Agriculture and evolution of COVID-19 in ACP countries news – Post date: October 13th, 2020.


According to the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Central African States, the six member countries of CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa) – Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon – are not expected to suffer serious consequences from the coronavirus health crisis (Invest in Cameroon, 1 October). In the third quarter of 2020, economic activity was marked by a recovery in almost all sectors of activity except for the hotel, transport and entertainment sectors. The GDP growth rate is expected to decline by only 3.1% in 2020, but will remain negative. The inflation rate is expected to reach 2.6%.


Projected growth in 2020

As at 30 June the State Budget estimates Benin’s economic growth rate at 2.3% in 2020 against an initial forecast of 7.6% (Commodafrica, 1 October). Sanitary measures to prevent the spread of the virus (physical distancing, closure of borders, etc.) have had an impact: “food products should record a slight increase of 1.9% in their production during the 2020/21 agricultural campaign”. A programme to revive the economy impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic has been put in place by the Beninese government, mobilising FCFA 200 billion ($357.8 million) from its development partners. This plan aims to support public and private sector enterprises, as well as artisans and vulnerable people.


Kenya targets 10% growth for horticulture exports

Kenya has developed a one-year marketing strategy for its horticulture products, with a 10% exports growth target in 2020/21 (The Star, 19 October). The campaign is being spearheaded by the Kenya Export Promotion & Branding Agency (KEPROBA) in collaboration with the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC-Kenya), Kenya Airways, and the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK). Export markets include the European Union, UK, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China and USA. This integrated marketing communication strategy between KEPROBA and the horticultural sector is the first of its kind and will work towards achieving a coordinated communication programme.

KEPROBA notes that the horticultural sector is among the top four foreign exchange earners for the country, and in 2019 the sector accounted for 19% of Kenya’s total exports. This was made up of floriculture at 11%, and fruit and vegetables at 4% each. Key export destinations included the Netherlands (KSh39.1 billion), UK (KSh23.9 billion), UAE (KSh5.7 billion), USA (KSh5.4 billion) and Germany (KSh5.2 billion). These leading five markets accounted for 13% of Kenya’s total exports and 72% of exports on horticulture.


New 3-year strategic plan for agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture has just announced the development of a three-year strategic plan to deal with problems of insolvency in the agricultural world and low bank liquidity (Commodafrica, 21 September). It promotes innovative financing initiatives based on public–private partnerships (risk-sharing investment schemes in agribusiness and financing models for rural SMEs). Through six programmes that are in their second phase of implementation, the authorities are seeking to increase the production of basic commodities (rice, cassava, oilseeds, beans and vegetables) and to develop agribusiness through the rubber, cassava, palm oil and rice sectors. In 2020, funds have been allocated to boost food production and rehabilitate more than 100 km of farm-to-market roads. Challenges include low private sector participation, lack of human resources in extension services (one advisor per 35,000 farmers), inadequate logistical support and lack of post-harvest processing units.


Food and fertiliser imports blocked

From the beginning of September, the Central Bank of Nigeria no longer grants foreign exchange for food and fertiliser imports (Commodafrica, 14 September). This decision is part of a policy that has been implemented for several years to stimulate local production and save foreign exchange. 41 products have restricted access to foreign exchange. Nigeria is facing a sharp rise in food prices (+12.82% last July) due to a sharp increase in basic foodstuffs (bread, cereals, edible oils, fish, yams, potatoes, meat, etc.). This is a consequence of the measures taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic (restrictions on movement, closure of borders with neighbouring countries). Inflation could reach 14.15% at the end of December according to the Central Bank. The low manufacturing capacity in relation to a growing demand for imported products is causing this surge in food prices, which could lead to a food crisis.


Reopening of borders in South Africa

In mid-September, 6 months after the introduction of strict containment, the South African authorities announced the reopening of the country’s international borders from 1 October (RFI, 17 September). However, some at-risk countries could find themselves on a red list, which is not yet fully defined. Travellers will also have to have taken a negative test 72 hours before their flight. Further restrictions were announced at the end of September: curfew between midnight and 4 am, and gatherings authorised subject to conditions: no more than 250 people indoors, 500 outdoors, and half the capacity of venue must not be exceeded.


Coronavirus: relations warming between Kenya and Tanzania

In mid-September the Tanzanian authorities lifted sanctions against four Kenyan airlines (Kenya Airways, Fly 540, Safarilik and AirKenya Express) (RFI, 17 September). From now on, Tanzanians travelling to Kenya no longer have to observe a quarantine period. These decisions put an end to a diplomatic crisis that has lasted for 2 months between Tanzania and Kenya because of restrictions taken to counter the spread of Covid-19.


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).


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.

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