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Agribusiness, Agritourism will Strengthen Food Security- FG

Dr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, says investment in agribusiness and Agritourism, will strengthen food security in the country.

Umakhihe revealed this at the international Agribusiness and Agritourism investment forum on Friday in Abuja.

The permanent secretary was represented by Mr Adebiyi Michael, Director, Agribusiness and Market Development in the ministry.

He said that agritourism enhances the tourism industry by increasing the number of visitors to the area.

“Agritourism also provides communities with the potential to increase their local tax bases and new employment opportunities.

“Additionally, agritourism provides educational opportunities to the public, helps to preserve agricultural lands, and allows states to develop business enterprises,” he reiterated.

He said that the Federal Government had designed agricultural investment incentives to support high level private sector participation.

“While some of these incentives are in the form of tax holidays, exemptions and reliefs, there are some that leverage specific policies,” he said.

Umakhihe restated the ministry`s commitment in working with relevant stakeholders to build an agricultural and agribusiness economy capable of sustaining the country’s economy.

“I have no doubt that this forum will spur agricultural production which will ultimately contribute to growth and transformation in the nation’s economy,“ he said.

Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. George Akume, urged security agencies to come up with strategies to make the initiative a success.

He was represented by Mr Okokon Etoabasi, a deputy director in his office.

In his views, Mr Masudur Rahman, Bangladesh High Commissioner to Nigeria described the initiative by the government of Nigeria as noble.

“This synergy will help if Nigeria and Bangladesh collaborate and both countries will benefit immensely,“ he said.

On the 50 hectares of land given to Bangladesh, he said that his country will ensure that both countries benefit in terms of job creation, rural development, and human resource development.

Mr Guy Adoua, Deputy Country Director, World Food Programme, Nigeria (WFP), said that other countries should learn from the Nigeria experience.

“I work for WFP and I think we have something to learn and to share from this experience,” he said.

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Empowering Gambian women in the horticultural sector

The Jokkalante Market Platform for farmers, buyers, and service providers in The Gambia to eliminate trade barriers.

The International Trade Centre (ITC), in partnership with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment in The Gambia, launched the Jokkalante Market Platform.

The innovative e-commerce platform, funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), is set to revolutionize agricultural trade in The Gambia by connecting farmers, buyers, and transporters, for efficiency and growth in the agricultural value chain.

It offers a comprehensive set of functionalities that facilitates seamless collaboration and boosts market linkages in the country’s horticultural sector. By simply accessing the platform through WhatsApp or visiting the website, farmers, buyers, and service providers can easily connect and engage in agricultural trade activities. The platform’s WhatsApp number, +220 529 3333, allows users to register and access the various features and services.

The Jokkalante Market Platform has been developed within The Gambia, taking into account the unique needs of our local context

Benefits include:

  1. Direct contact between farmers and buyers, enabling local market linkages.
  2. Efficient transportation solutions: Connect buyers and farmers with transporters for logistics and timely delivery of agricultural goods.
  3. Access to financial services: Providing information and guidance on financial service providers
  4. Market price information system: Providing access to market price information through collaboration with Roots.

The Jokkalante Market Platform eliminates traditional barriers to trade and benefits the entire agricultural value chain. A significant milestone in advancing the country’s horticultural sector, the e-commerce platform paves the way for increased market access, improved productivity, and economic empowerment for farmers, buyers, and service providers.

During the launch event, H.E. Lamin Dampha, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Trade said: “E-commerce is an increasingly important aspect of today’s economy. It offers opportunities to overcome traditional obstacles to trade, including the costs associated with physical distance. This opens unprecedented opportunities for businesses to engage in cross-border trade. The Jokkalante Market Platform has been developed within The Gambia, taking into account the unique needs of our local context.”

Milena Niehaus, ITC Project manager said: “The goal of the Jokkalante Market Platform is to boost local production by improving market linkages. With its user-friendly WhatsApp bot, the platform makes it easy for farmers to connect with buyers, promoting the sale of local produce. By simplifying the trade process, we empower farmers and contribute to the growth of the horticultural sector in The Gambia.”

