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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

AGRA, Atlas AI, hing on tech to boost food insecurity sub-Saharan African countries - NaijaAgroNet

Atlas AI, a Silicon Valley-based public benefit corporation founded in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an African-led, farmer-centered institution transforming smallholder agriculture with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and other partners, have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) forming a unique collaboration to address food insecurity in 11 sub-Saharan African nations.
The MOU establishes an agreement between both Atlas AI and AGRA to collaborate around predictive analytics for smallholder agriculture, through applications of satellite imagery and machine learning to offer useful insights in areas of land use, yields, and peak time for harvest, input distribution gaps, and other contextual monitoring aspects.
In a continent where about 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods—and smallholder farmers account for 90 percent of food production, this collaboration will utilize Atlas AI’s cutting-edge tools together with AGRA’s unique local data sets to help improve food security across sub-Saharan Africa.
 It will unpack the results from predictive analytics to aid government and private sector decision-makers in the face of emerging threats and shocks such as changing weather, diseases and pests. It will support regional bodies in advancing the continental and global agricultural agenda.
“At The Rockefeller Foundation, we recognize that technology has the power to improve food security that is critical for both human welfare and economic growth in Africa, and we’re optimistic that this relationship represents the future of defeating large-scale food insecurity around the world,” said Dr. Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “I am excited that AGRA and Atlas AI will work together to drive agricultural transformation that will improve the lives of millions of smallholder farmers and the communities they serve.”
Since 2006, AGRA has worked to transform Africa’s smallholder farming from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives through efforts to develop and deliver high-yielding and locally adapted seeds, improve soil fertility, upgrade storage facilities, improve access to markets, strengthen farmers’ associations, expand access to credit for farmers and suppliers, and advocate for national policies that benefit smallholder farmers and agribusinesses.
“There have been many exciting advances in data, satellite imagery, and machine learning for agriculture over the years. Until recently, very little of this technologies has been available to African farms due to the inability of farmers and governments to pay for them,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA. “We are delighted to partner with Atlas AI and the Rockefeller Foundation in making these cutting edge advances in digital technology real and bringing them home for the millions of smallholder farmers we work with to improve their yields and lives.”
Founded in 2018 by Stanford Professors David Lobell, Stefano Ermon, and Marshall Burke, Atlas AI brings world-class AI solutions to sustainable development.
The teams uses cutting-edge machine learning to help decision-makers get more impact at lower costs through better planning, management, and assessment. In February 2019, Victoria Coleman—former CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation VP and VP of Engineering at Yahoo!—joined Atlas AI as its inaugural CEO.
“Atlas AI is excited to formalize our partnership with AGRA, which represents an important milestone for us,” said Victoria Coleman, CEO of Atlas AI. “They have an impressive footprint across Africa, and we share their commitment to transform smallholder agriculture. By working together, we hope to be more effective in growing agribusinesses and agricultural markets across the continent.”
A data-driven philanthropy focused on partnering for the greatest impact, The Rockefeller Foundation has long a history of supporting innovative organizations such as Atlas AI and AGRA.
This new partnership allows Atlas AI and AGRA to use technology to the benefit the millions of smallholder farmers who are unable to invest in tools and technologies that could increase yields and improve the lives of millions.
 The Foundation maintains a seat on both Atlas AI’s and AGRA’s Board of Directors and will continue to be an active partner focused on long-term stewardship of results-oriented, global human development outcomes.
Bob Koigi 
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African Energy Chamber welcomes South Sudan investment drive - NaijaAgroNet

South African and African private sector participants have an amazing opportunity to invest in South Sudans’ peace and make huge profits, just as the African Energy Chamber will be joined by Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Hon. Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, Minister of Finance and Planning, South Sudan’s global investment drive is arriving in Johannesburg this week, reports NaijaAgroNet.

