AFRICA - The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has announced a relief package of US$549 million in support of 14 countries most affected by the ongoing drought in Eastern and Southern Africa.
SOUTH AFRICA - The sugar industry is confident it can produce enough sugar to supply the local market in 2015-16 despite the severe drought in several sugar-growing regions, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday.
ZIMBABWE - Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chairperson Monica Chinamasa on Tuesday said Zimbabwe is likely to register a 20 percent decline in the golden leaf production this year due to the El Nino effect.
MALI - Mali, West Africa’s second-biggest rice producer behind Nigeria, forecasts output of 2.712 million tonnes of unprocessed paddy rice in the 2016/17 season, up nearly 11 percent from last season, a government document showed on Wednesday.
SOUTH AFRICA - The drought had caused losses of R16bn to the agricultural sector but the situation had improved since January because of better rainfall, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Tuesday.
ZAMBIA - NYIOMBO Investments Limited intends to import about 200,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser in readiness for the 2016/17 farming season.
GHANA - The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has recommended that fertiliser should be distributed to food crop farmers free of charge as it is being done for cocoa farmers.
The PFAG said even under the National Fertiliser Subsidy Programme (FSP), prices of fertiliser was still high for the farmers to buy.
“If we actually want to help farmers and to improve the sub-sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), then we should do it as we do for the cocoa farmers. Although the programme was targetted at small holder farmers, the large scale farmers are getting more than the small scale farmers,” the Programme Officer of the PFAG, Mr Charles Nyaaba, said in an interview with the Graphic business, following the launch of the 2016 FSP by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).
During the launch, the Minister of MoFA, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna, said the government was subsidising fertilisers at an average of 26 per cent from 21 per cent in previous years.
This means a bag of compound fertiliser would now cost GH¢85 instead of GH¢89 cedis and Uria is GH¢80 cedis against GH¢85 in 2015.
The FSP was initiated in 2008 by government to help farmers increase the rate of fertiliser use and increase production. Farmers paid only half of the cost of the input, as the government absorbed 50 per cent of the cost.
The PFAG has meanwhile commended government for the timely launch of the FSP for this year.
Mr Nyaaba said because of issues such as climate change, most food crop areas start planning from April onwards so if the FSP is launched in March and by April fertilisers are available in the various districts then it would address delays.
“This and the adoption of the use of organic fertiliser were some of the recommendations we gave government so it is also commendable that the MoFA intends to include organic fertilisers to the package this year because of the numerous benefits it offers crops and soil,” he said.
According to him, applying organic fertiliser was economical and that PFAG was considering building the capacity of farmers to produce their own organic manure over time.
Mr Nyaaba said there should be direct strategies targeted at women farmers since it is often difficult for them to compete with the men.
“After all they are in the majority of the small holder farmers and they do more of food crops and they need it most. We can reach out to them by providing specific allocations of say 40 per cent to women,” he said.
He was concerned that recruitment of extension officers had been put on hold for some years now and must be looked at since it was having an impact on the application of fertilsier.
The PFAG has said fertiliser was a key determinant of high crop yields, for that reason, as part of efforts to ensure the country becomes food secure, we should be interested in access of fertiliser by farmers.
It had on several platforms called for certain taxes to be dedicated to improving agricultural productivity, particularly the FSP, as getting sources of funding had always been a challenge.
The association said the country should be thinking of at least one per cent of the Export Development Agriculture Investment Fund (EDAIF) and the Annual Budget Fund Allocation (ABFA) to support FSP.
The MoFA has said this years FSP will be implemented through an electronic platform.
Since the introduction of the programme, the average rate of fertiliser application increased from eight kilogrammes per hectare in 2008 to 12 kilogrammes per hectare in 2015. This year, the programme seeks to make 15 kilogrammes of fertiliser available each to farmer.
Also government, for the 2016 cropping season, has targeted to subsidise 180,000 granular fertilisers at a cost of GH¢120 million and GH¢18 for organic fertilisers respectively.
IVORY COAST - Abundant rainfall in Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions will improve growing conditions for the April-September mid crop, farmers said on Monday.
SOUTH AFRICA - Brandy makers are working to revive interest in their product amid declining local consumption.
AFRICA - Three model pilot farms have been set up in Tanzania, Zambia and Congo, through an agreement between Egypt's Ministry of agriculture and the governments of the respective countries. The farms have areas ranging between 500 and 600 acres.
BOTSWANA - Lead Researcher at Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) professor Nnyaladzi Batisani says the current drought combined with volatility in global markets poses a serious challenge to the country’s food security.
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