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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Malaria vaccine trials: AMMREN commends WHO over 3 African countries selection

The African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) has commended the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the choice of three African countries of Ghana, Kenya and Malawi, for the first malaria vaccine trials beginning in 2018, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the WHO, the injectable vaccine RTS,S was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum and it will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.

Welcoming this development, AMMREN Executive Secretary, Dr. Charity Binka told NaijaAgroNet that they see the introduction of the vaccine in these countries as an opportunity to step up advocacy directed to whipping up public support for the malaria elimination agenda and specifically for the vaccine.

AMMREN, she said, also called for the training and equipping of journalists to promote accurate and effective dissemination of information on the vaccine and other tools to ensure that media content on the vaccine is well packaged and disseminated in a timely and accurate manner, nationally and globally.

In addition, she said building of the capacity of scientists and researchers to communicate effectively with journalists from data generated from malaria research, tools and the vaccine, cannot be over-emphasised.

The network said that by facilitating widespread awareness of the RTS,S vaccine, particularly among families and community members would foster accurate understanding of the potential risks and benefits of the RTS,S malaria vaccine and need for continued use of other malaria control measures.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that AMMREN has over the years, laid a solid foundation for African journalists to partner with scientists and stakeholders in the fight to kick out malaria from the continent.

Thus, the skills of journalists across Africa have also been sharpened to tell the malaria story as well as the RTS,S malaria vaccine stories.

AMMREN further urged all stakeholders to join forces to carry out a sustained media advocacy project on the malaria elimination and to push for public acceptance of the RTS,S vaccine.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Monday, April 24, 2017

Earth Day 2017: GROHE shares tips on water saving in Africa

The German leading brand in sanitary fittings, GROHE, has shared some tips on water saving on the continent of Africa, as part of the 2017 World Earth Day through its commitment to innovative design with a strong focus on sustainability, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Environmental and Climate Literacy,” GROHE said that for sustainability sake, is a corporate value with a tradition and a future.

GROHE, NaijaAgroNet gathered, has developed a wide portfolio of advanced product technologies and launched also a series of awareness campaigns and programs to change mindsets and habits.

Since 2009, NaijaAgroNet also gathered that GROHE has launched the Green Mosque Initiative in many countries, whereby the company partners with local entities to install water-efficient products in the ablution rooms of mosques to help the respective regions achieve sustainable reduction in water consumption.

The Vice President of GROHE Egypt, North and West Africa, Mohammed Ataya, said Muslim worshippers' ritual ablutions consume between 10 and 15 liters of water per day, stressing that every possibility to save water therefore has a great impact on consumption, asserting, “mosques play an important role in people’s day-to-day lives.”

The initiative, NaijaAgroNet reports, has reduced water consumption for the cleansing rituals by roughly 30 per cent which is good for the environment and helps cut costs.

“Water saving taps and showers and water saving flush systems are two of the main ways that everyday citizens can contribute to protecting the environment, and sustainability is one of the core values and a top priority in the creation of every GROHE product for bathrooms and from the design to development stages.” Ataya said.

In addition, Ataya said, quality materials, first-class design and advanced engineering all play an important role in saving water, citing for example, GROHE EcoJoy hand showers with the feature as an integrated flow limiter, an Eco button or spray dimmer which lets user choose when to reduce the water flow.

GROHE, says it agrees strongly with the Earth Day ethos that everyone needs to be empowered with the knowledge and the products to inspire action and protect the environment. Noting that the individual choice to reduce water consumption is only one of the many strategies needed to address the issue of water scarcity but it gives each person a role to play in protecting the planet.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE with additional report from APO
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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Over 1.2bn Africans lack access to basic sanitation

Over 1.2 billion Africans are surviving without basic sanitation and 395 million people are without clean water, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as over 130 million Nigerians have been identified as not having access to adequate sanitation out of the total in Africa.

WaterAid made this disclosure as part of the commemoration of the 2017 World Earth Day which theme centred on “Environmental and Climate Literacy” saying the collaborative monitoring platform set up by WaterAid, showed that 57 million people in Nigeria don't have access to safe water.

