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By Nawa Mutumweno

Zambia Sugar Company is reducing its sugar exports into the European Union (EU) to the regional market in view of the sugar reforms in the bloc to be effected in September 2017.

The agribusiness company will this year reduce sales to the EU from 22 percent to 14 percent as it explores Africa’s regional markets, both traditional and new markets.

According to managing director, Rebecca Katowa, this follows the sugar reforms that have impacted on the sugar regime and resulted in prices in the EU converging into global prices.

The prices are below the cost of production and reflect residual markets and key players, namely Brazil, Thailand and India, who put sugar on that market with India’s sugar being subsidized.

’’The strategy is to move volumes away from the EU to regional markets because the regional market provides valuable alternatives. Shifting export sales away from the EU to the region is expected because realisations in these markets will continue to be influenced by exchange rate movements,’’ she elaborated at a stakeholders’ breakfast meeting in Lusaka recently.

The prices of sugar are expected to remain above world levels within the region despite increasing levels of competition among regional producers, Mrs. Katowa added.

The company is looking to expanding exports to the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among other African markets.

Meanwhile, Zambia Sugar will this month-end commission the over K500 million refinery which is projected to more than double sugar production to 90 000 tonnes annually, reaffirming the firm’s position as the largest producer in Africa.

Currently, the sugar agribusiness company produces 40 000 tonnes of sugar per annum.

‘’The project was launched last year and will be on stream at the end of the month and contribute to our growth strategy,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, the company’s Commentary for the Year Ended March 31, 2016 says a number of factors impacted adversely on sugar production in the period under review. These included dry climatic conditions in November and December 2015, power interruptions to irrigation and the outbreak of yellow sugarcane aphids which reduced sugarcane yields by 11 percent across the entire harvest area.
This yield decline was partly offset by a 2 percent increase in area under cane delivered. Smallholder schemes supplied 10 percent of the total 3.102 million tons of cane crushed by the Nakambala mill. Consequently, sugar made was reduced by 10 percent from 424 000 tonnes achieved last year to 380 400 tonnes.

‘’The reduced sucrose in cane was partially offset by improved sugar recoveries in the mill. Refined sugar production also increased to meet growing demand. The season saw a significant improvement in factory throughput, reflecting the benefit of improved equipment reliability and preventive maintenance practices together with a sustained focus on continuous improvement initiatives,’’ the Commentary reads in part.

Total revenue grew by 6 percent year on year, from K1.91 billion to K2.02 billion, largely due to continued growth in the domestic market where direct consumption increased by 7 percent and industrial consumption grew by 4 percent. In order to maximize revenues from reduced production, the sales mix was adjusted by reducing bulk EU exports by 45 percent. The remaining sugar was sold into Africa’s regional markets where prices remained under pressure from world market sugar.

Prospects

The factory commenced crushing in the third week of April and operations have quickly stabilized. Early season, sugarcane yields are at expected levels and should improve as the crop matures.

Sugar cane yields and sucrose in cane are expected to remain relatively unchanged in the 2016/17 production season. The crop has been negatively affected by drought conditions, power shortages, the low water levels in the Kafue River and pest infestations due to drought stressed cane. Production is, therefore, expected to match the previous season.

Sugar production is, therefore, expected to match the previous season. Reasonably strong growth is expected in the local market. However, margins in the regional export markets are expected to remain under pressure from surplus sugar stocks on the world market.

‘’Realizations in these export markets will continue to be influenced by exchange rate movements. The new expanded sugar refinery will help the company take advantage of the growth in the local and regional industrial sugar markets,’’ it adds.

Article written  by Ray Mwareya, 14 November 2016

Africa Agribusiness Magazine media by Alexander Hitzemann

Reckless inbreeding, spurred by ignorance, almost wiped off cattle, goats and sheep stocks in Zimbabwe´s rural provinces.

In the words of Mr. Max Makuvise, co-founder of Makera Cattle Company, an entrepreneur who is at the forefront of reviving the country´s beef cattle herd, the calamity that chopped off Zimbabwe´s cattle head can be described in one word “inbreeding!”

Rural farmers, especially women, watched in dismay as calf births plummeted to an average of 25 kg, drug resistant sheep diseases mutated, and dishonest merchants dangled exploitative prices like $80 per heifer bull.

Thanks to a critical intervention by global Irish Aid and GOAL charity, and indigenous startups like Makuvise, pedigree cattle bulls have been introduced to farming cooperatives in rural Zimbabwe.

The results are astonishing and instant.

makera-cattleNewly birthed calves have seen their weight shoot to 45 kg! Goat stocks have multiplied into hundreds, entrepreneurial female farmers are stocking up to $50 000 in saving clubs, commercial beef corporations are offering lucrative prices again, villagers are selling livestock as community cooperatives, and spreading the income into pharmaceuticals or growing legumes like lablab, velvet beans to supplement stock feed.

