Current Trade News

New York – Director-General QU Dongyu met today with H.E. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The President expressed his gratitude for the work of FAO as it is delivering transformative programmes in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). He also thanked the Director-General for the work FAO is undertaking in Malawi.
The President also outlined the government development strategy, ‘Malawi 2063’, launched in 2021 with the goal of becoming a self-reliant upper middle-income country by 2063.
The Director-General expressed his appreciation for the President’s strong leadership and commitment to LDCs and for Malawi’s leadership as current chair of the Group of LDCs, and noted that FAO is fully supporting the Doha Programme of Action for LDCs.
The Director-General also highlighted some of the key reforms he has emplaced in the Organization since 2019 to ensure FAO is fit-for-purpose and equipped to deliver support to all its members. Of particular relevance to Malawi, he cited FAO’s new Office of SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs and highlighted the Organization’s systematic and structural commitment to do more and better for these countries in finding solutions to the specific challenges they face.
The Director-General also touched upon FAO’s Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which prioritizes support to countries and territories where poverty and hunger are highest, national capacities are limited, or operational difficulties are greatest due to natural or man-made crises.
The Director-General also expressed his hope that Malawi would participate in the World Food Forum, the Science and Innovation Forum, and the Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum, which will all take place in Rome, Italy during the week of 17-22 October.
The President and Director-General also touched upon various other topics during the meeting, including modernization in mechanization; food safety; agricultural value chains and job creation; building competitiveness in exports; and other issues.
Source: FAO
Tea prices at the weekly Mombasa auction dipped slightly this week amid decreased demand for the commodity.
At this week's auction, a kilo averaged USD2.24(Sh269.92) down from USD2.28(Sh274.74) last week.
During the auction, the total volume traded was 69,086 kilos less than last week, the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA)notes, signaling reduced demand for the commodity.
"There was good general demand at irregular levels for the 185,440 packages (12,188,298.00 kilos) available for sale. 123,280 packages (8,088,644.00 Kilos) were sold with 33.52 per cent of packages remaining unsold," said EATTA managing director Edward Mudibo.
In the trading session, there was more and strong support from Egyptian Packers, Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries while Pakistan Packers were active but at lower levels.
"Bazaar showed reduced enquiry while UK and Afghanistan maintained interest with Sudan, Kazakhstan and other CIS states more selective," said Mudibo.
Russia, Iran, and Local Packers were less active. Somalia maintained activity at the lower end of the market.
Source: Allafrica.com
Do you know that instead of flushing urine down our toilets to wastewater treatment facilities, it could be recycled and used as fertilizer?
Yes, pee or even wee as some people say, may offer a solution as a soil amendment. According Business Insider South Africa, researchers say human urine can be used as an alternative to chemical fertilizers with some describing it as the "liquid gold" of wastewater.
In fact, urine can also be used as a renewable energy source. The Africa Energy Outlook 2022, reports that there are still 733 million people in the world who lack access to electricity, including at least 568 million people in Africa. Scientists are finding renewable sources to power the world in more sustainable ways as fossil fuel reserves dwindle and carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Nigeria has been having electricity supply challenges for many years, making it difficult for households and forcing many businesses to close down due to the cost of fuel to power their generators, according to Voice of America.
The University of the West of England (UWE) with the Bristol Robotics Lab have devised a system that generates power from urine using a microbial fuel cell. The urine is directed from the toilet to the cell, where it is digested by microbes releasing electrons for electricity and a fertilizer that boosts crop yields.
The researchers believe the technology could offer a cheap way to power lights for aid agencies in the field. According to Oxfam, "the prototype urinal is the result of a partnership between researchers at UWE Bristol and Oxfam. It is hoped the pee-power technology will light cubicles in refugee camps, which are often dark and dangerous places, particularly for women."
This system could be used not only in rural settings where power and sanitation infrastructure is often absent but also in the continent's urban centres where services in densely populated areas such as townships and informal settlements are also lacking. It could also relieve pressure on existing infrastructure that is not able to keep pace with rapid urbanization as people search for economic opportunities. This also has implications for health systems, according to Nyasa Times poor sanitation accounts for 52% of the disease burden in Malawi.