Also, WaterAid revealed that the over 130 million people living without access to adequate sanitation accounts for the two third of the population and around 45,000 children under five years old die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that with Africa’s population projected to be 2.2 billion by 2030, only 32 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africans will have access to sanitation by 2030.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WHO launches fourth report on Neglected Tropical Diseases

All is now set for launching of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Fourth Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Geneva, Switzerland, reports NaijaAgroNet.
This effort, industry observers said, show transformational progress against these debilitating diseases, and a commitment by the United Kingdom to more than double its funding for NTDs.

NaijaAgroNet reports that this meeting comes five years after the launch of the London Declaration on NTDs a commitment by the public and private sectors to achieve the WHO goals for control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs. Noting that about billions of treatments have been donated by pharmaceutical companies and delivered to impoverished communities in nearly 150 countries, reaching nearly a billion people in 2015.

NTDs, NaijaAgroNet gathered, are some of the oldest and most painful diseases, afflicting the world’s poorest communities, to the extent that one in six people suffer from NTDs worldwide, including more than half a billion children.
NaijaAgroNet reports that NTDs are known to disable, debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty, keeping children out of school, parents out of work, and dampening hope of any chance of an economic future.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

AfDB President, Adesina predicts Dangote to become largest rice exporter in 2021

The president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has predicted that the Dangote group may become the largest exporter of rice in the world by 2021, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking at the Mo Ibrahim Forum in Morocco over the weekend, Adesina said Africa must focus on agriculture to drive growth and create jobs on the continent.

“I remember when I was minister of Agriculture in Nigeria. Aliko Dangote was there, and he was our biggest importer at the time, and he and I used to have all the time to dialogue,” Adesina said.

“One day, I was in my office, about 10 O’clock, Aliko walks in, Ngozi was minister of finance. Aliko bangs on my door and said ‘minister I came to see you’, and I said ‘what are we going to disagree on this time? He said no, I have actually looked at the policies, and the policies you put in place for import substitution are very right policies. So, I have changed my business model from being an importer to being a local producer,” he said.

Adesina narrated the role Dangote played in his happiest day as a minister in Nigeria.

“I said what exactly are you going to do. He said I will put in $300 million into producing and processing rice in Nigeria. I said yippee! I went home, I told my wife, my best day as minister,” he said.

“He comes back three months after that, he says I have changed my mind, I said ‘what in the world happened?’ He said no, I have changed my mind from $300 million to a billion dollars.

“If they continue that policy, he would probably be the single largest producer of rice in the world, in about four years. The reason why I was so excited about that is that agriculture is cool, agriculture is a business…agriculture pays.”

Adesina was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2013, while Dangote won the same award in 2014.

It would be recalled that a tripartite agreement put together by the Dangote Rice limited to create jobs for 16,000 outgrower rice farmers in Sokoto was recently signed with the Sokoto State government and rice growers in the country after which he launched the rice outgrowers scheme in Sokoto.

Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of Dangote Rice Limited, said he was moved to go into rice cultivation because of the genuine interest of the Federal government to revive agriculture as the mainstay of the economy, and reduce importation of foods that could be produced locally.

He lamented that Nigeria consumes 6.5 Meric tonnes (mtn) of rice which costs the nation over 2 billion dollars annually, pointing out that it is heartening that the government now has policy direction that encourages private sector’s active participation in agriculture.

He disclosed then that “In the next three years we want to produce one million tons of quality rice and make it available and affordable to the people. We hope to do 150, 000 ha and when we are done, Nigeria will not have anything to do with importation of rice.

“Dangote Rice outgrowers scheme is committed to creating significant number of jobs, increasing the incomes of smallholders farmers and ensuring food security in the country by providing high quality seeds, fertilizers and agro-chemicals as well as technical assistance on best agricultural practice to farmers.

"This Scheme will help to diversify the economy, alleviate poverty and reduce the nation's import bill. The scheme has been designed as a one stop solution for the rice value chain," Dangote declared.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Monday, April 17, 2017

National Food Donors Encouragement Bill: Ghana’s shared responsibility to end hunger

Each year about 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted and at the same time about 800 million people do not have access to sufficient and nutritious food (Global FoodBanking Network, 2014). This figure represents roughly one third of food produced for human consumption. Food can be either lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial agricultural production down to final household consumption (FAO, 2011).

