food

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.

 

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.

Namibia: Government to Launch Drought Relief Program Next Month

The Prime Minister, Hon Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, asserted that to solve the problem of drought and food insecurity, the government, through the Office of the Prime Minister, will launch a drought relief program effective from 01 October 2023 to June 2024.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister on Tuesday when she briefed the Parliament on the outcomes of the Annual Livelihood Vulnerability Assessments and Analysis (VAA) that her office conducted in all 14 regions from May to July this year, as required by Section 13 of the Disaster Risk Management Act, 2012 (Act No. 10 of 2012).

The assessments gathered and analyzed data on livelihood and food security for the 2023/24 period to inform policy and assist in understanding the threats of natural and socioeconomic disasters to food and nutrition security.

Moreover, staff from government offices, ministries, and agencies (OMAs), regional councils, local authorities, civic society organizations (Namibia Red Cross Society), the University of Namibia, and United Nations agencies (FAO, WFP, UNDP, WHO, and UNICEF) participated in the assessment.

The food relief program, set to roll out next month, will provide both food and water assistance to drought-affected households countrywide.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister stated that the Livestock Support Programme, which incorporates livestock marketing incentives and subsidies for fodder purchased, grazing leases, and transportation to grazing areas, will be implemented from the beginning of next month through March 2024.

Meanwhile, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stated that existing social safety net programs like the San Development Programme, which provides food assistance to marginalized communities, and the Conditional Food Bank in urban areas would continue to serve areas where the drought program was unable to reach.

She also highlighted that regarding the prevailing malnutrition cases in the country, the Ministry of Health and Social Services would continue with the nutrition program intended for assessing acute malnourished persons and refer diagnosed cases to existing feeding programs.

She said that the program would cost the government N$892.4 million.

“The VAA’s key findings are as follows: Between October 2023 and March 2024, approximately 695,000 people (equal to about 172,000 households) are likely to endure severe acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance. When rainfall conditions improve between March and June 2024, a 7% reduction to 491,000 people is expected,” she said.

According to the Namibia Meteorological Services 2022/2023 seasonal report, Namibia experienced below-normal and sporadic rainfalls which culminated in a combination of flash floods and dry spells in some parts of the country.

“With the anticipated El Niño, which is likely to affect us during the 2023/24 agricultural season, the situation in the country will be negatively affected due to more dry and limited rainfall, which could put food security in the country at risk.”

“This has subjected communities to prospects of lower crop yields, impacts on livestock, and ultimately reduced household food stocks, compromising food security at household levels,” according to her.

She further noted that poor grazing conditions in most regions affect livestock body conditions. 2022/23 crop prospects show 153,000 MT harvest, 9% less than 168,200 MT from the previous season, indicating poor livestock conditions, she said.

The assessment indicated that 85% of the population obtains water from private and public taps, while 7% comes from boreholes. Additionally, 76.4% of the population walks less than 2.5 km to water points, with 5.6% walking more than 5 km, particularly in Kavango West, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Zambezi regions.

“On the reported cases of hunger among the marginalized Ovatjimba communities in Otjikojo, a village located 25km west of Okangwati in the Kunene region, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has provided the food assistance required. This intervention was necessary, and the government would act promptly to address such vulnerabilities,” she said.

Ethiopia Achieve Self Sufficiency, Slashes Barley Imports.

Ethiopia has become almost fully self-sufficient in barley production in just four years, an unprecedented achievement the International Finance Corporation called a transformation for the country’s agriculture.

International agencies and players in the brewery industry, along with authorities, started putting efforts in 2018 to develop Ethiopia’s barley sector after data showed the country was importing a staggering 70 percent of the grains needed by its booming brewing industry.

With Ethiopia the fifth largest barley producer in Africa, experts believed the potential was there to drastically cut imports so they worked to achieve that. 

The innovative public-private BOOST program spearheaded by Soufflet Malt Ethiopia has been a primary driver of this success by providing training, resources, and markets to over 7,300 smallholder farmers. This program was launched with funding support from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

Jean-Benoit Vivet, General Manager of Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, told IFC that “building local supply chains is at the heart of our strategy to ensure we have enough barley to feed our factory.”

