Monthly archives: October, 2014

Rising food prices leave Africa fighting Ebola on empty stomachs (Uganda)

KAMPALA—After the price of corn in Uganda leapt 15% recently, Hakim Waiswa could only afford to cook the local corn-flour staple, posho, once a day — making up his seven children’s only meal.
“Life is very hard,” said the 40-year-old mechanic and single father. “We are sleeping on empty stomachs.”
Food prices are rising in Africa, defying a global trend as the Ebola epidemic and other disturbances push some staples to five-year highs. As a result, millions of Africans are struggling to feed themselves, raising concerns about malnutrition and even social unrest.
In 2011, residents of big cities in Mozambique, Senegal and other African countries rioted to protest price increases of as much as a third for some staple grains amid rising fuel prices. This year, from Ebola-ravaged West Africa to South Africa, prices for corn, rice and beans have risen more than 20%.
The falling value of many African currencies against the US dollar is exacerbating the trend, said Jack Allen of Capital Economics.
“Even if currencies do not continue to fall, import-price inflation is likely to remain high for some time,” he said.
Although more than half of Africans farm for a living, many countries on the continent are net importers of staples like rice and corn, leaving their poor citizens vulnerable when prices rise or their currencies weaken.
According to the United Nations, some 20 million people in Central and East Africa are now facing emergency food shortages this year as conflicts and adverse weather conditions disrupt farming and harvests, up from 15 million in 2013. In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three West African nations battling the worst Ebola outbreak on record, USAID said 60% of the population was facing a food crisis.
South African Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus warned in September that such wage increases could feed a vicious cycle that pushed up inflation even further. “Excessive wage settlements could have adverse impacts on employment, inflation and the general competitiveness of the economy,” she said.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history has trumped all of these pressures. The World Health Organization says the virus killed more than 3,400 people by early October. – Wall Street Journal online



Zambia seeks help from SA to develop farming

A unique opportunity exists for South Africa and Zambia to partner in developing the agriculture sector in both countries as well as agricultural trade between both countries.
Zambia has the potential, in terms of the amount of water and arable land available for development, while SA has the capacity to develop these resources, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Wylbur Simuusa said earlier this month.
He was in Cape Town recently to attend a summit which brought together Italian and Southern African business leaders and government representatives to discuss strategic opportunities for increased trade and knowledge sharing between Italy and the sub-Saharan African region.
Zambia wanted to grow its agriculture sector by greatly increasing the number of hectares under cultivation, said Simuusa.
Zambia could become the food basket of the region, he said. “We do not yet have the capacity to achieve this, but we have the potential.”
There has not been a strong response from government to partner with Zambia to unlock agricultural potential in the two countries, but SA farmers have responded positively, said Simuusa. – Farmers Weekly



Bühler presents its vision for a more sustainable rice processing future (UK)

The Bühler Group, a rice processing equipment solutions provider, will be reinforcing its commitment to encourage the adoption of sustainable rice processing at the upcoming IRRI International Rice Congress 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
This was according to the group who presented the vision of its commitment to creating a better future in rice processing. The company expects several significant growth opportunities throughout Asia in 2015.
The current global rice production falls far short of projected annual demand which is expected to reach 576 million tons by 2035 – requiring an increase of 116 million tons of rice production over the next two decades.
This cannot be done by increasing yield alone and requires greater efficiency and quality control throughout the supply chain.
“As global population numbers swell, demand for rice is only going to increase. It is therefore vital that the industry comes together to bring about more sustainable rice production processes. Our machines have been engineered to deliver greater capacity, efficiency and profitability so that millers can increase yield at a lower cost while maintaining the highest quality end product possible, said Bühler UltraLine™ product manager, Sujit Pande.
Food safety is one of the most critical topics in rice processing today. There is a perceived lack of trust from consumers about the safety of their food supply and they are consequently becoming more and more conscious of the origins of the products they buy.
At the same time, more rigorous safety regulation including that of heavy metal content and levels of mycotoxin in rice mean rice processors are faced by an ever more challenging environment in which to operate.
According to the group, Bühler machines are designed with safety in mind, providing easily removable machine covers and screens for cleaning. Its sealing systems are designed to prevent any dust leaking out into the plant.



The Agri SA congress 2014

The Agri SA congress takes place on 16 and 17 October at the St George Hotel, Rietvleidam, Pretoria. This year’s theme: Family Farming in a Transforming Society, has noted the food and agricultural organisation events theme which was in aid of contributions that family farming has made to societies, globally.
This year also marks Agri SA’s 110th year of existence. It will focus on three core challenges that are faced by family farms as major contributors to the sector’s performance. The three are: the road to meaningful and sustainable land reform; human relations for a prosperous agricultural sector; and enhancing economic progress for the spectrum of farmers.