By Busani Bafana
Retaining maize residues for mulching or feeding to cattle is a difficult decision smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe have to make each harvest season.
One farmer, Simon Madhovi from Madhovi village, ward 28 of Murewa District has found a win-win solution by mulching his field with residues from sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), a nitrogen fixing leguminous crop he intercrops with maize. Sunn hemp is a fast growing cover crop which has been found to improve soil fertility, enhance crop yields and make nutritive feed for livestock.
Agriculture researchers are promoting hardy purpose crops such as sunn hemp to help livestock and crop farmers cope with droughts which have affected crop and livestock production. In Zimbabwe, smallholder farmers suffer low yields as a result of poor soils and the productivity of their livestock is affected by poor feeding as a result of persistent drought conditions.
Sunn hemp has been introduced as a mulch and fodder crop to smallholder farmers in Goromonzi, Murewa, Mutoko and Uzumba districts of Mashonaland East Province under the Zimbabwe Crop-Livestock Integration for Food Security (ZimCLIFS) project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in partnership with Community Technology Development Organization (CTDO), Cluster Agricultural Development Services (CADS) and the government departments. The project funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research aims to improve livelihoods, through increasing food production and food security, enhanced through the adoption of sustainable crop and livestock management practices such as conservation agriculture (CA).
Under mixed crop-livestock systems, maize residues are often needed for feeding livestock during the dry winter months and for mulching the soil when practicing CA techniques which involve providing at least 30% permanent soil cover using live or dead mulches, crop rotation and reduced soil disturbance. Due to the low maize yields often generated by farmers in semi-arid areas and the need to feed animals which communally grazed arable fields during winter, farmers often find themselves failing to protect and increase the fertility of their soils leading to poor yields.
Mulching using sun hemp helped Madhowi reduce labour in having to cut grass and collect leaves which has used for soil cover before he was introduced to the legume crop.
“Sunn hemp has helped improve our poor soils and allowed me to feed my maize residues to cattle while I mulch my field using sunn hemp residues,” said Madhovi, who also grows forage legumes such as mucuna, lablab, cowpea and groundnuts in rotation with maize to replenish soil fertility and pen feed his livestock. He observed double crop yields under CA compared to conventionally tilled fields.
After pen fattening, Madhovi’s livestock improved and have been able to draw a ripper marking planting furrows in preparing his fields for the next cropping season. He sold one cow for $900 and bought three more cows and used part of the income for school fees, groceries and agricultural inputs for the next season.
CIMMYT agronomists provided new legume seeds to farmers at the start of the project and have been involved in farmer training on conservation agriculture and use of equipment use, input use and best farming practices. ILRI researchers have trained the farmers on harvesting legumes for hay, making livestock feed formulation and storing hay.
The training made a difference because the farmers have adopted CA practices and fodder production principles, says Eleanor Magwaza, a Research Associate and Agronomist at CIMMYT.
“The farmers’ ability to continue after the ZIMCLIFS project withdrew from the area showed they appreciated the new interventions. The improvement in soil fertility, crop yields and availability of dry season winter feed resulting in higher household income and improved livelihood shows impact.’
Magwaza said changing farmers’ mindset on the availability of markets for their crops and livestock were a challenge in getting the farmers to adopt sunn hemp. The project assisted in identifying markets for grains and livestock through innovation platforms, formal platform bring together farmers, extension workers, researchers, traders and buyers to share knowledge in agriculture development. In anticipation of technical challenges, extension workers and implementing partners were trained on use of equipment and herbicides to assist farmers.
“Growing fodder crops and mulch is the way to go for farmers doing mixed crop-livestock production,” said Magwaza, adding that, “Competition for resources is reduced yet both crop and livestock production is increased. It is also a way of climate change adaptation and mitigation.”
Other livestock non -palatable legumes such as tephrosia and grahamiana can also be planted in place of sunn hemp as these persist throughout the dry season and are chopped down to form mulch at the beginning of the next season, Magwaza said.
There is need for increased targeted investment in enhancing the competitiveness of smallholder farmers to realize multiple benefits from livestock production by understanding the importance of feed and health for their animals, says livestock scientist and ILRI Southern Africa region representative, Sikhalazo Dube.