The company’s investments and farmer support model have paid dividends, allowing Soufflet to now source 100 percent of its needs domestically.

The turnaround is reflected in UN trade data showing Ethiopia slashed barley imports by an enormous 78 percent since 2018. 

According to a story shared by IFC, the impacts have exceeded expectations. Farmers like nearly doubled yields and incomes through BOOST. Remarkably, the program has increased smallholder earnings by 150 percent on average, the same source added.

For generations, farmers in Ethiopia’s highland regions have cultivated barley due to the favorable climate. However, traditional farming methods along with restricted access to key resources have kept yields below what the land could truly produce. In addition, inefficient supply networks have created challenges for farmers seeking reliable markets and incomes.

Breweries have benefited the most from the country’s import substitution program, as they obtain a significant proportion of their barley supplies from domestic producer Souflett.

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.

 

Kenya: Milk Coolers to be Installed in All Wards.

President William Ruto has promised that the government will install coolers in the modernization program of Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) facilities in all the wards in the country.

Speaking in Nyeri during his five-day tour of the Mount Kenya region, Ruto said that he had coordinated with officials in the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the coolers are delivered to farmers by December 2023.

“We have planned for 650 milk coolers that we will distribute to at least every ward to process and store milk. My instructions are that before December the milk coolers should be in Kenya and distributed to all the farmers in all the areas,” President Ruto said.

He said that the government has set aside Sh3 million in the modernization program of the facilities and the stalled facilities will be completed using the Sh700 million that had already been funded for in the supplementary budget.

Further, the modernization process will be used to increase milk production capacity from 380,000 liters to 800,000 liters.

Ruto said that the milk coolers will also do away with middlemen who buy milk at throw-away prices in the rural areas to make profits by selling at higher prices in the upper market.

“In our quest for the local and international market for milk, we will also ensure that people who are aiming at making money quickly by importing powder from other countries through fraud and coming to compete with our farmers. That door we shall close,” Ruto said.

He promised to deal with cartels in the milk sector to ensure that farmers get the profit that has been landing in the hands of fraudsters.

Additionally, the president promised to reduce the cost of production by reducing the cost of fertilizers for farmers.

Rice Farmers in Ghana Campaign for Cultivation of New Varieties.

In order to have access to better rice seeds, rice farmer organizations in the Greater Accra and Volta areas in Ghana are pushing for the development of new rice types. The rice farmer organizations are Dawhenya Rice Irrigation Project, Kpong Irrigation Scheme, Aveyime Rice Project, and Ashaiman Rice Irrigation Project are the rice farmer organizations.

The call by the groups followed the development of 12 rice varieties including Jasmine-85, CRI-Enapa, CRI-Dartey, CRI-Amankwatia, CRI-Agyapa, CRI-Korea Mo, Legon-1, CRI-Onuapa, CRI-AgraRice, CRI-Kantinka, ISRIZ-6 and ISRIZ-7 by the Crop Research Institute of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with the Korea Programme for International Cooperation in Agricultural Technology (KOPIA).

During a visit to Dawhenya, close to Tema, demonstration fields for the 12 new rice types, representatives of the groups made the call.

According to Richard Martey Adler, chairman of the Dawhenya Local Rice Farmers, a center for rice production might be created thanks to the new kinds’ distinctive qualities that guarantee high yield and grain quality.

He emphasized that the new cultivars had efficient disease resistance and supplied the kind of grain quality to suit Ghanaian customers’ preferences, using CRI-Agyapa as a significant example.

He claimed that the new kinds were essential in ensuring Ghana achieves rice sufficiency within the next five years as a nation seeking to dramatically cut rice importation.

According to Joseph Kofi Akpafu, Executive Member of the Water Users Association which operates at the Kpong Irrigation Scheme, the new varieties were a relief to rice farmers who were burdened with accessing improved rice seed varieties. According to him, some rice farmers were in danger of going out of business as a result of disease and pest infestation.

He said, “These new varieties will benefit farmers because we are assured of quality rice grains that are in demand and give us an opportunity to expand production to meet the demand”.

