Current Trade News

Zimbabwe's pork industry has fallen on hard times, with producers shutting down after facing viability challenges, a new report has revealed.
Official statistics released by the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) last week illustrate the depth of the crisis at hand, with cumulative pig slaughters falling by 5% in 2020 to 183 888 after producers confronted obstacles ranging from inferior breeds to lack of capital and high feed and drug costs.
The report said monthly pig slaughters fell to 15 324 last year, compared to 16 152 in 2019.
"Dislocations in the supply of raw materials, along with the rising cost of stockfeed and lack of accessibility, have been compounded by reduced spending of consumers," said the report, which covered the fourth quarter of 2020.
"A costing model developed by the Pig Industry Board, in December 2020 (showed) a kilogramme of pork cost US$2,55 to produce and, as a result, some producers are facing viability challenges and are either downscaling or closing operations."
About 80% of pig producers are small-scale farmers, a section of the economy that has been struggling to access capital.
The report said production was concentrated in Mashonaland West and Harare provinces.
Pig producer and wholesale prices for the year to December 2020 rose by 600% and 570%, respectively.
In 2019, producer and wholesale prices had risen by 648% and 762%, respectively.
Wholesale prices, when compared to producer prices, carried margins varying between 15-51%, reflecting an improvement in profit for wholesalers that ranged between 13-40% in 2019.
"However, using the parallel market rate, pork producer and wholesale prices declined from January through to May 2020 before recovering over the rest of the year," it said.
Producer prices for 2020 ranged between US$0,95 and US$2,43 per kg while wholesale prices traded between US$1,49 and US$3,09/kg.
Lmac said the good rains received during the last quarter of 2020 brought hope for the domestic economy and offered the best economic stimulus package to lift the pig sector out of the deep recession experienced over the last two years.
The organization said disease outbreaks, mainly African swine fever (ASF), foot-and-mouth disease and anthrax, were reported at the beginning of the year but then subsided during the year.
Regionally, South Africa experienced disease outbreaks that resulted in import embargoes and caused production glitches, largely in the commercial pig sector.
Globally, the spread of ASF continued to have an adverse effect on pig populations in Asia and Eastern Europe and production in China was seriously affected.
China, the European Union, the United States, Brazil and Russia are the biggest producers of pork and cumulatively supplying 86% of total production.
In Africa, Nigeria and South Africa are the key pork producing countries.
Source: The Zimbabwe Standard.
Maputo — Maputo 13 May (AIM) - The Mozambican government has guaranteed that it is carefully following the entire process of the withdrawal from the country of the Brazilian mining giant, Vale.
Vale says it intends to sell off its coal mining operations in the western province of Tete. In preparation for this, Vale reached an agreement in April with its main partner, the Japanese company Mitsui, on the transfer of interests, from the Japanese company to the Brazilian miner, which in turn will sell the entire coal extraction and export project to a new entity.
The transaction with Mitsui was made for the symbolic price of one dollar, but all associated expenses and charges - including an outstanding balance of 2.5 billion dollars - pass to Vale.
Vale announced in January that following the acquisition of Mitsui's stakes and, consequently, following the simplification of the business and asset management, it will begin the process of divestment of its stake in the coal business.
This, it said, will be guided by the preservation of the operational continuity of the Moatize open cast coal mine and the railway line from Moatize through southern Malawi to the northern port of Nacala-a-Velha, through the search for a third party interested in these assets.
Vale employs around 8,000 people, close to 3,000 direct workers and the remainder sub-contracted. Before selling off its assets, Vale is making investments which it hopes will help it resume production, reaching 15 million tonnes of coal in 2021 - after 5.1 million tonnes in 2020.
The Mozambican Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Max Tonela, on leaving a round-table on Thursday between Mozambique and the European Union, which shared experiences on questions of regional economic integration, said the government wanted to ensure that there is no break in continuity in coal operations.
"The government has been following this process to ensure that there is no risk to the continuity of coal mining operations in Moatize, or of the Nacala-a-Velha rail corridor", he said.
The negotiations between Vale and Mitsui on transferring the Japanese interests to Vale were now reaching their conclusion, explained Tonela. This would allow Vale to take 100 per cent of the mine and of the railway. "This step should be over in the next few weeks", he said.
Vale has hired some investment banks to advise the company in identifying potential buyers with the technical and financial competence to replace Vale at the head of the two projects.
Asked whether Mozambique will benefit from capital gains tax on Vale's sale of the mine and railway, Tonela said that was a question for the Mozambican Tax Authority (AT). But he thought the possibility of a capital gains tax windfall was remote, since the Moatize mine has fallen sharply in value, due to the decline of coal prices on the world market.