“Farmers need to strike the right balance in livestock and crop production by understanding that livestock just like soils need to be healthy to be productive,” said Dube. “In this regard the integrated crop and livestock technologies such as the growing and use of legume fodder crops is critical given the rising demand for livestock products and the significant contribution of livestock to the economy.”
“The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible.”
Exclusive interview with Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, The Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), The Netherlands. Harald is organising a TCX Risk Mitigation workshop during the F&I Forum at African Utility Week, taking place in Cape Town from 16-18 May, and will address attendees on “Understanding of risks and their pricing – how can the supply of long-term local currency financing and hedging be improved?“
1) Let’s start with some background about your respective organisations and your role there?
TCX is a unique global provider of innovative currency hedging solutions. We have a very strong development focus and over the past 10 years we have protected millions of borrowers in frontier and emerging markets from the horrible financial consequences on their firm and household budgets from sudden exchange rate depreciations. I am working very closely with our CEO to develop new strategic initiatives to promote local currency financing, both within the domestic financial system as well as cross border from DFIs or private investors.
2) What is the most exciting project you have worked on in Africa so far?
The solar off-grid grid space is fascinating. Like telecom it is an example where development and private interests are fully compatible. Mobile banking applications have created new credit channels and even the poorest can now build a credit history and gradually accumulate assets. However, the gap between the local currency receivables and the hard-currency funding of the sector are still an Achilles heel. TCX is working with the leading firms, such as M-KOPA, and industry associations like GOGLA to reduce such systemic risks. These firms should be financed in local currencies, or if that is not possible, reduce the fx mismatch.
3) What did you learn from the investments that did not do so well?
Well, TCX does not provide funding. We are providing risk management tools like swaps and forwards to all kind of investment projects around the world. Like with any other type of insurance provider, having losses is part of our business. Our losses protect our clients. For example, we lost more than US$40m in one day when the Central Bank of Azerbaijan could not defend its peg anymore, but that probably saved thousands of local firms and borrowers from heavy financial difficulties.
4) What in your view is the biggest misconception that people have about investing in Africa? And about renewable energy?
I think there is too much fear about the uncertainty of some renewable business models which drive up credit spreads. For example, solar technology is well tested now, project implementation risks are low in many countries, and pay as you go schemes work with low default rates. Bankers do not yet fully appreciate this. More needs to be done to share performance information of existing firms and train bankers and investment officers. An industry association like GOGLA is well placed to make progress in this and we at TCX would certainly like to contribute.
5) Which countries on the continent are doing the right things? Where are the opportunities?
Many countries have understood that a stable and modern regulatory, legal, and judiciary environment combined with stable macro-economic policies are critical for development, especially for capital intensive sectors. We must do more in standardization of contracts and processes across Africa, learning from more advanced countries. Africa is in the unique position to leapfrog, or as some of my African friends say, to jump like an antelope across older technologies. Let us mobilize the solar and fintec entrepreneurs and empower then to find new solutions for the benefits of all. I hope that vested interests and stranded assets will not be allowed to stand in the way of new and better technologies.
6) You are organising the TCX Risk Mitigation workshop in the F&I Forum at African Utility Week this year. What will be your message to attendees and what can they expect of this workshop?
Do not speculate! Entrepreneurs should strive to only accept those risks in their business model which they are able to somehow control and manage. For example, project implementation risks, supply risks. Risks which they cannot influence should be insured and the insurance costs made part of the cost envelop. FX risk, which manly consists of market fluctuation and in-convertibility risks, is one of those risks, which should be eliminated from the business model. Otherwise, an otherwise healthy firm and its customers and funders can suffer huge losses, because of events which lie completely out of their control. Think of the copper price in Zambia, or the Tuna bonds in Mozambique. We still need to make a lot of efforts in awareness building and deepen the understanding how modern financial instruments like those offered by TCX can help. The Risk Mitigation workshop at African Utility Week is an opportunity to make progress.
