Monthly archives: June, 2015

Namibia succeeding with agri-tech infrastructure development

Inaugurated in late January this year, The National Agriculture Technology Centre (NATC) in Rundu is about to start operations soon.
The centre was inaugurated by Agricultural Business Development (AGRIBUSDEV), an agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and has been setting up equipment and other machinery, as well as recruiting staff. It will soon offer farm machinery repair services to commercial and communal farmers and also manufacture nuts and bolts. A local engineer, Reinhold Nsinano has been appointed manager and along with other engineers.
The facility was started with the objective of setting up a comprehensive system for farm machinery and equipment management, in order to support farmers. The centre will be involved in repair, maintenance and assembling of agricultural machinery and will also conduct research and development with the aim of manufacturing and creation of new technologies suitable to agriculture in the country.
During the launch event in January, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Murtowa, said: “There is indeed no doubt that, with this centre in operation, farmers will be more appropriately assisted in terms of their precious time and valuable money that they had to spend in travelling long distances to receive those essential services.” He added that AGRIBUSDEV will work closely with other agencies of the ministry to ensure proper coordination and supervision of the centre’s activities and functions.
NATC was set up at the cost of about US$3mn and took 19 months to be built. A similar facility is being constructed at Ongwediva in the Oshana region and is expected to be ready by November this year. –

Mobile app equips farmers with knowledge

A new mobile phone app in Kenya could help farmers by providing information on seeds best suited to the changing climate and growing conditions.
MbeguChoice, meaning seed choice in Swahili, is a free app developed jointly by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, seed companies and Agri Experience, with support from the Kenya Markets Trust.
Philip Leley, an advisor to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, provided the developers technical information and said that the app gives information on special characteristics (of different kinds of seeds) for drought tolerance, and the best altitude and area for growing a particular crop. For instance, if a farmer searches for drought-resistant corn varieties to plant during the rainy season, the app would show the five best kinds of seeds, depending on what area of the country the farmer is in and his altitude.
The database that powers the app has information on more than 200 crop varieties. More than half of Kenya’s population of 44mn owns a mobile phone and the app’s developers expect to have two million users in the next seven months. The developers want to expand the app in the future to keep farmers updated about market information on crop and fertiliser prices as well.
The online database is also available via a website and the project is backed by seed producers who hope it will help increase their business. Officials behind the project say that the project, if successful, could be expanded to other countries as well.
About 80% of land in Kenya is dry, according to the United Nations’ World Food Programme and agriculture employs more than 70% of the country’s population, making the country especially vulnerable to global warming. The success of apps like MbeguChoice could help to dramatically improve living standards. –

AFGRI focuses on grains business, sells poultry business

In a bid to strengthen its focus on the grain business, AFGRI, along with Public Investment Corporation (PIC) of South Africa, has announced the sale of its poultry business
The sale includes AFGRI Poultry as well as the company’s Kinross Animal Feeds Mill. The buyer is AFPO Consortium Proprietary Limited (AFPO), a consortium led by Matome Maponya Investments (Proprietary) Limited, under the government’s Black Economic Empowerment programme.
Chris Venter, CEO of AFGRI, said that the divestiture is in line with a strategic decision to concentrate efforts on its core grain businesses and position the company for growth, saying: “AFGRI’s remaining foods and processing businesses are well aligned to grain commodities.” He also commented on the financial implication, “From a financial perspective the transaction enables AFGRI to reduce its gearing levels, fund priority businesses and reduce overall debt.”
AFGRI Poultry has been renamed Daybreak Farms, and is now owned 54 per cent by AFPO, 36 per cent by the PIC on behalf of its clients and the remaining 10 per cent by employees and management. It processes more than a million birds per week, and the business includes the growing and processing of broilers into fresh as well as frozen whole birds, individually frozen birds and portions. The inclusion of established feed milling operations in the transaction ensures an integrated supply of specialist feeds for the process of growing chickens.
The deal represents a landmark transaction for black ownership in the agriculture sector, and has created the first significant black owned enterprise in this sector. According to Dr. Danial Matjila, CEO of PIC, “This transaction is important in that it enables previously excluded groups of people to participate in the poultry industry. The planned expansion of the operations will contribute to food security, with more jobs created.”—

Nestlé layoffs in Africa ‘won’t affect SA’

Plans by the world’s biggest food and drinks company, Nestlé, to reduce staff across the continent will not affect SA, its Johannesburg-based unit said.
Nestlé’s Swiss parent company confirmed reports it would axe 15% of its workforce across 21 African countries after overestimating consumer spending power in the region. Other international companies such as Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and Eveready have all cut jobs in recent months bringing into question Africa’s supposedly booming middle class.

“The workforce cuts by Nestlé in the East African region which were reported in the media do not concern Nestlé SA,” a local company spokesperson said in a statement.

In contrast to the disappointing performance being experienced in the east of the continent, Southern Africa — which includes SA, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana — are Nestlé’s fastest growing African markets. In the first quarter of the year, growth in the region was already in double digits, the local division said. Central and West Africa, Nestlé’s biggest market on the continent, had seen good growth, the company said.

About 60 workers across equatorial Africa — which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Angola and Kenya — would be affected by the restructuring as the Swiss company embarked on a drive to break even by next year.

Nestle employs about 11 000 workers in Africa. –

Democratic Republic of Congo Swiss dairies model comes to Africa

Alex Kasole, a native of the east DRC has established a cheesery modelled on those in Switzerland. Kasole, whose 285-hectare dairy farm is located near the village of Mushaki, which owns several dozen Swiss Brown and Brown Swiss cows as well as the Friesländer breed adapt to high altitudes better than
African cattle. Says Kasole, “Other dairy farmers in the region produce their cheese in bathtubs standing
in wooden sheds. Proper hygiene is important to me. I have been to cheese factories in Switzerland and regard them as models for his dairy. The cows provide 400 liters of milk a day, which I use to make the popular Masisi Gouda cheese.”

