Friday, 28 August 2015

Nigeria set to export pineapple to Italy, others

Image result for pineapple 
The Federal Government’s bid to boost non-oil exports has received a boost as the country will soon begin the export of pineapple in commercial quantity to Italy, Poland and other European countries.
The development is the outcome of measures put in place by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to maximise the potential of the non-oil sector through investments, capacity development, innovation and formidable partnerships.
The General Manager, San Carlos Farm, Mr. Obiorah Ugwo, while speaking during a facility tour at Liberty Estate, Independent Layout, Enugu, on Tuesday by officials of NEPC, said there were huge potential for the country through the exportation of agricultural products.
The 150-hectare farm is a joint venture between the Enugu State Government and Mexican farming conglomerate, San Carlos.
Approved by the Enugu State Government in 2012, the JV, which is estimated to cost the sum of $29m (N4.9bn), was established for commercial production of pineapple for both local consumption and export purposes.
Ugwo said owing to the potential of the agricultural sector as a huge foreign exchange earner, the company has decided to venture into integrated farming through the introduction of banana and livestock, particularly cattle rearing.
He said, “This is a joint venture and initially, it was planned to cost about $29m and we are still operating on that even though the Naira has been unstable and the government has kept faith with their own side of the bargain and that is why the project has gone this far.
“As at December 2014, we did the test export to Italy and as at now, we have about four orders to be serviced and it depends on how we harvest from our fields.
“We have orders from Poland, Germany, two from Italy and we have so many that we are even rejecting because we cannot service them.
“On the export angle, the experience was tough because it was tough learning on the job and by now, we have got all the certification that we need courtesy of Nigerian Export Promotion Council.”
He said there was the need for the government to address some of the challenges facing the exports of the product to other countries.
The Head, Public Relations, NEPC, Mr Joe Itah, said the agency would continue to promote non-oil exports owing to the challenges faced by oil in the international market.
He said, “We have a responsibility of promoting non oil exports anchored on our cardinal point of market information and trade facilitation.
“It is through the efforts of NEPC that people would be able to see the processes  that our products go through to meet the standards.
“We are also bringing synergy, and it is only in NEPC taking the lead in terms of showing them the standards to meet that we can boost non oil exports and increase inclusive growth by adding value to lives, create jobs and reduce the level of crime through youth restiveness.”

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Akon’s solar energy initiative is his latest effort to empower Africa

Akon is making headlines with his latest effort to provide solar-powered electricity for 600 million Africans, but though the Senegalese-American chart-topper has a history of passion for impacting the community. His past projects have underscored a common trend of not helping, but empowering.
Akon has engaged in numerous innovative endeavors that have spanned many corners of Africa. But he is tired of people associating Africa with a “charity case.” In an article in the National Journal, Akon boasts his home continent is “open for business.”
“I can be an artist … and make money. But I’m in a place where I’m gifted … and offered opportunities where I can make a difference and change lives.”

“I’m a businessman first, then musician,” he told Al Jazeera in a separate interview. So why not make money and change lives at the same time, he asks.
Konfidence Foundation
In 2007, the Konvict went on a mission to enhance confidence in Africa’s youth. The foundation started as an effort to provide African children educational materials, health services, a wider spread of learning resources, and a better recreational environment. Akon teamed up with Keri Hilson for the song, ‘Oh Africa,’ and donated part of the song’s proceeds – along with additional money made from touring – to the children.
Akon emphasizes the importance of education as a stepping-stone to success. “When we created the Konfidence Foundation, it was more so to find a platform to educate all these children so that they can have a better future with what’s left to develop in Africa,” he told

Peace One Day
Talk about a sweet escape. Peace One Day — an organization dedicated to promoting global ceasefire and non-violence — was founded by filmmaker Jeremy Gilley who wished to devote 24 hours in pondering and action of a simple yet profound notion: who will you make peace with? Akon spearheaded the organization’s efforts in the Great Lakes region of Africa by headlining a concert that took place at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Goma airport. His mass appeal was critical in delivering the event’s message via digital and televised broadcasts reaching millions. “I’ve performed at some incredible venues around the world, but nothing like this. The symbolism of having this concert at Goma International Airport, as a gateway to the rest of the world, is so powerful,” Akon said in a press release for Peace One Day.

