African Foods

Anuga 2023 Brings Tunisian Agri-Food Industry to Spotlight.

Forty Tunisian exhibitors operating in the agri-food sector are participating in the world’s leading trade fair for food and beverages, “Anuga 2023,” organized October 7th-11th, in Cologne, Germany.

Spearheaded by the Export Promotion Centre (CEPEX), the Tunisian 25th consecutive participation in this event includes exhibitors specialized in olive oil, canned food (tuna, sardines, and harissa), dates and by-products, pastry, charcuterie, pre-prepared dishes, and dried tomatoes.

Anuga which brings together all the key players, producers, buyers, and decision-makers in the sector, is considered to be the world’s leading agri-food event, with a record number of exhibitors exceeding 7,800 and over 200,000 professional visitors, CEPEX said on Monday.

The Tunisian exhibitors succeeded in making contact with trade visitors from over 55 foreign countries, according to CEPEX.

Tunisia’s participation in this trade fair also served to showcase a fairly comprehensive range of Tunisian products and to promote Tunisia’s strengths in a market that offers real export opportunities.

A cooking show space was set up to offer visitors the opportunity to sample flavors concocted from products on display in the 435m² national pavilion.

As part of its strategy of supporting SMEs, CEPEX offered five small Tunisian companies operating in the agri-food sector the opportunity to exhibit in a “NewComer” space.

A working meeting was held with all the exhibitors. Discussions focused on export opportunities and potential business development alternatives in the German market.

The meeting also offered an opportunity to discuss the promotional program of the Tunisian Embassy in Berlin for 2024.

Germany ranks second on the list of countries with which Tunisia can considerably develop its exports, with an untapped potential estimated at $1.1 billion.

 

Ugandan Start up Turns Banana Stems Into Useful Fiber.

Africans have always cultivated the habit of utilizing every single thing, they try not to waste anything or see the usefulness in a lot of things and one such thing is banana stems.

According to a Ugandan startup, that’s buying banana stems in a business that turns fibers into biodegradable handicrafts, it is a fresh idea in this East African country that’s a banana republic. Uganda has the highest banana consumption rate in the world and is Africa’s top producer.

According to figures from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bananas can contribute up to 25 percent of the daily calorie intake in rural areas.

In Uganda, the consumption of bananas is embedded in local customs and traditions. For many, a meal is complete with a serving of matooke.

To harvest the crop, the stem must be decapitated, they’re often left to rot in open fields.

But local startup TEXFAD, which describes itself as a waste management group, is now taking advantage of this abundance of rotting stems to extract banana fiber that’s then turned into items such as hair extensions.

John Baptist Okello, TEXFAD’s business manager, says it makes sense in a country where farmers “are struggling a lot” and have tonnes of banana-related waste.

The company, which collaborates with seven different farmers’ groups in western Uganda, pays $2.7 (USD) per kilogram of dried fiber.

TEXFAD also takes material from a third party, Tupande Holdings Ltd., whose trucks deliver banana stems from central Uganda farmers.

Tupande’s workers sort through stems, looking for desirable ones. Machines then turn the fiber into tiny threads.

“Our contribution in the value chain is that we put extra income in the hands of the farmer, we turn this waste into something valuable that we sell to our partners who also make things that they can sell,” explains Tupande team leader Aggrey Muganga.

“We are doing this to create extra income, to create employment for ourselves, and to contribute to the industrialization of Uganda and betterment of the lives of Ugandans.”

Tupande Holdings Ltd. deals with more than 60 farmers that supply the raw material.

That number is only a small fraction of what’s available in a country where more than a million hectares are planted with bananas.

Banana production has been rising steadily over the years, growing from 6.5 metric tonnes in 2018 to 8.3 metric tonnes in 2019, according to figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

At a plant in a village just outside the Ugandan capital Kampala, TEXFAD employs more than 30 people who use their hands to make items from banana fibers.

The company exports its rug and lampshade products to Europe.

Such items are possible because “banana fiber can be softened to the level of cotton,” explains Okello.

Working with researchers, TEXFAD is also experimenting with possible fabrics from banana fibers.

The company is also designing hair extension products it believes could help rid the market of synthetic products.

All products by TEXFAD are biodegradable, says Faith Kabahuma from the company’s banana hair development program.

She says the company’s hair extensions will soon be on the market.

“The problem with synthetic fibers, is they do so much clogging, like everywhere you go, even if you go to dig in the gardens right now, you would find synthetic fibers around, so it’s not environmentally friendly,” says Kabahuma.

Kenya: PlantwisePlus Program to Support Smallholder Farmers.

The CABI-led PlantwisePlus program has been supporting smallholder farmers in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, with training on better banana agronomy which can help them increase their livelihoods, crop yields, and food security.

PlantwisePlus works in partnership to help support low and lower-middle-income countries to predict, prepare themselves for, and prevent plant health threats in a changing climate. Through the PlantwisePlus Toolkit, for example, a range of digital products, help farmers grow crops more sustainably.

This includes the CABI BioProtection Portal– a free tool to enhance the awareness and uptake of biocontrol and biopesticide products by growers and advisors – and the Plantwise Knowledge Bank and the Plantwise Factsheet Library app.

Tackling a range of crop pests and diseases

Scientists from CABI’s regional center for Africa in Nairobi helped deliver a four-day training for smallholder farmers to help them tackle a range of crop pests and diseases of bananas including nematodes, moles, thrips, banana weevils, cigar end rot, and Panama disease.

Over 50 million people in East Africa depend on highland bananas for their food and/or income. Annually, the crop’s production is worth around $4.3 billion, However, pests and diseases, nutrient deficiencies and drought stress continue to affect the average productivity of bananas.

The sessions, which were held together with the Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust  (MESPT) which are running a banana project under the Danish partnership program Danida Market Development Partnerships (DMDP), focused on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for banana but also tomato and general pest management.

In this program, MESPT uses Business Service Providers (BSPs) who oversee farmers’ activities. The BSPs are clustered into estates with a defined number of farmers under them. The main role of the BSPs is to train and follow up farmers to ensure the adoption of different technologies and train farmers in planting and general agronomic practices.

The organisation is also working with 12 lead farmers who have established demonstration farms which are used to train other farmers on different technologies and how these can help keep pests and diseases at bay.

Safe use of pesticides and KS1758 standard  

The event – held in Taveta town – was attended by 44 Business Service Providers, lead farmers, and agronomists from MESPT. The trainees also gained valuable insights into the safe use of pesticides and how to meet the KS1758 standard-Horticulture Code of Practice focusing on fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, tomato is one of the most important vegetables grown in Kenya and plays a critical role in income generation and creation of employment for both rural and urban populations, in addition to meeting food nutritional requirements.

However, since it was first reported in Kenya in 2014, the tomato leafminer (Phthorimaea absoluta) has become a serious threat to the sustainable production of tomatoes in Kenya with nearly 98% of tomato farmers affected. 

It has become invasive in introduced ranges having escaped the biotic constraints, that keep their populations in check in their regions of origin. Infestation by this pest can cause yield losses of up to 100%.

On the first day of the training, Peter Karanja, Assistant Training Officer – PlantwisePlus, delivered a session on banana and tomato pest management for the BSPs and lead farmers. This included the demonstration of bio traps – such as the TutaSan pheromone trap and the Delta trap – as well as insect sticky cards used as part of an IPM strategy.

Mr Karanja also spoke about the ‘Ukulima True’ campaign which has been launched – in collaboration with the CBCC (Centre For Behaviour Change and Communication) and the Department of Agriculture, Nakuru County, to help reduce the risks to farmers, consumers, and the environment from chemical pesticides.

Samples of biopesticide products were also on display. The trainees were shown how to navigate through the CABI BioProtection Portal and the Pest Control Products Board (PCBP) website to find biopesticides available and registered for use in Kenya.

Day two of the training saw Mr Stanley Mruu Nganga, Regional Manager, PCPB, Coast Region, talk about the safe use of plant protection products. This included looking at pesticides and why they are regulated by the government as well as the safe purchase, transport, and storage of pesticides.

He also emphasized the importance of reading the pesticide label, the use of personal protective equipment during mixing and spraying as well as the correct dosage. These are key topics in the KS 1758-Horticultural Code of practice.

Importance of soil and substrate management

To close the training on days three and four, Mr Patrice Ngenga, a KS 1758 trainer from the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya(FPEAK), spoke about the KS 1758:2016-Horticulture code of practice. The KS1758 is a Kenyan horticultural code of practice that is anchored on 4 pillars Food safety, Environmental sustainability, Worker Health and safety, and Plant Health. This code applies to the procurement of inputs, production, and placement of horticultural produce in the market. The topics covered by Mr. Patrice included the importance of soil and substrate management, cultivation, soil erosion, soil fumigation, and site selection.

He also emphasized aspects of irrigation and water management, fertilizer usage, and sanitation for propagation materials.

The BSPs are expected to pass the valuable training to the farmers they are serving. CABI in collaboration with MESPT hopes to further capacity build the BSPs and lead farmers to help bridge the extension gap. It is hoped that moving forward, a good number of BSPs and lead farmers could be trained as plant doctors. These staff, once trained, will be expected to operate PlantwisePlus plant clinics where smallholder farmers can take samples of their plant health issues for diagnosis and advice on treatment.

Ghana Plans to Maximize Forthcoming Africa Food Systems Forum.

According to Juliette Lampoh-Agroh, Ghana’s Country Manager for AGRA, the country will use the next Africa Food Systems Forum in Tanzania to highlight the significant investment potential available in the agricultural sector. According to her, the event would provide Ghana the chance to continue the momentum the nation was gaining in its attempts to improve its food system.

“We have already developed a food system investment plan and I’m looking forward to investors coming into that programme and making commitments for a sustained investment plan. And I hope that we’ll be able to get a few people coming in to support our agenda to transform Ghana’s food systems,” Madam Lampoh-Agroh said at a media event in Accra.

The flagship forum on African agriculture and food systems is held annually and was formerly known as AGRF.

Samia Suluhu Hassan, the president of Tanzania, will preside over this year’s event in Dar es Salaam, which will bring together stakeholders to take concrete steps and share insights that will advance African food systems.

The 5–8 September 2023 summit themed “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation” will focus on developing Africa’s agricultural systems and food sovereignty, with youth and women at the forefront.

With an emphasis on reigniting interest in agriculture as a source of wealth creation for the continent, the summit will call for a re-energized commitment and a fresh sense of energy in the conversation around food systems.

The forum will feature more than 350 speakers, and more than 3000 attendees from 70 nations are anticipated. It will also host a number of events, including the Agribusiness Dealroom. It is a platform for introductions that brings together interested parties to encourage collaborations and financial investments in African agriculture.

More than 800 companies, 15 government delegations, and 150 public and private investors are anticipated at the Agribusiness Dealroom as they explore a variety of investment opportunities.

Dr. Regina Aku Richardson, the AGRF program officer in charge of seed systems, is optimistic that after the forum next week, the discussions will be put into practice. She said, “My expectation is that at the end of the forum, the various deals, the various networks that are established during the forum, will be concretized into action. I know Ghana will be participating in the deal room.”

 

Kenya Enters into Three Green Investment Trade Deals.

With the intention of reinventing food security and air travel, Kenya has signed three agreements with Sweden, South Africa, and Hong Kong that promote environmentally friendly commerce and investment. This occurred at a side event for the Nairobi, Kenya, climate summit in 2023.

As part of the agreement with the Swedish company Cool Go Green, food preservation will be powered by sunshine in an effort to cut down on food waste and post-harvest losses. In the next five years, the company plans to invest $200 million (Sh28.9 billion) in the establishment of 40,000 cooling units around the nation.

According to Peter Korner, the company’s founder, the agreement will aim to give farmers and Kenyans in general the tools they need to use solar-powered cold storage containers to preserve food for a longer shelf life. Due to the high expense of both purchasing and maintaining preservation equipment, it is estimated that up to 40% of food in Kenya is lost after harvest. 

“A significant number of farmers in Africa do not have access to reliable electricity and storage facilities. In addition, our technology sustains optimal cold storage conditions for up to seven days without external power sources,” Korner said.

Agri All Africa, a South African company, plans to invest $102 million (Sh14.7 billion) in climate-smart rice irrigation on 31,000 hectares of land in the Tana Delta. This is anticipated to assist Kenya in producing roughly 560,000 metric tons of rice annually and enable the country to avoid spending $690 million (Sh99.95 billion) on the importation of the crop.

Priscilla Motlhako, the company’s director, claims that this has resulted in more than 37,500 jobs and 175,000 carbon credits.

The government also reached an agreement with the taxi-hailing service Volar Air Mobility to launch the world’s first air taxi ride-hailing facility, providing a way to fly without polluting the atmosphere.

Volar Air provides a variety of services, including air taxis, flight schools, precise mapping, agricultural spraying, logistics, air ambulance, and humanitarian activities. Through the agreement, Kenya becomes the first nation in Africa where Volar Air Mobility will launch operations aimed at tourists who care about the environment. 

The improvements, according to Trade CS Moses Kuria, would also improve air travel conditions and generate more than 40,000 employment, reducing the nation’s reliance on food imports. 

According to Investment Promotion PS Abubakar Hassan, the innovations in the agriculture sector are in line with the government’s target to reduce food imports. “In Africa, about $48 billion (Sh6.9 trillion) worth of food is wasted annually. This contributes to the huge budgets the continent spends on food imports,” he said.