The new types will assist address Ghana’s shortage of rice seed variants and enable farmers to grow different rice varieties depending on the type of field, according to Samuel Debrah, Project Manager of the Aveyime Irrigation Scheme. The ready-made information on the rice types, he said, would also help farmers make informed judgments and provide guidance to farmers regarding rice growing.

The new types are simple to mill, according to Catherine Norvi Sogbadzic, Rice Aggregator and Processor at Akuse, who also suggested that the rising demand for it would act as a spur to lessen rice importation.

Dr. Maxwell Darko Asante, Deputy Director of the CSIR-Crop Research Institute, stated that the new types featured characteristics that the majority of Ghanaian rice consumers favored, including early maturing, high yielding, good grain quality, and scent. Additionally, he pointed out that the new rice types had a quick maturation period of 105 to 115 days and were resistant to pests and diseases.

The goal of the KOPIA Ghana Center, according to Dr. Kim Choong-Hoe, is to provide 5,200 tonnes of enhanced rice seeds to Ghanaian farmers in order to improve rice farming. He mentioned that the center has purchased around 100 hectares of farmland to grow the new sorts of rice seeds.

 

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.”

Mozambique adopts Zimbabwe Farming Method.

Mozambique intends to adopt Zimbabwe’s successful “Pfumvudza” farming model to improve crop output at the household level in that country, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has said.

The model is climate-proof, ecologically based, and involves government farming input support to peasant farmers to boost output.

 

Since its adoption in Zimbabwe a few years ago, the country’s agricultural output has risen sharply and also increased rural income levels.

 

Speaking after talks with President Mnangagwa, the Mozambican leader said he would dispatch a team to Zimbabwe soon to work-out modalities for Pfumvudza skills and knowledge transfer.

 

He also mentioned his government’s willingness to host Zimbabwean farmers in Mozambique over some time to transfer the skills practically on the ground.

President Mnangagwa said Government came up with the Pfumvudza farming model not only to beat climate-induced droughts but also Western sanctions which made food imports difficult.

 

“Zimbabwe has been suffering from food insecurity for many years, importing food, but because of sanctions we said we must produce our food and we introduced a model of agriculture that guarantees food security at each household in the country, “he said.

“We have 3,5 million households, so we directed that each household must have adequate food at the household level with a surplus so that they can send their children to school, we call it Pfumvudza, Intwasa.”

 

President Mnangagwa said the Government had now turned similar attention to wheat production, to end costly imports from uncertain source markets such as Ukraine.

 

“My brother (President Nyusi) asked when we met to say Mozambique would be willing to have farmers from Zimbabwe to come, they will give us land and do agriculture there over several years so that Mozambican farmers will learn these skills and models we are using so that we transfer the skills that we now have,” he said.

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.

 

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. 

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.

Tanzanian undergraduates to receive Sh10,000 daily.

  • An assurance of what to eat will make a student at ease.
  • The government of Tanzania has given that assurance to the undergraduates in the country.
  • A specified sum of money will be given to the students daily to cater for their feeding and aid learning.

From the following fiscal year, undergraduates drawn from different tertiary Schools in Tanzania will begin to collect 10, 000 Tanzanian Shillings daily to cater for their meals. The allowance, an increase from the previous 8, 500 shillings, was announced in Parliament Dodoma, on the 5th of April 2023, by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa while delivering budgetary estimations for his office for the 2023/24 financial year.

 

The Samia Scholarship has also helped the government provide money to female students, numbering 244, who excelled in the form six examinations and are admitted to study courses in the disciplines of engineering, medicine, technology, and mathematics. “The government has also continued to provide loans, increase the scope of access to higher education loans, and at the same time improve the higher education institution infrastructure in the year 2022/23, Sh654 billion was allocated for student loans, an increase from Sh570 billion which was allocated in 2021/22, with a number of beneficiaries increasing from 177,605 in 2021/22 to 202,877 in 2022/23,” Prime Minister Majaliwa said.

             

To cushion the burden of some students who may skip meals due to financial constraints, consequently losing concentration in school or left with the option of running indecent enterprises so as to survive, a leader of the Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Students’ Organization (Tahliso), Mr Frank Mkinda, on the 11th of February, called on the government to increase the amount: “Due to the rising cost of living, we kindly ask for your consideration by raising the daily allowances to at least Sh10, 000 or more.”  Mkinda had made this request in a meeting, at the State House Dodoma, between the students’ organization and the first female President of Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu Hassan. She declared that the stipend would improve; she directed the minister of education to commence work on the subject.

