AGRF : Great debate on AATM report
During the 10th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) organised by AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) in September, a big debate took place around the Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM) 2020 report (Agri Digitale, 13 September). Dr Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairman of AKADEMIYA 2063, noted that “Africa is now exporting value-added products and is developing in the processed export segment. Africa is still a net importer and accounts for 10% of world agricultural production but only 5% of world agricultural trade.” Africa’s competitiveness on world markets is hampered by internal factors, with regulatory and administrative barriers within African countries also affecting intra-African trade. Trade between African countries accounts for only 16% of total African trade, while Africa’s trade with China and Europe accounts for 54%. James Duddridge, UK Minister for Africa, highlighted the effects of the Covid-19 health crisis on health and food security, the impacts of policies of border closures, import bans and increased border taxes that have restricted the movement of food. Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noted “the wastefulness of the food system related to production, storage, transport, processing, distribution and consumption resulting in a loss of income of US$800 billion”. She called for the development of inter-African trade, but noted that “trade within Africa is 63% more expensive”. Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said that “intra-regional trade is constrained in its costs by a multiplicity of currencies – 42 in total.” He added that “a pan-African payment and settlement system has been designed to enable Africans to pay for intra-regional trade in local currency”. Finally, the removal of non-tariff barriers within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will further reduce economic barriers to intra-African trade.
Enabel digitising Benin’s pineapple sector
Aiming to digitalise the pineapple sector in Benin, in September the Belgian Development Agency Enabel organised a hackathon – “P-digitech: Technological and digital innovations for a successful pineapple sector” (Commodafrica, 25 September). This competition pitted 20 projects against each other, and eight start-ups were selected. Enabel plans to use agricultural consulting and blockchain technology to improve the traceability of the sector, implementation of market information systems, support for microfinance institutions, and digitalisation of payments, among others. Digital training will be organised to ensure a good mastery of these technologies. Enabel organised the hackathon within the framework of its Programme for the development of entrepreneurship in the pineapple sector (Defia).
Kenya offers EAC partners seat in UK trade deal talks
Kenya has welcomed its neighbours in negotiating for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK for a duty and quota-free market (The Star, 23 September). The government said the two countries are committed to securing a trade agreement that encompasses the East African Community, should other partner states wish to come on board. The European Union says it will listen to Kenya’s proposal to move alone if the EAC fails to ratify the Economic Partnership Agreement as a bloc. “However, the UK and Kenya will not stand still and are working at pace to secure an agreement before the end of UK’s transition period with the EU at the end of the year,” said Trade Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina. Such an agreement would provide a transition mechanism for Kenya and enable other EAC partner states to join when they are ready to do so while negotiations continue. UK’s exit from EU has a timeline of December 31, and failure to have a trade deal will expose Kenyan exports to higher tariffs, as the EAC-EU EPA terms will not be applicable in UK. In January, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to negotiate an economic partnership agreement, to secure the interests of the two counties in future trade and investment.
Business picking up for Rwandan horticulture
Over the past few weeks business has been picking up for Rwandans in the horticulture sector (Fresh Plaza, 22 September), with the country recording a total of 305.6 tons of fresh produce in week 38. Rwanda’s horticulture sector has been steadily growing. Rwanda’s fresh products are branded under the “Rwandafresh” brand, and processed products are certified for current world quality industrial standards. According to a National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) statistical report (2018–2019) on the performance of the agri-exports sector, a total volume of 37,343 tons of horticultural produce were exported from Rwanda during the 2018–2019 fiscal year, as compared to 30,097 tons of horticultural produce exported during 2017–2018. Growth in horticultural export volumes from Rwanda was at 24%, which transformed to 16% increase in export revenues at US$27,174,785 in 2018–2019 compared to US$23,439,874 earned from horticultural exports during 2017–2018. According to taarifa.rw, horticultural export revenues (US$27,174,785) earned from vegetables, fruits and flowers during the 2018–2019 fiscal year represented a significant 5% of the total of US$465,405,334 earnings from agricultural exports. Vegetables contributed a significant percentage (57.5%) of horticulture export products, followed by fruit (30.9 %) and then flowers (11.6 %). The main vegetable products exported from Rwanda were cabbage, fresh tomato and tomato paste, onions, French beans, green pepper and chili pepper. The Democratic Republic of Congo was a leading destination where 72% of vegetables were exported, followed by Uganda (20%), UK (3%) and France (3%). Other export destinations of Rwandan vegetables included Burundi and China.
