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NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - As COVID-19 continues to spread in Africa, women in agriculture are struggling to cope not only with the restrictions to limit the spread of the disease but also with endemic inequalities, which undermine their capacity to respond and recover from the impact of this pandemic. The pandemic is exacerbating already existing structural inequalities, increasing the burden on women as they struggle to fulfill their multiple roles of managing their families, farms, and small businesses. Furthermore, the gendered access to opportunities means that women and men have different resources available to them to prepare for, cope with, and recover from such a crisis. Women constitute nearly 50% of agricultural workforce and own one third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, they are a key pillar of Africa’s food systems. As the restrictions related to COVID-19 come into force in various countries, women’s livelihoods and business activities are threatened, so is household food and nutrition, and family well-being, a key priority addressed by women’s incomes. Their inability to freely access resources required to conduct primary production activities, find flexible financing to keep their SMEs afloat or earn wage income in rural markets will hinder food security and wellbeing of rural families. AGRA, in consultation with continental partners or women agripreneur networks, calls on Governments in Africa, the development community, and the private sector, to urgently deploy resources to assist women access resources necessary to conduct agricultural activities, cushion their small businesses to avoid collapse and amplify their voices throughout this pandemic, to attract targeted support for recovery. Providing avenues for continued access to inputs, mechanization, and advisory services With low saving capabilities, women small holders lack capital reserves to stockpile agricultural inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Abrupt closures of input shops, lack of farm labour and machinery, fear and stigma associated with infections have led to farms being abandoned and farming operations disruptions. These primary agricultural production activities form the core of women’s incomes, the loss of which is detrimental not only to food and nutrition, but healthcare, education and a chain of rural economies fueled by this income. It is therefore crucial to assist women access inputs, farm labour, mechanization and advisory services to help them weather the immediate effects of this crisis. Facilitate off take activities to spur rural agricultural markets Agricultural markets are the lifeline of rural communities, and for women, proximity to local markets provide flexibility to combine home care with income generating activities. Disruptions to these local activities is akin to stifling women’s incomes. It is crucial to keep local markets open, sanitize market infrastructure, provide protective attire for market operatives, and improve information flow to increase awareness and public alert. Transportation and logistics of agricultural products should be considered essential services since they provide offtake of agricultural commodities and nourish local economies. Create women SME rescue fund and employ a swift disbursement system Women’s agribusinesses are faced with existential threat, they are trapped in crippling cash flow…
Common bean is a major food and cash crop for more than 90% of smallholder farmers in Burundi. Beans provide 20% of required calories and 50% of proteins, and are an entry point to tackle food insecurity, poverty and malnutrition. The current average bean consumption is about 30 kg per person, per year. However, Burundi also has high prevalence of malnutrition including micro-nutrient deficiencies - about 58% of children under five years are stunted, 56% are anemic, 35% are underweight and 7% are wasted. In addition, Zinc deficiency affects about 47% of the population. Prompted by the need to address these constraints, the High Iron Beans Compact of Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) is set to address these micro-nutrient deficiencies in Burundi through scaling of three new High Iron Bean (HIB) varieties - MAC 44, RWV 1129 and MOORE88002. The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, working in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Science of Burundi (ISABU), is promoting these three varieties alongside Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), nutrition education and processed bean products. Key channels for seed distribution include Confédération des Associations des Producteurs Agricoles pour le Développement (CAPAD), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), World Vision, Tworore Tuiguze Imbuto, Terimbere Murimunyi, and Appui au Développement Intégral et la Solidarité sur les Collines (ADISCO). Sponsored by the African Development Bank as part of its Feed Africa Initiative, TAAT’s main objective is to improve the business of agriculture across Africa by raising agricultural productivity, mitigating risks and promoting diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas. The programme increases agricultural productivity through the deployment of proven and high-performance agricultural technologies at scale along selected nine commodity compacts which include High Iron Bean. These work with six enabler compacts addressing transversal issues such as soil fertility management, water management, capacity development, policy support, attracting African youth in agribusiness and fall armyworm response. Led by Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, the TAAT High Iron Bean Compact's interventions build on the Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) model and the “Bean Corridor” as a market-driven approach to transformation at scale Within one year of implementation, the TAAT-HIB Compact had catalyzed production of over 300 MT of breeder and basic seed and more than 700 MT of certified seed reaching close to 40,000 farmers. The early maturing and higher yielding HIB varieties have seen bean productivity in the interventions rise to 1.8 tons/ ha against an average of 0.75 tons/ ha in the region. The HIB Compact has also catalyzed private sector investments in the commercialization of HIB products that are healthy and easy to cook. Totahara, one of the processors of HIB value-added products in Burundi started out in the backyard of Mme. Christella’s Ndayishimiye, using open firewood to roast beans and tarpaulins for drying. She has since expanded to open up a factory that is distributing up to 110 tons of bean flour per month throughout Burundi and neighbouring countries. Totahara has scaled up production and now…