           

The President said, “I understand that one has to survive on a single meal when he or she finishes his or her daily food allowance. I will start with at least Sh10,000. So, the minister for education will work on the matter, come next academic year.”

 

Rwanda soars as female solo sojourners’ second safest country.

  • Rwanda has earned global recognition for standing out on the subject of gender equity.
  • Women who decide to travel alone to Rwanda will have little to worry about as the country has scored high in the protection of women.
  • Rwandese women’s participation in politics, governance, and nation building in quite significant.

The British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC, on the 3rd of April, revealed through a ranking, after due consultations with the internationally renowned Global Peace Index – GPI, the Georgetown University’s Women’s Peace and Security Index, the Institute for Economics and Peace – IEP, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report, that Rwanda, in East Africa, is the second safest country for any female who is travelling solo; this is credited to its steadfast hospitality and visible interest in women’s safety and protection.

Also, the BBC, in trying to understand what made female travelers feel safe, pick travel tips from them, as well as find out the best exploration ideas for solo adventurers, found, after a chat with women who have single-handedly toured top-standing countries, that Rwanda ticks the right boxes when the question of inclusion for women is raised.

               

Globally, according to the Women’s Peace and Security Index, Rwanda sits on the number one spot on the list of countries with gender equality in parliament; there is no surprise because its parliament boasts of more than 60 per cent of female representatives. According to the index, the East African country is also graded highly in community safety awareness and is ranked sixth in the world according to the Global Gender Gap index, which weighs how much attention a country pays to equity when it comes to education, healthcare, economics, and political participation. Even the government of the country agrees that its women are a force to reckon with in fueling its progress, expansion, and transformation.

Even though situations recurrently require a woman to travel alone, especially now that the trend of lone travels seem to be catching on, women are still prone to unique challenges when they move solo. It is also believed in some quarters that a woman travelling solo might be characteristically dangerous. Ideally, every part of the world should be secure enough for women to get to; but in reality, women still deal with safety and security concerns in different parts of the world. Based on the foregoing issues, many countries of the world have focused their efforts on improving the safety of women, even as most countries regularly review female inhabitants’ behavior towards the subject of safety in their country.

                         

 

According to the BBC, Rwanda shares this enviable position with other countries making up the top five list including Norway, Slovenia, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates. These countries share several factors like a low number of conflicts – internal or external, absence of legal discrimination, women’s financial inclusion, women’s community safety, and a minimally reduced rate of violent crime. In their cities, walks at night are quite safe, which makes it relaxed as well as comfortable for women to explore and feel secured while doing so. These countries have put in significant amounts of work to ensure safety for women, and they are getting duly recognized for these great traits.

 

                             

According to Toronto-born tourist, Lydia Klemensowicz, with some precaution, and courage to look beyond misconceptions and stereotypes, one can easily tell a dangerous city from the ones where it is safe for women to move around solo. She visited Rwanda as a lone female traveler and she talked about how secured, empowered, and assured she felt as she confidently moved around the beautiful country. Many female tourists consider Europe first when looking to sojourn solo, however, in East Africa, in Rwanda to be precise, a touring female will find warmth. Based on her Observations, Klemensowicz, who has also been to Tanzania, outlines reasons the whole world should see Rwanda as the next best destination for unaccompanied female travelers.

Top on her list are the friendly locals. Rwandans, according to the Canadian tourist, are unbelievably friendly. The tour guides, bus drivers, and passing natives are all hasty in offering help or guidance. She enjoyed warmth in Kigali as the neighbors shared food, danced under the stars, and exchanged pleasant banters.  Also, there are activities good enough for solo travelers including seeing the famous mountain gorillas, learning more about women’s social enterprises or Rwandan history, and generally touring the city. She references the Nyamirambo Women’s Center where classes are offered, and tours are utterly run by the natives.