 

Uganda: Nile Breweries Equip Barley Farmers.

In a bid to expedite financial literacy and inclusion among barley farmers in Kabale and Rubanda Districts, Nile Breweries Limited has equipped over 1,000 farmers in the region with financial literacy skills, this was said in a news release distributed on 21 August.

The training carried out under the theme “Financial Empowerment of Farmers” has seen farmers across the two districts undergo training in financial planning, budgeting, investment, bookkeeping, and saving and credit management skills to qualify them to manage and grow their farming businesses.

While speaking during the training, Emmanuel Njuki, the head of legal and corporate affairs at NBL noted that the training is part of the brewery’s objective to improve the farmer’s standard of living.

“We depend 100% on the farmers for barley, by financially empowering our farmers, we want to ensure that the crop is profitable for them and that the proceeds are well invested,” Njuki said, “Empowering them with financial skills such as budgeting, investments and how to access credit ensures that they are better placed to access better financing to grow their farming businesses,” he added.

Nile Breweries uses homegrown barley, sorghum, maize, and cassava to brew its beers. Currently, the brewer has contracted 25,000 farmers (15,000 for barley and 10,000 for sorghum) in Northern, Eastern, and South-Western Uganda. According to Njuki, the brewery purchases produce worth Shs109.3 billion annually from local farmers.

One of the biggest challenges facing the majority of smallholder farmers is the lack of access to credit facilities.

Bob Mutegeki the NBL Agriculturist Team Leader- South Western region said that the financial literacy training is also geared towards ensuring that the farmers have increased access to credit facilities.

 

Contract Farming in Lesotho; Beans Farmers Taste First Fruit.

Mamahali Peete, a mother of three children, left her marketing career in the vibrant Johannesburg city in neighboring South Africa and relocated to Lesotho when she married. After three years in the country, she ventured into farming in the rural area of Bela-Bela, and she has never looked back since. She rotates between growing beans and maize on her 30 acres of land.

“Agriculture was not my first choice of business. But realizing the local demand for food I decided to give it a shot. Living in Africa, I now see a lot of potential in agriculture. There will never be a time when people don’t need food. The demand for food is even higher in Lesotho,” said Mamahali.

Lesotho is a net importer of agricultural products, with 30 percent of its total food requirements produced locally and the remaining 70 percent imported.

Mamahali is one of the first-ever bunch of farmers who signed up for Contract farming; this is a kind of trading arrangement that is not common in Lesotho. The Contract Farming initiative was pioneered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the country as an innovative business model establishing meaningful market linkages between farmers and the market.

Mamahali and 29 other farmers signed the contract with ‘Tasty Food Packers’, a leading Pulses supplier in the country. At the end of this season, Mamahali made her first delivery to the company.

“Contract farming brings security and gives us farmers bargaining power. It also motivates us to work hard to honor our portion of the deal. For example, this season we received agricultural inputs late in the season, but I tried everything possible to grow so that I can make delivery,” says Mamahali with a smile of triumph.

Under the agreement, ‘Tasty Food Packers’ buys the beans from all the farmers it has contracted with at an agreed price for the produce delivered. However, if there are fluctuations in prices during the harvest season, the two parties can revise the costs, and the same can be done for the quantities.

“I didn’t have a guaranteed market for my beans. Every season we have to look for potential markets. Sometimes we are unsure if our last buyer will be willing to buy from us the next season’s harvest. I made my first supply of beans to the buyer. It inspires me to work hard and honor the agreement,” says Tlalane Sebeko, a block farmer from Berea.

The farmers and the buyer who signed the contract were trained to increase their understanding and knowledge of Contract farming, and their fields were monitored right from planting to ensure good production and productivity, thanks to the support from the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition of Lesotho in collaboration with FAO.   

Most financial institutions in Lesotho just like elsewhere in Africa, have provided limited or no credit and insurance to farmers, although farmers represent the most significant opportunity for scale and impact in financial inclusion today. This is mainly because agriculture is considered a highly risky business undertaken with limited risk mitigation or sharing measures. About 80 percent of Lesotho’s rural population depends on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. With proper investment and improved access to the market, agriculture has a huge potential to contribute to economic growth and uplift the livelihoods of rural populations.

Contract farming assists with credit because most of the time financial institutions accept contracts as collateral for a loan directly to the farmer.

“Access to finance has been a challenge to farmers in Lesotho. Banks and Insurance companies here fear to give us loans, yet our saving capacity is low. However, when Banks learned about Contract farming, they told us that they were going to tailor-make a product for farmers. I will be applying for a loan using this contract soon,” says Tlalane Sebeko excitedly.

Nizam Abubaker, owner of ‘Tasty Food Packers’ said the contracts will enable his company to get a steady supply as he is currently importing most of the beans from neighboring South Africa to meet the demand in Lesotho. 

“Communication is important during the season so that if the farmer encounters difficulties let’s say unfavorable weather conditions or poor harvest, we are aware and can trigger the ‘force Majeure clause in the contract that protects farmers from uncertainties,” says Nizam Abubaker. 

Nizam acknowledges that Contract farming is a win-win arrangement for both the farmer and the buyer, however noting that the government should work to establish laws regulating contract farming to protect and efficiently integrate producers and actors down the value chain, such as agribusiness, processors, exporters, or retailers.

FAO would like to see the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition Expanding Contract farming to other commodities such as vegetables, maize, and others in Lesotho, which would eventually allow farmers to diversify into new crops, which would not be possible without available and stable market.

 

Tanzania, US Announces $24mln Food Security Project.

At this year’s Nane Nane event, an agricultural fair in Mbeya, Tanzania, the US government and Tanzania announced a new food security activity Tuhifadhi Chakula – “Let’s Save Food” of USAID. It is a five-year $24 million initiative to be implemented by the Tanzania Horticulture Association in partnership with the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) center.

The USAID “Let’s Save Food” project will, by targeting and reducing food loss and waste increase food security, improve livelihoods, increase employment, and generate export opportunities for Tanzania – especially among women and youth.

In Tanzania, crops are wasted between the farm and the final market at a rate of 40–50%. In order to reduce food loss and waste by half, USAID’s Let’s Save Food project will collaborate with farmers, dealers, processors, and other value-chain participants.  The National Post-Harvest Management Strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture was taken into consideration during the project’s creation.  The project will initially run in Tanzania’s regions of Arusha, Mbeya, Morogoro, Njombe, Pwani, Tanga, and Zanzibar.

Craig Hart, director of USAID’s Tanzania Mission, said during the Nane Nane celebration in Mbeya, “Today, we celebrate Tanzania’s significant strides in the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors.”

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Kilimo Tija (“Productive Agriculture”), the Private Sector Strengthening Activity, and other USAID Feed the Future Projects were among the ongoing USAID Feed the Future Projects that Mission Director Hart visited while in Mbeya. By supporting the private sector, advancing better technology, practices, and inputs, advancing horticulture, and encouraging value addition, these initiatives are concentrating on agriculture-led growth.

Tanzania’s status as a Feed the Future target country was recently renewed. Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, reiterated the strong collaboration between the United States and Tanzania in regard to food security and nutrition, poverty alleviation, and agricultural growth during her visit to the nation in June. 

During a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, and at the Nane Nane celebration in Mbeya, Craig Hart, the recently appointed USAID/Tanzania Mission Director, also expressed his gratitude for the long-standing and beneficial relationship between USAID and Tanzania.

 

Ethiopia Set to Take Third Spot in Cocoa Exportation.

On Thursday, August 4th, there was a discussion with the media leaders where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed Ethiopia’s ambition to become the world’s third-largest exporter of coffee. They are currently ranked as the 8th largest coffee exporter globally and they have been diligently working towards this goal of becoming third-largest globally. 

In recent years, millions of coffee seedlings have been planted in the country, reflecting a strong commitment to the industry’s growth. The Prime Minister expressed his hope that within the next two to three years, Ethiopia will successfully ascend to the coveted position of the third-largest exporter of coffee beans.

 

In 2021, Oromia signaled the continued expansion of seedling coffee and the replacement of decades-old trees. In its recent article, the World Bank (WB) said that almost 80 percent of Ethiopia’s 1 million hectares of coffee trees were underproductive because the trees were not trimmed often enough.

According to this article, the quality of Ethiopian coffee isn’t the problem. About 95% of production from the country’s diverse coffee varieties is organic, traditionally cultivated without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Demand isn’t the issue either. The article, however, questions, why is Ethiopia’s coffee productivity lagging behind other leading coffee-producing countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. As the research shows, the problem boils down to a lack of pruning.

 

Shimelis Abdisa, President of the Oromia region, back then said that, unlike the preceding trend for the past couple of years, the regional administration has given fundamental attention to bean production and productivity. He pointed out how there was no investment or special attention to coffee, it was only generating revenue. “In general, previously, the Ethiopian government was only generating revenue from coffee but not investing in it. The farmer was the only actor in the total production activity,” he said.

 

The WB said that the low productivity of Ethiopia’s coffee trees poses an obvious problem for the more than 2 million smallholder farmers dependent on coffee production for their livelihoods. Shimelis said due to different reason including the trading scheme, the farmers’ revenue from the bean have been declaimed which led them to cut the coffee bush and replace them with alternative profitable crops.

 

“Based on understanding the farmers and the sector challenges, the regional government is taking action to come up with a solution,” the regional President said. “In our region for the last two years, we have introduced three major changes in the sector. We have improved the marketing system by creating alternative trading for Ethiopian Commodity Exchange by issuing an export license for the farmer enabling them for direct export which also contributed to reducing the illegal trade,” Shimelis told Capital.

“The new trading plays a key role. It has shown positive results for instance the price of red cherry which was 12 birr per kg in the past has now reached 30 birr because of the new scheme,” he explained.

The other initiative introduced in the past two years was rejuvenating and replacing the aged and unproductive coffee trees with new seedlings. The regional President said that the coffee trees in the region are aged up to 40 years, which is a factor in the small harvest.

 

“Rejuvenate existing trees by trimming and replacing the old trees and seedling new coffee trees in new areas has been conducted for the past two years,” he said.

“In 2019, we have planted over 800 million new coffee seedlings, 900 million in last year and this rainy season we will plant 1.1 billion coffee trees in the region,” Shimelis elaborated.

The World Bank article said that different initiatives have been involved to elevate the challenges like Stumping involves pruning older and less productive trees down to just a stump. “This stimulates the growth of new sprouts that develop into new branches within a few months,” it added.

 

According to the region’s plan, the target is increasing the coffee export by two folds minimum in the coming few years. “In the past budget year for instance for the first time in the region the coffee export has increased by 17 percent and this year it is expected to climb to 19 percent,” he explained.

 

In the coming budget year, the export is estimated to be boosted by 25 percent because the seedling that was planted two years ago will have started production.

The price increment at the farmer’s level under one of the three pillars of change for the sector has also discouraged the illegal market. The effect on the illegal channel is said to contribute to attaining the target set for the coming year.

Kenya: Light-gauge Railways for Sugarcane Transportation.

The government plans to roll out a light-gauge railway to transport sugar cane from farms to milling factories to improve the performance of the key economic sector.

 

The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi recently published a policy, the policy said that the road infrastructure in the majority of the cane-growing regions especially in Western Kenya remains inadequate, hurting the movement of raw material for milling.

“Many roads in the western region, in particular, are impassable, especially during heavy rains. In some situations where all-weather gravel roads do not exist, maintenance has been a handicap due to the use of heavy machinery or tractors for transportation of canes” stated the policy.

 

Currently, cane is largely transported by contracted parties but the day-to-day allocation of transport tasks is handled by the various transport departments of respective millers based on cane demand. Some of the factories have their transport fleets.

In most sugar-growing areas, the cost of transportation is based on four-kilometer or ten-kilometer bands from the respective mills. Millers, transporters, and farmers review this rate from time to time with the transportation costs averaging between 11-29 percent of the total cost of production per ton and varying from one cane zone to another.

 

The Agriculture Ministry said that using alternative transport mechanisms will address the challenges and boost the industry’s productivity.

 

“The national government will develop and implement alternative, cost-effective sugar-cane transportation system such as light-rail system” it stated.

 

Commercial sugarcane production is concentrated in the Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, and Coastal regions.

 

More than three hundred thousand farmers supply sugarcane to the millers. More than 94% of the sugar cane supply is by out-growers, the difference being supplied by the nucleus estates owned by the various milling companies.

 

There are sixteen sugar mills in Kenya with a total processing capacity of 51,450 metric tonnes of cane per day but the capacity utilization is about 56 percent, according to projections by the Agricultural Ministry.

Kenya Launches Largest Food Program in Africa.

In an effort to fight hunger and boost educational achievements, Kenya is getting ready to launch the biggest school meals program in Africa, with the goal of giving 4 million primary school students daily lunches.

The project is a partnership between the Nairobi County government and the Kenyan non-profit group Food4Education, and it is expected to launch in Nairobi in August.

Ten new kitchens that are now being constructed will enable 225 primary schools and Early Childhood Development institutions in the Kenyan capital to feed 400,000 kids every day. 3,500 people will be hired as part of the plan beginning on August 28, the first day of the fall semester.

The $8.6 million (£6.7 million) project was co-funded by Nairobi County and Food4Education, a Kenyan non-profit that now serves meals to 150,000 city primary school pupils. According to Save The Children, 26% of Kenyan children have stunted growth.