We sit down with Mr. Max Makuvise, the beef entrepreneur, who says an $80 000 seed grant from Zimbabwe largest bank, mentorship from Zimbabwe´s top finance regualator and strategic collaboration with multilateral organizations such as Irish Aid has sparked his efforts to return the country to the status of “the beef capital” of Southern Africa.
Between him and his partners Mr. Petrus Erasmus, they claim to have 50 year’s livestock experience. “Through Coopers Animal Health, which we are both directors of, we also bring over 100 years of animal health experience to the party.”
“We began this in 2004 with a “pedigree Tuli cattle herd,” he begins.

Why this specie of cattle?

Zimbabwe government’s aggressive seizure of white owned commercial farms beginning in 2001 provides a clue.

“The Tuli cattle herd specie became available as it was being sold by a friend who had lost his farm. He was winding up operations, and had already moved them onto our farm with a herd of Herefords specie for safekeeping. Naturally, he was looking for a buyer. We took an interest in them as they were indigenous breed and are known to be very fertile.”

Zimbabwe was facing world record hyperinflation from 2004. Beginning operations was a nightmare until intervention came. “The initial cost was approximately US$80,000. We received help from a bank through Mr. John Mangudya, who is now the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.”

He says Zimbabwe beef industry, formerly the darling of European Union importers and restauranteurs, has changed beyond belief today.

“Our beef industry has been rebranded in the last fifteen years. Historically, white owned commercial farms accounted for the largest output. Interestingly, rural small cattle farmers are the mainstay of the country beef supply today. It´s a revolution.”

“I think now it is important to allow rural farmers the ability to manage their cattle both as an economic, commercial asset.”

Mr. Makuvise and his company are walking the talk in their passion.
“We train rural farmers to be para-vetenarians who treat their own sick cattle, equip them with tools to monitor market prices, provide breeding literature etc.
Funding is ours, complemented by the donor community. An informed farmer brings increased genetic cattle sales.”

“We upgrade Para vets through refresher courses.”

He smiles and reveals, “The term Para is being changed to Primary Animal Healthcare worker.”

Mr. Makuvise who manages over 200 bulls in the rural areas of Zimbabwe and will over the next few months be completing the training of 10,000 farmers in Primary Animal Healthcare.
He thinks Zimbabwe´s beef industry need to gaze long into the horizon and avoid rapid consumption culture. “We a great deal of emphasis on the farmer not just worrying about markets. Our rural farmers need to be able to present the best possible product that they can to the market to maximize their earning capacity. Cattle sales must be a purely commercial decision not motivated by desperation and hunger.”
One way his company is doing this, is through science and genetics. “We are producing world class genetics through our breeding business, for use in the community / rural livestock projects. We deploy bulls for Artificial Insemination, so the rural farmer can obtain healthier breeds of cattle.”
“On science are carrying out trials on feeding of crop residues in winter as for supplementary feed cattle in hot summers.”

The offspring, bred from science, is spread wide, to obtain maximum results. “Our customers are any farmers that have cows that need to breed, universities, commercial farmers and of course rural farmers.”

Zimbabwe with its grim economy, characterized by vanishing US dollars and runaway industry closures, presents obstacles, when it comes to critical cattle feed.
“Yes, cattle feed is sourced from local players and is not hard to find. However, it is rather expensive comparing to regional countries like South Africa, Botswana, Zambia.”

Electricity, a key component to run beef abattoirs and raise calves, is a vanishing product in Zimbabwe, but Mr. Makuvise counts his luck this year. “2016 has been very good with virtually no power outages for the last 10 months.”

Makera Cattle Company is not all beef and bones. Milk, once a mainstay of Zimbabwe´s dietary economy before a catastrophic fall to just 22 000 cattle in 2010 from 110 000, is in their sights too.
“We have have embarked on a project to grow a milk collection centre in conjunction with Zimbabwe´s agriculture ministry. We lecture 23 dairy cows on primary animal healthcare, the right ration to feed their animals etc. It´s a pilot program.”
His mind is disturbed by the ever present threat of foot and mouths infections that can ground beef farms. Since 2001, the country lost its lucrative quota of 9000 tons to the European Union.

“True, foot and mouth diseases are hampering Zimbabwe´s ability to export beef. Government is battling to regulate the movement of live animals. We see room to partner with authorities.”

In conclusion, he says climate change and drought – a menace looming on Zimbabwe – is forcing him to distinguish their programs from other beef entrepreneurs.