Buyer Isatou Nyassi remarked during the event: “Before, we had to go to neighbouring countries to source horticultural products. That has changed with the launch of the Jokkalante Market platform. Now, we are able to buy from local producers through the platform.”

While Ousman Manneh, a farmer said: “Marketing is a challenge for every producer, and the platform has come to address this challenge. It is really helping us because it is user-friendly. The platform has started yielding fruits, and we have started using it to sell our produce.”

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Securing Mali’s future with sustainable farming

Mali is one of Africa’s top five gold producers, extracting nearly 65 tonnes of gold every year. The precious yellow metal is one of the country’s main resources and a major source of export revenue. Yet the economic spin-offs are of little benefit to local populations.

Ladji Fainke, an agricultural engineer by training, believes that the land holds other treasures capable of generating sustainable employment and supporting Mali’s economic development. By setting up Kool Farmer in Bamako in 2016, Ladji is banking on sustainable agriculture and demonstrating that market garden production is a real path to the future.

Eco-friendly market gardening: the other gold of Mali

On one and a half hectares, Ladji grows fruits and vegetables according to the principles of agroecology, while regularly supplying the stalls of nearby markets and stores. In doing so, he promotes short supply chains, maintains healthy soils and provides his local community with an affordable harvest.

The start-up hopes to be able to attract new collaborators to expand its training initiatives across the country, and thus support new cooperatives and family farms

“I use no-till market gardening techniques,” says the engineer. “I produce a wide range of nutritious fruits and vegetables on a small, economically viable farm. My aim is to pass this model on to young people in rural areas, to encourage them to set up their own eco-friendly micro-farms.”

More and more growers are coming to Kool Farmer for training and advice on seed selection. “I want to show the rural community that it’s possible to create your own job and make a good living from farming if you apply the right techniques,” Ladji continues. “I invite growers to join my Sol Vivant Mali cooperative by registering directly on the Kool Farmer website. Over the next few years, I hope to create 200 jobs and train 1,000 young agribusiness entrepreneurs. Eventually, I’d like to deliver homes. To achieve this, I’m working on an e-commerce site and a mobile application.”

Expanding training and partnerships

To achieve his goals, Kool Farmer is supported by the International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) FastTrackTech project. In the past two years, Ladji has benefited from personalized coaching to help him focus on the essentials: “With the help of NTF V’s mentoring, I have been able to secure my market gardening business. I’ve learned how to calculate my break-even points, identify the most productive varieties and draw up a planting calendar. Today, I know that my priority is to develop the training aspect. I use digital technology for this. Market gardening, composting, and sowing techniques, soilless agriculture… all my courses are sold online on the Kool Farmer website.”

Lin Dejean, the NTF V consultant who follows Ladji’s work, says that this coaching will enable him to develop projects on a larger scale, particularly with industrial sites: “We worked together to draw up an offer that should enable Kool Farmer to approach major mining companies and establish CSR partnerships. And since entrepreneurship is never a solo adventure, Ladji’s next step will be to put together a team,” explains the coach.

Today, Kool Farmer employs three people. Tomorrow, the start-up hopes to be able to attract new collaborators to expand its training initiatives across the country, and thus support new cooperatives and family farms. Its aim is to promote a farming industry that is committed to the environment and generates revenue for women and young rural workers.

The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) program (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Trade Centre. NTF V supports SMEs in the digital technology and agribusiness sectors in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and Uganda. Its ambition is to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of agri-food systems partly through digital solutions, to improve the international competitiveness of local tech start-ups and to support the implementation of the export strategy of IT&BPO companies.

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Africa Day 2023: ‘Let’s put our resources at risk behind Africa’s young people’ – Adesina

Delegates attending the 2023 African Development Bank Group’s Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, celebrated Africa Day on Thursday amid hopes for better prospects for the continent and its youth.

The commemoration, which marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union, allowed for retrospection by member countries on how the continent can surmount its challenges toward achieving prosperity.

