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Friday, July 31, 2015

ITREALMS: Scientist cries for climate change

ITREALMS: Scientist cries for climate change: ITRealms : A leading scientist broke down in tears during an interview on carbon pollution, describing a dark future where the o...

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Makinde advocates monitoring of biotech development in Africa


The Director, African Biotech Network of Expertise (ABNE), Professor Diran Makinde, has posited that African countries should have reliable systems to monitor developments in biotechnology to ensure successes in health, food security, biodiversity and trade, NaijaAgroNet reports.

The Dr. Makinde said that in the face of opposition and activism, evidence based decisions is germane to sustain the tempo in public awareness on the safety of  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) adding that what Africa needs to do is monitor local seed companies so that seeds are not adulterated.

He took this position at the three-day biotechnology short course organized by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise in collaboration with University of Ghana (UG) Legon, and Michigan State University (MSU).

The course, NaijaAgroNet gathered, seeks to provide a platform that would empower key stakeholders within the Biosafety systems in Ghana and Nigeria with current information on safe management of modern biotechnology to enable them effectively support regulatory process.

Expert pointed out that with 65 per cent of Africa's labour workforce employed by agriculture coupled with aging farmers, climate change, drought and famine and the youth shunning agriculture, Biotech stands to optimize productivity and contribute to food, feed and fiber security.

NaijaAgroNet further reports that Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to produce a product or service such as tools of tissue culture, molecular characterization for identification purposes in plant breeding, diagnostics, fermentation and genetic engineering.

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Farmers, buyers’ partnerships guide in the offing


A legal guide to ensure harmonious relationship between farmers and buyers for sustainable agribusiness is being worked out by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), NaijaAgroNet reports.

The arrangement would take the form of an expanding practice in which farmers produce agricultural goods for specific buyers in set quantities at prearranged prices and at the same time getting a new tool to guide growers and buyers in establishing sound contracts and conflict resolution procedures.

Contract farming in principle can improve farmers' access to markets and boost their incomes while ensuring that agribusinesses have a stable supply of produce that meets their quality standards, NaijaAgroNet was informed in a press release by FAO.

But as with any contractual relationship, there are potential pitfalls, and farmers can sometimes find themselves on the losing side of the deal. For example, a company might not pay the agreed price for the produce delivered, asserting that its quality was substandard, while the contract does not include any dispute resolution mechanism.

Changes in the world's agrifood systems and consumer preferences, NaijaAgroNet, have been a key driver of this trend. As food demand has risen both in developed and developing countries, processors and marketers need a steady and high volume stream of supplies, which they are not always able to meet buying on open commodities markets.

In contract farming arrangements help buyers gain a stronger hand in production, quality control and pricing, while farmers benefit from guaranteed income and market access. They may also acquire new productive assets – under some contract types, buyers commit to supporting growers by providing farm inputs, equipment, and technical advice.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Agriculture most vulnerable to climate change----Expert

The Senior Programme Specialist, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Edith Ofwona said agriculture which is the backbone of African continent is the sector mostly affected by climate change, NaijaAgroNet reports.
“The biggest challenge,” she disclosed “is how to work with communities not only to cope with short-term impacts but actually to be able to adapt and be resilient over time. We should come up with practical solutions that are affordable and built on the knowledge that communities have.”
Ofwonaro, NaijaAgroNet gathered, took this position at the international scientific conference on ‘Our Common Future under Climate Change’ which was held recently in Paris, which marks commencement of programmes to usher in the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), also to be held in Paris in six months’ time, to pave the way for a global agreement to keep the rise in the earth’s temperature under 2°C.
Experts said temperature rise on the continent will likely exceed 2°C by 2100 with land temperatures rising faster than the global land average. Scientific assessments, NaijaAgroNet learnt, agree that Africa will also face more climate changes in the future, with extreme weather events increasing in terms of frequency, intensity and duration.
“Most sub-Saharan countries have high levels of climate vulnerability,” said an independent specialist and one of the lead authors of the 5th Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), South Africa, Penny Urquhart, “Over the years, people became good at adapting to those changes but what we are seeing is increasing risks associated with climate change as this becomes more and more pressing.
He said data monitoring systems are still poor and sparse over the region, “we do know there is an increase in temperature,” she stated adding  that if the global average temperature increases by 2°C by the end of the century, this will be experienced as if it had increased by 4°C in Southern Africa, stated Urquhart.
According to the South African expert, vulnerability to climate variation is very context-specific and depends on people’s exposure to the impacts, so it is hard to estimate the number of people affected by global warming on the continent.
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

