Pakistan set to showcase agro food industry at Food West Africa 2018

Five Pakistani firms will showcase their products at the third edition of Food West Africa, the largest B2B food and beverage industry platform in West Africa, holding at the Landmark Centre in Lagos May 8 -10.

The five companies are related to beverage, juices, confectionary, rice, wheat products, fruit and vegetables, and flexible packaging for food products.

The Agro Food Division at Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said in a statement that it was convinced to participate in the fair following worldwide appreciation of Pakistani food products.

TDAP said it had been working for seamless participation in international food supply chain by focusing on qualitative improvement of products, availability of cold chain and best available storage facilities, international compliance standards and exploiting natural competitive advantage.

“Economy of Pakistan has maintained growth trajectory and registered growth of 5.28 percent in 2016-2017. This pattern of growth is projected to increase in current year. Agriculture and food sector has been pillar of the economy and Pakistan figures in top commodity producing countries of the world,” the statement said.

It added that Pakistan records annual production of 26.4 million metric tonnes (MT) of wheat, 6.5 million MT of rice, 11.5 million bales of cotton, 1.8 million MT of mangoes, 2.4 million MT of citrus fruit, and so on.

The statement said Pakistan has multiplied exports of traditional agricultural products like rice, mandarin, seafood, mangoes, fresh vegetables, wheat, and sugar, as well as expanded its reach into new product areas such as processed halal meat, entire chain of poultry sector including feed and hatchery, spices, jams, pickels, confectionary, juices and beverages, molasses, tobacco, dairy products, etc.

“Pakistan has simultaneously specialized in production of agricultural machinery like tractors and implements, irrigation machinery, seeds, fertilizers, food packaging, food grade films, crockery, cutlery, and kitchen appliances,” it said.

This edition of Food West Africa, according to its organisers, is expected to attract more than 4,400 industry professionals from 25 countries looking to make new wholesale, retail and food service contacts in the industry as well as host +100 local and international exhibitors showcasing exciting new F&B products, services and equipment from across the globe.

GTBank Backs Four Nigerian Kid Inventors for Global Innovation Challenge with Agric idea

Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc is sponsoring four junior secondary school students in Nigeria who developed a mobile app that could revolutionize agriculture globally.

The kids, between ages of 12 and 14, are from Whitesands School in Lagos and known together as Team Neon.

The inventors, Mordi Menashi, Gbemi Famobiwo, Afolabi Williams and Osagumwenro Ugbo, created a VirtualFarm Application which helps farmers manage their farm and connect with their target markets.

With this innovation, the team entered for the globally renowned Conrad Challenge Annual Innovation Summit in Florida, USA, which encourages high school students to develop cutting-edge solutions to real-world problems in the areas of Aviation, Cyber Technology, Environment and Health, amongst others.

Inspired by the team’s outstanding young talents and driven by its passion for innovation, leading African bank, GTBank is sponsoring the young innovators to the finale of the Conrad Challenge.

The lender’s sponsorship includes, among other benefits, the total coverage of the team’s travel and stay in America.

Competing in the ‘Smoke-Free World’ category, Nigeria’s Team Neon made it to the final stage of the competition, which will be held during the 2018 Spirit of Innovation Summit at the Kennedy Space Centre, from April 25 to 28, 2018.

Judges of the Challenge said, “Improving extension services in rural Africa is a critical step for any agricultural change and Team Neon makes a good case for how the VirtualFarm technology will work.”

This is the first time that African farmers will have access to the package, which has a range of technical advice, [and] with the USSD version of the app, it would be a win-win for the team.

GTBank has consistently played a leading role in Africa’s banking industry and is regarded by industry watchers as one of Africa’s most innovative financial institutions.

The financial institution also maintains an active and clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, which is focused on promoting education for all, fostering community development, promoting arts and protecting the environment.

Nigeria Food Security Outlook Update, October 2017 to May 2018

Main season harvests in much of the northeast have been severely limited by the ongoing conflict

KEY MESSAGES

• Boko Haram conflict in the northeast has severely limited normal livelihoods activities over several years. Many poor and/or displaced households in the region are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet minimal food requirements, and remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!).
Many of those households unable to access assistance are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes.