Akon Lights Africa
The sun has risen on what is to be Akon’s largest project to date. The singer embarked on a mission one year ago to launch an initiative to provide solar powered electricity for millions of Africans who live their lives in the dark. After the sun sets, people cannot even see the person in front of them. It’s impossible to read or study. Akon’s initiative will allow Africans access to enough electricity to charge their phones at home, watch TV, and even procrastinate on doing homework late into the night. So far, ‘Akon Lighting Africa’ has installed solar street lamps and household solar panels in millions of African households spanning over 14 countries. The sustainable initiative – currently approaching its seventh tour of lighting – is made possible by Akon’s established academy, which specifically trains locals in the installation of solar powered materials. With 320 days of sunshine per year, proper harnessing of Africa’s brightness is helping build an even brighter future.


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Power, People, Planet: Beyond Food

With the world aiming for a major climate change deal this year, the Africa Progress Report 2015 will show how Africa can turn climate challenges into opportunities by transforming its energy, agriculture and finance sectors.
Africa needs more energy now – and everyone must have access. Energy is vital for economic growth, job creation and reducing poverty.
Africa is likely to need fossil fuels for some time; no industrialized country has developed using clean energy alone. But if African countries seriously commit themselves now to renewable energy sources, such as hydro, geothermal and solar power, they could leapfrog to cleaner energy as they have to mobile telephony – bypassing dependence on high-carbon fuels.
This energy transition must be matched by an agricultural transformation that unlocks the potential of Africa’s smallholder farmers to drive the continent’s development – while enabling them to cope with the multiple threats from climate change.
These transformations in energy, agriculture and climate change adaptation will only happen if Africa receives more international financial support, mobilizes more domestic finance and strengthens its financial architecture. The Africa Progress Report 2015 will look at how African policymakers can maximize all sources of finance, including domestic savings and private capital.
There is plenty of evidence that the right climate change response could also build Africa’s prosperity. The Africa Progress Report 2015 will gather that evidence to make a powerful case for transforming Africa’s energy, agriculture and finance.

‘How Africa can power 500 million people with renewable energy’

map of africa-positivewww

The need for the African continent to fully exploit the renewable energy sources for power generation as once again hit the front burner, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), declared that energy insecurity is a key challenge to growth and development in Africa.
The group in a 91- page presentation to sensitize journalists on public awareness on effects and opportunities in climate change, said over 500 million people lack reliable access to affordable electricity in sub- Saharan Africa and government should make efforts to exploit renewable energy sources in their quest for power generation.
“As African nations develop, climate change presents an opportunity to fill this energy gap without relying upon the fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases. For this to happen, public and private sector players will need to coordinate their efforts to develop clean-energy supplies.
“Viable options exist to power Africa using mini-grid and of-grid solar, wind, hydro, and biomass technologies. Projects that use solar panels or small-scale hydro power to provide schools and villages with power demonstrate what is possible, but the challenge is in scaling up these solutions to meet demands across the continent,” it stated.
Besides, the group identified lack of infrastructure, funding, and comprehensive vision as factors that hinder efforts to developing clean energy solutions.
“Successful efforts to improve energy effciency can happen on a larger scale (for example, installing new national power grids), or simply involve replacing light bulbs and appliances in homes,” it added.
It is pertinent to note that across Africa, most people rely on traditional fuels such as wood, biomass, or charcoal for cooking. Smoke from these stoves not only threatens public health, but also contributes to climate change as it contains the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.
Quoting from a World Bank study, UNESCO said feeling the energy-gap in Africa may cost up to $40 billion per year for a decade. On the other hand, it stated that reforming power utilities to run more efficiency could save up to $3.3 billion per year.
Biofuels are fuels made from living things or their waste products.
They include solid biomass such as wood or charcoal; biogas (methane produced from sewage); and liquids such as bio-ethanol and biodiesel, derived from crops such as maize, sugarcane, soybeans and jatropha.
While biofuels do emit some greenhouse gases when they burn, the plants from which they are created absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. So they appear to offer a means to provide power in a more climate-friendly way than fossil fuels.
Team Leader on Climate Change in the UNEP Regional Office for Africa, Emily Massawa, said: “Poverty eradication is Africa’s overriding priority, with people’s access to clean energy access at the centre of concern. Renewable power is found in abundance on the continent. Large areas of the African continent are ideal for solar and wind installations, and geothermal energy is already exploited in some areas.
Use of these renewable and indigenous resources mean the continent would be able to have more secure and clean energy supplies, that will also assist in breaking the cycle of high-carbon development that has led to the world being threatened by accelerating climate change.

