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Amid Food and Climate Crises, Investing in Sustainable Food Cold Chains Crucial- UNEP Report

More than 3 billion people can’t afford a healthy diet; Lack of adequate refrigeration directly results in the loss of 526 million tons of food production or 12 per cent of the global total; Developing countries could save 144 million tonnes of food annually if they reached the same level of food cold chain infrastructure as developed countries

As food insecurity and global warming rise, governments, international development partners and industry should invest in sustainable food cold chains to decrease hunger, provide livelihoods to communities, and adapt to climate change, the UN said today.

Launched today at the 27th Climate Change Conference, the Sustainable Food Cold Chains report, from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), finds that food cold chains are critical to meeting the challenge of feeding an additional two billion people by 2050 and harnessing rural communities’ resilience while avoiding increased greenhouse gas emissions.

The report was developed in the framework of the UNEP-led Cool Coalition in partnership with FAO, the Ozone Secretariat, the UNEP OzonAction Programme, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

“At a time when the international community must act to address the climate and food crises, sustainable food cold chains can make a massive difference,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “They allow us to reduce food loss, improve food security, slow greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, reduce poverty and build resilience – all in one fell swoop.”

Food insecurity on the rise

The number of people affected by hunger in the world rose to 828 million in 2021, a year-on-year rise of 46 million.

Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112 million from 2019, as the economic impacts of the Covid pandemic drove up inflation. This year, meanwhile, the conflict in Ukraine has raised the prices of basic grains threatening food security.

All of this comes while an estimated 14 per cent of all food produced for human consumption is lost before it reaches the consumer. The lack of an effective cold chain to maintain the quality, nutritional value and safety of food is one of the major contributors to food loss.

According to the report, developing countries could save 144 million tonnes of food annually if they reached the same level of food cold chain infrastructure as developed countries.

Post-harvest food loss reduces the income of 470 million small-scale farmers by 15 per cent, mainly in developing countries.  Investing in sustainable food cold chains would help lift these farm families out of poverty.

Sustainable food cold chains can make an important difference in our collective efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

“Sustainable food cold chains can make an important difference in our collective efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. All stakeholders can help implement the findings of this report, to transform agri-food systems to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable – for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind” said QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO.

Climate impact

The food cold chain has serious implications for climate change and the environment. Emissions from food loss and waste due to lack of refrigeration totalled an estimated 1 gigatonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2017 – about 2 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, it contributes to emissions of methane, a potent but short-lived climate pollutant. Taking action now would contribute to reducing atmospheric concentrations of methane this decade.

Overall, the food cold chain is responsible for around four percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions – when emissions from cold chain technologies and food loss caused by lack of refrigeration are included.

Lost food also damages the natural world by driving the unnecessary conversion of land for agricultural purposes and using resources such as water, fossil fuels and energy.

Reducing food loss and waste could make a positive impact on climate change, but only if the new cooling-related infrastructure is designed to use gases with low global warming potential, be energy efficient and run on renewable energy.

The adoption of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the Rome Declaration on “the contribution of the Montreal Protocol to sustainable cold chain development for food waste reduction” provides a unique opportunity to accelerate the deployment of sustainable food cold chains.

Progress being made

Projects around the world show that sustainable food cold chains are already making a difference. In India, a food cold chain pilot project reduced losses of kiwi fruit by 76 per cent while reducing emissions through the expansion of the use of refrigerated transport.

In Nigeria, a project to install 54 operational ColdHubs prevented the spoilage of 42,024 tonnes of food and increased the household income of 5,240 small-scale farmers, retailers and wholesalers by 50 per cent.

But these projects, which are illustrated among many other case studies in the new report, are still the exception rather than the norm.

