Partnerships and with the support of IIED, for forest business would give a high return on investment if followed.
In the same vein the IIED forest team head, Duncan Macqueen called on investors to venture into locally controlled forest that it offers triple investment returns and that people depending on forest for survival would have a secured income streams, making it a win-win situation for the investors as well as the forest managers and owners.
A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the third quarter of 2012 revealed that if about 0.034 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which amount to about N6.24 trillion is being spent on forest on a yearly basis would give an estimation of 5 million jobs globally and a high return on investment.
UNEP in the report advised that finance can be sourced from both public and private sectors using approach that pay landowners for maintaining the ecosystems.

Yinka Awosanya/LS

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Olam, NGO give healthcare support to rural Africans

One of the leading global integrated supply chain managers and processor of agricultural products, Olam International is partnered some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to give vital information and healthcare support to rural Africans.
The partnership, according to a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet is to support the year's United Nations' World AIDS Day for December 1, 2012.
The NGOs in the partnership include GIZ, Engender Health and Action Health incorporation.
In Nigeria, the partnership targets students in the fight against HIV and AIDS in supporting the national effort.
A community focused campaign was also created to prevent new HIV infections among young people by mobilising them as community change agents for development, of which Osun State is one of the states that has witnessed the campaign.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the campaign is to serve as a challenge for the youths for the year's World AIDS Day them, 'Getting to Zero.'
Commenting on the partnership, Ms. Temitope Ijiwole of Action Health Incorporated said the initiative contributed to the national response of reducing new HIV infections to zero.
Also speaking, Olam Head, East and Southern Africa Region, MD Ramesh revealed that the company depends on 3.4 million small scale farmers across Africa and that the initiative as part of their corporate social responsibility in the sensitive agricultural sector of the continent with a belief of supporting healthcare programmes.

Yinka Awosanya/LS
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FAOSTAT to provide a platform for food statistics

A screenshot of FAOSTAT
FAOSTAT, a new online interface designed to provide easy access to food and agricultural statistics was recently unveiled by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The online platform according to a press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet has data of 245 countries and 35 regions, and would cover data from 1961 till date.
The Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Labour Organization (ILO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UN Statistics Division, World Bank and World Trade Organization (WTO) partnered FAO in developing the FAOSTAT portal.
Statistical analyses to be covered at the initial stage of the platform include trade, food balance sheets, food supply, population, prices, production, forestry, investment, resources and commodity balances, while greenhouse gases, food security and agri-environmental indicators are expected to be added over the next few months.

