Current Trade News

Inosselia Agro and Greenbelt Authority (GBA) greenhouse-based vegetable farm, which is near Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, last week exported its first consignment of 300 kilograms (kgs) of fresh cherry tomatoes to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The farm--one of the biggest producers of high-quality tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, lettuce and cauliflower in Southern Africa --was established to secure exports and substitute the importation of horticultural produce from South Africa, which made Malawi lose a lot of forex.
This first successful commercial export has effectively sealed a sustainable market in DRC for the proprietors of the farm, who will continue exporting the cherry tomatoes to that market every week, with the amount of the produce also increasing every week.
It also puts the farm owners on a sure path to securing exports of the other fresh produce on the farm.
Inosselia Agro the Country Director, Michael Gorelik, speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, expressed satisfaction that the farm has successfully achieved import substitution as the farm is now the main supplier of fresh vegetable produce to all major supermarkets and upmarket off-takers in Malawi, including Shoprite, Chipiku, Food Lovers, Sana and many others.
Gorelik said, in line with the initial business concept, the first phase was import substitution, which has now been successfully realized.
"The second phase is export, which we have just now commenced with cherry tomatoes to DRC. This is important, for it will bring more foreign currency into Malawi. Hand in hand with this, we have additional interests from other supermarket chains in other countries. They want export of our high quality and highly consistent fresh produce. So, as production goes up, imports will further reduce, hence more savings in foreign currency for Malawi," said Gorelik.
He added that Inosselia and GBA seek to sustain these exports by, among other things, ensuring high quality and consistency of the produce from the farm.
"If we promise to deliver the produce, we have to deliver, surely. We also have to be best in quality and competitive on pricing in view of the competition from other countries, who are also producing horticultural produce," he said.
Moving forward, Gorelik described Malawi as a "very good investment opportunity" for the Inosselia Group, which has several other ongoing investment interests in the country. According to him, these projects shall attract additional foreign currency, generate employment and expand on capacity building at all levels.
He further said the greenhouse farm near KIA, comprising 16 big greenhouses standing on 30 hectares of land, is now also initiating an extensive training and knowledge transfer (at the on-farm training facilities) to neighboring communities.
Gorelik said this is part of the strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, which are implemented in a joint CSR partnership with Standard Bank.
Inosselia Commercial, a global investment company, partnered with the government of Malawi through GBA in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, which has resulted in this joint venture agreement that is financing and developing one of the biggest greenhouse vegetable farms in Southern Africa, employing about 170 people-- practically all being Malawians residing around the airport and Lumbadzi area.
Source: Nyasatimes
Nairobi — Botswana, Uganda, and Ghana are the top countries with the most women business owners in Africa, the 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) has revealed.
The three countries ranked at 38.5 percent, 38.4 percent, and 37.2 percent by the index benchmark indicator which is calculated as a percentage of total business owners.
MIWE focuses on putting the spotlight on the significant socio-economic contribution of women entrepreneurs around the world, including in Africa, and provides insights on the factors driving and inhibiting their advancement.
The report listed lack of funding, fewer opportunities for higher-level education, as well as structural barriers as some of the factors which hinder women's advancement.
Botswana, however, scores in the top 15 economies globally in terms of advancement outcomes for women, particularly as far as performance by income is concerned, out-performing high-income and developed economies such as Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Australia.
Botswana also scores highly in MIWE 2021's 'women's labor force participation rates, ranking 13th globally.
Encouragingly, although 'women's entrepreneurial activity rate' declined in most economies, a number of African countries saw gains in this area, indicating a strong positive entrepreneurial response to the pandemic. Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, and Botswana all performed well in 'women's entrepreneurial activity rate' with Nigeria, Angola and Ghana ranking in the joint first place.
These rankings are despite the fact that in Nigeria and Angola 'government SME support' (ranked 62 and 53 respectively) and 'general access to finance' (ranked 61 and 63 respectively) are near the bottom of the rankings.
Ghana scores slightly better on these metrics at 44 for 'government SME support' and 37 for 'access to finance'. Ghana is ranked 6th globally (69.7 percent) for 'entrepreneurial attitudes and perceptions.
In both Nigeria and Angola, women's entrepreneurial activity rate exceeded men's even though women tend to be marginalized in terms of opportunities. Both economies display a strong, optimistic culture where there are 'perceived business opportunities. These positive and healthy entrepreneurial attitudes boost women's aspiration to become more financially independent.
According to the MIWE, Nigeria also ranked second globally for the number of 'women professional and technical workers (59.1 percent) while Angola ranked second globally in hiring intentions with 16.4percent of adults planning to employ six or more people in the next five years.
In addition, Angola ranked first globally in 'female opportunity-driven entrepreneurship' and sixth in 'self-perceived business capabilities'.
"Women in Botswana, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Angola stand out as excellent examples of women's determination to provide for themselves and their families, despite facing financial, regulatory and technical challenges. In these economies women are able to leverage on opportunities in their respective environments to be business owners, leaders and professional or technical workers," said Ebehijie Momoh, Country Manager and Area Business Head for West Africa at Mastercard.