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Delegates at the scientific workshop organized jointly by the Al Watania Poultry Institute of Technology (WIT) and Cobb for the Saudi poultry industry
Media and Website by Alex Hitzemann email@example.com
More than 40 trainees took part in the first scientific workshop organized jointly by the Al Watania Poultry Institute of Technology (WIT) and Cobb-Vantress for the Saudi poultry industry.
During the three-day event Cobb specialists from Europe and Brazil shared their experience with the trainees on poultry breeding, management of broiler breeders and broilers, health and vaccination, ventilation in hot climates and nutrition.
“The participants greatly appreciated the efforts of Cobb,” said Dr Shakeel Ahmad, head of the institute. “They found the training sessions very useful in complementing their poultry knowledge and skills. They would like such training programs and workshops to be conducted regularly to benefit the poultry industry of Saudi Arabia.”
Hosam Amro, Cobb senior technical service manager in the region, stated: “The business partnership between Cobb and the Al Watania Poultry Company, not only in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but in the region, is one of the most solid relationships in the Middle East.
“Since 1998 Cobb has been working closely with Al Watania to provide the best genetics to meet the growing market demand for fresh whole bird birds and cut-up products. Participating in the WIT training programme is another area of business development where Cobb and Al Watania are working closely together to benefit the future of the local industry.”
Matthew Wilson, Cobb technical services director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, added: “WIT is a unique facility not only in the Middle East region but globally, combining both scientific poultry training with practical experience in its training facility.
“It’s an honor for the Cobb technical team to support WIT in training the next generation of poultry specialists. There is no greater contribution you can make to your fellow citizens than providing healthy, affordable and sustainable protein. Cobb is the global leader in poultry genetics while Al Watania is the leading producer of sustainable poultry production in the Middle East, and together our partnership goes from strength to strength.”
Participants at the workshop included trainees from the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture & Water, and the Gassim Veterinary School.
– The Al Watania Poultry Institute of Technology was established in 2014 to promote education and skills in the poultry industry in Saudi Arabia, with the first intake of students in 2015. At present more than 120 are receiving training at the institute, which is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories, hatchery and farms to provide hands-on tuition. Cobb joined hands with WIT in 2016 to provide practical training at its European and US production facilities, and in July the first eight WIT trainees gained first-hand experience there.
Cobb-Vantress, Inc. is a poultry research and development company engaged in the production improvement and sale of broiler breeding stock. Cobb is the world’s oldest pedigree broiler breeding company. Founded in 1916, Cobb has grown into one of the world’s leading suppliers of broiler breeding stock with distribution into over 120 countries. Cobb has contributed to the dynamic efficiency and growth of an industry that has transformed chicken into an economically affordable healthy protein source for many of the over seven billion people in the world.
Article by Kingsley Egbo, a Commonwealth Scholar writes from the UK - Image Source: www.tekedia.com
It has been a remarkably year, 2016, with its attendant successes and failures for peoples, industries and nations. More remarkably, it has been a year of great technological strides and achievements with technologies that provided avenues to solving big problems and opening up opportunities, ranging from self-driving cars to Advanced Robotics, Improved Data Science, Genomics, Improved Solar energy technologies etc.
Agricultural stakeholders and technology enthusiasts in Africa also witnessed the introduction of the Zenvus Technology, a unique innovation from a team of highly talented individuals led by Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe driven to exploit the ever burgeoning power of technology and science to revolutionize farming output efficiency and productivity in Africa.
“Zenvus is an intelligent solution for farms that uses proprietary electronics sensors to collect soil data like moisture, nutrients, pH etc and send them to a cloud server via GSM, satellite or Wifi. Algorithms in the server analyze the data and advice farmers on farming. As the crops grow, the system deploys special cameras to build vegetative health to help detection of drought stress, pests and diseases. The data generated is aggregated, anonymized and made available via subscription for agro-lending, agro-insurance, commodity trading to banks, insurers and investors”, Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe.
The Zenvus technology among other things would allow farmers and stakeholders make informed decisions by providing real time data for the farmers and stakeholders thus eliminating guesses on timing, procedure and crops for farming. Indeed, as the American Data Scientist W. Edward Feming quipped , “Without data, you are just another person with an opinion” we have long continued to rely on opinions and poor forecast to make decisions on Agricultural investments and this has taken a toll on agricultural yield. The technology also provides data analytics that relate information on possible outbreak of pests and diseases in farms which usually reduces yield, allowing farmers to initiate preventive measures.