Yinka Awosanya/LS
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

SeletHulling, leading the Sesame way in ACP countries

Mike, CTA Director

For the ordinary visitor to the compound housing the SeletHulling Plc little will you know what is within; a company that has reserved itself to anything Sesame.
General Manager, SeletHulling Plc, located at the Legetafo axis of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr. Ben Van Ampting told over 20 participants of the just concluded Making the Connection: Value Chains for transforming smallholder agriculture, who were at the company on facility tour that ‘Selet’ in Amharic language, as meaning Sesame.
Established in year 2007, he said, Selet Hulling Plc is a joint venture between Kaleb Service Farmers House, and The Organic Cooperation (TOC) B.V.
While Kaleb is an Ethiopian company that specializes in the export of different agricultural food products, including oil seeds, coffee and different types of Ethiopian spices and the import of different agricultural machineries into Ethiopia, the TOC is a Dutch-based holding company for Tradin Organic Agriculture B.V.; Trabocca B.V.; Holland Business Winged-Ox and Internamtrade B.V. TOC’s companies are specialized in the international sourcing and supply of certified organic ingredients for the world food and bakery industry.
TOC, he noted, develops sustainable agricultural projects around the world and sources over 80 per cent of its raw materials out of own companies and projects, citing an instance with Ethiopia, Serbia, China, Thailand, Mexico, Ghana, Bulgaria, Philippines, Vietnam. TOC is owned by the Canadian SunOpta Inc. group.
In a presentation that began with a video of the corporate profile that lasted for about 10 minutes, followed by a powerpoint, Mr. van Ampting, said the Sesame industry currently provides huge income for the government of Ethiopia, as the company pays taxes adequately, which has earned them the Golden award by the Customs Authority.
Defined as a tall annual herbaceous plant, Sesamum indicum is of the family Pedaliaceae of tropical and subtropical areas. Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India.
As part of the value chain experiment, Mr. van Ampting said they provide farmers financial advances to enable them focus on cultivating Sesame through two cooperative groups, even though they are not obligatory to sell to his company.
SeletHunling’s main course, he said, consists of setting up a top-of-the–range quality HACCP operated, organic certified hulling factory, using the dry cum mechanical hulling method, with the capacity to produce 1,500 – 1,700 kg per hour of organic hulled sesame seeds.
He explained that initiating the internationally certified organic production of sesame, cotton, soya beans and mung beans on Selet’s own farm, with an out growers’ scheme composed of about 3000 farming families within the vicinity of the farm in the very remote area of Humera district in the Tigray Region, that is, in the North West of Ethiopia, on the border with Sudan and Eritrea.
Emphasising that Selet Hulling mission is to be the world food and bakery industry’s premier supplier of top quality, competitively priced, certified organic hulled sesame seeds for a healthier living.
Main strategy, he said is to directly source from the farmers so as to increase product quality control and the ability of the company to organize its own processing and sales with already established sales and marketing force.
The out grower farmers in Humera, he said are involved in the growing of the raw material for hulling and train-the-trainer approach is being deployed as well as the factory workers, where the sesame will undergo processing, equally benefit from this strategy.
The impact of this establishment, he said has been a positive impact on the livelihoods of many Ethiopians and on the economy as a whole in some aspects not limited to higher incomes for the families of the targeted 1500 farmers.
Also, he said, creation of employment to about 50 permanently and predominantly female employees who work in the factory and at least 3,000 seasonal workers at the farming level in Humera, as sesame growing is labour intensive,
According to him, the introduction of the new technology for dry hulling in Ethiopia has made Selet the pioneer of dry hulling organic sesame in the country, thereby ensuring local value-addition, which is very beneficial for the economy as a whole,
Worthy of mention, he said, is that the project is very environmentally friendly and has no negative health effects on project participants thanks to the nature of the products that are organic, for which the production processes are centered on promoting the environment and ensure no exposure to hazardous materials.
As part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, he said they gave capacity building through training at both the factory and farming levels, even as the project supports local health and educational initiatives, which culminated in building of a secondary school at Humera.
After the tour, question and answer session to explain so grey areas to the participants, both in Engligh and French, with the assistance of Mr. Patrice Annequin from IFDC Ghana, a project cordinator of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria, Mr I.M. Arabi was appointed to give the vote of thanks to the management and staff of SeletHunling for their kindness in accepting to host some of their participants on facility tour, as well as the CTA for the opportunity.
The official tour guard is Mr. Siasy Gizachew from SNV Ethiopia, while every participating visitors each got an organic certified packaged hulled sesame seeds and a value chain diagram as souvenir.

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Save Africa from hunger -IITA boss

Sanginga, IITA Director General

The Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has urged world leaders not to relent their efforts towards the fight against food insecurity in Africa.
Sanginga expressed the institution’s gratitude over the improvements recorded in agricultural productivity in the past affirming that there are still more to be done as regards food security in the continent.
He noted that efforts should be doubled due to the spiraling growth rate of the continent’s population and the degrading soil which does not work towards improving agricultural productivity.
IITA revealed to NaijaAgroNet that the Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth rate is 2.4 per cent, a rate which is high compared to 1.3 per cent of non-African countries.
“Clearly there is much work to be done in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Dr. Sanginga emphasised that food security attainment is huge with increasing challenge and increase in total production which is at the expense of natural resource base.
According to the IITA boss, there is the need to adopt sustainable intensification of agricultural production practices to conserve and recycle soil nutrient which will in turn reduce the need to clear new land for agricultural use.
Approaches to concentrate on towards addressing the issue of food insecurity, Dr. Sanginga said should include increase in agricultural productivity, food availability and its safety.
He stressed that the agriculture sector’s overall performance must all be increased against the growing urban population, uncertain effects of climate change, increased in demand for energy as well as disease pandemics.
He also commended the renewed attention to agriculture by leaders in the continent which is producing positive results, and urged for more commitment of resources to the sector, and that IITA is always ready to partner with any organisation towards improving lives of Africans.
IITA, one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty has several awards for using research for development (R4D) in addressing the developmental needs of tropical countries, and had since inception worked with partners to improve crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture.

