Connect with us

Africa Today

Tanzanian farmers reap the benefits of rapid agricultural mechanization

Published

on

Farmers in Tanzania have benefited from rapid transformation, thanks to financial support from the African Development Fund to a national agricultural bank program. With the support, paddy rice farmers are reaping the benefits of improved access to farm inputs, including the supply of quality seeds and technology.

“Nothing beats the power of a skilled, knowledgeable farmer who is equipped with the right information at the right time in the right season,” said Noelah Bomani-Ntukamazina, the Learning and Talent Development Manager at the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank.

The African Development Bank Group’s concessional window, the African Development Fund, provided a $93 million loan to the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank to increase access to agricultural credit. The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank said the loans reached at least 105 farmer groups and cooperatives, covering 1.68 million farmers, who are responsible for 75% of the country’s agricultural production.

Chauru Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Societies was among the many companies that mechanized its operations. The cooperative acquired two tractors and some 30 tonnes of improved paddy seeds after receiving loans of around $350,000 from the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank. Chauru also purchased 270 tonnes of fertilizers to expand its rice paddy acreage.

“We were struggling with low yields and low income from farming paddy at this (Chauru) scheme. Being a smallholder trying to make ends meet for our families, the loan sharks left us in deep debt. But that is now expected to change,” said Rukia Mbangwi, a member of Chauru.

The Bank Group’s intervention has helped ABM Equipment Services Limited, which manufactures organic fertilizer to automate its fertilizer production processes, leading to nearly a four-fold increase (from 4,000 to 15,000 tonnes) in production capacity, Bernard Maimu, the firm’s director, said.

Maimu said the company purchased new machinery and soil testing equipment with a loan of $103,509, and increased its range of products to include calcium nutrients for animal feed supplements. Work is also underway to increase the number of fertilizer production plants.

Samson Mwembe, the farm manager at Mombo Irrigation Scheme in Tanga, on the northern coast of Tanzania, said it bought three combine harvesters, two tractors and two paddy milling machines with its $175,124 funding. This enabled the 429 farmers enrolled on the 220 hectares scheme to expand production.

“Before this support, we were using traditional harvesting methods which were slow and led to wastage of paddy due to delays in harvesting because paddy is not supposed to last 14 days after maturity. But with the combine harvester, we do timely harvesting and the yields are fully collected. After harvesting, we used to sell paddy but now, with the milling machine, our farmers are trading at a better price,” Mwembe said.

During the 2018 season, the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank disbursed loans worth $4.6 million to facilitate the procurement of pesticides to over 400,000 cotton farmers in 17 regions, leading to a bumper harvest of 221,000 tonnes, which was a 67% increase on the previous year’s harvest.

At least 55 tractors were purchased to support cotton farmers. The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank is also collaborating with the Cotton Board and the National Development Cooperation (the suppliers of the tractors) to raise the productivity of the cotton-growing regions through increased mechanization.

Furthermore, the expansion of irrigation projects covering the out-grower zones in six regions in Tanzania was enhanced with a loan of $5 million, which enabled the out-growers to expand their irrigation schemes to reach more acreage under agricultural production.

Meanwhile, 19 agro-processing industries in 16 regions across the country received $45 million in credit to accelerate agro-processing, and are expected to significantly contribute to the achievement of the country’s industrialization targets, set out in Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025.

The African Development Bank views agriculture as a key sector. Jacob Oduor, Officer in Charge of the Bank’s Tanzania office, explained the massive investments in the country’s agriculture sector: “Investing in agriculture allows the sector to transform subsistence farmers into agri-business owners, and is a sure way of supporting the country’s aspirations for more inclusive growth.”

Continue Reading
Comments

Africa Today

Only 2% of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Africa

Published

on

More than 5.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of them in Africa, said World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday. 

The UN agency is urging every country to vaccinate at least 40% of its population by the end of this year, and hopes to help ensure that 70% of the world’s population is by the middle of next year.  

