NEW ONLINE TOOL EMPOWERS WEST AFRICAN FARMERS
The Fertilizer and Seed Recommendations for West Africa Map (FeSeRWAM) is an interactive, online, georeferenced platform that offers key technical, operational and site-specific agricultural input recommendations targeted at various potential users, particularly smallholder farmers in West Africa (CORAF, 17 September; Agri Digitale, 18 September). Dr Oumou Camara, IFDC Regional Director for North and West Africa, explains that “FeSeRWAM is a one-stop online tool that will provide key site-specific technical information on improved seeds, appropriate fertiliser blends and good agricultural practices”. It is an initiative of the Feed the Future Enhancing Growth through Regional Agricultural Input Systems (EnGRAIS) and Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development (PAIRED) programmes, implemented by the International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), respectively, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
FLOODS RAVAGE WEST AFRICA
In September, several African countries were severely affected by floods (CommodAfrica, 18 September). In Niger, nearly 7,000 hectares of dune crops and 3,082 hectares of irrigated crops were submerged by the waters, affecting nearly 50,000 households. In Côte d’Ivoire in July, the UN reported that 8,256 people were affected by the disaster, destroying their basic necessities and food. In Nigeria, the UN counted more than 2,000 people affected by the floods at the beginning of August. In Senegal, the rains were the heaviest in recent history, with record levels. The north and south of the country experienced severe difficulties. In Togo, heavy rains affected the northern region of the country, with hundreds of hectares flooded and forced replanting in some places. Togo has already suffered such storms in the past, and will join the African Risk Capacity (ARC) to protect its agriculture against natural disasters. In 2018, in response to floods, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) inaugurated the creation of a fourth lake around Lomé. In Burkina Faso the government declared a state of national emergency on 9 September. Since April 2020, floods and storms have affected 71 000 people in the country. In Mali, hundreds of hectares of fields have been flooded, including agricultural crops in parts of the country. Between May and September, 52,495 people were affected in the country; 2,728 houses and 7,030 tonnes of cereals have already been destroyed.
Burkina Sat-1 at the service of farmers
The government authorities are planning to create Burkina Faso’s first satellite, named Burkina Sat-1 (CommodAfrica, 11 September). The ground station was installed in August at the Norbert Zongo University in Koudougou (about 100 km from Ouagadougou). It will enable the reception of data useful to improve knowledge of drinking water and agriculture. The collection of rainfall data should strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change. The satellite will identify unexploited water resources, and detect water points and biomass for agro-pastoralists. This information will make it possible to calculate the evolution of the country’s vegetation cover and to combat desertification. This project will have an impact on food security and the prevention of natural disasters.
Ouagadougou, African capital of cold
At the end of September, African players in the refrigeration sector met in Burkina Faso for the constitutive General Assembly of the Union of African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Associations (U-3ARC), with the theme “Refrigeration, the key to sustainable development” (Commodafrica, 25 September). Mr Madi Sakandé is the first president, and also an expert in refrigeration and air conditioning at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The new organisation wants to put refrigeration at the centre of sustainable development issues. The cold chain is one of the major potential solutions for ensuring food self-sufficiency in Africa. U-3ARC has 29 member countries, including 10 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo).
Support for women entrepreneurs
In mid-September the Minister of SMEs announced financial support of CFAF 50 million (about €76,000) in 2021 for the Groupement des Femmes d’Affaires du Cameroun (GFAC) (Invest in Cameroon, 16 September). The objective is to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Cameroon, which has begun moving out of the informal sector. The National Institute of Statistics reports that about 8 out of 10 women entrepreneurs work in the informal sector and earn on average half as much as men. Women entrepreneurs create few jobs: 5% of women entrepreneurs use a paid workforce of more than 10 people, while 40% operate without any paid staff.
200,000 tons of onions in 2020
The Ministry of Economy has signed a financing agreement (CFAF 28.5 billion) with the International Development Fund (IFAD) for the implementation of the 2nd phase of a project to support the development of agricultural sectors (Padfa II) (Invest in Cameroon, 29 September). This new phase will focus, among others, on onion production. The production forecast is 200,000 tons in 2020 (compared with 140,000 tons in 2013). Family farms located in the far north, north, north-west and west zones of the project will receive certified seeds. The expected results of this new phase of the programme are improved conservation, processing and marketing of production, strengthening the resilience and technical and organisational capacities of producers in the target sector, and the improving the nutritional situation of households.
USAID starts new agricultural extension programme in Nigeria
An extension and advisory programme, “Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension & Advisory Services” (US$15.6 million, 2020–2025), has just been launched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and Winrock International, a global provider of agricultural solutions (Commodafrica, 25 September). It is intended to inform small-scale farmers about best practices and resources, and to produce more food to meet local demand. The programme will involve 2 million small-scale farmers in seven states (Benue, Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Cross River, Delta and Ebonyi) and will cover five major sectors: maize, rice, soya, cowpea and aquaculture. It will be implemented in three phases and will enable 280 SMEs to provide extension services to small producers.