Yinka Awosanya
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UN Convention unveils new initiative to reduce poverty

The 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will see to the unveiling of a new initiative that would help countries to meet their governmental obligations.
The initiative will also work towards the reduction of poverty, showing how the two seemingly disparate words of poverty eradication and biodiversity conservation are connected.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that the initiative is a three-year project by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) with the intention that policies to conserve nature and reduce poverty will work in harmony.
IIED revealed to NaijaAgroNet in a press statement that the new initiative will help nations identify opportunities to build a business case for biodiversity as a key developmental asset through trade in biodiversity-based products and services, improved genetic diversity for agriculture.
Commenting on the new initiative, Dilys Roe of IIED affirmed that biodiversity and poverty are tightly linked whereas their policies are rarely linked.
“The two sides of policymaking need to be brought together so that natural resources can contribute to development and poverty reduction strategies in a sustainable way,” Roe said.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that all the 193 parties to the CBD adopted a 10-year strategy in 2010 with the aim of conserving biodiversity and ensuring that it is been put to sustainable use.
The 10-year strategy also ensures that benefits from biodiversity usage are shared fairly and equitably.
As part of the new strategy, countries agreed to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that having identified the urgent need for improved capacity for mainstreaming poverty eradication strategies, plans and development as a means of enhancing implementation of the convention, COP also set up an Expert Group on Biodiversity, in 2011 for poverty eradication and development.
Participants at the convention mandated the new group to further clarify the linkages between poverty reduction, plans and development.
The group was also charged with the responsibility to identify the most effective approach toward a framework on capacity development for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services for sustainable development and poverty eradication
In their recommendations to COP, the group requested the Executive Secretary of COP to summon every stakeholder to come forward with their views taking the outcome of Rio+20 into consideration.
Encouraging all partners as well as stakeholders involved in biodiversity-related programmes to consider different perspectives and priorities in all biodiversity and ecosystem services valuation processes is also part of the recommendation of the group.
A target was also set that by 2020 biodiversity values would have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes.
COP, as the governing body of the Convention, advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings.
To date COP has held 10 ordinary meetings and one extraordinary meeting to adopt Biosafety Protocol. COP has held 10 ordinary meetings and one extraordinary meeting to adopt Biosafety Protocol.

Yinka Awosanya
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We can’t live without food – Akunyili

Prof. Akunyili, Former Information Communication Minister

Former Minister of Information and Communications who doubles as a renowned Pharmacist, Prof. Dora Akunyili, has stressed the importance of food, saying man can not live without, but can do without drugs, thus she called for adoption of nutritional supplements, describing them as crucial to healthcare management.
Akunyili made this position know at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, where she declared open the National Health Conference on Nutrition Therapy organised by a United States-based company.
“Food is actually more important than drug because we can live without drugs but we cannot live without food. This must be why all over the world, it is always Food and Drug Regulatory Agency and not Drug and Food Regulatory Agency,” she said.
She noted that as a pharmacist, she is aware that nutrition plays a key role in people’s health status, stressing “This is because many of the nutrients we need for healthy living can be found in fruits, seeds, roots, vegetables, nuts and unprocessed natural food.”
She disclosed that it was this that made her to give “equal opportunity to various therapies – including food supplements” during her days as Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from 2001 to 2008.
“We actually paid as much attention to food in NAFDAC as we did to drugs, but for some reason, the public was more interested in drugs. However, I always insisted that every food and drug must meet stipulated standards so that our people do not end up taking poison in the name of food and drugs,” Akunyili stated.
The conference which had as theme “Nutrition: Potency & Possibilities In Health Care Delivery” was jointly organised by Hallelujah Acres USA and Hallelujah Acres Nigeria. It was graced by delegates from across Nigeria, with the President and Chief Education Officer of Hallelujah Acres, Paul Malkmus, and his wife Ann, as special guests.

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WHO, WMO debut with Atlas of Health, Climate

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recently launched the Atlas of Health and Climate to give practical examples on how to use the weather and information about climate to protect public health.
The debut of Atlas, according to the WHO is important following the continuous change in the world’s climate with its increasing hazardous effects on human health.
Some of the climate challenges that the Atlas would tackle include droughts, floods and cyclones as they affect health of people in millions on a yearly basis.
“Prevention and preparedness are the heart of public health,” WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan said, adding that the climate has a profound impact on lives and survival of people globally, hence the need for the Atlas with its profound impact on improving lives.
In her words, information about climate change and variability is the powerful scientific tools which assist the world agency in improving health.
WMO Secretary-General, Mr. Michel Jarraud said partnership between the two world bodies is crucial in ensuring that up-to-date and relevant information on weather and climate is being integrated into public health management at all levels. “This Atlas is an innovative and practical example of how we can work together to serve society,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the Atlas is an assembly of numerous maps, tables and graphs showing that the links between health and climate are plain.
The Atlas, which was released in October 2012, is to work towards strengthening the availability of climate service to the benefit of the society with preferences to the most vulnerable societies.
NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the unique Atlas also shows how the relationship between health and climate is determined by other vulnerabilities like poverty, environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, especially for water and sanitation.