At a press conference on COVID-19 and vaccine equity in Africa, which is home to more than 1.2 billion people, Mr. Ghebreyesus informed that, so far, just two countries in Africa have reached the 40% target, the lowest of any region. 

“That’s not because African countries don’t have the capacity or experience to roll out COVID-19 vaccines. It’s because they’ve been left behind by the rest of the world,” he said.  

Mr. Ghebreyesus explained that “this leaves people at high risk of disease and death, exposed to a deadly virus against which many other people around the world enjoy protection.” 

Risks and solutions 

For him, the longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective.  

To avoid this situation, last year WHO partnered with UNICEF, CEPI, GAVI and others to create COVAX. So far, the initiative has shipped more than 260 million doses to 141 countries. 

Mr. Ghebreyesus pointed to several challenges, with manufacturers prioritizing bilateral deals and many high-income countries tying up the global supply of shots.  

He also highlighted a similar initiative, established by the African Union, the COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, known as AVAT.  

This Monday and Tuesday, WHO representatives met with the leaders of AVAT “to agree on a way forward”, Mr. Ghebreyesus said: “Vaccine inequity is a solvable problem.” 

Call to countries and manufacturers 

He called on manufacturers to prioritize COVAX and AVAT. To countries with high coverage levels, he asked them to swap their near-term vaccines deliveries, fulfil their dose-sharing pledges immediately, and facilitate the sharing of technology.  

The WHO chief also called on all countries and manufacturers to share information on bilateral deals, supply and delivery projections and to recognize all vaccines with a WHO Emergency Use Listing.  

The African Union’s Special Envoy for COVID-19, Strive Masiyiwa, also participated in the briefing, alongside the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, and WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, among others. 

Continue Reading

Africa Today

Human Rights abuses intensifying in eastern DR Congo

Published

on

(file photo) © UNHCR/Rocco Nuri

An alarming number of human rights abuses have been carried out against civilians this year by armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. 

In the two most affected provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, UNHCR and its partners recorded more than 1,200 civilian deaths and 1,100 rapes, constituting a total of 25,000 human rights abuses. 

Speaking in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov said the violence “continues to cost lives and drive people from their homes”.  

Host families ‘exhausted’ 

In total, more than a million Congolese have been internally displaced in the east of the country in 2021, putting “enormous pressure” on those forced to flee and on host families, which have taken in 94 per cent of DRC’s forcibly displaced population. 

“Host families have shown huge generosity towards their compatriots but are exhausted and in need of support if they are to continue as first responders,” Mr. Cheshirkov said. 

Those displaced are often forced to return to their place of origin due to harsh living conditions and a lack of food, further exposing them to abuse and violence. He said that 65 per cent of the serious human rights abuses recorded by UNHCR and partners have been inflicted on returnees.  

‘State of siege’ 

Mr. Cheshirkov said attacks attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group have increased in brutality since late 2020, and the frequency of killings of civilians has not abated. 

This is despite a state of siege being declared in early May 2021 to counter the activities of these armed groups. 

He described how armed men identified as members of the ADF raided a village in Irumu Territory, killed 15 civilians, set fire to 10 houses and kidnapped two women, on 3 September. 

This was followed on 6 September by an attack by an armed group whose militia members reportedly raped 10 displaced women in Djugu Territory, Ituri province. 

UNHCR and partners took the women to the nearest hospital where they received psychosocial and medical support, he said.  

According to Mr. Cheshirkov North Kivu and Ituri Provinces are now led by military governments, following the state of siege. 

This has led the national army to ramp up its operations and replace civil courts with military tribunals. Some of these armed groups have surrendered after seeing their territory shrink, others have countered military operations with reprisals against villages, and individuals they believe are supporting the government, he said.  

Funding ‘critically low’ 

Despite government efforts to reduce the abuses of armed groups, “our teams continue to hear horrific accounts of sexual violence, extortion, and looting”, he said. 