William Ruto, the president of Kenya, said at the launch of the program on Tuesday, that “we must eliminate the shame of hunger in our country. We will be deliberate and focused on ensuring the successful implementation of the school feeding program. The greatest indignity is for our children to go to school and fast because of lack of food.”

The president said that to expand the current national feeding program from serving 1.6 million children to 4 million, the government has allocated 5 billion Kenyan shillings ($36 million) and pledged additional counties to contribute to boost the funds.

“We are going to match counties who have a plan on school feeding program, shilling for shilling, and if we do that we can actually feed 8 million children in our schools,” he said.

Suzanne Silantoi, the county executive of Nairobi city county, highlighted the close connection between nutrition and learning. She believes that the school feeding program will not only enhance attendance and performance in public schools but also help alleviate child hunger, a significant obstacle to school enrollment in Kenya.

It is important to remember that in 2012, Kenyan dietician Wawira Njiru started Food4Education in a makeshift kitchen at Ruiru Primary School that employed one chef and served lunch to 25 kids.

With the use of eco-briquettes and steam gas technology, the kitchens will be powered by renewable energy. Technology has also made a huge contribution to the growth of Food4Education: each child is given a wristband called Tap2Eat that is linked to a virtual wallet that parents use to pre-pay 15 shillings ($0.11) for each meal.

Additionally, the partnership between Food4Education and the county government of Nairobi will provide farmers with a market and employment opportunities.

 

Tanzania Initiates Sweet Potatoes Farming to Fight Malnutrition.

In the Mwanza Region’s Ilemela, Sengerema, and Buchosa District Councils, more than 140,000 Tanzanian women and young people stand to gain from contemporary, nutrient-dense sweet potato farming, which is anticipated to combat childhood malnutrition.

This is through a five-year project called “Tufunguke” that began in January of this year and is being carried out by the Tanzania Home Economics Organisation (TAHEA) in conjunction with the Tanzanian government for a cost of 792.4 million dollars from the WeEffect-Tanzania (organization).

The project also aims to improve the living conditions of beneficiaries’ inhabitants by promoting food security at the home level and promoting economic empowerment.

Bundala Ramadhani, the manager of ‘Tufunguke’, recently revealed to the “Daily News” that five beneficiary groups, each with 30 members, have been established in Buchosa and have received instruction in modern farming.

To ensure that the available sweet potato seeds are free from illnesses and resistant to the effects of climate change, he said, a number of agricultural specialists, including those of Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI), have been involved.

He said, “Experts are also in place to give general modern farming education and technology for quality and abundance farm outputs that would compete in local markets.”

Mr. Ramadhani added due to the fact that sweet potatoes are one of the more perishable agricultural products, the recipients were also instructed in food processing techniques for long-term preservation.

Beneficiaries receive financial empowerment training in lending, investing, and money management. Mary Kabati, the director of TAHEA, added that the group conducts microfinance that provides lenient loans and financial management training (to recipients).

Additionally, it was mentioned that since the recipients are already registered with social welfare offices, “Tufunguke” implementers are looking forward to assisting them in joining cooperatives so they may gain access to larger loans from well-known financial institutions.

The sweet potato seeds have been supplied to all group members in the council for production and distribution (of seeds) to other beneficiary districts, according to Mr. Nestory Mjojo, the Buchosa Council Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries Officer.

In order to achieve the desired results, he advised the “Tufunguke” beneficiaries to continue using contemporary farming techniques and to share their knowledge with others.

Ms. Anisia Samwel spoke on behalf of the project’s other beneficiaries, noting that they had invested together after training and that the money from those investments would be shared among them at the end of the year.

We also consider progressively buying construction supplies to distribute each December. This is to make our houses better, she remarked.

 

Hilda Baci, Officially Guinness World Records Title Holder.

After a thorough and rigorous process of reviewing all the evidence presented by Hilda Baci and her team, the much-awaited results have been released.

The Guinness World Records (GWR) has declared Hilda Effiong Bassey, popularly known as Hilda Baci as the official record breaker for the longest cooking marathon (individual) with a time of 93 hours 11 minutes.

The 26-year-old chef’s “cook-a-thon” began on Thursday 11th May at Amore Garden, Lekki, Lagos, and continued through Monday 15th May, cooking over 100 pots of food during her four-day kitchen stint.

She attempted to set a record of 100 hours, although close to seven hours were deducted from her final total due to some extra minutes she mistakenly took for one of her rest breaks early on in the attempt. This is according to the statement by the Guinness World Records.

As with all ‘Longest Marathon Records’, the individual is allowed a five-minute rest break for every continuous hour of activity. However, these rest breaks can be accumulated if not taken. These were the only times Hilda could use the bathroom or sleep during the attempt.

In 2019, the previous record of 87 hours 45 minutes was set by Lata Tondon in India. According to the statement, Hilda attempted this record to “put Nigerian cuisine on the map” and “inspire young African women to chase their dreams”. 

“I also decided to break this record to truly push my limits and test my abilities”, Hilda said according to the Guinness World Records statement. She prepared for the event by creating a 35-item menu “as a guide” for every meal that she would cook.

There were certain rules that Hilda was required to abide by, which included – there needed to be at least two items being prepared or cooked at any time, a sous-chef is permitted to assist in prep work, washing up, and cleaning the kitchen area, but all the cooking must be done by the individual attempting the record. Most importantly, all items must be consumed after cooking.

According to the report, after inviting all Nigerian public members to come and eat, all leftover food was donated to the Festus Fajemilo Foundation

Hilda’s cook-a-thon was so viral that the GWR’s website crashed for two days due to the immense volume of traffic that was received from her loyal fans. Dignitaries such as the former Vice president of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, governor of Lagos, and other prominent people came to support Hilda during her record attempt.

Congratulations to Hilda Baci on this great feat.

NPO SA Harvest, ClemenGold International do Their Bid to Fight Against Malnutrition.

1 million kilograms of mandarins have been dispatched to communities in Durban and Johannesburg in need of a vitamin C boost by NPO Harvest, a food rescue and hunger relief organization teaming up with the local mandarin brand, ClemenGold International.

 

Instead of turning this fruit into juice or wasting the fruit, NPO SA Harvest and ClemenGold International have donated this to the cause during the citrus season from May until August.

 

In a bid to reduce food waste and hunger in the country, SA Harvest drives initiatives to channel surplus food from farms, manufacturers, and retailers to those in need.

Annually, ClemenGold International distributes more than 4 million pieces of citrus to around 160,000 beneficiaries at creches, old age homes, hospitals, schools, and non-profit institutions in areas where nutrition is a daily challenge.

 

“However, we have limited ability to handle the logistics of such actions, and taking hands with SA Harvest enables us to have an even bigger impact and reach areas beyond our immediate surroundings,” said Adele Ackermann, ClemenGold International’s marketing manager.

Lucille Streecker, who oversees the company’s corporate social investment initiatives said the donated fruit is usually used for fulfilling the company’s juice programs.

 

“But we’ve long since made the decision to serve our communities in any way possible. While we also have CSI projects in a place with a focus on early childhood development and socio-economic development, donating fruit addresses vital issues such as hunger and health,” she said.

 

“Donating vitamin C-rich citrus is a logical way of contributing towards helping communities thrive,” said Ackermann.

 

The first 68 tonnes were just dispatched from the Twypack packhouse in Mbombela to communities in Durban.

 

“We believe every South African deserves not just access to food but access to nutritious food,” said Alan Browde, CEO and founder of SA Harvest.

 

“Food-insecure communities often face significant barriers to accessing nutritious food, resulting in issues such as starch excess obesity, malnourishment, and other diet-related health conditions. Through our network of vetted beneficiary organizations, including early childhood development centers, soup kitchens, old age facilities, and community outreach programs, this donation of citrus fruits will directly impact and nourish individuals in these communities who need it most, particularly children.”

Nigerian Chef Breaks Guinness World Record.

It has once again been proven that when Africans set their minds to do something, it takes almost the end of the world to stop them.

 

Hilda Baci, a Nigerian chef from Akwa Ibom State, took up a challenge recently to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time. The previous title holder, Lata London cooked for 87 hours, and 45 minutes.

The Nigerian-born chef decided to break the long-standing record and also set her record; she planned to cook for 96 hours. This feat titled “the Hilda Baci Cook-a-thon” started on Thursday, 11th of May, and ended on Monday, 15th of May.

According to the chef, she has always been infatuated with the world record since childhood. In a bid to fulfill her childhood dream, she has meticulously prepared herself; worked with a nutritionist to create a diet that will accommodate the challenge as she only gets 2 hours to herself in 24 hours. Prior to the cook-a-Thon, she carried out a 24-hours dry run. She admitted that even though she was the one cooking during the 24-hour dry-run, her team gave her all the help she needed, she also noted that she cooked for six hours and was taking 30 minutes break.

 

For this cook-a-thon, Hilda created a menu of up to a hundred local dishes to be cooked over the hours. The dishes she created, were shared freely with those that came to show their support. She had a very strong support system that kept encouraging her to go on even when she felt so tired; her mother and her right-hand person Chef Sunny were seen comforting her on so many occasions.

At 4:00 pm on Monday, Hilda Bacci set a record for the longest cooking time by 96 hours, but this beautiful woman did not stop there, she went on to cook for 100 hours and extra forty minutes. This has shown how ferocious Africans can be when they set their minds to getting things done.

 

This, however, was not the only thing that could be taken from this event. It also showed how Africans support their own as numerous people, including celebrities, turned up at the venue, staying with her from sundown to sun up, singing, and cheering her on. Those who were not within the city cheered her online, she became an internet sensation and the most talked about topic.

Congratulations to Chef Hilda Bacci, this will be a hard record to beat.

Nigerian Chef Attempts to Break Guiness World Record.

Chef Hilda Baci has begun her quest to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time.

The cook’s 97-hour “cook-a-thon” began on Thursday at Amore Garden, Lekki, Lagos and would end on May 14. It is open to guests’ participation.

Born Hilda Bassey Effiong, the chef will make over 250 recipes.

Big Brother Naija star Elozonam was among those who made their way to the venue on the opening day.

The current record for the world’s longest cooking marathon is held by Lata Tondon, who spent 87 hours, 45 minutes, and 00 seconds cooking in Rewa, India, in 2019.

At a press briefing weeks ago, Hilda Baci said she became “infatuated with the world record” since childhood.

The Akwa-Ibom-born chef attempted a 24-hour cooking marathon to prepare for the world record title.

“We had a successful dry run. I say we because it was a collective effort of everyone. I may have been the one doing the cooking but there were so many people standing. So many people did not sleep,” she said.

“During the 24-hour dry-run, I did six hours and rested for 30 minutes.

“I also tried not to drink too much water so as not to go to the toilet. We are working with a nutritionist that is adjusting my diet, such that my bio movement is at bay.

“That is more likely what I am going to do.

“Just as the name implies, ‘Longest cooking marathon by an individual’, I will have to be cooking for an extended period. But Guinness has been so magnanimous to give me five minutes of every completed hour. I can choose to accumulate that break or take the break as it comes.

“I am attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking time by an individual.

“If you ask me five years ago when I had this idea, I would have said it’s because of fame. I was highly infatuated with the Guinness World Record.”

 

Lesotho Launches Program to End Malnutrition.

  • Lesotho has made plans for the use of 18.8 million dollars towards ending malnutrition.
  • The policy direction would target pregnant women, children under the age of five, adolescents, and patients.

Lesotho has committed 18.8 million dollars towards ending malnutrition, with adolescent girls being the main focus of the program.

The southern African kingdom with a population of 2.3 million people received a 22 million loan from the World Bank and a 4.4 million-dollar co-financing grant from the Power of Nutrition for the program.

Both monies are for the Lesotho Nutrition and Health System Strengthening Project, which aims to implement the National Food and Nutrition Strategy.

“Some of the money will be used to purchase equipment for food production, while some will go to national campaigns and nutrition education, which will be driven by nutritionists, nutrition clubs, and village health workers,” said Mokhothu Makhalanyane, the chair of the National Assembly’s Social Cluster.

“All national nutrition-related issues will be integrated into health, education, and agriculture.”

 

Makhalanyane added that the policy direction would target pregnant women, children under the age of five, adolescents, and patients.

The project will also involve strengthening community-based nutrition service delivery in districts with high stunting rates.

 

It will target nutrition-specific interventions, including adolescent and maternal dietary supplementation, treatment of severe acute malnutrition, and disease prevention and management.

In Lesotho’s National Strategic Development Plan II, which ends this year, King Leslie III urged the government to work towards reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

King Letsie III is the African Union Champion for Nutrition, Food, and Agriculture and a Special Ambassador on Nutrition and Human Capital Champion of the World Bank.

Makhalanyane stressed that nutrition clubs in villages and schools will provide education about nutrition and assist people to get into small-scale agriculture as a measure to address malnutrition at household levels.

“The issue of malnutrition is complicated. To get it right, all children need to access nutritious food in schools through school-feeding programs. We are trying but the money is inadequate thus the school feeding programs are implemented under very limited budgets,” he said.

“At the moment, a child gets a meal that costs 19 cents but each one of them is supposed to get a meal that costs 33 cents. This happens because we cannot afford the nutritious food that is required.”

 

To ensure that the money is properly utilized, Makhalanyane said the Social Cluster will track the progress of different projects.