In 2018, University of Cape Town students used human urine to create the world's first bio-brick grown from urine. The students collected the pee and first made a solid fertilizer, the leftover liquid was then used in a biological process "to grow" what they call "bio-bricks". The bricks were produced by Dr. Randall and his students, Suzanne Lambert and Vukheta Mukhari. But is urine safe to use in our gardens and farms? The short answer is yes. If the urine is taken from a healthy source, it's clean and contains few bacteria.
Does urine have enough nutrients?
Urine is made up of 95% water and 5% waste products. Human pee is rich in the ingredients commonly used in commercial fertilizers such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and traces of other nutrients needed for crops and plants to grow. According to Carbon Brief's Giuliana Viglione, farmers typically apply these nutrients to crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. These fertilizers come at a high environmental cost since they are derived from fossil fuels. Chemical fertilizers when used in large quantities, are harmful to soil and insects and pollute water, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
They also make their way into river systems and other waterways, causing choking blooms of algae that can kill fish and other aquatic life. Researchers say that urine diversion would have huge environmental and public-health benefits if deployed on a large scale around the world. As a result, human pee can be used to save water and contribute to sustainable farming.
A shortage of chemical fertilizer, worsened by the war in Ukraine, is driving up food costs and creating a crisis for poorer countries, reports FAO, and has many farmers desperate and looking for alternatives. Experts writing for The Conversation Africa say the global food supply is now at risk due to the shortage of fertilizer. Many warn that feeding a growing global population in a world of climate change will only become more difficult.
How does urine benefit farmers?
Beside pee from people, animal urine also has many benefits. Kenyan small-scale farmer and entrepreneur Muriithi James Kibuku farms rabbits not just for their meat, and fur but also for their urine. He is the owner of Kibuku Rabbit Farm located in Nakuru, Kenya. He came to gain the knowledge that rabbit urine is good for boosting crops and can be used to repel insects from the farm from a friend and that inspired him to start rabbit farming and "tapping" this resource for his farm.
Kibuku explains that rabbit urine has many advantages as a fertilizer as well as a pesticide. Its pungent smell repels insect pests, making it an organic pesticide. It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and cheaply sourced. He explained that urine also neutralizes acidity in the soil, and improves its texture, structure, and water-holding capacity. Crops remain green even when the weather is very hot, he says.
In order to collect the rabbit pee, Kibuku designed and built his own cages that collect 90% of the urine. The units direct rabbit waste into gutters that are made of corrugated plastic sheets as rabbit urine quickly rusts and corrodes metal. The urine is then filtered through a screen into a collection bucket, mixed with compost, and allowed to ferment in order to convert it into liquid fertilizer. The solid waste is then harvested and applied directly to the fields as fertilizer, while the urine can be used to create a soil amendment or pesticides.
However, rabbit urine shouldn't be used directly on your crops since it is highly concentrated, and will burn and kill plants due to the high concentration of nitrogen. Farmers have to first dilute it with water and then apply it to their crops.
Kibuku explains that the demand for rabbit urine is still relatively small but growing gradually as people become aware of the benefits of organic farming. Kibuku collects 30+ liters of pee every day, that he sells for U.S.$0.85 to organic fertilizer companies as well as to local farmers. He previously exported to Botswana before the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020.
He also sells rabbit droppings to fellow farmers. The rabbit farming industry is gaining traction in Africa and other parts of the world for a number of reasons. Rabbit production is a very lucrative business as it can create multiple streams of income. Fortunately, Kibuku offers training to young farmers that includes modern cage construction, breed selection, diseases, and management. "We also teach skin tanning, and we say nothing goes to waste in rabbit farming," he adds.
His initiative has helped transform the lives of local farmers and is helping to make agriculture more environmentally friendly. Kibuku Rabbit Farms hopes to sell the rabbit pee to fertilizer companies around the world.
Urine makes for great fertilizer but is it safe?