The Bank’s Secretary General Vincent Nmehielle presided over the event.

The audience included Egyptian government ministers and businesspeople who joined the Bank Group’s governors to celebrate the milestone.

Addressing the event, African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the occasion must provide the impetus for the continent to rise, challenges notwithstanding.

“Africa should lift itself economically, financially, and politically to surmount every hurdle in its way,” Adesina said, stressing that the continent has abundant resources that, if well-managed, can help move it forward.

“We have great sunshine; we have water… we have 65% of the arable land left to feed 9 billion people worldwide by 2050. We have minerals and metals – 80% of the world’s platinum is in Africa, 50% of the world’s cobalt is in Africa, 40% of the world’s nickel is in Africa,” the Bank chief reiterated.

He said there must be consistent efforts to bolster peace and security to attract foreign investment and expand trade.

He called on political and business leaders to put resources at risk behind Africa’s young people, who he said, are very innovative.

“Africa has young people that can grow bigger than Bill Gates; that can grow bigger than (Mark) Zuckerberg,” Adesina said, adding that the youth’s potential is evident in the fintech industry, which young people dominate.

Adesina cited various human capital support programs being implemented by the Bank to prop up startups. These include its YouthAdapt program, initiated jointly with the Global Center for Adaptation.

African Development Bank’s 2023 Annual meetings delegates celebrate Africa Day in pageantry
 African Development Bank’s 2023 Annual meetings delegates celebrate Africa Day in pageantry

Adesina said the Bank is also setting up youth entrepreneurship investment banks across Africa to support young people’s businesses. “Africa can have youth-based wealth, and to have that youth-based wealth, we need financial institutions around them.”

Africa should lift itself economically, financially, and politically to surmount every hurdle in its way

He mentioned some celebrated African professionals who have excelled abroad in diverse areas, saying the African diaspora is replete with talent that must be attracted to play a role in the continent’s transformation agenda.

In his opening speech, Dr. Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals, paid tribute to African heroes who sacrificed to see the continent progress.

He noted that the continent’s progress over the 60 years has been mixed.

“As we look at the road traveled 60 years ago, we can celebrate some achievements, and one key achievement is continental unity; we can also not deny that there have been setbacks, and one of the key setbacks is unconstitutional changes of government,” Muchanga said.

He said all is not lost, adding that there are high hopes for the new generation to drive the continent’s future. “The youth are the innovators, and they are able to take advantage of emerging technologies.”

He said the AU had instituted schemes across all its departments, including a Junior Professional Program to equip young graduates. It also has a start-up program that complements youth initiatives implemented by partner organizations such as the African Development Bank.

Dr. Muchanga mentioned the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area to foster trade policy harmonization and eventually transform the agreement into a common market that will lead to adopting a single currency union.

The event featured a panel of selected youth entrepreneurs from the continent who shared their experiences about their challenges while seeking financial support for their startups.

Thursday’s celebration showcased rich African culture through music and dance as proceedings were interspersed with traditional and pan-African pop music, drawing attendees, including scores of youth, to the floor.

In an illustration, Egypt’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Ashraf Sobhy, shared the successes of various initiatives implemented by his government to build the capacity of the youth. These include leadership programs involving the youth across the continent in partnership with the African Development Bank and Egypt’s central bank.

Sobhy called for further feasibility studies to assess the needs of the youth to provide the right environment for them to initiate critical projects for the continent’s transformation.

He said the Bank Group’s 2023 Annual Meeting recommendations would be essential to carving a path for the youth, whom he described as “the tree of life for our continent.”

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Amazing Health Benefits of Okra/Okro to Both Men and Women

Okra or commonly known as lady’s finger is a widely consumed vegetable in tropical regions. Especially in Ghanaian kitchen okra is one of the most versatile foods, which are loved and consumed by all.

It is biologically categorized as a fruit but is generally consumed as a vegetable. For men, there are assertions that men who eat too much of it could affect their waist BUT no studies confirm this.

