Millions of people around the world enjoy a daily cup of coffee; however, their daily caffeine fix could be under threat because climate change is killing coffee plants, putting farmers' livelihoods at risk.
Inside the vast, steamy greenhouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the leafy suburbs of west London, Aaron Davis leads research into coffee.
The cultivation of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans accounts for millions of livelihoods across Africa, South America and Asia.
According to Davis, Arabica is a cool tropical plant - it doesn't like high temperatures. Robusta is a plant that likes even moist conditions - it likes high rainfall. And under climate change, rainfall patters are being modified, and it's also experiencing problems. In some cases, yields are dramatically reduced because of increased temperatures or reduced rainfall. But in some cases, as seen in Ethiopia, you might get a complete harvest failure and death of the trees.
The solution could be growing deep in the forests of West Africa. There are around 130 species of coffee plant - but not all taste good. In Sierra Leone, scientists from Kew helped to identify one candidate, stenophylla, growing in the wild.
Two other coffee species also show promise for commercial cultivation in a changing climate - liberica and eugenioides, which "has low yields and very small beans, but it has an amazing taste," according to Davis.
Agriculture and Irrigation minister Lobin Lowe has assured Malawians not to panic about food shortage in the country as there is enough food reserves to feed the South-eastern impoverished nation.
The ministry says the updated Malawi food balance sheet indicate that Malawi has 1,693,997 Metric tonnes (MT) of maize.
Speaking during a press briefing in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe Monday Lowe said Malawi maize requirement for the next three months (January to March) is projected at 861 868 Metric tonnes of maize.
Lowe said: "As a country, there is 915, 998 metric tonnes of maize surplus and he updated national Food Balance Sheet (FBS) compilation as of 31st December 2021 shows that the country has a total supply of 1,693,997 metric tonnes.
"The total maize requirement for the three months, from annually to March 2022, is projected at 861, 868 metric tonnes."
The minister said that the reported maize surplus is not only the stock under the custody of government; it also comprises of stocks held by different stakeholders including farmers and private traders.
"Out of this estimated maize surplus, official maize stocks held by government institutions, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and ADMARC Limited, stood at 265,253 metric tonnes as of December 31, 2021."
Lowe said the food balance sheet projection, the country remains stable in terms of maize availability.
"This is further supported by the prevailing market prices which have remained stable during the past three months and even as the country is in the lean period during which so far ADMARC sales stand at only 37 metric tonnes since opening their selling season," he said.
On maize price Lowe said the Ministry of Agriculture's maize price surveillance system shows the current maize national
average price for the month of December 2021 was MK152.99 per kilogram as compared to MK200 per kilogram in December 2020.
Lowe said this shows that the prices remain stable over the period when demand for maize traditionally increases.
"On the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) 2021 Annual Assessment report, which projected over 1.6 million to be food insecure during the 2021/2022 consumption year," Lowe said.
Government has already released about 17,000 metric tons of maize to be distributed to the affected households as humanitarian food while on the other hand, ADMARC markets are open for those who need to access the affordable maize.
"I would like to assure the country that we have enough maize stocks for every Malawian and that the country is food secure,” said Lowe.
In his remarks ADMARC Chief Executive Officer Rhino Chiphiko said the maize available at the moment is within the area where they were bought.
Chiphiko assured Malawians not to worry about food shortage as they the country has food surplus in stock.
Source Nyasa Times
Harare, Zimbabwe — In her wildest dreams, smallholder farmer Sarudzai Sithole never imagined that her pineapples could someday stock the produce section of Europe's finest supermarkets.
Now, the 34-year-old mother of five is part of a group of 45 farmers in Rusitu Valley in Chipinge, a district in Zimbabwean eastern province of Manicaland, who from December 2021 would be exporting nearly 50 tonnes of their pineapples to the Netherlands.
"This is the best experience I have heard in the fourteen years that I have been growing pineapples. I have been selling my pineapples locally to buyers from Mutare, Harare and Bulawayo during this period, but it has been for a small profit.
