Search NaijaAgroNet

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Prevention fundamental to containing zika – FAO boss

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Mr. Graziano da Silva has offered FAO’s technical assistance in collaboration with the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the effort to contain Zika, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Zika, NaijaAgoNet gathered, is a mosquito-borne disease that has been detected in the country, where a humid and warm climate is ideal for the insects’ proliferation.

Speaking in Rome at the weekend, FAO boss said they are responsible for prevention, describing prevention as fundamental to containing zika globally.

“FAO is responsible for prevention, not for the disease itself. Prevention is fundamental,” he said, stressing that using insecticides in urban areas may not be enough to eradicate the mosquitos.

He revealed that FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have a joint programme to support member countries in insect pest control which has developed a technique of using sterile insects to combat such disease vectors.

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

UNICEF says boys, girls equal attendance in primary schools in 129 countries

In addition, the report noted that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The global boys and girls now attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries, according to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), just as the under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Although the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half what it was in the 1990s, UNICEF said, progress has been neither even nor fair.

UNICEF in The State of the World’s Children special reports also said, the poorest children are twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday and to be chronically malnourished than the richest.

“Across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children born to mothers with no education are almost 3 times more likely to die before they are 5 than those born to mothers with a secondary education. And girls from the poorest households are twice as likely to marry as children than girls from the wealthiest households,” UNICEF lamented.

Nowhere across the globe, UNICEF report said, is the outlook grimmer than in sub-Saharan Africa, where at least 247 million children – or 2 in 3 – live in multidimensional poverty, deprived of what they need to survive and develop, and where nearly 60 per cent of 20- to 24-year-olds from the poorest fifth of the population have had less than four years of schooling.

Although education plays a unique role in levelling the playing field for children, the number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011, and a significant proportion of those who do go to school are not learning.

Further, the revealed that about 124 million children today do not go to primary- and lower-secondary school, and almost 2 in 5 who do finish primary school have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic. 

The report equally pointed to evidence that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits. Cash transfers, for example, have been shown to help children stay in school longer and advance to higher levels of education. On average, each additional year of education a child receives increases his or her adult earnings by about 10 per cent.

“And for each additional year of schooling completed, on average, by young adults in a country, that country’s poverty rates fall by 9 per cent,” official said.

UNICEF said that inequity is neither inevitable, nor insurmountable, arguing that better data on the most vulnerable children, integrated solutions to the challenges children face, innovative ways to address old problems, more equitable investment and increased involvement by communities – all these measures can help level the playing field for children.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Opinion: Making food supply election issue in Ghana Decides 2016

Ghana has been hailed as a “beacon of hope” on the African continent due to its record of political stability and progress in development areas. In about 4 months from now the country will once again go to the polls to judge the governance of the current National Democratic Congress (NDC)-led regime, and the question is what this judgment by the people should be based on.

In recent times, election campaign speeches have been high on issues, ideas, policy alternatives on health, education, shelter, national security, energy, mass transit etc.

Efficiency within food systems and food security has been high on the global agenda since 2008 and the world, including Ghana, reeled under high and volatile food prices caused by the 2008 – 09 food crisis, a crisis that was followed by the 2011 – 12 food crisis. These crises drove millions more people into poverty and thus placing them at risk of malnutrition and starvation. The Government of Netherland in 2015 hosted world leaders, civil societies and businesses in the Hague for the “No More Food to waste” conference which addressed issues of food wastage, hunger and efficiency within global food systems. France this year pass into law a policy which admonishes supermarkets to donate their excess food products to charity homes.

The EU and US Government has started a global campaign that educates people on “best-before” date labels on food products. The FAO Save Food initiative has also been providing platform for organizations across the world to work on improving food systems. In Africa, the Food for All Africa program has been using innovative approaches towards educating the populace on the economic and environmental impact of food wastage and hunger. 

Building West Africa’s first food bank in Ghana to recover over $150,000 worth of food products annually to provide 48,000 meals to feed and create sustainable means of nutrition for over 3,000 vulnerable children, aged and mentally challenged.

The 2016 elections forms a solid foundation for political parties to share with businesses, governments and non-government groups their national food policy framework to meet emerging challenges and opportunities for both food suppliers and each of us as food consumers.