“The monitoring would look at the number of people reached and the spending. There is a team with officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and the ministries of Agriculture, Education, and Health tasked with doing the monitoring,” he said.

 

According to the 2022 Global Nutrition Report, Lesotho is on course to meet the targets for the Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Feeding Nutrition (MIYCN) campaign.

The report indicates that Lesotho has made progress towards achieving the target for stunting, but 34.6 percent of children under five are still affected, which is higher than the 30.7 percent average for Africa.

 

“Lesotho is on course for the target for wasting, with 2.1 percent of children under the age of five affected, which is lower than the 6 percent average for Africa,” read part of the report.

“The prevalence of overweight children aged below five is 6.6 percent and Lesotho is on course to prevent the figure from increasing.”

 

The report showed that no progress has been made toward achieving the target of reducing anemia among women of reproductive age, with 27.9 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 years now affected.

“Meanwhile, there has also been no progress towards achieving the low birth weight target, with 14.6 percent of infants having low weight at birth,” the report read and indicated that Lesotho had shown limited progress towards achieving the diet-related non-communicable disease (NCD) targets.

Four districts have been targeted to benefit from the World Bank-financed Lesotho Nutrition and Health System Strengthening project.

Thaba-Tseka, Quthing, Mohale’s Hoek, and Botha-Bothe districts have produced “concerning statistics on malnutrition and teenage pregnancy,” according to Lisebo Seheri, a nutritionist from the Ministry of Health. 

“According to the Lesotho Demographic Health Survey (LDHS) and the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, the four districts have higher cases of teenage pregnancies compared to the other six districts, hence the focus,” Seheri said.

The adolescent birth rate in Lesotho is reported to be high at 94 per 1000 girls aged between 15 and 19 years, according to the 2003-2018 statistics.

The LDHS reports that teenage pregnancies were high among girls from rural areas and poorer families.

 

“We are working closely with adolescent health programs at community health centers, and the project is expected to end in five years,” Seheri added.

The project includes interventions aimed at improving overall fetal and child nutrition and development.

According to Dr. Richard Pendame, the regional director of Nutrition International, adolescent nutrition is important because malnutrition is a public health concern that affects over 56 million adolescents living in the East, Central, and South Africa Health Committee (EACS-HC) states.

He indicated that nearly 50 percent of adolescents in the ECSA-HC states are stunted, while approximately 30 percent of adolescent girls are anemic.

“Improved nutrition during the adolescent period is critical because it translates to better school performance, improved productivity and in turn leads to better opportunities in adulthood, high economic development, lower maternal mobility and mortality and lower cost of maternal healthcare,” he said, pointing out that adolescents in the region have previously been neglected.

 

Liberia Establishes First Cocoa Seed Garden.

  • The National Cocoa Seed Garden ensures the availability of enhanced, certified, and high-quality planting supplies in order to halt cocoa seed importation.

The Liberian government’s top priority in boosting productivity in the cocoa sector continues to be the accessibility of high-quality and enhanced planting supplies for smallholder farmers. Therefore, it is crucial to construct the National Cocoa Seed Garden (NCSG) to ensure the farmers receive certified hybrid seeds of the highest quality.

To facilitate the distribution of hybrid cocoa seeds and seedlings to farmers across the nation, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have established a 75-acre cocoa seed garden in Beeplay, Buuyao District in Nimba County. The NCSG will ensure the availability of enhanced, certified, and high-quality planting supplies to stop the importation of cocoa seedlings. Over the years, Liberia has relied on its neighbors for cocoa saplings.

About 25,000 cocoa farmers in Liberia who are part of cooperatives will begin receiving the seedlings from the Center at a fair price. The Center will help to alleviate the difficulty smallholder farmers have in obtaining locally available improved cocoa hybrid seeds for planting.

Agronomist offices and a compound have been finished, and the center is also ready to roll out better agroforestry technology for cocoa as it relates to climate resilience agriculture practices to increase farmers’ incomes.

The Minister of Agriculture, Jeanine M. Cooper alongside IFAD Country Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone Pascaline Barankeba, and the IFAD Supervision Mission took a tour of the national seed garden on May 3rd to assess the significant advancements being by the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) in running the seed garden.

Minister Jeanine M. Cooper said at the end of the tour that she was very stunned by the progress of work being achieved. Other members who were part of the tour included the international Development Consultant. David Doolan, a scientist at CARI, Quoiquoi Mulbah, as well as IFAD Project Implementation Unit (PIU) Coordinator, Emmanuel G. Vah, among other dignitaries. 

According to her “The government is very much pleased about the level of transformation now taking place in the cocoa sector and we are working with international partners to ensure that Liberian cocoa competes globally”. She also buttressed the need for Liberian agriculture students to take advantage of the center to learn advanced cocoa technologies to support the sustainability effort.

Mr. Emmanuel G. Vah, the project coordinator for IFAD also said the choice of site and soil for the establishment of the seed garden were thoroughly tested and proven to be suitable, adding that the seed garden will enhance input supplies of cocoa seedlings and support other beneficiaries along the cocoa value chain.

 

Libya: Winners of Japanese and Norwegian International Olive Oil Competitions Honored.

  • The Libyans that won the Japanese and Norwegian International olive oil competitions are being honored by their leader.
  • The National Program for Small and Medium Enterprises supports emerging business owners through training programs for emerging business owners in the field of olive oil cultivation.

The Libyans won the Japanese and Norwegian International olive oil competitions and they were honored by their leaders for their victory.

The ceremony took place at the Ministry of Economy and Trade and it was headed by Mohamed Hwej, and Abdel Nasser Abu Zagia, in the presence of the Minister of Finance, Khaled Al-Mabrouk, and the Director General of the Libyan Export Promotion Centre (LEPC), Mohamed Al-Deeb.

The winners of the Japanese competition (JOOP 2023), Jalal Al-Lamushi, who won gold, and Abdul Rahman Al-Aswad and Yunis Gadmour, who won silver medals were the ones that were honored. Khaled Al-Amin had won gold at the Scandinavia competition in Norway. 

Speaking exclusively to Libya Herald in April, Al-Lamushi had complained that he had received no support from the Libyan government. At yesterday’s ceremony, the Director of the LEPC pledged to pay the participation fees for the winners in these two competitions.

Commenting on the meeting, the Director General of the National Program for Small and Medium Enterprises, Abdel Nasser Abu Zagia, stated that this meeting came to support local olive oil producers and encourage the possibility of establishing transformational industries with the support of the state and financing institutions.


He emphasized the support of the National Program for Small and Medium Enterprises through training programs for emerging business owners in the field of olive oil cultivation. This is to increase the quantities of the Libyan product and introduce it in the relevant international forums.

Abu Zagia added that the Ministry of Economy stressed, through its minister, the need to support such initiatives and to prepare all means to enable olive oil producers to participate in upcoming international participation. It will also motivate farmers to expand the cultivation of olive trees, especially local varieties of high productivity and quality, and to open training centers to train farmers and owners of presses on how to raise the quality of olive oil production and multiply it.

Abu Zagia pledged to support all initiatives related to the production of olive oil and any local agricultural products that can be exported abroad, including dates, by holding training courses on everything related to agricultural products, from planting to harvesting to packaging and ending with selling and exporting.

In conclusion, a team was formed to work on developing a program to support the production of olive oil and issue recommendations in this regard.

Zimbabwe: Mashonaland Hosts First Lady Cookout Competition.

One unique characteristic of Africans is that their love for art extends even to their food. With different cultures come different kinds of meals, and most Africans showcase their creativity through their meals.  Every traditional African meal is usually tasty, colorful, and rich in nutrients, and Africans these days are working towards showcasing this proudly to the whole world. 

The first lady of Zimbabwe launched her traditional meal cookout competition in 2020 to promote the uptake of indigenous dishes and ensure citizens benefit from their nutritional values and medicinal properties. The competition is first held in the province then the winner and the runner-up go ahead to represent the province in the national competition. After the successful 2021 cookout, she handed this program over to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry.

On Tuesday, 2nd of May 2023, the provincial cookout competition was held at Kotwa High in Mudzi district. It was food galore as women from Mashonaland showcased their cooking skills. This competition drew participants from the province’s nine districts.

This successful program has attracted local people in large numbers and also attracted those in the Southern African Development Community.

“I am really grateful today, Mashonaland East, you have indeed demonstrated that you are moving on with the Traditional Cookout program to another level. The traditional Cookout concept seeks to restore the traditional and cultural values of the nation using readily available resources.

“I continue to urge the people of Zimbabwe to embrace the traditional diet as a way of boosting the immune system and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they are food and herbal. The medicinal effects of such foods help to keep our bodies healthy and less vulnerable to different diseases.

Minister Ndlovu added that traditional cuisine is now becoming common in many countries and is being used as a tool to attract tourists particularly those who are health-conscious and cognisant of the value embedded in traditional foods. “To this end, Amai tasked the Ministry responsible for Tourism to work together with Provinces to promote gastronomy tourism, attracting both the domestic and international markets. Let me bring to your attention that the previous editions of Traditional Cookout competitions in the provinces created a platform for knowledge and skills sharing on how to prepare traditional meals.

“In addition, a Traditional Cookout Recipe Book was compiled with traditional recipes from all the ten provinces and it was launched by Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in August 2022. This was undertaken to ensure sustainability, as well as ensure that we preserve the recipes for future generations. 2023 is the year we are rolling out the Third Edition of the Traditional Cookout Competitions to the people of Zimbabwe moving with the same objective, to ensure a healthy living as we journey towards the attainment of an upper middle-income society by 2030.” He commended the province for taking a step further to value-add its traditional products.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East Province, Dr Aplonia Munzverengwi during the competitions, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu called for everyone to continue embracing traditional dietary.

Ms Emmah Chikamhi from Goromonzi emerged as the winner of the provincial competition and will go ahead to represent the province in the national competition and she is confident of getting the winning title. She said, “I’m confident of winning in Chinhoyi and l want to thank Amai for affording us this platform.” “I cannot believe that I won today. I cooked my traditional meals with all my heart and I put my mind to it. Winning in this competition has motivated me to even work hard since I will be representing my province at the national level. “I will work hard and win again at the national level. Thank you Amai Mnangagwa for this wonderful and educative program which is empowering women across the country. We are grateful for your wisdom and support. she said.
Mrs Mutekedza, who is the wife to Chief Mutekedza from Chikomba district said the programme has taught them a lot and is benefiting many households. This program is important, especially for us women. We are now empowered. As for me, I now bake cakes using traditional and indigenous ingredients and they are delicious. These cakes are loved by many to the extent that people make orders and I get money from that. I want to call upon other women out there to come and join this program, they will not regret it,” she said.

The other participants including runner-up and Chief Mutoko’s wife thanked the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for coming up with the initiative. “Our traditional foods were under threat from extinction but they have now been revived by this competition,” states a contestant. Another contestant Ms Tichafara Ngoma from Marondera district, who is also a youth as well as a Hospitality Management student said she is learning a lot about traditional foods through Amai Manganwa’s cook-out program. “I am so happy. Amai Mnangagwa’s program is educative and beneficial, especially to our youths. It is important for us to know about our traditional foods. I have always wanted to cook these foods so joining this program is a plus for me. “Through this program, l am now aware of healthy food to eat and this is all because of Amai Mnangagwa. I want to thank her for this and I am encouraging other young women to embrace this program, she said

Mashonaland East province was commended for embracing the program and using locally available resources. “Since the start of the program, Mashonaland East has been a prominent feature at the national finals, which shows the seriousness the province attaches to the event,” noted Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Senator Aplonia Munzverengwi. 

There are preparations ongoing for the upcoming regional competition that will be held in Masvingo Province. Several countries in SADC have been invited to showcase their traditional cuisines. 

Morocco: Ministry Forecasts Increase in Cereal Production

Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture released a statement that cereal production is projected to increase by 62% in 2023 compared to the previous year. Cereal production is expected to reach approximately 55.1 million quintals for the 2022/2023 agriculture campaign, up from the 34 million quintals in the previous agriculture campaign.

Soft wheat production is also expected to make up 29.8 million quintals of the overall volume of cereal production in 2023 according to the statement in the harvest break down, in comparison, durum wheat is set to reach 11.8 million quintals, and barley 13.5 million quintals.

The ministry expects four regions to account for 83% of national production on the regional distribution of the harvest; Fez-Meknes with 27.1%, Rabat-Sale-Kenitra with 26.5%, Grand Casablanca-Settat with 16.%, and Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima 12.4%. 

In view of the current progress of the agriculture campaign’s development, the statement noted that the early months were characterized by harsh weather conditions, particularly between September and November 2022, which caused a delay in the sowing of autumn crops. However, with a total of 207 millimeters of rain, 13% more than the previous year’s total of 184 millimeters, rainfall has also greatly increased from last year, although the nation’s annual rainfall is 36% below the previous average of 322 millimeters.

The Ministry further explained that the “favorable conditions relatively better than those that prevailed in 2022 have allowed a good flowering announcing a predictable return to normal production of citrus and olive”. It also noted that the exceptionally favorable climatic conditions in the southern Atlas also indicate an early campaign date from last year”.

It also disclosed that the livestock sector has improved remarkably from last year because of the improvement in weather conditions and the implementation of a program launched in March 2022 to reduce the impact of drought on producers.

According to the ministry, the vegetable market has struck a balance between satisfying domestic needs and exports after a cold snap in particular that undermined tomato production. 