“We insist on productivity not merely increasing herd sizes. Our competitors are preaching the doubling of family herd sizes. We think this is an error. This puts a strain on the environment at a time Global Warming is ravaging pasture grass and natural water streams in Zimbabwe.”
ABOUT THE WRITER: RAY MWAREYA is the Africa Correspondent for the Global South Development Magazine. Twitter: @rmwareya

For media and advertising inquired contact Alexander Hitzemann at alex@africaag.org

By Alexander Hitzemann

Private and public sector working together – this is how the much anticipated, upcoming outdoor agricultural show, Agritech Expo Tanzania, taking place in Arusha from 26-27 January is described by the local agricultural sector in the country.

The inaugural farming B2B platform, which already enjoys strong support by the farming community, will not only gather farmers, from commercial to emerging and small scale; but also key officials from regional governments, agro associations, NGOs, aid, development and research agencies; agro dealers, traders and retailers; suppliers, consultants and technical experts as well as venture capitalists, investors and bankers.

“The role of private sector is highly recognised in the agricultural policy, strategies and programmes” says Dr David Nyange, Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in Tanzania, a supporting partner of the upcoming Agritech Expo Tanzania.

He adds: “as industrialisation is at the top of the current development agenda, the technologies that will be displayed at the Expo have potential to play a great role toward the commercialisation of agriculture which is necessary for ensuring sustainable supply of raw materials to the industry”.

Other host partners for the event are the Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT), the Tanzanian Horticulture Association (TAHA), the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Arusha.

Agri suppliers supporting Agritech Expo
The industry has responded with great enthusiasm to the first Agritech Expo in Tanzania.

Global farming equipment leader John Deere and its distributor in the country, LonAgro Tanzania Ltd, are gold sponsors for the event. Says Lukas Botha, Managing Director, LonAgro Tanzania: “from land and seed bed preparation, through to crop care and harvesting, LonAgro John Deere in Tanzania has the complete solution.”

“The horticultural sector is an awakening giant” says Harald Peeters, MD Tanzania of the vegetable breeding company Rijk Zwaan Q-Sem, a bronze sponsor at Agritech Expo. He adds: “Tanzania has plenty of land, enough water and year round sunlight. I am looking forward to an Expo which raises the awareness of the Government to the fact that the private sector is a partner in development, creating thousands of jobs, educa ting workers and building the nation”.

Other leading agri suppliers that have already confirmed their presence at the event include Afrivet, Ford, CMC Automobiles, Hughes Motors, Maji, HortiPro, Irrico, Rivulis, AMDT, FNB, Lindsay Africa, Balton, Kibo Seed, Neptun Boot and TFSC.

The Agritech Expo success story
The success story of the outdoor agricultural show, Agritech Expo, which is about to expand to Tanzania, started in the Zambian agri-hub of Chisamba three years ago and has been a tremendous boost for that country’s farming sector. The inaugural Agritech Expo Tanzania has transitioned from the Agribusiness Congress conference that has taken place in Dar es Salaam for the last three years.

Agritech Expo Zambia in 2016 drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors and 160 exhibitors over 70 000 sqm of space. The three-day expo also featured two international pavilions, from Germany and Zimbabwe, welcomed two agriculture ministers, from Zambia and the Czech Republic, and the Zambian President H.E Edgar Lungu officially opened the show.

“We at John Deere have been attending and exhibiting at this event since its inception three years ago and are pleased to see the progress that the organisers are making in growing this event and reaching all those concerned with agriculture from government to small scale farmers” says Kevin Lesser, Global Marketing Director, John Deere, Kenya, adding: “we fully support the direction of growth intended for this event in Tanzania. We look forward to next year’s event”.

Event dates and location:
Exhibition: 26-27 January 2017
Commercial Farmers’ Focus Day: 26 January 2017
Venue:  Selian Agricultural Research Institute, Arusha/Dodoma Main Road, Arusha

Twitter: @Agritech_Expo
Facebook: @AgritechZambiaTanzania
Linkedin: Agritech Expo
Instagram: Agritech_Agribusiness
Website: http://www.agritechexpotanzania.com/

Contact:
Senior communications manager: Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
Mobile: +27 82 562 7844
Email: annemarie.roodbol@spintelligent.com

Vongai Musembwa’s eyes light up as she scoops up healthy white grains from a metal bin she uses to store newly harvested maize. Happily, they’re free of a naturally occurring poison — aflatoxin — that can contaminate crops in the field, before or after harvest and during storage.

The metal silo protects the grains from aflatoxin — produced by certain fungi that grow on food crops like maize, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, cassava and rice.