However, okra presents much good news for men and women from a scientific perspective and I examine it in this article.

Rich in nutrients

Okra boasts an impressive nutrient profile.

The US Department of Agriculture reports that one cup (100 grams) of raw okra contains:

  • Calories: 33
  • Carbs: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Magnesium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Folate: 15% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 14% of the DV
  • Vitamin C: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin K: 26% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 14% of the DV

Two studies (Carr and Maggini, 2017; DiNicolantonio et al. 2015) found that okra is a good source of vitamins C and K1. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that aids holistic immune function, and vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin known for its role in blood clotting.

Moreover, okra is low in calories and carbs and contains some protein and fiber. Numerous fruits and vegetables lack protein, which makes okra somewhat unique.

Eating enough protein is linked with weight management, blood sugar control, bone structure, and muscle mass (Pasiakos SM, 2015; Devries and Phillips, 2015).


Okra is loaded with numerous antioxidants. One study(Xia et al. 2015) found that the main antioxidants in okra are polyphenols, including flavonoids and isoquercetin, as well as vitamins A and C.

Tressera-Rimbau et al.(2017) note that eating a diet high in polyphenols may improve heart health by lowering the risk of blood clots and oxidative damage. It may also support brain health as it can penetrate the brain and protect against inflammation (Sarubbo et al. 2018), enhance symptoms of aging and improve cognition, learning, and memory.

Decreases heart diseases risk

The thick-gel nature of okra called mucilage plays an important role as it kind binds cholesterol during digestion and triggers it to get rid of the body with the stool instead of maintaining it in the body.

For instance, Wang et al.(2014) conducted an 8-week duration randomly separated mice into 3 groups and gave them a high-fat diet containing 1% or 2% okra powder or a high-fat diet without okra powder. It was found that the mice on the okra diet got rid of extra cholesterol in their stools and had decreased total blood cholesterol levels than the control group.

Okra also contains polyphenols. For instance, Medina-Remón et al.(2017) conducted a 4-year study on 1,100 people and found that those who ate a diet rich in polyphenols had reduced inflammatory markers linked with heart disease.


Okra also contains a type of protein called lectin, which may inhibit the growth of human cancer cells. These properties have been reported to demonstrate potential in many cancer cells, which are adumbrated as follows:

The first study report: Okra kills 72% of human breast cancer cells in vitro

This study was conducted by Monte et al. (2014) and found that the lectin in common okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) was shown to kill up to 72% of human breast cancer cells (MCF7) in vitro, mostly by inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis). The Okra lectin was found to reduce the growth of breast cancer cells by 63%. In this study, the lectin was found in okra seeds, and researchers got their lectin by water extraction from okra seed meal. This anti-cancer lectin was found in 2012 and contained anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive (pain-relieving) properties, which makes it a very interesting compound for future research.

Stress Management

Doreddula et al.’s (2014) study found that the okra seed extracts have an antioxidant, anti-stress effect in the bloodstream of mice. Managing stress levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Long-term, high-stress levels can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

Okra, Pregnant women

Okra is a good source of folate, with 1 cup (100 grams) providing 15% of a woman’s daily needs for this nutrient.  Folate (vitamin B9) is an important nutrient for pregnant women. It helps lower the risk of a neural tube defect, which affects the brain and spine of a developing fetus (16Trusted Source). It’s recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 mcg of folate daily.

Okra water

Drinking “okra water” is a popular new method of using okra. Some have even suggested that drinking it helps lessen diabetes symptoms.

The drink is made by putting okra pods in water and soaking them overnight. Some of the valuable nutrients in the skin and seed pods will be absorbed into the water.

If you’re not crazy about the taste of okra, drinking this okra water solution is a quick and simple way to derive the benefits of okra without eating it.

Some people prefer to cut the okra into thin slices instead of soaking the pods whole. If you’re going to prepare okra water this way, be prepared for a slightly bitter drink.

Okra peel and powdered seeds

Okra peel is the most traditional way to use okra medicinally.