This is a timely innovation for an industry that has been tipped to boost many economies in Africa with many African leaders pledging commitment towards Agriculture in the present and future. It is a peerless stride in an industry seldom associated with innovation in Africa. However, as continuous push is being made for a deeper penetration of mechanized farming in Africa, it is necessary to remind ourselves that Agriculture has remained an industry driven by innovation and technology in the developed societies. Agricultural yields have been maximized through innovation, technology and science as demonstrated by countries like Israel. In the economic account of Israel in their phenomenal book, Start-up Nation, the authors recounted that President Shimon Peres had asserted that Agriculture is ninety-five percent science and five percent work. This drove his underlying commitment for innovation in Agriculture which saw Israel increase its agricultural yield seventeen times within twenty-five years.
The promise of this innovation is apparent and its impact is scalable and measurable. Little wonder that within months of its introduction, the technology was a finalist of the 2016 Singularity University Food Grand Challenge and have been featured in many leading technology reviews. The technology has also recorded noteworthy milestones within the last 6 months of launch, such as a grant support from Facebook to develop the artificial intelligence which will power farming decision making via Zenvus Bot which is on beta at the moment.
The technology has also been quickly adopted by leading Agricultural stakeholders and policy proponent in Africa. For instance, Zenvus will begin piloting its technology for African Development Bank which wants to deploy it across all farms it is providing funding. The Bank of Agriculture, Nigeria is also adopting Zenvus as the technology platform to drive agricultural innovation in Nigeria. More recently, Zenvus have signed a contract with an African farm union to support 12.2 million farmers from 2017.
Nonetheless, more commitment would be required by the government and its attendant social institutions across Africa towards delivering needed incentives that can encourage and support more farmers in integrating this technology to increase crop yield.
As Professor Joel Mokyr noted in his book, The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress.
…to encourage technological creativity and innovation in a society, …three conditions have to be satisfied,… there has to be a core group of ingenious and resourceful innovators who are both willing and able to challenge their physical environment for their improvement,… Secondly, economic and social institutions have to encourage these potential innovators by providing the right incentive structure and thirdly such society most encourage diversity and tolerance.
The team at Zenvus technology has done an exceptional job in developing this technology; it would be great if such technological creativity comes under the aegis of the governments and agricultural stakeholders in Africa who can devote resources towards scaling this technology for farmers because of the positive impact on farm productivity accruable to this technology. This could hold the key to more productive farming in Africa from 2017 going forward.
Kingsley Egbo, a Commonwealth Scholar writes from the UK
Digital Media for Africa Agribusiness Magazine by Alex Hitzemann
A woman is trained on women
and girls empowerment to
educate her village on equality
Women dressed in vibrant African fabric are sprinkled across fields of tea, coffee and banana trees. This is Tanzania, and these women are the caretakers of the land – and of their families. And yet, for women like Isabella Mwile, hard work in the field and raising children doesn’t necessarily make her a partner at home. Traditionally in Tanzania, men are the decision makers. However, in Isabella’s village of Mbaka, in Rungwe district, these traditions are changing.
In January 2015, leaders of Mbaka village acknowledged Isabella’s leadership qualities and selected her to attend an Innovations in Gender Equality (IGE) training-of-trainers course on women’s’ and girls’ leadership in agriculture. With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Land O’Lakes International Development, the IGE program facilitated this session with the goal of improving community members’ knowledge and understanding of issues that are critical for women’s empowerment in Tanzania.
During the three-day training, Isabella learned about the benefits of expanding a women’s role inside and outside of the home. Like how two heads are better than one when it comes to decision making on raising children or household finances. And how important it is to raise boys and girls equally. She also
learned about how much value a woman can bring to a community organization or government position.
I was most surprised by the fact that I could be independent from my husband. I realized that I could contribute to our household income by starting my own business of selling cereals, rice and beans,” says Isabella. She went home to share what she learned with her husband. He was supportive. In fact, he was proud of her new found confidence and relieved to have a second opinion, and a second income.