Rwanda, Serbia Agree to Boost Trade Ties.

In accordance with an agreement deal between Rwanda and Serbia, Rwanda will purchase wheat and maize from Serbia while sending coffee and tea to the Balkan country. This agreement aims to improve bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Serbia is the seventh-largest exporter of maize in the world and one of the top producers of cereals including wheat and maize, with annual production reaching up to 8.1 million tonnes. In the meantime, Rwanda’s booming coffee and tea industries stand to gain from the agreement.

The minister of Internal and External Trade of Serbia, Tomislav Momirovic, announced during a three-day visit to Rwanda, where he met with Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and other government representatives to talk about measures to improve the current relations between both countries.

Manasseh Nshuti, the Minister of State in Charge of East African Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, noted that Rwanda can trade with Serbia in various goods, including wheat and maize, as Serbia is a big producer in that area.

He pointed out that the agreement would benefit Rwandans “For instance for wheat and maize, they have enough for domestic consumption, and we can buy at affordable rates”. The agreement is made at a time when Rwanda is looking for alternate sources to purchase wheat due to the disruption of the world market brought on by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as 64% of Rwanda’s wheat imports from Russia were made before the war.

In addition to the trade agreement, the two countries want to deepen their cooperation in other sectors, including technology, as Rwanda is also considering sending students to Serbia to study cutting-edge technology.

StreetNet International Congress gathers African informal traders, street vendors in Kigali.

  • Roadside traders and other informal economy workers around the world are to converge in Kigali, Rwanda, to address peculiar issues.
  • The congress advocates for recognition and inclusion of street businesses in Africa especially.
  • AfriSQuare’s African News focuses briefly on the varied expectations from the Conference.

StreetNet International, a global coalition of street vendors and informal traders, holds its 7th International Congress in May 2023. This event features over 150 workers from the informal economy, activists, street vendors, and invited visitors from several other trade unions drawn from more than 50 countries, from about four continents, who will all converge in Kigali, Rwanda, from the first day of May to the sixth, to deliberate on tactics on how to defend these workers’ right to decent work, recognition, and social protection as well as pertinent matters such as climate change.  It also delivers to the participants an opportunity to be a part of the May 1st International Workers’ Day celebrations.

 

African roadside vendors. Source: includeplatform.net

 

Oksana Abboud, International Coordinator, says “StreetNet International Congress is the biggest event for StreetNet family, as it is exactly the most crucial space to get together for all StreetNet members from around the globe, listen to them, collect their views and suggestions, share experience and knowledge, analyze and criticize as well as to adopt new policies and strategies on continuous institutional growth in building collective actions towards empowerment and strengthening StreetNet at different levels, especially to amplify the voice and influence of informal street and market vendors in their own countries and cities while advocating for their rights and all types of protection.”

 

For more than twenty years, StreetNet has built solidarity among workers in the informal economy around the world, creating a bond and uniting them behind a joint front recognized by multilateral establishments such as the United Nations’ Agency, International Labour Organization. StreetNet has been promoting basic labour rights of street vendors in Africa; it is also pushing for an expansion in its scope and coverage such that it can also cater for members across different nations of the world. Most informal traders, and several other informal economy workers, typically do not have enough access to social protection and are ignored or neglected during social dialogues and collective negotiations even though informal economy workers are vital contributors to all countries’ economies.

 

Street vendors in Zimbabwe, the country with the 2nd largest vendor population in the world. Source: www.zimbabwesituation.com

 

The President of StreetNet, Lorraine Sibanda, says “recognition for the workers in the informal economy is critical for the growth of any country. This will also facilitate the access to decent work for informal economy workers, a condition that is not met in many countries. There needs to be access to social dialogue, so that workers in the informal economy are at the table of negotiations, being in the position to articulate their own issues, as well as guide the national strategies on formalization processes and the extension of social protection. Workers in the informal economy are as legitimate as their counterparts in the formal economy”.

 

A vegetable vendor and his customer, in Kigali. Source www.jacarandafm.com

 

The 7th Congress is expected to set the agenda for, and pace of, continued development of global alliances in the next four years. The Congress is bent on continuing the fight for acknowledgement and demand for necessary rights. The Universal Congress will also have the stakeholders elect a new four-year term leadership, even as they debate, propose, and adopt fresh policies and resolves.  The Congress is built to be the utmost governing body of StreetNet, saddled with the principal responsibility of making key decisions.

 

Can this development be sustained? How wide and far can it spread? Kindly share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, do share with your friends.

AMVCA 2023: RMD, Brotherhood, others eye best movie, actor as full nominees list emerges.

Source: https://www.dstv.com/africamagic/en-ng/home
  • The full list of nominees for the 9th edition of the AMVCA has since been generating a lot of reactions from lovers of entertainment and the screen.
  • The organizers of the event, the contenders, and the voters or viewers are all hyped up for the big day.
  • The voting categories are open to the public on AMVCA (dstv.com).

 

Stars headlining nominations for the highly awaited 9th Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards, AMVCA, 2023 include Chidi Mokeme, Tobi Bakare, Bimbo Ademoye, and others. MultiChoice, the organizers of the awards, on the evening of Sunday, April 16, 2023, released a comprehensive list detailing the various categories and the nominees ahead of the significant event, and different African news platforms have since been stirred.

 

Chidi Mokeme in Shanty Town. Source: www.pulse.ng

 

AfriSQuare gathered that digital content creators in Nollywood, and in Africa generally, have also earned recognition; this shows an expansion in the annual event’s scope, which traditionally recognizes outstanding performances in film, television, and entertainment.  The nominees are spread across more than 30 award categories, some of the categories, about ten of them, are open to the public; voters from the general public can choose their preferred nominees, while some other categories are to be decided by a panel of judges set up by the organizers. The event itself is scheduled to hold from the 18th to the 20th of May 2023, in Lagos State, Nigeria, and will be broadcast live on Africa Magic channels.

Source: AMVCA (dstv.com)

 

The AMVCA has grown into a premium event that acknowledges outstanding accomplishments in African television and film. This year, numerous talented actors and actresses across Africa, all contending for awards in different categories, will feature. The list of nominees contains talented film makers as well as prominent actors and actresses such as Nkem Owoh, Mercy Johnson, Chinedu Ikedieze, Chidi Mokeme, Richard Mofe Damijo, and several others. A number of movies and television series have also been nominated for awards, including ‘Brotherhood’ directed by Jade Osiberu, ‘Ile Owo’ directed by Kayode Kasum, among others.

 

According to the organizers, talented Big Brother Naija alumnus, Bisola Aiyeola and Ghanaian actor, Adjetey Anang, will be the main hosts for this year’s award show. There are several ways to vote for nominees of different categories. Members of the public are encouraged to cast their votes for their favorites as this could make them big winners of any of the public voting categories on awards night. To vote, one must register first before they can get behind their favorite nominees for the ninth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.

Adjetey Anang and Bisola Aiyeola, the event’s hosts. Source: AMVCA (dstv.com)  

 

To see the full list of nominees, as well as to register and vote for your favorites, the AMVCA site AMVCA (dstv.com) will come in handy. Feel free to visit. Also, share with us, here in the comment section under this post, who you think should win what awards. Is anyone on the nominees list who should not be there? Is there someone who should have been on the list? What do you think of the nominees and the categories? What do you think about the inclusion of online content makers in the mix? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section, even as you share the post with your friends.

 

 

Healthcare in South Africa progresses as Diabetes management enjoys technological boost.

  • While Diabetes keeps raging in most parts of the world, the Department of Health in South Africa as well as private health establishments are working assiduously to better the lives of people living with the ailment in the country.
  • Technology has proven invaluable in Diabetes management in the country.
  • While the ailment may be chronic, with sustained technological efforts it can be handled effectively.

Diabetes has long been classified as a chronic disease; it is a known source of challenges for patients and, if poorly managed, a known cause of blindness, renal failure, heart attack, and even death. According to the International Diabetes Federation, IDF, cited in www.africa.com, 24 million adults in Africa are currently living and dealing with diabetes, and by 2045, the number is likely to swell up to 55 million. In South Africa, healthcare is administered by the Department of Health. However, South Africa does not have a system of universal healthcare; a private healthcare system runs together with a public healthcare system and the systems have faced Diabetes headlong.

 

Source http://stock.adobe.com                  Source https://www.samagame.org

Source https://www.samagame.org                                               Source www.unsplash.com

The International Diabetes Federation also recently revealed in a report that roughly 4.5 million people live with diabetes in South Africa. The good news is that the 2020 Global Healthcare Index, puts South Africa’s healthcare system at number 49 out of 89 countries; also, the treatment range for managing the ailment has advanced speedily in recent times, with new and expanded technological inventions adding up to the development of new methods of dealing with diabetes, including the development of pills and other medications that lower glucose, as well as a broad list of insulin provisions that manage both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes more efficiently.

 

With this expansive list of effective glucose-lowering agents, remarkable progress has been made in diabetes technology. Diabetes technologies help people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels, avoid complications, improve patients’ quality of life, as well as lighten the load of living with diabetes. People living with diabetes used injectable animal-based insulin for years, but advancement in treatment have been made recently. Diabetes technology has come a long way. Devices are easier, from blood glucose meters and continuous glucose monitoring, CGM, to state-of-the-art insulin pumps.

 

Wearable technology has been introduced to ease the tracking of blood glucose levels over time and they are considered the most effective options for diabetes management. The CGM system is made up of a sensor, which is a small wire catheter inserted under the skin on the patient’s arm or abdomen, and a handheld receiver or smartphone that displays your glucose data in real-time.  Real-time CGM has become reliable and has demonstrated effectiveness in diabetes management, and daily monitoring of glucose levels.

                  Source www.hopkinsmedicine.org  Source www.hopkinsmedicine.org

 

The improvement in CGM system technology is evident in the Dexcom G7, recently launched in South Africa for diabetic two-year olds. This product’s launch signifies another milestone in the revolutionary diabetes management technology in South Africa. The Dexcom G7 is Dexcom’s most accurate CGM system ever developed. It has the fastest CGM in the market, a 30-minute sensor warm-up, and an improved alert settings for enhanced discretion, among several other features. The availability of Healthtech innovations like the Dexcom G7 will allow people with diabetes to live better lives despite their health conditions.

Source www.weforum.org Source www.weforum.org

Law student and a diabetes activist Thapi Semenya, has lived with the disease for more than 17 years, she is one of the benefitiaries of this technology in diabetes management. Her journey battling diabetes has been quite bumpy, like it has been for many. She has endured severe pains from needles. She sporadically experiences very high and low glucose levels without knowing. But now, with the availability of CGM, Thapi is living her life normally because she can monitor her glucose levels better. Indeed, an improvement in CGM, is still an integral part of diabetes management, in a world where the number of people with diabetes is rising.

There is little worry that South Africa may not surmount the possible health crises posed by diabetes. The country has seen substantive health sector reforms, and, yes South Africa boasts of the highest standard of healthcare in Africa with more than 200 private hospitals across the country. It is also a hugely famous destination for tourists and expats too, hence, South Africa’s healthcare system is regularly tested.

 

 

 

 

Morocco: UM6P, OCP Pledge $200m to Agrictech Start-ups.

Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) and the OCP Group have pledged $200 million to Bidra Innovative Ventures. The program will broaden Bidra’s investment horizon to cover developments in agriculture, mining, water, and energy. The pledge will support cutting-edge, international agric tech start-ups that combat climate change. UM6P is a center for learning, research, entrepreneurship, and innovation that strives to establish partnerships with universities all around the world. The OCP Group claims to be the “world’s largest” producer of phosphate fertilizers and offers solutions for plant nutrition.

 

The president of UM6P and board chair of Bidra, Hicham El Habti said, “This fund will expand our investment in reducing the carbon footprint of the agriculture industry while tackling the challenges of food security, urbanization, and industrialization”. He explained that supporting Bidra’s initiatives is a part of UM6P’s dedication to funding sustainable agriculture, educating the upcoming generation of business owners, and elevating Morocco and Africa to the forefront of technology.

 

Also speaking on the occasion, Amar Singh, Head of Group at Bidra Innovation Ventures, “UM6P recognizes the role innovation must play to sustainably solve global challenges. Having OCP’s support is a tremendous advantage because now we can extend OCP’s regional know-how and distribution capacity to startups that are ready to scale.”

 

The founder and CEO of Niqo Robotics, Jaisimha Rao said “With the support of Bidra, UM6P, and OCP Group, we continue to develop our robotic technology to benefit farmers in emerging markets that currently rely on outdated methods and manual labor”.

This most recent round was initiated a year after the same investors helped Bidra form a $50 million agriculture-focused fund. AgroSpheres, a startup creating the next wave of eco-friendly crop protection solutions, raised $22 million in a Series B fundraising round in October, with Bidra taking part.

 

Africa’s biggest food exhibition attracts stakeholders from over 30 countries.

  • From African delicacies to intercontinental dishes, the Continent of Africa hardly runs out of food options.
  • A leading food exhibition company has gone ahead to expand the brand.
  • This year, an unprecedented number of delegates is expected at the Food & Beverage West Africa exhibition.

 

The Food & Beverage West Africa, a leading exhibition event devoted to the food and beverage industry and considered the largest food and drink trade exhibition in the continent, has concluded plans to expand into a new location at the Landmark Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, in June with exhibitors from more than 30 countries already confirmed.