 Farmer, Vongai Musembwa from Makoni District in Zimbabwe stores her maize grain in a metal silo, an effective method in preventing aflatoxin contamination, Photo credit, Busani Bafana


Farmer, Vongai Musembwa from Makoni District in Zimbabwe stores her maize grain in a metal silo, an effective method in preventing aflatoxin contamination, Photo credit, Busani Bafana

Ms. Musembwa is one of more than 260 smallholder farmers in Makoni District, east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, who have switched to non-chemical hermetic storage to prevent food from contamination. Musembwa received her metal silo from a local organization, under a multi-partner project seeking to prevent aflatoxins contamination of maize grain.

The Makoni District farmers are participants in a two-year project worth $1.6 million supported by the Cultivate Africa’s Future programme, an initiative funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research. Under the project, Zimbabwean farmers are given access to metal silos and thick plastic “superbags” to determine if improved storage can reduce aflatoxin contamination in local maize grain.

Crops contaminated by aflatoxins develop moulds and acquire a dark colour. Livestock and humans can fall sick or die after eating contaminated food grains. It has also been linked to childhood stunting, liver cancer and immune suppression in adults.

 Scientists warn that extreme weather is increasing the level of health-damaging toxic chemicals in crops, including staple foods which are key to food, nutrition and trade security in Africa. To protect themselves against extreme weather, plants generate aflatoxins, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

“Aflatoxins are pervasive in African food systems negatively impacting health of women and children, income from agriculture value chains, and food safety and security of nations,” says Ranajit Bandyopadhyay, a senior plant pathologist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), where he guides research and development activities on crop diseases and poisonous chemicals produced by certain fungi known as mycotoxins.

Bandyopadhyay, said people fall sick, farmers lose income, grains are destroyed, food prices soar, profitability of animal industries declines, reputation of African exports are tainted and nations become less food secure due to aflatoxin contamination.

“Aflatoxin contamination presents a barrier to trade and economic growth and is a serious obstacle to programmes designed to improve nutrition and agricultural production while linking smallholder farmers to markets,” Bandyopadhyay said. “The extent of contamination varies by seasons, crops and regions and can be anywhere from none to 100% and often hovers around 25%.”

Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, the AUC’s commissioner for rural economy and agriculture said curbing the menace of aflatoxin contamination was critical to improving child and maternal nutrition and health as well as achieving Africa’s goal to transform its agriculture.

Farmers are particularly vulnerable to fungal poisons, according to a 2015 baseline study to reduce maize-based aflatoxin contamination and exposure in humans in Zimbabwe by researchers from the University of Zimbabwe and the international humanitarian organization, Action Contre la Faim.

Dr. Loveness Nyanga, the project principal investigator and researcher at the University of Zimbabwe, notes that the high-level of aflatoxin contamination is a public health concern because Zimbabweans eat maize and legumes on a daily basis.

The existence of aflatoxins has other consequences to Africa’s economy. The continent is losing more than $450 million annually when its commodities are rejected on global markets because of high contamination levels, says the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), an initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) whose aim is to protect crops, livestock and people from the effects of aflatoxins.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed that aflatoxins affect 25% of the world’s food crops and hurt trade. About US$1.2 billion is lost in global commerce annually as a result of aflatoxins, according to IITA. While the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) notes that the World Food Programme has sharply reduced the quantities of maize it has been able to buy locally in Africa since 2007 because of aflatoxin contamination.

Africa also faces a health burden associated with humans’ exposure to contamination.

Harming our health

An estimated 26,000 people die annually in sub-Saharan Africa from liver cancer resulting from chronic aflatoxin exposure, according to a 2013 research by IFPRI.

Globally, 5% to 30% of all liver cancer cases are linked to aflatoxin exposure, with the highest incidences occurring in Africa, according to the Platform for African-European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD), an eight-year project sponsored by the European Commission.

In Mozambique, a high prevalence of liver cancer in southern part of the country has been associated with consumption of aflatoxin contaminated food, especially from groundnuts.

Sustainable solutions

Cultivate Africa’s Future is one of several ongoing efforts to contain aflatoxin contamination. If experiments with the plastic “super bags” are effective against contamination, they will be a highly sought after item by Zimbabwean farmers who lose up to 30% of harvested maize every year to pests and poor post-harvest handling.

More than $50 million worth of maize, the staple food, is lost annually during storage alone, says Ringson Chitsiko, the permanent secretary in Zimbabwe’s ministry of agriculture.

To fight aflatoxins contamination and maintain food quality and safety, scientists recommend an integrated approach, including, among other techniques, timely planting and harvesting, proper plant density and managing insects. This is in addition to crop rotation, shelling, enhancement of proper plant health and nutrition, rapid drying of grains in the sun for days, or with driers to reduce the moisture content and proper storage.