Reiterating the UNHCR’s call for urgent measures to protect civilians, Mr. Cheshirkov warned that funding “for this humanitarian crisis remains critically low. With less than four months from the end of the year, UNHCR has received just 51 per cent of the $205 million dollars required in 2021 for their operation in DRC, leaving the agency “only able to respond to a small fraction of the population in urgent need”.

Continue Reading

Africa Today

‘Unprecedented funding gap’ for 7 million facing hunger in Ethiopia

Published

on

Food is distributed in Zelazle in northern Ethiopia, after a convoy reached the region on Monday. © WFP/Claire Nevill

The World Food Programme (WFP) is facing an unprecedented funding gap of $426 million for its operation in Ethiopia, as the UN agency ramps up delivery to meet the needs of up to 12 million people this year. 

This month, WFP started delivering emergency assistance to communities in regions bordering war-torn Tigray. So far, the conflict has forced 300,000 people from their homes and 1.7 million into the nextdoor provinces of Afar and Amhara.  

In coordination with Ethiopia’s Federal and Regional Government authorities, the goal is to reach 530,000 people in Afar and 250,000 people in Amhara. The operation will scale up as needs increase and funding is received. 

In Tigray, food security continues to worsen, and WFP and its partners are struggling to scale up and meet the urgent food needs of 5.2 million people. 

Stocks exhausted 

Food stocks were almost entirely depleted until Monday, when the first convoy for over two weeks entered the region. Over 100 trucks carried 3,500 metric tons of food and other life-saving cargo, including fuel and health and shelter items. 

WFP’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, Michael Dunford, welcomed the collaboration from federal and local authorities to ensure the safety of the convoy.  

“But much more is needed, and this momentum must be sustained otherwise we cannot hope to deliver enough food to save millions from falling deeper into hunger,” he added. 

WFP will reach up to 3 million people in the region, an increase of 900,000 since it took over operations in two north-western districts, Shire town and Tahtay Koraro, from its non-governmental food partners. 

“Time is running out for millions across Northern Ethiopia and if we don’t get additional funding right away we will be forced to cut rations or, even worse, halt distributions to some four million people we’re trying to reach in Afar, Amhara and Tigray in the coming months,” said Mr. Dunford. 

Security and funding  

Across Ethiopia, over 13.6 million people are estimated to be food insecure due to the prolonged combined effects of drought, flooding, desert locust invasions, market disruptions, high food prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The situation has only been made worse by the recent conflict spreading across northern parts of the country.  

WFP said it needs the extra $426 million to expand its emergency food assistance response over the next six months. The funds would also provide long-term food security solutions for people as they enter the yearly ‘hunger season’.  

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Human Rights2 hours ago

COVID crises highlight strengths of democratic systems

The UN Secretary-General, on Wednesday, urged the world to “learn from the lessons of the past 18 months, to strengthen democratic resilience in the face of future...

Economy4 hours ago

The Economic Conundrum of Pakistan

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is due to convene on 20th September 2021. The Monetary policy Committee (MPC) will...

Americas6 hours ago

China And U.S. Are On the Brink of War

Right now, the neocons that Biden has surrounded himself with are threatening to accuse him of having ‘lost Taiwan’ if...

Human Rights9 hours ago

Gender equality ‘champion’ Sima Sami Bahous to lead UN Women

Secretary-General António Guterres described Sima Sami Bahous of Jordan, as “a champion for women and girls”, announcing on Monday her appointment to lead the UN’s gender equality and empowerment entity, UN Women.  The UN...

Environment12 hours ago

Most agricultural funding distorts prices, harms environment

Around 87% of the $540 billion in total annual government support given worldwide to agricultural producers includes measures that are price distorting and that can be harmful to...

Development14 hours ago

Spain’s PM Speaks with Global CEOs on Strategic Priorities in Post-Pandemic Era

The World Economic Forum today hosted a “Country Strategy Dialogue on Spain with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez” for its partners,...

Africa Today16 hours ago

Only 2% of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Africa

More than 5.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of them in Africa, said World Health Organization (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom...

Trending