 

The event which gives attendees the golden opportunity to showcase their new drink and food products as they develop or increase business connections across the catering, grocery, and general food and beverage industry not just in Nigeria but across the world, has been in high demand, prompting the event organizers to work on adding a fourth exhibition hall to the event.

 

The display is scheduled to run from June 13th to 15th and will attract exhibitors from over 30 countries. Ten country stands will feature for the first time; the stands will have foods, drinks, equipment and services from Russia, India, Dubai, and others, also, the United Nation’s International Trade Centre organization will be sending a delegation of West African producers from countries like Liberia and Gambia. A delegation is also expected from Indonesia.

The Food & Beverage West Africa exhibition is put together by BtoB Events, and the expansion the Food & Beverage event has made the company Africa’s largest trade event organizer. In a statement, the Food & Beverage West Africa stated that the show has the potential to practically double its floor area size since they held the event last year during which they sold out the two present exhibition halls. The stretching of the venue last year suggests that a significant expansion is imminent this year, “…a third hall has opened, and now a fourth semi-permanent marquee-type hall is being constructed,’’ the statement read.

 

Jamie Hill the Managing Director of BtoB Events, said “I am delighted to see demand growing for more exhibition space. The show’s expansion reflects the confidence in Nigeria’s economic landscape – people are ready for Nigeria to do business and the Food & Beverage exhibition is now at a truly international scale. We anticipate there will be more than 5,000 visitors representing food retailing, production and distribution, as well as the hospitality sector, who will be keen to see the latest developments and business opportunities from more than 300 exhibitors.”

                

The Restaurant & Food Service Proprietors Association of Nigeria, REFSPAN, is one of the partners for this event. One of the spokespersons for the association said: “Food & Beverage West Africa gives REFSPAN members a bouquet of opportunities to meet with key players in major parts of the world that are beneficial to the dynamism and the growth REFSPAN desire, in order to promote more and expand the QSR [quick-service restaurant] business in Nigeria.”

 

Companies and food brands interested in owning stands at the exhibition event are expected to contact the exhibition Manager since an additional exhibition space allows the planners to take more bookings.

 

 

 

Native African trees replenish natural habitats for Rwandese.

 

  • A wildlife conservation body has delved headlong into the restoration of natural habitats in Rwanda.
  • Trees are important natural elements, and this organization has chosen to massively plant Rwandese indigenous tree species.
  • Natives are working closely with this organization on this rigorous tree-planting program.

 

Since 2017, the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA) has been vigorously executing strategic tree-planting episodes across numerous sites in the east African country of Rwanda, and fundamentally, emphasis has been placed on planting native trees to preserve the region’s biodiversity.

 

The non-governmental body, on this vital mission to restore the country’s native trees, in addition to its reforestation efforts, is also championing a conservation initiative targeted at the protection of the Grey Crowned Crane and other vanishing wildlife spaces in Rwanda. The organization, through this program, is working towards protecting and restoring natural territories.

 

               

 

The organization, on the 29th of March, marked five years of re-establishing habitats for wildlife and people alike. The event took place at Umusambi Village, Masaka, and involved a visit to RWCA’s indigenous tree nursery and seed storage facility at the place and a restoration site situated in Rwamagana District, adjacent to Lake Muhazi. The site is 8 hectares of land and was restored in 2018 in partnership with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 

According to the Habitat Restoration Manager at RWCA, Cecile Kayitanirwa, the site had been used as farmlands previously, though, the land’s occupants were interested in working with RWCA to plant assorted native trees to avert their extinction. Kayitanirwa mentioned that the neighboring community cooperated with RWCA in planting and taking care of the trees. This collaborative effort has profited the community by providing employment for different individuals and also enhancing the growth of trees, indigenous trees especially.

 

                 

 

At RWCA, the attention concentrates on growing trees rather than just planting them. The body identifies the importance of cultivating, nourishing and nursing the trees as they progress, while also promoting community ownership. Expanding on the program’s essence Kayitanirwa said “we prioritize planting indigenous trees because they are unique to Rwanda and are currently facing threats of extinction. Therefore, our goal is to restore these trees so that future generations can witness their natural beauty and potential uses. Moreover, indigenous trees play a vital role in providing a habitat for animal species and serving as a source of food and medicinal benefits for the community. These trees are also crucial in preventing soil degradation by holding the soil in place.”

 

So far, RWCA has successfully restored about 60 hectares of land, including 35 hectares of forest and 25 hectares of wetland. The organization has employed over 500 casual workers and about 14 guards at their sites. They have planted about 75,000 trees from over 40 different species.

 

Ghana garners global goodwill after American artistes’ applause.

  • Hiphop fans from Africa as well as African followers of the renowned Steve Harvey have continued to express satisfaction after eulogies about Ghana went viral online.
  • Two key American entertainers were at the fore of the praise-singing.
  • Africans, Ghanaians especially, have received the tributes happily.

 

Recently, on two different occasions, the west African country of Ghana received unusual recognitions from two American entertainers – Tv personality Steve Harvey and Musician Chance the rapper; they both promoted the Gold Coast, in their own unique ways, to their large western audience. The humorous 66-year-old Tv Host, Harvey, advised his audience to visit Ghana first, then Botswana and South Africa. Harvey claimed it’s a way to gain a better understanding of African culture and the significant contributions made by Africans to the world.

 

                 

 

Harvey who once visited Ghana in 2019 to film and broadcast a season of Family Feud, encouraged his American audience to disregard their preconceived notion of Africa and visit first. He said, “them Africans is us mhen; they are the beat; they are the rhythm; they are the song. They are hard work; we get our courage from them. When you see them, people, they look just like your family.

 

In a similar development, American rapper, Chance The Rapper, in a recent freestyle, dropped a few lines in Twi language – one of Ghana’s native languages. Chance also referenced Osu and Kumasi, two Ghanaian towns, in his rap. He did not just make reference to the towns; he actually eulogized them in his rap in which he sprinkled some Twi language.

 

                               

 

The rapper went beyond praising the African towns, he also saluted Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and the revered Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in the short electrifying performance. His line went: “Akwaaba medaase, that’s the end of my speech. Tell them to spread the word from Osu to KumasiThis for Dr Kwame, Selassie and Nnamdi.” 

 

These separate events have since attracted reactions from Ghanaians especially, and other Africans alike. People say that these mentions and recognitions reinforce the idea that Africa, its culture, and its people have garnered massive global recognition for its contribution to the arts, world politics, and global markets.

 

Zimbabwean women make money making more room for mushrooms.

 

  • “Nature alone is antique, and the oldest art a mushroom”, says Thomas Carlyle.
  • These arty yet nourishing fungi are found in generous quantities in Zimbabwe.
  • Separating the edible ones from the poisonous ones is a vital skill.

 

In Zimbabwe, a group of women defy the odds in their search for mushrooms. A rich source of antioxidants, protein, and fiber, wild mushrooms have become a cherished delicacy as well as an income source in Zimbabwe, and these native women who are armed with the skill to tell edible and poisonous mushrooms apart, in wee hours, dutifully collect just enough mushrooms to push out for sale. These women, when they have gathered the mushrooms in marketable numbers, run to meet trucks on the Harare-Bulawayo highway hoping to persuade drivers to buy beautiful wild mushrooms from their harvest.

 

                   

 

The native women painstakingly scan through the land, identifying what type is good enough for their target market. But they must do so before sunrise because landowners may not be so welcoming. Diana Chiwara, a native mushroom picker said “this is the bush where we pick mushrooms, we wake up early morning around past 3 am and walk deep into this bush. We can’t come late in the day because it’s restricted to be in this place. The owners of this place don’t always allow people to come and pick mushrooms here. So, we come early and will be hiding from them, so that by the time it’s lunch time we are already leaving.”

 

Chiwara’s trip before dawn to the forest is just the first of several steps in the day-long process. She moves from the bush to a busy highway. She tidies up the mushroom, cleaning and scrapping where necessary, using a knife, then she joins the strong struggle involving other mushroom sellers; she is in competition, eager to entice passing motorists. Knowing what mushrooms to sell is a vital skill for this trade as several thousands of varieties exist.

                         

 

Not all the varieties are safe for use. While some are quite good for food like shitake, portobello, and the more popular ones sold in supermarkets, several other wild mushrooms can be gravely poisonous, causing stomach upset or other allergic reactions that could cause harm to the body. Expert knowledge as well as some trainings are necessary to learn which ones are edible. People who do not have the training are not to try picking mushrooms for human consumption. So, mothers in this African nation, who have been drilled on the fields and have also received handed-down trainings, pass down the requisite expert knowledge and training needed to their daughters, and the chain goes on.

 

 

One of the natives, Polite Mugobo, on her way out to collect mushrooms with her husband and son, spoke about mushroom picking, she says ‘’sometimes we meet thugs, and they steal everything from us. Sometimes the farm owners chase us from their land. So, we try to do this while hiding, it’s tough. We also have to be careful so that we don’t get attacked by dangerous wild animals.”  This family rakes through the land, defying the early morning dew, a task bigger than faint hearts. They screen litters of dry leaves and look under trees for shoot-ups. They gather enough, clean them up, and arrange them for sale. We sell this mushroom for US$1 a bowl like this during the rainy season. Our customers regularly stop on highway to buy mushrooms. On a good day or during the weekend we go home with about US $20 – $15 each,” Mugobo said.

 

 

 

An associate professor of horticulture at the Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology, Wonder Ngezimana, while speaking about the mushroom trade said that women like Mugobo are foremost players in Zimbabwe’s mushroom trade, “Predominantly women have been gatherers and they normally go with their daughters. They transfer the indigenous knowledge from one generation to the other,” she says. According to a research by Ngezimana and some of her colleagues at the university in 2021, about one in four women who search for wild mushrooms usually go with their daughters, save for “just few cases”  where the boys came along. About 1.4% of the boys follow their mothers to pick mushrooms, “mothers were better knowledgeable of wild edible mushrooms compared to their counterparts – fathers,” the researchers theorized.

 

 

The researchers conducted an interview with about a hundred people and meticulously observed mushroom collection in the district of Binga, western Zimbabwe, where Zimbabwe’s staple food, maize, suffers from droughts and poor land quality making it quite unviable in the district. So mushroom season is vital for the native families. According to the research, averagely, each family makes just above $100 a month selling wild mushrooms, even as they rely on the fruitful fungi for their own domestic subsistence. Though mushrooms are fast becoming key to household use, authorities routinely advise the people on the dangers of eating wild mushrooms.

 

In order to encourage safe mushroom consumption and income generation all year round, the government is backing small-scale profitable production of select types healthy for consumption like the oyster mushrooms. But the popularity of the varieties of wild mushroom are not waning at all.

LIBYAN COUSCOUS CONNOISSEURS COOK UP, SEEK INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION

Couscous is a traditional North African dish of small steamed granules of rolled semolina that is mostly served with a stew spooned on top or a range of ingredients depending on region and individual tastes. It is a main dish throughout the Maghrebi cuisines of Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, and Libya. In 2020 UNESCO added couscous to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Chefs in Libya held a massive cooking competition featuring the country’s most popular dish couscous, at the historic Roman theater of Sabratha west of Tripoli. This was done in an effort to gain international recognition for their country’s beloved dish which is a main course in most homes in Libya.

An enormous inflatable swimming pool-sized platter of couscous, the chefs combined 2,400 kilograms of semolina with mutton, pumpkin, and caramelized onions which are the signature touch of the Libyan couscous. Spectators watched the four-meter (13-foot) diameter semolina dish take shape. A spectator Ahlam Fakhri said, “it is part of our identity, our culture, our heritage and we are proud of it”.

Couscous is often identified with Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia, as Libya is yet to ratify the UN’s cultural heritage agreement, and UNESCO has not acknowledged its couscous legacy.

Ali Messaoud Al Ftimi is the organiser of the giant couscous cook-up. He usually hosts similar events every year at various historical sites in a bid to send “a message to parliament” that Libya should have its couscous recognized as well. He is also the head of an association that encourages tourism and preserves Libya’s heritage. 

He told AFP that the efforts come from “a popular impulse” and he hopes lawmakers will ratify the international UN convention “in the near future”. Al Ftimi explained that “adhering to this convention will not only preserve couscous but also culture. Libya is rich in culture and this heritage is not protected”.

“A designation does not mean ownership or exclusivity to a country”, according to UNESCO there is no barrier to Libya ratifying the convention on cultural heritage and later adding its name to its couscous dossier.

According to Monira Zwait, a chef in Tripoli, she hopes that authorities will achieve the goal. “Couscous is not just a dish that we eat, it is the mirror of a civilization and a knowledge transmitted from generation to generation”, Zwait said.

KENYA: Youth Engage in Drone Technology to Boost Food Security.

  • Youth participate in the KDBC training programme which is aimed at fostering and developing entrepreneurial skills.

New technologies have been invented where drones are employed in agri-business for mapping, surveying, and even spraying pesticides on crops as a way to increase food security in Kenya. This new technology aims to foster innovation and develop entrepreneurial skills among youths in Kenya. 

 

Youths in Kenya participated in the Kenyan Drone Business Competition (KDBC), and 10 finalists engaged in a live-drone-flying demonstration and were opportune to interact with international industry experts and drone pilots at Drone Spavce Training Airfield, Sigoni.

 

There were 122 applicants for the competition from 24 countries but were cut down to 25 through age selection of the age bracket 18-25. The 25 were engaged virtually for five days. It was from the 25 that the 10 finalists were selected, which was based on the best ideas on technology in Agriculture.