AUC wants African varsities to coordinate research on agriculture

The chairperson, African Union Commission (AUC), Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said universities across Africa must harmonize their agricultural research and teaching programmes to help modernize farming on the continent, NaijaAgroNet reports.

She stressed that this would encourage young people to study agriculture and then introduce better farming technologies. “The harmonization of agricultural science is the first step in streamlining university courses to attract young people to science and technology,” she told delegates.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that the Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Haile mariam Desalegn and Dlamini Zuma were among discussants on African farmers’ inability to adopt technologies and methods that could make agriculture more efficient, saying that young people in Africa have little interest in studying agriculture at university because they see farming as a laborious, low-income profession.

According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the continent imported 83 per cent of its food in 2013, despite more than half the population being smallholder farmers. Having a greater number of trained agricultural scientists would help increase yields for food grown in Africa.

“We import a ridiculous amount of food, and still many suffer from malnutrition. All those initiatives to improve food security will not come to anything if we do not invest more in science and research, and get more young people into agricultural sciences,” Dlamini Zuma said.

Speakers told the UN’s Third Financing for Development Conference in Ethiopia recently that universities should align their agricultural science efforts and collaborate with each other to compete internationally,
NaijaAgroNet learnt.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063, a 50-year development plan for the continent, says widening the use of modern agricultural technology would help secure a steady food supply and improve farmers’ contribution to economic growth.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ITREALMS: Child rape: UN Watch calls for more accountability...

ITREALMS: Child rape: UN Watch calls for more accountability...: ITRealms : Geneva-based human rights organization under the aegis of United Nations Watch has called for a greater accountability a...

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Avian flu to gulp $20m

The resurgence of the deadly avian flu virus H5N1 across West Africa has sent jitters in the spine of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as it has call for a whopping $20 million, about N3.98billion to stem spread of the disease to all the parts of the region, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana are said to be among countries where the avian flu have made a comeback following outbreaks of the virus in poultry farms, markets and family holdings in these countries.

The disease comes even as some countries in West Africa are still recovering from, and in some cases still battling, Ebola. Avian flu could trigger a mass death of chicken – a nutritious and inexpensive source of food for many people– with detrimental impacts on diets and on the economy of the region, exacerbating an already difficult situation.

To save other countries from the flu, NaijaAgroNet learnt, FAO has embarked on assessment missions to Benin, Cameroon, Mali and Togo – to undertake in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health, the African Union, and in some cases with the World Bank –  the existence or otherwise cases of H5N1 in their poultries because these countries and other countries in the Sub-Region need to put preventive  measures in place.

Chief of FAO’s Animal Health Service Division, Juan Lubroth, said “Based on what we do know, there is a real risk of further virus spread. Urgent action is needed to strengthen veterinary investigation and reporting systems in the region and tackle the disease at the root, before there is a spillover to humans.”

While the first incursion of the H5N1 in West Africa occurred in 2006 it was eliminated by 2008. In late 2014, however, the virus was re-introduced in Nigeria, where it spread rapidly in the following three months - to date more than 1.6 million birds have been culled or have died from the virus, NaijaAgroNet reports.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

SDGs take effect September

The United Nations (UN's) new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that details the investments needed to eradicate world hunger by 2030 is expected to take effect from September,2015, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano Da Silva at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said additional investments in social protection and rural development is necessary.

"Through the SDGs and the Accord, the world has declared: ‘Our goal is to end poverty and hunger,'" da Silva said while addressing world leaders, civil society and private sector groups gathered for the conference plenary, NaijaAgroNet reports.

Significant boosts, according to him, is therefore required in investment in both social protection and rural development to ensure that every person has adequate access to food all year long, and improve the productivity, incomes and livelihoods of the poor, he stated.

