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News Brief: Week of November 12, 2012

News Topics


Foreign Assistance
U.S. Food Program Marks Progress Helping Farmers, Children , 10 November 2012, Equities - The United States' global food security program Feed the Future has helped 1.8 million food producers adopt improved technologies or management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields and increased incomes, according to the program's first progress report. Led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Feed the Future brings together the private sector, nonprofit groups, women's cooperatives and local communities to support new approaches to advance global food security. Feed the Future aims to reduce poverty by 20 percent and stunted children under 5 years old by 20 percent in its 20 focus countries. READ MORE
U.S. Envoy at UN on Agricultural Development, Food Security, 5 November 2012,  IIP Digital - Mr. Chairman, since the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009, UN Member States have brought increased attention to the issue of food security and nutrition and the nearly 1 billion people affected by hunger around the world. President Obama’s L’Aquila commitment of at least $3.5 billion to combat hunger over the course of three years has helped leverage and align more than $22 billion in commitments from other donors in support of a common approach to achieve sustainable food security. READ MORE

Boost for Tanzania’s Agriculture Sector, 26 October 2012, The Financial - The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved US$25 million to boost the productivity of Tanzania’s agriculture sector through timely delivery of seeds and fertilizer to 300,000 farmers, and additional financing of US$30 million to enable farmers to access the latest in agricultural knowledge, farm technology and irrigation infrastructure.  The funds will be provided by the International Development Association. READ MORE


USAID Launches Loan Partnership With South Sudan Private Banks, 2 November 2012, AllAfrica/ Sudan Tribune, JUBA - An agreement between private financial institutions and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has "unlocked $7 millions for lending" to South Sudanese farmers, the US embassy said in a press release on Friday. Representatives from Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity and Finance South Sudan sealed the agreement in August with USAID and Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The press statement did not detail how farmers will access the loans. READ MORE


Agricultural Policy
How Africa Could Feed the World, 6 November 2012, CNN - Images of starving children, epitomised in news coverage from Ethiopia in the 1980s, have given Africa a reputation for famine that does an injustice to the continent’s potential. It’s true that a recent report by three U.N. agencies said nearly 239 million in Africa are hungry, a figure some 20 million higher than four years ago. And recent crises in the Horn of Africa and Sahel certainly highlight the desperate uncertainties of food supply for millions – malnutrition still cuts deep scars into progress on health and education. But the Africa Progress Panel and many others believe that Africa has the potential not only to feed itself, but also to become a major food supplier for the rest of the world. READ MORE
Participants Discuss the Future of Smallholder Farmers As Entrepreneurs, 6 November 2012, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ADDIS ABABA - Over 500 private sector representatives, government officials, donors, civil society representatives, farmer organisations and academics have come together at “Making the Connection: Value Chains for Transforming Smallholder Agriculture”, an international conference that will discuss the future of agricultural value chains and how to incorporate smallholders in them to promote agricultural and rural development. READ MORE
Land-Grabbing's Global Threat, 1 November 2012, The Huffington Post - Food-producing communities from 150 countries came to share ideas and experiences at the Slow Food joint Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre event this week in Turin, northern Italy. Of the many food-related issues that were brought to the table at this extraordinary five-day event, one of the most pressing is land-grabbing. READ MORE
Land Reforms in Africa Top Agenda, 11 November 2012, Business Daily - Last month’s Eighth African Development Forum in Addis Ababa addressed one of Africa’s emerging concerns:- large-scale land-based investments. Land remains a crucial resource for development. It’s key to economic growth, food security and livelihoods in many jurisdictions. This is more so in Africa where most economies are agricultural and livestock-production driven. READ MORE
Growing Their Own Jobs? Agriculture, Unemployment and the Threat of a ‘Lost Generation’ of Rural Africans, 6 November 2012, Institute of Development Studies - Unemployment among young people in Africa is increasingly recognised as a first order development challenge. Coming on the heels of sustained investment in education and unprecedented but largely jobless economic growth, the possibility of a ‘lost generation’ of young people, for whom meaningful and rewarding work is little more than a mirage, poses a fundamental challenge to politicians, policy advocates, practitioners and development scholars alike. READ MORE

Agricultural Markets & Trade
Uganda: Agriculture Sector Grows By Three Percent, AllAfrica/The Independent, Kampala - Performance of the agriculture sector has improved from 0.9 percent in 2010/11 to 3 percent in 2011/12. The increase is attributed to the performance of all sub sectors. However, Minister Of Agriculture , Animal Industry And Fisheries , Tress Bucyanayandi said, " we have not achieved the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) 6 percent growth per annum target." READ MORE
Ghana’s Trouble With Chocolate, 9 November 2012, IFPRI - The production of cocoa—the basis of chocolate—has been a pillar of Ghana’s well-documented economic success. In fact, Ghana is currently the second largest cocoa producer in the world. However, recent challenges are making Ghanaians nervous. The world wants chocolate more than ever, and global demand for cocoa is up, but dryer weather is causing Ghana’s production to decline. In addition, there is concern that the recent discovery of off-shore oil reserves in the country–which may lead to higher exchange rates and land and labor prices—will threaten the competitiveness of the cocoa sector, hurting farmers. READ MORE
Kenya Sees 2013 Growth Rising on Strong Farms Output, 12 November  2012, Reuters, NAIROBI - Kenya's economy will grow 5.6 percent in 2013, outperforming this year's forecast of 5.1 percent, thanks to strong rains boosting farm output, the Finance Ministry said on Monday. In a budget review and outlook presentation, the ministry predicted GDP growth would pick up to 6.8 percent in fourth quarter 2012 from 6.4 percent in the third, helped by a rebound in agriculture, construction, wholesale and retail. READ MORE