Morocco Innovative idea scores The Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2015

Researcher Adnane Remmal won the US$100,000 ( R1 187 130.00) grand prize for his antibiotic alternative for livestock farmers. The patented all-natural anti-microbial formula reduces health hazards in livestock and prevents the transmission of multi-resistant bacteria and carcinogens to humans through
consumption of milk, eggs and meat.
“My innovation provides farmers with solutions to improve their production,” said Remmal. “It is cost
effective and can be easily adopted,giving farmers increased benefits without the side effects of antibiotics.”
Kenya’s Alex Mwaura Muriu and South African, Lesley Erica Scott, won US$25,000 (R 296782.50) each, claiming second prize and a special prize for social impact, respectively.
Murui developed the Farm Capital Africa project, which helps farmers to access funding to invest in their
businesses without having to resort to seeking bank loans, while Scott developed a World Health Organization (WHO)-approved calibration method for tuberculosis diagnostic machines.
The IPA 2015 awards ceremony, which was hosted by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) in Skhirat, Morocco, was attended by more than 400 people, including ministers, dignitaries, AIF partners, entrepreneurs and previous IPA winners. –

Kenya Million dollar initiative launched in Kenya

An initiative with the aim of the addressing issues affecting citrus fruit production has been launched. The project, worth millions, will be run by the Nairobi-based International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and its partners, will tackle the twin problems of insect pests and diseases in Kenya and Tanzania.
According to Dr Sunday Ekesi, a researcher at ICIPE, the African citrus triozid (ACT) and the false codling moth (FCM) pose the most serious threat of all the citrus pests in the region, transmitting devastating diseases as well as causing damage to the fruit. Moreover, the excessive use of pesticides to control the pests has had its own negative effects on humans and the environment alike.
“Some of the pesticides used are listed as persistent organic pollutants, leading to rejection of produce in the export market,” Dr Ekesi noted.
One of the key facets of the project will therefore be to identify, develop and test the use of non-synthetic chemical alternatives such as natural, biological options, as well as cross-breeding citrus
fruits with guavas, and assisting farmers to limit pests’ opportunities to reproduce.
Production of citrus fruits in the two East African countries has been in decline in recent years, with the current average annual yields of between four and ten tonnes per hectare (p/ha) standing well below the expected 50 to 75 tonnes p/ha.
According to Ekesi, the poor productivity of the various citrus crops, of which sweet oranges are the most common, has meant that supply cannot keep pace with local demand, resulting in supplementary exports from countries like South Africa and Egypt to cover the difference.
“Currently, somewhere between 5% and 21% of all citrus fruits consumed in Kenya and Tanzania are imported,” said Ekesi.

Uganda New Holland donates tractor to missionary project

The initiative, which is being rolled out by Ugandan priest Emmanuel Maria Vura, known locally as ‘Father Natalino’, provides young people in Uganda with a source of income and food, according to
Vura. It is also expected to rehabilitate them by teaching them new skills.
The project is located in northern Uganda’s Moyo district, centring on a cooperative farm and associated rabbitry.
New Holland said the tractor, which was presented to Father Natalino by the company’s agriculture brand president Carlo Lambro, will help the farm to operate more efficiently. “One of a range of tractors traditionally popular with arable and livestock farmers, the TD5.95 will enable the farmers to grow higher quality forage for rabbit food on-site, allowing them to avoid the need to purchase costly commercial rabbit feed.
The added help which the tractor will provide could also allow the centre to boost productivity to the levels required to begin selling the surplus to markets and supermarkets, the firm said –

Nigeria Nestle Nigeria slows capital expenditure

Nestle Nigeria’s chief executive Dharnesh Gordhon expects the firm’s capital expenditure to slow to its lowest level in five years after a currency devaluation dampened customer spending in Africa’s biggest economy.
Gordhon explains that consumers in Africa’s most populous nation were suffering from the devaluation triggered by a sharp drop in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export. A raging Islamist insurgency in the north had also limited the company’s product distribution plans.
Says Gordhon: “Consumer sentiment is definitely much lower. It’s about the oil price, it’s about the currency, it’s about the uncertainty in the economic climate.
We realise that consumers are finding things tough but at the same time we cannot pass on cost.”
The Nigerian unit of the world’s biggest food group Nestle SA had invested $400 million (R4.7 trillion) over the past six years into its food and cereal business to lift capacity.
He said the firm would spend $200 million (R2.3 trillion) over the next 18 months to maintain growth, such as investing in packaging which currently has to be imported, but would shift its focus to managing costs given the challenges facing the economy.

CEMOI to open chocolate factory in Africa

French chocolate maker CEMOI plans to open a factory in Ivory Coast to target the local and West African market.
“I can confirm that the factory will be ready soon and that we will produce and sell chocolate bars and spreadable products for the local and regional market,” said a senior CEMOI employee in Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast, where family-owned CEMOI began marketing some of its products in 2013, is one of the fastest
growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Ivory Coast is the world’s top cocoa grower and the second-largest grinding hub behind the Netherlands, but very little shop-ready chocolate is made in the African country and locals mostly eat expensive imported chocolate.
CEMOI buys about 145,000 tonnes of cocoa beans every year and already produces semi-finished chocolate products. –