• Very limited staple harvests, high food prices, and poor labor opportunities will leave many households in the northeast heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance for food access throughout the outlook period. In the absence of continued assistance, most parts of Borno State, as well as Madagali and Michika LGAs in Adamawa State and Gujba and Gulani LGAs in Yobe State, are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes between February and at least May 2018.

• Information about conditions for populations who remain in inaccessible areas of the northeast is very limited. However, it is likely that households in areas cut-off from humanitarian access are facing more severe constraints to basic food and non-food needs, with an elevated risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) outcomes in these areas throughout the outlook period.

• Main season harvests are underway across the country, and are expected to be average to above-average. Outside of the northeast, most poor households are currently consuming own-produced staples. Although progression of the rainy season was near-normal, main season harvests will be below average in areas affected by communal conflict, as well as in parts of central states affected by pest infestations and areas in central and southeastern states that experienced flooding during the season.

NIGERIA Food Security report Oct 2017-May 2018 PDF

source : Famine early warning systems network.

8th Pre-harvest Agribusiness conference, exhibition launched in Accra

Agrihouse Foundation has launched this year’s Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibition a short ceremony in Accra on April 24, 2018.

The Pre-Harvest Agribusiness event provides a platform for conferencing, presentations, exhibitions, and marketplace for business-to-business meetings.

Speeches are delivered by representatives from World Food Programme (WFP), USAID, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, ADVANCE, the Agriculture Technology Transfer project and lead sponsors in a bid to improve the country’s agricultural production.

Speaking at the launch of the event, Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, said the event will provide a platform to bring together commodity buyers, agribusiness service providers and farmers to establish business relationships and discuss contracts and explore and exploit other growth possibilities.

“It is going to hold for three days for the first time, and this is by popular demand and also from the 2017 Pre-harvest survey and feedback received from participants, stakeholders realized that just a day is no longer enough for them to conclude transactions, shop and seal collaboration agreements. This speaks of the growth of the event.

“Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibition event has become one of the leading events in Ghana, where farmers, businesses, government and ideas people, meet to network, build capacity, learn and explore business opportunities, sign deals and even close contracts,” she said.

The theme for this year’s event is,“Transforming Agricultural Production in Northern Ghana: The role of modern agro-based industries” and comes off on October 3 to 5 at the Tamale Sports Stadium.

“It is worth noting again that, the Pre-harvest event ties in so perfectly into the Government’s Planting for Food and Job Campaign as its creates the most appropriate marketplace for businesses to identify new opportunities, discuss deals and forge partnerships.

“The bottom-line is for businesses to gain access to markets, buyers to identify sellers, negotiate for good competitive pricing and also serve as an avenue for over 1000 farmers to gather annually to discuss the season’s outlook on production, identify critical policies to support competitive marketing and establish enduring business relationships,” said Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation.

The key objectives of the event are as follows:

·Assist farmers and agri-businesses to expand their businesses before and after harvesting, and create an enabling environment for new partnerships to promote the growth of Ghana’s agricultural sector.

·Help farmers adopt best practices to ensure that the achievements made within the industry are sustained.

·Provide a platform for commodity buyers and farmers to establish business relationships and discuss contracts for the harvest of their produce.

Agrihouse Foundation

Agrihouse Foundation is a non-governmental agricultural capacity building, innovation and project management organization, with a special focus on changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation on agriculture through the promotion of people-impact programs, projects and initiatives, targeting  students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entire actors within the value chain.

Agrihouse Foundation takes over the organisation of the Pre-harvest agribusiness conference and exhibitions from USAID ACDI VOCA which has handled it very effectively for the past 7 years.

Kenya among countries to get agricultural investment fund

Kenya is among 10 countries in East Africa set to benefit from Sh130 million investment project that targets to increase production in the agriculture sector.

Yesterday, the East African Farmers Federation in partnership with the International Fund For Agriculture Development unveiled the EAFF-IFAD Youth project workshop.