                   

Rwanda, even with French, English, and Kinyarwanda as its official languages, English is extensively understood and spoken thinning out the barriers that communication might pose to tourists. When travelling alone, especially as a woman, it is undoubtedly helpful to have little or no communication barriers because a traveler might ask questions or take local transport and unavoidably rapport with locals. French speakers are also in luck as some locals speak French. Also, because the ground to cover is not overwhelming, chiefly because the country is not intimidatingly massive, travelling within the country is a lot more comfortable and safer for tourists. It will typically take about four hours to move from Kigali to any part, hence, traveling to different locations around the country within a short period of time becomes an easy fun activity.

 

Transportation is quite essential to travelling and touring, and Rwanda has operative local and international transportation options, including buses. The international airport sits prominently in Kigali, the capital city, while the main bus station in the capital connects centers across the country with reasonably priced buses frequently crisscrossing various destinations. The sparkly lakes, mountainous arrays, and picturesque rivers are enough to entice tourists into trips. Traveling round this country alone, according to Klemensowicz, becomes even more special with heightened awareness. Foreign expats and travelers have found the country welcoming enough which explains why there are numerous foreigners in Rwanda who travel to the country alone but are hardly alone, especially in Kigali, where there is a display of famous social events in restaurants, bars, and other conducive atmospheres for relaxation and networking.

                      

Another interesting social feature of the country is the culture of coffee shops. These spots provide food for solo travelers as well as food for thought for the soul; it presents nice spaces to refresh as well as relax. The Coffee culture is not so much of a surprise because Rwanda grows enjoyable coffee beans, even as coffee franchises, chains, and cafés grow in the country which is reliably and rapidly recovering in spite of the historic imprint from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. The country has gone ahead to pave paths to economic growth, government conscientiousness, educational expansion, and protection of women’s rights.

Tourism and Coffee are two big deals in Rwanda that visitors can explore. Rwanda has something for every solo female traveler. There is an abundance of activities, experiences, and even food for different budgets and interests as well, but more importantly solo female travelers have minimal worries in Rwanda. Kigali is widely regarded as the cleanest and safest city in Africa.

ZIMBABWE: PRISONS TARGET SELF-SUSTENANCE.

  • Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services is now targeting to reach self-sustenance in food production through maximum utilization of its farms.
  • This information came out during a field day held at Ridigita prison farm yesterday.
  • Minister Munzverengwi said agriculture is important to humanity as it provides food and serves as the foundation of all other industries.

Prisons are correctional facilities, which means criminals are sent there to correct certain characteristics, and this does not inadvertently mean maltreatment. Most correctional facilities do not actively impact their inmates and also provide them with the worst standard of living.

However, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services is now targeting to reach self-sustenance in food production through maximum utilization of its farms.

By implication of this, the inmates will not be malnourished, they will channel their energy into doing something impactful, and they will also learn the act of farming, as well as feel productive. They will also produce their own food thereby relying less on the government.

This information came out during a field day held at Ridigita prison farm yesterday, where Minister of Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East, Hon. Apollonia Munzverengwi was the guest of honor.

Minister Munzverengwi said agriculture is important to humanity as it provides food and serves as the foundation of all other industries.

Ridigita farm planted 10oha of commercial maize, 10ha of cowpeas, and 20ha of sunflower.

 

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.

NIGERIAN GENIUS MAKES BIG DISCOVERY IN AGRICULTURE.

  • A lecturer of  Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Department of Biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has created and patented an insect control technology.
  • This lecturer has been involved in a number of national and international projects on Agricultural Biotechnology.
  • His invention saves farmers from crop wastage and consequently the country from losing a great chunk of its potential food produce to insects.

 

A lecturer of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Department of Biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, Dr. Abdulrazak B. Ibrahim has created and patented an insect control technology, that helps farmers protect their plants from white flies destruction.

 

Dr. Abdulrazak holds a Doctorate degree from the Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil, where he pioneered the use of Transgenic and RNA Interference Technology for the control of insects using lettuce and soybean in the EMBRAPA Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology.

 

Dr. Abdulrazak has served in many institutions in Africa and South America as an Agricultural Biotechnologist, from where he gained experience and skills in a multidimensional approach to scientific capacity and institutional evolution of developing countries. 