Bandyopadhyay leads Africa-wide efforts on the development and scaling-up of the aflatoxin biocontrol technology known as Aflasafe, a novel biological product developed by the IITA to fight pre-and post-harvest aflatoxin contamination.

Already the IITA has a programme to develop Aflasafe in Malawi where between 40% and 100% of the country’s groundnut-based commodities contain unsafe toxin levels. Aflasafe has also been tested in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal since 2009. About 30,000 farmers in Nigeria, Senegal, The Gambia and Kenya are using Aflasafe and getting 200 to 500% return on investment, Bandyopadhyay said.

Tanzania in June 2016 announced that it was undertaking field trials in the use of Alfasafe targeting four regions. A 2012 study in Tanzania established high incidents of aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnuts in the country.

The Africa Aflatoxin Information Management System platform spearheaded by PACA is creating a “one stop shop” database for aflatoxin-related information in the health, trade and agriculture sectors as a way to raise awareness and prevent contamination.

The Aflasafe product has been registered in Senegal and Gambia where aflatoxin contamination is a major deterrent for groundnut exports. Bandyopadhyay said aflatoxin exposure in humans is rampant in West Africa with the toxin found in the body fluids of 100% Senegalese and The Gambian people in a few instances.

In 2005 the World Bank estimated that investments in aflatoxin control can add $281 million to the Senegalese economy from increased export volume and price differential of aflatoxin-safe crops.

A key impediment is the level of aflatoxin awareness among farmers and consumers. Because of poor policing of food safety standards in many African countries, researchers say that many people eat contaminated foods, especially the staples such as maize, legumes and groundnuts, without checking for signs of aflatoxins.

Researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi- Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in  June 2016 announced the decoding of the DNA of the ground nut or peanut (Arachis hypogaea), an oil and protein rich crop of global importance with the annual production of 42.3 million metric tonnes.

Rajeev Varshney, the Research Programme Director- Genetic Gains at ICRISAT said in an online interview that groundnuts, though an important crop in terms of nutrition and income in Asia and Africa, face low productivity as compared to Americas. The current pace of developing improved peanut varieties and their productivity may not be able to meet the demand of ever increasing global population, especially in Asia and Africa where in some countries productivity is less than one tonne per hectare. According to the FAO, the world average productivity of groundnuts is 1, 6 tonnes per hectare.

Varshney said the gene resources generated through this breakthrough provide an opportunity for scientists to prepare an efficient road map for developing improved groundnut varieties with increased productivity and quality.

“Peanuts produced from African countries and India have high level of aflatoxin contamination,” said Varshney. “This makes peanut produce unsuitable for export to Europe and Americas. Therefore it is really important to work in the direction of producing varieties with minimal aflatoxin contamination.”

Manish Pandey, a groundnut genomics Scientist at ICRISAT said the availability of the DNA sequence will accelerate basic research to answer important biological questions about groundnuts and help crop improvement programmes around the world.

There is great excitement in the agricultural sector in Uganda as preparations are underway for the fourth Agribusiness Congress East Africa conference that is taking place in Kampala from 29-30 November. It is the first time that the event is taking place in Uganda.

Agribusiness Congress East Africa is a regional platform for discussions and knowledge sharing, to address those pertinent issues which are preventing the East African agricultural industry from truly flourishing as a global agribusiness hub.

Already the farming sector is showing great support. The Grain Council of Uganda (TGCU)’s Board Vice Chairman, Robert Mwanje, says the body “is delighted to partner, support and host the fourth annual Agribusiness Congress East Africa. The success of the event in the East African region has given the Grain Council of Uganda the confidence to host the upcoming edition in Uganda, setting it as a key entrant into the national annual calendar. The Congress strives to set progressive action for the commercialisation of the industry by exchanging knowledge, best practices and dynamic conversations whilst showcasing leading agri technology to highlight the right tools for East Africa’s agri sector.”

Other industry organisations that are official partners include the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (EACCIA), National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), Uganda Seed Trade Association (USTA) and Agricona.

“Moving the Agribusiness Congress East Africa to Uganda will once again extend the opportunity to set the spotlight on the rapid expansion of the agriculture industries within East Africa,” says Jon McLea, Director of Agricona, “and fuelled by peaceful elections, unregulated markets and fertile lands – will make the pearl of Africa a hot spot for agribusiness investments.”

Farmers to become agripreneurs

“We are just as excited about organising Agribusiness Congress East Africa in Uganda this year”, says event director Yolanda dos Santos, “and we look forward to bringing together national, regional and international commercial farmers, donors, stakeholders, investors, policy advisors, commodity traders and industry professionals. Through the programme we aim to enhance commercial activities, enable commodity trade, sustainability, empower youth and women, encourage up skilling and provide market accessibility to the East African agricultural corridors. We will also feature the leading technologies through a product showcase to highlight the right tools for East Africa’s commercial agricultural arena.”