Food wastage, hunger and inefficiency within Ghana’s food supply chain:
The global food market is rapidly changing and facing new challenges. At home, through utilizing innovation and efficiency we can benefit from a vibrant food industry. With the changing face of international food markets Ghana must position itself to manage the current challenges, future risks, but equally, to reap future gains.

Supermarkets in Ghana are wasting over GH¢ 2million weekly to food wastage at a time when 1 out of 4 children in most parts of Ghana goes to bed hungry. Available data shows over 40% of food goes waste along Ghana’s food supply chain from production to consumption. Farmers have willowed in poverty due to post harvest losses, the poor state of our roads to transport food across the country, poor transportation facilities, local market setup and lack of food processing facilities are some of the factors affecting the efficiency of our supply chain to achieve food security.

High tariffs on imported food products, high food prices, lack of tax incentives for food recovery initiatives are also some of the factors which has resulted in perfectly edible food going waste along the supply chain. Ghana as a country of 27 million people after 59 years of independence has no national food plan and Government must be committed to working with Ghanaians in developing a national food plan that is centred on efficiency within the supply chain, production and processing. 

The development of the food plan must start with a community discussion about our food and the issues affecting it. In seeking feedback from stakeholders on what the plan should aim to achieve, Food for All Africa program through the 1st Food for All Ghana conference is preparing an Issues paper to inform the development of a national food plan in collaboration with all stakeholder’s most especially individuals and political parties seeking election into public office. Elections are about our rights and the “Right to food” must be at the forefront of engagement into the 2016 elections.

Food Security v Food Self-sufficiency v Efficiency:
Our nation’s food supply is not secure, and we need to collectively work together as stakeholders to create efficiency and remain vigilant in working to ensure food security in the years to come. At the same time we want to ensure our food industry can make the most of the rapidly developing market opportunities for food +industry goods and services, especially in Africa

For these reasons, Food for All Ghana program remains mindful of the need to maintain a long-term outlook for our food industry so it remains sustainable and resilient to climate variability and other significant pressures. The sector will need to continually adapt to such challenges and to ensure that, we must charge politicians who are standing to be elected into public offices to share their plans for improvement of Ghana’s food supply chain to ensure food security.

Food security does not mean that a country must be 100% self-sufficient in all forms of food . The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as follows, “Food security, at the individual, household, national, regional and global levels [is achieved] when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

The key word is “access”, and since the beginning of mankind nations have filled gaps in the access to food through trade, meaning importing and or exporting food.Production and importation of food is important in achieving food security however addressing inefficiencies within the food supply chain in the surest way of ensuring food security and availability to all.

There are currently many government policies, programs and regulations to address food-related policy issues. There is, however, no overarching food policy framework. The development of a national food plan will address this need by better integrating food policy along the whole food supply chain—from paddock to plate.

Individuals, businesses, governments, non-government groups and communities all contribute to Ghana’s food sector. Developing a national food plan gives us an opportunity to talk about our
collective vision for Ghana’s food sector and to identify how we can ensure its success.
Regions, territory and local governments play an important role in the supply and consumption of food.

Food Recovery: A social intervention to inefficiency, food wastage and hunger:
A food processing company donates extra packaged products to a national network of food banks or to a community food bank. The Food and Drugs authority helps divert more than 21,000 tons of excess food from state landfills by assisting local food recovery programs through a food waste reduction grant program. Whether you call it feeding the hungry or food recovery, such efforts are all part of a growing national movement that must work daily to ensure good food goes to the dinner table instead of going to waste. 

In the Ghana, we do not produce enough food and we waste an enormous amount of it. More than 40% of Ghana’s food, or about 8 billion dollars of food a year, goes to waste—in fields, commercial kitchens, manufacturing plants, markets, schools, and restaurants. 

While not all of this excess food is edible, much of it is and could be going to those who need it. Food waste is not only unfortunate in terms of the lost opportunity to feed hungry Ghanaians but also in terms of the negative effects on our environment. The nation spends millions of dollars a year to dispose of excess food and waste. That is a waste of both food and money, however not all food is appropriate for human consumption. Livestock farmers use some excess as animal feed. Renderers and other businesses could recycle many forms of excess food into other products. 

