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Kenya’s newest champion is a delicious creamy fruit: the avocado, which is rapidly climbing the export charts, making Kenya the undisputed avocado king of Africa, and a strong contender globally.

Europe’s already a fan, and Kenya’s setting its sights on massive markets like India and China. While Mexico remains the undisputed leader, Kenya’s exports skyrocketed by a whopping 24% last year – the highest growth among major producers.

Kenya’s got a natural advantage. Perfect growing conditions exist between 1,500 and 2,100 meters above sea level, and luckily, that’s where much of the Kenyan landscape sits. Sustainability is another win. Abundant rainfall in the highlands means most farms don’t need extra water, except during the dry season. Even then, water usage is incredibly efficient, with some farms using less than 100 liters per kilogram of avocado – way below the global average. Plus, year-round equatorial sunshine allows the avocados to “grow by day and sleep at night,” as one industry insider playfully puts it.

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Kenya also has a lucky harvest window. Their avocados hit the market before many competitors’, giving them a head start. Some regions even enjoy double harvests thanks to two rainy seasons, extending their selling period. Savvy small-scale farmers are jumping on board too, as well-maintained avocado trees start producing decent yields within a few years.

Labor costs are another factor in Kenya’s favor. While wages are lower than some competitors, some larger Kenyan growers offer above-average pay. And for consumers, the price difference is stark. A ripe avocado in a Kenyan market can be found for mere pennies, while a single fruit in European supermarkets might cost several dollars, depending on the season.

Demand is on the rise too. While the US devours a massive chunk of global imports, Europe’s love affair with the avocado is blossoming as well. Last year, Germans and Poles saw their avocado consumption increase by 10% and 24% respectively.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Maintaining high standards for quality, traceability, and sustainability is crucial, as every exported avocado represents Kenya’s reputation. In the past, there have been concerns about unripe avocados reaching the market. The agricultural authorities even intervened last year to prevent exports from some smallholders who lacked proper storage and irrigation techniques.

Shipping also presents challenges. Precise temperature control is essential, and with the Red Sea currently unavailable due to regional conflicts, the longer route around South Africa adds both cost and risk of spoilage.

Despite these hurdles, Kenya is not only a leader in renewable energy, but also a champion of a different kind of green economy – one fueled by delicious avocados.

 


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May 23, 2024 INDUSTRY NEWS0

The humble potato has avoided a major identity crisis! The U.S. Dietary Advisory Committee (DAC) recently confirmed that potatoes will remain classified as a vegetable, settling a debate that had simmered within the committee during its work on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In 2023, as the DAC embarked on revisions to the dietary guidelines, the possibility of reclassifying potatoes as a grain alongside rice and corn was raised. This consideration stemmed from the potato’s starch content, a characteristic it shares with grains. However, this reclassification sparked concerns

Opponents of the reclassification, including US Senator Susan Collins, highlighted the potato’s well-rounded nutrient profile. Unlike many grains, potatoes boast a good amount of vitamins C and B6, alongside potassium and protein – nutrients more commonly associated with vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli. Studies like one published in the “NIH National Library of Medicine” have shown that potatoes can be a valuable source of these essential vitamins and minerals, especially when consumed with the skin.

Senator Collins emphasized the potential public health implications of the shift. “Reclassifying potatoes as grains,” she stated, “would have sent a false message… that potatoes are not healthy.” This concern aligns with research from Harvard University which suggests that consumers tend to make dietary choices based on food category labels. A shift to the “grains” category could have discouraged people from consuming potatoes, a potentially negative outcome considering their affordability, long shelf life, and versatility in recipes.

The decision to retain the potato’s vegetable status has been welcomed by the potato industry. Bob Mattive, president of the National Potato Council, called it a “positive development,” underscoring the importance of recognizing the potato’s unique nutritional profile within the vegetable category.

This episode highlights the ongoing discussions surrounding food categorization and its impact on dietary choices. As we strive for clearer and more informative dietary guidelines, the importance of considering a food’s complete nutritional profile alongside its individual components becomes even more evident.


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The UK economy officially entered a recession in the second half of 2023, as defined by two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. The final quarter of 2023 saw a contraction of 0.3%, exceeding most predictions. Several factors contributed to the recession, including (1) high inflation caused by rising energy and food prices, which have placed immense pressure on households and businesses; (2) interest rate hikes as a consequence of the actions of the Bank of England to combat inflation, but this also dampened economic activity; and (3) a global economic slowdown, further impacting the UK’s export-oriented sectors.

The recession is already having a noticeable impact on the UK, with job losses as businesses are cutting costs and hiring freezes becoming more common. There is also reduced consumer spending due to rising costs and economic uncertainty, as well as lower living standards since many people are struggling to afford basic necessities due to inflation.

With the winds of change blowing across the global economy, many in the agricultural sector, particularly in Africa, are understandably concerned. While the UK’s economic woes might seem distant, the interconnectedness of our world means the ripples will be felt far and wide. This is because the UK is a major buyer of Africa’s horticultural products, tea, coffee, among others. Reduced demand for exports, potential trade disruptions, and tighter investment belts—these are just some of the challenges African agriculture might face.

Will farmers’ hard work, sweat, and hope be swept away in this economic storm?

Imagine the sting of sunburnt shoulders after a long day on the farm. The calloused hands, the grit on a farmer’s boots, the quiet satisfaction of watching life burst from the earth! That’s the heartbeat of African agriculture, a rhythm that’s about so much more than just crops. It’s about families, communities, and the very foundation of life on this continent.

The UK might be tightening its belt, but the world is a vast and hungry place. For Africa, it’s time to explore new trade routes and chart new courses. Here’s the thing: Africa has weathered storms before, and it’ll weather this one too. For Africa, this is not a time for despair, but for strategic thinking and proactive measures that turn challenges into opportunities. The continent majorly relies on farmers, after all, and adaptability is in their blood—farming is their business!

ALSO READ: 8 Macro Trends that will influence Africa’s Agriculture in 2024

Future outlook

It’s important to note that the exact impact of the UK recession on global markets and African agriculture is difficult to predict, as it depends on several factors like the severity and duration of the recession, government interventions, and global economic trends. It is important to note that the severity and duration of the UK recession are still unclear. Some economists believe it will be short-lived, while others predict a more prolonged downturn. The UK government is already implementing various measures to mitigate the impact, but the ultimate outcome will depend on a complex interplay of domestic and global factors.

Turning challenges into opportunities

The impact of the UK’s recession might be unevenly distributed across different regions and sectors in Africa, and some African countries might even benefit from opportunities arising from the changing global economic landscape. The UK recession might cast a shadow, but for African agriculture, it can also be an opportunity to reimagine, reshape, and emerge stronger. By working together, embracing innovation, and fostering resilience, African countries can navigate these uncertain waters and achieve economic gains. This can only happen by being nimble and embracing new technologies, digging into data-driven solutions, and finding smarter ways to farm. Who knows, maybe Africa will even discover a hidden gem that will become the next revolutionary agricultural technique!

In order to thrive, Africa must chin up and face the future with the same determination that pushes its farmers out into the fields each morning, the same hope that sees a tiny seed transform into a life-giving fruit.


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February 17, 2024 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

As the global population continues to expand, so does the demand for food. Agriculture, the backbone of sustenance, faces a daunting challenge: how to feed an ever-growing population with limited resources and a shrinking agricultural workforce. The recent findings from the 2022 Census of Agriculture conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shed light on a concerning trend that has significant implications not only for the United States but also for agricultural systems worldwide.

According to the census, the number of farms in the United States has declined steadily over the past two decades. In 2022, there were 1,900,487 farms, a decrease from 2,042,220 farms in 2017. This decline, totaling 141,733 farms, reflects a broader trend of consolidation and restructuring within the agricultural sector. Family-owned farms, which comprise 95 percent of the total, have been particularly affected, signaling a shift in the demographic composition of agricultural producers.

Even more alarming, the amount of land dedicated to farming has also decreased. Despite the vast expanse of agricultural land in the United States, farmers are now working on 20,116,728 fewer acres compared to 2017. This reduction, equivalent to the size of South Carolina, shows the intensifying pressure on available arable land. The average size of farms has increased slightly, indicating a consolidation of land holdings among fewer producers.

The implications of these trends extend beyond the borders of the United States. With a growing global population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the world faces an unprecedented demand for food. Agriculture must not only meet this demand but also adapt to evolving environmental challenges, such as climate change and land degradation. The decline in the agricultural workforce exacerbates these challenges, as fewer farmers are tasked with producing more food to feed a burgeoning population.

ALSO READ: IMF Warns of Worsening Income Inequality Due to AI – How will it Impact the Ag Sector?

The study by USDA has also shown that the digital divide persists within the agricultural sector, with only 79 percent of U.S. farms having internet access. While advancements in technology have the potential to increase efficiency and productivity, access to these innovations remains unequal, further widening the gap between large-scale commercial farms and smaller, resource-constrained operations.

In the face of these developments, policymakers, agricultural stakeholders, and international organizations must prioritize strategies to bolster the agricultural workforce and promote sustainable farming practices. This includes investing in education and training programs to attract and retain a new generation of farmers, enhancing access to land and resources for smallholders, and leveraging innovations and technology to improve productivity and resilience.