The project intends to reach about 10,000 youths across the 10 East African countries within the next three years.

Uganda, Burundi,Rwanda, South-Sudan, Tanzania, Djibouti and Ethiopia are some of the countries set to benefit from the project.

The federation has received Sh100 million of the funding from IFAD and has contributed the remaining Sh30 million.

Speaking to the press during the launch of the project, EAFF chief boss Steve Muchiri said they intend to use the capital for training of the young farmers with a long term goal of achieving Food and nutrition security which is among Kenya’s government big four agenda.

“The intention of this project is to help the young people in the agriculture sector to develop business and investor ready kind of plans by presenting them opportunities available in the public, private and investment sectors,” Muchiri said.

He further explained that the project is targeting 15 rural areas groups of about 10 to 30 people in the 10 countries.

After a successful pitching by the end of this year, Muchiri said only 10 of the 15 groups will be selected in the first approach dubbed the competitive process while the remaining five will be absorbed in the second approach labeled the purposeful selection process.

The training process will include mentorship, follow ups by industry experts and exchange visits in major agricultural institutions across the 10 countries. At the end of the training set to end in 2021, EAFF intends to look for funders to invest in the youth groups.

Nigeria: A Five-Point Plan to Make President Buhari’s Council On Food Security a Success

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has set-up a National Food Security Council to address challenges in the country’s food and agriculture sectors. Food security is a huge problem in Nigeria. It ranks 84th out of 119 countries on the 2017 Global Hunger Index, coming in just below the Republic of Congo.

If a person is food secured it means that sufficient quality food is available, they have enough resources to buy food for a nutritious diet and they have stable access to adequate food at all times.

In Nigeria, about 3.7 million people, across 16 states, are food insecure. Several factors have driven this. These include civil conflicts, large-scale displacement, rising food prices, climate change, natural resource degradation, poverty and population growth.

Buhari’s newly established council and agriculture policy show that his administration is committed to promoting national food security. But the council is made up only of government officials who have busy schedules and lack firsthand experience in the food and agriculture sectors. This, along with the lack of an action plan, will prevent the task force from achieving its objectives.

I have designed a five-point plan which could guide the council’s strategy. It includes engaging a range of stakeholders, coming up with solutions to the food security challenges and advice on proper execution. These steps would ensure that a sustainable food security project is set up, unlike past attempts which failed because they weren’t implemented effectively.

Conflict

Civil conflict is one of the leading causes of food insecurity, affecting food and agriculture. In Nigeria the conflicts are Boko Haram’s insurgencyconflict in the Niger delta and clashes over resources between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.

Current data on the exact number of people affected by the civil conflicts is unavailable. But what is known is that farmers and livestock have been killed, crops destroyed, and farming communities displaced.

Boko Haram attacks in resource rich Northern Nigeria resulted in stalled food production, large-scale displacement of people, loss of livelihoods and increased food prices in Nigeria and neighbouring Lake Chad basin countries – Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Last year the Boko Haram insurgency resulted in the displacement of 1.7 million people in north-eastern Nigeria alone, and caused food insecurity for over 4.5 million people from Nigeria, Cameron, Chad and Niger.

Conflict in the Niger Delta, originally due to tensions between foreign oil corporations and minority ethnic groups, have also affected the country’s food security. Artisanal small-scale fish farmers from the Niger Delta produce about 50 % of the fish consumed in Nigeria. Exacerbated by oil spills and overfishing, the conflict hinders access to fish which contributes about 40% of the animal protein intake in Nigeria.

Natural causes

In addition to the man-made causes of food insecurity, natural events – like flooding, desertification, drought and erosion – have contributed to poor conditions for agriculture, land degradation and overall decline in agricultural productivity.

Small-scale farmers – with less than two hectares under cropping – produce about 90% of the food in Nigeria. Unless they employ sustainable farming practices to protect land, water, soil and genetic resources or precision farming practices, which would make them more resilient to the natural events, small-scale farmers won’t be able to produce enough food to feed their families or meet public demands.