Food scraps can be composted to create a valuable fertilizer. A food waste reduction hierarchy—feeding people first, then animals, then recycling, then composting—serves to show how productive use can be made of much of the excess food that is currently contributing to leachate and methane formation in landfills. This helps any government or stakeholders, as well as any private business that deals with food to reduce its solid waste by facilitating the donation of wholesome surplus food according to the food hierarchy.

As we develop and implement the plan and other policy initiatives, we will continue working closely with stakeholders for the long-term benefit of our food industry and food consumers.

Food for All Africa program would like to charge all individuals and political parties to contribute to the issues paper by sending us their plans to improve the efficiency of our food supply chain to ensure food security, reduce food wastage, hunger and improve nutrition to the vulnerable in Ghana. Our Food Policy Working Group, which continues to advise generally on food-related issues and policies, will acknowledge receipt of your responses.

Finally, I want to repeat that we all must share feedback and work collectively to help create Ghana’s national food plan. I look forward to hearing your views.

*Founder/Executive Director, Food for All Africa Programme, Chef Elijah Amoo Addo, contributed this piece via:

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

FAO, IFAD, WFP host joint high-level meeting on El Nino impact

The rise on impact of El Niño climate devastation on agriculture in the Central America’s Dry Corridor has forced the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to organize a high-level meeting in Rome, tomorrow, June 30, 2016, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Central America, NaijaAgroNet gathered has become one of the worst droughts zones in decades leaving some 3.5 million people food insecure, with most affected countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras having estimated 2.8 million people who are dependent on food aid.

The high-level meeting in Rome, NaijaAgroNet reports, would focus on the urgent need for long-term action to address the impact of El Niño, including building resilience for food security and nutrition for the most vulnerable populations in the affected countries.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that El Niño and its counterpart La Niña occur cyclically, but in recent years, mainly due to the effects of global climate change, extreme weather events associated with these phenomena, such as droughts and floods, have increased in frequency and severity.

As said by FAO’s Peter Mayer, IFAD’s Joanne Levitan, and WFP’s Frances Kennedy, in a joint press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet, this situation has put at risk the livelihoods of millions of small-scale family farmers in the Dry Corridor, many of whom are heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture.

The trio equally clarified that the aim of the high-level meeting is to increase awareness of and the response to, this protracted and recurrent crisis, and to mobilize the international community to support the efforts of governments, UN agencies and other partners.

This includes strengthening of early warning systems, disaster risk management, and improving preparedness and coordination for emergency responses at national and regional levels.

In addition to relief work, they said, responding to the impacts of El Niño requires investing in improving poor rural communities’ ability to access land, credit and other resources while also ensuring they are provided with basic services like water, sanitation, health, education, transport infrastructure and electricity.  

Just as the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, and World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, would deliver the opening remarks, while the meeting would include a roundtable session with ministers from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico.

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

Kilimanjaro Initiative heads to AU Summits

As part of the action plans for the Kilimanjaro Initiative, which commenced since March, this year, will in the coming months head to the headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) to register the advocacy and call for action, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This, NaijaAgroNet gathered, will come as part of their participation via delegation at selected AU summits between the month of July and August 2016.

Confirming these plans in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire during a presentation at a workshop hosted jointly by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) and World Bank in Abidjan, the Africa Advocacy Officer, ActionAid International, Mr. Buba Khan, informed NaijaAgroNet that the plan to AU Summits is a continental call to action so as to push the advocacy to the heads of governments and states in Africa.

Khan also said that the march to AU Summits, will be heralded with a launch of a flagship report on the status of women land rights in Africa.

The target for this specific action will be regional actors in support of rural women to engage in African Union (AU), Southern Africa Development Commission (SADC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of states summits.

Further, he said, the journey to Kilimanjaro as scheduled between September and October this year, will see to the launch of Caravans to Kilimanjaro as a creative digital engagement tools will be made available to communicate, mobilise and engage supporters from global North.

Additionally, he revealed that stunts, speaking tour, lobby visits and story-gathering will be planned to engage the public and decision makers in the north.

“Rural Women across Africa, Latin America and Asia will be mobilized to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa,” he said, stressing they will reclaim their power and demand right to access and control of land. Just as government officials and high profile women leaders will be called upon to witness and hear direct voices from rural women.