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January 26, 2024 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, caffeine serves as the universal catalyst that jump-starts our mornings, with coffee being the preferred vessel for this beloved stimulant. Cultivated across more than 70 nations, coffee holds a prominent place in our lives, supporting the livelihoods of approximately 125 million people globally. However, the warming climate threatens this vital commodity, prompting the need for innovative solutions to safeguard our morning cup of coffee.

As reported by “THE Economist,” the escalating temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns in key coffee-producing regions of South America, central Africa, and South-East Asia pose a significant threat to the industry. According to a recent study by Cássia Gabriele Dias from the Federal University of Itajubá in Brazil, between 35% and 75% of Brazil’s coffee-growing land may become unusable by the end of the century.

Acknowledging the severity of this issue, the global coffee community is now faced with the challenge of implementing Climate-Smart Policies and Investments to ensure the industry’s sustainability. Drawing from our extensive review of previous global changes in the coffee industry, we delve into creative approaches that can transform the coffee landscape.

Climate-Smart Solutions for Coffee Farms

One intriguing option is to shift coffee cultivation uphill, capitalizing on the natural temperature decrease with altitude. Tanzania, for instance, boasts areas 150 to 200 meters above current coffee-growing zones, presenting an opportunity for continued coffee farming. However, this approach introduces challenges such as steeper slopes, shallower soils, and potential conflicts with climate pledges.

An alternative strategy involves revisiting traditional “agroforestry” techniques, as highlighted by Nicholas Girkin, an environmental scientist at the University of Nottingham. Historically, coffee plants thrived in the shade beneath taller trees, offering protection against scorching temperatures. Recent studies indicate that these agroforestry practices not only enhance the flavor and size of coffee beans but also promote biodiversity, with trees acting as havens for beneficial predators and pollinators.

While agroforestry presents a viable short-term solution, it has its limitations. Climate models project that in many regions, temperatures may eventually surpass the tolerance levels of the sensitive Arabica plant. This necessitates a more profound transformation in the coffee industry—a change in the very nature of the coffee bean itself.

READ: 72 Kenyan Coffee Factories to be Upgraded through Coffee Revitalization Program

Rediscovering Forgotten Gems: Diverse Coffee Species for a Changing Climate

In the pursuit of a resilient coffee plant, scientists are revisiting overlooked coffee species that flourished in warmer or drier environments. Botanist Aaron Davis, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has dedicated his efforts to exploring forgotten varieties such as Coffea stenophylla and Coffea affinis. These species, found in Sierra Leone, exhibit promising traits, hinting at their ability to withstand higher temperatures compared to Arabica and Robusta.

Research indicates that C. stenophylla boasts a fruitier profile and better acidity than Brazilian Arabica, offering a potential replacement for the vulnerable species. Additionally, Coffea dewevrei, known as Excelsa, emerges as an attractive option due to its heat tolerance, high yield, and resistance to the coffee-rust fungus.

Genetic Engineering and Cross-Breeding

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, researchers are exploring a combination of genetic engineering and cross-breeding to transfer desirable traits from these resilient species into Arabica. Dr. Davis, involved in comprehensive Arabica genome research, aims to facilitate this transformative process. However, the timeline for commercial use of a new coffee cultivar remains a decade or more.

In the interim, agricultural engineer Dr. Dias emphasizes the need for immediate measures, urging coffee-producing nations like Brazil to adopt a dual strategy—moving some farms uphill while incorporating agroforestry practices. This strategic approach can provide a temporary buffer, allowing scientists the time required to develop a coffee plant capable of thriving in a warmer world.

In summary, the future of our morning cup of coffee lies in the hands of innovative solutions, blending traditional wisdom with cutting-edge technology. As we navigate the challenges posed by climate change, the global coffee community must unite in its commitment to sustainable practices, ensuring the longevity of this cherished beverage.


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In the midst of a global technological revolution, the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to reshape economies is both thrilling and concerning. As we navigate the complexities of AI, it becomes imperative to explore how this transformative technology can revolutionize the agricultural sector, particularly in the context of Africa.

The Impact of AI on Global Labor Markets

Before delving into the specifics of agriculture, it is crucial to understand the broader implications of artificial intelligence on the global economy. According to recent analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), nearly 40 percent of global employment is exposed to artificial intelligence. Unlike previous technological advancements, AI has the unique capability to impact highly skilled jobs, creating both risks and opportunities.

In advanced economies, where approximately 60 percent of jobs may be affected by artificial intelligence, there is a dual prospect of job enhancement and displacement. Meanwhile, emerging markets and low-income countries face a lower immediate disruption rate of 40 percent and 26 percent, respectively. However, the lack of infrastructure and skilled workforces in these regions poses a risk of exacerbating global inequality over time.

AI’s Influence on Inequality and the Labor Market

The IMF’s findings also suggest that artificial intelligence could exacerbate income and wealth inequality within countries. As AI becomes integrated into businesses worldwide, there is a potential for polarization within income brackets. Workers adept at harnessing artificial intelligence may experience increased productivity and wages, while those unable to adapt could fall behind.

To mitigate this risk, policymakers are urged to establish comprehensive social safety nets and retraining programs for vulnerable workers. The goal is to ensure an inclusive transition to an AI-driven world, protecting livelihoods and curbing inequality.

AI Preparedness Index: Crafting Inclusive Policies

The AI Preparedness Index, measuring readiness in key areas such as digital infrastructure, human capital, innovation, and regulation shows that wealthier economies, including advanced and some emerging market economies, tend to be better equipped for AI adoption. However, there is considerable variation among countries.AI Preparedness Index

For advanced economies, the focus should be on prioritizing AI innovation and integration while developing robust regulatory frameworks. In contrast, emerging markets and developing economies need to lay a strong foundation through investments in digital infrastructure and a digitally competent workforce. By doing so, we can cultivate a safe and responsible artificial intelligence environment that maintains public trust.

READ: Top Technology Trends That Are Revolutionizing Agriculture

AI in African Agriculture: A Game-Changer

In the agricultural sector, artificial intelligence holds immense potential to address critical challenges faced by Africa, including low productivity, unpredictable climate conditions, and inadequate infrastructure. The integration of artificial intelligence technologies can bring about transformative changes in the agricultural sector.

For example, in precision agriculture, AI-driven technologies such as drones and sensors provide real-time data on soil conditions, crop health, and weather patterns, enabling informed decision-making and resource optimization.

AI can also be used to optimize the supply chain with AI algorithms that can predict market demands, optimize logistics, and minimize post-harvest losses, benefiting farmers and contributing to national food security.

In smart farming practices, AI-powered applications can assist farmers in remotely monitoring and managing their farms, from automated irrigation systems to predictive analytics for disease control.

Tailoring AI Adoption to African Realities

Contrary to concerns about global income inequality, Africa has the potential to bridge the gap through thoughtful AI integration in agriculture. Tailored solutions addressing crop diversity, regional climate variations, and socio-economic contexts are essential. Capacity building initiatives and investments in digital infrastructure, especially in rural areas, are imperative for successful AI adoption.

Despite IMF’s warning of potential inequalities, Africa can chart a different course by leveraging artificial intelligence to foster inclusive growth. The emphasis should be on empowering smallholder farmers, a significant portion of the agricultural workforce, with AI tools and knowledge. Governments, in collaboration with private stakeholders, can play a pivotal role in ensuring equitable distribution of AI benefits.

As Africa stands at a pivotal juncture, the transformative power of artificial intelligence in agriculture offers a unique chance to leapfrog traditional development barriers. Embracing artificial intelligence with a tailored approach can not only bridge technological gaps but also pave the way for building a resilient and prosperous agricultural future. In this AI-driven era, Africa has the opportunity to pioneer a sustainable and inclusive agricultural ecosystem that sets a global standard for progress and equity.


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November 30, 2023 AGRIBUSINESSINDUSTRY NEWS0

 

The ARCH Cold Chain Solutions Fund, with significant backing from the European Investment Bank (EIB), has introduced Africa’s first cutting-edge cold storage facility. Nestled within the Tatu City Special Economic Zone in Nairobi, Kenya, this facility, boasting a total investment of US$81 million, including a substantial US$15 million infusion from the EIB, promises to transform the food distribution landscape in East Africa. The main goal is to combat food waste and elevate safety standards in the region.

Spanning an expansive 17,700 square meters, the flagship facility is a marvel of design, offering unparalleled flexibility to accommodate a diverse array of products while operating seamlessly across various temperature ranges. With a storage capacity of up to 18,000 pallets—equivalent to a staggering 18,000 tons of perishable goods and pharmaceuticals at full tilt—the facility is envisioned to make a substantial impact on the region’s supply chain dynamics.

Setting itself apart, the facility is committed to adhering to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standard, with aspirations for a coveted LEED Gold Certification. The European Investment Bank noted in a press release that, if achieved, this would mark a historic moment as the first facility in Africa to attain such recognition, signifying a significant stride in sustainable infrastructure development across the African continent.