Recommendations for decision-makers

To expand sustainable food cold chains globally, the report issues a series of recommendations for governments and stakeholders, including:

  • Take a holistic systems approach to food cold chain provision, recognizing that the provision of cooling technologies alone is not enough.
  • Quantify and benchmark the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in existing food cold chains and identify opportunities for reductions.
  • Collaborate and undertake food cold chain needs assessments and develop costed and sequenced National Cooling Action Plans, backed with specific actions and financing.
  • Implement and enforce ambitious minimum efficiency standards, and monitoring and enforcement to prevent illegal imports of inefficient food cold chain equipment and refrigerants.
  • Run large-scale system demonstrations to show the positive impacts of sustainable cold chains, and how interventions can create sustainable and resilient solutions for scaling.
  • Institute multidisciplinary centres for food cold chain development at the national or regional level.
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Reimagine governance of the commons: Women & communities as restoration leaders

Africa is one of the world’s last frontiers of biodiversity – housing roughly one-fifth of the planet’s known species of mammals, birds, and plants. An abundance of life flourishes in diverse ecosystems across the continent. The Congo Basin – the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest and the lungs of Africa – is found in Central Africa. It covers roughly 300 million hectares of land across six countries: Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the DRC, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.

Tropical forests are vital carbon sinks – storing more carbon than they release. Not only are they a natural solution to the climate crisis, forests are also home to biodiversity and provide a range of livelihood benefits (e.g. food, fuel, shelter, etc.). And yet, many of our forests are in danger with human activities (e.g. agriculture, logging, oil exploration, etc.) driving deforestation and degradation.

At COP26 in November 2021, world leaders from 141 countries committed to stopping and reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030. This was done by signing the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. The declaration is testimony to growing international recognition that forests are key to meeting global climate goals and must be at the heart of a just, green recovery from COVID-19.

However, as the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration and recent reports acknowledge, communities’ rights and livelihoods are key to preserving forests and their biodiversity. Among Cameroonian climate activists, there is a growing desire for the rights and voices of women, youth, and communities to be included in the decisions that affect their forests and their future.

Cameroon’s disappearing forests

Cameroon is one of the 32 African countries that signed the declaration at COP26. The dense, majestic forests that stretch across the country are the third-largest in the Congo Basin, following those in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon.

Land that used to be forests outside Limbe, Cameroon   © Image taken by ReWild Africa

However, in recent decades, Cameroon has witnessed a devastating surge in forest loss and degradation. Monitoring and data from the Global Forest Watch reveals that the country lost 97% of its humid primary rainforest between 2001 and 2019. Key drivers placing Cameroon’s forest under pressure include climate change, land degradation, migration patterns, commercial land use, and ineffective land and natural resource governance that undermines communities’ power and rights over their land.

Who owns the land?

Land issues in Cameroon remain complex, contested, and rooted in its colonial history. With its legal system based on French civil law, English common law, and customary law, the country is a powerful example of the damaging interplay between the legacies of colonialism, land tenure, and contested land issues. Poor land rights, often referred to as land tenure insecurity, for women and communities is a major challenge across rural Cameroon. Where women do not have full rights to property, Indigenous and rural communities have rights to use forest resources but lack ownership over the land, leaving them at risk of losing their land and livelihoods.

Ewi Stephanie Lamma is photographed outside Limbe, Cameroon on degraded land due to deforestation and conversion of land to palm oil plantations. © Image taken by ReWild Africa
Ewi Stephanie Lamma is photographed outside Limbe, Cameroon on degraded land due to deforestation and conversion of land to palm oil plantations. © Image taken by ReWild Africa

“The lands are bare where there used to be forests. In Cameroon, the government owns all land. Over the years, the land has been taken and given to companies that have big plantations and big ambitions for money. ” -Ewi Stephanie Lamma

As Climate Reality Leader, Ewi Lamma points out in her statement, a major concern is the inconsistencies between Cameroon’s commitments at the international level and what occurs at the local level. Despite being a signatory of  the forest declaration at COP26, Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Wildlife announced a call for tenders in March 2022 – the prize: 5 logging concessions in the Eastern and Central regions of Cameroon, amounting to roughly 400,000 hectares.  On top of violating international commitments, these concessions once again place the profits of big business over protecting biodiverse forests and the local communities who depend on them.