Fish-farming in urban areas

In his State of Province address Premier of Gauteng David Makhura spoke of stimulating the western
corridor (West Rand) of the Gauteng province as a hub of agriculture and agro-processing, and a
public-private partnership would see the development of aquaculture projects, such as the prawn
farming facility. Food Processing Africa looks at the growing developments of inner-city aquaculture
and the economic effects of these ‘micro fish farms’.
Aquaculture Insight
Aquaculture Insight is a specialist in intensive recirculation systems, combined with the ability to generate results. Being a controlled system, environmental factors can be manipulated to ensure optimal breeding and growing conditions throughout the year ensuring a constant supply of the fish. The company has had numerous system implementations across the country with one of the most successful being an order to manufacture the first of six 15 ton/month Tilapia facilities to be supplied to Russlan Fisheries in Siberia. Plant erection was successful in Siberia and completed during September and October 2012.
Eastern Cape Tilapia
Eastern Cape Tilapia in Port Alfred was started in 2013 and now consists of seven grow-out tunnels, one fry rearing system and one filtration tunnel. There are 14 large, rectangular grow-out tanks – all
self-cleaning – and each stocked with 4 000 red tilapia. Further expansion will include a fish-processing factory as well as feed manufacturing. The scale of water filtration is the key to success. The operation has one large gravityfed filter that uses simple technology.
Gravity-settlement sedimentation tanks remove sediment without any machinery or electrical devices. Flushing is a simple act of opening a valve every day to remove solid waste to a sump, to be disposed later.
The total volume of the filter is far greater than the recommended 30% grow-out volume of 1,29m litres, and could accommodate a reserve capacity if required. Water is supplied from a quarry-fed stream using gravity, as well as from a strong borehole. The set-up is what experts would describe as a good
recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) as it is uncomplicated, user-friendly and well-built.
The Fish Farm
The Fish farm is one of the first innercity community based fish farm systems to be developed in. According to the company representative, “it is one of the few that provides a patented micro fish farm which delivers an asset-based means of production to the urban poor, offering them the ability to participate in the economy of South Africa, in the massive growth industry of fish farming, right where they live, in an inner city environment. The Fish Farm empowers 100 individuals or families to produce four tons each, profitably, right where they live. The result is the same – 400 tons – but more people and communities are involved.”
Design criteria for The Fish Farm requires it to be modular (same design), repeated, lockable, transportable, affordable and profitable. The simple solution was to fit retired 6m and 12m shipping containers with a series of tanks, pumps and filters thereby turning the containers into micro-intensive fish farms.
According to the company water consumption is minimal, “it is similar to a swimming pool – the water circulates through filters and back into the tanks, and if necessary, expelled high-nutrient water goes onto a vegetable garden or through a vegetable aquaponics system.”
Peixe bela vista
A large pond farm 42km from Maputo in southern Mozambique, Peixie bela vista consist of ponds which are 0,5ha in size each. The ponds are filled with male tilapia to avoid advanced breeding in the ponds. A newly-built hatchery uses tunnel technology, hapa nets and biofiltration of the warm water, to allow
year-round breeding. A major strength of the enterprise is that it is combined with an intensive poultry operation, which provides plenty of chicken manure. This is added to the ponds to allow zooplankton
and phytoplankton – natural fish food – to flourish. No commercial pelletised feed is used, and running costs are therefore low.
Additional reporting from Farmers Weekly Aquaculture Insight Phillip Barnard Tel: +27 82 335 8029;;
The Fish Farm Alan Fleming Tel: +27 83 658 8655;;
Eastern Cape Tilapia Tel: +27 84 291 6782;;
Peixe bela vista Tel:;

Market insights on Ethiopia

A survey by Nielsen Marketing Insights has indicated great growth and increasing urbanisation amongst Ethiopians. Says the report: “The streets of Addis Ababa are bustling with the delicious smells of cooking breakfast, and the sounds of people.
As the centre of commerce and social interaction, the street is where much of life takes place. Only about 50% of those surveyed currently hold bank accounts, although most of the citizens are hopeful that with expanding globalization, more people will acquire bank accounts.”
Ethiopia follows Nigeria as the second most populous nation in Africa, with 83 million people, two major ethnic groups (Oromo and Amhara) that account for close to 60% of the population. The population growth rate is 2% annually. Although the majority of the population is rural, the World Bank:
Africa Development Indicators report has indicated that the urban population is growing twice as fast as the rural.
Young, university educated and relatively wealthy people in Ethiopia, account for roughly one-sixth of
respondents surveyed (17%) but control 28% of the income. Among those surveyed:
• The monthly household income is 4400 ETB (approx. R2560)
• There is a colour television in almost eight of 10 houses, but only one in three own a refrigerator
• 50% of the heads of households are employed in unskilled or semiskilled work
Consumer segments
Three major consumer segments account for close to 60% of Ethiopian survey respondents: Trendy aspirants, evolving juniors and balanced seniors:
• Trendy Aspirants.
15-29 years, single, largely male, middle SEC, urban
Affluent and willing to pay more for quality, they represent 17% of those surveyed and offer a very good
opportunity for launching or growing brands. Educated up to secondary school and above. Modern in terms of fashion, technology, and willingness to try new products.
• Evolving juniors
15-19 years, middle to lower SEC, peri–urban
Account for 25% of those surveyed and are predominantly students in peri–urban areas. This group likes spending time with friends.
Affordability and availability is the best way to reach them. They are also social and want to enjoy time with friends.
Traditional and family-oriented. Value affordability. Average consumption of TV, radio and mobiles.
• Balanced seniors
20-45 years, married with children, across all SEC16% of the surveyed are traditional,family–oriented and religious. They value affordability and are open to recommendation. Studied secondary school and above.
• Wannabe Bachelors
20-34 years, male, middle to low SEC, single, peri–urban.
They account for 13% of those surveyed. Educated up to secondary school. Mix of blue collar and supervisor level jobs. Influenced by good packaging and advertising.
• Struggling Traditional
30-45 years, married with children,lower SEC, peri-urban
They account for 12% of the population. Low levels of education – secondary school and below. Rooted
in family, traditions and religion. Prime concerns are affordability and availability. Not brand conscious.
• Progressive Affluent
30-45 years, married with children, higher SEC, urban
Well educated, and employed in managerial jobs. Willing to try new things and pay for quality. Family is
important but also tends to be very individualistic. High on media use.
• Buy
Consumers tend to shop at open markets and kiosks more often than other channels; supermarkets are popular with trendy aspirants and progressive affluents. In addition to the unorganized retail landscape,
companies will have to navigate government–imposed price controls, which were a top concern among retailers interviewed in the study.
Food and grocery account for almost 40% of monthly spending. Consumers tend to be habitual in the brands they buy and affordability is the largest purchase driver. Trendy aspirants and progressive effluents are more likely to try new products. Category penetration is much lower in Ethiopia compared other countries surveyed, providing an opportunity to introduce consumers to new categories, especially energy
drinks, where interest to try is very high.
• Watch
Among those surveyed, TV and radio are the most popular media (92% and 80% penetration, respectively). Dramas, sports and news are top programming content across both platforms.
Ethiopian Television (ETV) is popular across all cities in Ethiopia, while radio is more regional in nature with each city having its own set of popular stations.
Print media and Internet are not prevalent, which may be explained by the low literacy rate (30%). Nearly
all progressive effluents read print and surf the internet, while trendy aspirants are also much more likely to utilize these media than the rest of consumers. And while over 70% of those surveyed own a cell phone, it is typically used only for basic services,like text messaging.
• Opportunity
In recent years, Ethiopia has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa with 10% percent GDP growth in 2015.
When launching new products in Ethiopia, it is advised that companies spend time understanding not only
trendy aspirants, but also the culture, people and traditions of all groups in Ethiopia. A media campaign that focuses on national TV will achieve critical exposure. Compared to other countries surveyed, CPG category penetration and consumer incomes are lower in Ethiopia. Low–cost products will help meet budget needs and introduce consumers to newer categories. Most importantly, demonstrate clear value to all citizens—those with money and those without—to attract and keep potential customers.
Emerging Market Insights Survey