The Cost of Hunger in Ghana report by the National Development Planning Commission in 2016 shows that Ghana loses GH¢ 4.6 billion which is equivalent to 6.4 per cent GDP annually to hunger among children and 24% of all child mortality cases in Ghana are associated with under nutrition.

The difference between losses and waste lies in the supply chain stage where food is no longer usable for human consumption. Loss occurs when food does not reach the final consumer due to improper handling, packing and storage. Such foods are not suitable for human consumption and only have a marginal value to be transformed as low cost fertilizers and fuel.

Waste occurs when the product that reached the final marketplace is not consumed due to improper consumer behavior, bad storage practices as well as to the lack of coordination between different stakeholders in the supply chain. Food and Beverage Association of Ghana estimates shows it members loss over GH¢200,000 every month to food waste.

In many cases, fresh products are rejected by large supermarket chains if they do not meet certain quality standards such as shape, size and appearance, regardless of their suitability for human consumption. In addition, many retail chains discard products before their expiring dates claiming that the products either are unsellable or generate negative image to the retailer. 

Consumer’s attitudes and the consumption culture also play their part as they reject food that is in good condition but with “not-so-good” appearance. Foods that have reached households are also wasted because they turn unsuitable for human consumption. Restaurants and hotels are other stakeholders within the food waste menace, because of the large portions served to customers. Since not all the portion is consumed, the rest will end up in the garbage bin.

The role of the local governments in setting up measures and regulations towards food donation is very critical in ensuring reduction of food waste and hunger in society.

The PNDCL 3058 Food and Drugs Act.1992 does not make explicit provision for food donations which has resulted in little contribution towards reducing hunger in Ghana by some stakeholder’s within the food supply chain.The Ghana School Feeding Programme been an initiative of the comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar 3 which seeks to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on hunger, poverty and malnutrition had since 2007 been implemented to encourage child enrollment through the provision of  one meal per day. 

Currently the National School Feeding program faces challenges such as expansion and caterers demand for increase of the cost from Gh¢0.80p per child however with a National Food Donors Encouragement Act, private stakeholder businesses in Ghana will donate their excess towards the program.

A lot of initiatives have been launched in Ghana by public, private and civil stakeholders towards improving child under nutrition and hunger in Ghana however little or no attention has been drawn on the role of food recovery and redistribution as a tool towards addressing the problem of hunger and the inefficiencies within our food supply chain.

A study by Food for All Africa programme between 2015-2016 showed that 92% of stakeholders in Ghana’s food supply chain agreed that, with a national regulation  mechanism they would want to donate their excess food to the vulnerable  rather than waiting for it to go waste and dispose off.
Donors often fear that they will be held legally responsible if recipients of donated food become ill, and this fear discourages them from donating. However, with the National Food Donors Encouragement laws that protect food donors from liability.

The National Food Donors Act will protect persons or gleaners making good faith donations of food or grocery products to non‐profit charitable organizations such as orphanages, schools and vulnerable communities are protected. A “gleaner” is someone who harvests donated agricultural crops.
Non‐profit organizations that receive the donated food, and ultimately distribute the donations to those in need are also covered.

Private businesses donating their excess food products or resources towards creating sustainable means of nutrition for the vulnerable in society. Tax incentives must be given to amount donated.
Good faith/CSR donations, made to non‐profit organizations, ultimately going to those in need are protected. 

The donations must be:
1) “Apparently wholesome” food.
(2) “Apparently fit” grocery products.
These items meet the PNDCL 3058 Food and Drugs Act, local labeling and quality standards but may not be readily marketable because of factors like age, appearance, freshness, grade, or size.

Slightly flawed partially complying donations, made in good faith, are also protected if:
(1) The donor informs the non‐profit of the item’s condition;
(2) The non‐profit knows the standards required to make the item conform;
(3) The non‐profit agrees to recondition the item to meet those standards.