She adds: “we all know there is great potential in the agri arena, including for commercialisation and the up skilling for an entrepreneurial mind-set amongst all-scale farmers to become agripreneurs, using technology and training programmes. Agriculture can generate huge opportunities for financial access and investment in the region and now is the time to set action to strategic plans unlocking the potential.”

Why Uganda?

  • Market access through treaties and agreements: Uganda is part of the free trade areas of EAC, COMESA and SADC.
  • Uganda is a signatory to major international investment and business protocols.
  • Totally liberalised foreign exchange regime.
  • Uganda has a population of 35 million people with a growing middle-income class with reasonable expendable income.

Well-known agri suppliers Engsol, Mascor, John Deere and Chief Industries have already signed up as event sponsors.

Agribusiness Congress East Africa will offer market access to more than 200 million people through Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan. Agriculture accounts for almost 30% of GDP in East African countries while staple foods represent 75% of total agricultural products traded. Agriculture employs more than 60% of the population in the region.
The event is organised by Spintelligent, a well-known trade conference and expo organiser on the continent, with particular expertise and experience in energy, infrastructure and agricultural development events; including the long-running flagship shows such as Agritech Expo Zambia, the East African Power Industry Convention in Nairobi and African Utility Week in Cape Town.

Agribusiness Congress East Africa dates and location: 
Conference: 29-30 November 2016
Event location: Kampala Serena Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

Websites: www.agri-eastafrica.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AgriBusinessEA
Facebook: Agribusiness Congress East Africa

Airbus Defence and Space has announced the launch of One Atlas, a brand new satellite image basemap, which covers the earth’s landmasses with professional grade imagery. This service will soon be available online and all imagery will be completely refreshed every 12 months. One Atlas will provide agricultural organizations with easy access and cost-effective high-quality, homogeneous imagery.

One Atlas has been specifically developed to support applications within the agricultural sector, providing the opportunity to delineate parcel boundaries, map agricultural lands and crop species, as well as being able to track and trace tractors and irrigation assets.

The service offers a streamlined workflow, and the costs related to updating, selecting, processing and hosting imagery are drastically reduced. Seamlessly integrated into the customer’s system, One Atlas facilitates the sharing of data across teams or partner organizations, with no compromise on security or privacy. It also enables users to plan, map and locate their teams, assets or areas of interest, anywhere on the globe, allowing operators to devote more time to their core mission.

“With One Atlas, we definitively reduce the barriers for agricultural clients to access our data,” said Bernhard Brenner, Head of Intelligence Business Cluster at Airbus Defence and Space. “We take care of everything: updating, selecting, processing and hosting – all to make it easier, cheaper and faster for our customers.”

This new service has applications for a variety of industries such as oil, gas, mining, agriculture, defense, and security. However, the new service will not include specialized technology for agriculture which facilitates real-time crop vegetation index monitoring via geospatial technologies. There are some more advanced services which can monitor the difference between healthy and stressed plants by representing the amount of light they’re reflecting in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

By Alex Hitzemann

This year’s FOECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook is a special edition featuring an in-depth look at the opportunities and challenges facing Sub-Saharan Africa in the next decade. The 140 page report is a wealth of information thanks to all the resources and talent employed by the UN, FAO, and OECD. We are very fortunate to have individualized predictions for each crop and analysis of which specific factors could trigger growth spurts in the Sub-Saharan agribusiness market.

The Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region contains around 950 million people, which  is approximately 13% of the global population. Despite drastic changes to economies in this region, agriculture remains a crucial sector providing livelihoods for millions of people. Agricultural makes up a significant portion of most Sub-Saharan countries GDP, ranging from from 30-60 percent.

expendThe report finds that while the outlook for agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is broadly positive, it could be much improved by improvements in government policies across the region, by an increase in strategic public and private investments (especially in infrastructure) and by suitably adapted research and extension. Such investments could improve access to markets, reduce post-harvest losses, and make much needed inputs more widely available.

A great example of exactly this kind of investment is the new Norwegian funded company Arise. Arise is a cooperation by Norfund, FMO and Rabobank which seeks to invests in financial institutions in SSA to grow their financial services and capability to supply capital to small-holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. The establishment of joint ventures, such as this, will contribute more to the development of banking than just one bank or investment fund on its own.

FAO reports that foreign investment and external financial flows into Africa have quadrupled since 2000. These flows are expected to increase two times further in the next decade.

Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to experience rapid population growth. This, in combination with rising incomes, urbanization, and continuation of current policies and market structures, the production of food crops in many countries is projected to grow more slowly than demand.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s net imports of food commodities are anticipated to grow over the next decade, although productivity enhancing investments would mitigate this trend. Food import dependency of resource poor regions, such as North Africa and the Middle East, is projected to intensify providing a huge market for any grain exporters in Africa. In SAA countries grain imports will increase 50% in ten years. Comparatively, North Africa will only see only as 15% increase.

intakeDue to extremely high population growth, SSA has a very young population. The World Bank predictes that more than half of young Africans will enter agricultural careers, mostly in the format of small family farms. Inovating ways for youth to participate in agriculture has the potential to greatly reduce poverty and hunger. Success for these young African farmers relies on their education of land access and tenure, access to financial services, access to markets, access to green jobs and involvement in policy dialogue. All of this has the potential to make the agricultural sector more attractive to young people, providing an additional push that may be needed for them to enter the sector

 Yield Improvements

FAO believes that the single greatest factor in improve crop outputs over the next decade will be yield improvements. Currently, it’s not uncommon to see post-harvest crop losses above 50 percent in the region. In the next decade African farmers will gain new metholodgies and technologies to improve their yields. The opportunity for large fertilizers and machinery companies to penetrate the African market is likely to greatly increase as farmers seek new ways to improve their output.

changeYield improvements will account for 80% in the increase in crop output in Africa from now to 2020.

Recently, there has been a furry of concern about land-use and crop rotation in the region. But continuous cultivation of existing plots would not necessarily pose problems for sustainable intensification if sufficient use of fertilizers, soil amendment practices and other land-augmenting investments are employed and coupled with continued education to maintain and improve soil quality.

However, a large body of literature in SSA points to soil degradation arising from unsustainable cultivation practices in regions with a high population density, for example parts of Kenya and Malawi. Continuous cultivation and lack of crop rotation deplete organic carbon levels, making soil less responsive to fertilizer application. This also makes it more difficult for smallholder farmers to benefit from yield gains offered by plant genetic improvement.

There is also an opportunity to improve output by increase agricultural area sustainability. This is likely to make up a much smaller part of the growth in the region. The majority of new crop areas in Africa will be dedicated to cereals. Africa’s existing agricultural resources (crops and fisheries) can all be characterized as underutilized.

intakeOther Themes

Maize production is expected to increase considerably, especially in Eastern Africa. Ethiopia alone accounts for almost 40% of additional production to 2025, followed by Nigeria (14%) and Sudan (10%). Increases in caloric intake in Africa will remain modest.

East Africa will see the greatest changes. Its possible that the eastern part of the continent will see up to 8 percent increases in daily caloric intake by 2020. On the other hand, central Africa will remain relatively the same in the coming decade only increasing daily intake by 1.5 percent in the same time period.

There is a large opportunity for fisheries. Projections reflect a 36% increase of food fish supply by 2025 compared to the average 2013-15 level, but accounting for significant population growth, the per capita increase is a mere 3%.

Milk production also has enormous potential in economic development and food security in rural areas. This makes dairy an important subsector in SSA. Particularly in Southern and Eastern Africa, commercialisation of the sector has illustrated dairy’s potential to provide a regular income source that reduces poverty and improves living standards. Eastern Africa currently constitutes more than half of total milk production in SSA and a vibrant

Check out the whole report here:

http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5778e.pdf

By Nawa Mutumweno

Norwegian firm, Yara International has been officially launched in Zambia, taking over the operations of Greenbelt Fertilizers Limited at a cost of about $51 million.

Whereas the transaction was first announced in December 2015, it was subject to approval by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Greenbelt Fertilizers is a leading fertilizer distributor for Zambia, Malawi and Zambia.

Yara International says it has been motivated to acquire Greebelt Fertilizers Limited due to the investment-friendly policies introduced by the Zambian government which are conducive to business, thus attracting long-term investment into the country.

Yara business unit downstream Africa chief executive officer, Bernhard Fonsenka, said by acquiring Greenbelt Fertilizers, Yara will be able to provide sustainable crop nutrition, increase crop yields and farmers’ incomes.

‘’We invested in Zambia because we were motivated by the investment-friendly attitude that we have witnessed through the process of this acquisition. We observed that investment authorities, regulators and partners, all have the determination to attract long-term commitment by easing the cost of doing business,’’ he said at the launch of Yara Zambia on May 4, 2016.
‘’While Yara boasts of its ability to deliver the world’s best agronomic practices and resources to local farmers, it will continue to ensure that the farmer remains at the heart of everything we do with the aim of sustainably increasing their profitability, thereby improving their livelihood,’’ he added.

Speaking earlier, Agriculture deputy minister, Maxus Ngónga said the coming in of Yara in the agriculture sector will bring competition in the marketing of fertilizer.