Key demands the initiative will be asking from AU, Khan hinted will include full implementation of the AU guiding principles on large scale land based investment and the tenure guidelines on land, fisheries and forests through participatory, inclusive mechanisms that prioritise the rights and needs of legitimate tenure users, especially women.

The summit will be charged to ensure free, prior and informed consent for all communities affected by land transfers, including the fair and equitable participation of local communities, especially excluded and marginalised groups such as women, youth, children, minorities, the elderly and disabled.

Participation of the delegation, he explained, will spur review of public policies and projects that incentivise land grabbing, and instead support policies that prioritise the needs of small-scale food producers – particularly women – and sustainable land use.

This, he pointed out will help in regulating businesses involved in land deals so that they are fully accountable for respecting human rights, tenure rights and environmental, social and labour standards. This includes ensuring that investors carry out comprehensive human rights due diligence, are transparent and are fully accountable throughout all their operations at home and abroad, to name a few.

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

Cape Verde battles unregulated fishing, joins Port State Measures Agreement

An African country of Cape Verde also known as Cabo Verde, has joined the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), as President Jorge Carlos Fonseca personally delivered his country’s ratification papers for the treaty to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as part of efforts at regulating fishing, reports NaijAgroNet.

The FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva who lauded Cape Verde for this step, invited the head of state to a forthcoming event in Rome to celebrate the first international treaty to focus specifically on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“Cape Verde is acting responsibly and joining the international community’s effort, led by the United Nations and FAO, to combat practices that limit sustainable access to resources that are important not only to the whole world but in particular to our island country,” said Mr. Fonseca.

NaijAgroNet recalls that as many as 60 countries have signed the PSMA will be at the special event when the Committee on Fisheries begins its 32nd session at FAO’s headquarters on July 11.

Although FAO drafted the treaty and began shepherding its adoption in 2009, the PSMA, which requires all fishing vessels to allow inspectors aboard when they stop in foreign ports, went into legal force earlier this month after over 25 countries including Cuba and the United States of America, Mozambique and the European Union acting on behalf of its 28 members deposited their instruments of adherence.

Graziano da Silva signalled FAO’s willingness to support Cape Verde’s fisheries sector, saying the agency’s collaboration with the country is “very progress”. Current projects include initiatives to tackle desertification, bolster reforestation efforts and to promote marine resources management and the Blue Economy.

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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

69m children awaiting death from preventable causes - UNICEF

Latest study released Tuesday by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has raised an alarm that if urgent steps are not taken, an estimated 69 million children across the globe who are under five will die from mostly preventable causes, reports NaijaAgroNet.

UNICEF, in its annual flagship report entitled The State of the World’s Children also said that some 167 million children will live in poverty and 750 million women married out on child-marriage by 2030, which is the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals unless the world refocuses, mostly on the plight of disadvantaged children.

The report, NaijaAgroNet gathered painted a stark picture of what is in store for the world’s poorest children if governments, donors, businesses and international organizations do not accelerate efforts to address their needs.

UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake noted that denying hundreds of millions of children a fair chance in life does more than threaten their futures, particularly by fueling intergenerational cycles of disadvantage, which imperils the future of their societies, stressing “We have a choice: Invest in these children now or allow our world to become still more unequal and divided.”

According to UNICEF, nearly half of the 69 million children who will die before their fifth birthday from mostly preventable causes; More than half of the 60 million children of primary school age who will still be out of school; and   9 out of 10 children living in extreme poverty. 

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

Feed Africa focuses on 4 goals, targets 2025

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has disclosed that the Feed Africa initiative will drive transformation of African Agriculture into a globally competitive, focuses on four goals to be delivered by 2025, reports NaijaAgroNet.

These four goals, NaijaAgroNet gathered include to end extreme poverty, eliminate hunger and malnutrition, make Africa a net exporter of agricultural commodities and attempt to move to the top of key agricultural value chains.

AfDB also revealed that these four goals have appendage of aspirations comprising that for the continent to end extreme poverty, there must be corresponding contribution towards alleviating poverty though job creation and providing sustainable livelihoods, while targeting to lift some 130 million out f extreme poverty by 2025.