According to IEB, the facility is committed to sourcing up to 30% of its energy needs from off-grid renewable power production, primarily leveraging solar photovoltaic technology to minimize its climate impact. The primary objective of the cold storage facility is to contribute to the reduction of food waste in East Africa.

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), an alarming 37% of food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost along the value chain. The ARCH Cold Chain Solutions Fund, through its state-of-the-art facility, aims to address this challenge by providing efficient cold storage and temperature-controlled solutions.

According to the Managing Director and Co-Head of ARCH Cold Chain Solutions East Africa Fund, the facility’s strategic expansion plan includes Mombasa, Kigali, Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa, and Kampala, with an overall vision to reach a combined capacity of 100,000 tons in cold storage space.

The Head of the EIB Regional Hub for Eastern Africa expressed pride in supporting the ARCH Cold Chain Fund, highlighting the unique quality and flexibility offered by the facility for cold storage and acknowledging its role in reducing waste and setting global food safety standards in the region. The ARCH Cold Chain Solutions Fund is dedicated to developing and operating large-scale, energy-efficient cold chain solutions with a comprehensive logistics and distribution network across Eastern and Central Africa.


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November 30, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

 

The recent East African Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit has ushered in a new era of commitment towards climate-smart policies and investments to fortify the agricultural sector across the continent. The consensus among the leaders is clear: by strengthening climate-smart agriculture and renewable energy, Africa can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and ensure enhanced food access for its citizens.

One of the key focal points of the summit is the urgent need to augment rainwater harvesting for irrigation purposes, a vital component of sustainable agriculture. The leaders recognize that efficient water management is integral to addressing the challenges posed by climate change. As climate patterns shift, the availability of water for agricultural use becomes a critical factor, and investing in rainwater harvesting emerges as a practical solution.

The heads of state acknowledge the imperative to minimize post-harvest losses through the adoption of modern technologies. The integration of cutting-edge solutions for the storage and distribution of agricultural products is deemed crucial. Embracing these technologies not only ensures food security but also contributes to the economic sustainability of the agricultural sector.

A united stance was taken on the importance of expanding forest cover and safeguarding existing forests. The leaders see this as a strategic move to position the region favorably in carbon trading and climate financing on the global stage. By prioritizing environmental sustainability, the EAC aims to set an example for the rest of the world, emphasizing the interconnectedness of climate, forests, and economic prosperity.

READ: Understanding Carbon Credits and How They Can Be Harnessed In The African Agriculture

Addressing the summit, individual leaders outlined their countries’ specific initiatives, all agreeing to abide by the following stances:

  1. The Climate-Smart Approach

To effectively tackle climate change, the EAC Heads of State emphasized climate-smart agriculture—a holistic strategy that integrates sustainable practices to boost productivity, resilience, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This involves adopting modern technologies for better storage, reducing post-harvest losses, and improving the distribution of agricultural products. Furthermore, the leaders acknowledged the crucial role of rainwater harvesting in irrigation agriculture, addressing water scarcity concerns.

  1. Creative Integration in African Agriculture

The nations showcased innovative strategies, with Tanzania’s Build Better Tomorrow initiative focusing on engaging youth and women in agriculture through climate-smart technologies, promoting sustainability, and reducing poverty. Kenya’s commitment to conserving water towers and planting 15 billion trees aims to not only safeguard the environment but also tap into carbon trading for economic gains. On the other hand, Rwanda prioritizes collaboration between the government and the private sector, investing in infrastructure and cold storage to manage post-harvest losses.

  1. Common Purpose for COP 28

The unified stance of approaching COP 28 as a bloc emphasizes Africa’s commitment to addressing climate change on the global stage. This solidarity ensures that the region’s development goals align with climate change mitigation efforts, fostering complementarity among partner states.


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November 24, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

 

Kenya’s President William Ruto announced plans to privatize 35 state-owned companies, with an additional 100 under consideration, in what is termed a transformative step towards economic recovery. The decision comes at a crucial juncture for the East African nation, grappling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aftershocks of the conflict in Ukraine, and a historic drought in the Horn of Africa.

President Ruto, speaking to investors on November 23, emphasized the government’s commitment to reducing bureaucracy and enhancing efficiency in the delivery of services. The move is seen as a response to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent call for reforms in state-owned enterprises, particularly highlighting the challenges faced by entities such as Kenya Power and Kenya Airways, both of which reported significant losses in 2022.

The Privatization Bill 2023, approved by the Kenyan Cabinet in March 2023, empowers the Ministry of Treasury to facilitate the sale of non-strategic parastatals without the need for parliamentary approval. This radical legislation aims to streamline the privatization process, allowing the private sector to play a more significant role in the nation’s economy.

“We have very lucrative (public) enterprises, but they are stifled by government bureaucracy, whereas the services they offer can be better provided by the private sector,” he asserted. The government’s proactive approach seeks to unleash the potential of these enterprises, positioning them for growth and increased competitiveness.

The revised law, signed into effect in October 2023, seeks to increase private sector participation, reduce the burden on government coffers, and foster economic resilience. Notably, the Privatization Commission will transform into the Privatization Authority, housed within the Treasury, overseeing the implementation of the sales.

READ: New Study Suggests that Nutrient Found in Beef and Dairy Improves Immune Response to Cancer

Among the agricultural state-owned entities earmarked for privatization are Chemelil Sugar, South Nyanza Sugar, Nzoia Sugar, Miwani Sugar, Agro-Chemical and Food Company, Kenya Wine Agencies, and Kenya Meat Commission. Other companies include Kabarnet Hotel, Mt. Elgon Lodge, Golf Hotel, Sunset Hotel Kisumu, Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels, Consolidated Bank, Development Bank of Kenya, and public universities, among others.

This move comes as part of the government’s broader strategy to address the country’s economic challenges. Kenya’s public debt reached over 10.1 trillion shillings at the end of June 2023, equivalent to around two-thirds of its gross domestic product. In response, the government has introduced a budget that includes new taxes, albeit facing resistance and protests from the public.

President William Ruto’s government has secured financial support from various international institutions, including the IMF and the World Bank, further raising the country’s debt ceiling. On November 16th, the IMF announced that it had finalized an agreement for a loan of $938 million for Kenya, as the nation faces the upcoming repayment of a $2 billion Eurobond in 2024. At the same time, on November 20th, the World Bank disclosed its intentions to extend a financial support package of $12 billion to Kenya over the course of the next three years.

Despite public skepticism about his economic recovery plans, judging from his remarks, President Ruto remains bullish about the privatization initiative, which is expected to generate much-needed revenues, reduce conflicts between regulatory and commercial functions, and spur growth in the capital markets.


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November 24, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS2

 

A transformative breakthrough is unfolding for cashew nut farmers in the coastal Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) in Kenya. The visionary initiative comes from an economic diversification program aimed at establishing cashew nut nurseries and farms in these regions.

The State Department for Crop Development has been stalwart in advancing agricultural technologies, initially launching four new cashew nut varieties that boast drought tolerance, disease resistance, and a remarkable one-and-a-half-year maturation period, in stark contrast to traditional varieties taking five years. Named Kkrorosho75, Kkorosho 81, Kkrosho 82, and Kkrosho 100, these varieties are set to improve farmers’ earnings by enabling quicker planting, harvesting, and selling cycles.

Cashew nut farming is a good opportunity for Kenyans who want to cultivate in arid areas because it does not require a lot of rain and is drought-tolerant.

However, the industry has been facing unique challenges that saw most of the cashew nut farmers abandon the enterprise for other ventures due to diseases, pricing and climate change challenges that mostly affected the conventional varieties.

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has previously stated that the newly developed cashew nut varieties have the capability to address the challenges previously faced by farmers since they are tolerant to major cashew nut diseases and are resilient to adverse weather conditions since they require minimal water. The new varieties are also said to fetch higher market prices, ranging from about 50-70 Kenya Shillings per kilogram, a significant improvement from the earlier rates of 10 to 20 Kenya Shillings.

According to KALRO, the cashew nut industry supports around 50,000 people, with a production of 10,000 metric tonnes. The demand for cashew nuts far exceeds the current production, presenting a lucrative opportunity for farmers to capitalize on the market, both locally and abroad.

READ: Understanding Carbon Credits and How They Can Be Harnessed In The African Agriculture

Historically, veteran cashew nut farmers in coastal regions had heydays as it was the main economic activity. However, political interference and mismanagement led to the decline of the once-thriving Kenya Cashew Nut Limited, impacting farmers’ livelihoods.

The closure of the processing factory in 1990 dealt a severe blow to the industry, prompting farmers to cut down their cashew nut trees. The void left by the processing plant allowed middlemen to exploit farmers, controlling prices to the detriment of those dependent on cashew nut farming.

To address these challenges and breathe new life into the cashew nut industry, a comprehensive 360-degree approach is needed for implementation of a cashew nut enhancement productivity program, focusing on annual seedling planting, training of farmers, establishing cottage industries to discourage the exportation of raw nuts, value addition, and marketing.

It will take concerted efforts from all stakeholders in order to fully revive the cashew nut industry, with the need for policy direction, organized farmer groups, and strategic investments.