These flaws can include broken packaging or missing labels, or items needing washing or trimming before distribution. Acceptance of such items helps use edible food that might otherwise be thrown away due to a technicality.

How are donors protected?
If the donation is made in good faith (honestly and with sincere intentions), the National Food Donors Encouragement Act will exempt those donors from civil or criminal liability which might arise from the donation’s nature, age, packaging or condition. The law will also protect donors of food that is “fit for human consumption,” regardless of compliance with food labeling/ packaging laws and storage/handling by the recipients.

When are donors not protected?
Liability arises if a food donor or recipient organization knows that their actions will harm or are likely to harm the recipient, and consciously acts anyway – i.e., gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

Under the Food Donors Encouragement bill, gross negligence is a much higher standard than ordinary negligence. Gross negligence should mean that a donor (or recipient organization) knew when it acted that its conduct was likely to harm someone else, and consciously acted (or failed to act), regardless of that knowledge.

Under the Bill, Intentional misconduct means a donor (or recipient organization) deliberately acted with knowledge that its actions would be harmful to others.

Why donate?
Donation of surplus food connects those in need with edible food that would otherwise be sent to landfills. 3 out of 5 children out of the 90,000 street children in Accra who are out of school run away from orphanages due to lack of regular means of nutrition. These people are part of the city’s population that does not have sufficient access or resources available to obtain and consume enough nutritious food to support a healthy life.

In Ghana,1 out of 4 children goes to bed hungry (UNICEF ,2015)  at a time when 45% of food goes uneaten and much of that contributes to the over 15 million tons of food that ends up rotting in landfills. Connecting hungry people with available food helps combat both of these critical problems.
Donations also create savings for donors by lowering the costs of food disposal and the opportunity for charitable food donation tax deductions.

Why Food for All Ghana Programme?
Food for All Ghana programme makes the surplus food donation process easy, by picking up and transporting food and grocery item donations to the places and programs that need them. This helps valuable programs stretch their limited budgets during a time of decreasing government and foundation funding, keeps edible food out of landfills, and most importantly, helps hungry people have better access to a nutritious meal. Food for All Africa has since 2015 been operating West Africa’s first community food support centre and have created a  forum for stakeholder’s within Ghana’s food supply chain to  work together towards reducing hunger in Ghana and accelerate Ghana’s effort in attaining the UN SDG 2 and 12.

Considering the outcome of research and report from the 1st Food for All Ghana conference held in 2016, the need for a nationwide protection offered by a National Food Donors Encouragement Act, the valuable incentives for reducing hunger and wasting food, and the ease of expanding the National Food feeding program, Food for All Africa programme on 15th June, 2017 will launch a two year’s multi-stakeholder National campaign for the passage of the Food Donors Encouragement Bill.

*Elijah Amoo Addo, Executive Director contributed this from Accra, Ghana

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Pix: Food for all campaign on food donation bill in Ghana.

Scientists reveal advances for rheumatoid arthritis patients

A group of scientists at the Universities of Manchester and East Anglia have discovered advances for rheumatoid arthritis patients, reports NaijaAgroNet.

As said by them, people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis have experienced significant improvements in their daily lives which is probably down to early and more aggressive treatment of the disease, according to new research from The Universities of Manchester and East Anglia.

James Gwinnutt, first author of this study from The University of Manchester, conducted  the Arthritis Research UK study, led by Dr Suzan Verstappen University of Manchester, into the devastating disease which examined 20 years of data from 1990 to 2010.

The 602 patients in this study, published in Published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, were recruited to the Norfolk Arthritis Register (NOAR:  Chief Investigator Professor Alex MacGregor University of East Anglia) and assessed at regular intervals over the course of 20 years.

The team found that patients who were prescribed disease modifying drug therapies such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate and steroids within 6 months of symptom onset experienced significantly better ability to walk, grip and dress themselves over the course of 20 years compared, to patients who were treated later.

And patients who received these disease modifying drug therapies within the first 6 months had a lower risk of dying, after controlling for the severity of the disease.