The second goal of Feed Africa, NaijaAgroNet reports, centres on eliminating hunger and malnutrition tend to bring forth food security for all Africans that are ‘undernourished’ even as the goal targets zero hunger and malnutrition before the end of next nine years.

On the third goal, AfDB informed that making Africa a net exporter of agricultural commodities will be ambitiously matched by eliminating large scale imports of commodities that could be produced in Africa, and selectively begin to export, such that Africa’s target will be to net trade balance in the billions of dollars.

Whereas the fourth goal, NaijaAgroNet reports is to move the continent to the top of key agricultural value chains, by becoming Number 1 in either processing or the overall value chain, by market share and by value addition, thereby positioning Africa’s share of the market value for processed commodities to about 40 per cent, for instance with cocoa grinding.

In addition, NaijaAgroNet learnt that Feed Africa is to further turn agriculture into inclusive and business-oriented sector that creates wealth, generates gainful employment, and improves quality of life.

Thus, Feed Africa echoes the commitments made under the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) as articulated in the Maputo (2003) and the Malabo (2014) Declarations.

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

Kilimanjaro Initiative gathers momentum

The Kilimanjaro Initiative is gathering momentum as its council with five-regional representatives acting in the capacity of Rural Women Steering Group step-up activities for the actualization of its objectives, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The council, NaijaAgroNet comprising five regional women representatives from Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, Central Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa.

This is coming as international agency steering group, is currently being convened by ActionAid and made up of Oxfam, ILC, WILDAF, Tanzania Gender Networking programme, Kenya Land Alliance among others, to see to the success of the programme.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that members of the council include Moroccoan Ghita Ait Ben Lmadani, who is representing North, Flora Mathias Mlowezi of Tanzania representing Eastern Africa; Cameroonian Augustina Takah and Vanessa Adoko standing in for the Central Africa, whereas Nigerian Lovelyn Ejim Nnenna is representing West Africa in the council.

Kilimanjaro Initiative, conceived by rural women in 2012 with support from civil society organisations at a meeting held in Dar e salaam, Tanzania, creates space for rural women to participate in decision making about the issues dear to them.

Also, the initiative seeks to mobilise rural women from across Africa towards an iconic moment at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro in October 2016, with access to and control over land and natural resource as an entry point.

The mobilisation is expected to culminate in a mass African rural women’s assembly and a symbolic ascent of the mountain by a delegation of women to proclaim a charter of principles and demands on women’s access to and control over their land. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, is a powerful symbol of a challenge to climb and of a starting point to spreading a message across Africa.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that the objectives include strengthening the movement of rural women in claiming and defending their defending land and natural resource rights in Africa; engender political will amongst national governments, donor and regional institutions to implement an all-inclusive African women’s charter.

The initiative, NaijaAgroNet reports, will work towards mobilising and supporting the participation of 100,000 rural women in the Kilimanjaro initiative across Africa and raising awareness on existing frameworks and safeguards around large scale land based investments and demand for their application in securing legitimate tenure rights of rural women in Africa.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

ActionAid mobilises West Africans for Kilimanjaro standup on land rights

A global movement known as ActionAid International is mobilising West Africans from six countries in the region for the Kilimanjaro Initiative Caravan expected to attract some 30,000 women and youth to stand up for Women’s Land Rights, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Disclosing this at a just concluded media training workshop organized by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) and World Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the Africa Advocacy Officer, ActionAid International, Mr. Buba Khan, is working on mobilizing an estimated 30,000 women and land activists to participate in the international programme on land rights for women.

He said that ActionAid, a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty is partnering other stakeholders, like Oxfam to deliver on this.

Also, he said that the nine-month project will see to a global Key Change Promise (KCP) towards boosting women access and control to land and natural resources.

As said by him, people expected to benefit from this initiative include some 300,000 women, youths, activists, artists, ActionAid, media and other partners, while women and youth in six countries are being targeted for wider community impact in specifically six West African countries.

Khan equally said the multi-country Kilimanjaro Initiative involves Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria.

This, he explained is the part of the decentralized actions and events expected to take place in about 16 countries across the continent of Africa, namely Mozambique, South Africa, Congo DRC, Tanzania, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Seychelles, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Togo, Senegal, Nigeria, Namibia and Cameroon.