African Voices for Africa’s Forests: Women, communities, and Indigenous knowledge  key to forest restoration

Set in Limbe, Cameroon, African Climate Reality Project’s film African Voices for Africa’s Forests tells the story of Ewi Stephanie Lamma. The 29 year old works with Forests, Resources, and People to encourage local communities, women, and youth to use their voices and participate in decision-making processes to protect and restore their local forests. Through her work, Ewi is reframing how we think about governance of the commons (e.g land, water, soil, etc.) and addressing issues of rights, ownership, and gender norms. Her message is simple – local people must be consulted through free, prior, and informed consent processes before development projects take place.

From left to right: Ewi Stephanie Lamma captured at the front door of her home, women from Livandacongo community, and one of the women from the Bimbia community outside Limbe.  © Images taken by ReWild Africa

“The rural people should be the people we should stand for, should be the people we make policies for. When policies are brought from a bottom-top approach it means we have understood, we know where they’re coming from, and we’re wearing their shoes.” -Ewi Stephanie Lamma

Growing research shows that roughly 80% of the world’s remaining forest biodiversity is found in land managed by Indigenous peoples, demonstrating their importance as custodians of land. Ewi works with the Bimbia community outside Limbe, who have learned to take from nature only what is needed for their livelihoods, allowing for its regeneration and the continued support of life.

Image of Bimbia women harvesting food from within the forest where a small portion has been cleared using agroforestry techniques.  © Image taken by ReWild Africa
Image of Bimbia women harvesting food from within the forest where a small portion has been cleared using agroforestry techniques.  © Image taken by ReWild Africa

“The forest means a lot to [communities]. The forest is a source of income, it’s a source of food. It’s a source of water, the best water. It’s a source of construction materials. When facing land degradation issues, communities play a major role in solving it. Community-based solutions where Africans are solving African problems.” -Ewi Stephanie Lamma

Climate Reality Leader, Sunday Geofrey, also works with women and rural communities to play an active role in the protection of Cameroon’s forests. He is the Central Africa Regional Coordinator for the African Climate Reality Project and founder of Support Humanity Cameroon (SUHUCAM).

Photo taken of Climate Leader, Sunday Geofrey, outside offices of Forest, Resources, and People in Limbe, Cameroon.  © Image taken by ReWild Africa
Photo was taken of Climate Leader, Sunday Geofrey, outside office of Forest, Resources, and People in Limbe, Cameroon.  © Image taken by ReWild Africa

“The role of a climate leader is to inspire local action. Change is on the ground.” -Sunday Geofrey

Over the course of four years, Sunday has activated over 300 volunteers to plant over 10,000 trees in the Bamunkumbit Integrated Community Forest and restored 151 hectares of land in Bamunkumbit community, North West Cameroon. He leads a livelihood project with 30+ Indigenous Mbororo women, restoring degraded ecosystems, farm and pastoral lands,, and establishing food gardens using agroecology principles to enhance food security and alleviate extreme poverty.

Climate leader Sunday Geofrey working with Indigenous Mbororo women to establish food gardens using agroecology principles., producing carrots, cabbage, onions, and more © Image supplied by Sunday Geofrey

“Projects of this nature are welcome because they help to revalorize the women in the Indigenous community, as they will be able to grow food organically and improve the nutrition and income of the family…it has brought these women together to reflect on the common problems they face in the community”.

  • Ardo Aliyou, Head of the Indigenous Mbororo community in Bamumkumbit

 The Way Forward: COP 27 and Beyond

 With less than a month until COP27, political will, adequate financing, and meaningful community involvement remain stumbling blocks to driving the Glasgow declaration forward.

Countries, like Cameroon, that have signed the declaration need to turn their pledges into concrete, transparent, and inclusive action with benefits for people and forests. Together with Climate Leaders Ewi and Sunday, African Climate Reality Project is calling for governments, corporations, and public finance institutions to deliver on the following:

Embed inclusivity into forest governance and decision-making platforms by meaningfully involving and ensuring participation from rural women, youth, traditional leaders, and Indigenous peoples.

Adopt or strengthen land and forest tenure rights for women, communities, and Indigenous peoples. With clear rights and security of tenure, people are more likely to invest in long-term sustainable practices, such as reforestation, agroforestry, or agroecology.