South Sudanese Cabinet Ministers and business leaders will meet with the African Energy Chamber and other investors at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on April 24th from 9am to 5pm, hereby closing a 4-city global investment drive that previously took them to Washington, New York and Dubai.

The delegation is notably made up of Agriculture and Food Security Minister Hon. Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec, Mining Minister Hon. Gabriel Thokuj Deng, South Sudan Investment Authority Secretary General Dr. Abraham Maliet Mamer, Nilepet Managing Director Dr. Chol Thon Abel, and South Sudan Petroleum Commission Chairman Amb. Ceasar Marko.

The African Energy Chamber commends Afrexim Bank for providing a $500m financing facility to fund power transmission, infrastructure and agricultural projects. We also commend President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Energy Minister the Hon. Jeff Radebe for committing 1 billion US dollars in oil and gas an infrastructure projects in South Sudan. These bankable deals should be closed quickly as it will create opportunities for both the South African and South Sudanese people.

“We are hopeful that the arrival of the South Sudanese delegation to South Africa will result in even more investment deals being announced,” declared Centurion Law Group CEO and AEC Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk. “Johannesburg is the financial capital of Africa and I am bullish that we will be able to raise more money to secure and promote lasting peace and investment in South Sudan”.

The Chamber believes South Sudan’s leadership also has an obligation to creating an enabling environment of investors to put more money into the country. To achieve these great benefits, South Sudan needs to safely open up new oil blocks to exploration especially to African investors. It's time to build refineries, pipelines, urea, ammonia, fertilizer plants, power plants, large agricultural fields and set up technology hubs. Recent discussions between The African Energy Chamber, South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his cabinet agreed that Economic growth must be front and center of the peace and recovery efforts of South Sudan.

The African Energy Chamber believes that securing investments is not the problem. "Investors need an enabling environment and we are spending a lot of money to help South Sudan achieve that. It is business that creates jobs and hope. Economic revival and business are the solution; not aid. Our leaders in government need to understand this. We cannot afford smallness in our drive for peace, Investment and stability when what South Sudan and most of Africa really need are big pragmatic common sense solutions" added Mr Ayuk.

The AEC will proudly and vigorously support South Sudan and it's people, but we will reject narrow agendas wherever they come from and put the country first. We call upon all of African Energy Investors and corporate leaders to do the same. The Chamber will stand squarely with those who do.

As a strong partner of South Sudan’s economic revival, the African Energy Chamber encourages all partners and interested parties, especially African entrepreneurs, to attend the investment drive and seal business deals with South Sudanese public and private sector leaders who will be present at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on April 24, 2019.
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World Bank support Ekiti to revive farm settlements - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
The Ekiti State government’s agriculture and rural development programme has received a major boost as the government has secured the World Bank’s support for the initiative, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi disclosed this on Sunday during at his Isan Ekiti country home.

According to Dr Fayemi, the initiative called Rural Access and Marketing Programme (RAMP) will connect Ekiti rural communities to the urban centres and market places as well as help in the reconstruction of farm settlements many of which were built in the fifties by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo but were not put to good use.

The Governor explained that the initiative would help provide basic amenities at the farm settlements so as to encourage farmers in the areas to focus on their agricultural activities.

“One of my assistants is going to be focusing on agric and farmsteads because in the course of my campaigns, I went round those farmsteads. My wife also toured the farmsteads extensively. There are things that are required by the people in those farms that will make their work a lot better in terms of social amenities, social investment, in terms of ensuring that we connect the farms to the market.

“So we have another initiative that is being supported by the World Bank which is known as Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Programme (RAMP). This is meant to assist us to connect our rural communities to the urban centres and the market places in the hope that we can also reconstruct our farm settlements, provide the necessary amenities there and ensure that our people stay back in those places without missing the amenities they ought to have if they were to be in the cities”, he said.

While speaking on the College of Technical and Commercial Agriculture which was scrapped by his predecessor, Governor Fayemi said a bill for the re-enactment of the College establishment law will soon be sent back to the State House of Assembly to enable the school begin operation legally.