Helvi Heinonen-Tanski, who has written academic papers on the use of urine as fertilizer, has argued that "urine could have some risk if it contains antibiotics as soil bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics and pass on the resistance to bacteria infecting people". Heinonen-Tanski points out that urine is practically sterile and poses no health risks when it leaves the body, unlike faeces, which can carry bacteria like salmonella and E.coli.
However, it is advised that farmers should never use urine that is compromised as it is possible for urine to contain medications, hormones, preservatives, and bacteria from urinary tract infections. Experts say urine can be used as a fertiliser without causing antibiotic resistance, although they caution against the use of fresh bodily waste on crops. Antibiotic resistance poses a greater threat to humanity than climate change, according to a report by EuroNews. "There are certain bacteria that are found in urine that can become pathogenic in your soil environment," says Portia Phohlo, a sustainable agriculture researcher and expert with extensive experience in the dairy industry. She is skilled in sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, agronomy, pasture and soil management, and soil sampling. Phohlo says if the soil itself has a good bacterial profile, then pathogenic bacteria become immaterial because whatever pathogen comes in, it can be countered by the soil organisms that are already there.
"I work for a company where we do give consultations to farmers. And the farmers now that have got very good soil health are really not worried about an increase in fertilizer prices because they've got healthy soil that is able to generate its own nitrogen from the soil that already exists. So, for those farmers that have got good soil health, biological profile, alternatives, like urine and other things like manure, are not things that are really on the table for them. So, from a small-scale farmer's perspective, if the soil is not good, then it could be a possible amendment but in large commercial farmers, because they usually work towards improving soil health. They wouldn't use urine as an alternative for fertilizer.
Phohlo added that nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for the plant. "It's the primary nutrient. There's no doubt about that. And what we usually advocate for as a company, we would say, you must ask yourself where are you getting your nitrogen? Is it from the bag, which is like fertilizers, manure, or anything that comes as an input? Or does it come from the soil, because the soil has got thousands if not tons of nitrogen that is there in the soil, but it's not in an available form. That's where your microorganisms come in - like the microorganisms that are in your gut, in your stomach - is that as they break down that nitrogen into an available form, like they would break down food in your stomach, and then release that nitrogen to make it available for the plant. "
"Now, the question is, how are farmers trying to manage their soils to get into a place whereby that process by the microorganisms occurs efficiently? That's the question that farmers need to ask themselves because if you keep on bringing nitrogen into your system, then it starts to become excessive, and then it starts to poison your soil, then you start to have yield issues. So unless you start to wake up the organisms in your soil, you will always be dependent on that external fertiliSer, then you will start to ask such questions. What alternatives can you bring? Like manure and urine, she said.
Phohlo explains the benefits of using urine or manure but advised on how to use it. "You can apply it only amounts as it is required. And not excessively because the issue is the excessive application of either urine, manure, or whichever form of nitrogen is that if it's not used by the plant, you know what happens? It gets leached out in your soil, it goes into our water's groundwater sources, it goes into our fresh water sources, then we have a problem with algae building up in our rivers. And that obviously will affect your aquatic life there.
"And also, not to mention that if you apply it in excess, again, it can also get converted into nitrous oxide, which then becomes a greenhouse gas, which obviously will affect climate and climate change. The real issue is not the urine or manure being negative, it's how much of it you are applying. As long as you apply it as required by the plant, then it's fine. But if you apply it in soil that's already saturated with nitrogen and does not need that amount of nitrogen, then it becomes problematic."
"The advice is simple, farmers need to start moving away from conventional systems like tilling their soils, and plowing, any form of soil disturbance unnecessarily. They need to move away from that and start moving into soil regenerative practices that promote no-tillage of soil and improving root biomass in your soil and planting multi-species of crops or pastures in your system so that you can really build your microorganisms in the soil because what attracts microbes is food and food quality and quality of food must come from the different species of plants that you choose to plant in that system. So that you can start going towards a regenerative health system. Once you have a healthy system, then you will end up finding out that you actually don't need to apply any form of fertilizer because the soil becomes self-sustaining because it's rich in microorganisms."