Why agriculture and agribusiness can change Africa’s story


Plunging cocoa prices in the past few months have been a major worry for more than 700,000 farmers located in the lush green forests of Ghana who depend on this cash crop to feed themselves and provide education and health to their families. But the inadequate capacity of Ghana to add more value to a large quantity of its cocoa is even more a bigger issue.
Global demand for chocolate is expected to grow 25 percent by 2020, so cocoa prices will eventually recover. But cocoa farms must increase Ghana’s share of the final retail price of chocolate, which is only 5% at present. By increasing the country’s processing capacity, farmers in these countries can increase their incomes and create more critical jobs in the process.
Ghana’s cocoa example mirrors the overall condition of Africa’s export commodities. Africa still exports more raw agricultural produce with little or no value addition.
It has become increasingly obvious that while Africa is growing, it is not transforming. One well-known policy solution that has been offered to create more jobs is to scale up the manufacturing sector. And this includes making agricultural processing active.
To do this, Ghana like any other African nation will need the roads, energy, transport and markets to power the factories that process agricultural produce. With lower labour costs and easy access to raw materials, agro-industries in Africa offer an excellent opportunity for private investors too. It has the right markets for agro-industries to thrive and its regional market remains hugely untapped.
But there are several opportunities. Global food demand, for example, is set to double by 2050. Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness markets could reach US$1 trillion in 2030. For any economic transformation to happen, agriculture and agribusiness must grow and rightly combine to make value addition possible.
Africa loses billions of dollars for due to its inability to produce enough and process its agricultural commodities. The Africa Progress Panel chaired by Kofi Annan, in its 2014 report ‘Grain, Fish, Money’, estimates that Africa spends US$35 billion per year in food imports. Indeed, connecting farm production, processing and distribution could create numerous jobs and lift millions of Africans out of poverty.
We must think of linking farmers to the market through mobile technologies and give accurate and timely information to smallholder farmers to enable them reduce the threats weather extremes pose. While we have witnessed mobile technology revolutions across Africa, we need to reinvent our meteorological institutions to enable them predict the weather and disseminate accurate and relevant data to farmers in the village. Here, forging a good partnership with the private sector initiatives like Esoko – an agricultural information service operating in 10 African countries – is key.
Agribusiness must center on smallholder farmers. Agribusiness investments must not, therefore, ignore “land-grabbing”. Smallholders need the land and infrastructure to help feed themselves and others. Agriculture and agribusiness pursued in this manner could be the next frontier to change Africa’s growth and transformation story.
Photo credit: John Rae

Invest responsibly in Africa. Build a sustainable future for the next generation. – Africa Progress Panel

Invest responsibly in Africa. Build a sustainable future for the next generation. – Africa Progress Panel

Friday, 17 April 2015

Agricultural & Rural Finance

Rural finance comprises the full range of financial services - loans, savings, insurance, and payment and money transfer services - needed, offered, or used in rural areas by household and enterprises. The term encompasses agricultural finance.

Agricultural finance refers to financial services ranging from short-, medium- and long-term loans, to leasing, to crop and livestock insurance, covering the entire agricultural value chain - input supply, production and distribution, wholesaling, processing and marketing.

Rural and agricultural financial services are provided by formal and informal financial institutions as well as through financial arrangements within the agricultural value chain.

While the majority of Africa's population lives in rural areas and depends on agricultural production, the supply of financial services to the sector is inadequate, with, on average, a mere 5 percent of domestic resources being allocated to the agricultural sector.

Reasons for the lack of access to finance in rural areas and in the agricultural value chains are numerous. They can be found in the slow and uneven entry of formal financial institutions into rural areas, which leads to rural clients often remaining beyond the reach of financial outlets, to the reluctance of financial institutions to provide financial services to agricultural and rural activities, whose risk profile is frequently not fully understood and which are often informal in nature.

Factors such as poor infrastructure and widely dispersed populations in rural areas raise transaction and information costs, thus further hindering the spread of financial services. In addition, title and property rights can be difficult to verify in rural areas, posing problems in the use of collateral. Subsidized lending programs for rural recipients have also contributed to obstructing the development of a sustainable rural banking sector in Africa.