Mr Gwinnutt said: “This research shows that patients who received treatment early after symptom onset had similar levels of disability over the subsequent 20 years compared to patients who were judged by clinicians not to require treatment, after accounting for the differences in disease severity between the groups.

“Though there is a broad range in terms of how people are affected by the disease, the number of patients whose lives have improved has increased thanks in part to early treatment.”

He added: “The good news is that early intervention has become more and more common in the NHS over these past 20 years.

“In the early 1990s early intervention would happen in about 30% of cases. Nowadays, that figure is probably more like 60-70%.

“There’s no reason why this improvement could not extend further.”

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, comments;

“Rheumatoid arthritis is an incredibly painful condition that can be diagnosed at any age and can have an impact on a person’s everyday life. This study confirms how important early diagnosis and the commencement of treatment is. It is also encouraging to hear about the progress that has been made over the last 20 years.

Now the scientific community must continue to build on this so that together we can continue to harness the power of exceptional science and make everyday life better for all people with arthritis.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation and pain.

It is the second most common form of arthritis in the UK and around 1% of the adult population suffer from it.

There have been major advances in available treatments and strategies for the management of RA over the past 20 years.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Friday, April 14, 2017

2 Nigerians pick African woman prizes @New African...

2 Nigerians pick African woman prizes @New African...: ITRealms : Two Nigerian women, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary to the United Nations and African model and fashion icon, Jo...

ITREALMS ... everything news digitally!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Malala honoured as youngest UN Messenger of Peace

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, has designated children’s rights activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education, reports NaijaAgroNet.

“You have been to the most difficult places […] visited several refugee camps. Your foundation has schools in Lebanon, in the Beka’a Valley,” said Mr. Guterres at a ceremony in the Trusteeship Council chamber at UN Headquarters, in New York.
“[You are a] symbol of perhaps the most important thing in the world, education for all,” he highlighted.
Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by the Taliban for attending classes, is the youngest-ever UN Messenger of Peace and the first one to be designated by Secretary-General Guterres since he assumed office in January this year.
Accepting the accolade, Ms. Yousafzai underscored the importance of education, especially education of girls, for advancing communities and societies.
“[Bringing change] starts with us and it should start now,” she said, adding: “If you want to see your future bright, you have to start working now [and] not wait for anyone else.”
UN Messengers of Peace are distinguished individuals, carefully selected from the fields of art, literature, science, entertainment, sports or other fields of public life, who have agreed to help focus worldwide attention on the work of the global Organization.
Backed by the highest honour bestowed by the Secretary-General on a global citizen, these prominent personalities volunteer their time, talent and passion to raise awareness of UN’s efforts to improve the lives of billions of people everywhere.

Nkem Nweke/GEE 
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Boko Haram: UNICEF commends FG on release of over 500 women, children

UNICEF has welcomed the release of nearly six hundred women, children and elderly men from Giwa military barracks in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

“The action of the Nigerian army today is a major step towards the protection of children affected by the ongoing crisis. It provides hope in a conflict that continues to have an enormous impact on people’s lives.’’

“These children were held under administrative custody on alleged association with Boko Haram militants. They are victims of the conflict and it is crucial that they receive medical care, psychosocial support and other basic services that will help them to regain their dignity.”

“Once that process of recovery has started, we can help them to return to their families and to school or learn new skills that will give them some hope for the future.”

UNICEF continues to work with the relevant authorities to access children who are held for screening in order to safeguard their care and protection.

When military screening is needed, children should only be held as a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible in accordance with national and international standards. These children are – first and foremost – victims of the conflict and require support to recover from their experiences and reintegrate with their families and communities.

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From sea to plate: FAO leads tracking fish to keep illegal catches offshore

A Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)-led is pushing for the establishment of internationally agreed standards that could guide the development of catch documentation schemes aimed at keeping illegally caught fish off store-shelves and consumers' plates has taken an important step forward, reports NaijaAgroNet.

A set of draft Voluntary Guidelines on Catch Documentation Schemes was last week unanimously adopted by a technical consultation that brought a 5-year negotiation effort to a close, and are now poised for adoption by all FAO Members at the UN agency's upcoming bi-annual governing conference (Rome 3-8 July 2017).