Source: allafrica.com
Jean de Dieu Kwizera, the CEO and founder of Beegulf Ltd, started his business with five beehives in 2019. He is now making a fortune from beekeeping, a business he runs in Gasabo and Gisagara Districts.
Doing Business caught up with him when he was exhibiting a project that conserves nature and bees during the first-ever African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) that took place in Kigali, from July 18 to 23.
His business idea started when he was at the University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology. Upon graduation, he found a mentor who equipped him with skills in the beekeeping business.
Later, he also started training other people. "From the fees which trainees paid me, I bought five modern beehives which I started with. I bought each at Rwf40,000. That is why I requested the city of Kigali to give me an opportunity to leverage one of the state forests for beekeeping in Gasabo," he said.
"I was always pondering what I could do to create a job after graduating. It is not necessary to start with huge capital to do such business. I started with five modern beehives and I currently have 50 modern beehives. I also have over 100 traditional beehives because they are not expensive."
Kwizera harvests between 1.5 tons (1,500 kilos) and 2.0 tons of honey every year, with one kilo sold at Rwf8, 000. He earns between Rwf12 million and Rwf16 million, annually.
"My business plays a role in increasing the bee population since bees are pollinators in biodiversity and then make money from honey production and value addition. There are business opportunities in nature-based projects for the youth," he said.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of the world's food production depends on bees through pollination. The bee populations have been declining globally due to habitat loss, intensive farming practices, changes in weather patterns and excessive use of agrochemicals such as pesticides.
Kwizera trains farmers on organic farming so that agrochemicals do not kill bees. "I also train youth and women on starting beekeeping business. I have so far trained over 300 of them."
His beekeeping business focuses on three components including apitourism which involves educational tours for beekeepers and people who want to invest in beekeeping. Then there is value addition to honey as well as making basic materials used by beekeepers. "I have started to make different products from bees such as candles, soaps, cosmetics and others using bee wax."
Manufacturing modern beehives, bee suits
The entrepreneur also fabricates modern beehives and supplies them to beekeepers across the country. So far, he has supplied about 500 modern beehives, selling each at between Rwf40,000 and Rwf55,000 and making total sales between Rwf20 million and Rwf27 million.
"I train people who buy my modern beehives on how to make beekeeping a viable business," he said. His firm also makes bee suits; the protective clothes that beekeepers wear, and has also produced a sample of small honey filtering machines.
"Normally one filtering machine goes for between Rwf150, 000 and Rwf400, 000 which is not affordable to smallholder farmers. "That is why with my innovation, I am producing affordable small honey filtering machines made of available materials such as wood and bee waxes. It is a creative solution because people were using mosquito nets that are not safe," he said.
Currently he is working with 150 beekeepers across the country. "They supply the harvest to me, and I process it for the market. This season they have already supplied two tons."
Kwizera told Doing Business that he secured a €3,000 grant in June during competition. "I am using the money to expand my business in Gisagara District. I installed 20 traditional beehives there and plan to install at least 100 modern beehives. There is both a local and export market opportunity."
Figures from the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) indicate that the current production of honey is estimated to be only 5,600 metric tons per year against a demand of 17,000 tons.
In June 2014, Rwanda got accreditation to export the product to the EU after its honey was found to meet required quality standards. However, low output continued to deny the country of potential foreign exchange revenue.
Figures show that in the fiscal year 2019/20, Rwanda exported 3,319 kilos of honey to the EU, generating $14,035 (about Rwf13 million).
Source: allafrica.com
Jean de Dieu Kwizera, the CEO and founder of Beegulf Ltd, started his business with five beehives in 2019. He is now making a fortune from beekeeping, a business he runs in Gasabo and Gisagara Districts.
Doing Business caught up with him when he was exhibiting a project that conserves nature and bees during the first-ever African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) that took place in Kigali, from July 18 to 23.
His business idea started when he was at the University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology. Upon graduation, he found a mentor who equipped him with skills in the beekeeping business.