By 2050 Nigeria is projected to become the third most populous country in the world, after China and India. The ability to consistently meet food demands of the growing population is crucial to food security.

Nutrition

Another dimension of food security is nutrition, since a balanced diet is vital for good health and well-being. This is another big challenge Nigeria faces.

For 68% of Nigerians living on less than USD$1.25 a day, there may be less of a focus on nutritional content as priority is placed on purchasing the cheapest food – which isn’t always nutritional – for survival. In contrast, some of the remaining 32% Nigerians living above the poverty line may prefer to consume unhealthy processed and ready-made food.

Both situations result in deficiencies in essential micro-nutrients, leading to malnutrition. However, poverty is not the only cause of malnutrition. Other causes include ignorance, poor food preparation or preservation techniques and poor sanitation.

report revealed that 37% of children (over 6 million) in Nigeria have stunted growth as a result of chronic malnutrition. 18% of children also suffer from wasting, meaning they have low weight for their height. And 29% of children are underweight for their age.

Five-step framework

The proposed framework of action below outlines my suggestions on how the council could achieve its objectives and avoid the failures of previous similar initiatives. It is inspired by Nigeria’s paradoxical reality: it has the human and natural resources required to solve its food security challenges, but it hasn’t put them to use.

Step 1: Engage

Identify and engage with a range of stakeholders. This includes; government officials, academics, private sector actors, civil society organisations, farmers, farmers’ organisations and retailers. Carefully select competent stakeholders to be represented on the council, ensuring they have a real voice.

Step 2: Express

Brainstorm for solutions to the food security challenges. This should be followed by comprehensive research and analysis which will inform the strategy design. Some of these ideas include; looking at national security issues, job creation, research and dissemination of knowledge on sustainable agricultural practices and use of technologies, development of agricultural value-chains as well as circulation of knowledge on nutrition.

Step 3: Plan

Set goals to deliver impact and design a model that measures progress against the goals. Ensure that a time frame is laid out for when they must be executed.

Step 4: Execute

Strategically implement the goals across Nigeria.

Step 5: Review

Formally assess the plan and execution periodically. Renew or revise accordingly.Following these five steps could contribute to fulfilling the president’s council objectives. It could also move Nigeria towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030.

Rwanda: Vulnerable Women Farmers to Benefit From Rwf8.5b Climate Change Initiative

Beginning June this year, economically disadvantaged women farmers will start benefiting from a new initiative, Gender Climate Change Agriculture Support Programme (GCCASP).

GCCASP was initiated by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and aims at empowering smallholder women farmers to deal with adverse effects of climate change and variability.

Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, said women are the majority in the agriculture sector and have to deal with numerous challenges.

She said that statistics show that a significant number of women are involved in subsistence agriculture and aspects such as climate change often make it harder for them to earn a livelihood.

“The project will equip women with skills and tools on know how to deal with climate change effects such as prolonged dry seasons. They will also receive inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, which are more resistant to drought. The farmers will also be introduced to farming technology,” she said.

The pilot phase of the project will be carried out in Ngoma and Nyaruguru districts.

The two districts were chosen by Rwanda Environment Management Authority and Ministry of Agriculture largely due to the presence of a large number of vulnerable farmers compared to the other districts.

The initiative will later be expanded to the entire country, officials said.

The project will be implemented through existing initiatives by non-governmental organisations which promote and empower women, most of who have already submitted their proposals.

Edna Kalima, the Program Officer of GCCASP, said Rwanda is one of the five countries in Africa which will benefit from the project.

“During the design phase of the programme, there was an indication that women are facing lot of challenges like lack of inputs, inadequate technologies, lack of skills on how to use technologies and sometimes financial constraints,” Kalima said.

Often, women fail to join international markets due to adverse effects of climate change, among other challenges, she added.

Kalima said the project will intervene in four aspects, including reviewing policies and institutional capacities to ensure that institutions are empowered to handle issues of climate change.

“Creating women platforms where they will work together to raise their voice to be able to have a say and bring up an agenda will also be an objective of the project,” she said.