Since 2012, IGE has trained 443 people like Isabella to become trainers of women’s empowerment and gender equality in their communities. And, over 3,900 women and 1500 men have joined groups to learn about the important role women can play in their homes and communities.
After her training, Isabella formed the Upendo group to share what she learned. For the last two years, they have been meeting every Thursday to discuss how they are incorporating the lessons of gender equity into their lives.
One woman joined the school board and plans to run for district office next year. A few women share about the benefits of joint household decision making. One woman speaks about how her son and daughter now have equal access to education – and are doing the same household chores. Several women have been empowered to start their own business. And one woman, a widow, is now confident to fix up the house, taking charge of repair projects that her husband used to see to. The stories
vary, but each has a common theme. As Isabella puts it, “Our confidence is growing. We are helping each other improve and take care of ourselves. We no longer depend only on our spouses.”
Since the first meeting in 2015, Isabella’s group has grown from 20 to 50 members – including both women and men. “Neighboring communities are taking notice, they admire us and want to join. Our women members are known for our matching skirts! We have applications for 10 more members,” she says. Attendance is 5,000 Tanzanian shillings (2.50 USD) a week – and the money goes to a group loan system. Members can take out loans to buy supplies for their farm, or to provide temporary support to support one another during family emergencies.
As their weekly meeting ends, the women and men of Upendo joyfully sing a hope for their future in Kiswahili, “Waking mama tusonge mbele, tusirudi nyumbo…” In English, this means, “Mothers let us move forward, we should not go back…” Thanks to people like Isabella, Mbaka is making progress.
“I was most surprised by the fact that I could be independent from my husband. I realized that I could contribute to our household income by starting my own business of selling cereals, rice and beans.”
“The success of a project like this is dependable on the support of sophisticated packaging and marketing channels that is fortunately available on our farms” says Gerrit. The farms supply all technical support ranging from establishment to computerized irrigation of the orchards. The project is finalized by the Department of Land Affairs and Industry Development.
ALG Estates manages their whole citrus supply line from the orchard to the retailer. This provides work for 120 full-time employers and a further 800 seasonal workers for 8 months of the year.
By Alex Hitzemann
Currently, South Africa’s racially selective Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy utilizes a points system to award economic advantages to businesses with a significant percentage of black ownership and/or management. The policy has gone through several major revisions and has been a flash-point for debate in South African political theater. Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) projects in the South African agricultural sector have an alarmingly high failure rate.
However, a BEE citrus project in the Upper Olifants River Valley near Citrusdal in the Western Cape has proved to be an exception. Cedar Citrus started in 1999 due to unique co-operation between 32 of ALG Estate’s farm laborers, where every individual received his own share of Citrus land. ALG Estates is a family operation of 6 farms producing some 18,000 tons of citrus a year mostly for the export market.
In the first year more than 24,000 trees were planted by Cedar Citrus and a further 12,000 where planted in 2002. Cedar Citrus started making a profit in 2010. In 2012 it paid off its startup loan to the Industrial Development Council and is now expanding its operations with the purchase of additional farm land.
The Western Cape government awarded Cedar Citrus’ good performance over the years with a sprayer, 4 crate wagons, a trailer and recently this brand new John Deer tractor.
During 2015, the company exported 1,500 tons of citrus from their production unit of 36 hectares realizing a total turnover of R12 million for the year.
In their next move towards more financial independence the workers jointly decided to plough back their profits and extended their operations by purchasing additional farmland to plant more citrus for the export market. 92 hectares of additional farmland has therefore been purchased on which new citrus orchards will be established.
This of course was only made possible being part of a bigger organization such as ALG Estates. Their employer is an established citrus exporter. “Constant mentorship combined with in-house training and being part of an established value-adding export chain are the necessary ingredients for success in an operation such as this,” says Gerrit van der Merwe, CEO of ALG Estates.
“Cedar Citrus is managed as one of our production units that receives continual expert external advise from professional entomologists and horticulturalists that specialize in citrus management. This is essential for pest and disease control as well as general orchard health. We also handle all their admin such as HR, financial administration and record keeping. External chartered accountants audit the company annually.