Vale has been operating the mine for the past decade, usually at a heavy loss. Only in two years, 2017 and 2018, did the mine run at a profit.
High returns value expected in Cannabis production can be greatly affected if proper seed is not used in production of the crop, an expert have warned.
Multinational Cannabis Ikaros Africa official Chauncy Mopho Jere in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times says the Smart CBD Seeds Choice for growing Medical Cannabis in Malawi is so important for improved returns.
However, Jere said there is no need to panic as there is a solution on the same.
"If you are growing medical cannabis in Malawi, buying high-CBD seeds from Ikaros Africa is the smart and easy choice.
"In fact, if you want to legally grow a high-value medicinal cannabis product, it's the only choice."
Jere has cited three choices on why it is important to buy good seeds.
He said buying the wrong seeds will directly affect the quality and value of the end product and, as consequence, the value of entire business.
"Cannabis sativa or "hemp" plants contain hundreds of medicinal compounds, mostly cannabinoids and terpenes. The two most common and beneficial ones are THC and CBD.
"Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offers great value for treating certain medical conditions like pain and chemotherapy side-effects."
Jere added: "THC is most famous for its psychoactive effect. In other words, THC gets you "high" - like local "chamba" does," he said.
Jere said CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn't cause a person to get "high".
"In fact, in the right ratio, it can limit or even prevent the psychoactivity caused by THC. CBD also has outstanding medical potential, more than any other cannabis compound. It has even been called the miracle molecule."
He said CBD seed or cannabidiol, to give it its scientific name, is world-famous for being a natural alternative to many conventional drugs and that it has shown potential to combat conditions like epilepsy, inflammation, anxiety, cancer, pain, depression, arthritis, diabetes, viruses and the list goes on.
Jere said: "High-CBD seed brings High Profitability. For cannabis growers, here's the secret: not all hemp seeds are equal. In Malawian law, hemp plants must have less than 1% THC, but the CBD limit is not specified.
"Low-CBD plants, commonly referred to as "industrial hemp," are usually grown for purposes like making textiles, protein powders and animal feed."
If your goal is to make effective medicine, you must buy high-CBD and not low-CBD seeds. Ikaros Africa sells high-CBD seeds from award-winning, international breeders."
Jere has since encouraged Cannabis farmers to go for Quality seeds since its the only secret for quality and improved production.
Cannabis, generally is prohibited for recreational use, but remains a popular drug and is produced for domestic use in Malawi and international export.
Malawi, through Cannabis Regulatory Authority recently announced that it is now ready to start commercial production and processing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use.
Malawi's parliament passed a bill in February that makes it legal to cultivate and process cannabis for medicines and hemp fiber used in industry, but stops short of decriminalizing recreational use.
A growing number of countries around the world are either legalizing or relaxing laws on cannabis as attitudes towards the drug change.
They include several in southern Africa, including Zambia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson Tafadzwa Musarara says the cereal processing group has successfully pleaded with government to ban maize imports and related products in a move tailored to ring-fence this year's good harvest.
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo Thursday, Musarara said the move was also meant to ensure the local market was protected for the benefit of local millers.
"In order to safeguard everything, we then agreed with government that they are going to ban the importation of maize into the country.
"Importation of maize meal and any other maize processed products is going to be banned.
"This is meant to ring-fence our harvest and make sure that the market is protected for the local."
Musarara said his association was also working with government to stop side marketing in what should see farmers supply the staple to government through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
Under the arrangement, millers will buy from GMB while contracted farmers will be able to recover on their investment.
The GMAZ boss said his association has also engaged government to ensure police roadblocks were set up on all major roads from feeder borders.
"We are aware of imports that might come from Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi," he said.
"The whole region has received a bumper crop, so we are fully behind government in the setting up of roadblocks from the main feeder boarders and we will partly contribute financially to that programme as in funding the entire policing so that side marketing is killed.
"Side marketing for the past decade has been affecting the successful implementation of contract farming in this country.
"I am happy that government this time is coming very strongly so that our bumper harvest, our local agriculture is protected.
"Internationally, imports come to fill a deficit but in Zimbabwe, it has substituted the local products. We are really thrilled that the government is correcting this in a big way."