Boost climate finance for forest protection in Africa: The Congo Basin only received 11% of international funding for sustainable forest management between 2008 and 2017. Further financing is needed but must be transparent, directed to community-centered initiatives/institutions, prioritize monitoring and evaluation, and enforce zero-deforestation supply chains (including new logging concessions).

Climate education

Creating spaces for climate education in schools and communities to create awareness about how everyday actions impact forests and how to take action to protect forests and people.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to reframe the concept of development and reimagine how we govern the commons (e.g. forests, land, water, etc.), and more importantly, who is best suited to protect and use these resources sustainably to meet current and future generations needs.

 

Packaged by: Ewi Stephanie Lamma, Amy Giliam Thorp, and Sunday Geoffrey

 

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AfricaAgrictechAgricultureEconomyFoodTechTechnology

Agricultural Automation Can Boost Global Food Production- UN Report

A new U.N. report finds agricultural automation can boost global food production and be a boon for small-scale farmers in developing countries.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, has just released The State of Food and Agriculture 2022 report. The report’s authors said automation is rapidly changing the face of agriculture. New technologies, they say, are quickly leaving behind some of the old larger-type tractors and large machinery in ways that could benefit small holders in developing countries.

Parallels can be drawn with the introduction of cell phones. The World Bank, among other observers, notes that African and other developing countries can harness digital technologies to boost their economies by advancing from landlines to smartphones.

FAO said automation can play an important role in making food production more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Chief FAO economist Maximo Torero said many emerging technologies would have been unimaginable years ago. He cited as examples fruit-picking robots that use artificial intelligence and sensors that monitor plants and animals.

“Automation allows agriculture to be more productive, efficient, resilient, and sustainable and can improve working conditions,” Torero said. “However, as with any technological change, automation also implies disruption to the agricultural systems. The risk is that the automation could exacerbate inequalities if we are not careful on how it is being done and developed and deployed.”

FILE - A weeding robot is pictured during a demonstration of new technologies at the Arvalis farm, an applied agricultural research organization, on June 15, 2016, in Saint-Hilaire-en-Woevre, eastern France.
FILE – A weeding robot is pictured during a demonstration of new technologies at the Arvalis farm, an applied agricultural research organization, on June 15, 2016, in Saint-Hilaire-en-Woevre, eastern France.
The report looks at 27 case studies from all over the world. They represent technologies at different stages of readiness suitable for large or small agricultural producers of varying levels of income.

Torero said the report investigates the drivers of these technologies and identifies barriers preventing their adoption, particularly by small-scale producers. The report, he said, also looks at one of the most common concerns about automation — that it creates unemployment.

“While it concludes that such fears are overblown, it acknowledges that agricultural automation can lead to unemployment in places where rural labor is abundant, and wages are low,” he said. “It is important to understand that in a continent like sub-Saharan Africa, where there is an enormous amount of youth population, we can build the skill sets of these people to be able to have access to these technologies.”

In areas where cheap labor is abundant, the FAO urges policymakers to avoid subsidizing automation while creating an enabling environment for its adoption. At the same time, the report said governments should provide social protection to the least skilled workers who are likely to lose their jobs during the transition.

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Africa

Photo News: “The cooperative relations between Côte d’Ivoire and China are highly appreciated in Abidjan”- AACCI

According to the Chinese authorities in côte d’Ivoire, these relations cover several areas, including infrastructure.

“This cooperation between the two friendly countries is gradually diversifying and strengthening,” said the Chinese diplomat.

As Ambassador of Africans Francophone Countries for AACCI, I took advantage, during this meeting, to assure the Chinese diplomat that the Asia-Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, through his representation in Côte d’Ivoire, intends to continue the excellent cooperation with Beijing, particularly in the context of: “development of its infrastructure”, but also in “accelerating the processing of its raw materials, particularly cocoa and cashew nuts” “in the context of its industrialization, greater participation of the Chinese private sector in the Ivorian economy, and the strengthening of its relations with the Ivorian private sector, and finally the diversification of our exchanges and the sharing of technologies and the know-how of our peoples”.

I took care to mention that the opportunities for Côte d’Ivoire still remain immense.