 

He is also involved in a number of national and international projects on Agricultural Biotechnology. He also attended a number of workshops, conferences, and seminars. He has published 16 research articles in journals and contributed as author/co-author. Dr. Abdulrazak received honors including Best Graduating Student in Biochemistry, Bayero University Kano, Brazilian Fellowship for Postgraduate Studies from CAPES, and Patent Application for the control of whitefly using RNAi technology, EMBRAPA, UnB, Brazil.

 

Dr. Abdulrazak admitted that he got his inspiration to delve into science, technology, and innovation pathways fields of Knowledge from Obafemi Awolowo University’s Professor Funso Sonaiya. The academic he met in the year 2000 inspired him to pursue a career in biotechnology.

 

His invention was patented with deposits at the Brazilian Industrial Property Organization. This invention saves farmers from crop wastage and consequently the country from losing a great chunk of its potential food produce to insects.

Development Bank Ghana takes crucial step towards food security.

  • Food security remains a vital ingredient for a thriving society.
  • Institutions that key into the nutrition needs of a nation earn relevance.
  • The Development Bank of Ghana is one of such institutions making crucial moves to address food needs of Ghana.

 This March, in Kumasi, the Development Bank Ghana, DBG, as part of plans to advance food security in the country, has engaged the poultry value chain stakeholders to study existing challenges and provide financing support. The Bank is certain that cost of food can be minimized and importation into the country reversed if market failures in important areas of the food supply chain like rice, poultry, soybeans, and corn are looked into keenly and boosted through workable agricultural financing programs and monitoring reforms.

Therefore, the bank is working with Feed the Future Ghana Mobilizing Finance in Agriculture Activity, the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending Project (GIRSAL), and other financial organizations to speed up sustainable food production. Speaking at the meeting with participants and stakeholders in the poultry value chain in Kumasi, Vice President for Research at the Development Bank Ghana, Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, said the bank had acknowledged and worked with about 12 establishments to scale up soya and maize production in Ghana.

 

He said that Ghana needs more maize for the poultry sector to perform rather optimally, adding that Ghana is blessed with arable lands and other resources. “There is, therefore, no need for Ghana to be importing $600 million worth of chicken every year; no need to import a billion dollars’ worth of rice every year. These are things we can do because it will generate jobs and create wealth, and ensure spatial distribution of resources,” he said.

 

Dr Opuni-Frimpong said that one of the problems they are solving in the west African country is food security, citing the 2021 Global Food Security Index, where Ghana occupied the 83rd. position out of 113 countries listed. The bank’s involvement in identifying bankable ventures within the value chains will close the gap of nutritional inconsistencies. He also added that the DBG had gathered funds of more than $700 million to aid production of the selected crops so that farmers can gain access to requisite resources and support that will ensure an increased output and improved food security. He added that the DBG team had before now engaged stakeholders in maize and soybean value chains at Sunyani.

 

Dr Victor Antwi, key figure in the Feed the Future Ghana Mobilizing Finance in Agriculture Activity, said the partnership with the Bank is aimed at supporting and enhancing food security in the country. Adding that the partnership provides ample opportunity to reach out to many more women known along these value chains.

 

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.

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.

ILLOVO SUGAR GROUP BREAKS PERSONAL RECORDS.

Illovo Sugar Malawi Plc is Africa’s leading and diversified sugar group. They are an agri-business that specializes in growing sugar and making sugar-related products.

The outbreak of Covid-19 crippled some businesses and others are still struggling to get on their feet. Illovo Sugar has started rising from the rut covid-19 placed on companies.

On Tuesday, 7th of February, Illovo Sugar announced their company had made a net profit of K26.6 billion in the 2022 financial year. The announcement was made during the company’s investor forum at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotels. Illovo Sugar Managing Director, Lekhani Katandula also declared K14.9 billion as a dividend.

The company’s revenue increased by 14% from 163 billion in 2021 to K187 billion in 2022 with net debt reduced by 153% from K9.9 billion to K5.3 billion while free cash flow increased from K25.7 billion to K34.9 billion which represents a 36% increase.