Agnes Mukamabano, the Women Council coordinator in Nyaruguru District, said that often natural disasters cause them to lose their crops.

“For example, this week we had heavy rains and we lost more than 100 hectares of crops we had planted a few months ago,” she said.

She added that they hope the project will also equip them with necessary skills and tools to be able to develop themselves through agriculture.

Ethiopia: Horticulture Sector On the Right Track to Hit GTP II Targets

Horticulture is one of the sub sectors of agriculture that received due attention in the second Growth and Transformation Plan (II). As it was stated in the plan, the development of horticulture plays two crucial roles in the economy: earning foreign currency and creating job opportunities.

Regarding foreign currency earnings, Ethiopia has managed to greatly transform its horticulture sector with a span of 15 years. Through attracting potential investors, the country has generated close to 300 million USD from export, according to Ethiopia’s Horticulture and Agriculture Investment Authority (EHAI).

In earlier times, the sector was characterized by the adoption of traditional farming systems rather than modern agriculture techniques. As a result, its contribution to the country’s economic development was insignificant.

Following the introduction of modern agricultural technologies and techniques, the sector has been growing and contributing to national export earnings. Recent data from the Authority show that it has created jobs for over 200,000 citizens, of which 70 percent are females.

Mechanized horticulture production has shown an exponential growth in 12 years time. Currently, there are 136 investments in Ethiopia that are engaged in the export of flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Ethiopia has 84 active flower farms and is the second largest flower producer and exporter in Africa next to Kenya.

Some 12,797 hectares of suitable land is available for horticulture in the country, of which 11 per cent have so far been exploited. Currently, companies are producing flowers on 1,600 hectares of land. According to the Ethiopian Horticulture and Agriculture Investment, 130 investors have invested in the country’s horticulture sector.

Zimbabwe’s New Government Pushes to Strengthen Agriculture

The new government in Zimbabwe has unveiled new plans including a land tenure review plan and agricultural crop subsidies to scale up farm production, which could significantly boost demand for seed, fertilizers, and pesticides.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office in November 2017 after the military forced out long-serving Robert Mugabe, has come up with a new economic recovery scheme dubbed the “New Economic Order,” which includes the Special Agriculture Production Program (SAPP) — also referred to as Command Agriculture.

The push for increased agricultural production by the new government has opened new business opportunities for Zimbabwean planting seed material suppliers and agrichemical manufacturers despite initial farm input supply challenges.

Mnangagwa has also directed the Ministry of Finance, in partnership with the Agriculture Ministry, to restructure and streamline operations of the Presidential Input Scheme, which has been marred by allegations of corruption and mismanagement in distribution of farm inputs to farmers.

SAPP, with the backing of the private sector, targets improvement and expansion of extension services, disease and pest control, provision of bankable leases and security of tenure, irrigation services and farm mechanization.

To successfully implement SAPP, the government has increased allocations to ag sector in the 2018 budget to 9% of the total national budget, up from 7% last year. The budget includes financing to expand maize production to 220,000 hectares under the Command Agriculture program. This maize production plan will cost an estimated $214 million in 2018 and includes supply of farm inputs such planting seed, fertilizer, and selected agrichemicals.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says in his 2018 budget statement that the government had, by the end of December 2017, contracted 46,404 maize farmers with an estimated 219,900 hectares to grow the crop under the SAPP initiative. The 220,000 ha intended for maize production will require 4,109 tons of planting seed, 29,489 tons of basal fertilizer, and ,229 tons of top dressing that could be either ammonium sulphate (dry) or ammonium thiosulphate (liquid).

Chinamasa says the new government in Zimbabwe will “strengthen the farm inputs control and distribution systems, as well as program-monitoring mechanisms at every stage of the supply and distribution chain to plug leakages.” This system improvement concerns farm inputs supplied under government subsidy schemes not only for maize, but also for other food and cash crops.

Part of the restructuring of the presidential input scheme is a phased replacement of the existing manual farm inputs collection and distribution recording system with an electronic data platform that will ride on the back of the Public Financial Management System (PFMS), according to Chinamasa.