In the preliminary studies done to investigate the benefits of using okra, using shredded okra peel was seen to be the most favorable way to ingest it.

You can prepare okra to peel yourself by using a handheld kitchen grater or a lemon zester. Though there’s no known limit for how much okra peel someone should eat at one time, half of a teaspoon of okra peel should be more than enough for your body to benefit.

Powdered okra seeds are dried out before being ground down. Ingesting the powder from the seeds as a supplement has also been researched and seen to be beneficial.

The process of making the powder is a bit time- and labor-intensive. However, you can easily buy powdered okra seeds from health food stores and online suppliers.

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FMARD partners with LASG to ensure proper haulage of meat across the country

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has assured of its readiness to partner Lagos State government to improve the distribution of meat across the country.

Speaking during the study tour and stakeholders’ engagement to understudy the air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets in Lagos State recently, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria and Director Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr. Maimuna Abdullahi Habbib said that “the objectives of the tour was to understudy the state air-cool Meatvans, the Abattoirs, and the Slaughterhouses.

She revealed that the Ministry would facilitate the process to ensure that a policy was drafted to ensure smooth operations, enforcement, and implementation of the process across the nation, pointing out that the Ministry had procured 37 vehicles that would be distributed to butchers for free in order to facilitate the process across the country”.

She further stated that the Ministry would strengthen its collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to make every structure and every movement of meat from the abattoir to the market across the country a success.

The butchers have been supportive to the state government and will continue give its maximum cooperation

In her remarks the Hon. Commissioner Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture Ms. Ruth Abisola Olusanya said that “prior to the launching of Eko Meat van Project in Year 2004, Meat haulage business in Lagos State was rather disorganized, haphazard and unregulated, adding that wooden carts were used to transport Meat and Carcasses from Abattoirs and Slaughter facilities to the deboning and bulk-breaking sections.

She pointed out that four Private investors and Butchers Association Group formed the executing stakeholders to run the fleet of air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets statewide, noting that the project was funded by Polaris bank in agreement with the stakeholders.

She further stated that In 2009, the Ministry launched the Eko Refrigerated Meatvan Project which was an advancement of the air-cool Eko Meatvans into refrigerated form and a total of fourteen private investors’ companies along with the State Butchers Association’s and Lagoon Butchers Ventures were successful –screened and licensed to operate the project under a jointly-registered cooperative umbrella (Agege Meat van Multipurpose Cooperative society).

In his welcome address, the state Director of veterinary services Dr. Macaulay Rasheed Molade said that “the refrigerated meat transportation project runs from 2009 till date and it is involved in the daily haulage of Meat carcasses, cattle officials, head and feet as well as other cow parts from the abattoirs/slaughter facilities to the various meat markets”.

Earlier, in his Goodwill message, the Chairman of Lagos State butchers Association Mr. Alabi Bamidele Kazeem said that “the butchers have been supportive to the state government and will continue to give its maximum cooperation”.

The Essence of the Visit was to understudy the model of meat haulage in the state’s abattoirs, under the umbrella company known as the EKO REFRIGERATED MEAT HAULAGE. Its aims at adopting the best practices in our abattoirs nationwide and learning from the challenges that come from the initiatives in order to improve on them.

In attendance were representatives of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), National Agricultural Insurance Cooperation (NAIC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and the CEO A is Farmers Market.

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AU Member States Pledge to Improve Nutrition and Food Security in Africa

African Union Member States meeting in Abidjan have called on governments to speed up investment, coordination, and implementation of programs to improve nutrition and food security in Africa.

African leaders gathered for a three-day meeting to draw attention to the 2022 African Union Year of Nutrition. The meeting ended with the signing of an “Abidjan Declaration.”

“This must be the time for Africa and its leadership to rise to the occasion and provide sustainable solutions to the malnutrition and hunger crisis [in the continent,]” His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho told attendees at an event organized by the Government of Cote d’Ivoire in collaboration with African Development Bank’s African Leaders for Nutrition initiative, the African Union Commission, and several other partners.