‘’This investment has come at a time when Zambia is diversifying its economy and our commitment is not only to make Zambia the food basket of the region, but also attract investments that will help us achieve that dream.

‘’As a nation, we are delighted to have a new entrant in the fertilizer sector because this creates competition and helps to push the prices of the product down for the benefit of the farmer,’’ he elaborated.

Norwegian ambassador to Zambia, Arve Ofstad is optimistic that Yara, as a commercial producer of fertilizer, will add value to the Zambian economy through job creation and better yields for farmers.

By Nawa Mutumweno

Zambia is among 12 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa expected to benefit from the newly launched Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project that will develop improved maize varieties with resistance and tolerance to drought and diseases affecting maize production.

The varieties have been launched to help the region boost food security.

The STMA project introduced by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), will help increase maize productivity by about 30 to 50 percent and provide 5.5 million smallholder farmers with improved maize varieties.

According to the ProAgri latest report, other beneficiary countries are Benin, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

STMA project leader, Tsedeke Abate, said the four-year project will improve maize production for over five million smallholder farmer households by the end of 2019 in the targeted beneficiary countries.
‘‘STMA will use modern breeding technologies that will confer the desired resistance to pest and diseases, and tolerant climate stresses like drought and heat to benefit farmers within their socio-economic capabilities, that often dictate their access to important farm inputs such as fertilizer and improved seed,’’ he said.

The project will apply conventional breeding techniques to develop maize varieties and hybrids capable of resisting environmental shocks, including drought, low soil fertility, heat, pests and disease.

‘’The project also seeks to increase commercialisation of improved multiple stress-tolerant maize varities with gender-preferred traits,’’ he elaborated.

STMA will also link up national and regional initiatives to develop strategies that bridge the yield gap and dramatically increase maize production at smallholder farm level.

Continued collaboration with partners will enhance sustainable maize research and development systems in target countries through sustained variety release deployment and adoption which has been insufficient in many sub-Saharan countries, Mr. Abate added.

STMA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Norfund, FMO and Rabobank have entered into a partnership to reaffirm their long-term commitment to Africa’s future development, growth potential and the local financial sector. The partners are committed to strengthen and develop effective, inclusive financial systems in Africa. It is also envisioned that Banco Montepio, a financial group based in Portugal with banking investments in Africa, will join the partnership in the near future.

The partners currently hold stakes in several financial service providers (FSPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa which they have agreed to pool together. The new company, to be named Arise, will start with a presence in over 20 countries, USD 660 million in assets and is anticipated to grow to USD 1 billion. Arise will take and manage minority stakes in African FSPs. The key ambition is to build strong and stable FSPs that will serve retail, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the rural sector, and clients who have not previously had access to financial services.

Norfund, FMO and Rabobank have been active in Africa for many years with a positive impact in local markets. Through Arise, the partners will continue to adequately support the growth and development of the FSPs by providing among others technical assistance and management services in the field of governance, management, marketing, innovation, compliance and risk management. Capital will also be allocated for new investments. Arise will be operational from 1 January 2017.

Berry Marttin, Executive Board Member of Rabobank: “Rabobank’s activities in investing and building strong financial service providers in emerging economies, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, truly fit our Banking for Food strategy; focused on creating solutions with our clients to feed the world in 2050. It is therefore very important to us to take this approach to a higher level. By joining forces and pooling assets, networks and expertise with Norfund and FMO, two highly experienced development institutions of excellent reputation, we are taking a major step forward.”

Kjell Roland, CEO at Norfund: “Norfund invests in financial institutions to strengthen their ability to supply capital and financial services to SMEs and unbanked people in Sub-Saharan Africa and thereby contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction. The establishment of Arise will contribute to the development of the financial sector in Africa on a scale which is far beyond what Norfund can achieve by itself. By partnering with experienced, like-minded investors such as FMO and Rabobank, will ensure that Arise benefits from excellent banking, technical and managerial expertise.”

Nanno Kleiterp, CEO at FMO: “FMO is proud to co-create a unique platform for investing in African banks with Norfund and Rabobank. Arise can leverage the extensive banking knowledge and valuable agri-banking expertise of its founding partners. This partnership will increase the availability of financial services to small and medium enterprises. Above all it will allow the people in Sub-Saharan Africa to empower themselves by getting bank accounts and taking loans and thus building a better life for their families.”

José Morgado, CEO at Banco Montepio: “We are very happy that we will become a part of the new company, Arise, in the near future. Africa has always been an important market for us and being involved in a company with this type of network and focus really represents added value. With this partnership we are executing another step in our Strategic Plan.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals being obtained, both at shareholder level as well as at the various underlying investee levels.