The governor who disclosed that the ongoing construction works in the school would be completed before September when the school would open for academic activities, said the College was designed to train and equip young people who are interested in agriculture agric value chain.

His words: “Work has resumed there and significant progress has been made on the road construction. I believe the builders are also on site. The idea is that the school will be ready for use by the opening of a new session in September- October. Some six months of intense work should get it ready. The law is going back to the Assembly for re-enactment because of what the last administration did to it and once that is done, it is legally covered to undertake the business of recruiting our young people who are interested in becoming middle -level managers and technical operators in commercial agriculture in Ekiti.

“Since we have decided that agriculture is important to us as an agrarian society and none of our young people is interested in hoe and cutlass farming. They want modernization and the tools that will enable them participate in the entire value chain right from planting to processing and marketing. As government we are prepared to give necessary support and incentives.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

VaccinesWork campaign to inspire support - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
NICEF is launching a new global campaign on 24 April to emphasize the power and safety of vaccines among parents and wider social media users.

The campaign will run alongside World Immunization Week from 24 to 30 April to spread the message that together communities, including parents, can protect everyone through vaccines.

#VaccinesWork has long been used to bring together immunization advocates online. This year, UNICEF is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to encourage even greater reach. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute USD$ 1 to UNICEF for every like or share of social media posts using the hashtag #VaccinesWork in April, up to USD$1 million, to ensure all children get the life-saving vaccines they need.

Vaccines save up to 3 million lives yearly, protecting children from potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, cholera, and diphtheria. Thanks to vaccines, fewer people died from measles between 2000 and 2017 and polio is on the verge of being eradicated. Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective health tool ever invented – every USD$1 spent on childhood immunization returns up to USD$44 in benefits.

“We want the awareness that #VaccinesWork to go viral,” said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “Vaccines are safe, and they save lives. This campaign is an opportunity to show the world that social media can be a powerful force for change and provide parents with trustworthy information on vaccines.”

The campaign is part of a global, week-long celebration under the theme, Protected Together: Vaccines Work, to honour Vaccine Heroes – from parents and community members to health workers and innovators.

“More children than ever before are being reached with vaccines today,” said Violaine Mitchell, Interim Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are delighted to work with UNICEF and all the global and country partners around the world who are working tirelessly to ensure all children, especially those in the world’s poorest countries, can be protected from life-threatening infectious diseases.”

Despite the benefits of vaccines, an estimated 1.5 million children died of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2017. While this is often due to lack of access to vaccines, in some countries, families are delaying or refusing to vaccinate their children because of complacency or skepticism about vaccines. This has resulted in several outbreaks, including an alarming surge in measles, especially in higher-income countries. Uncertainty about vaccines on digital and social media platforms is one of the factors driving this trend.

That is why the centerpiece of this UNICEF campaign is a 60-second animated film, “Dangers,” which, along with illustrated animations for social media posts and posters, is based on the relatable insight that kids, by their very nature, are little daredevils who are constantly putting themselves in danger. The video explains that while parents can’t prevent all the dangers their kids get themselves into, they can use vaccination to help prevent the dangers that get into their kids.

Immunization coverage in Nigeria was only 57.2% in 2018. This is far below the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) target of 90 percent.

However, the clear benefit of vaccines can be seen in the case of polio, where vaccines have been crucial in eradication efforts. The country has been free of any case of wild polio virus since September 2016 and is on track for being declared polio-free by the end of this year. The success of polio vaccines in eliminating polio has, among other factors, been linked to the low cost and oral administration route of vaccines, enabling mass delivery.

Angélique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Grammy Award-Winning Singer:

“Today nine in ten children receive immunizations, but we cannot leave anyone behind. We must reach every child with life-saving vaccines.”