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November 23, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

Scientists from the University of Chicago have uncovered the immune-boosting potential of trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a fatty acid abundant in beef, lamb, and dairy products. This discovery, published in Nature, sheds light on how TVA enhances the effectiveness of immune cells, specifically CD8+ T cells, in infiltrating tumors and combating cancer cells.

Lead researcher Professor Jing Chen, along with colleagues Hao Fan and Siyuan Xia, embarked on a meticulous exploration into the impact of nutrients on anti-tumor immunity. Their work, detailed in the publication, unveils TVA as a standout candidate among 255 bioactive molecules screened for their ability to activate CD8+ T cells. Intriguingly, TVA, found in substantial quantities in human milk and derived from grazing animals, demonstrated superior performance in both human and mouse cells.

The study’s significance extends beyond the laboratory, as the team conducted experiments feeding mice a diet enriched with TVA. The results were striking—tumors, particularly melanoma and colon cancer cells, exhibited reduced growth potential compared to mice on a control diet. Additionally, CD8+ T cells displayed enhanced infiltration into tumors, showcasing TVA’s potential in augmenting the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Delving deeper into the molecular realm, the researchers harnessed innovative techniques such as kethoxal-assisted single-stranded DNA sequencing (KAS-seq) to uncover how TVA influences cellular processes. Their findings revealed that TVA inactivates the GPR43 receptor on cell surfaces, outperforming short-chain fatty acids often produced by the gut microbiota. This activation triggers the CREB pathway, a cellular signaling process crucial for growth, survival, and differentiation.

READ: Genetic Foundations of Production, Reproduction, and Health in Agriculture

The team also analyzed blood samples from lymphoma patients undergoing CAR-T cell immunotherapy. Strikingly, patients with higher TVA levels exhibited more favorable responses to treatment. Similarly, testing leukemia cell lines demonstrated TVA’s ability to enhance the effectiveness of immunotherapy drugs against leukemia cells.

Despite these promising findings, Professor Chen emphasizes caution regarding dietary implications. While TVA shows potential as a dietary supplement for T cell-based cancer treatments, the emphasis should be on optimizing the nutrient itself rather than increasing consumption of red meat and dairy, which have known health risks. Professor Chen anticipates that other nutrients, possibly from plant sources, may also activate the CREB pathway, opening avenues for further research.

This new research elaborates on the potential of a “metabolomic” approach to understanding how dietary components impact health. Professor Chen and his team aspire to construct a comprehensive library of nutrients circulating in the blood to understand their impact on immunity and broader biological processes, including aging.


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November 23, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

 

The Kenyan government, through the Kenya Dairy Board (KDB), has unveiled a 10-year plan, the Kenya Dairy Industry Sustainability Roadmap 2023–2033, aimed at doubling dairy farmers’ income by increasing milk production per cow. The announcement was made by Mithika Linturi, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock Development, during a launch event in Nairobi.

Linturi emphasized that the primary goal of the government is to raise annual milk production from the current five billion liters to an impressive 10 billion liters. The strategy includes a plan to increase dairy exports to one billion liters, elevate the formally marketed milk percentage from 30% to 50%, and boost the monthly revenue of small-scale dairy farmers to 56,000 Kenya Shillings.

The CS outlined key interventions to achieve these targets, focusing on improved access to fodder and feeds. The roadmap seeks to double the daily milk productivity per cow, addressing the challenge of the current yield per cow, which is below seven liters per day and falls short of global standards.

With an estimated dairy herd population of 5.1 million and over two million smallholder dairy farmers, Kenya currently produces 5.2 billion liters of milk annually, valued at over 230 billion Kenya Shillings. Linturi stressed the importance of enhancing productivity and noted that doubling production per cow is a more practical approach than increasing the size of the dairy herd.

To achieve this, the CS stressed the significance of providing better feeds, veterinary services, and a clean environment, with observable results in less than a week. He acknowledged that low productivity, high production costs, and other inefficiencies have hindered the industry’s potential.

In a bid to address environmental concerns, Linturi revealed the government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector by 0.4 Metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. He highlighted ongoing collaborative efforts, including the “Pathways to Dairy Net Zero” (PADNET) project, developed in partnership with the State Department of Livestock Development, Kenya Dairy Board, UN, FAO, and IFAD.

READ: The 4 Key Roles of Food Traceability in Boosting Consumer Trust

The PADNET project aims to transition the dairy industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adapt more climate-resilient dairy systems. Linturi expressed optimism that the roadmap would enable the country to leverage modern technology and climate-smart approaches to competitively produce, process, and market an additional 2.5 billion liters of quality milk annually to meet growing demand.

Margaret Kibogy, the Managing Director of the Kenya Dairy Board, highlighted the roadmap’s goals, including increasing milk production to meet 105% of local demand, enhancing productivity to 20 liters per lactating cow per day for micro-commercial farms, and ensuring 80% of marketed milk undergoes the cold chain.

Developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the roadmap envisions modern farming, efficient manufacturing, cutting-edge research and development, increased finance, and expanded trade opportunities with implications for rural transformation.

Kibogy also revealed plans to reduce the retail price of packaged whole milk by at least 20% and provide on-farm coolers to farmers producing over 50 liters of milk per day and located beyond walking distance from a collective cooling facility.


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November 23, 2023 AGRIBUSINESSINDUSTRY NEWS0

Eni Engineer at the oilseed collection and pressing plant (agri-hub) in Makueni, Kenya.

 

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is planning to inject a substantial loan of up to $210 million into Eni Kenya, an Italian firm, in a strategic effort to fortify its Agri-Feedstock Project in Kenya. This visionary initiative by Eni is set to transform agri-business activities in the region, particularly through the establishment of four cutting-edge Agri-Hubs with a combined annual output capacity of 200,000 metric tons of vegetable oil.

The financing from IFC will be channeled into diverse facets of Eni’s agri-business operations, ranging from setting up working capital for feedstock sourcing to the formulation of a risk-sharing facility in collaboration with a Kenyan commercial bank. The latter will play a key role in supporting portfolios of eligible loans, amounting to $60 million, for farmers and aggregators supplying Eni’s Agri-Hubs.

Eni’s Agri-Feedstock Project aspires to make a positive impact on over 700,000 farming families by 2026, escalating to over a million by 2030. This ambitious undertaking aligns with the broader goal of enhancing food security through the production of one million tons of animal feed and fertilizers by 2026, with even more substantial contributions in the subsequent years.

This narrative is not an isolated case in the global agricultural landscape. It resonates with similar success stories from various corners of the world where agri-tech initiatives have spurred socio-economic development. Particularly noteworthy is the trend of rejuvenating degraded lands, a phenomenon witnessed in diverse geographical settings globally.

The Agri-Feedstock Project involves a collaborative effort with third-party aggregators and farmers, a model reminiscent of successful agri-tech ventures worldwide. This cooperative engagement revolves around the supply of agri-feedstock, encompassing cultivated oilseeds and residues from agro-processing and agroforestry, to Eni’s state-of-the-art Agri-Hubs. These hubs serve as transformative platforms where biomasses are processed to yield vegetable oil, subsequently destined for Eni’s bio-refineries in Italy. The refined products, including various bio-energy derivatives like biofuels, contribute significantly to the renewable energy sector.

READ: Bayer and Microsoft Forge Partnership to Address Data Interoperability Gap in Agriculture

Eni’s global footprint in the Agri Feedstock program is expanding, with a target production of 700,000 tons of vegetable oil in 2026 set to soar to over a million tons by 2030. Notably, Eni has already operationalized one Agri-Hub in Makueni County, with construction underway for a second in Kwale County. Looking ahead, plans for the third Agri-Hub slated for early 2025 are in motion, and the location for the fourth Agri-Hub, boasting a production capacity of approximately 100,000 metric tons per year, is currently under assessment.

The Makueni Agri-Hub, commissioned in July 2022, exemplifies the success of Eni’s vision, producing a substantial 15,000 metric tons of oil annually. The feedstock processed here includes non-food oilseeds, such as castor, cultivated in degraded lands, residues from agro-processing like cotton seeds, and residues from nut processing. Additionally, the hub incorporates other oilseeds, like croton, sourced from spontaneous trees abundant in Kenya.

Biofuels produced from non-edible oilseeds like castor and croton are derived from feedstocks that do not compromise food production. These are grown on degraded lands, primarily in arid and semi-arid areas where traditional food production is impractical. Additionally, some of these oilseeds are cultivated in rotation or intercropping with food crops, ensuring a delicate balance between agri-business expansion and food security.


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November 14, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

Bayer and Microsoft have unveiled groundbreaking updates in their strategic collaboration in a monumental stride toward a more interconnected and sustainable future for global agriculture. The recent developments showcase a concerted effort to address the long-standing challenge of data interoperability in the agri-food sector. As farmers increasingly harness technology to enhance efficiency and sustainability, the fusion of Bayer’s expertise and Microsoft’s cutting-edge capabilities marks a turning point.

