Current Trade News

04 /09 / 2021 - Rwanda: New Hub to Connect Rwandan Women Entrepreneurs to Markets
The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Private Sector Federation (PSF) Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) on Thursday, September 2 launched a SheTrades Hub in Rwanda.
SheTrade is a global initiative under ITC that aims at connecting women entrepreneurs to markets, the hub's aim is to bolster the competitiveness and market access of Rwandan women-led businesses.
The new hub will join a network of more than ten SheTrades Hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of ITC said that through the SheTrades Hub, women-owned businesses and corporations in Rwanda will benefit from a wide range of opportunities to expand their business and advance women's economic empowerment.
"This will be done through networking with other businesses, learning about the export market through e-learning courses and webinars and participating in in-person workshops, trade fairs and other business events," she added.
Jeanne-Françoise Mubiligi, Chairperson of Rwanda Chamber of Women said that Hub will support Rwandan women entrepreneurs to improve their competitiveness, connect them to new markets and internationalize their businesses and maximize profitability.
"Launching this hub will help very many women whose small and medium businesses have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they will have an opportunity to continue their business operations, this launch could not have come at a better time," she added.
Sharon Akanyana, a member of SheTrade and business owner of a Kigali-based food processing company said that through the hub she was able to receive training on different business aspects, like marketing and how to digitalise her business and also get easy access to financial help, and many other opportunities.
"In addition, this hub will help support and reach out to younger generations of women entrepreneurs and help them grow and get more investment opportunities," she added.
Joy Murekatete, who owns a hospitality business that took a hit from the pandemic due to the closure and annulation of events, said that through the hub, her and many women owning similar businesses will be able to learn, access the financial help they need and be able to get their businesses up and running smoothly.
Beata Habyarimana, the Minister of Trade and Industry who officiated the launch said that the Government of Rwanda is committed to promoting women in all areas including entrepreneurship and the hub will give access to finance and information, and give them a platform for their businesses.
"Through these kinds of hubs, we can leverage businesses owned by women, and we will be able to align them and help them with the economic recovery they need," she added.
Habyarimana urged all the stakeholders and partners to advance and support women's economic empowerment because they greatly contribute to the country's economic development.
Source: The New Times
Despite the country registering a bumper maize harvest during last agricultural season there are fears that there could be a scarcity of the commodity in the near future and the parliamentary committee on agriculture has advised government to consider issuing a maize export ban.
Among others, the Committee cited the heightening rise of fertilizer prices as a factor that would affect the amount of maize produce in the next growing season.
"The country may have lower yields if rising fertilizer prices are not contained... and allowing people to export maize will expose the country to food shortage and rising prices," Sameer Suleman, parliamentary agriculture committee chairperson, said.
A recent Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) report shows that the number of people requiring relief food in the country stands at 1.5 million, about 43 percent lower than 2.6 million projected last year but it could worsen based on the prevailing indicators.
According to Suleman, the ban would be in the best interest of all Malawians and that it would be reasonable to suspend exportation of maize now until the country was sure of a surplus.
Grain Traders and Processors Association Chairperson, Grace Mijiga Mhango, advised government to purchase more produce through Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) and National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) before exporting.
"Government should not rely on maize in the hands of private sector players as some can informally export or hoard it at will," Mijiga-Mhango warned.
But trade minister, Sosten Gwengwe, said the food balance sheet informs that Malawi has achieved excess maize.
"People need to understand that if there are pockets of hunger in the country it means we will not be importing but we will use maize which is locally found," Gwengwe said.
Maize is a staple food for Malawi and the highest contributor to inflation's Consumer Price Index.
In the 2020-21 National Budget, the government allocated K12 billion to NFRA and ADMARC for maize purchases.
This year, maize production has been estimated at 4,581,524 metric tonnes (mt)-- compared to 3 785,712mt in the 2019-20 agriculture season.
Source: Nyasatimes.
China on Wednesday received the first consignment of dried chili pepper from Rwanda, making it the first African country to debut the product on the Chinese market.
The move follows a deal secured by Diego Twahirwa, a young Rwandan entrepreneur in agribusiness and China's GK International, located in Hunan Province.
Under the agreement, Rwanda will export 50,000 tonnes of dried chili, every year, for a period of five years.
"The imported 200 kg of dried chilies will be sold to dealers and then given to customers and food processing plants as samples," said Yu Jian, chairman of GK International in Hunan.
According to Twahirwa, the consignment delivered on Wednesday was a sample with a bigger one expected to be seen off on Monday, August 9.
This, experts say, is a good market opportunity for Rwanda in terms of expanding its steadily growing chili exports.
China has the world's largest number of dried chili pepper consumers, exporting 119,900 tonnes of dried chili peppers in the first half of 2021.
Across the Asian country, Hunan is a big consumer and processor of chili peppers across the country.
However, the pepper plantation in Hunan cannot meet the local demand from the dried chili pepper processing industry, according to reports.