Private Sector Investment
The 5th African Private Sector Forum Gets Underway, 8 November 2012, African Brains - The 3 day 5th African Private Sector Forum was launched today in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire with strategic aims to promote investment and trade through partnerships and joint ventures between the African Union Commission’s (AUC) Member States, the Middle East and the world at large in key sectors such as infrastructure development, transportation, telecommunication amongst others. READ MORE
Dar es Salaam Starts U.S. $10.62 Million Plan to Tackle Cassava Diseases, 10 November 2012, East African Business Week, DAR ES SALAAM - The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives to launch three new initiatives that will tackle deadly cassava diseases in eastern and southern Africa. The three new projects are aimed at supporting efforts to develop cassava varieties with resistance to Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). They also target to establish more sustainable seed systems to enable smallholder farmers’ better access to such varieties. The projects, with grants amounting to $10.62m were officially announced during a Cassava Value Chain event organized in Dar es Salaam recently. READ MORE
Cargill Invests in Mozambique Farmers, 12 November 2012, the Pig Site - Meat, food and agribusiness giant, Cargill is to invest $1.35 million in a three-year partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to provide support for the Bilibiza Agriculture Institute (IABil) in order to enhance and expand educational possibilities for farmers in northern Mozambique. The partnership which has been supported by Cargill’s businesses in Switzerland and Africa, will enable IABil, the only full secondary vocational school for agriculture in Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique, to improve its teaching capabilities and to reach more student farmers in the northern region. READ MORE
Agriterra Confirms First Half Has Started Well, 12 November 2012 Proactive Investors UK- Africa-focused food group Agriterra (LON:AGTA) said initial indications for the first half of the 2012/2013 financial year looked “extremely encouraging”. Chairman Phil Edmonds said: “Following periods of intensive investment over the past four years, the group has built a solid agricultural footprint in both Mozambique and Sierra Leone, and will benefit from a strong balance sheet moving forward, ensuring that we have all of the necessary resources to deliver on our growth objectives of building a significant pan-African agriculture business.” READ MORE

IBM Develops Plan to Help Moroccan Farmers Boost Skills, Production, 8 November 2012, - IBM experts participating in the company's pro bono Corporate Service Corps program have recommended a strategy to lift the productivity of Moroccan farmers. The plan focuses on improving coordination between the country's Ministry of Agriculture and the farming community, as well as improve internal coordination within the ministry.  Closer ties with farmers will enable the ministry to provide more timely advisories, training, and research results -- enabling farmers to modernize work techniques and improve their production quality and quantity. READ MORE

Capacity Building for Science and Technology

Africa Must Invest More in Research for Structural Transformation in Agriculture, 1 November 2012, African Development Bank Group - African leaders in the ongoing African Economic Conference are requested to invest selectively in policies that interest citizens in order to improve agriculture productivity. During a session titled “Agriculture, Markets and Development”, Melanie O’Gorman from the University of Winnipeg in Canada presented a paper arguing that despite the widespread diffusion of productivity-enhancing agricultural technologies the world over, agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa has typically stagnated. READ MORE
Soil Care, Fertiliser Trees Help African Farmers Grow Yields, 31 October 2012, AlertNet, RONGAI - Small farmers across sub-Saharan Africa are turning to simple, affordable techniques to increase harvests and help them cope with climate extremes - from growing trees on their land, to keeping their soils healthy and making their own fertiliser. READ MORE
China Opens First Agricultural Technology Training Course in Zimbabwe, Global Times, 16 October 2012 - China on Monday opened the first- ever training course on agricultural machinery and equipment in Zimbabwe as the first step to put into action the China-aid agricultural technology demonstration center. Officiating the opening ceremony, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanization and Irrigation Development, N. Masoka, said since the center was launched in April, the ministry has been waiting for this day that is marking the beginning of activities under this program. READ MORE
Hardier Cassava Offers Promise for Hungry Africa, 1 November 2012, Associated Press, IBADAN - From this field nestled among the lush rolling hills of Nigeria's southwest, the small plants rising out the hard red dirt appear fragile, easily crushed by weather or chance. Looks, however, are deceiving. These cassava plants will grow into a dense thicket of hard, bamboo-like shoots within a year, with roots so massive a single planted hectare can provide three tons of food. The plants survive fires, droughts and pestilence, while offering a vital food source for more than 500 million people living across sub-Saharan Africa. READ MORE



Poor Infrastructure Is Africa's Soft Underbelly, 25 October 2012,  Forbes - In one of Africa’s most ambitious investment decisions, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has unveiled a plan to spend $97 billion on infrastructure over the next three years to upgrade roads, ports, and transportation networks aimed at accessing coal and other minerals. READ MORE
ECOWAS Calls for Intensified Infrastructural Development in Member States, 11 November 2012, Ghana Business News - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has called on member states and other stakeholders to evolve a comprehensive and concerted action plan to advance the development of infrastructure in the region. READ MORE

Infrastructure Bond Should Fund Africa’s Growth, Urges ADB President, 7 November 2012, - Africa needs innovative financing that will require support from central banks to meet its $360 billion infrastructure needs over the next 30 years, according to Donald Kaberuka, the president of the African Development Bank (ADB). Kaberuka advocated the creation of an ‘infrastructure bond', which would be issued by the ADB and financed by central banks across the continent. If every institution invested 5% of its overseas reserves, he said, it would raise $22 billion, and help mobilise domestic capital markets. READ MORE