Breaking Down Data Silos

Historically, the vast amount of data generated by satellites, field sensors, drones, and other agri-tech tools faced a critical roadblock – the lack of a common digital infrastructure. This hindered the seamless exchange of information related to production patterns, weather data, and pest tracking. Recognizing this challenge, Bayer and Microsoft have now introduced the Microsoft Azure Data Manager for Agriculture platform. This platform bridges the gap, allowing diverse farm data sources to connect, fostering interoperability, and paving the way for more informed decision-making.

Complementing the Azure Data Manager, Bayer introduces AgPowered Services, a suite of tools developed on the platform to transform data into actionable insights. These services, ranging from crop health monitoring to weather forecasts, leverage Bayer’s agronomic expertise. Farmers, agri-food value chain companies, and stakeholders can utilize these tools to accelerate digital innovation and extract valuable insights into disease tracking, heat stress impact, precision inputs, crop growth patterns, potential yield, crop water usage, and weather analysis.

Building on these advancements, Bayer has strengthened connectivity with Microsoft through strategic collaborations. The flagship digital farming product, Climate FieldView™, now seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Azure Data Manager for Agriculture, facilitating secure and compliant data exchange between Bayer’s platform and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). This collaboration enhances accessibility to farm machinery data, addressing a significant challenge in the agricultural technology landscape.

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Machine Data Connectivity and Decoding

In collaboration with leading OEMs such as Stara, Topcon, and Trimble, Bayer is developing AgPowered Services to enable machine data connectivity. Sonata Software, a modernization engineering company, plays a crucial role in this initiative. The aim is to provide an integrated solution for enterprise users, reducing technical investment costs. Additionally, Bayer’s Farm Machinery Decoder, powered by Leaf Agriculture, acts as a bridge, translating machine data from various OEMs and platforms. This service not only accelerates innovation but also streamlines data interpretation for more effective decision-making.

Remote Sensing for In-Season Crop Identification

Bayer, in collaboration with OneSoil, introduces a revolutionary capability – In-Season Crop Identification. This service utilizes satellite imagery for real-time detection of key cash crops across North America, South America, and Europe. The applications of this technology span verification for carbon platforms, government subsidy programs, capacity planning for crop processing companies, and enhanced insurance assessments.

Embracing Microsoft Fabric for Unified Analytics

The collaboration extends beyond Azure Data Manager, with Microsoft Fabric playing a pivotal role. Microsoft’s end-to-end unified analytics platform supports greater interoperability, enabling seamless data movement and transformation in agriculture-specific scenarios. The partnership with Bayer ensures that agriculture-specific connectors and capabilities continually evolve, breaking down limitations imposed by data types and sources.

Ready-to-Use Capabilities for Diverse Solutions

AgPowered Services from Bayer, in conjunction with Azure Data Manager, offers ready-to-use capabilities for a spectrum of businesses – from startups to global enterprises. This collaboration allows the development of digital tools supporting favorable agronomic outcomes for growers or consumer-facing solutions offering insights into nutrients, sustainability, and production practices.

Charting a Sustainable Future

As the agricultural industry embraces this new era of connectivity, the combined efforts of Bayer and Microsoft promise a more sustainable, efficient, and interconnected food system. The ability to leverage data for informed decision-making not only benefits farmers but also aligns with consumer demands for healthier, high-quality food. The unveiling of these advancements stands as a testament to the commitment to revolutionize agriculture on a global scale, bringing us one step closer to a future where technology harmonizes with nature for the greater good.


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The world is bracing itself for a potential increase in chocolate prices due to cocoa crop shortage in the leading cocoa-producing regions of Ghana and Ivory Coast. These two countries collectively supply two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, and their struggles with adverse weather conditions and crop diseases have sent cocoa prices surging by approximately 47% over the past year.

The cocoa market is no stranger to fluctuations, but the combination of recent challenges has raised alarm bells in the sector. Cocoa prices have been on a relentless climb, largely driven by concerns over adverse weather conditions and crop diseases in Ivory Coast and Ghana. These issues have significantly impacted cocoa production, sending shockwaves throughout the industry.

The recent surge in cocoa prices has raised concerns among major chocolate manufacturers such as Hershey Co. and Lindt & Spruengli AG. They have cautioned about potential price hikes that could potentially affect demand in both Europe and the crucial growth market of Asia. This situation has caused ripples across the cocoa supply chain.

“The current situation is looking relatively dire unless there is a dramatic improvement in the outlook. Further price increases could weigh on consumption,” noted Darren Stetzel, Vice President of Soft Commodities for Asia at broker StoneX.

The cocoa crisis is not solely the result of one factor but rather a confluence of challenges. Excessive rainfall, pest infestations, and crop diseases have wreaked havoc on West African cocoa crops. The key question revolves around the size of the two annual cocoa harvests in Ghana and Ivory Coast, with Ivory Coast initially forecasting a nearly 20% decrease in output for the main-crop season.

Rabobank and Marex analysts have projected a drop in West African cocoa output for the 2023-24 season, with Marex even anticipating a global deficit of 279,000 tons, surpassing the combined shortfalls of the previous two seasons. This poses a significant threat to the livelihoods of African cocoa farmers, many of whom are already living below the poverty line.

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Agricultural inputs like fertilizers and pesticides have also become scarcer and more expensive for these farmers, hampering efforts to rejuvenate or treat damaged cocoa trees and address the swollen-shoot disease, which threatens Ivory Coast’s cocoa output, affecting approximately 20% of the nation’s crop.

Despite the jitters, Ghana has taken proactive steps to address the crisis. The country has increased cocoa farmer pay by over 60% to curb smuggling into Ivory Coast and encourage investment. This move may lead to increased cocoa production in Ghana, but challenges remain.

One such challenge is the aging cocoa trees in Ghana, which could contribute to a declining production trend. The cocoa market’s tight supply chain has also resulted in reduced processing of cocoa beans into confectionery products globally. High cocoa prices are starting to impact demand in Asia, with Swiss grinder Barry Callebaut AG reporting lower sales in July.


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October 5, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

A project aimed at creating four potato varieties resistant to late blight disease is poised to revolutionize the industry. Launched in late 2021, the initiative, known as the Global Biotech Potato Partnership, is a collaborative effort involving scientists from Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, with coordination by Michigan State University. Key partners in this endeavor include the International Potato Center (CIP) in Africa, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), and the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Late blight disease has long plagued potato farmers, causing heavy losses and necessitating frequent chemical spraying. Farmers often resort to spraying their crops up to 20 times in a growing season to combat this devastating disease. Dr. Eric Magembe, the project leader in Kenya and a member of CIP, emphasized the need for a more sustainable solution, acknowledging the losses farmers incur during their production process and thus, the intent to choose the best variety out of the four to distribute to farmers and eventually enhance potato output for food and nutritional security, as well as for revenues.

One of the most significant benefits of developing late blight-resistant potato varieties is the reduced need for chemical spraying. Dr. Magembe highlighted the positive impact on both the environment and the general health of farmers, stating, “The environment and the general health of farmers will benefit from the use of fewer chemicals to combat the disease in these GMO potatoes.”

The project in Kenya has already progressed past the confined field trials (CFTs) stage in the Njabini, Muguga, and Molo potato-growing districts. Experts are currently assessing the potentials of the four genetically modified biotech potato types in these regions. Dr. Catherine Taracha, the project’s Principal Investigator (PI) at KALRO, explained that the data gathered from the CFTs would be crucial in determining which varieties should advance to the National Performance Trials (NPTs) stage.

Dr. Taracha stressed the significance of this project for smallholder potato farmers in Kenya, who face numerous challenges, including the relentless threat of late blight. She noted, “Many smallholder potato farmers in Kenya are faced by a number of challenges including potato late blight, whose management continues to be a difficult process by the growers owing to their limited production capacity.”

READ: Biobanking Initiative to Preserve African Indigenous Chicken

Despite being the second most cultivated crop in the country and employing over 2.5 million people, Kenya loses a staggering 30 to 60 percent of its potato yield to the deadly late blight disease each year. Dr. Taracha underlined the necessity of developing biotech varieties to combat this issue, saying, “Due to the inability of resource-strained farmers to control late blight, the optimum management of the disease in the country is likely to be achieved through the development of biotech varieties.”

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has granted KALRO and its project partners authorization to conduct late blight disease trials over three growing seasons within the nationwide Multi-Location CFTs (ML-CFTs). Mr. Erick Korir, principal biosafety officer at the NBA, explained that this extended testing period would provide ample data to guide the subsequent phases of the project. He also emphasized the importance of strict biosafety guidelines for field testing biotech crops, given their use of foreign genes. Consequently, the tested biotech potato varieties must remain on the CFT trial site until they receive NBA approval for release into the environment.

Compared to traditional potato varieties, which are significantly affected by late blight, the results from the second round of ML-CFTs reveal that biotech potatoes exhibit higher yields and do not necessitate any chemical spraying.

This ambitious project holds the promise of not only transforming potato farming in Kenya but also offering hope to potato farmers in other countries grappling with late blight disease.