Before imports from Rwanda, only seven countries were allowed to export dried chili peppers to China.
Last month, the General Administration of Customs gave the green light to dried chili pepper imports from Rwanda, making it the first African country to gain access to the lucrative market.
This is not the first time Rwanda exports dried chili to an international market.
The country has previously exported to India, a market exporter say has not been highly favorable due to small cost of the product, which made it a risky business.
"This new market will double the cost, with unlimited capacity, making it a sustainable market," said Twahirwa, adding, "It also gives a reliable market to local farmers for their chilli."
Based on this, Twahirwa asserts that Rwandans will have an opportunity to get a foothold in a lucrative market.
Source: The New Times
Rome — Cereals, vegetable oils and dairy drive FAO Food Price Index lower for second month in a row. Global food commodity prices fell in July for the second consecutive month, according to a benchmark United Nations report released today.
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 123.0 points in July 2021, 1.2 percent lower than the previous month although still 31.0 percent higher than its level in the same period of 2020. The index tracks changes in the international prices of the most globally traded food commodities. The July drop reflected declines in the quotations for most cereals and vegetable oils as well as dairy products.
The FAO Cereal Price Index was 3.0 percent lower in July than in June, pushed down by a 6.0 percent month-on-month drop in international maize prices associated with better-than-earlier projected yields in Argentina and improved production prospects in the United States of America, even as crop conditions in Brazil remained a concern. Prices of other coarse grains such as barley and sorghum also dropped significantly, reflecting weaker import demand. However, wheat quotations edged 1.8 percent higher in July - reaching their highest level since mid-2014 - in part due to concerns over dry weather and crop conditions in North America. At the same time, international rice prices hit two-year lows, impacted by currency movements and a slow pace of sales caused by high freight costs and logistical hurdles.
The FAO Dairy Price Index declined 2.8 percent from June, impacted by slower market activity in the Northern hemisphere due to ongoing summer holidays, with skim milk powder registering the largest drop, followed by butter, whole milk powder and cheese.
The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index reached a five-month low, declining 1.4 percent from June, as lower prices for soy, rape and sunflower seed oils more than offset rising palm oil values. A lower biodiesel blending mandate in Argentina pressured soyoil prices lower, while those for rape and sunflower oils were influenced by prospective record supplies for the 2021/22 season.
In contrast, the FAO Sugar Price Index increased by 1.7 percent in July, its fourth monthly increase. The rise was mostly related to firmer crude oil prices as well as uncertainties over the impact of recent frosts on yields in Brazil, the worlds largest sugar exporter, while good production prospects in India prevented a larger jump.
The FAO Meat Price Index rose marginally from June, with quotations for poultry meat rising the most due to increased imports by East Asia and limited production expansions in some regions. Bovine meat prices also strengthened, buoyed by high imports from China and lower supplies from major producing regions. Meanwhile, pig meat prices fell, following a decline in imports by China.
Source: Allafrica.com
The free movement of people, goods and services are critical cornerstone in any development crusade. Africa is gifted with an abundance of natural and energy resources, outstanding geographical locations, as well as many ports that facilitate access to and within our African countries. Our region is also endowed with a wealth of human resources with a massive, 1.3 billion population, which constitutes a large market for African products and an abundance of labour which, if properly used, can enhance regional competitiveness.
But frequent new rules at our common borders are making this a far-fetch reality. It is time for Africans to work together be it in governments, private sectors and civil society to maximise the use of our available resources and claim the benefits of the AfCFTA.
The overarching objective behind the AfCFTA is the elimination or reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers amongst the 54 Countries that agreed to be members of the bloc by providing a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration and prosperity.
The question is, how far have we achieved these objectives.
Last year for example, The Gambia and Senegal had a boarder scuffle leading huge economic loss in trade.
While negotiation continued to find an amicable solution to the issue, Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal has ordered the removal of barriers for free movement of goods & services.
He further reaffirmed that Senegal will respect all the protocols on trade and transportation and thus instructed his ministers of Transport and Interior to liaise with their Gambian counterparts to remove all barriers to free movement of persons and goods between Senegal and Gambia.
This was a welcome development taking into account that The Gambia and Senegal are one people divided by colonial masters.
This decision couldn't have come at a better time than now when the countries are working to accelerate regional integration through borderless Africa. To accelerate regional integration, there is need to expand access to trade finance and reduce behind-the-border trade restrictions such as excessive regulations and weak legal systems.
There is much that African countries need to do to increase intra-regional trade.
There is need to eliminate or significantly reduce non-tariff barriers that are major roadblocks to intra-African trade.
The list of non-tariff barriers is as long as it is comprehensive, ranging from prohibitive transaction costs to complex immigration procedures, limited capacity of border officials and costly import and export licensing procedures. For this to happen, it will take much more than political commitments; it will require practical steps on the ground even if they come with some costs.
"Free Trade puts consumers at the centre of economic activity. it lowers the cost of imports, which gives people the opportunity to buy more with the same amount of money: domestic producers have to compete with the lowest global costs or invest in new business."