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Nigeria births registration increase by 29m - NaijaAgroNet

In less than eight years, the birth registration programme implemented by the National Population Commission (NPopC), with support from UNICEF, has increased the number of children between the ages of zero and 17 years registered in Nigeria by about 29 million, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the evaluation report launched today, for children under one year of age, the programme increased by more than 100 per cent the number of children registered -- from 3 million in 2012 to 11 million in 2016.

“Low rates of birth registration is a challenge in Nigeria,” said Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.

“In 2011, the birth registration rate was 41 percent, which means that three in every five children were not registered. This lack of birth registration negatively affects a child’s ability to access his or her right to health care, education and many other rights.”

It was in this context that the programme was initiated to accelerate birth registration rates - particularly for children under the age of 5, between 2012 and 2016. 

The programme made significant improvements in strengthening the birth registration system in Nigeria. At the level of infrastructure, the numbers of NPopC Registrars/Centres increased to nearly 4000 in 2016 from about 3,000 in 2012, helping to achieve a harmonized, accessible and efficient birth registration system, which now functions as an integral part of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in Nigeria.

The programme’s use of ICT tools for birth registration introduced target-driven performance in all of the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria. The LGAs now have specified targets, reports and performance ranking.

Some key benefits of the programme are: fully sustained partnership and convergence with health interventions; innovative use of ICT tools and applications; and a strong link with the national CRVS Strategic Plan (2018-22).

The report asked NPopC, as a primary service provider, to take “greater ownership and a proactive approach” on registration of newborn children and all other children who are still unregistered. NPopC is advised to prioritize digitization, advocacy, and lobbying for more funds to effectively implement the Strategic CRVS Plan (2018-2022).


Birth registration remains pivotal to child wellbeing in Nigeria, Overall survey results, as part of the evaluation, indicate that nearly half of the survey respondents perceived that an increase in birth registration can help reduce child rights violations.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sida, FAO, ECOWAS join forces to protect West African forests - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have joined forces to protect West Africa's forests and help safeguard the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on them.

The three institutions will carry out a five-year project aimed at strengthening sustainable forest and land management, addressing transboundary forest threats, maximising the livelihoods of forest-depended communities, and building climate resilience across 15 countries in West Africa.

The project - to be implemented by ECOWAS with financial support of over $8 million from Sida and technical support from FAO - will improve knowledge of forests dynamics, support legal reform, establish and share best community-based forest practices across the region. It will be key to the rolling out of the ECOWAS-led Convergence Plan for the Sustainable Management and Use of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa adopted in 2013 by ECOWAS to mobilize political, institutional, financial and technical support to address transboundary forest issues across ECOWAS's 15 member states.

"We are very pleased to be partners with ECOWAS and FAO on transboundary forest management in West Africa. It is a very important project for the people and governments of the region, but also for the global efforts to stop climate change and loss of biodiversity," said Ulla Andrén, Sida's Head of Regional Development Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"It is because of strong partnerships that we have the Forest Convergence Plan," said Tiina Vahanen, FAO's Chief of Forestry Policy and Resources Division. "Now it's time to act on it. The project is a concrete step towards improved forest management in the region and will build on the momentum created in recent years to safeguard West Africa's forests."

"The ECOWAS Commission is happy to work jointly with Sida and FAO to implement this project. We appreciate Sida for the consistent support to ECOWAS over the years, particularly the Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources Department, to address issues of environment, climate change, water resources, and now forestry. Issues of forestry are issues of livelihood for people and communities. Building resilience to climate change impacts and sustainable transboundary forest ecosystems management are key to this project," said Johnson Boanuh, ECOWAS Commission's Environment Director.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Combatting all forms of malnutrition tops FAO priorities - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in an opening address today to the organization's executive, the Council, has stressed that FAO will focus over the next two years on promoting nutrition-sensitive food systems and innovation in agriculture, reports NaijaAgroNet.