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October 4, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has embarked on a mission to preserve Africa’s indigenous chicken breeds by conducting a transformative training program for twenty-five scientists hailing from eastern and central Africa. The workshop, held at the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank (NAGRC&DB) in Entebbe, Uganda, focused on avian reproductive biotechnology and aimed to equip experts with the knowledge and skills needed to conserve and enhance the genetic resources of Africa’s indigenous chickens.

Indigenous chicken populations have long been under threat from diseases, genetic challenges, breeding limitations, and natural disasters. These challenges jeopardize the rich genetic diversity present in these chickens, which have adapted to the African environment over generations.

The training, conducted from September 4th to 9th, was part of the ‘Biobanking of Indigenous Chicken Breeds’ project. This initiative aims to safeguard the genetic heritage of African and Southeast Asian indigenous poultry breeds for future use, ultimately enhancing their resilience and productivity.

Traditionally, preserving biological materials in birds has been reliant on semen, which has limited the conservation of certain crucial genetic elements. Moreover, the unique structure of avian eggs posed a challenge, as it made preserving ova and fertilized embryos difficult. Christian Tiambo, a scientist at ILRI and one of the trainers, pointed out these challenges but also presented a solution.

Avian primordial germ cells (PGCs), the initial population of germ cells established during early development, can be extracted and reintegrated into recipient embryos, preserving the complete genetic makeup of the avian stock. This breakthrough technique enables the conservation of avian genetic diversity without relocating genetic material from its original regions or countries.

Mary Mbole Kariuki, a technology and innovation specialist at the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau of Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), highlighted the importance of preserving indigenous animal genetics, which are well-suited to the African environment and play a crucial role in sustaining livelihoods.

The six-day training program included lectures on stem cell biobanking and hands-on laboratory sessions using Ugandan chicken ecotype eggs. Participants also had the opportunity to visit NAGRC&DB, an AU-IBAR regional animal resources seed center of excellence.

READ: McKinsey: Alternative Seafood to Meet Growing Global Demand

Jackson Mubiru, head of assisted animal reproductive technologies at NAGRC&DB, emphasized the vital role of biobanking in conserving poultry breeds for research purposes, particularly in enhancing disease resistance and productivity.

Ben Lukuyu, a senior scientist and ILRI Uganda’s country representative, shared ILRI’s regional research findings, underlining the significant impact of improved genetics on household incomes and livelihoods. He pointed out that ILRI’s work in the Ugandan pig sector had demonstrated that smallholder farmers could increase their incomes by accessing more productive breeds.

With the poultry sector in Uganda rapidly expanding and incorporating breeds from around the world, this training not only presents research opportunities but also holds the potential to boost smallholder livestock farming while safeguarding local breeds.

The training program is creating a community of practice to facilitate knowledge transfer and support national agricultural research services in livestock development using stem cell biobanking in Africa. Materials used during the training have been biobanked, and the conservation actions initiated during the event will be extended and implemented by the trainees in their respective countries.

The outcomes of this training will also serve as an advocacy tool for the development of local poultry conservation programs in eastern Africa and their related value chains, ultimately leading to improved livelihoods for communities in the region.

The ‘East Africa training workshop on reproductive and surrogate technologies for biobanking and restoration of indigenous chicken genetic resources’ held in September marks a significant step forward in avian reproductive and surrogate biotechnology in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This collaborative initiative on south-to-south cooperation is supported by the International Livestock Research Institute, the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, the African Union Development Agency, the African Union-InterAfrican Bureau of Animal Resources, and the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank. Participants in this groundbreaking training came from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, and Uganda, reflecting the regional and collaborative nature of the endeavor.


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Image Credit: KALRO

 

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has raised the alarm over the dire consequences faced by farmers who unwittingly fall victim to counterfeit seeds that have proliferated in the Kenyan market. Dr. Lusike Wasilwa, the director of Crops at KALRO, spoke passionately about the pressing issue, emphasizing the need for immediate action to safeguard the livelihoods of countless farmers from these deceptive practices.

Dr. Wasilwa revealed that the infiltration of counterfeit seeds into the Kenyan agricultural market has been a persistent and devastating problem. These fraudulent products have been identified as the primary cause of poor crop yields and decreased agricultural productivity, ultimately leading to elevated living costs due to a higher dependence on food imports.

Speaking at the opening of a new Mkulima shop in Mwea, Kirinyaga County, Dr. Wasilwa unveiled KALRO’s proactive approach to addressing this crisis. The organization plans to establish an impressive total of 16 additional shops across Kenya. These shops will serve as a beacon of hope for farmers, offering them access to authentic, certified, and high-quality seeds directly from KALRO.

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One startling revelation from Dr. Wasilwa is that even KALRO’s own bean variety, ‘Nyota’, has fallen victim to counterfeiting. Unscrupulous actors have taken to branding counterfeit seed bags with the KALRO and ‘Nyota’ labels, duping unsuspecting farmers into purchasing fake products. This nefarious practice not only jeopardizes farmers’ yields but also tarnishes the reputation of dedicated scientists and researchers who work tirelessly to improve agricultural practices.

Dr. Wasilwa conveyed KALRO’s unwavering commitment to combating counterfeit seeds by expanding the reach of the Mkulima shops. The organization’s ambition is to establish these vital outlets in all of its 54 centers nationwide. By doing so, KALRO aims to ensure that every farmer in Kenya can access genuine, top-quality seeds, thereby bolstering the agricultural sector and fostering food security.

The issue of counterfeit seeds is not unique to Kenya, as it has plagued farmers globally, undermining food security and economic stability. Counterfeit seeds not only pose a direct threat to farmers’ income but also impact the wider economy.


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October 3, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

A new study by McKinsey & Company shows that the global demand for fish and shellfish is on a rapid ascent, and the alternative protein industry seems ready to provide a sustainable solution to meet this surging demand. With billions of people relying on oceans for livelihoods and sustenance, the call for fish protein is on an upward trajectory, with projections indicating a 14 percent growth by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. This demand surge is particularly pronounced in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania. However, this pressing demand for seafood coincides with the alarming reality that over 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are already pushed to their limits or beyond.

The critical conundrum emerges: how can we meet this growing demand when wild-caught seafood production remains stagnant? While aquaculture has partially bridged the gap in recent years, it has struggled to keep pace with the ever-increasing appetite for seafood. Enter “alternative seafood,” a promising solution that seeks to replicate popular fish and shellfish, such as tuna, salmon, and shrimp. Though in its nascent stages, the alternative seafood industry shows substantial promise through three distinct production options: plant-based, fermentation-enabled, and cultivated.

Global Demand Surges Amidst Production Constraints

The report by McKinsey & Company indicates that the global appetite for seafood is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Economic growth in countries correlates with an increased per-capita protein consumption, with seafood becoming a preferred choice. For instance, a recent survey in Singapore revealed a fivefold surge in seafood interest compared to a decade ago.

However, McKinsey demonstrates that there is a worrisome imbalance between this soaring demand and the overexploitation of fish stocks worldwide. Since the 1990s, global fish catches have dwindled by approximately 1 percent annually, primarily due to overfishing. This depletion has led many regions to limit existing fishing licenses and make new quotas exceedingly rare.

Despite these challenges, the OECD predicts that global fish production will reach 203 million metric tons by 2031, with aquaculture production surpassing wild catch around 2024. Yet, this growth might not be enough to meet the escalating demand, especially for sought-after species like salmon, given regulatory constraints and protections for wild fish.

Alternative seafood products are immune to many of these restrictions, providing a viable solution for scaling production. Innovations ranging from plant-based fish sticks to “whole cut” products and sushi-ready items like smoked salmon substitutes hold great promise for the industry’s future.

Drawing Lessons from the Alternative Meat Industry

While alternative proteins have historically focused on chicken, pork, and beef, seafood represents a more diverse and complex food category, with numerous species consumed worldwide. For instance, the tuna market, the third-largest in annual production, is simultaneously vulnerable to overfishing, challenging to farm, and possesses a substantial carbon footprint.

The McKinsey report suggests that for the alternative seafood industry to flourish, it must carefully consider these factors, including price points, consumer expectations, and regional preferences, when developing strategic products.

Challenges and Opportunities

The McKinsey analysis elucidates that alternative seafood faces several hurdles on its path to scalability, the most prominent being cost. Achieving production costs comparable to premium species remains a significant challenge. Nonetheless, this challenge presents an opportunity, as high-end species are particularly attractive to alternative producers, given their more achievable target prices.

Moreover, customer acceptance is crucial. Consumers expect high-quality alternatives that accurately mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of the original seafood. The industry must cater to the diverse preferences of different fish and shellfish varieties and take regional preferences into account.

READ:  Kenya Ramps Up Support for Fish Industry to Boost GDP

Unique Advantages

Despite these challenges, alternative seafood boasts unique advantages that can fuel its growth. Local production eliminates the need for costly and polluting long-distance transportation, making it an environmentally-friendly option. Furthermore, alternative seafood can provide the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids while circumventing the risks associated with mercury levels in traditional fish.

Additionally, alternative seafood doesn’t face the same hurdles in obtaining fishing and farming licenses, which can be cumbersome for traditional seafood producers.