He used the opportunity to drum media support and participation for the initiative through adequate publicity, which will encourage African women to stand-up for their rights on various issues of social emancipation including land for the rural women farmers.

+Remmy Nweke just back from Abidjan/ED, Ops.
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Saturday, June 25, 2016

House summons agric minister, Ogbeh over GMO food import

The lower chambers of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives have summoned the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, over concerns allegedly arising from the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) foods into Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), GMOs are organisms including plants, animals or microorganisms in which the genetic material (DNA) have been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and or natural recombination.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that recently over 100 groups representing some 5 million Nigerians, comprising of farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, passionately opposed Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems.

In written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops especially GM cotton in Africa, alleging that the former President, Goodluck Jonathan hurriedly signed the bill on National Biosafety Management into law at the exit point.

They rejected the plans for the regulator to licence Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited which applied to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985). A further application they said was made for the confined field trial (CFT) of two GM maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that NBMA, the regulatory body for biotechnology in Nigeria, had since May 1, a public holiday in Nigeria, issued two permits signed by the DG, NBMA, Mr. Rufus Ebegba, to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited for the commercial release and market placement of these GMO cotton and the confined field trial of GMO maize.

However, the summon monitored on Channels TV, followed a motion raised by a member of the House of Representatives from Imo State, Hon. Austin Ikechukwu, on Thursday at the National Assembly in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which was promptly carried.

Also, the House in agreeing to the summon, asked the Minister to appear before them over the issuance of permits to a company, Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited, to introduce some of the foods into the Nigerian market.

The House Committees on Healthcare Services and Agriculture Products have been mandated to also meet with the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on the impact of GMO.

The committees are to get a list of food supplements and genetically modified foods that have been granted NAFDAC registration numbers and have 12 weeks to report back to the House.

Isaac Oyimah/Channels TV/GEE.

... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology
Pix Audu Ogbeh.

WAAP: Research, development critical for agricultural transformation

... Three observations from WAAPP initiative in Côte d'Ivoire.
Africa relies on rain fed agriculture to feed its people and millions of others around the world. Rain, however, isn’t always the most reliable partner in this endeavour. Realisation of agricultural transformation in Africa will need the continent to make some changes.

The World Bank, the International Water Management Institute and many others estimate rain fed agriculture coverage in sub Sahara Africa to be greater than 95%. This places a great deal of the continent’s food production at the mercy of temperamental rain and the effects of climate change.
Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet a farmer in Abidjan’s Azaguiè area who has broken his reliance on rain to feed his family. Albert Kangah is the proprietor of the Plantation Dougba, a plantain plantation dedicated to producing off-season plantain.

During regular plantain season, farmers can realize prices of about 100CFA per unit but off season plantain prices rise to highs of 600CFA. By planting 3 months after other farmers have planted and investing in irrigation equipment, Albert exploits the price increase to generate higher than average income from his farm. Albert’s story provides us with an example of the possible positive impact of adopting irrigation on livelihoods and signals the possibilities irrigation provides us in improving food and nutrition security on the continent. This is what agricultural transformation is all about.

Albert Kangah is a beneficiary of the West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program supported by the World Bank and running in 13 West African countries. The West African Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) was designed to respond to the challenges of improving agricultural productivity, an important part of any agriculture policy and central to the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). It started in 2008 under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with financial support from the World Bank (WB) and coordinated at sub-regional level by CORAF/WECARD.

WAAPP aims to generate and accelerate the adoption of improved technologies in key priority areas of the agriculture sectors in participating countries. It also aims to provide producers with technologies to enhance and improve the competitiveness of their produce. The generation of technologies and innovations, including new crop varieties, is done through participating national centers of specialization hosted by the national agriculture research centers of the member states.

In Côte d’Ivoire, WAAPP’s national center of specialization focuses on plantain with farmers like Albert benefiting from the new better yielding, pest and drought resistant varieties that become available. Thanks to the inventory of plantain on his farm, he produces at least 12 tonnes a year. He says plantain changed his life. It’s not hard to see why.

