Tuesday 29 April 2014

Zambia Calls For Affordable Food Prices

By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Zambian government says there is need for African states to find better strategies that will make food prices affordable to all Africans on the continent.

Leader of the Zambian delegation to the three day meeting of Senior officials meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries in Ethiopia, Derrick Sikombe says the strategies must also ensure that there is price stability and stability of income for farmers.

Mr Sikombe, who is also Chief Agricultural Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia, says there is also need to provide services such as electricity, water and sanitation in rural areas in order for agricultural production to be increased.

He said this when he addressed the plenary session of the senior officials meeting at the African Union Headquarters this morning.

Mr Sikombe added that knowledge and skills in food processing and preservation must be made readily available in Africa so that people engaged in agriculture can help increase productivity.

Meanwhile, Uganda has called on African countries to enact laws that will regulate and promote nutrition in all AU-member states.

According to the submission by the Ugandan delegation to the meeting, enforcing laws such as guiding each district to produce a minimum amount of a certain crop can help boost nutrition levels in each country.

And the Zimbabwean delegation has proposed the prioritization of strategic food reserves as a way of ensuring food security.

According to Zimbabwe, food reserves maintain a balance in times of need and therefore governments must spend more money in maintaining them. 

But Sierra Leone has complained that most of its youths who are based in urban areas are shunning the villages due to lack of basic services.

The Sierra Leonean delegation says since the country emerged from war over a decade ago, basic services are non-existent in rural areas and youths can not take part in agriculture because they do not like rural areas.

The three day senior officials meeting has attracted agricultural officials from all African countries who are preparing resolutions that will be adopted by Agricultural ministers during the Joint Ministerial Conference on Agriculture which will take place on Thursday and Friday this week in Ethiopia.

Agriculture Ministers from across Africa are later this week expected to converge at the African Union headquarters to discuss agricultural issues as part of the Year of Agriculture and Food Security.

Zambia will be represented by Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde who is expected in Ethiopia tomorrow.

Monday 28 April 2014

Spending On Agriculture up 7% After CAADP Launch

By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The African Union has disclosed that public spending on agriculture in Africa has risen by over 7% following intensive efforts by the continental body to boost the agricultural sector through initiatives like the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, says the increase in spending is commendable but much more must be done on the continent.

She adds that for transformative growth to be realised through the agriculture sector, the marginalised, vulnerable, women and young people must be taken care of so that no one is left out.

Ms Tumusiime says AU-member states must ensure they tackle all challenges in order for transformative growth to take place on the continent.

She says 2014 being the year for Agriculture and Food Security, more needs to be done to ensure that this sector which employs over 75% of Africa's workers improves livelihoods and transforms lives.

Ms Tumusiime said this during the official opening of the three day senior officials meeting on agriculture, rural development, fisheries and aquaculture at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning.

Meanwhile, the meeting has attracted experts, government officials and organisations from across the African continent who are expected to come up with a policy framework and recommendations ahead of the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture which will take place from first to second May this year.

Senior officials and experts from Zambia's Ministry of Agriculture are also attending the senior officials meeting.

Zambia's Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde is expected in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to represent Zambia at the joint ministerial conference.

Mr Monde, together with other Ministers of Agriculture from across the continent, are expected to adopt recommendations from the senior officials meeting that are expected to boost agriculture on the continent.

The African Union has declared 2014 as the year for Agriculture and Food Security and several activities have been lined up to press member states to prioritise agriculture.

The theme for the year of agriculture is Transforming Africa's agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

This year, the continental body is also taking stock of CAADP which was launched in 2003.

40 countries have so far embraced CAADP and signed the compact.

In June this year, the African Union heads of state summit is expected to adopt targets that are aimed at accelerating agriculture on the continent.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Kariba Dam Safe, Declares Zambia And Zimbabwe

By Paul Shalala in Kariba, Zimbabwe

Energy Ministers from Zambia and Zimbabwe on Tuesday held a two hour closed door meeting at the Zambezi River Authority offices in the Zimbabwean town of Kariba.

The meeting followed a week of media reports indicating that the Kariba dam which is shared by the two countries, was at the risk of collapsing due to cracks which had developed on the dam wall.

After the two hours closed door meeting, the two ministers, accompanied by another minister and a deputy minister from Zimbabwe, toured the dam wall where they were briefed on efforts being made to protect the facility.

They later entered entered the underground tunnels for more tours.

Several cracks where found on the wall which extended for several meters.

In some areas, water was even licking into the tunnel.

The two delegations where also taken to the plunge pool were re-shaping works are expected to take six years.

After the tour, the two delegations went to Kariba Town in Zimbabwe were they briefed the media on the state of the dam.

At Carribea Bay Hotel, Zimbabwean energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire declared the Kariba Dam safe to the public.

He however said maitenance works were needed and they would cost the two countries US4230 million.

His Zambian counterpart Christopher Yaluma assured the media that cooperating partners were ready to fund the the rehabilitation works.

But Zambezi River Authority Chief Executive Officer Munyaridzi Munodawafa downplayed the cracks on the dam wall describing them as "superficial."

He said they were not dangerous or a threat to the stability of the dam.

The two neighbouring countries have since constituted a committee to scout for funds to refurbish the Kariba Dam and its headed by Zambia's Finance Permanent Secretary Felix Nkulukusa.

The Kariba Dam is a regional source of energy for the Southern Africa region as the Zambezi river which passes through the Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique is a source of energy for these countries.

If indeed the Kariba Dam is to collapse, an estimated 3.5 million people would be affected in the southern Africa region.