Once approved by the Conference, the guidelines will act as an internationally-recognized "gold standard" reference for governments and businesses looking to establish systems that can trace fish from their point of capture through the entire supply chain - from "sea to plate" - in order to stop illegally caught fish from entering the marketplace.

Globally, some 91-93 million tonnes of fish are captured each year, and seafood products are among the world's most widely traded food commodities, with an export value of $142 billion in 2016.
On top of that, Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is estimated to strip as much as 26 million additional tonnes of fish from the oceans annually, damaging marine ecosystems and sabotaging efforts to sustainably manage fisheries.

Catch documentation schemes (CDS) offer a way to cut down on trade in illegal fish. The basic concept: shipments of fish are certified by national authorities as being caught legally and in compliance with best practices; certifying hard-copy documentation then accompanies the fish as they are processed and marketed nationally or internationally. Only fish with valid documentation can be exported or traded to markets where a CDS requirement exists.

Until recently, only a few such schemes had been established, and mostly focusing on high-value species whose overexploitation prompted particular concern, such as Chilean Seabass harvested in Antarctic waters, or Atlantic and Southern Bluefin Tuna.

But with seafood trade at record highs and consumer demand still rising, catch documentation schemes are increasingly seen as a tool that could be more widely applied. Indeed, the EU since 2010 has used a CDS that covers all fish shipments imported into the bloc from overseas; and in 2016, the United States announced its own scheme, the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

7m people may suffer severe hunger in Lake Chad Basin region

Estimated 7 million people may suffer severe hunger in the Lake Chad Basin region, including northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Speaking during a visit to Lake Chad Basin, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Mr. José Graziano da Silva, this region requires immediate food and livelihood assistance.

"The situation we have now is largely due to the conflicts and armed groups that have devastated the lives and livelihoods across the whole of Lake Chad region. It is like an opportunistic infection, which is largely taking advantage of an already weak body from underlying problems of environmental degradation, related droughts, low investment in rural development and limited employment and livelihood opportunities for young men and women. We need to work on the symptoms by restoring peace and treat the disease by making the body stronger. This is all about resilience," Graziano da Silva said.

In addition, NaijaAgroNet reports that over 1 million returnees and the majority of internally displaced people in areas which have recently become relatively strife-free, have access to land and may benefit from the forthcoming rainy season starting in May 2017 should sufficient agriculture support be provided.

"Protracted conflict has eroded coping capacities, exhausted livelihoods and left people with no way to feed themselves and their families.  Agriculture cannot be an afterthought. More than 80 percent of people rely on farming, fishing and herding for their livelihoods," the FAO Director-General said.

NaijaAgroNet reports that Graziano da Silva during his visit, met local farmers on several FAO supported farms in Gongolong and Old Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria's Borno State.

He was accompanied by the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh.

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Global food prices decline in March

… Sugar, vegetable oils slide
The global food prices monitored by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) fell in March amid large available supplies and expectations of strong harvests, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The FAO Food Price Index, made available to NaijaAgroNet showed average at nearly 171 points in March, marking a 2.8 percent drop from the previous month while remaining 13.4 percent above its level a year earlier. 

FAO's Food Price Index is a trade-weighted index tracking international market prices of five major food commodity groups.

FAO also released its first world cereal supply and demand outlook for the year ahead, expecting it to be "another season of relative market tranquillity" with grain inventories remaining at near-record levels.

Meanwhile, NaijaAgroNet gathered that meat prices are exception in general downward trend, according to the FAO Cereal Price Index declined 1.8 percent from February, led down by wheat and maize. It is now roughly par with its March 2016 level.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index was 6.2 percent lower on the month. Palm oil and soy oil quotations both fell in March on the back of improving production forecasts, while those of rape and sunflower seed oils also declined due to higher-than-expected availabilities.

The FAO Sugar Price Index declined by 10.9 percent to its lowest level since May 2016 amid weak import demand and expectations of robust Brazilian supplies entering world markets as a result of strong harvests and slower domestic uptake for bio-ethanol production.