In Malawi, a less wealthy economy, women continue to defy the odds and are making strong inroads in the business world despite socio-cultural barriers and infrastructural constraints such as a lack of government SME support, poor access to entrepreneurial finances, and severe lack of opportunities for education. The gender gaps in entrepreneurial activity rate in Malawi are amongst the narrowest on a global scale.
Source: Capital FM
A business delegation from Mozambique has expressed interest to invest in various areas of trade in Malawi.
The delegation is in the country for three days to explore trade opportunities from 28-30 March 2022.
Speaking during a Malawi-Mozambique Business to Business Forum in Lilongwe on Monday, President of Confederation for Economic Association (CTA) in Tete, Dr Herminio Nhantumbo, said they are mainly interested in areas of health services, agribusiness, tourism, transport, tourism and fishing sector.
"There are a lot of opportunities in our countries where we can invest. We can do a lot of things together to develop our nations," he said.
Nhantumbo added that the forum also gives them a chance to network and share experiences of their businesses.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Francis Zhiwao, said the forum between the two countries arguers well with the Malawi National Export Strategy 11 aiming at unlocking the country's full export potential.
"The portfolio of businesses that have come from Mozambique perfectly aligns with Malawi's export strategic focus," he said.
Zhiwao said the strategy prioritizes Agriculture commercialization, industrialization and urbanization.
Source: Nyasatimes
A trailblazing sustainable agriculture project has helped hundreds of farmers move away from the harmful practice of growing tobacco, in favour of a healthier alternative, the UN has said.
The initiative, supported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with the Kenyan authorities, is helping to "move the needle" on ending the global tobacco epidemic, according to WHO.
Kenya is the first country to participate in the scheme, which offers training to tobacco farmers so that they can switch to alternative crops that are easier to harvest, such as beans.
So far, growers have sold 135 tonnes of beans to the World Food Programme (WFP), delivering them significantly more income, than they earned from tobacco farming.
Growing beans has the added advantage that they are full of iron, which helps to counter numerous heath and development problems among children and pregnant women.
More than 6,000 Kenyans die of tobacco-related diseases every year; 79 men and 37 women die per week.
An estimated 220,000 children and 2.7 million adults use tobacco each day in the country. It kills more than eight million people around the world every year, and 1.2 million of these deaths are attributed to second-hand smoke exposure, reports UN News.
Source: Allafrica news
COMESA in collaboration with IGAD, EAC, SADC, IOC, Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA) and the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization (LVFO) have renewed their partnership of working together in implementing a programme on sustainable development of Fisheries commonly known as ECOFISH in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Region.
The partnership, started three years ago after a 28 million Euros finance agreement was signed by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), on behalf of COMESA, EAC, IGAD and SADC, with the European Union (EU).
Over the years, the implementing partners have been steadily implementing the agreed programs amid the challenges brought about by COVID-19.
In view of this, COMESA Secretariat hosted the 3rd Steering Committee Meeting in Lusaka during which the teams could track the progress and performance of the program and make recommendations for implementation. Apart from COMESA Secretariat, fish experts from IGAD, EAC, SADC, IOC, LTA and LVFO participated in the meeting which was held both physically and virtually.
Assistant Secretary General for Programs Dr Kipyego Cheluget officially opened the meeting and urged the team to make recommendations that will help the fish and fish industry sector to grow and be sustainable. He pointed out that majority of fisheries value chain actors are small-scale and live primarily in coastal and inland lake areas in the region.
He lamented that despite the significant importance of fisheries as a sector especially the small scale and the potential to contribute significantly to global poverty alleviation, many small-scale fisheries in the EA, SA and IO region are not in a good state, and people dependent on these remain impoverished and most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
He added that, the development of the blue economy may also have detrimental consequences on small-scale fisheries that have to compete with other sectors for the use of coastal areas, inland lakes and rivers. The ECOFISH program is designed to create awareness and tackle some of these challenges.
The meeting was informed that COMESA supports its Member States to implement their Blue Economy Strategy in such a way that it does not affect the lives and livelihoods of small-scale fisheries.
“We are therefore optimistic that the present Steering Committee meeting will guide ECOFISH program to have special attention to small-scale fisheries and create an understanding of the concept of sustainable development and its implications to the sustainable management of the inland and marine fisheries in EA-SA and the Indian Ocean region,” Dr Cheluget said.
The meeting commended the development of the blue economy satellite account which was recently validated that it would play major role in complementing efforts in capturing the required data. Capturing of the data on ecosystem and fisheries habitat is expected to support evidence-based policymaking and monitoring of the marine as well as inland fisheries of the EA-SA-IO region.
COMESA, EAC, IOC, IGAD, SADC, LTA and LVFO are also collaborating in harmonizing of Monitoring Control Surveillance which is expected to strengthen capacities in the sustainable development of the fisheries resources.
Speaking from Mauritius, Head of Cooperation at the EU to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Milko Van Gool reiterated the EU’s support for both inland and marine sustainable fisheries in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.
He mentioned that recently during a regional Indo-Pacific forum, ECOFISH was yet again cited for its contribution to fighting illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean region. Therefore, expectations were high on this programme and the management team needed to deliver and show results.