Yinka Awosanya

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Kenya launches climate change adaptation fund

In a bid for Northern Kenyans to adapt to changes in climate, the Kenyan government has launched a new fund, tagged, ‘Climate Adaptation Fund.’
Officials of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), revealed to NaijaAgroNet that the fund will be used for combating some other development challenges that the country might be facing.
Also, the fund, will release the sum of Euro 500,000 about N101.2 million in 2013 in Isiolo, to an eastern region of the country where the five communities of the pilot project are.
The fund was financed by Kenyan office of the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development through the UK International Climate Fund, whereas IIED is playing the dual role as a coordinator and adviser to the Kenyan government on the fund.
The communities have the opportunity to come up with proposal through their ward-level committee as regards the fund, and such proposals would be assessed at the county level by a cross community and government committee.
The fund, NaijaAgroNet gather that the fund would also see to a country-wide community radio station which will work towards delivering the right and accessible climate information in order to better inform local planning processes.
Whereas some of the earlier community suggestions had its focus on improvement of natural resource management by building the capacity of customary institutions.
Commenting on the fund, climate change advisor in the Ministry of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands, Victor Orindi said emergency responses to extreme weather event over the years have deflected development resources from their proper purpose.
According to Orindi, local planning needs to be integrated in actions for climate resilience so as to make it effective.
Head, Climate Change Group at IIED, Simon Anderson said the climate adaption fund will tackle local development needs and climae vulnerabilities as it seeks to empower local people to build partnership with local governments.

Yinka Awosanya
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Environmental Sustainability in Private Sector: An Advocacy

Gas flare causing environmental damage
Government intervenes in industry for several reasons. Apart from being the biggest spender and provider of public infrastructure, it is equally her responsibility to protect the working people from abuse, protect the consuming public from exploitation, and from deleterious impacts of industrialization. Consequently, when governance is good and there is no natural disaster (force majeure) both man and nature enjoy some measure of stability. It is in this sense God sees good leaders as His ministers.
 On the other land, poor governance is usually associated with paucity of infrastructures, weak environmental institutions and legal frame works. These prevent countries from adequately addressing sustainability issues.
 Since the past two decades, public awareness of environment, social and governance issue is radically altering the global business landscape. Businesses are increasingly reviewing their theory of business as a result of internal and external pressures. The relationship between some health problems and the environment of work, coupled with the realization that what may be beneficial from say economic perspective may be detrimental to the quality of life or well being of the populace is compelling stakeholders to adopt an integrated approach to development.
 Nigerian private sector as a global player, though presently weakened by poor infrastructure, cannot afford to be insensitive to present day realities. It must prepare for the future today or destroy the future now. Leadership in the organized private sector must discover like Garvin Murray of International Finance Corporation (IFC) that striving for business value and doing good for the environment or society need not be contradictory pursuits. The truth is that the viability of business itself depends on ecological resources.
 The concept of “doing good” requires private players to rise above the realm of compliance and basic Corporate Social Responsibility requirements. It involves corporate governance, transparency, process eco-efficiency, environmental performance of product or service, health, safety and welfare of the workforce, among others. It is known to yield both tangible and intangible returns to organizations engaged in it.
 The paradigm shift, therefore will require manufacturers to consider biodegradable nutrients or raw materials, and recyclable packaging. They should go for products with minimal carbon imprints, consume less energy, water, and other inputs. They must as much as possible adopt production processes that will produce fewer air, water and other pollutants. Some companies, like 3m in United States, increased their profits by making their procedures more efficient and producing less waste. That was without installing pollution control plants.
 The sustainable management of the supply chain is critical for the private sector. Companies must identify and assess potential environmental risks and hazards along their supply chain and take steps to prevent, mitigate or remedy their likely impacts. Doing good should also entail the avoidance of child labour both at shop floor and along the supply chain.
 The declaration of humongous annual turnover or profits after tax will no longer be commendable if the same company (be it in the Hospitality, Production, Banking, Oil, Telecom, Construction, or Logistics sub sector) is destroying the integrity of the ecosystem or disrupting the social fabric that sustains it. Verifiable sustainability reports will be key in determining corporate success in the days ahead. Stakeholders will like to verify the level of sustainable financing carried by a bank. They will want to see the eco-friendliness of the businesses or projects financed by them.
 The government, media, academia, NGOs and other stakeholders will increasingly be interested in sustainability report. Beyond environmental impact assessment, they will like to weigh a company’s impacts against her good to the society and the environment. This is already changing the face of Corporate Social Responsibility. It is also going to affect capital market positioning of a firm, the chances of playing in the global arena and even securing international facility or partnerships. The Nigerian private sector must rise up to these developments.

MacDenis Igbo

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