Buoyant milk supplies led to a 2.3 percent monthly decline in the FAO Dairy Price Index, which, however, remained well above its year-ago level.

The FAO Meat Price Index rose 0.7 per cent, led upward by firm import demand from Asia for bovine meat and pigmeat.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

FAO boss in northeast Nigeria, calls for increase assistance

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) José Graziano da Silva, has visited the hunger-threatened northeastern Nigeria, and called for urgent increase in humanitarian assistance, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Da Silva also said that restoring agriculture-based livelihoods is key to recovery and peace efforts in Lake Chad Basin region.

"If we miss the coming planting season, there will be no substantial harvests until 2018. Failure to restore food production now will lead to the worsening of widespread and severe hunger and prolonged dependency on external assistance further into the future," Graziano da Silva said. 

He insisted that the time for all to act is now, stressing that insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin - which incorporates parts of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and northeastern Nigeria - has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in Africa.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that the conflict has forced an estimated 1.9 million people to abandon their homes and their predominantly agricultural livelihoods, in northeastern Nigeria alone.

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

UTME: JAMB calms 150 angry candidates

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) on Wednesday confirmed the registration of 871,576 candidates so far for the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), reports ITRealms.

The Registrar and Chief Executive of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said this  in an interview with journalists on Wednesday evening after inspecting some registration centres in Abuja, where he also also ruled out extension of the registration process, despite the challenges faced by candidates nationwide.

He also promised to comply if invited and summoned by the House of Representatives, to clarify what has been responsible for the challenges of registration being experienced by candidates. 

"If I am invited, who am I not to answer them? I will honour their invitation because they are our employers" he said.

Before his intervention, Oloyede had earlier threatened to revoke the license of Digital Bridge Institute, a parastatal under the National Communications Commission (NCC), for not complying with JAMB registration rules.

According to him, the DBI was on wireless system which made registration to be very slow.

He said the centre was supposed to register 100 candidates at a time but could only take 20, while other centres visited were not having any problem registering  candidates.
To appease the over 150 angry candidates clustering the centre gate, Oloyede quickly arranged for them, especially the males, to be moved to other centres where there were less pressure.

However, the management of DBI attributed the delay to poor net work, saying that the router could only take 20 candidates at a time

According to him, the target of the organisation was to register 1.4 million candidates for the UTME in 2017.

Oloyede added that no candidate would be left out of the registration process despite having a week before the end of the exercise.

He said, “About 871, 576 candidates have been registered as at today (Wednesday evening). We are going to 1, 467, 000 candidates. What remains is 595,647 and we still have a whole week.

“No candidate will be left unattended to at the closing of this exercise. You do not want me to extend just for the sake of extension because I monitor on my screen. That is why there is a difference between the closing date for registration and the closing date for sale. By the time we sell, we will know how many that have bought but have not registered.”

The JAMB Registrar also said arrangements would be made for physically challenged candidates to write the examination.

Uj. N. Dominic/GEE

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

Sustainable seed businesses to transform cassava production in Nigeria

Stakeholders have said that businesses selling improved varieties and high quality cassava stems for cultivation could help African farmers significantly raise their productivity, especially in Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This, NaijaAgroNet gathered will mean more Naira from the same land, inputs and effort.

Stakeholders at the end of a national conference on cassava seed system organized by the project, “Building an Economically Sustainable Integrated Cassava Seed System” (BASICS) that was held at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (, Ibadan last week Thursday.

“The benefits of this raised productivity will be enjoyed by all the stakeholders across the value chain in a sustainable way,” part of the resolution stated.

The meeting, which reflected on the experiences of BASICS in 2016 and refined the project plan for 2017 and beyond, brought together national and international researchers, academics, policymakers, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and farmers to a roundtable.

Making the case for urgent need for all the stakeholders to work towards a sustainable seed system in Nigeria, Hemant Nitturkar, Project Director for BASICS, reminded the participants that Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world with a production of about 54 million tons, but its yield per hectare of cassava roots is about 8 tons, less than half of the realizable yields of more than 20 tons per hectare. Researchers say one of the factors responsible for the low yield of cassava is the low adoption of clean and healthy seeds of improved varieties of cassava by farmers.