Vegetable traders should focus on Middle Eastern markets
The World Vegetable Center’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Gabriel Rugalema, says there is high demand in the transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia for a variety of vegetables, including cabbage, spinach and chard (Fresh Plaza, 22 September). According to Dr Rugalema, the Tanzanian Government has created an enabling environment for traders to export their produce overseas, urging them to utilise such an opportunity. He mentioned South Africa, Kenya and Ghana as countries whose economies depend on exports, mainly vegetables. “Tanzania has enough local experts to grow vegetables,” he said. “With greater government emphasis on horticulture, farmers can get seeds, inputs and the knowledge they need to produce vegetables and uplift their livelihoods.” He added that accessing affordable quality seeds was one of the major challenges facing vegetable farmers. The World Vegetable Center holds Africa’s largest collection of vegetable seeds, with more than 3,000 samples, including more than 2,400 samples of nutritious traditional African vegetables such as amaranth, spider plant, Ethiopian kale and African eggplant.
White wine from pineapples
Three young Togolese entrepreneurs have launched the production of good wine made from locally produced pineapples (Agridigitale, 7 October). According to the young promoters, the transformation of pineapple into white wine brings real added value to the pineapple processing sector in Togo. “We have been working hard on the quality of the finished product throughout 2019. It was finally in March 2020 that we finally achieved a first result. A wine without chemical additives and which is preserved in a natural way”, says Désiré Deklo, the group’s biologist. The entrepreneurs dream of going to scale and hope to be supported to develop their business. They are also developing a red wine from hibiscus flowers, which has also been on the market since 2019.
Cuba: Organic agriculture to increase national food production
The authorities have integrated into their strategy an increase in national food production in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic (Fructidor, 14 September). Organic agriculture spread throughout the country in the late 1980s and is now booming in both rural areas and cities. 75% of the population live in the big cities, and more than 707,000 gardens and nearly 147,000 suburban farms are part of the national movement to increase local family self-sufficiency and food production. Ms Elizabeth Pena, a researcher at the Ministry of Agriculture, says that “Cuba has allocated 8,362 hectares to the cultivation of fresh vegetables with organic practices; production reaches 1.2 million tons of vegetables per year in organic farms, including intensive gardens, greenhouses and high-tech farms.” The development of organic farming is based on scientific expertise and local knowledge. It also calls for a strong focus on seed production (2,200 cooperatives linked to the agro-ecological movement are involved), as well as soil fertility, environmental impact and agro-climatic conditions for the development of organic farming.
Jamaica: New mango orchards
Jamaican Minister of Agriculture Floyd Green has stated that several mango orchards will be established across the island (Fresh Plaza, 5 October). The project will be started in Clarendon next year, on a 1,000-acre plot. Tthe project will be in partnership with private investors to take advantage of the huge market in the United States for Jamaican mangoes. Farmers and other persons are encouraged to plant fruit trees on unused lands. The fruit trees are being distributed under the Ministry’s National Fruit Trees Programme, which is aimed at supporting food security and protecting the environment on a sustainable basis. Some 4,500 fruit trees will be distributed. The project is being executed in conjunction with the Jamaica Agricultural Society.
Fijian mango exports not affected by pandemic
Fiji’s mango exports have not been affected by the current pandemic, as the current demand is still high (FBC News, 1 October). With Fiji experiencing its mango season, growers have been supplying to exporters since July. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fiji supplies most of its mangoes to New Zealand but also exports to Australia, Canada and the USA. Approximately 15 to 20 tons of mangoes are exported in a week. Exporters buy these mangoes from growers in crates, one crate being roughly 23 kg. Fiji has five different varieties of mangoes: juicy mango, parrot mango, peach mango, Fiji mango, and hybrids.