They faced so many challenges but responded to them squarely; they ran efficient forms of irrigation, a program called Agricultural yield recovery, and updated pest and disease control strategy and cost rationalization to mitigate revenue losses. There was also an enhanced quality focus to reduce bulk sugar production in favor of higher margin sugars and initiated energy projects by reducing demand and increasing generation and power supply.

Their product is affordable for low-income earners and is also one way of enhancing hygiene.

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.

 

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.

 

BEER BREWING THRIVES IN CONGO DESPITE COUNTRY’S CHALLENGES.

 

 

Brasimba, which has been controlled by France’s Castel Group since 1995, has defied the Democratic Republic of Congo’s two deadly Ebola outbreaks and waves of fighting linked to rebel militias in the nearby forests, as the Beni plant has become a source of fizz and hope to the region.

 

After an initial investment of 125 million euros, which is about 134 million dollars, beer production at the factory, sited in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni, grew over three times the original output with 600,000 hectolitres produced between 2013 and 2021.

 

Brasimba sales manager, Thomas Wybauw, in a recent interview stated that many people accept the project as theirs and see it as an extremely positive drive attracting bulky investments from international groups.

 

The company expanded production in Beni last year with a second filling line along with warehouse expansion, this should help Brasimba manage supply disturbances as the province deals with challenges following its recovery from Ebola outbreaks, as well as the heat from insurgents.

 

In 2019, Congo exported six tonnes of beer and the country can only build on that momentum. Non-alcoholic beverages like water, fruit or vegetable juices, malt, and milk also play their part in this mix.

 

Despite these challenges, and with over nine types of beer produced at the local plant, there is no beer shortage in Beni’s bars as it has become a source of pride for natives to drink beer made in their own country.

 

Brasimba’s brewery was founded in 1925 and its Beni factory employs around 130 people and an additional 180 temporary workers, providing the much-needed income especially for the country’s workforce and for the company.

 

At the factory, workers in high visibility vests load crates onto trucks criss-crossing different destinations, jerking gradually through rebel barriers sometimes.

 

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.

 

 

 

MOROCCO DONATES FIVE THOUSAND TONNES OF FERTILIZER TO SMALL SCALE FARMERS IN MAURITANIA.

OCP Groups, a state owned company through its subsidiary, OCP Africa has donated 5,000 tonnes of fertilizer to small scale farmers in Mauritania. OCP group is a global leader in plant nutrition and the largest producer of phosphate-based fertilizers.

 

The group aims to support African farmers and contribute to ensuring food security in Africa. It seeks to contribute to strengthening the cooperation and partnership between Morocco and its Southern neighbor. It also seeks to contribute to a sustainable transition of agricultural systems on the continent according to Director General of OCP Africa Anouar Jamali.

 

The donation took place on Friday the 16th of December and the program will benefit 50,000 farmers. The program is also part of OCP’s investments over the past 10 years in Africa-focused research and development in collaboration with agronomic institutes and research universities across the country.

 

The first phase of the OCP fertilizer program was launched under the instructions of King Mohammed VI. 

 

The OCP has made several similar donations, benefiting thousands of farmers across the continent. The most recent happened in October; they donated 25,000 tonnes of fertilizer to small scale farmers in Senegal.

ETHIOPIAN COMPANY WINS THE INTERNATIONAL COFFEE CHOICE AWARD.

A private company in Ethiopia named mainly engaged in coffee export and real estate development has won the best award for the “Ernesto Llly International coffee award 2022”.

 

The prize celebrates the finest coffee Arabica variety sourced from all over the world. 

 

Every year external jurists made up of coffee enthusiasts, experts and international chefs choose the finest coffee lot from the competing countries. This is an independent jury of 9 experts, they examine the best batches of the 2021-2022 production through a blind tasting of the 9 countries that made it to the finals.

 

Among the 9 countries that made it to the finals are; Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua and Rwanda. 

 

The nine finalists were competing in the “best of the best” and “coffee lover’s choice” categories.

 

The award of “best of the best ” was presented to Ethiopia Tracon Trading through its representative Elias Omer Ali from the hands of Andrea Llly, chairman of Llly Caffe. Meanwhile, the “coffee lovers’ choice” award was given to the Costa Ricans.

 

 

The event was held on the 17th of November at Palazzo Colonna in Rome. It is in its 7th year now.