Cedar Citrus directors Lena September and Dirk Dirks at a dam under construction which will supply irrigation water to their new 20 hectares citrus block.
“All 32 shareholders are furthermore employed in our various operations such as production, processing, packaging, marketing and general administration. Three of the shareholders occupy middle management positions while two are directors with executive powers. This ensures that they grow with our own operation and establish their own independence.
“Over the last few years the Cedar Citrus patch of 36 hectares coincidentally turned out to be the most lucrative of all the production units on our six farms. They produce mostly popular soft citrus varieties such as Morr and Orr as well as navels, which are exported to North America, Europe and sold locally to the Woolworths supermarket chain. We are especially pleased that the 32 shareholders of Cedar Citrus jointly decided to waive their profit payouts from the company and rather re-invest it in the expansion of their own operation,” says Van der Merwe.
Gerrit van der Merwe and his son Gerrit Junior who is in the process of taking over the reigns of this family-run operation going back some 250 years. The estate is the second biggest citrus producer and exporter in the Western Cape region of South Africa.
The first phase of the company’s extension on the newly acquired land will be to plant 20 hectares of new popular varieties for the export market. This necessitates infrastructure such as a farm shed, farm manager housing on site, electricity, drainage, water supply and a pump house to irrigate the new orchards. It takes five years for a newly established citrus orchard to get into full production and ten years to make a profit on the initial capital outlay. The Western Cape government awarded Cedar Citrus’ good performance over the years various rewards such as 4 crate wagons, a trailer, and recently a brand new John Deer tractor.
“Cedar Citrus is one of the best performing projects of its kind in South Africa and the envy of many farmers country-wide. Not only is the project a financial success, richly compensating the beneficiaries, but a very good example of how BEE schemes should be implemented and managed in South Africa. Congratulations to Gerrit and his team at ALG Estates on this beautiful project,” says Charl Senekal, the country’s largest private sugar producer and chairman of Pro-Agri Forum the exclusive club of former South African winners of the Farmer of the Year Award.
Anthony Penderis on behalf of ALG Estates produced this report. Some portions were edited for publication in Africa Agribusiness Magazine by Alex Hitzemann
Gerrit van der Merwe: 082 569 8787; firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Penderis: 084 306 0331; email@example.com
Zambia's president, Edgar Lungu, has pledged to support to the agriculture sector by improving the provision of farming inputs and finding new markets for farming products.
By Nawa Mutumweno
Of all Zambia’s economic sectors, agriculture holds more promise than any other in the country’s march to economic diversification.
Since mining, the country’s prime industry, is a wasting asset, it is important more than ever before, to explore sectors that are sustainable to wean the country from the copper spoon it was born with.
Zambia’s has 40 percent of the water resources of the entire southern African region. Of the 58 percent arable land, only 14 percent is currently cultivated. In real terms, this means that of 42 million hectares, only 1.5 million hectares is farmed each year.
The agricultural sector employs 85 percent of the population and makes up around 20 percent of overall gross domestic product (GDP).
Food processing represents an outstanding investment opportunity in Zambia due to vast natural resources, extensive arable land, ample water and investment incentives and many joint-venture options.
The Zambia Association of Manufacturing (ZAM), says despite its strong performance, the country’s food-processing industry has achieved only around one-quarter of its capacity and potential so far.
‘’There are vast opportunities for more investments in most sub-sectors of Zambia’s food-processing industry, for both small-scale and large-scale projects,’’ ZAM says.
High potential sub-sectors encompass growing and processing oil seeds; downstream processing of meat and dairy products; producing palm oil; manufacturing soy-based food products; million wheat, rice and maize to produce flour; producing juices, carbonated drinks, beer and other beverages; processing groundnuts; producing ketchup and other tomato-based products; roasting and grinding coffee beans; processing cassava, pineapple, mangoes and sugar cane; producing dried fruit and processing fish to exploit Zambia’s vast fish resources.
Other investment opportunities include producing tinned foods, confectionery, bread products, honey and cheese.