Farmers and agricultural companies typically face seasonal income and long maturation periods and are exposed to considerable risks. Seasonality requires specifically tailored financial services and conditions, such as longer repayment and grace periods, less frequent repayments, or leasing products. Agricultural risks to be considered include price fluctuations for inputs and products or crop failure due to pests and diseases, temperature or variable rainfall.

Despite these difficulties, formal rural and agricultural finance has been making advances in the continent, with innovative financial services and improved risk management on both the client and institution sides. The most promising approaches include flexible credit schemes, value-chain finance, insurance products, promotion of financial literacy and the use of new technologies.


Agricultural Education

Agricultural Education is the teaching of agriculture, natural resources, and land management through hands on experience and guidance to prepare students for entry level jobs of to further education to prepare them for advanced agricultural jobs. Classes that may be taught in an agricultural education curriculum include horticulture, land management, turf grass management, agricultural science, small animal care, machine and shop classes, health and nutrition, livestock management, biology courses, etc. Agricultural education can be taught at the elementary level, middle school level, secondary, post secondary and adult levels. Elementary agriculture is taught in public schools and private schools, and deals with such subjects as how plants and animals grow and how soil is farmed and conserved. Vocational agriculture trains people for jobs in such areas as production, marketing, and conservation. College agriculture involves training of people to teach, conduct research, or provide information to advance the field of agriculture and food science in other ways. General education agriculture informs the public

Monday, 13 April 2015

Energy and Agriculture

Energy has always been essential for the production of food. Prior to the industrial revolution, the primary energy input for agriculture was the sun; photosynthesis enabled plants to grow, and plants served as food for livestock, which provided fertilizer (manure) and muscle power for farming. However, as a result of the industrialization and consolidation of agriculture, food production has become increasingly dependent on energy derived from fossil fuels.

Agricultural Energy Inputs
Today, industrial agriculture consumes fossil fuels for several purposes:

Fertilizer Production
Industrial farms  G use huge quantities of synthetic fertilizers, which require significant energy inputs (primarily natural gas) to be produced. Other fertilizing agents (e.g., potassium and phosphorus) are mined, consuming even more energy.

Water Consumption
Industrial agriculture is incredibly water intensive. The scarce resource is used for crop irrigation, which accounts for 31 percent of all water withdrawals in the US, waste management (i.e., for flushing manure out of industrial livestock facilities) and as drinking water for animals. This overuse of water has implications in the energy sector as well. As described in our Energy-Water Nexus page, pumping, treating and moving such large volumes of water require a great deal of energy.

Farm Equipment
Modern agriculture relies upon machinery that runs on gasoline and diesel fuel (e.g., tractors and combines), and equipment that uses electricity (e.g., lights, pumps, fans, etc.).

Processing, Packaging & Transportation:
Much of the food produced today is highly processed and heavily packaged, which further increases its energy footprint. As a result of consolidation and centralization of production, foods are often transported long distances, requiring additional energy inputs.

Factory Farms and Energy Use
Most meat, eggs and dairy products are now produced on factory farms, huge industrial livestock operations that raise thousands of animals in confined conditions without access to pasture. Since the animals are unable to graze, factory farms require tremendous quantities of feed produced by industrial crop farms using the energy-intensive processes described above. Factory farms are also potential sources of ground and surface water pollution, which ultimately requires municipalities and private landowners to expend additional energy on water treatment.
Some factory farms use methane digesters to generate energy (digesters capture methane released during the decomposition of the huge quantities of manure generated onsite, and then burn the gas to produce electricity). Although this reduces emissions of methane (a potent greenhouse gas), the technology doesn’t eliminate solid waste, fails to address other environmental, human health, social and animal welfare problems created by factory farms, and typically requires large subsidies to remain economically viable. Thus, despite being touted as a “green” energy source, methane digesters ultimately serve to subsidize and further entrench the environmentally and socially destructive model of industrial livestock production.

Impact of Energy Policy
Energy policy also affects agriculture. For instance, congressional mandates now require the production of billions of gallons of ethanol, which is primarily—and controversially—derived from corn. Corn grown for ethanol takes land away from food production and, in states where corn is irrigated, uses a significant amount of water.