Sorghum production receives boost in Kenya

The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium (SVCDC) is one of the six pilot projects of Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortium (AIIC) in Africa. The Kenyan sorghum based agribusiness incubator was launched in mid-2014 with an express mandate to improve agribusiness education and catalyse the growth of sustainable enterprises for young people, especially agribusiness students and graduates in Africa. The incubator has declared in a statement that it aims to “create strong linkages between universities, research institutions, private and public sectors to ensure that innovative interventions from the incubator consortium are upscaled and disseminated to the end users in a timely and sustainable way.”
SVCDC was founded by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT), Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) initiative, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Agritrace, and Farming Support International (FASI). It is involved in the business of creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain in Kenya. The incubator plans to achieve this through training and capacity building, advisory services and technical backup.
According to SVCDC management, the incubator seeks agribusinessminded farmer groups, disadvantaged
groups such as women and youth, and agricultural graduates with potential entrepreneurship skills to start upagribusinesses which it will support.
The incubator is involved in creating agribusiness enterprises in the sorghum value chain: food, feed, fuel and fibre (hence the brand name Sorghum 4F):
• Seed ventures (fibre). Production of quality seeds to fit the different agronomical zones and meet farmers‘ seed requirement for food, feed and fuel sorghum crops.
• Food ventures. The incubator seeks clients that have an interest of producing sorghum based composite and biofortified flours for infants and young children, immuno-compromised people, and the elderly. Products focused on are: snack foods, extruded products, puffed products, flakes, sugar syrup, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and bakery products.
• Feed. In this instance, the not-for-profit
organisation is specifically looking for fodder, fortified feeds, crushed grains, spent syrup, pellets, bagasse or stover producers which be used in the poultry, dairy, beef, aqua and pet feed markets.
• Biofuel ventures. Ventures for sweet sorghum syrup, bioethanol, biofertilizer, carbon dioxide and charcoal briquette are sought.
The incubator, as part of its developmental nature, provides the chosen clients with training and capacity building along with facilitation of access to parental seed material, seed production skills and seed certification process (in the case of seed ventureclients). Moreover it aids the client with
the establishment of a seed processing plant, packing, branding and marketing.
For food and feed venture clients, it offers a database of commercially viable technologies, scientific support for production and testing, infrastructure, mentoring and advisory services. Says the NFP: “It is important for ventures to receive the necessary business funding and facilitations, scientific support and technical consultancy and insight into the market they are entering. As SVDC we are able to provide them with that and more. Specifically in the case of biofuel ventures, we should be able to expose the client to commercially viable technologies and what they offer.”
Speaking of the establishment of such an incubator, the Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Sicily Kariuki, said: “The government plays a central role in value chain development
targeted at specific crops such as sorghum as avenues for food security promotion and improving farmers’
The Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium SVCDC:

Fast tracking agricultural transformation in Africa can be accomplished by:
• Agribusiness promotion through agribusiness incubation
• Tertiary agribusiness education and research
• Linkages and strategic engagement of private sector
• Mobile phone technology usage.