 

The Kenyan Drone Business Competition (KDBC) is a training programme that seeks to develop the entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness of Kenya-based young technology entrepreneurs with a focus on drones. The programme also aims at building capacity and creating a platform for accessing STEM resources significant to the development of agricultural inputs in the economy.

 

The programme is funded by the US Embassy in Nairobi, and according to Bridget Koenig, Public Diplomacy Officer at the United States Embassy, the Embassy is very keen on food security and its reason for funding the competition is to ensure connectivity and collaboration with experts who are determined in solving the numerous problem facing farming by means of agric-technology.

She also pointed out that food security is a huge challenge, stating that the technology will help them acquire skills to come out with solutions to address food security.

 

Collaboration between the Global Air Drone Academy (GADA), Dronector Academy, KCAA, Skydio, Drone Deploy, and Kenya Labs in organizing the KDBC will also help solve some of the enormous problems affecting food security via technology. It also places emphasis on the level of attention given to the agricultural sector.

 

The three top winners who emerged from the competition received drones, with the first winner earning Sh2.5 million. The best finalist was also offered free training by Dronector Academy.

CEO and Co-founder of Global Air Drone Academy (GADA), Eno Umoh encouraged farmers to embrace technology, making mapping and surveying farms easier.

TUNISIA: Culinary Route of Sfax Olive Oil Initiative Launched

 

  • The project is aimed at diversifying the travel options provided in the area.
  • It is part of the Sustainable Tourism Promotion project.

 

 

Under the project “Tounes Wijhatouna,” sponsored by the German cooperation GIZ up to TND 153 thousand, the Tunisia Olive Association organized an information day on the launch of the Culinary Route of Sfax Olive Oil initiative.

 

 

The culinary route of Sfax olive oil was launched in 2020 in partnership with the European Union and the Association Tunisia Olive with the intention of diversifying the travel options provided in the area, according to Neziha Karati Kammoun, project director and vice president of the Association Tunisia Olive.

 

 

According to Association President Faouzi, the establishment of the culinary route project will take place over a 10-month period with the goal of promoting the tangible and intangible cultural legacy of olive oil and the Sfax region’s culinary traditions based on olive oil. He added that the route will also exhibit the handicrafts related to the olive tree and its wood, making it the first of its kind.

 

 

The Culinary Route Sfax Olive Oil is also part of the Sustainable Tourism Promotion project which is a partnered effort of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development under the ‘Tounes Wijhetouna’ programme. The programme was implemented by the GIZ Tunisia in collaboration with the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism.

 

 

Through immersive culinary experiences, the Sustainable Tourism Promotion project aims to introduce travelers to various regions of the nation through flagship products like cheese, harissa, olive oil, or dates.

 

GB FOODS COMMISSION STATE-OF-THE-ART CANNING LINE IN GHANA

  • GB Foods is a leading food manufacturing company and has commissioned a $5 million state-of-the-art canning factory.
  •  It aims to reduce the number of raw materials imported for production.

GB Foods, a prominent food manufacturing firm and producer of Ghana’s famous Gino and Pomo range of goods, has expanded its production line by commissioning a state-of-the-art tomato canning factory in Tema. Constructed at a total cost of $ 5 million, the state-of-the-art tomato canning is aimed at lowering the number of raw materials imported in manufacturing the company’s products, consequently creating additional employment possibilities for Ghanaians.

 

The company is committed to investing in Africa and Ghana, according to Artur Carrula, President of Agrolimen, the parent company of GBFoods, who announced the commissioning of the production line.

“With the support of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Ministry of Trade and Industry, we are working to identify locations for two adjacent farmlands of 7,000 acres each on which we will construct two industrial farms each with an integrated factory to process tomatoes. We will sell in Ghana and also export to other African countries taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement”. He continued by saying “we believe that after these two projects are finished, GBFoods would have invested over $70 million in investments, create over 5,000 employment, and generate FX for Ghana,”

 

General Manager for GB Foods Ghana, David Kofi Afflu, stated that the company would keep making investments and contributing to the growth of Ghana’s economy. “Apart from the tomato processing line, this state-of-the-art facility also has a curry processing line. We believe in Ghana and remain committed to driving investments to grow our footprint in the county. Today’s commissioning is a demonstration of our deep level of commitment to this cause and we shall not relent on this effort”, he stated

 

President Nana Akufo-Addo, who attended the event as the Special Guest of Honor, expressed confidence in the new GBFoods tomato canning line and promised cooperation from the federal government. “GBFoods has kept its promise to the people of Ghana to offer wholesome goods. I’m delighted to see this expansion initiative,” he continued.

 

In conclusion, GB Foods pledged to create the favorable conditions necessary to support the effort to combat food security. GB Foods is a brand of Gallina Blanca, created in 1937 in Barcelona. GB Foods is present in more than 50 countries in Europe and Africa with a turnover of almost 1.3 billion euros and a network of staff of about 3,600. It is present in African countries including Nigeria, Algeria, and Senegal among others.

 

Kenya leads world tea production, exportation.

  • Because tea is in high demand globally, efforts are being made by primary growers of the product to double up on production.
  • Africa is at the fore front of tea production and export globally.
  • Kenya, though not necessarily a major consumer, has sustained its position as a leading grower of different types of tea in the world.
  • Other than water, tea follows as a highly consumed beverage; next to China and India, Kenya is big on the global tea production stage.

 

Next to water, tea is the world’s most consumed drink; this accounts for its high demand across the world, and Kenya has stood tall as the only African country to be listed in the top ten tea manufacturing countries worldwide, and the biggest global exporter of black tea particularly.

                

Tea has remained a major cash crop grown in Kenya and has been a leading source of foreign exchange earnings for the country. Regarding cultivation of the leaves, Kenya produced over 400 thousand tons of tea in 2022 thanks to the estimated 500,000 small-scale Kenyan farmers that grow tea across the country on approximately 236,000 hectares of land. The country’s regions that are famous for tea distribution include the Nyambene Hills, Kericho region, and Nandi. Many teas are produced in Asia and being the birthplace of the product, it is understandable that China sits on the very top of the ladder as the leader of the industry, in terms of production and even consumption. However, the input, innovation, and significant contribution of this younger participant in the industry, Kenya, has quickly earned it a spot as the largest exporter of black tea in the world.

                 

Although Kenya is in Africa, its location close to the equator positions it for sufficient sunlight and ideal conditions to grow the plants. Other environmental factors, including high elevation in the mountains and an excessively rich volcanic soil, have made it favorable for the plants to thrive. This has subsequently enabled tea farmers in Kenya to grow an immense amount of the product and harvest some of the best teas the world has reckoned with. Kenya produces a lot of black tea and several other types of teas including green tea, yellow tea, and white tea grown on request by key tea producers, but one unique tea native to the country is the Kenyan Purple Tea. Purple leaf tea was developed in Kenya about 25 years ago. It is called the purple leaf tea because of its signature purple and healthy-looking leaves with high levels of antioxidants. It is believed to contain even more age-defying antioxidants than the green tea with potentials to curb cancer and other ailments.

                   

This unique-tasting tea carries quite a smooth tang; rather than having a grassy taste, it has more of melon and honey flavors. Many also love and prefer the purple tea because it is low on caffeine, so it works well for a quick afternoon shot of antioxidant.  Tea lovers have found that adding some lemon juice to purple tea changes its color to peach or even gold. China produces about 2,400,000 tons of tea yearly, this puts the country on the number one spot among biggest producers, exporters, and, to some extent, consumers of tea in the world. It exports 40% of the total tea in world. India is popular for being the second highest tea producing country in the world accounting for about 1,250,000 tons annually.

                     

Kenya got acquainted with tea in 1903, it became a profit-oriented venture in 1924 when Malcom Bell stepped in for the company Brooke Bond, and it has been a key stapple in the African country ever since. The annual tea production in Kenya exceeds 500,000 tons, this makes it the third biggest producers globally; and number one producer of black tea globally. In Mombasa, a coastal city in southeastern Kenya along the Indian Ocean, tea is sold through automated public auction for an international community. In October 2011, tea was averagely actioned at $3.22 per kilogram.

Africa’s oldest restaurant validates continent’s timeless cuisine.

  • The oldest restaurant in Africa, Café El M’Rabet, maintains the spirit of its founders.
  • Its staying power has also demonstrated the longevity of African staples.
  • Other than the classic meals, it has served as a nostalgic spot for relaxation.

In 1628, minister Ali Thabit, in Tunisia, put together what is now considered the oldest restaurant in Africa, and one of the oldest in the world – Café El M’Rabet, in Tunis. The classic restaurant is cited steps away from the Zaytuna Mosque, or popularly called the Zitouna Mosque by many who believe the restaurant itself was founded as a part of the Mosque.

 

Regular features of the restaurant include live music usually served in the evenings – a tradition that has continued up till today. The beautiful space also provides an outdoor beer barn.

                     

The historic Jemâa Ezzitouna marketplace enjoys a pleasant viewpoint from the famous and ever bustling El M’Rabet restaurant giving it a majestic and relaxing feel. Also, the time-tested restaurant serves pies and roasts, inspired by the old-style British tavern foods.  It has promptly responded to times and seasons, but it is yet to lose its ancient flavor and appeal. Young and old, natives and tourists, from time to time, visit this classic food spot in North Africa. Not only has it validated the time-tested cuisines of Africa, but it has also proven to be a favorite tourist destination, and a reliable spot for hospitality.

 

Not only is it one of the oldest, but it has also registered its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Africa particularly, and in the world generally, paying attention to different languages as many clients visit the spot from various parts of the world, hence commination should not pose a challenge.

                       

Recently, clients who visited the classic restaurant observed that the services are top-notch, pointing out that the only possible glitch is the wait – a lot of people from different parts of the world visit the restaurant, hence it welcomes tons of food and fun lovers daily. Iraqi Anni-Voo Duhok said after her recent visit to the restaurant that “I was very empty during the lunchtime so was lucky to have excellent attentive service. As I don’t know French, the manager kindly explained to me with English and Arabic the dishes, the vegetables with lamb that I ordered were delicious and the Arabic coffee at the end was amazing. Plus, they also had a nice selection of starters. Veryt central location and there is also livelier coffeeshop downstairs.” The foods, the consistency of service, as well as the retention of ancient values, styles and cuisines, have singled out Café El M’Rabet from the pack.

EGYPT: BOOSTING WHEAT SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

  • African countries are bringing up programs to mitigate the food crisis.
  • Egypt aims to produce 70% of local wheat by 2030.
  • Plans to acquire more silos for storage.

Global factors like climate change in Africa, inflation worldwide, and a surge in global food prices have caused devastating global ripples, indirectly leading to the food crisis. So many African countries are now working so hard to mitigate the food crisis problem by creating some agricultural programs.

In this same vein, Egypt now aims to produce 70% of local wheat by 2030. According to the director of the field crops research institute, Reda Mohamed, they have succeeded in increasing the land cultivated with wheat to 3,650,00 Feddans in 2023, with an annual increase of 250,000 Feddans to raise productivity gradually between 65% to 70% by 2030. He continued, “it is targeted this year to reach about four million Feddans with a total productivity of 12 million tons, which achieves 55 percent of consumption locally.” he added to his remarks that this came in light of the expansion of land reclamation through giant national projects in eastern Owainat, Toshka and the future of Egypt. In addition to maximizing productivity by developing new seed varieties capable of adapting to modern irrigation methods and climatic conditions, the statement added. These projects also aim to increase the number of pilot fields to 7000 fields in all villages to educate farmers about proper agricultural practices.

The limitation of this program is the shortage of arable land and water so Egypt is looking to tighten up the storage and logistics links in its grain supply chain to reduce import costs. To compensate for this limitation, they are also stepping up measures to ensure that the maximum possible of each harvest reaches the mills safely and in good condition; It is believed that much of the loss from wastage as a result of losses while in store will be prevented by upgrading the network of silos across the country and planned improvements to logistics services.

There is already a plan put in place to acquire more silos to improve the preservation of the wheat set to be produced locally.

LESOTHO: HIS MAJESTY TO HOST HIGH-LEVEL EVENT.

An event will be hosted by His Majesty King Letsie III. It is a high-level event on nutrition and food security and it will be held in March 2023. 

 

The leaders of African countries are now fighting tooth and nail to get rid of everything that has plagued their citizens. Presently, the reports on the status of nutrition have shown that in Africa, malnutrition remains the cause of most child deaths

Those that will be in attendance are; six Heads of State and Government, and other renowned people in the region and beyond. This was disclosed in a saving gram issued by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Mr. Thabo Motoko.

 

 

This high-level event is expected to explore lasting solutions regarding maintaining good nutrition. This event is also part of the long-term vision set out in Agenda 2063, whereby the Heads of State of the African Union have adopted common African goals and objectives, thus bringing about well-nourished citizens and in good health with more emphasis on women, adolescents, and children.

 

 

 

KENYA: STUDENTS AND SCIENTISTS MARCH FOR SCIENCE.

GMOs are genetically modified organisms, this is the altering of the genomes of plants or animals to produce a desired result. It is mostly used in agriculture and the benefits of this engineering are increased crop yields, reduced costs for food or drug production, reduced need for pesticides, enhanced nutrient composition and food quality, resistance to pests and disease, greater food security, and medical benefits to the world’s growing population.