Sub-Saharan Africa's economies will begin to recover from last year's coronavirus shock and grow again this year. But a predicted 3.4 percent growth rate will fall behind that of the rest of the world, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In its six-monthly economic outlook for the region, published on Thursday, the agency attributes its expectation of a slow recovery to a slow delivery of vaccines to Africa and the lack of resources to stimulate economies.

"Many advanced economies have secured enough vaccine doses to cover their own populations many times over and are looking to the second half of the year with a renewed sense of hope," the IMF says.

"In Africa, however, with limited purchasing power and few options, many countries will be struggling to simply vaccinate their essential frontline workers this year, and few will achieve widespread availability before 2023."

Similarly, the agency says advanced economies are being helped to recover from the coronavirus pandemic by "trillions in fiscal stimulus and continued accommodation by central banks". But this is not an option in sub-Saharan Africa: "If anything, most entered the second wave [of the pandemic] with depleted fiscal and monetary buffers."

Increased exports, higher commodity prices and a recovery in private consumption and investment are expected to reverse last year's average contraction in the region's economies of 1.9 percent.

"However, per capita output is not expected to return to 2019 levels until after 2022 – in many countries, per capita incomes will not return to pre-crisis levels before 2025," the IMF predicts.

It adds that the region's low-income countries will need U.S. $245 billion between 2021 and 2025 to help recover lost ground, while the whole of sub-Saharan Africa will need $425 billion.

Looking back over the last year, the director of the IMF’s African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie said that although the contraction was not as bad as had been feared, 2020 was still the worst on record.

"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the region’s economy," he said. "The number of extreme poor in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to have increased by more than 32 million. The 'learning loss' has been enormous, with students missing 67 days of instruction, more than four times the level in advanced economies."

Calling for more to be done to help defeat the virus in Africa, Selassie said in most countries the cost of vaccinating 60 percent of the population would need an increase in health spending of 50 percent.

"For the international community, ensuring vaccine coverage for sub-Saharan Africa is a global public good. Restrictions on the dissemination of vaccines or medical equipment should be avoided, multilateral facilities such as Covax should be fully funded, and excess doses in wealthy countries should be redistributed quickly."

The IMF nevertheless strikes a note of optimism in promoting previous prescriptions for future growth.

"Despite scarring from the crisis," the executive summary of the IMF outlook says, "sub-Saharan Africa’s potential is still undeniable, and the need for bold and transformative reforms is more urgent than ever – these include revenue mobilization, digitalization, trade integration, competition, transparency and governance, and climate-change mitigation."


There is a huge shortfall in the investment needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the private sector has a crucial role to play in plugging it.

Most discussions around achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) focus on the strategies of governments and NGOs, for example asking how they can improve girls’ participation in education or expand measures to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.  

Yet with the private sector responsible for most global investment, business has also had a historic role to play in achieving the SDGs. Mechanisms are being put in place to spur private investment in sustainable projects and initiatives as corporations increasingly accept the link between “people, planet and profit”. 

There is a huge gap between the investment needed to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and the amount committed to date. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), achieving the SDGs will require $3.9 trillion/year of public and private investment in developing countries alone, while the level currently stands at just $1.4 trillion/year.

The big challenge is tapping into the vast sums invested in capital and debt markets. Pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and bond markets collectively hold more than $120 trillion in assets. 

Cultural change, above all else, is required to persuade investors that it is in their own interests to target the goals, and there is increasing data to back up the assertion that sustainable investing is good for profits. For instance, UNCTAD research found companies that seek to address climate change enjoy 18% average higher returns on investment than those that do not. 

According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, $30.7 trillion in assets under management currently target sustainable development. Yet although an increasing number of investment funds publicly support the SDGs, few provide comprehensive measurements and data to back up their methods.