A solution to collecting and storing water in countries that have a lack of adequate access to clean water retailers

The 2014 Global Risk Report conducted by the World Economic Forum rated “water crises” as the third most significant global risk.
It is estimated that water usage will have grown to 2.7 billion cubic metres globally by 2030. This will leave a 17% gap between supply and demand for the resource.
According to, there are 750 million people around the world who lack access to safe water. This is approximately every one in nine people.
“Diarrhoea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year globally, or approximately 2,300 people per day,” states.
82% of those who lack access to improved water live in rural areas, while just 18% live in urban areas.
Grant Gibbs, executive director at the Hippo Water Roller project asks: “Why should millions of women and children struggle just to get water to their homes every single day?”
Despite many interventions, the scale of the problem of lack of access to safe water is likely to increase in the coming years.
When asked about what the daily struggles in Africa are related to the lack of adequate access to clean water, Gibbs says: “It is mostly women and children who are forced to fetch and carry water to their homes. Water points are often far away and it is time consuming to collect water, and requires multiple trips per day.”
He describes one solution: a barrelshaped rolling container that is designed to transport 90 litres (24 gallons) of water at one time.
This way of gathering and storing water is used in various parts of Africa – namely, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho,
Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Hippo Water Roller was designed to alleviate the suffering caused by a lack of access to water. Its design allows water to be placed inside the “wheel”, resulting in an effective weight of just 10kg (22
pounds) on level ground. More water can be collected in much less time and with far less effort, transforming water collection from a daily chore to a task performed only a few times a week.
The Hippo Water Roller consists of a round plastic drum made from polyethylene which has a long molecular
structure for flexibility while rolling along uneven and rough surfaces.
The wall thickness is sufficient to prevent puncturing and cracking. There is a large opening and screw-cap to facilitate easy cleaning of the interior, yet small enough to prevent small children and babies from drowning. The U-shaped steel handle has simple “bearings” to protect the drum recesses from wear and tear where the handle clips on and off the drum. This design allows the operator to simply push or pull the drum while the weight of water goes into the ground, requiring less effort than carrying a
bucket on the head.
The design was invented in 1991. It received a design award from the SABS Design Institute in 1992 and was initially called the “Aqua Roller”. The name was changed to the Hippo Water Roller to give it a more African resonance.
The name stems from its thick skin, round body and because it lives in water. It was designed by South Africans Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker, both engineers who had grown up on farms.
Searching for a design to allow rural communities to carry water more easily, they initially tried to design a wheelbarrow incorporating a moulded tank with a low centre of gravity. When they did the costing, they found the wheel to be the most expensive component. But that was when they got the idea to put the water in the wheel.
Gibbs describes the social impact: “It reduces suffering, improves hygiene and health, enables for more time to be spent being educated and empowers women and children.”
Gibbs says the design is unique and the containers are built to last in rural conditions.
The Hippo storage container is designed to last up to seven years. Gibbs explains that once the container has been damaged beyond its usefulness for collecting water, it can be used as a storage bin. By cutting it vertically in half, “It can also be used as a feeding or watering trough for animals and a bath for washing clothes and children.”
The purposes of the Hippo water roller utility cap as a farmer’s irrigation tool • The utility cap was specifically designed for irrigating crops.
• It allows smallholder farmers to transport 90 litres of water at a time and irrigate crops efficiently.
• Convenient dispensing of water through the mini-cap.
• Mini-cap is a standard soda bottle top for easy replacement if damaged.
• No need to unclip the handle.
• No need to stand the drum upright to access the water.
How to use this system:
• Fill the Hippo Water Roller with water and roll up to the trees or vegetables.
• Simply line up the cap with the trees or vegetable rows.
• Unscrew the mini-cap and allow water to flow out.
• Close the mini cap when sufficient water has been dispensed.
– Aarifah Nosarka
Hippo Water Roller Project:
Tel +27.82.447.1848;;

Mobile app eases farmers’ burdens

In Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, most people depend on small scale farming as means of survival. Livestock farmers view their stock as their most valuable asset – especially cattle as they
provide the farmer with meat, milk, manure, plough-pulling power and transport. Having an unwell animal can prove to be detrimental to the farmer’s livelihood
A mobile app developed by a Glasgow-based software tech company, Cojengo, with the support of Microsoft (through its Microsoft4Afrika initiative), is enabling animal health workers and farmers to accurately diagnose livestock illness and find the most effective drugs to treat diseases throughout Kenya, Uganda,
Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The app aims to change the way veterinary care is delivered throughout the developing world. Managing director of Cojengo, Craig Taylor, recognised this need when visiting Ethiopia: “Part of the problem comes down to the rural location of many farms, which means that accessing vetenary services when your
animal is sick can prove to be extremely difficult. Although mobile phones are on the rise in these regions, access to the internet still has a way to go in some areas. This is something that we had in
mind when creating VetAfrica, as the app was always designed to work offline and syncs data when appropriate.”
VetAFrica works in such a manner that it offers data to enable farmers to make correct diagnoses and treat their animals themselves. By recording illnesses, farmers can track and share this data with others to prevent future outbreaks. Alternatively, the app can be used to help vets and other animal health workers to make a diagnosis and aid in data collection as farmers can provide them relevant information. “This helps the health workers to be better prepared with the right resources when going out
to rural areas,” explains Taylor.The diseases covered by the app include:
• Anaplasmosis
• Babesiosis
• Cowdriosis
• Fasciolosis
• Parasitic Gastroenteritis
• Schistosomosis
• Theileriosis
• Trypanosomosis
Taylor ascribes the success of VetAfrica to the partnership between Cojengo and Microsoft. “The amount of support we’ve received really helped us develop and market the VetAfrica solution, allowing us to get the app into the hands of those who need it most very quickly. Working in partnership with Microsoft and the Microsoft4Afrika Initiative we feel we can make a huge impact across Africa and genuinely change lives for the better.”
Yet another potential partnership
In the wake of the devastating Ebola virus,Microsoft has again partnered with Cojengo to develop another mobile app which will aid the fight against the deadly disease.
Craig Taylor, managing director at Cojengo, is looking to adapt the working system of VetAfrica to help track and treat Ebola. Taylor hopes the system will help map the disease and inform users of symptoms and how to avoiding spreading it.
Says Taylor: “We are looking at how people can use mobiles to share information. For example, if there
is an outbreak in one village, how they would alert others nearby. We could also use it as an educational tool to prevent the spread of Ebola. It could give them information about precautionary measures to take and about how to seek treatment if they think they do have it. There is a wider use
of smartphones in East Africa with 90% of people in Kenya alone owning a mobile phone.”
The Ebola virus has claimed more than 10 000 to date.
Source: humanipo