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Africa

DRC, Kenya Sign Bilateral Agreement to Develop Agriculture

 Kenya and DR Congo on Friday signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.The objectives of the agreement include promoting increased agricultural productivity in Kenya and DR Congo, encouraging joint investment ventures between respective private entrepreneurs as well as boosting mutually beneficial trade between the two countries.

Some of the key areas of cooperation covered by the agreement include crop development and promotion, agricultural and livestock research, animal health and production

Some of the key areas of cooperation covered by the agreement include crop development and promotion, agricultural and livestock research, animal health and production.

Revealing Africa Afresh- ADM

Other areas are fisheries, aquaculture and Blue Economy, marketing of agricultural commodities as well as promotion of youth in agriculture programmes such as 4K clubs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi witnessed the signing of the agreement at State House, Nairobi.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Raychelle Omamo signed on the Kenyan side while Ministers Mzinga Birihanze Desire (Agriculture) and Bokele Djema Adrien (Fisheries and Livestock) co-signed on behalf of DR Congo.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Presidency of the Republic of Kenya.

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AfricaAgrictechAgriculture

African countries to define regional agrifood systems priorities

More than 50 African countries will come together at the 32nd Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Regional Conference for Africa (ARC32) to define regional priorities in agrifood systems transformation. The meeting comes as 250 million people in Africa do not have enough food to eat each day, close to a billion people in Africa cannot afford nutritious food, and as countries continue to grapple with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating countries will share best practices and explore partnerships and opportunities for innovation and digital technologies to transform agrifood systems, address food insecurity and climate change, and face other major challenges in the region.

The Regional Conference is FAO’s highest governing body in Africa. ARC32 hosted by the Government of Equatorial Guinea. The four-day conference, scheduled from 11 to 14 April, will be held as a hybrid event, both at the Sipopo Conference Centre in Malabo and online with participants joining via videoconferencing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Agriculture ministers and other government officials from across Africa will join with civil society groups, private sector representatives, development partners and observer member countries for the conference.

A spotlight on FAO’s Four Betters

The four-day conference will be held as a hybrid event, both at the Sipopo Conference Centre in Malabo and online with participants joining via videoconferencing

FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-2031 will underpin the conference. It aims to help countries achieve better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind.

The opening session of ARC32 will include remarks by:

  • Director-General QU Dongyu, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission,
  • Her Excellency Francisca Eneme Efua, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forests and Environment of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Chairperson of ARC32
  • His Excellency Anxious Jongwe Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of ARC31
  • Ambassador Hans Hoogeveen, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN Organizations in Rome, and Independent Chairperson of the FAO Council
  • Ambassador at Large for Global Food Security Gabriel Ferrero, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain, and Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)
  • Spokesperson for civil society organizations (tbc)
  • Spokesperson for the private sector (tbc)

The Conference will also host a series of ministerial roundtables on the following issues:

  • Experience sharing on better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind
  • COVID-19 impacts on agrifood systems in Africa: policy priorities for inclusive and resilient recovery
  • Investing in ecosystem restoration for a more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems transformation in Africa
  • Promotion of investment and trade for competitive agrifood systems: AfCFTA opportunities and progress
  • Placing women, youth and the poor at the forefront of inclusive agrifood systems

Two launches will take place during the conference:

  • The launch of the Africa Regional Technical Platform (RTP) on Common Agricultural Policies and Practices
  • The launch with the African Union Commission of Investment Guidelines for Youth in Agrifood Systems in Africa
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Agriculture

UN programme’s new phase to target countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific to empowering rural women

Four United Nations agencies today announced the forthcoming launch of a new phase of a joint programme that aims to secure rural women’s livelihoods, rights and resilience to advance sustainable development.

The ‘Joint Programme: Accelerating Progress Towards Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment’ (JP RWEE) is a partnership between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality, UN Women, and the three Rome-based agencies, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The programme which began in 2014 seeks to expand its funding base and further scale up to additional countries.

This new five-year phase of the programme will initially focus on Nepal, Niger, the Pacific Islands, Tanzania and Tunisia, thanks to the generous support of Norway and Sweden who have committed approximately US $25 million towards the programme.