"We cannot only focus on tackling hunger anymore," said José Graziano da Silva. "The Sustainable Development Goal number 2 calls for the eradication of all forms of malnutrition. And there is a steady growth in the levels of overweight and obesity all around the world."

"While hunger is circumscribed to specific areas, obesity is everywhere. In fact, we are witnessing the globalization of obesity," added Graziano da Silva.

Graziano da Silva also drew attention to upcoming key events: a food safety conference later this month in Geneva - organized by FAO, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO); the launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming at FAO's headquarters at the end of May; two seminars on healthy diets and agriculture innovation, and the meeting of the FAO Port States Measures Agreement's (PSMA) Parties in June.

The PSMA is the first-ever binding international instrument that specifically addresses Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.

Graziano da Silva also underscored the organization's success over the last years in reducing costs, and making FAO more efficient, effective and results oriented; as well as attracting more voluntary contributions.

The Director-General highlighted FAO's commitment to partnerships evidenced by a strong increase in partnerships over the years - from 20 new partners in 2012, with a contribution of $28 million to more than 100 new partners today, contributing over $200 million.

FAO's engagement in joint programmes and interagency platforms with UN agencies has also almost doubled since 2012. This represents a monetary increase of contributions from the UN system by 100 per cent, accounting for $800 million.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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IRENA unveils global energy transformation: A roadmap to 2050 - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has unveiled the Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the latest edition of IRENA’s Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, launched in Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue on Tuesday paves the way to meet 86 per cent of global power demand with renewable energy exist, reports NaijaAgroNet.

"Electricity would cover half of the global final energy mix. Global power supply would more than double over this period, with the bulk of it generated from renewable energy, mostly solar PV and wind," part of the report read.

Some of the key findings include:
  • Today the question is no longer if energy transition is possible, but how to make it happen faster. Renewables and electrification are a key climate solution.
  • Renewable energy supply, increased electrification of energy services, and energy efficiency can deliver more than 90% of needed reductions to energy-related CO2 emissions. Renewable energy and electrification alone deliver 75% of emission reductions.
  • The transition towards a decarbonised global energy system will require scaling up investments in the energy sector by a further 16% (an additional USD 15 trillion by 2050). In total USD 110 trillion would be invested in the energy system, representing on average 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP) per year over the period.
  • The REmap Case would result in a cumulative reduction in fossil fuel subsidies of USD 15 trillion below what would have occurred in the Reference Case by 2050, and in a net reduction of USD 10 trillion when including the increased support needed for renewables in the REmap Case.
  • In total the savings from avoided subsidies and reduced environmental and health damages are about three to seven times larger than the additional energy system costs. In monetary terms, total savings resulting from the REmap Case could amount to between USD 65 trillion and USD 160 trillion over the period to 2050.
  • By year 2050, the REmap energy transition brings about relative improvements of GDP and whole-economy employment of 2.5% and 0.2% respectively. In cumulative terms from 2019 to 2050 the GDP gains of the REmap Case over the Reference Case add up to 99 USD trillion.
  • Climate damage impacts increase with time as the climate system responds to the cumulative GHG emissions. Macroeconomic performance under both the Reference and REmap cases is significantly impacted by climate damages, leading to a global GDP reduction of 15.5% and 13.2%, respectively, by 2050.
Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Ekiti charges Boundary Commission - NaijaAgroNet

The Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has inaugurated the State Boundary Commission Committee and Boundary Technical Committee with a charge to always consider the best interest of Ekiti people above personal interest, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The governor who restated that the loyalty of his government is to the people of Ekiti State whom the administration is out to serve, urged the committees to discharge their duties without fear or favour but with strict adherence to the rule of law.

Dr Fayemi, who inaugurated the committee at the Conference Hall of the Governor’s Office on Monday, said there are series of boundary disputes both inter State and intra-State waiting for the attention of the committees. He advised members of the committee to adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution method without resort to court.