PAMACC News: The Covid-19 crisis has put a spotlight on the global health science community. Rapid requests for scientific evidence about the virus have spread and health scientists have become more publicly prominent. Advisory councils have been set up (such as in France and South Africa) and renowned scientists have directly advised governments (such as in the UK and Kenya). But the reality is more nuanced than this. To reuse the words of the UNEP Chief Scientist at an Adaptation Futures webinar in April, there have been some “disconnections between the science and political decisions.” Reflecting the differences in timeframes and priorities between the need to gather solid evidence on one hand and the need to make immediate decisions on the other, conflicts have emerged with decisions opposing the scientific advice (such as in the US), scientists being sacked (such as in Kenya) and even the World Health Organization being challenged for its handling of the crisis. What is clear is that the relation between science and policy seems to have reached a crossroads, challenging ever more the role that science plays or should play for society. During the Petersberg Climate Dialogue XI in April, the German Federal Environment Minister stated that “we are learning to listen to the scientists.” Will this changed relationship provide opportunities for more concerted climate action? Science and the climate change crisis Many parallels have been drawn between the health crisis and the climate crisis. On social media, the climate change community has joyfully compared the new prominent role for science given by policy-makers with the IPCC, wondering if the same weight could be given to climate science informing policy. Not long ago, local policy-makers asked me what the research community could bring to policy in the context of climate change, a question that somewhat surprised me. Having worked in a research environment for over five years as part of UMFULA, an applied research project focusing on co-producing climate information for adaptation in vulnerable countries in central and southern Africa, the answer to this question was very clear to me. UMFULA and how science can inform policy UMFULA, and its wider Future Climate for Africa programme, has at its core the objective of improving science in terms of climate processes and projections and climate impacts on the African continent to inform policy for more sustainable development and greater resilience to climate change. For five years, we have worked in partnership with policy and decision-makers in Malawi and Tanzania. By better understanding their needs, we have been more effective in producing information that is useful and potentially useable in the sectors of water, energy, food and biodiversity. In Malawi we co-developed future scenarios of water availability and discussed management options in terms of infrastructure operation and water allocation, taking into account demand from different sectors. As a result of the trust built through this process, we had the opportunity to inform national policy processes in Malawi, providing advice to the government on climate information, participating in…
NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has invested its second tranche of $2.5 Million to boost the share capital of the Agri-Business Capital Fund (ABC Fund). The ABC Fund is an innovative initiative by AGRA, the European Commission through its EU-ACP agreement, the Luxemburg Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)to support sustainable and inclusive agricultural value chains for smallholder farmers and small-to-medium sized rural agribusinesses (SMEs) in developing countries. “ABC Fund is a global facility but 80% of the investments will be made in Sub Sahara Africa,” said Hedwig Siewertsen, the Head Inclusive Finance at AGRA. The fund is composed of different types of shares with different risk and return profiles. According to Siewertsen, the funds come in form of loans and equity, specifically tailored to the needs of smallholder farmers and agri-SMEs. “To reach them most effectively, these products are made available either directly to farmers’ organizations and SMEs, or indirectly via financial institutions,” she said.The main focus of the money is on investments that can drive economic and social development and generate economic opportunities for smallholder farmers, in particular women and young people, with an aim of improving livelihoods of more than 4 million individuals over a predetermined period of 10 years.According to plan, the tranche from AGRA will be used to provide loans to agricultural SMEs that service smallholder farmers and have a business track record of minimum 3 years with a turnover exceeding USD200,000 with a financial need of more than USD 250,000substantiated by a business plan.It will also lend to financial intermediaries that have an agricultural portfolio targeting smallholder farmers. Such organizations can apply for the funds through the fund managers who are Bamboo Capital Partners based in Nairobi, and Injaro Investment Limited which is based in Accra and Abidjan.So far, the current 10 approved investments are located in Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, and will benefit over 15,000 smallholder farmers in these countries.Targeted entities for the funds include producers of primary agricultural products, input suppliers such as manufacturers or distributors of seeds, companies that produce, maintain or operate storage facilities, and service companies, traders, veterinarians, mechanization.Other beneficiaries include aggregators and/or processors of primary agricultural products, logistics companies that transport and handle primarily agricultural goods, and finally, processors of secondary agricultural goods/ food products.“Investing in smallholder farmers and agri-SMEs enables them to increase their productivity, improve their livelihoods, strengthen their resilience to climate change, and better benefit from participation in value chains,” said Siewertsen noting that targeted investment will help generate employment and economic opportunities for millions of rural women and the youth.This comes at a time national, regional and global food markets are growing to feed a swelling world population and meet increasing demand for more diverse and sophisticated food products, thereby presenting huge opportunities for smallholder farmers and agri-SMEs.This is the second tranche AGRA has invested in the ABC fund. The first tranche of investment of a similar…
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