“This partnership builds on previous success and demonstrates the impact of combining expertise to achieve significant results for rural women. These results include increased agricultural productivity, economic autonomy, and leadership roles. We are grateful to Norway and Sweden for the opportunity to scale up the programme in both existing and new countries, keeping the rights and needs of rural women firmly at the centre,” said Sima Bahous, UN Women, Executive Director.

This programme has shown that rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development

Rural women face structural barriers including discriminatory policies, legislation and social norms which hinder their access to services, resources and opportunities. They carry the disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work and are often excluded from participation and leadership in rural public life.

“This programme with its holistic approach is a great vehicle to improve rural women’s livelihoods. Lessons learned from the first phase show that it is crucial to secure funding from the onset of the programme and we encourage other donors to join us in this important effort to empower rural women,” said  Astrid T. Tveteraas, Head of Section for Food, Department for Climate and Environment, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

“This programme has shown that rural women are key agents for achieving the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development. Sweden is pleased to support the second phase in new countries. Equally, Sweden is eager to support approaches and lessons from the programme that can push the overall global development of women’s economic empowerment further,” said Lotta Sylwander, Lead Policy Specialist Gender, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The programme builds on the comparative advantages and strengths of FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP to address the multi-faceted dimensions of rural women’s economic empowerment, which includes access to opportunities, resources and services, including land, credit and technology. The programme works with national governments to advance policy change, with local government to ensure policy implementation, and with local communities and households to tackle unequal power dynamics and discriminatory social norms in order to achieve deep rooted and lasting change.

The first phase of the programme was implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda from 2014 to 2021 and reached approximately 80,000 rural women. The participants achieved, on average, an 82 percent increase in agricultural production, generated over US $3,600,000 from on-farm and off-farm sales and almost US $2 million through savings and loan schemes. Programme results also showed greater economic autonomy for rural women, more gender equitable household relations and increased numbers of women in leadership positions.

The new phase of the Programme will be formally launched at a side event during the 66th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on March 23rd, 2022.

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Africa

Africa is the Place to Invest, says US Congressman Gregory Meeks

United States Congressman Gregory Meeks has warned that the United States will only be part of the future if it invests in Africa now.

The congressman from New York and Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee was speaking during a visit to the African Development Bank Group on Saturday, as he and a team of congressional colleagues concluded a tour of three West African countries. African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina and several senior Bank officials welcomed the group to the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.

“If the United States is not investing in Africa today – especially when we look at the size of Africa’s youth population, which is larger than America’s entire population– then we are not going to be a part of the future,” Meeks said. He added: “My singular focus had been to make sure Africa moves “from the back to the front. There’s a lot of work to do. Governments can’t do it alone. The African Development Bank will play a big role. When Prosper Africa[1] needs guidance, I will point them to the African Development Bank.”

Meeks was accompanied by Congressman Ami Bera of California, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, and Congressman Troy Carter of Louisiana.

The group had visited Sierra Leone and Liberia before their arrival in Côte d’Ivoire. Members said they were inspired by the immense opportunities the African continent offers American investors.

Adesina thanked the United States for its continued support, including support for the Bank’s general capital increase in 2019, which saw its capital base rise from $93 billion to $208 billion. Adesina said the United States, the second-largest shareholder of the Bank, was “working with the right institution.” “We are African, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa,” he said.

Adesina and the visiting members of Congress agreed on the need for closer cooperation between the African Development Bank and US investors. Adesina said the Bank would open an office in Washington, D.C., once Board approval was secured. He explained that the office would provide guidance about how to structure substantive US private sector investment in Africa. “We’d like to see a lot more US direct investment in infrastructure,” Adesina said. “We look forward to working with the United States Trade and Development Agency and others on this.”

Adesina said African economies were rebounding, but the continent faced mounting commercial debt, the adverse impacts of climate change, lack of opportunities for youth, and poor access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The African Development Bank is leading calls for the reallocation of $100 billion in International Monetary Fund special drawing rights (SDRs) to African countries. It is advocating that these funds be channeled through the Bank as a prescribed holder of SDRs, and as an institution which has a AAA credit rating. “SDRs offer African countries a tremendous opportunity to deal with debt,” the Bank chief said.