“I like to implore members of the inaugurated commission to see your appointment as a call to service, a call to etch your name on the sands of time in Ekiti and a call to be a part of history. You must discharge your duty without fear or favour but with strict adherence to the rule of law.

“In whatever you do, always consider the best interest of Ekiti State and Ekiti Kete far above your personal interest. Collectively we can build the society of our dreams and make Ekiti State the pride of all. We can only achieve this through selflessness”, he said.

The committee, according to Governor Fayemi is to, among other issues, deal with inter-local government boundary disputes with a view to resolving them; monitor trans-border relations with neighbouring states with a view to detecting areas of tension, possible conflicts and take necessary measures to address them, and to encourage negotiation on settlement of boundary disputes in preference to court action.

In his acceptance speech, the chairman of the State Boundary Commission Committee and Deputy Governor, Otunba Bisi Egbeyemi thanked the governor for the opportunity given the committee members to serve the State.

Egbeyemi noted that lives and properties have been lost to boundary conflicts; assuring that the committee will adopt a win-win approach to settling conflicts arising from boundary issues.

He solicited the cooperation of all communities in the State for the success of the committee in discharging its duties.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Sunday Komolafe had said that the non-existence of the committee for many years had resulted in many boundary disputes in some communities in the State.

He opined that with the constitution of the committee, disputed areas will be looked into and resolved as soon as possible.

The State Boundary Commission Committee which is headed by the Deputy Governor has the Commissioners for Finance, Works and Transportation, Agriculture, Information, Lands and Housing, and the Attorney General as members.

Other members are the Surveyor-General, the State Commissioner of Police, the State Director of the State Security Service, Executive Secretary of the Boundary Commission, the Oluyin of Iyin, Oba Ademola Ajakaye, the Ologotun of Ogotun, Oba Samuel Oyebade, and two boundary experts – Surveyor Ayeni and Surveyor Akeredolu.

The Technical Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s office comprises Permanent Secretaries in the Ministry of Works, Finance, Agric and Rural Development, Justice, Lands and Housing, Director of Forestry, a representative of the Director of SSS, representative of the Commissioner of Police and the Executive Secretary of the Boundary Commission.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

Early forecasts for cereal output in 2019 are positive - NaijaAgroNet

NaijaAgroNet:

The global food prices began the year on a buoyant note, as the FAO Food Price Index averaged 164.8 points in January 2019, up 1.8 percent from the previous month, reports NaijaAgroNet.

A sharp rebound in dairy price quotations and firmer prices of palm and soy oils drove the increase, the United Nations agency said today. The Food Price Index, an indicator of the monthly changes in international prices of a basket of food commodities, was still 2.2 percent below its January 2018 level.

The FAO Cereal Price Index averaged 168.1 points in January, up marginally from December. Prices of the major grains were generally firm amid tightening export supplies and robust world demand.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index rose 4.3 percent from the previous month, led by palm oil values responding to a seasonal production decline in the major producing countries. International soy oil prices also rose on the back of robust import demand for South American supplies.

The FAO Dairy Price Index rose 7.2 percent from December, reversing seven months of falling prices. Limited export supplies - due to strong internal demand - form Europe were the primary factor behind this, along with anticipated seasonal tightening of export availability from Oceania in the coming months.

The FAO Sugar Price Index rose 1.3 percent, a move largely influenced by the appreciation of the currency (Real) of Brazil, the world's largest exporter, against the U.S. dollar.

The FAO Meat Price Index was almost unchanged from December. The January value was calculated assuming stable meat prices in the United States of America, where official data were not available due to the government shutdown. Elsewhere, international price quotations for bovine, pig and poultry meat remained steady, while ovine meat prices declined in step with ample exportable supplies in Oceania.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Oil Exploration: Shell pledges greater corporate transparency - NaijaAgroNet

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), has pledged to be transparency in its exploration in the country, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This pledge is coming with the payment of over $6.397 billion to the Nigerian government and its agencies in 2018 by Shell exploration and production companies in Nigeria.