One example of potential food –processing projects in Zambia is COMESA’s Regional Investment Agency (RIA) promotion of a greenfield project to build pineapple –canning factories in the north-western part of the country
Mwinilunga district in the province has been ranked as Zambia’s best location for pineapple production. In the 1990s, a pineapple processing facility in the area produced around 11,368 tonnes
from 1,421 hectares of pineapple plantations. The facility was later closed down. The planned new plant is expected to produce about 12,000 tonnes of processed pineapple per annum.
In diversification away from maize, one of the sub-sectors which is being promoted is aquaculture. In August 2015, the Government launched a $10 million privately-owned fish farm, Yalelo. The firm, located on the shores of Lake Kariba in southern Zambia, already produces 6,000kg of tilapia daily.
In a deliberate effort to increase domestic fish production, the Government is encouraging private investment.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) recently received $400,000 to support the growth of the leather sub-sector in Zambia and three other member countries.
Zambia has the potential to grow its leather value chain to half a billion dollars a year if all hides are transformed into finished products. The state has also agreed to waive taxes on leather production machines and equipment to further enhance growth.
Farm Block Development
In a bid to grow the agriculture sector, Government is developing the Farm Block Development Programme with vast opportunities for investors. Ten farming blocks have been identified (one in each province).
‘’The Nansanga Farming Block in Serenje, central Zambia, is the most advanced, with roads constructed and power connected. We have already allocated pieces of land to small-scale and commercial farmers. We are in the process of awarding 10 000 hectares of land to what is referred to as a core venture,’’ Minister of Agriculture, Given Lubinda said.
Zambia’s future indeed lies in agriculture and President Lungu’s administration has emphasized its determination to pursue an agriculture-led economy through the rolling out of irrigation schemes and other innovations throughout the country.
Speaking during the launch of the construction of the $28 million Mwomboshi Irrigation Dam in Chisamba, central Zambia recently, President Lungu reiterated his commitment to diversifying the agricultural sector.
‘’The construction of this dam gives a practical expression of my Government’s resolve to put agriculture at the centre of our economy. Irrigation farming is an act of diversifying the sector away from rain-fed agriculture, President Lungu said.
Currently, the construction of dams is underway in Lusitu (Chirundu) and Musakashi in Mufulira district.
‘’We aim to have over 75,000 hectares by 2030. To achieve this, Government will ensure adequate funds for irrigation development annually. Currently, K56.7 million has been set aside for irrigation in the 2016 national budget,’’ he pointed out.
Key players in Zambian agribusiness
These include, inter alia, Zambeef Products, Zambia Sugar and the Zambia Breweries Group, a subsidiary of South African giant SABMiller, one of the world’s largest beer manufacturers.
Zambia must take action to invest in industrialization in order to be competitive and take advantage of the business opportunities in the region, Zambeef Joint Chief Executive Officer Dr Carl Irwin told delegates at the fifth Zambian International Investment Forum (ZIIF) this week.
“Zambeef strongly believes in Zambia’s potential to feed itself and the region given its abundant resources; good soils, climate, readily available as well as the ability to produce most crops given the right investment. But only in adding value to our produce can we fully realise the sector’s full potential,” said Dr Irwin, who was speaking at the opening of the high-level conference, which was officially launched by H.E. the President, on. Edgar Chagwa Lungu and attended by Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe.
Dr Irwin highlighted some of the benefits of focusing on value adding operations and the opportunities presented for the national economy; increased national food security, social development in rural areas, job creation, and tax and duty generated as result.
Zambeef alone has generated US$220 million in revenue for the financial year 2015 and US$38 million of foreign exchange income for the nation; invested more than US$150 million in the last eight years; employed more than 6,000 staff and contributed US$18 million in tax and duty paid to the Zambian government
Margins in both the regional and EU export markets are expected to remain under pressure from surplus sugar stocks on the world market. Realization in these markets will continue to be influenced by exchange rate movements.
Zambian Breweries and National Breweries are among the largest buyers of maize, barley, cassava and sorghum in the country.
The group purchases a significant quantity of raw materials locally. A total of 40,000 tonnes of maize is bought from small-scale farmers for use in the production of opaque and clear beer.
The group has engaged close to commercial farmers in the growing of barley, with a planned annual uptake of 12,,000 tonnes. In 2015, two small-scale barley outgrower pilot programmes have been introduce with a view to further expansion
More than 10,000 tonnes of sugar were consumed towards the manufacture of non-alcoholic drinks.