The most recent sustainable developments around Africa

Solar energy, like other types of energy, can be harnessed and used to create electricity. It is free and completely natural, so it is considered a clean energy source. Over the years, man has continued to develop ways of harnessing this vital resource and convert it to usable energy. Wind energy is also a
form of solar energy.
Other sources of power such as coal and natural gas require water to generate power – a scarce commodity in many parts of Africa. Solar panels do not require this, nor do they require an adequate
power grid, making them suited to African conditions.
Africa’s population is set to double to approximately two billion by 2050; the demand for power will only continue to grow. With this in mind, we take a look at completed projects – and some currently underway in Africa.
Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (Kenya)
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP) aims to provide 300MW of reliable, low cost wind power to Kenya’s national grid.
This is equivalent to about 20% of Kenya’s current installed electricity generating capacity.
By late last year, the LTWP team had completed a complex financingpackage which entailed the signing of an agreement between the Kenyan government, national network operator the Kenya Electricity Transmission
Company Ltd (Ketraco), and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The project is of significant strategic benefit to Kenya.
It is an estimated KES76 billion (€623 million, R969 billion) project which will make it the largest private investment in Kenyan history – as well as Africa’s largest wind farm.
The LTWP team hopes to begin generating power as early as 2017.
The wind farm site is expected to cover 40,000 acres (162km2) of desert. It will be located in the Loyangalani district, in northeast Kenya.
The project will comprise 365 wind turbines (each with a capacity of 850kW),the associated overhead electric grid collection system, and a high voltage substation. It will also include upgrading of the existing road from Laisamis to the wind farm, a distance of 204km, as well as an access road network in and around the site for construction, operations and maintenance.
Ketraco, with concessional funding from the Spanish Government, is constructing a double circuit 400kv,
428km transmission line to deliver the LTWP electricity, along with power from other future plants, to the national grid.
The power produced will be bought at a fixed price by Kenya Power (KPLC) over a 20-year period, in accordance with the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The Ashegoda, Adama I and Adama II wind farms (Ethiopia)
The 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm in Ethiopia officially went live late in 2013. It is located about 18km outside the city of Mekelle in Tigray state. It consists of 84 high-tech turbines and is expected to produce around 400 million kWh a year.
The project,announced in 2008, has been constructed over the last few years in stages.
When the first stage of the wind farm went live, it was the first of its kind in Ethiopia.
This project was funded by the French bank BNP Paribas, the French Development Agency (ADF), and the
Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo). EEPCo has been responsible for managing the site.
Ashegoda is the second windiest place in Ethiopia, after Adama (Nazreth) – with average annual wind speeds of 8.5 m/s and 9.4 m/ , respectively (at a height of 40m above ground level).
Two smaller wind farms were also built near Adama, south-east of Addis Ababa, with capacity of 51MW each.
Adama I. The Adama I wind power plant was inaugurated on 1 December, 2012. The total cost of this project was $117 million (R1. 3 billion). The Chinese government funded 85% of the project while the balance was provided by the Ethiopian government. The project comprises 34 towers, each generating
1.5 MW.
Adama II.Adama II is an extension of the Adama I wind farm. Adama II is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in June this year. The generating capacity for this plant is 153MW. The project’s estimated cost is $340 million (R4 billion)
An Ethiopian business portal states that the project is connected to a 230 kV grid with 13km of transmission via the Koka substation. The substation is close to the major industrial centres of Adama,
Mojo, Debre Zeit, Dukem and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has so far managed to generate a total of 171MW of power from the Adama and Ashegoda wind farms. The two farms have installed capacity of 51MW and 120MW respectively. When Adama II starts
generating power in its full capacity it is expected to take the country’s wind power generation to a total of 324MW, according to
The Nzema solar photovoltaic project (Ghana)
The Nzema solar photovoltaic plant is under construction, scheduled for completion in October 2016.
The 155MW PV plant will comprise more than 630,000 individual panels. Its output should be enough to power 100,000 Ghanaian homes, covering182 hectares in the Western region of the country.
Nzema is expected to create 200 permanent jobs for Ghanaians. More reliable power thanks to the plant could create 2,100 more jobs throughout the economy, it is estimated. said the project will add 5.5% to Ghana’s current total electricity generation capacity.
Says the website: “It will get the country 20% of the way to the 2020 goal set by the country’s 2011 Renewable Energy Act – to source 10% of its total energy from renewable sources.”
Ghana wants to increase its electricity generation from 2,846MW to 5,000MW by 2016.
Mere Power Nzema Limited (MPNL), a subsidiary of UK-based renewable energy consortium Mere Power UK and Blue Energy, will oversee the estimated $400 million (R4.7 billion) project. says when sunlight strikes a photovoltaic panel, it generates direct current (DC) electricity, which is then converted into alternating current (AC) for transmission by an inverter.
Photovoltaics are cheaper and more flexible than concentrated solar power, an alternate technique that requires an array of mirrors and a turbine. Photovoltaics also not require a source of water, and can
even generate electricity on cloudy days.
A disadvantage of the photovoltaic method is that the power captured cannot yet be stored economically. Since Ghana is short of power, however, the electricity generated will be injected directly into the grid, making this less of an issue, it says.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Solar Thermal Power
South Africa’s Department of Energy had recently announced that two new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants will be built in SA’s Northern Cape.
The Kathu Solar Park and Redstone Thermal Power project will both have 100MW capacity. They are part of the third round of the SA government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme
Backing the Kathu project is a consortium led by GDF SUEZ. The consortium consists of the Sishen Iron Ore Company Community Development Trust, Investec Bank, Lereko Metier and the Public Investment Corporation.
The Redstone Solar Thermal Power Project will be located near Postmasburg in the Northern Cape Province. It will be adjacent to the 75MW Lesedi and 96MW Jasper photovoltaic (PV) solar power projects.
“Together, the three projects will deliver 271MW of peak generation, enough to power more than 350,000
South African homes,” says Mary Grikas vice president of communications at SolarReserve.
She adds that the Redstone project brings additional value to SA because of“the introduction of SolarReserve’s world-leading molten salt energy storage technology — delivering the lowestpriced electricity from Concentrating Solar Power in the country to date.”
This plant is expected to produce 480,000MW annually. Furthermore, it is expected to power more than 200,000 homes during peak demand, day and night.
The Redstone project has the support of SolarReserve, an international company for Water and Power projects (ACWA Power) and a Saudi water and power developer.;;;; ;;
SolarReserve: Tel +27 11 582 6880;
Brief explanations on the various power sources:
Photovoltaics (PV) – a technology that converts sunlight into electricity. A photovoltaic system comprises solar panels that are composed of a number of solar cells, to supply power that is usable (electricity).
Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies – use mirrors to focus the sun’s light energy and convert
it into heat to create steam to drive turbines that generate electrical power.
Wind power –produced using wind generators which harness the kinetic energy of wind. This type of energy production has gained wide popularity.