Shortages

“Currently there is critical shortage of soya bean planting seeds. Only 2,750 tons are available against a requirement of 6,000 tons to achieve soya been production targets under ‘Command Agriculture’ program,” Chinamasa said in December.

The fertilizer industry, too, faces challenges. Indications are that Zimbabwe is currently sitting on 120,000 tons of fertilizer ready for disposal to the market. The industry has the capacity to produce an additional 160,000 tons between this November and January 2019, he said.

Chinamasa said the challenge for fertilizer producers in Zimbabwe is the lack of foreign currency in the country that has, since late 2017, been gripped by a shortage of U.S. dollars, a currency it adopted in 2009 after its own currency was decimated by hyperinflation.

“Necessary raw materials (for fertilizer manufacture) are available in bonded houses within Zimbabwe, but it would require $61.32 million in foreign currency,” said Chinamasa.

Zimbabwe’s farm inputs market is dominated by both local and international companies that are set to ride on the increased government support program for agriculture to improve their bottom lines and strengthen their operations in the country.

Although Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture could not immediately provide a market update as requested by AgriBusiness Global, previous estimates indicated the country has about 40 agrichemical businesses. Some of the companies are involved in the formulation and marketing of nearly 450 different agrichemical products.

Key Players, Products, Structure

Some of the key players in Zimbabwe’s agrichemical market include Omni, Windmill, Proffer, Superfast, Farmers World, Bayer, Greenyard, Agricore, Prime Crop Protection, Prime Seeds, Agricura, Polachem, Intercrop, ZFC, Pivotal, Curechem and Klein Karoo, among others. Klein Karoo, which is a subsidiary of South Africa’s listed firm ZAAD Investment Ltd, has indicated in a 2016 report it held 10% of the Zimbabwean seed market and unveiled a $6 million investment plan to increase the share to 20% by end of this year.

Major crops in Zimbabwe are maize, tobacco, cotton and soya bean. Recent reports show a decline in the production of all these major crops because of prolonged drought, inadequate sector financing, and poor government policies that led to the collapse of the economy in general.

The crops require different agrichemicals to cushion them against diseases and pests. Some of the common herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and nematicides available in Zimbabwe’s market include glyphosate, atrazine, alachlor, paraquat, metolachlor, dimethoate, carbaryl, imidacloprid, copper oxychloride, tebuconazole, benomyl, fenamiphos and acephate, to name but a few.

The market structure consists of importers and distributors complementing each other to ensure availability of quality agrichemical products and seamless supply to ensure they reach farmers. The importers, many of them subsidiaries of international manufacturers, import active ingredients for formulation into different agrichemicals depending on the market needs. These importers rely on distributors, who have a countrywide network, to reach the farmers.

In some instances, distributors with supply chain capacity receive agrichemicals in bulk from the importing companies, break bulk, repackage and distribute to the farmers via retail agrichemical shops across the country.

For example, Agrochem, one of Zimbabwe’s leading distributors says it gets its supply of agrichemicals from Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF in addition to other sources that supply it with generic pesticides and other agrichemicals.

However, the import of agrichemicals and active ingredients for formulation must comply with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture Fertilizer, Farm Feeds and Remedies Act of 2012 which includes specific regulations on pesticide importation, marketing and use.

The regulations outlaw selling of any pesticide that has not been registered in Zimbabwe. Pesticide operators are also required to register with the Ministry of Agriculture through a representative licensed and already operating in Zimbabwe.

Importing companies must apply for an importation permit and confirm to the registrar of pesticides the products are registered in Zimbabwe and bears the company name, registration number, pesticide name, formulation and its point of origin.

For retailers and distributors, the requirement is that they comply with stipulated standards for premises that they use and which must be away from residential buildings. They also should employ people with agricultural training qualifications in their retailing and distribution business.

Zimbabwe appears to have realized the mistakes that eroded gains made in agricultural production over the years, with Finance Minister Chinamasa saying the future is bright under the new government with fresh efforts now in place to bring stability in management of land ownership that supports effective use.