Toward Energy-Sustainable Agriculture
Given the growing population’s food requirements, the world’s finite supply of fossil fuels and the adverse environmental impacts of using this nonrenewable resource, the existing relationship between agriculture and energy must be dramatically altered. Among the most obvious solutions is to simply improve the energy efficiency of food production and distribution. This can be accomplished by shifting from energy-intensive industrial agricultural techniques to less intensive methods (e.g., pasture-raised livestock, drip irrigation, non-synthetic fertilizers, no-till crop management, etc.), using more efficient machinery and equipment, reducing food processing and packaging, promoting decentralization of food production and improving the efficiency of food transportation.
Farms can also generate their own clean electricity. While houses, barns and other buildings provide ample roof space for the installation of solar panels, farms with large swaths of land in windy areas are ideal sites for wind turbines. By leasing property for wind power production, these farms can earn an additional source of revenue while continuing to grow crops on surrounding land.
Despite the challenges posed by the energy-intensive nature of agriculture, the prudent use of resources and judicious application of technology has the capacity to significantly improve the long-term sustainability of food production.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sugar cane for bioenergy and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa

source Sappi positivity
This article, published at the outset of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly, makes the case for agro-industrial development based on modern bioenergy – sugar cane in particular – as a promising pathway for sub-Saharan African countries.
IRENA has set a goal of doubling the world’s share of renewable energy by 2030. The authors argue that for sub-Saharan Africa, with plenty of sunshine and land, this presents an opportunity for development that is not only sustainable, but also spreads the benefits more widely than with fossil-fuel wealth.
No region in the world has greater biomass energy potential. There is plentiful land, sun and labour to grow sugar cane and other energy-rich crops. Agro-industrial development based on modern bioenergy could bring new jobs and higher incomes to rural areas, provide ene
rgy security, and reduce forest degradation and air pollution associated with traditional biomass use.
Many sub-Saharan African countries are hamstrung not only by unaffordable oil prices, but by the lack of basic energy and transport infrastructure and institutional capacity. Their agricultural systems are equally under-developed, with rural populations often dependent on subsistence farming, which is highly vulnerable to climatic changes and extreme weather. Traditional biomass – burning wood, agricultural residues and dung – is the main source of energy, reducing quality of life and hindering economic productivity. A more systematic effort to develop bioenergy could help modernise the agricultural sector, raise incomes, and contribute to improved infrastructure and energy access.

Source: Outreach, UK

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Access to Renewable Energy

Energy Cooking Stove. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
The energy sector is of strategic importance to the Nigerian economy, and a major driver for growth. It is a macro economic importance; it also has a major role to play in reducing poverty, improving productivity and enhancing the general quality of life of Nigerian People.
However, Nigeria is currently facing an energy crisis, with only 47% of the population having access to electricity; deficiencies in access to modern thermal and mechanical energy services, as well as insufficient public capitalization of the oil and gas production. There are important advantages to be gained from an increased access to renewable energy sources and services.
Expanding access to renewable energy services in rural and peri-urban areas is associated with a number of challenges, and innovative approaches have to be considered. The UNDP Access to Renewable Energy Programme focuses on increasing the national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources to improve the access to modern energy services for MSMEs. These are the services many Nigerian MSMEs either lack completely or access erratically through electricity grid which hampers their potential for growth.
The BOI/UNDP Access to Renewable Energy Project’s main focus is to increase the national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources to improve access to modern energy services for MSMEs and other households.
It also aims to build capacity in the business and financial sectors to incorporate renewable energy in business planning and development, and to support the evolution of renewable energy policy and public planning. It is aimed at building capacity of the following:
I.    MSMEs to incorporate renewable energy either as a business in and of itself, or as service for business development
II.    Financial Institutions to better understand and assess the credit and financial risks of renewable energy investments and services
III.    Government to develop and implement renewable energy policies and regulatory frameworks
Within the overall framework of increasing access to modern energy services, the strategy for the Access to Renewable Energy Programme comprise three outcome areas:
I.    Foster pro-development energy services by facilitating an expansion of renewable energy services accessible to MSMEs
II.    Support renewable energy investments by building up capacity within the financial sector as well as among users and providers of energy services
III.    Promote policies and institutional frameworks for an inclusive renewable energy market

source: undp