Graziano da Silva's remarks, NaijaAgroNet gathered, follow the release of a report by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that details the investments needed to eradicate world hunger by 2030 - a key aim of the SDGs to be adopted in September.

To make hunger history by 2030, the UN food agencies estimate that an additional $267 billion, about N53.1trillion per year on average needs to be invested in rural and urban areas, as well as in social protection measures that give poor people access to food and the means to improve their own livelihoods.

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Cooperative society targets 150,000 jobs in agric sector

A cooperative society, Reality International, with base in Niger Delta said it has plans to create about 150,000 jobs to tackle unemployment and create an agro-based economy, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Leader of the group, Prince Thankgod Njoku Ezenwata disclosed this at the maiden edition of its demonstration farm at Rumuodomaya in Port Harcourt. He stated that the programme which would begin in the Niger Delta would be replicated across the country within a period of three years.

The Reality International draws its membership across the Niger Delta region and aims at using agriculture to correct social vices occasioned by unemployment in the country and redirect the government policy towards agro based economy.

Ezenwata, NaijaAgroNet gathered, said the group is working in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in the area of assistance to create jobs for Nigeriansto assist it access the agricultural development loan to enable its members develop their farms and pay back within a stipulated time.

"A lot has been said about agriculture in Nigeria. Some said it is dead while others say it is still alive. Whatever the case maybe, it is irrelevant, what matters most is the way forward and that is the main focus of our group. What government at both state and federal levels need do is to improve the standard of agriculture in Nigeria. The availability of accessible roads and transport system is a necessity for agriculture to thrive in Niagara,” he said.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

FF, AUC say leadership, partnership key for Africa’s agricultural transformation


A panel co-hosted by the United States government's global food security initiative, Feed the Future, and African Union Commission (AUC) have said government leadership and partnerships with the private sector as well as civil society are crucial for Africa to achieve food security, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Held recently in Addis Ababa, the panel was a side event of the Third Finance for Development Conference aimed to highlight how the commission's Comprehensive Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) set the foundation for enhanced engagement for the governments throughout the continent with the private sector as well as how non-state actors could play a role in advancement of country-led approaches towards food security.

Deputy Chairperson, AUC, Erastus Mwencha, in his keynote said, "Since the initiation of CAADAP we have seen a tremendous transformation in agriculture sector."

Acting Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID),  Ambassador Alfonso Lenhardt, on his part, said that "the possibilities are truly endless" when the private sector, the civil society and all relevant stakeholders are engaged in ensuring food and nutrition security, NaijaAgroNet learnt.

He went further to say, "We are on a critical part of the post-2015 agenda. And we must work together" towards the transformation of the agricultural sector."

In support of  Lenhardt’s position, NaijaAgroNet reports, was a panelist, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Government's Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), Khalid, Bomba who said "increase production and productivity, manage risks and disaster as well as work on commercialization, we must work together to translate policies into action. We must engage the private sector and civil society groups."

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

EIB, FAO partnership to bolster private sector investment

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), are collaborating to broaden investment in agriculture, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The two institutions, NaijaAgroNetgathered, signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that seeks to foster investment operations in the field of agriculture, private sector development and value chains that promote both EIB's priorities and FAO's strategic objectives outside the EU.

Speaking at the event, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, said "This is a landmark opportunity for both of us to combine technical knowledge and financial capacity to engage private and public investors in eradicating hunger," noting that ensuring enough global food supply for a growing population and making agrifood systems more sustainable would require robust investments in developing countries.

According to EIB Vice-President, Pim van Ballekom, "Agriculture and agribusiness are key sectors for development impact, as they are and will remain central to lives, livelihoods and social stability. But they are also a primary base for local entrepreneurship, employment and growth in many countries around the world. If we can combine FAO's local experience and know-how with our investment capabilities and technical expertise to better channel much needed finance to benefit both food supply and entrepreneurship, then why should we not do that?"

NaijaAgroNet recalls that FAO and EIB have collaborated before, through information-sharing platforms like Eastagric, with the latest MoU intensifying their cooperation in the joint analysis, planning and execution of investment operations.

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