The potato journey

South Africans are keen consumers of potatoes in various dishes. A report by Potatoes SA says 2.2 million tons of potatoes are produced in South Africa annually, mostly from the Western Free State and Limpopo provinces. Japie Engelbrecht, potato supply Manager at McCain, one of South Africa’s largest frozen food suppliers, explains the changing face of the potato business to Kgaogelo Mamabolo-Letsebe.
McCain, as one of the top cultivators of potatoes internationally, works closely with developing farmers to ensure that the highest quality of potatoes reach consumers. Says Engelbrecht: “We are involved from seed to final product.
Planning of varieties and volumes takes 5–7 years. Post-harvest (just before winter) we store the potatoes into our storage facilities for five months.
Depending on the cultivar of the potato, it may take longer or less time. There are numerous cultivars with different growth patterns and periods as well as eating quality. Diverse cultivars also result in
potatoes with different colours, textures and flavours.”
McCain has a number of top commercial farmers who produce exclusively for the company. They only plant seeds that have been certified by the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme. Engelbrecht explains that this is a form of insurance on quality standards, “Being actively involved with farmers assures us that we are able to provide our consumers with the best. At present we support two emerging farm operations in Soekmekaar in the Limpopo region. The projects started in 2004 and each is about 200h/
m². We have invested R80–R100,000 per year in each of these projects. In the agreement, we as McCain assign one of our skilled farm managers to implement necessary systems and support them through their first two years; we also assist them to make a profit in their first and second years. The farm then
harvests exclusively for us. After three to five years of support, we leave the self-sufficient farm to
empower the community.”
Engelbrecht says the current drought in some of South Africa provinces will have little to no effect as
harvesting was months prior to the drought.
According to a market report from Potatoes SA, more than 35,000 hectares have already been planted for the 2015 potato season. Says André Jooste, chief executive officer of Potatoes SA:“Compared to the same time last year about 2,000 hectares more have been planted. Rainfall with accompanying high temperatures increases decay and can result in downward pressure on prices until end-March/early-April. Alternatively rainfall may also result in an upward movement in prices,if producers cannot lift potatoes. On a brighter side the lower temperatures may improve the quality of potatoes if farmers can lift in time.”
Jooste also says that in January-March prices are always under pressure due to a number of reasons. “Supply of potatoes tends to increase from January to March, resulting in lower prices. Poor lasting quality is another factor. Thirdly, dry land potatoes (Eastern Free State start lifting potatoes) versus irrigated potatoes to markets. Producers in new regions are selling more potatoes directly, meaning that the buyers now buy from the farm, not the market at a lower price. A second last factor could be poor consumer spending after the festive season. Lastly and most importantly, ’skin finish‘ is important to South Africans.”
Potato facts
• The starch in potatoes is a mixture of two different kinds: amylose and amylopectin, each with its own distinct properties.
• The South African Potato Council developed Potatolite seeds of the new cultivar – naming it Solanoakes Tubarosum.
• Potato seeds can be cold stored for up to nine months.
• Approximately 10,000 hectares are annually registered for seed potato production in terms of the South African Seed Potato Certification Scheme.
Engelbrecht confirms that consumers increasingly demand potatoes with clean, attractive skins.
South African consumers prefer a lighter coloured chip compared to the European consumer. As a result, South African frozen chips are truly “the perfect chip” with limited defects or original shapes (which often leads to consumers questioning whether frozen potato chips are made from real potatoes). Says
Engelbrecht: “Usually when one says we serve processed potatoes, the first thought in consumers minds is that the potatoes have chemicals in them. We however have numerous operations that ensure that the potatoes are of high quality. Chemicals are used within the barriers of the law. For instance, we peel
by steam so as to avoid abuse of the potato, we use no fluorescents when storing potatoes, and we avoid
bruised produce.”
Furthermore, McCain assists consumers to make a suitable choice of cultivar that will perform according
to their expectations. There is a potato classification system which is used to categorise potatoes according to their eating quality. The categories included in this system focus on: boiling, roasting,
frying, chipping (oven bake), microwave and mash.
“I strongly believe that we at McCain have a better understand of consumer as we are hands-on with our market and potato farmers,” concludes Engelbrecht.