All too often, such statements are used for marketing purposes rather than as concrete investment plans – an SDG form of “greenwashing”, where companies use environmental terms and slogans to promote green credentials, while clinging stubbornly to old business models.  

In September 2019, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) published a new set of standards for private equity fund managers seeking to support the SDGs. Developed by SDG Impact, a UNDP initiative, it seeks to mobilise another 5% of global assets under management, which equates to $6 trillion a year. Crucially, the detailed standards include measurements for determining the impact of investments, the kind of objective assessment that is badly needed. 

At the launch, SDG Impact director Elizabeth Boggs-Davidsen said: “Private sector enthusiasm for the SDGs is strong and growing but translating interest into action has been challenging. A big part of the SDG story is scale. We need to significantly speed up implementation to make progress by the goals’ target date of 2030.” 

Blended finance 

Companies can increasingly tap into development finance, philanthropic funds, development-focused private equity and in some cases public finance to develop projects that support the SDGs.

Blended finance instruments are one of the key emerging methods for attracting private sector investment into SDG-aligned projects, programmes and markets. Blended finance is defined as the strategic use of development finance for the mobilization of additional finance towards sustainable development in developing countries, while providing financial returns to investors. 

Blended finance has proved particularly popular in renewable energy, health and sustainable land use. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of rich world countries, has promoted the approach.

Development finance, which can be provided in the form of guarantees or direct investment, mobilized $205.2bn in private capital for development between 2012 and 2018. The trend has been steadily climbing upwards, with $49bn generated in 2018, yet much more is still required to bridge the SDG financing gap. 

The process can also encourage private companies to place their corporate social and environmental responsibility programmes at the heart of their operations rather than being treated as an unwanted obligation.

Gender equality 

Private sector investment can also help the SDGs to tackle poverty and hunger by creating good quality jobs. SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth was specifically crafted with the goal of encouraging fair treatment for workers, a benefit not only to the employed but to investors who benefit from a more productive workforce.   

Private sector firms can create change by ensuring fair access to employment, training and opportunities for promotion to women and others who have been historically disadvantaged in the workplace. Workplace inequalities remain widespread in Africa. For every $1 earned by men in manufacturing, services and trade in Africa, women earn just 70 cents. Research by the UNDP released in 2018 found that only 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa meet or exceed the International Labour Organization standard of 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave. 

Big corporations have a responsibility to take the lead by putting policies in place to change this. According to 2018 research by McKinsey, there are more than 400 African companies with revenue in excess of $1bn. However, many are currently failing to maximize the potential of their workforce. Ensuring equality of opportunity means that private companies can make the most of all the talents available to them.  

Project development 

Commercial changes are making it possible for the private sector to develop projects that directly help fulfil one or more of the goals. For instance, rapidly falling solar and wind power capital costs and rising turbine and solar module efficiencies have already made renewable energy more affordable than traditional fossil fuel-powered thermal power plants. 

The technologies have taken off most quickly in African countries where governments are prepared to offer support, such as South Africa, Egypt and Morocco. Falling costs are likely to trigger a renewable energy revolution across much of sub-Saharan Africa over the next decade in support of multiple SDGs, including Goal 7: Access to Affordable and Clean Energy; Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities; Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production; and Goal 13: Climate Action. 

The examples of public and private initiative are numerous. French firm Urbasolar announced in March that it is developing a 30 MW solar plant near the town of Pâ in Burkina Faso, with all output supplied to the national power utility Société National d’Électricité du Burkina Faso (SONABEL). The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) has agreed to lend Urbasolar 80% of the €35.4m ($42.2m) development costs. 

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Paromita Chatterjee, an investment director at EAIF’s managers, Ninety-One, summed up the benefits of such projects for achieving the SDGs: “Harnessing Burkina Faso’s sunshine to improve its future prospects will bring many benefits to the country and make an important contribution to fighting global warming. This project is a perfect example of how EAIF’s public private partnership model can have lasting economic, social and environmental impacts while mobilizing private capital and enterprise to create new infrastructure.” 

Governments play a key role in enabling such investment by creating attractive investment environments and encouraging state-owned companies to support private sector developers.


Source: African Business.