King Letsie III, who is the African Union and African Leaders for Nutrition’s Nutrition Champion, spoke about African Union’s Executive Decision in July 2022 that called for a multisectoral policy framework for addressing malnutrition, as well as financing targeted and high-level political commitment to end malnutrition in all its forms.

King Letsie commended the Ivorian government for its leadership on the nutrition agenda, including sponsoring the Africa Union Year of Nutrition.

“It is not normal that Africans are underfed and malnourished – We need to develop our internal capacity to produce for indigenous needs,” said African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki.

Despite progress, most African countries still face the triple burden of malnutrition, where stunting and wasting co-exist with obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases like stroke and diabetes. It is estimated that 61.4 million African children under five years are stunted, more than 12 million are wasted, and some 10 million are overweight.

The Abidjan event focused on strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security in Africa. The Declaration calls for implementing and extending the African Union roadmap beyond 2022. The year’s theme encourages member states to examine challenges posed by hunger and malnutrition and identify actions and strategies to address them.

In his remarks, Vice President of Cote d’Ivoire, Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, called African leaders to action. “The urgency for our continent is to save lives and offer better returns to our youngest, who represent the hope and the future of our community and nation.”

This must be the time for Africa and its leadership to rise to the occasion and provide sustainable solutions to the malnutrition and hunger crisis

Vice President t Koné said his government is committed to working with the African Union, regional member countries, the Bank, and the African Leaders for Nutrition initiative and partners to improve nutrition targets.

“In the case of this year of African nutrition – women, men and children will be the actors and the beneficiaries placed at the heart of development and progress,” Koné added.

Dr. Beth Dunford, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development at the African Development Bank, said the African Leaders for Nutrition would be working with the African Union Commission toward greater impact out of the African Year of Nutrition.

She stated that the African Leaders for Nutrition, hosted by the Bank, aims to increase financing resources for nutrition by mobilizing African governments to adopt stronger policies and increase financing for nutrition.

Dunford stressed: “If we accelerate investments and improve coordination of efforts, Africa will advance nutrition and improve food security outcomes. The African Development Bank and the African Leaders for Nutrition remain committed to working with all of you, particularly the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, to see that this event’s deliberations are transformed into impactful commitments.”

The ceremony drew many senior African leaders, including Zambian Vice President  Mutale Nalumango; Deputy Prime Minister of Congo-Brazaville Anatole Collinet Makosso; Rwandan Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Gerardine Mukeshimana;  and Ivorian Prime Minister Patrick Achi.

There were also several ministers representing nutrition-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, water sanitation and hygiene; health; education and social protection.

Click here ( to read the Abidjan Declaration,

To learn more about African Leaders for Nutrition, click here (

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U.S. Ambassador supports Community-Based Projects throughout Sierra Leone

United States Ambassador David Reimer recognized grantees who received grants totaling USD 40,000 to eight Sierra Leonean-led community organizations that work to improve economic and social conditions at the local level.  The funds will support projects in seven districts east, west, north, and south of Sierra Leone.  Projects receiving funds this year include:

The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund is one way that the U.S. Embassy supports economic development in Sierra Leone

  • Programs to support adolescent girls and women with limited economic opportunities through skills training
  • Programs to provide clean water and conduct campaigns to promote hygiene best practices to reduce the risk of water-borne diseases
  • Programs to support income generation and food security through aquaculture, rice cultivation, plantain, and banana cultivation, and grain store construction

Ambassador Reimer congratulated the grantees and noted the important role played by the communities themselves, who are actively engaged in the planning and implementation of each project.  These initiatives are funded by the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help (SSH) Program, which supports small, community-based projects throughout Africa.  These projects are designed in cooperation with community members, who contribute their own resources, usually in the form of labor and in-kind donations.

Ambassador Reimer said, “The Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund is one way that the U.S. Embassy supports economic development in Sierra Leone.  We do so by working directly with grass-roots leaders like yourselves to implement projects in your communities. This is one of my favorite programs because it allows us to respond directly to community requests and fund projects that immediately impact communities in Sierra Leone.  The key is that they are Sierra Leonean-led development projects, and we would like to see more of those in the future.