"I will be selling two tonnes, and at the price of 70 cents that we have been promised, the exported crop will greatly improve my life and that of my family," an excited Sithole tells IPS.
She says pineapple farming has enabled her to build a house, buy various household goods and send children to school. She is increasing her crop hectarage, hoping that the rewards from the exported crop will empower her to electrify the family home, among other major home improvements.
When growing the pineapples, Sithole says they do not apply fertilizers or chemicals but manure only.
Dudzai Ndiadzo, the Rusitu Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust administrator, says the farmers' dream to export their produce to Europe became a reality in August (2021). Their pineapples got organic certification from Ecocert Organic Standard, a French quality control body whose certification allows the farmers to send their organic products to international markets. The 45 villagers belong to the trust.
Farmers in Chipinge and most of Zimbabwe's prime farming areas incur heavy post-harvest losses because their produce often rots by the roadside as they struggle to secure markets or transport their produce to the markets.
Chipinge farmers formed Rusitu Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust to market their crops. It represents over 1 300 farmers.
The farmers were victims of Cyclone Idai. This tropical cyclone hit their home area of Chipinge and Chimanimani in 2019, killing over 180 people, destroying 7,000 households and infrastructure and leaving 4,000 people food insecure, but their pineapple crop was not destroyed.
Ndiadzo said most farmers have been growing pineapples but not on a commercial scale because the market for pineapples wasn't that good.
"We are excited to be exporting because the local market for pineapples is poor. The money from the export market is better - it is double or more what we would have gotten here," he tells IPS.
Confronted with market access challenges, Rusitu Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust engaged the country's export promotion body, Zimtrade, which offered training and technical expertise to the farmers on how to grow pineapples organically.
In 2017, the farmers started working with Zimtrade to get organic certification and have been supported in the certification and export quest by organisations such as COLEACP, Embassy of Netherlands in Zimbabwe, and Netherlands based PUM and RVO International.
Zimtrade has a long-standing partnership with PUM, where experts offer technical interventions to Zimbabwean exporters in different sectors to improve their quality and production processes for export. Through the collaboration with PUM, Zimtrade developed links with food companies in the Netherlands that have made it possible for smallholders to export their crops.
Admire Jongwe, Zimtrade's manager for Eastern Region, says the organic certification is a critical milestone in reaching the lucrative organic fruit market, especially in the United States of America, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany and other emerging markets such as the United Arab Emirates.
"The organic certification will enable the farmers to fetch as much as 30 percent premium on their produce in most supermarkets in Europe. This will improve their returns as well as boost their livelihoods from producing the pineapple," he tells IPS.
Jongwe says with organic standards, the smallholder pineapple farmers will access the global pineapple market, which has grown from US$2,3 billion in 2011 to US$2,5 billion in 2020, according to Trade Map.
Zimbabwe averages US$18 million per year in the total trade value of fruit and vegetable exports. Figures from Zimtrade shows that during the first half of 2021, Zimbabwe's horticulture exports topped US$30 million with tea, macadamia nuts, fresh flowers, leguminous vegetables, largely contributing to the revenue.
The country used to be one of Africa's biggest exporters of horticulture, but horticulture exports have been tumbling over the years. Europe is currently the largest export market for the Zimbabwean horticulture sector, with the Netherlands and the United Kingdom leading the pack.
Nairobi — Kenya's tea has continued to perform dismally in the international market with the earnings of the commodity dropping by 9.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2021 compared to a similar period in 2020, Kenya Nation Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows.
According to the Q3 2021 Balance of Payments report prepared by KNBS, earnings from the export of tea deteriorated from Sh30.5 billion in the third quarter of 2020 to Sh27.7 billion in the review period.
"The decline was largely attributable to the decline in the export quantities that fell from 138.6 thousand metric tonnes to 124.5 thousand metric tonnes," said KNBS.