A further 1,750 tonnes of sorghum was used in the production of its affordable Eagle lager, with a direct impact on 3,500 households in the year to March 31, 2015.
From 2015, the company introduced cassava into its Eagle lager formula. It is now developing an end-to-end supply chain supporting small-scale farmers in Northern and Luapula provinces, and with innovative technology will deliver a high quality, affordable clear beer that will grow to become a leading brand within the company’s portfolio.
Zambia’s agriculture is on the rise and is changing many lives in various corners of the country.
As the Ministry of Agriculture rightfully acknowledged: ‘’Agriculture is the only sector that assuredly alleviates poverty in the country. The focus is to grow this industry that is the future of the country.’’
Walki’s new mulch product, Agripap, is the only solution on the market that is entirely biodegradable.
Walki has developed a new fibre-based soil mulching solution that is completely biodegradable. This organic mulch type, which is used for weed control and to optimise soil conditions and crop yield, is the first of its kind on the market.
Tests have shown that Walki’s Agripap is not only easy to lay on the fields and delivers excellent weed control, but also offers benefits in terms of yield and durability. © Walki
Walki, a leading global producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials, has developed the first-ever organic mulching solution that is based on natural biodegradable fibres instead of plastic. Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil. It is designed to conserve moisture, improve the fertility and health of the soil and control weed growth. Soil mulching also reduces the need for pesticides, fertilisers and irrigation.
Traditionally, soil mulching materials have been made from plastic, and, most typically, from polyethylene film. While effective, plastic mulch is not biodegradable and eventually becomes waste material that has to be removed from the field and dumped or recycled at a high cost.
It is estimated that more than a million tonnes of plastic films are used for mulching every year around the world. In addition to having to be collected from the fields, the mulch often leaves behind plastic residues, which pollute the soil and reduce its future growth potential. Yields from polluted soil are typically up to 20 per cent lower than those from non-polluted soil.
“Walki’s Agripap solution is the only organic mulch type on the market that is made from paper instead of plastic. It is entirely biodegradable, does not contribute to plastic pollution and, instead, simply dissolves into the soil. It also reduces the need for the chemicals used to control weed growth,” says Walki’s Vice President Technical Products, Sales & Marketing, Arno Wolff.
Walki®Agripap is made from kraft paper that is coated with a biodegradable coating layer, which slows down the degradation of the paper. Without the coating, the paper would degrade in the soil within a few weeks.
Walki’s new organic mulching solution has been the subject of extensive field-testing in Finland. The tests, which were carried out in 2016 by independent research institute Luke Piikkiö, compared the performance of different biodegradable mulches for growing iceberg lettuce and seedling onions. The tests demonstrated that Walki’s Agripap was easy to lay on the fields and delivered excellent weed control. The results in terms of yield and durability were also good.
“Having seen the kind of environmental impact that plastic film can have on the soil, Walki has understood that there is a need for a more sustainable mulching solution. Walki®Agripap is the perfect alternative for the farmers who care about our environment,” says Peter Martin, Technical Service & Development Director, Industrial Packaging.
Following the successful testing and approval of Agripap in Finland and Sweden, the next step will be to complete testing in Europe’s main mulching markets: Spain, France and Italy. Farmers and equipment manufacturers wishing to participate in testing Walki’s new organic mulching solution are encouraged to get in touch with Arno Wolff.
For more information, please contact:
Vice President Technical Products, Sales & Marketing
Tel. +49 170 31 9140
Walki in brief
Walki Group is a leading producer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials, specializing in the production of fibre based, intelligent, multilaminate products for markets ranging from energy saving construction facings and construction membranes to barrier packaging applications. The Group has plants in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, the UK, Russia and China with a workforce of about 900 people. Annual net sales for the Group are over 300 million Euros.
Africa Agribusiness Magazine Media by Alex Hitzemann
“External bull intervention and entrepreneurs revive Zimbabwe´s troubled livestock head”
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.
Newly 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Airtight metal storage silos are helping African farmers prevent aflatoxin contamination of staples like maize
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
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.
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.
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