Later, he also started training other people. "From the fees which trainees paid me, I bought five modern beehives which I started with. I bought each at Rwf40,000. That is why I requested the city of Kigali to give me an opportunity to leverage one of the state forests for beekeeping in Gasabo," he said.
"I was always pondering what I could do to create a job after graduating. It is not necessary to start with huge capital to do such business. I started with five modern beehives and I currently have 50 modern beehives. I also have over 100 traditional beehives because they are not expensive."
Kwizera harvests between 1.5 tons (1,500 kilos) and 2.0 tons of honey every year, with one kilo sold at Rwf8, 000. He earns between Rwf12 million and Rwf16 million, annually.
"My business plays a role in increasing the bee population since bees are pollinators in biodiversity and then make money from honey production and value addition. There are business opportunities in nature-based projects for the youth," he said.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a third of the world's food production depends on bees through pollination. The bee populations have been declining globally due to habitat loss, intensive farming practices, changes in weather patterns and excessive use of agrochemicals such as pesticides.
Kwizera trains farmers on organic farming so that agrochemicals do not kill bees. "I also train youth and women on starting beekeeping business. I have so far trained over 300 of them."
His beekeeping business focuses on three components including apitourism which involves educational tours for beekeepers and people who want to invest in beekeeping. Then there is value addition to honey as well as making basic materials used by beekeepers. "I have started to make different products from bees such as candles, soaps, cosmetics and others using bee wax."
Manufacturing modern beehives, bee suits
The entrepreneur also fabricates modern beehives and supplies them to beekeepers across the country. So far, he has supplied about 500 modern beehives, selling each at between Rwf40,000 and Rwf55,000 and making total sales between Rwf20 million and Rwf27 million.
"I train people who buy my modern beehives on how to make beekeeping a viable business," he said. His firm also makes bee suits; the protective clothes that beekeepers wear, and has also produced a sample of small honey filtering machines.
"Normally one filtering machine goes for between Rwf150, 000 and Rwf400, 000 which is not affordable to smallholder farmers. "That is why with my innovation, I am producing affordable small honey filtering machines made of available materials such as wood and bee waxes. It is a creative solution because people were using mosquito nets that are not safe," he said.
Currently he is working with 150 beekeepers across the country. "They supply the harvest to me, and I process it for the market. This season they have already supplied two tons."
Kwizera told Doing Business that he secured a €3,000 grant in June during competition. "I am using the money to expand my business in Gisagara District. I installed 20 traditional beehives there and plan to install at least 100 modern beehives. There is both a local and export market opportunity."
Figures from the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) indicate that the current production of honey is estimated to be only 5,600 metric tons per year against a demand of 17,000 tons.
In June 2014, Rwanda got accreditation to export the product to the EU after its honey was found to meet required quality standards. However, low output continued to deny the country of potential foreign exchange revenue.
Figures show that in the fiscal year 2019/20, Rwanda exported 3,319 kilos of honey to the EU, generating $14,035 (about Rwf13 million).
Source: allafrica.com
Nairobi — Tea prices at the weekly Mombasa auction rose slightly this week amid an increase in the volumes traded. At this week's auction, a kilo averaged USD2.22(Sh263.85) up from USD2.21(Sh262.66) last week.
The total volume traded this week was 150,380 kilos more than last week, the East African Tea Trade Association (EATTA)notes.
"There was a general demand at irregular levels for the 180,695 packages (11,877,084.00 kilos) available for sale with 132,937 packages (8,761,661 Kilos) being sold.
In the past three weeks, the tea prices have been declining which saw huge volumes of teas withdrawn from the auctions to be introduced in future sales.
The increase in price saw the percentage of unsold packages drop to 26.43 per cent from 30 per cent in last week's auction.
"Egyptian Packers, Yemen, other Middle Eastern countries and Sudan maintained useful support with improved interest from Kazakhstan, other CIS states and UK while Pakistan Packers, Bazaar and Afghanistan showed reduced activity," said EATTA managing director Edward Mudibo.
Russia was less active with Iran absent while local packers-maintained interest with Somalia active at the lower end of the market, he noted.
Source: allafrica.com