“We have to start with the right planting material and nurture it with good agronomy and weed management practices. Each of these three components has the potential to raise the productivity of cassava by 30 percent. If we do not improve our practices in seed, weed and agronomy, we are incurring a lost opportunity of about 200 billion Naira annually from each of the three issues,” he explained.

BASICS is commercially piloting two distinct pathways of seed delivery. In one, called Village Seed Entrepreneur (VSE) model, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Benue and with National Roots Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), in Abia, Imo, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, the project is helping develop a network of 130 community based seed enterprises. These VSEs will source certified stems of improved varieties of cassava from NRCRI and IITA to multiply and sell to the farmers in their vicinity. This way, the farmers will not have to go far to source quality stems for planting. In the second pilot called Processor Led Model (PLM), in partnership with Context Global Development, the project is working with large processors of cassava who will then make available quality stems to their outgrowers with a buy back arrangement for the roots produced.

Slow and low multiplication ratio has been a key constraint in cassava seed system. The project is piloting a new technology called Semi-Autotrophic Hydroponics (SAH) for vastly rapid seed multiplication. Once this technology from Argentina is adapted and perfected in Nigeria by the Project, it is expected to have a significant impact on the ability of early generation seed businesses to quickly bring suitable varieties within reach of farmers. The project is also working with National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and Fera of UK to improve the quality certification system in Nigeria.

Lawrence Kent, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the aim of the Project is to build an economically sustainable seed system that is profitable both to the sellers of quality stems and to the farmers who purchase and plant those stems. He encouraged all to create reusable bridges to continuously link technology developers with farmers through business oriented approaches, like the one being implemented under BASICS.

Graham Thiele, Director for the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas led by the International Potato Center (CIP); Alfred Dixon, IITA Director for Development and Delivery, and Project Leader for the Cassava Weed Management Project; Amin Babandi, Director of Agriculture, FMARD, represented by Segun Ayeni, Deputy Director, Roots and Tuber crops, FMARD; Folusho Olaniyan OON, CEO, Contact Consulting Nigeria and Program Director, AgraInnovate West Africa; Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Technical Operations, AATF and Robert Asiedu, Director R4D, IITA-West, all shared perspectives and added their voice for all stakeholders to jointly build a strong and sustainable seed system for cassava in Nigeria and wished all the stakeholders well.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Make rice value chain sustainable – IRRI, FOA

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have called for making of rice value chains sustainable, reports NaijaAgroNet.

In a joint press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet gathered that in many countries around the world rice is a staple crop for food security and consumption trends are growing.

“At the same time rice production is vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events such as droughts and floods,” the press statement read.

NaijaAgroNet reports that both FAO and IRRI are actively promoting more sustainable rice practices throughout the value chain - production, marketing and consumption - to optimize its nutritional properties and as a means of improving livelihoods and tackling poverty, particularly in rural areas.  

FAO has developed the Regional Rice Initiative for Asia and Pacific which promotes enhanced crop resilience while increasing efficiency and farmers' income. In Africa and in Latin America the UN agency is engaged in scientific and technical cooperation including the sharing of technologies and best practices to increase production and productivity, including reduction of post-harvest losses and improved grain quality.

IRRI is engaged in strengthening capacities of all rice sector actors through its capacity development activities, including IRRI Education and the Sustainable Rice Platform.

The Sustainable Rice Platform is a global alliance to promote resource efficiency and sustainability in trade flows, production and consumption operations, and supply chains in the global rice sector. The Sustainable Rice Platform recently established the world's first standard for sustainable rice. Through the Sustainable Rice Platform, IRRI aims to use environmental and socio-economic benchmarks to maintain yields for rice smallholders, reduce the environmental footprint of rice cultivation and meet consumer needs for food safety and quality.

NaijaAgroNet noted that at the same time, IRRI Education works to build capacity through-out IRRI's extensive partnership network.

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

Pix: Rice varities courtesy IRRI