The payment, NaijaAgroNet gathered, represents a 48 per cent increase over payments by the companies to Nigerian government in 2017 which was $4.322 billion.

The payments formed part of the four documents released on Tuesday by the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Dutch Shell, Ben Van Beurden, to signal the global oil giant’s renewed commitment to greater transparency. The documents are: Shell Sustainability Report; Industry Associations Climate Review; Nigeria Briefing Notes; and Payments to Government Report.

“Shell must remain at the forefront of the drive for greater corporate transparency. We will continue to be more open about what we do and why we do it,” said van Beurden. “We want to help people better understand Shell’s performance, values and principles. These reports outline our approach and activities in the crucial areas of sustainability and our relationships with industry associations and governments.”

In the breakdown of the 2018 payments, the Shell companies paid $3.776 billion to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as production entitlement while $1.286 billion was paid in taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Another $1.253 went to the Department of Petroleum Resources for royalties and fees, while $81.5 million was remitted to the Niger Delta Development Commission.

Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria, Osagie Okunbor, described the reports as a further testament to Shell’s efforts to increase transparency around activities that are important to investors, governments and civil society. “We are irrevocably committed to transparency just as we are to business integrity part of our core values and central tenets of the Business Principles that govern the way we do business.”

The Shell Nigeria Briefing Notes detail the activities of the Shell Companies in Nigeria for 2018. These include production, environmental performance, social investment, economic contributions, gas initiatives, deepwater operations, security and Nigerian content development.

The Industry Associations Climate Review assesses for the first time Shell’s alignment with 19 key industry associations on climate-related policy. The report also details new governance principles to improve how Shell manages its memberships of industry associations on climate-related topics.

The 22nd edition of the Shell Sustainability Report outlines Shell’s approach to sustainability and covers its social, safety and environmental performance in 2018. It sets out how Shell is playing a role in the transition to a lower-carbon world and its contribution to society, which includes helping to achieve universal access to cleaner, affordable energy.

In addition, Shell published its 2018 Payments to Governments Report covering 34 countries where it has extractive activities.

Isaac Oyimah/Editor


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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

ITU highlights use of disruptive technologies in disaster management - NaijaAgroNet

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published a new report about the use and opportunities of ICT and disruptive technologies for disaster risk reduction and management, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The report, NaijaAgroNet gathered was proclaimed during the third ITU Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications, which took place from 6 to 8 March 2019 in Balaclava, Mauritius.

The study finds that technological advancement and innovation are creating new opportunities for enhancing disaster resilience and risk reduction. Developments in disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data, and innovations in robotics and drone technology, among other areas, are transforming disaster risk reduction and management. Disruptive technologies can spread critical information more quickly, improve understanding of the causes of disasters, enhance early warning systems, assess damage in new ways and add to the knowledge base of the social behaviours and economic impacts after a crisis strikes.

The term of disruptive technology was first introduced more than two decades ago with reference to new technologies having an impact on incumbent businesses with scope for major disruption. Today, the term has widened by including the innovative application of new technologies across a range of domains, including disaster risk reduction and management.

The rapid growth of supporting digital infrastructure and devices, such as wireless broadband networks, smartphones and cloud computing, has created the foundation for the application of disruptive technologies for disaster management.

The spread and availability of these technologies vary among developed and developing nations and among high and low-income regions, and this digital divide influences their suitability for different disaster management scenarios.

Applications of disruptive technologies to disaster management vary in pace, scope and impact. While the use of drones and IoT is increasing, older technologies, such as satellite imagery and seismometers, are still the most important methods for detecting, monitoring and accessing disasters, and text messaging has the widest reach for communicating with the public.

Regarding space technology, the document highlights that satellite-based emergency mapping (SEM) has improved both in quality and response. For instance, new synthetic radar apertures can see through storm clouds, and coordination between the satellite and relief communities has improved.

Remmy Nweke/DoP

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