Adesina asked for the United States’ support in tackling climate change. He explained that the Bank was investing heavily in climate adaptation and was working closely with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on climate finance.

In April 2021, the African Development Bank, together with the Global Center on Adaptation, launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program to mobilize $25 billion to support climate adaptation on the African continent.

Africa’s youth featured prominently in the discussion. The visiting delegation learned that the African Development Bank is supporting entrepreneurship and skills development, especially digital skills, and has been working to develop youth entrepreneurship investment banks, which will support the businesses of young people.

We are African, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa

On health, an equally important subject given the realities of the last two years especially, the Bank president explained that as part of its plans for quality health care infrastructure, the institution would invest $3 billion in building Africa’s pharmaceutical industries and vaccine manufacturing capacities.

Adesina also looked ahead to the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the African Development Bank Group’s concessional lending arm. He is promoting reform of the Fund to enable it to leverage its equity and tap into capital markets in support of Africa’s low-income countries.

The  US Congressional members and the Bank’s senior leadership  shared consensus on the transformative roles of women.  According to Adesina, the Bank, through its Affirmative Finance Action for Women initiative, would disburse $500 million to women businesses across the continent.

Delegation members expressed strong support for the African Development Bank’s priorities and  appreciation of its development impact.

According to Congressman Butterfield, a constant refrain during the Africa visit was: “Congressman, we appreciate your aid but what we really want is trade and investment.”

Congresswoman Omar underscored the need for partnerships. She said: “We know Africa is resource-rich. Resources can only be well utilized if they are developed. Africa needs partners to prosper.”

Congressman Bera stressed the need to address Africa’s governance issues and the importance of keeping revenue from its resources within African countries.

Discussions also covered the role of the African diaspora and the need to stem the brain drain of African professionals from the continent.

Accompanying the African Development Bank president at the meeting were several senior officials of the institution, notably Senior Vice President Swazi Bajabulile Tshabalala, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development Beth Dunford, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management Kevin Urama. Others were Acting Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Yacine Fal, Acting Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Hassatou N’Sele, and Acting Director-General, Office of the Bank President Alex Mubiru.

Joining virtually were the Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialization Solomon Quaynor, and Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum, Chinelo Anohu. The Africa Investment Forum, Africa’s premier investment platform, has played a key role recently in driving closer ties between the Bank and the US investment community as well as with certain business-related arms of the US government like the United States Trade and Development Agency.

In late 2021, the Africa Investment Forum signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Trade and Development Agency to support high-quality infrastructure solutions for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prosper Africa is an initiative of the Biden administration that brings together tools from across the US government to provide businesses and investors with market insights, deal support, financing, and solutions to strengthen business climates.

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Agriculture

Mozambique, Blue Forest Launch Africa’s Largest Mangrove Restoration Project

Up to 100 million mangroves to be planted; Total project area of 185,000 Hectares; 200,000 tons of COto be offset annually.

The largest mangrove reforestation project in Africa has been launched by Mozambique’s Ministry of Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries (MIMAIP) in partnership with Blue Forest, a UAE-based mangrove reforestation specialist.

The project will be implemented in the biodiversity-sensitive provinces of Sofala and Zambezia, spread across 185,000 hectares of mangrove forests. It is expected that between 50-100 million trees will be planted as part of this long-term partnership. This project will offset approximately 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to taking 50,000 cars off the road.

Mozambique has over 300,000 hectares of mangroves along its coast, which is one of the largest tracts of mangrove forest in Africa

The partners will utilize high resolution satellite imagery, LiDAR technology and remote sensing data to identify key ‘hot spots’ where the need for restoration is highest. Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms will then be used to decipher the satellite data and field measurement to customize the reforestation activities in an accurate, efficient and transparent manner.

The reforestation works will be carried in collaboration with several stakeholders tackling the issue of mangrove forest restoration in Mozambique. Public institutions such as the National Directorate for Forrest (DINAF) and the National Fund for Sustainable Development (FNDS), as well as universities and NGOs will be engaged in this flagship campaign.