IOC Secretary General Prof. Vêlayoudom Marimoutou urged the team to focus on successes recorded so far and make recommendations on how best to implement the remaining activities for the benefit of the region and partners.
To analyze the dynamics of agricultural commercialization and agrarian change across East, West and Southern Africa, an e-dialogue was recently convened by the Agricultural Policy Research Programme (APRA) in partnership with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Foresight4Food (F4F).
The event began with participants engaging in three parallel regional presentations and discussions for East, West and Southern Africa, and culminated in a continental-level panel involving expert commentators and audience questions.
The Southern Africa session began with four presentations, highlighting key regional concerns. Mirriam Matita, APRA Malawi Country Lead and Economics PhD Student at the University of Malawi, commenced proceedings by analyzing lessons learned regarding groundnut commercialization and livelihood trajectories in Malawi, and was followed by Loveness Msofi, Lecturer at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who spoke on gender and social dynamics in commercialization in Malawi. Toendepi Shonhe, Agricultural Political Economist at the University of South Africa, then looked at agricultural commercialization, changing labour regimes, and rural transformation in Zimbabwe, before Chrispen Sukume, APRA Zimbabwe Country Lead and Co-Administrator at Zimbabwe’s Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, examined the impact of smallholder tobacco commercialization on food security in the region.
Sustainability in inclusivity
Following these insights, expert commentator Kezia Batisai, Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg, highlighted key shifts required to support agricultural transformation in the region. These include addressing the informality of the sector’s development due to poor implementation of policy, ensuring any change to agricultural commercialization is inclusive, sustainable and permanent, and directing resources to those who have historically been marginalized because of a lack of political power and connections.
Batisai also noted the need for gendered responses, as women landowners are currently grappling with gendered intergenerational land transfer biased towards male inheritance, often pushing women to the margins. During the discussion, she also emphasised the need to address patriarchal structures and cultural practices to reduce gender inequality and amplify the voices of women. “There’s a narrative that women are an add-on. There’s no deliberate effort to incorporate them more,” she said. “We need to pay more attention to marginality and put women at the forefront.” Patience Mutopo, Founding Chair and Professor of the Centre for Development Studies at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, agreed that the gender imbalance – something which is “rooted in social, cultural and religious attitudes” – needs to be challenged, but noted that “agriculture is becoming more of a balanced domain.”
Addressing the labour question
Next, Mutopo moved on to address another critical question: that of labour. She presented several myths that exist in Zimbabwe, including that there is a shortage of farm labour (when, in reality, unemployment is very high in many African countries), and that people working on farms solely do just that – when, in fact, most people are engaged in a number of diversified, income-generating activities.
During the general discussion, Matita also argued for the need to tailor solutions to different kinds of farmers; for example, smallholders versus those with large-scale operations. “We should not be treating smallholders the same as others,” she stated. “Smallholder farmers are participating in markets but barely surviving. They need greater support.”
To finish, Ian Scoones, Co-Director of the ESRC STEPS Centre of the Institute of Development Studies, emphasized the importance of having access to land, and how this is linked to opportunities for commercialization, gender equality, labour, and more. He highlighted that commercialization is a complex process with no single trajectory, and that there is a need for wider and more agile policies to promote and enable commercialization. “Commercialization is non-linear and related to a variety of circumstances,” he stated. “Policies need to reflect this.”
A wider perspective
Following the regional discussions, participants and speakers from each region came together to share key points and draw conclusions on a continental scale. Many focused on the issue of gender, with Mutopo calling on the group to consider the ‘missing women’, and the need to engage them rather than consider them as victims. Janice Olawoye, Professor at the University of Ibadan, noted that when the incomes of women farmers rise, health and educational outcomes improve. Batisai added that women need to be put into policymaking positions at all levels so they can become agents of change.
Meanwhile, Charles Abugre, Executive Director of the International Development Economics Associates, called for a systems approach which would also address land grabbing, the overuse of chemicals and other inputs, and a broader set of goals to be achieved by agriculture, such as human and planetary health. Soji Adelaja, Distinguished Professor in Land Policy at Michigan State University, added increasing populations, shrinking farm seizes, and climate shocks to this list, and stressed that Africa needs to become and remain self-reliant in terms of food production despite these challenges.
However, Isaac Minde, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Associate Director of the Alliance for African Partnership at Michigan State University, emphasized the need to be realistic in terms of goal setting, policymaking, and monitoring, calling for achievable goals, implementable programmes, and prioritization of areas of investment. This sentiment of looking to the future and ensuring sustainable progress was echoed by Dr. Mary Mutembei, Head of the Rice Promotion Program at the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, who asserted the need to assess the impact and long-term benefits of transformational food systems on rural areas and disadvantaged groups.
Looking to the future
Closing remarks came from Ken Giller, Professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University. He highlighted several key action points, including the need to raise awareness of these issues among governments and policymakers, and the necessity of finding solutions that are flexible and can be adapted to a wide diversity of contexts. He particularly highlighted the persistent challenge that the poorest in Africa’s supply chains are greatly left behind and that they need more than commercialization; they need policies to reduce inequality.
Source: www.future-agricultures.or