The earnings have also been dropping when compared to the other quarters of 2021 where in Q2(April to June) the country got Sh32.2billion from tea exports, while in Q1(January to March) the country earned Sh35.8billion from the commodity.
The declining value of one of Kenya's leading exports was so alarming that the Ministry of Agriculture had to intervene and set a minimum selling price to save farmers who were incurring losses as the price was lower than the cost of production.
The minimum reserve price of $2 was introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture in August 2021 after the cost of the commodity hit a decade low of Sh186.
The price rallied for two months after the introduction of the minimum price that buyers were supposed to pay for Kenya Tea Development Agency teas, peaking to a five-year high of Sh256 before it started dipping again in October.
Tea farmers in the country are poised for better returns this year as government reforms enter the second half of the 2021/22 financial year.
Despite the dismal performance of the country's tea in the quarter under review, domestic exports were valued at Sh160.2 billion representing a 10.6 percent increase from the corresponding quarter of 2020 where they were valued at Sh144.8billion.
The growth was largely on account of an increase in domestic exports of horticulture, articles of apparel and clothing accessories, edible products and preparations, and titanium ores and concentrates.
Under the Broad Economic Category, significant increases were exhibited in the domestic exports of non-food industrial supplies and consumer goods which rose by 20.5 percent and 16.3 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, revenue from domestic exports of food and beverage commodities continued to account for the largest share of the total export earnings, valued at KSh 65.1 billion in the quarter under review.
Source: Capital FM
Africa is a continent full of opportunities for growth. One of the vehicles to propel development in Africa is a robust manufacturing sector. An industry widely viewed as a path to economic growth on the continent. That’s why the African Continental Free Trade Area was launched in 2018. Manufacturing holds potential as Africa navigates the path to recovery post-pandemic. Experts project that the sector could hit 666.4 billion dollars by 2030. That’s over $200 billion more than it did in 2015.
On Business Africa, we speak exclusively to the President of MeTL Group to understand the opportunities within the sector in 2021 and beyond. Mohammed Dewji is Africa’s youngest billionaire. He said: ‘’ We need to do value addition. And by doing value addition, you don't use as much as foreign currency that you would otherwise use and also you would employ a lot of people. So I think manufacturing is the core, I mean, of importance for the African continent.’’
Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area has kicked off. And Africa’s largest economy is planning a leading role in this $3.4 trillion market. Nigeria took a while to sign up to the agreement. But when it finally did, the most populous nation on the continent says it cannot afford to be left out.
Business Africa talks to a local Chief Economic Strategist on the West African nation’s preparedness to harness the dividends of this free trade zone. Professor Ken Ife at the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Nigeria said that: ''We are still the 8th largest producers of oil in the world and the biggest in Africa. There are 90 million SMEs (Small and Medium Scale Enterprises) in Africa, forty-five (45) of those are in Nigeria. If Nigeria could have 50% of SMEs in Africa even though our population is just 18% and GDP is 18% of the whole of Africa’s GDP, it does tell you that entrepreneurship is a comparative advantage for Nigeria''.
And in the Republic of Congo, some relief for those who rely on electronic products to do business. Importation of computer equipment will now be free of taxes and duties. This means local students can purchase laptops at lower prices for example. It’s part of a move that Brazzaville hopes will boost its digital economy. But according to our Congolese correspondent, Cédric Sehossolo, importers say old stocks that were previously taxed, would first have to run out before this new law can impact on new imports.
"To be honest with you, I think it's a bit difficult at the moment as we're stocking up for three months, customers won't feel the difference at the moment, but within two months they will see the change and therefore prices will be lower on everything from laptops, tablets and smartphones especially'', an importer, Attieh Jaafar said.
''While the law on the importation of electronic items into the Republic of Congo is an exception in sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of basic infrastructure such as the provision of electricity, is still a problem in a country where only 9.7 percent of the population has access to the Internet'', Sehossolo reports.
Source: Business Africa.