Source: Allafrica.com
CASSAVA has in the recent past witnessed growing demand due to the increase in its industrial use and wide value chain. The increased demand for cassava has resulted in the rise in the price of the crop on both the local and regional markets.
According to Fortune Business Insights, the global cassava starch market size is predicted to reach $66.84 billion by 2026, which local farmers should take advantage of by increasing production.
Among the factors that are encouraging demand is the popular use of the crop in various industries such as alcohol, textile and energy production among others.
In Zambia, the cassava sector has attracted investment in energy production, alcohol and milling among others.
For example, Zambian Breweries (ZB) is using the crop in the production of its clear beer, Eagle lager and currently has an out-grower scheme of small-scale cassava farmers in Luapula Province.
ZB is currently supporting more than 6,000 small-scale farmers and procures between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of cassava per year.
Cassava in Zambia is mostly produced in Luapula Province and the northern part. It is the country's second staple food after maize.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country produces between 800,000 to one million tonnes of the crop per annum.
In the recent past, government and cooperating partners have been working on commercializing the crop due to its various industry uses and growing demand after identifying it as a money spinner.
Musika Zambia has been a key player in supplementing the government's effort to grow and commercialize the cassava value chain sector.
Musika has so far facilitated investments of more than $1.5 million towards cassava commercialization through multiple interventions implemented by 10 private sector partners in Northern, Luapula, Central,Western and North Western provinces of Zambia.
Head of corporate affairs, Pamela Hamasaka says Musika partners are drawn from a diverse range of industry operators including brewery, food processors and confectionery, livestock feed, biofuels, and ethanol producers.
Ms Hamasaka says these partners played a pivotal role in meeting Musika's main objective of providing a ready and transparent market for the cassava crop, and access to inputs such as improved cassava varieties by smallholder farmers, coupled with training and extension services, to help meet the quality and quantity that the market demands.
" Recently Musika signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambia National Cassava Association (ZANACA) to increase industry level collaboration of key value chain actors and address industry wide challenges affecting the commercialization of the crop," she says.
Ms Hamasaka says one of Musika's partners has a target of 12,000 smallholder farmers of which 50 per cent are women and were set to benefit from its $9 million ethanol and livestock feed processing plant which requires a daily supply of 150 tonnes of cassava feedstock.
The company invested an additional $10 million to develop its farmer supply network and cassava production to meet its annual target of 50,000 tonnes of dry cassava chips.
She says Musika will continue contributing to the government's efforts towards the commercialization of cassava by playing a pivotal role in identifying potential investments through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the agriculture sector, including other value chains.
In addition, the Chifwani concept introduced and coined by Zambia's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Emmanuel Mwamba is another encouraging feat in cassava commercialization.
Since its announcement, Chifwani Concepts officials have continued to give cassava cuttings to farmers in Northern Province.
The team has been distributing a variety of cassava cuttings that are early maturing and disease resistant.
Former Mulilansolo Ward Councillor Aaron Zimba has been part of the team which is distributing cassava cuttings in Northern Province.
Mr Zimba says farmers have welcomed the initiative by Chifwani Concepts as it was long-term and promoted the farming opportunities of small-scale farmers.
Chifwani Concepts has established an office in Kasama to promote the wide farming of cassava.
Chifwani Concepts has also obtained a market for the cassava with manufacturers using the crop as raw material in industrial products such as ethanol, fertilizer and stock feed.
Promoter of the Concept, Mr Mwamba says he believes in the biblical wisdom which guides that; "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".
But the cassava commercialization in the country has continued facing setbacks among low production and productivity leading to limited supply for industrial and human demand.
Other challenges include the prevalence of crop pests and diseases, such as the cassava mealybug and brown streak disease, which have been affecting cassava yields.
According to the Draft Cassava Value Chain Assessment Report, which was commissioned by Musika, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a disorganized marketing arrangement, especially for small scale farmers was leading to limited aggregation of produce and bargaining power; as well as limited capacity in entrepreneurship and business skills among small scale farmers.
The report indicates that limited infrastructure to support cassava processing and marketing, which has caused huge post-harvest losses and limited financing options available to cassava industry players and limited use of mechanization in production and processing of cassava were among the major challenges.
However, the government is aware of the challenges in the commercialization of the cassava value chain sector in the country.
Ministry of agriculture permanent secretary Songowayo Zyambo says cassava was an important food and industrial crop which the government was promoting.
He says the government was aware that the production of cassava had huge potential in various parts of the country, the reason it was working with all stakeholders in improving the policy and legislative environment for the development of the cassava industry.
Mr Zyambo says the government was calling on stakeholders to continue creating partnerships in implementing measures that would address challenges in the sector.
For Zambia to fully commercialize and satisfy the growing demand of the crop on both the local and international market, there is a need for a multi-sectoral approach to grow the sector and address its challenges.
Source: Times of Zambia.