The project will be financed through carbon credits that will be generated through the reforestation and conservation activities over the 30-year period of this partnership. The proceeds will be shared between the local and national stakeholders as per the guidelines set by FNDS.

Xavier Munjovo, Permanent Secretary of MIMAIP, commented: “Mozambique has over 300,000 hectares of mangroves along its coast, which is one of the largest tracts of mangrove forest in Africa. We are delighted to partner with Blue Forest and to introduce innovative technology in the way we map and restore our vital mangrove forests for generations to come.”

Vahid Fotuhi, Founder and CEO of Blue Forest, added: “Mozambique is hugely strategic country when it comes to mangrove forests. We are thrilled to partner with MIMAIP and to work in coordination with all the public and private national and provincial institutions, as well as the local communities in Sofala and Zambezia on this historic project. Tens of thousands of people and endless marine life will benefit from this project.”

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Agrictech

FAO, Japan seek to empower women and youth in agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Subregional Office for Eastern Africa (SFE) and the Japanese Government Mission to the African Union officially launched a subregional project, aiming at fostering employment among women and youth in agriculture and agribusiness in six Eastern Africa countries.

The project, Promoting Employment and Entrepreneurship Opportunities among Women and Youth in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Eastern Africa, is being implemented in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. It is set to facilitate and ensure enhanced knowledge and application of digital solutions in agri-food systems with a particular focus on women and youth. It is also strengthening human and institutional capacities, while providing agripreneurs with the opportunities to access finance for agri-food systems development.

During the virtual launch event, David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa and Representative to the AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), recalled that the Eastern Africa subregion was home to 50 percent of the highly food insecure population of the whole of Africa and, hence, aiding this subregion meant supporting the whole of Africa.

He further noted that the subregion was experiencing stress due to multiple shocks, such as desert locust infestation, climate-induced shocks, conflicts and political instability, and socio-economic strains. The COVID-19 pandemic posed additional risks, which significantly compromised the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly the youth and women. To alleviate this challenge, FAO, in collaboration with development partners, was engaged in several interventions, supporting decent employment, agripreneurship and resilience building for youth and women in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture and food security are a fundamental basis of all the socio-economic activities

“This project, which supports nations to explore new ways to tap into their youthful, energetic, innovative and industrious resources by creating opportunities for jobs, where agriculture is the most viable sector, is one of the timeliest engagements of FAO and the Government of Japan,” Phiri commented.

His Excellency HORIUCHI Toshihiko, Ambassador of Japan to the African Union, asserted that the Japanese Government was glad to work with FAO in addressing food security challenges in Eastern Africa, where the livelihoods of millions people are highly dependent on agriculture.

“Agriculture and food security are a fundamental basis of all the socio-economic activities, and hence they will be the priority agenda of TICAD8 – the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development – to be held this year,” Ambassador Horiuchi highlighted.

Recalling the declaration of the AU Heads of State and Government that marked 2022 as year of  nutrition, with the theme, “Building Resilience in Nutrition and  Food Security on the African Continent: Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development,” H.E. Horiuchi underscored the significance of the project as a catalyst to foster ongoing efforts to improve the agri-food systems through agricultural transformation.

“This project is very relevant to the subregion in the sense that it focuses on women and youth, realising that women make up half of the population and provide over 40 percent of the labour force in crop and livestock production. The subregion is also a place, where a significant percentage of the population is young, which is a great potential for agri-food system transformation,” Ambassador Horiuchi explained.

Presenting their initial experiences in the implementation of the project, experts from South Sudan and Uganda reiterated the positive outcomes gained so far among young smallholder farmers, cooperatives and women groups in accessing new technologies, digital platforms, technical skills, and finance and markets to improve their businesses. The Representative of the African Youth Agribusiness Platform (AYAP), an initiative supported by FAO and the Eastern African Farmers Federation (EAFF), also presented AYAP’s experience in implementing the project at national and regional levels, noting that the platform had been instrumental in sharing  experience, learning and mentorship.

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