Production Options and the Path Forward

The alternative seafood industry relies on three primary production options: plant-based, fermentation-enabled, and cultivated.

  • Plant-based alternatives utilize ingredients like soy, seaweed, yeast, legumes, and various vegetable oils and starches. These products, such as alternative tuna and scallops, have already entered the market, offering a more accessible and less regulated path compared to other alternatives.
  • Fermentation-enabled alternatives employ microbes in food production, with methods like biomass fermentation holding potential for alternative seafood. Biomass fermentation involves fast-growing microorganisms like algae or fungi and has been used to create mycelium-based products like steak.
  • Cultivated seafood relies on cells harvested from popular fish or shellfish, which are then cultured in bioreactors on biocompatible scaffolds to replicate the taste and texture of live-caught seafood. Although still in development, this approach shows promise but requires rigorous regulation and certification.

Paving the Way Forward

McKinsey analysis further shows that the alternative seafood industry faces the challenge of identifying target consumers and crafting messages that resonate with them. While the sector holds significant promise for addressing environmental concerns, it must also cater to non-premium consumers by offering lower price points.

The report concludes that alternative seafood presents a compelling solution to meet the surging global demand for fish and shellfish while reducing the environmental impact of fishing. To realize its potential, the industry must overcome challenges, innovate, and learn from the success of alternative proteins. As these products become more established in the market, their impact on consumer preferences and traditional fish production remains to be seen, but the future is promising for alternative seafood’s role in the sustainable food landscape.


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October 2, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWSRESEARCH0

 

In the ever-evolving world of agriculture, one resounding message reverberates: farmers worldwide are grappling with the relentless impacts of climate change and economic pressures. These findings are the heart of the “Farmer Voice” survey, a comprehensive study commissioned by Bayer, a life science company, and conducted by an independent agency. It’s a clarion call to action for the global agricultural community, as well as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of those who tend the Earth’s fields.

Climate Change Takes Center Stage

The survey paints a stark picture of the challenges faced by farmers across the globe. A staggering 71% of respondents affirmed that climate change has already left a substantial mark on their farms, and an even larger majority expressed concern about its impending consequences. Specifically, 76% of farmers worldwide voiced their anxieties about the potentially devastating effects of climate change, with Kenyan and Indian farmers emerging as the most concerned.

These concerns are not unfounded. Climate change has led to a surge in pest and disease pressure, as reported by a significant 73% of those surveyed. Moreover, farmers estimate a disheartening 15.7% reduction in their incomes over the past two years directly attributed to climate change. Alarmingly, one in six farmers has faced income losses exceeding 25% during this period, a somber testament to the profound impact of climatic shifts.

Rodrigo Santos, a Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division, emphasized the gravity of the situation. “Farmers are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change on their fields, and at the same time, they play a key role in tackling this huge challenge,” he noted. Santos underlined the urgent need to put farmers’ voices at the forefront of global discussions, recognizing the threat climate change poses to global food security.

Economic Challenges Compound the Pressure

While climate change takes center stage, economic challenges loom large on the horizon. Over the next three years, economic concerns top the list of priorities for farmers, with 55% naming fertilizer costs among their top three challenges. Energy costs (47%), price and income volatility (37%), and the cost of crop protection (36%) follow closely behind. This concern is particularly pronounced in countries like Kenya, India, and Ukraine, where farmers grapple with the dual burden of economic challenges and climate change impacts.

For Ukrainian farmers, fertilizer costs are especially burdensome, with 70% citing it as a top challenge, mirroring the broader economic struggles faced by the country due to ongoing disruptions. Notably, 40% of Ukrainian farmers also mentioned the general disruption caused by the ongoing conflict as a significant challenge.

Innovations to Combat Climate Change

Farmers are not merely passive victims of climate change and economic challenges; they are actively seeking solutions. More than 80% of surveyed farmers are already implementing or planning measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Cover crops (43%), renewable energy or biofuels (37%), and innovative seeds to reduce fertilizer or crop protection use (33%) are top priority areas for sustainability efforts. Additionally, biodiversity conservation is a focal point, with 54% of farmers applying or planning measures to protect insects.

In terms of technology and innovation, farmers are eager for access to seeds and traits designed to withstand extreme weather conditions (53%), improved crop protection technology (50%), and better access to irrigation technology (42%). Improving land use efficiency, crop diversification, and soil health are also key strategies identified by farmers to secure a sustainable future.

Spotlight on Indian Smallholder Farmers

In a unique addition to the global survey, Bayer interviewed 2,056 Indian smallholder farmers, shedding light on the unique challenges faced by this critical demographic. While labor and fertilizer costs are their primary concerns, they also grapple with climate change-induced challenges such as reduced crop yields (42%) and increased pest pressures (31%). To mitigate these risks, Indian smallholders prioritize financial security through insurance (26%) and infrastructure improvement (21%).

Looking ahead, 60% of Indian smallholders believe that access to digital technologies and modern crop protection would be the most beneficial for their farms. Despite the challenges they face, a remarkable 80% of these smallholders remain optimistic about the future of farming.

A Global Consensus

The “Farmer Voice” survey stresses the global consensus among farmers on the pressing issues of climate change and economic pressures. While some variations exist between countries, the overarching concerns remain consistent. Rodrigo Santos concluded, “Farmers are facing multiple and related challenges. But despite this, we found that they are hopeful – almost three-quarters say they feel positive about the future of farming in their country.”

These survey results serve as a potent call to action for the entire food system to innovate, collaborate, and deliver the solutions that farmers urgently need. With a growing world population and limited time to address these issues, the global community must prioritize sustainable agriculture practices to ensure the resilience and prosperity of farming in the face of adversity.

The “Farmer Voice” survey, encompassing 800 farmers from eight countries, offers a crucial glimpse into the challenges and aspirations of those who feed the world. Conducted independently and anonymously, the survey offers unfiltered insights that demand our attention. As we navigate an uncertain future, it’s clear that the voices of farmers must be heard, and their concerns addressed promptly.


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September 29, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

 

Kenyan smallholder tea farmers are gearing up to receive a staggering KSh.44.15 billion in bonus payments, marking an all-time high for the sector. These payments are set to be disbursed over the next two weeks, by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to recipients in its 54 affiliated factories, which serve approximately 600,000 farmers.

This impressive bonus payout is set to elevate the total earnings of tea farmers by a remarkable 7.6 percent, reaching an unprecedented KSh.67.7 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30. A key driver of this substantial growth is the improved performance of tea prices on the international market, with the average selling price surging to KSh.341 per kilogram, up from KSh.311 in previous years. As a result, tea farmers are expected to pocket an average of KSh.59.02 per kilo of green leaf sold, reflecting a substantial 17.6 percent increase from last year’s figure of KSh.50.18.

“This year’s record-breaking payout for smallholder farmers can be attributed to a combination of factors, including increased sales volume, astute cost management, and a favorable foreign exchange regime. Furthermore, the surge in sales of orthodox tea has significantly contributed to higher earnings, with 10 million kilograms of orthodox tea sold compared to a mere three million kilos in the previous year,” shared KTDA’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Ndiga Kithae.

Remarkably, this increase in earnings occurred in the face of a notable nine percent decline in green leaf production. The year ending June witnessed a drop in green leaf production to 1.145 billion kilograms, down from 1.254 billion kilograms in the previous year, marking the lowest output since 2019. Drought conditions and a lack of adequate rainfall contributed to a 1.6 percent contraction in the agricultural sector.

Notably, Kiambu County was among the hardest-hit areas, with factories in Kambaa, Kagwe, Gacharage, and Nduti experiencing a decline in output by 15.2 percent. Similarly, Kericho and Bomet counties experienced a 14.3 percent reduction, while Kisii and Nyamira saw an 8.5 percent decline.

Breaking down the green leaf payout, farmers in the Kericho and Bomet regions are set to receive the largest share, amounting to KSh.16.1 billion, after supplying an impressive 305.4 million kilograms during the cycle. Smallholder farmers served by factories in Kapkoros, Tirgaga, Olenguruone, and Motigo will collectively receive KSh.4.9 billion from the total payout, marking the highest payment by sub-region.

In a close second, growers in the Kiambu region will collectively earn a total of KSh.12.8 billion, followed by Kirinyaga-Embu (KSh.10.4 billion), Meru (KSh.9.6 billion), Muranga-Nyeri (KSh.8.9 billion), Kisii-Nyamira (KSh.7.5 billion), and Vihiga-Kakamega-Nandi (KSh.2 billion).

The improved pricing for green leaf shows the ongoing reforms within the tea sector. The introduction of a minimum tea price/reserve price at the Mombasa auction in July 2021 has played a pivotal role in ensuring that farmers’ teas are not sold below a certain price point, thus translating into higher earnings per kilo of sold tea.

Furthermore, the favorable exchange rate, with green leaf sold in the international market in dollar terms, has also contributed to enhanced earnings in comparison to local currency terms.


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Namibia has suspended the import of live poultry, birds, and poultry products from its neighbor South Africa following the persistent outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). This precautionary step, communicated by Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, has been put into effect immediately and is set to endure until further updates are provided.