On Wednesday, some Kenyan scientists, science students, and farmers that grow genetically modified cotton took to the streets in Nairobi in a show of support for GMOs in Kenya.

The procession was a peaceful one, it started at Jevanjee Gardens on Moi Avenue across the Central Business District and ended at Memorial Park on Haille Selasie Road.

The aim of this procession was to draw attention to the important role of science and specifically GMOs in addressing the chronic food crisis in the country. They also emphasized their support for the Government’s decision to lift the decades-long ban on the importation, sale, and consumption of GMOs.

The procession was performed under the umbrella of RePlanet Africa, a communication and training outfit that seeks to improve public understanding of science.

During his address at the end of the procession, the RePlanet Africa Country representative, Timothy Machi said “As a country, we are at a place where feeding ourselves is increasingly becoming difficult.” He painted a gloomy picture of the food situation in Kenya and the region. He said statistics from the World Food Programme (WFP), Machi noted that in 2021, an estimated 2.1 million Kenyans faced the risk of starvation. Still, the number rose by 84 percent to 4.4 million between October and December of 2022.

He blamed the worsening food crisis in the region on climate change that resulted in three seasons of failed rains, rapid population growth, and underperforming food systems.

“At RePlanet Africa, we know the answer to these challenges lies with science. That is why today, we are happy to have brought together the different stakeholders among them scientists, academia, and farmers to ask Kenyans, leaders, and policymakers to listen to and give science a chance to feed Kenyans through GMOs,” he said. He also added, “GMOs are an important tool in the fight against hunger and poverty, and we are proud to be taking a stand in support of their use and to support the government in lifting a ban on the importation and consumption of GMOs in Kenya.”

The scientists affirmed that GMOs had been proven safe and effective in providing a sustainable and reliable food source for the world’s growing population.

Kennedy Oyugi, an agricultural scientist based at Africa Harvest, said GMOs as products of science, have the potential to revolutionize the way Kenya produces food, making it more efficient and sustainable to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

Speaking on behalf of science students from different universities in Kenya, Peter Gichuki, a Livestock Production student at the University of Nairobi said several tests by organizations including the National Bio-Safety Authority found GMOs safe for human consumption.

The group carried banners and placards that bore messages about GMOs being safe for human consumption.

DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS COMMIT TO BOLSTER FOOD PRODUCTION IN AFRICA.

The second Africa food summit in Senegal ended on Friday, 27th of January with the development partners agreeing to commit $30 billion to back the continent’s resolve to boost agricultural productivity and become a bread basket for the world.

The African Development Bank plans to contribute $10 billion over a period of 5 years and the Islamic Development Bank plans to provide $5 billion.

Under the theme “Feed Africa; food sovereignty and resilience”, the Dakar 2 Summit adopted a declaration on the implementation of the Summit’s resolution to be submitted to the African Union.

Organized by the Senegalese government and the African Development Bank, the Summit gathered dozens of dignitaries, which included 34 heads of state and government, 70 government ministers, and development partners, to work tirelessly on compacts that would transform agriculture across Africa. The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins attended all three days of the summit.

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina talked about how the continent and its partners are determined to see results and that implementation is critical to boosting food production and feeding Africa. “With strong collective determination and resolve, we will work in coordination and partnerships to help countries to deliver success,” he affirmed.

Adesina said that Dakar 2 Summit would be remembered as a key moment in Africa’s ability to feed itself and achieve food self-sufficiency and food sovereignty: “We leave with a determination and resolve to feed Africa. With hands together and in locked steps, we will reach our destination: An Africa that finally feeds itself. An Africa that develops with pride.” 

In the Dakar Declaration, the leaders agreed to allocate at least 10% of public expenditure to increase funding for agriculture. They also agreed to deploy grand production packages to boost productivity and increase resilience to achieve food security and self-sufficiency.

The president of the Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, delivered a statement pledging continued support to boost food production in Africa. Canada and Germany also made commitments to support the Feed Africa agenda.

 

LESOTHO BOOSTED THE ECONOMY THROUGH AGRICULTURE.

Lesotho plans to increase fruit production and this will be achieved through the Lesotho Competitiveness and Financial Inclusion project in collaboration with Lesotho National Farmers’ Association equipping farmers with skills.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Business Development, and Tourism Senior Public Relations Officer, Ms. Mantletse Maile indicated that they intend to train farmers so they can have skills to meet the needs of Basotho by ensuring that they make fruits available to stop importing them and grow the economy of Lesotho.

She also talked about the funds that will be available to respond to the requirements of farmers and therefore increase fruit production in the country. There will also be an event to be held in Hlotse, this event is expected to attract farmers’ representatives.

During the training, they will have a tour of Mahobong Fruit Production Farms where farmers will learn more about the experiences of those who produce fruits.

In 2022, there was a World Bank program aimed at strengthening the country’s private sector through high-value, high-potential value chains like nature-based tourism and horticulture with a focus on deciduous fruit production. Lesotho Apple growers exported about 30 bins of apples; 90,000 0f Top Red and Golden Delicious apples to South Africa which happened to be the product of this program. This program first started in 2006 and has sold locally to Shoprite, Game, and Pick n’ Pay stores. It is usually sponsored by the government of Lesotho and the World Bank.

 

UNESCO RECOGNIZES SENEGAL AS THE HOME OF JOLLOF RICE.

There has been a long-standing debate between the West African nations, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal about who has the origin of Jollof rice. This dish is a West African cuisine made of rice and fish, spiced with vegetables and tomatoes.

 

UNESCO has officially recognized Senegal as the origin of Jollof rice. Senegalese Jollof rice is also known as Ceebu jen. Research from Conversation Africa showed that the origins of Jollof rice can be traced to the entrenchment of colonial rule in West Africa between 1860 and 1940. During this period, the French colonizers replaced food crops with broken rice imported from Indochina. Meanwhile, broken rice became more priced for the Senegalese than a whole rice grain, which birth the dish called Ceebu jën.

 

It has been recognized as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. It is a source of pride and cultural identity for the Senegalese.

 

For the Senegalese, Jollof rice is also linked to a particular way of life, and consumption is connected to ceremonial events.

 

The Ceebu jen recognition by UNESCO has put an end to the ongoing debate over its origins and solidified Senegal’s claim as the true home of Jollof rice.

 

This certification is expected to positively impact the economy, particularly in tourism, agriculture, fishing, and catering.

 

NIGERIAN PRESIDENT INAUGURATES LARGEST RICE MILL IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, FOURTH LARGEST IN THE WORLD

The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who was accompanied by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated the 32-metric tonnes per hour Lagos Rice Mill in Imota, Lagos state on Monday.

 

The Lagos Rice Mill is the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa and the fourth largest in the world. It sits on an area of 8.5 hectares of land with an annual paddy requirement of 240,000 metric tonnes to produce 2.5 million of 50kg bags per annum.

 

Babajide Sanwo-Olu was commended by the president for the State Government revolution in the agriculture sector, mainly in rice production.

 

The president and the Governor, in the company of Ms. Abisola Olusanya the commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Oluwarotimi Fashola, Special Adviser to the Gov. on Rice Mill Initiative, and other dignitaries who were present took a tour around the facility and the warehouse where the rice production is being carried.

 

After the president saw the rice pyramid and the bagging process of rice production which is the sealing, he said he was amazed by what he saw at the rice mill.

 

Sanwo-Olu said while addressing people after the inauguration that the Lagos Rice Mill will create nearly 250,000 direct and indirect jobs in the country, as he expressed his gratitude to everyone who waited patiently and the local community of Imota, Ikorodu. 

 

He said that the rice which is called Eko Rice is the best in town now and is proudly Nigeria. 

 

He assured the president of Lagos state’s readiness to support Nigeria’s rice revolution and food revolution.

 

ZIMBABWEAN MOLECULAR BIOLOGISTS INVENTS ICE CREAM FLAVORS WITH INDIGENOUS FRUITS.

Tapiwa Guzha is a Zimbabwean born and raised food mastermind. He learnt to cook from his grandmother, he developed a passion for food in his youth.

 

He moved to Cape Town to study and it took him off cooking for a while. But his love for cooking still found its way back during his postgraduate days in Cape Town. He further developed his interest in cooking and did this during his postdoctoral years. He said during an interview “overtime cooking evolved for me and became a tool to entertain people and to unwind after a long day”. He decided to leave the traditional academic life and pursue his passion for education through the medium of food.

 

This brought on the season of Tapi Tapi, an ideophone that directly translates from the chikorekore dialect of the Shona language in Zimbabwe which means “sweet sweet”. When he opened up, he focused on making European, Asian and American inspired ice creams. He experimented with the flavors and he used some unusual ingredient combinations but he still always felt like something was missing as it did not fully reflect the unique flavors, textures and aroma of the continent and this made him feel uninspired.

 

He was in a Zimbabwean cuisine restaurant and saw a few snacks from home being sold there and wondered how they would taste in ice cream form. This was a lightbulb moment for him and he decided to start creating flavors that appealed to his childhood palate. The name flavourite came from here as every flavor, according to him, is his favorite.

 

Tapi Tapi explores different African flavors, many of which are symbolic to children of the soil. Flavors like rondo which is made from vanilla and edible clay or nhopi which is made from roasted pumpkin and dark chocolate. He experiments with different ingredients like wild roots, avocados, okra to mention but a few.

 

The African infused flavoring goes beyond the ice cream itself; his cones are made with millet, cassava, sorghum, maize and plantain flour.

 

This invention appeals a lot to the African child and his palate.

 

 

 

 

THE SYMBOLIC RELATIONSHIP OF THE MORTAR AND PESTLE: MYTH OR REALITY

 

When you hear words like “my village people are at work” we all laugh it out like it is not real. Most people don’t believe our African tales by moonlight because it seems to be stories made for us to laugh.

 

We hear African stories on while certain things are done, what is forbidden to do and what is accepted in our African society. The mortal and the pestle are symbolic items in an African home. There is no home in any village, city or tribe that does not have a mortal or pestle. It is essentially the helping hand of the wife to provide a special delicacy for her husband. It is known to be a proper African traditional meal that gives the husband stomach satisfaction.

 

I had travelled for a friend’s wedding in Benin city. She is from the Esan speaking part of Edo state. After the wedding celebrations. The bride was given several gifts amongst which was a mortal and a pestle which will be used in preparing a meal of pounded yam with her husband’s favourite soup.

 

We all got to the park to travel down to Abuja. We boarded the bus and as the person was loading the vehicle, he drew the attention of the bride to the mortar and the pestle. He clearly stated that “he cannot put the mortar and the pestle in the boot”. We were surprised so we asked why and he said that “if a vehicle has a mortar and a pestle in it, the vehicle will not move”. We laughed at the statement and called it a superstitious belief. He later placed the mortal in the vehicle and requested for N10, N20 and N50 to put inside the mortar and the pestle was given to us.

 

We left the park around 10am. On getting close to Auchi, the vehicle developed fault. The driver asked all of us to come down from the vehicle. He was able to get the vehicle working and we continued our journey. We complained to the driver about not doing proper maintenance on the vehicle as it was an old bus. The driver claimed he had never had issues with his vehicle. The vehicle kept having issues till we got to a mechanic in Okene town.

 

While there, I suddenly remembered what the loader of the vehicle had said about the mortar. I drew the attention of my companions to it and they all said it’s a superstitious belief. The driver overhead us and said that he wouldn’t have carried us if he knew we were traveling with a mortar and we told him it was because of his poor maintenance of his bus.

The journey was not going smoothly as the bus was still having issues. On getting to lokoja around 6pm, we met a vehicle that left Benin around 12pm at lokoja before us. We had to conclude within ourselves that this was not ordinary. We called our elders to ask how true the myth was. We were told that two engines (mortar and the vehicle) cannot be in the same place. We were asked if money was placed in the mortar and we said yes. The bride mother then asked if the pestle was inside the mortar and we said no and she told us to put them together as they cannot be separated.

 

We started looking for the pestle and realized that the pestle had rolled to where the mortar was which confirmed the statement that they cannot be separated. We later placed the pestle in the mortar and coincidentally, the driver just finished fixing the vehicle for the 3rd time. Believe me not, we had a smooth journey straight to Abuja.

 

Here lies the question? Was the vehicle stopping on the road due to myth or as a result of poor vehicle maintenance. This belief is common among the Edo and Yoruba speaking people in Nigeria. The Yoruba people believe in turning the mortar face down when traveling.

 

 

 

SUDAN: THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF SUDANESE DATES KICKS OFF

The 4th International Festival of Sudanese Dates kicked off on Wednesday, 30th November in Khartoum, Sudan which had in participation of 250 farmers from several countries including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Mauritania, Egypt, Libya, United Arab Emirates, and Mexico.

 

As earlier announced by Imad Idris, the Executive Director of the Sudanese Palm Cultivation Association, the festival is organized by the Khalifa International Prize for Palm Date and Agricultural Innovation of the United Arab Emirates, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

 

The festival started at the Friendship Congress Hall and included activities such as seminars, lectures and exhibitions at 80 pavilions and a field visit to a number of farms and presentation of prizes for the best farms, varieties and packaging. 

 

According to the organisers, the festival is aimed to increase the international recognition of Sudanese date and to develop production, marketing and exports. 

 

According to the International Society for Horticultural Science, Sudan ranks number 8 in the list of top date producing countries with an annual production of about 330,000 tons and a date palm population of about 8 million.