He blames Zimbabwe’s economic collapse on “declining domestic and foreign investor confidence levels because of the policy inconsistencies and an uncertain and noncompetitive business environment.”

“Entrenched weaknesses and indiscipline in the management of public finances are exacerbating the situation, which in turn transmit vulnerabilities in foreign exchange generation and availability,” he said. Importers of fertilizer making raw materials, for example, are unable to clear their imports for lack of foreign exchange.

Chinamasa assured on the future land expropriation in Zimbabwe, saying the new government has instituted measures that “strengthen the legal standing of Offer Letters for land ownership and the 99 land leases to enable much needed investments, improvement of land and therefore production.”

Investment in agriculture effective way to reduce poverty- FAO Representative

Dr Abebe Haile Gabriel, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative to Ghana has said investment in agriculture is among the most effective ways to reduce poverty and food insecurity and achieve other Sustainable Development Goals.

He said for investment to be inclusive, it meant it must involve those who needed it most.

Dr Abebe was speaking at the launch of an online forum for the involvement of women and youth in responsible investment in agriculture and food systems.

The online forum aim at catalyzing the involvement of women and youth in responsible investment and will be hosted and facilitated by FAO but the agenda setting will largely depend on forum members.   The launch of the online forum is a follow-up activity to two previous workshops on “Responsible agricultural investment” which took place in Accra.

He said the participants of the workshop, proposed and agreed on an action plan to enhance and encourage women and youth in agricultural investment. The FAO Representative said one of the proposals was the creation of a platform that would allow for inclusive dialogue on the subject matter of “Responsible investment in agriculture and food systems” and how youth and women could play key roles to enhance their lot.

He said members were to use the forum to exchange information and co-generate knowledge on how best to enable women and youth to contribute to and benefit from investments in agriculture.

”The online forum may also be used to coordinate mutual and related activities such as policy advocacy, capacity development needs and market opportunities for involvement of women and youth in agricultural investment as well as other proposed recommendations highlighted in the action plan derived from the two previous workshops held,” he added.

He said Ghana has made significant achievements in terms of rural development and managed to fulfil the millennium goals of halving hunger and extreme poverty, indicating that this would not have been possible without deliberate efforts to spur inclusive agricultural growth.

Dr Abebe said as Ghana looked forward to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal one and two the eradication of hunger and extreme poverty and associated goals, the agricultural sector continued to deserve the continuous attention of stakeholder.

He said FAO was working with government and development partners to establish a strong enabling environment, where young women and men benefitted from the generation of decent rural employment and entrepreneurial opportunities through a range of interventions.

The intervention were developing models on public-private partnerships for youth engagement and cooperating with governments in the design and implementation of national strategies that integrate the youth.

“FAO is supporting the Government of Ghana’s effort through different project interventions intended to promote investment in agriculture and to ensure that women, youth, and other vulnerable groups get access to finance, land, inputs and other factors of production,” he said.

Mr Jesper Karisson, a staff of FAO told the GNA that, there were a range of activities on the platform for women and youth including gender issues and ways to enable them benefit and be involved in agriculture investments.

He said it was also to co-generate ideas, share knowledge and meet to work on opportunities available together to solve some of the challenges in the sector.He said it was one way to reach the youth, who were now involved in technology on social media and other platform could join the online and contribute to the discussions.

Ms Esther Kasalu-Coffin, Country Director, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said they had been working in the rural area over the years and have given the rural poor a voice.She said IFAD’s investments were targeted on pro-poor areas and investing in women and the youth had been the focus.

The Country Director said in Ghana, they have invested in a number of projects but currently, they were investing in two major projects. The projects were the Ghana Agriculture Sector Programme, supporting the value-chain development and the Rural Enterprises Programme, which was at the third phase.    Mr Emmanuel Andrews known as Samini in showbiz and Mr Enoch Nana Yaw Oduro-Adjei also known as Trigmatic, themselves farmers advised the youth to venture in agriculture.

They challenged the youth to commit themselves to the sector and add value to their lives.