For more information on the Ambassador’s SSH Program and other small grant opportunities, please visit the Embassy’s website at

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Godwin Atser eulogies IITA Boss, says it is hard to say goodbye

On 01 November 2011, history was made— a little-known son of Africa would take over perhaps the largest agricultural research institute on the African Continent. That person was Dr. Emmanuel Nteranya Sanginga, who would become the first African-born Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria. Before his assumption of office, IITA was 44, and the leadership had been in the domain of Europeans and Americans.

This heroic appointment came with mixed feelings—on one side, there was the fulfillment that, alas, one of our own—an African— is a director general, but on the other side, there was the apprehension on whether an African will lead and deliver without sinking the ship.

It is worth noting that at the time Dr. Sanginga took over leadership, the world had just come out of the 2008 food crisis, and global attention was in the direction of fighting terrorism. Donor funding to agriculture dropped, and the agenda was on how to track down Osama bin Laden—a key plotter of the attack.

In the days that followed his assumption in office, most of us cautiously watched how this new director general would navigate this difficult terrain.

On the domestic front, Dr. Sanginga faced a staff strength with low morale—most of whom came to the office because they had no other source of livelihood. On their faces, one could perceive the handwriting with the inscription: “I am just buying time. I will soon quit”.  The next thing that would follow was the massive resignation of scientists, signifying all wasn’t well. As the number of voluntary resignations swelled, Dr Sanginga passed the task to his subordinate. Of course, this wasn’t cheery.

Then came his famous message to staff: “What changes, what remains… and how can I be part of it?” This was a very reassuring message to staff and a morale booster. The key takeaway from the message was that things would be better if we all worked for the common good of IITA. He also opened doors to staff and was willing to take advice from both the high and low.

I must say that while there were issues with staff morale; infrastructurally, IITA was not better. The institute had not caught up with the rapid advancement of science in terms of infrastructure. In addition, some of the research facilities had depreciated –the buildings inclusive.

I had the privilege of being one of those to organize an IITA reunion to be held in Ibadan. As part of the feedback we received during a reflection session, one of the alumni said: “We came to supervise the final burial of IITA.” His words mirrored the degradation and indignation IITA had become.

On top of this layer, IITA had lost investments—no thanks to a Ponzi scheme that was well calculated and implemented to the detriment of research in Africa.

To address these challenges, Dr. Sanginga led the development of a strategy that would later turn around the narrative of Africa’s biggest research organization, drawing over 800 insights from all categories of staff irrespective of professional classification.

The strategy, which I will talk about on another day, was people-oriented and prioritized research, partnership, capacity building, and impact on the farm level.

From the outside, this approach was criticized as taking IITA to the realm of development, but to us, in IITA, this was certainly what Africa needed—a de-emphasizing on research pilots to delivery at scale.

Through this strategy, IITA supported countries such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, etc., to transform their agricultural sectors. The institute was able to increase its annual budget by more than threefold from $40+ million.

Dr. Sanginga kept his promise of rewarding staff, increasing remuneration within the framework of current realities, and promoting exceptional brains. Today, IITA is on a better footing in research, delivery, and infrastructure.

As one of Dr. Sanginga’s mentees, I learned a lot of things that are already shaping my career path. Some of his nuggets are 1. Never look down on anyone. 2. Never isolate yourself 3. Be the best in your profession. 4 Publish, publish, publish.

Dr. Sanginga, I cherished the time I spent with you and your lively wife—Mummy Charlotte. As you depart in the next few days, it is hard for me to say goodbye. When you came, I made a promise never to leave IITA until you completed your tenure so I could continue to be a pillar of support. Today, I am glad we are leaving at the same time. One attribute we have in common is our love for IITA, which is indisputable. Once again, it is hard to say goodbye, but I wish you all the best. I will continue to keep in touch to learn from your wisdom.

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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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