WAAPP is also investing in value chain development for the priority commodities in participating countries. One example is the adoption of technology from Senegal through which at least 15% of the flour used in baking bread and pastries is corn or cassava flour. Through an improved manufacturing process, the amount of wheat consumed would reduce while improving the value of cassava and corn for producers through increased demand and new use cases. Establishing partnerships with the Union of Bakery Owners of Cote d’Ivoire has made it possible for the project to expand from the pilot 10 bakeries using the composite flour in Abidjan to more than 50 in Abidjan and two other towns up country.

I made three observations from this visit to WAAPP project sites:
  1. We need to ensure agriculture is a profitable business for Africa’s farmers if it is to become a key driver for Africa’s industrialization. Its profitability will draw young people to the farms and help lower the average age of Africa’s farmers while propelling efforts to reduce hunger, end poverty and reduce inequality on the continent.
  2. Investment in research and development cannot be left to happenstance. It must be deliberate and determined by the agricultural transformation strategy in place at the national and regional level. Data from the Agriculture Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) shows Cote d’Ivoire’s spending, in 2011 PPP US dollars, has reduced by 50% between 1981 and 2011. During the same time the population more than doubled but plantain production did not resulting in lower per capita plantain production in 2011 than 30 years earlier. R&D on better varieties and increased adoption of better technologies could have been useful in avoiding this. They are now imperative to reversing the trend.
  3. Increased production without investment in value chains development won’t deliver the added value to small holder farmers at the point of origin. WAAPP’s effort to invest in new use cases for cassava and corn flour could result in better prices and incentivize production whilst improving the nutritional value of pastries in Ivorian society.

The work being done by WAAPP partners provides valuable lessons for other regions in the continent especially where value chains development, R&D and regional collaboration on food and nutrition security is concerned. These are some of the elements which are important for CAADP compacts if Africa’s quest for agricultural transformation is to be realised.

*Muchiri Nyaggah, Executive Director, Local Development Research Institute (LDRI)
... Linking agrobiz, sustainable environs, people & technology

Pix: Ivoiren farmer, Mr. Albert Kangah speaking to visiting journalists recently.

Friday, June 24, 2016

N8 Research Partnership to explore food security, agritech


The Chairman of the N8 Research Partnership and Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York, Professor Koen Lamberts, has said that the collaboration is a fantastic agrifood opportunity to explore food security, agritech and consumer health, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking at the recently launched N8 Research Partnership comprising Manchester, Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and York Universities, Prof. Lamberts told NaijaAgroNet in a press statement by Joe Paxton, from the Media Relations Office, The University of Manchester said they will focus on solutions on agritech and food security.

“The launch of N8 AgriFood is a fantastic opportunity to explore new projects and solutions to the main food security, agritech and consumer health issues across the supply chain," Prof. Lamberts said.

He revealed that the N8 would facilitate academics and researchers to collaborate closely with industry, farmers and the government, and aims at solving the global challenge of ensuring sustainable, resilient and healthy food supplies for everyone.

Keynote speakers at the launch held between June 21 and 22 at Manchester, UK, included Professor Ian Noble, Senior R&D Director at PepsiCo; Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser for Defra; Tim Benton, UK Champion for Global Food Security; Keith Gill, food industry pioneer and founder of Phileas Fogg crisps and Dr Emma Hennessey, Head of the Science and Innovation team at the Foreign Office.

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

Pix: Prof. Koen Lamberts

Bama IDP camp: 323 children suffering Severe Acute Malnutrition

Out of the estimated 15,000 children at the Internally Displaced suburb in Bama, Borno State, 323 of them suffered from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), reports NaijaAgroNet.

Confirming this, the Chief, Communication at UNICEF Nigeria, Doune Porter, said though these children are now receiving assistance after being admitted.

She also said that the worrisome situation here is that the figure reflected an average of 6 new cases per day within 34 days, across April 3 and May 31, 2016.

Just as out of the 15,000 children in the camp, they have also identified three thousand children who have become separated from their families and efforts are ongoing to register them with the aim of tracing their families and reunited them.

Porter reassured that these children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are receiving treatment to change their situation as UNICEF is collaborating with the Borno State government to provide additionally some social amenities.

These, she said, include repairing and upgrading five boreholes in Bama, providing some 10 to 12 litres of water per day in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.

UNICEF Nigeria, the spokeswoman said, would in the coming days construct 150 latrines among others to further improve the living situation in the camp.

Remmy Nweke/ED,Ops

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