Trend alert
Introducing the Potatolite carbohydrate free potatoes
The South African Potato Council has launched the first carb-free potato in the world. Since the dawn of
the low-carb health and diet craze, people wanting to lose weight have been avoiding starches, including
the humble potato. As a result, South Africa has seen approximately R20 million lower potato sales over the last three years. Potatoes, arguably the most popular of all carbohydrate-rich foods and a ‘natural’ carb, has been shunned (along with pasta and bread) as one 100g potato contains about 17g of carbohydrates.
Spokesperson for the Potato Council, Mebeko Thokola, says the industry had no choice but to be creative: “We had little choice but to sink or swim. With over R20 million loss in sales from potatoes quarter-onquarter, we had to either cut our business or re-invent the potato.” Scientists at the Council set out to evaluate the nutritional content of three different potato cultivar classification categories and
found that one cultivar in particular, the Russet potato, had a DNA profile that allowed its starch content to be modified during cooking, significantly lowering even completely destroying its total carbohydrate content.
The scientists, who worked with the Pretoria University of Technology, looked into how they could separate the two kinds of starch using expansive processes in the hope that by separating them they could genetically modify them and thereby reduce the starch content.
Once they had isolated the starches, they prepared them in a variety of ways – boiling, frying and grilling. All three heat processes significantly reduced the starch content of the potatoes, but it was
the total destruction of amylopectin that had the greatest de-carbing effect on the tuber.
“The problem was that we were left with very little in terms of a food product to eat,” says Gerrie Vister, chief scientist on the project. “So we spliced the amylopectin’s genes with different low-carb
but fibre-rich vegetables such as cauliflower and asparagus.
By combining the fibrous molecules of these vegetable with that of the de-carbed Russet potato, we were able to create a new vegetable that not only tastes almost exactly like a potato but has virtually no carbohydrates.
It took us two years to refine. We employed the common technique of back crossbreeding. In a nutshell,
transgenic plants are crossed with elite breeding lines using traditional plant breeding methods to combine the desired traits of elite parents and the transgene into a single line.”
Potatolite now reportedly has only 1g of carbohydrate per 100g, making it attractive to people on
low-carbohydrate diets.
– Health24

Zimbabwe reports hike in poultry production

The Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) has reported a 22% year-on-year rise in poultry production. According to the latest report by the association claimed the total number of chicks produced in the southern African country rose by 14mn between 2013 and 2014 – from 64.4mn to 78.4mn.The report also posited that, while upscale broiler sector meat production remained largely the same, at 2,690 metric tonnes (mt) per month, the total meat production from day-old chicks is estimated to have increased by 24% to 11,000mt per month. “The increase is attributed to the growth in the smallholder sector which is estimated to account for more than 70 per cent of total chick sales,” explained ZPA chairman Solomon Zawe. The increase in poultry production was also driving growth in the stock feed sector, Zawe said, with 71% of the 38,500 tonnes of feed produced per month in Zimbabwe in 2014 being used for poultry. “The poultry industry is now estimated to consume 14,400mt soya beans and 20,700mt maize per month,” Zawe stated. –

Starbucks funding for Tanzanian dairy project

The Starbucks Foundation has awarded US$750,000 to a Tanzanian project to provide cows to coffee farmers. Part-funded by Irish Aid and implemented by the Heifer International in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the aim of the Maziwa Zaidi project is to help coffee farmers to diversify their income and provide better nutrition for their families. The funding will be used to provide 5,000 smallholder farmers in the Tanga and Morogoro regions with dairy heifers and bulls, allowing them to produce milk and breed more cattle. Heifer International said the farmers will also receive training in dairy management and cattle husbandry, while a milk collection centre will also be developed to give larger dairy processors easy access to farmers’ milk. Says Pierre Ferrari, Heifer International’s president and chief executive: “By introducing higher and steadier income levels from dairy, coffee farmers will actually have increased capital to invest in physical inputs and new technology to increase coffee production.” The project is also expected to improve access to water and sanitation as well as increasing use of alternative sources of renewable energy. –

Food and beverage industry awaits impact of food regulations on non-nutritive sweeteners

The South African food sweetener market, which includes sugar, polyols and non-nutritive sweeteners, is at a crucial inflection point in its growth trajectory. The market is dominated by sugar, when analysed in terms of volume, and sugar consumption continues to grow in line with the country’s gross domestic product and population expansion. However, sugar could slowly lose ground to sugar substitutes, especially non-nutritive sweeteners, owing to health concerns, such as obesity and non-communicable diseases. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the South African Food Sweetener Market (, finds that despite South Africa’s high per capita sugar consumption, sugar production is slower than the rest of Africa and is set to wane. Higher production capacity than is currently needed for the domestic market in South Africa; however, offers scope for export. Says Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Senior Industry Analyst Carolyn Krynauw: “The demand for sugar, at present, remains steady as consumers favour the sweet taste that it provides. While the sugar-free trend has also led to an increase in the use of non-nutritive sweeteners, the government is looking to limit the dependence of the food and beverage industry on such sweeteners.” Regulations proposed by the South African Department of Health have created a wave of uncertainty in the non-nutritive sweetener segment, which could affect profits. As a result, this is driving manufacturers to return to sugar while the search is on for new, more natural sweeteners.

Fuel crisis cripples Nigerian economy

The main unions and industrial groups responsible for supplying and distributing the majority of petrol and diesel in Nigeria have met the government for talks over the country’s fuel crisis. The crippling fuel crisis had left the country at a virtual standstill just days before a new government is installed.
Banks had begun to close early and telecoms firms warned their mobile phone networks could be shut down because of fuel shortages, which left domestic airlines, grounded and saw petrol stations run dry, hitting businesses and homes.
The executive secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Babafemi Olawore, said: “We have agreed to commence lifting of products from all available depots within the next six hours.” The National Association of Road Transport Owners “fully endorsed” the statement.
It was not immediately clear what, if any, specific deal was offered to help end the stalemate.
Despite being Africa’s biggest oil producer, pumping out about 2-million barrels of crude per day, Nigeria has to import most of its fuel because of a lack of functioning refineries. – News24