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Tanzanian farmers reap the benefits of rapid agricultural mechanization

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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.”

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Africa Today

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry, UNIDO sign €2m agreement

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Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a €2m agreement to support Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks (IAIPs), funded by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation. Thes agreement will contribute to the development of the agro-industrial sector and the creation of decent jobs and economic opportunities in the rural areas of Ethiopia. The objective of the new project is to support the inclusive and sustainable development of four pilot IAIPs. Project activities will concentrate on increasing private sector involvement in agro-industry, improving food quality, safety and traceability, and promoting social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

With the support of UNIDO, the Government of Ethiopia has prioritized the establishment of the IAIPs as a primary tool to achieve agricultural modernization and rural industrialization in the country. To this end, the Government of Ethiopia has mobilized various funding sources and development partners for the implementation of IAIPs. The current project is for the development of the four pilot IAIPs, located in Oromia (Bulbula), Sidama (Yirgalem), Amhara (Bure) and Tigray (Beaker). The project is funded by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation, in alignment with the Italian strategy outlined in the Ethio-Italian country framework 2017 – 2019 which encourages sustainable and inclusive economic growth to ensure full employment and decent work for all, especially in rural areas, as well as promoting partnerships between Italian and Ethiopian institutions to ensure continuity of investment and transfer of technologies.

The signature ceremony was attended by Shisema Gebreselassie, State Minister of the Ministry of Industry, Aurelia Patrizia Calabrò, UNIDO Representative and Director of the Regional Office Hub, and Isabella Lucaferri, Head of the AICS Addis Ababa Office.  

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Africa Today

Sudan: Looting in Darfur, leaves 730,000 without enough to eat

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UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran. UN Photo/Albert González Farran

The UN chief condemned on Wednesday the looting and attacks against United Nations facilities, equipment and supplies gifted to the Sudanese authorities for civilian in El Fasher, Darfur. 

Last Tuesday evening, a World Food Programme (WFPwarehouse located in the Borsa area of El Fasher town, the capital of North Darfur State, came under attack from unknown armed groups. 

Over 1,900 metric tons of food commodities that were meant to feed 730,000 vulnerable people for a month were stolen. 

The incident followed the looting and reported violence last week at the former UN-African Union Hybrid Operation (UNAMID) base in El Fasher. 

Restore order 

In his statementSecretary-General António Guterres called upon the Government of Sudan to restore order.  

He stressed that the authorities must ensure that former UNAMID property and assets are strictly used for civilians – in conformity with the Framework Agreement the Government signed in March.  

The UN chief also asked the Sudanese authorities to facilitate the safe working environment and passage for remaining UN operations in the region. 

He concluded by thanking the UN civilian and uniformed personnel who remain on the ground under “challenging” circumstances. 

WFP cuts off aid

WFP chief David Beasley tweeted his outrage over the “senseless attacks” in El Fasher and strongly condemned the continued looting and destruction of the agency’s assets.  

“As a result, we have been forced to suspend WFP operations in North Darfur, effective immediately”, said Mr. Beasly.

The theft has robbed nearly two million Sudanese of the food and nutritional support they so desperately need.  

“Not only is this a tremendous setback to WFP operations, but it endangers our staff and jeopardizes our ability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable families”, he added.

Humanitarian crisis 

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Khardiata Lo N’diaye, also condemned the looting.  

“This was food assistance meant for Sudan’s most vulnerable people. Humanitarian assistance should never be a target”, she underscored. 

Currently, one in three people in Sudan needs humanitarian assistance – equivalent to an estimated 14.3 million individuals.  

According to the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, 25 per cent of those people require food security and livelihoods support. 

An attack like this, the coordinator explained, severely impedes the ability to deliver to the people who need it the most. 

“We urgently ask all parties to adhere to humanitarian principles and allow the safe delivery of life-saving assistance”, Ms. N’diaye stated. 

WFP currently faces “unprecedented” funding shortfalls, estimated at $358 million. 

Violence 

Earlier in the month, thousands of people took to the streets to mark the third anniversary of the uprising that led to the April 2019 overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for three decades.  

Demonstrators who made for the presidential palace were also protesting October’s military coup and the political agreement signed later on 21 November.  

UN officials and agencies expressed deep concern at the time over credible reports of serious human rights violations, including the use of rape and gang rape of women and girls, employed to disperse protesters.  

As of 29 December, the security situation had been restored, according to State authorities.  

Ms. N’diaye thanked the local authorities for preventing the situation from worsening but called upon the Government to step up efforts to protect and safeguard humanitarian premises and assets. 

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Africa Today

Thousands head home voluntarily from Zambia to DR Congo

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photo: © UNHCR/Rocco Nuri

Nearly 5,000 refugees who fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) four years ago, are opting to head home voluntarily from Zambia over the coming months, with the first 100 people setting out on Tuesday. 

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said that security had improved sufficiently in DR Congo’s Pweto territory, Haut-Katanga province, for them to go home “in safety and dignity”.

Inter-ethnic clashes as well as fighting between Congolese security forces and militia groups in parts of southeastern DRC in 2017, have uprooted communities. 

Through intention surveys carried out in October by UNHCR, some 4,774 refugees expressed their aim to voluntarily return to DRC.

International agreement

The voluntary repatriation, which will continue into 2022, is part of the ongoing 2006 tripartite agreement between UNHCR and the Governments of Zambia and DR Congo.

Partners are supporting the returning refugees by providing voluntary repatriation documents, expedited immigration clearance, health screening and school certificates to allow children to resume their education in the DRC.

“As security has improved in some areas of Haut-Katanga, an estimated 20,000 refugees have spontaneously left Zambia since 2018 to return to their areas of origin – mainly to Pweto territory”, UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists in Geneva.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency is working with authorities and development partners – such as Catholic aid confederation CARITAS – in DRC to advance reintegration projects, including education, health and agriculture, and to ensure conditions for safe and dignified returns.

Currently, some 18,000 Congolese refugees farm at Mantapala settlement – established in early 2018 to accommodate displaced people – alongside 5,000 Zambians, across 11 integrated villages.

As Zambia continues to host 103,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and former refugees, including more than 63,000 from DR Congo, over the past three years around 20,000 Congolese have left to return home.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP) are assisting in repatriation efforts.

Agency support

The two agencies have provided buses and trucks to help transport refugees, their belongings and food for the journey, Families will receive a cash grant to help them pick up their lives again in the DRC.

“UNHCR will disinfect the buses, provide face masks, hand sanitizers and, together with the authorities, ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures are observed, including loading of buses to half the capacity”, Mr. Baloch said.

UNICEF has improved water and sanitation facilities at the reception centre in Chiengi district, where returning refugees are being housed for the night to process immigration documents, before embarking on the final leg of their journey home.

And Zambian authorities are providing rapid COVID-19 tests for the returning refugees, at the Mantapala Rural Health Centre.

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