South Africa finds itself in the throes of a significant bird flu outbreak, marked by disheartening reports that nearly two million chickens have succumbed to this debilitating disease. Poultry producers, including industry giants Quantum Foods and Astral Foods, are grappling with substantial losses, tallying up to approximately R22 million.

Namibia’s reliance on South African poultry products, especially chicken, is substantial, with an estimated monthly consumption of 2,500 tons. Consequently, the suspension of imports from South Africa will reverberate through Namibia’s poultry industry and impact its consumers significantly.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, a contagious viral disease, casts a shadow of menace over poultry populations. Namibia’s decision to halt imports from South Africa shows its commitment to protect its domestic poultry sector and shield its territory from the disease’s introduction.

Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture has issued prudent advice, urging both the public and stakeholders within the poultry sector to remain vigilant and diligently adhere to biosecurity measures. Hopefully, the authorities in both Namibia and South Africa will collaborate closely to contain the outbreak in South Africa and curtail its repercussions on the broader regional poultry sector. This united effort will curtail the spread of avian influenza within Namibia’s borders.

In the interim, the Namibian public and stakeholders in the poultry industry have been encouraged to actively cooperate with relevant authorities to contain the disease’s spread and mitigate its economic impact.

Earlier in the year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it was conducting trials for a new avian influenza vaccine designed to prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine targets a specific part of the avian flu virus and is designed to be highly effective and provide long-lasting protection against the disease. The trials are being conducted in partnership with several poultry producers across the US. If successful, the vaccine could be made available to producers in the near future, providing a valuable tool in the fight against avian flu and helping to protect the health and wellbeing of both poultry and humans.


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September 29, 2023 AGRIBUSINESSINDUSTRY NEWS0

 

During the official launch of the 2023 Agricultural Society of Kenya’s (ASK) Nairobi International Trade Fair, Kenya’s President William Ruto unveiled a comprehensive plan to breathe new life into Kenya’s coffee sector. The Coffee Revitalization Program (CRP) is planned to uplift 72 coffee factories, aimed at addressing the persistent challenges that have beleaguered the industry for years.

The president’s announcement was met with anticipation and optimism among the gathered stakeholders, and for good reason. He shared his government’s commitment to providing farmers with subsidized seedlings and fertilizers, a move expected to significantly boost coffee production. The government’s goal is to double the annual coffee production from the present 50,000 metric tons to an impressive 102,000 metric tons by 2027.

Beyond the promise of higher yields, President Ruto conveyed his unwavering commitment to eliminating wastage, inefficiency, and corruption within the sector and ensure that coffee farmers truly reap the benefits of their toil.

Kenya’s agricultural productivity has been stagnant in the face of a burgeoning population. This, coupled with the failure of food production to meet domestic demand, has led to increased imports, trade deficits, and rising food prices, which now constitute a staggering 54 percent of household expenditure. It is a vicious cycle that urgently requires intervention.

In his statement, President Ruto further stated that increased agricultural productivity holds the key to breaking this cycle, further adding that agriculture has the potential to employ a substantial 70 percent of the population, making it a linchpin in the battle against poverty. By harnessing this full potential, Kenya can reduce its dependence on food imports, safeguard its foreign exchange reserves, and insulate itself from international price shocks.

“Our global competitiveness in agriculture,” the President added, “extends beyond traditional crops like tea, coffee, cut flowers, and vegetables. It also encompasses emerging export crops such as macadamia and avocado.” It’s a testament to the nation’s agricultural prowess, which, if tapped to its fullest, can propel Kenya to even greater heights on the global stage.

In addition to the coffee sector, President Ruto also addressed the challenges facing the sugar industry. He emphasized that the government is actively working on measures to ensure that farmers in the sugar belt regions reap the benefits of their labor. He reiterated that the sugar sector holds a special place in his vision for national development, wealth creation, and employment generation, adding that he is in discussions with leaders from cane-growing areas to devise strategies that address issues like aging mills, institutional indebtedness, soil fertility, land competition, and low adoption of researched cane varieties and fertilizers.


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September 26, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

The sun-soaked groves of Florida, once the heartland of citrus production, have witnessed a staggering decline in orange production over the past two decades. In 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated Florida’s orange production at a robust 242 million boxes. By 2022, this figure had plummeted to a mere 41 million boxes. While various factors contributed to this alarming drop, none has garnered more attention than the relentless scourge of citrus greening.

Citrus greening, scientifically known as Huanglongbing (HLB), is a devastating disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny insect that carries the Liberibacter bacteria into a tree’s vascular system. Symptoms of HLB include mottled leaves, stunted growth, reduced fruit size, premature fruit drop, and, ultimately, tree death. Since its first detection in Florida in 2005, HLB has spread across the state, reducing citrus production by a staggering 75% and doubling production costs.

The global reach of this scourge is undeniable, with HLB making its presence known in several citrus-producing countries worldwide. From Brazil to China, eastern and southern Africa to the Indian subcontinent, and even the Saudi Arabian Peninsula, citrus growers everywhere have faced the relentless onslaught of this disease.

Finding a solution to combat HLB has proven elusive due to the unique challenges posed by the Liberibacter bacteria. Dr. Kurt Ristroph, an Assistant Professor at Purdue University, explains, “It can’t be grown in a dish because the dish isn’t similar enough to the phloem environment.” Consequently, the most effective solution to date has been the removal of infected trees.

However, a glimmer of hope has emerged in the form of Invaio’s groundbreaking Trecise technology. Unlike traditional injection treatments, Trecise uses a minimally invasive system to introduce small amounts of active ingredients directly into a tree’s vascular system. This approach aims to manage, rather than eradicate, the bacteria, a significant shift in strategy. Initial trials on bearing trees have shown a remarkable 30% increase in yield after just one treatment, with further increases expected with consecutive treatments.

Arcadia-based TriYield has also entered the fray, employing Aqua-Yield’s nanoliquid solution to treat infected trees with zinc and indole acetic acid, resulting in reduced fruit drop. Landon Bunderson, Chief Science Officer for Aqua-Yield, notes that the technology has improved calcium and potassium uptake, essential for healthy tree growth, and has shown promise in directly combating the infection.

However, the pervasive nature of HLB means that treated trees are susceptible to reinfection, necessitating regular injections. Dr. Ristroph highlights another challenge, stating, “The disease lives deep inside these trees, so getting through all the physiological barriers to reach the site of infection with an antibiotic is a major challenge.”

Research into HLB treatment has been ongoing for over a century, with recent efforts gaining momentum. In 2017, Bayer partnered with the Citrus Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), securing a substantial grant to fund a multi-year study. In California, researchers at the University of California Riverside have discovered a peptide that suppresses the disease’s effects, offering a potential breakthrough.

The U.S. citrus industry, valued at over $3.3 billion, is not the only region grappling with HLB. Brazil, a major orange producer, has seen a 56% increase in citrus greening in its main orange-producing regions. To combat the disease, the government has implemented strict measures, including the elimination of infected trees.

Syngenta, a prominent player in the agricultural industry, suggests a two-pronged approach involving the use of neonicotinoids and foliar insecticides, coupled with a root health treatment program. This multifaceted strategy aims to combat both the insect vector and the disease itself.

As we stand at the intersection of science, innovation, and determination, the battle against citrus greening continues. With each breakthrough, the hope of rejuvenating the citrus industry grows stronger. The struggle to save the groves is far from over, but the unwavering commitment of researchers and growers offers a promising future for citrus cultivation.


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September 26, 2023 AGRIBUSINESSINDUSTRY NEWS0

 

Kenya’s regular chili exports to the European Union (EU) have been successfully resumed after a two-month hiatus. This interruption in exports stemmed from the interception of chili shipments in July that failed to meet the EU’s stringent phytosanitary standards. This breakthrough signifies Kenya’s commitment to global trade and quality standards.

The Kenya Plants Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has played a pivotal role in resolving the chili export issue. According to KEPHIS’s Managing Director, Theophilus Mutui, there have been no further incidents since July, and Kenya is actively collaborating with the EU to establish clear and consistent export standards to maintain its reputation as a reliable supplier of agricultural products to international markets.

The EU has proceeded to proactively show its support in helping Kenya meet its export requirements and prevent future disruptions by donating laboratory testing equipment worth 3.1 million Kenya Shillings. These Certified Reference Materials (CRMs), calibrated to EU standards, will enable Kenya to meet Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP) criteria for pesticide residue levels, aligning its agricultural products with EU regulations.

READ: $1.6 Million US Investment Partnership to Boost Coconut Processing and Export in Kenya

Adolfo Cires, the EU’s Manager for Finance and Private Sector Development in Kenya, emphasized that these testing capabilities would streamline the evaluation of pesticide residue levels in crops, making the process more accurate and efficient. This enhancement in testing infrastructure is not only beneficial for Kenya but also sets a positive precedent for global agricultural trade.

Kenya will indeed increase its agri-produce exports to the EU market significantly by meeting international phytosanitary standards, aligning perfectly with the concept of ‘one test accepted globally,’ which promotes seamless international trade and harmonized standards for agricultural products.

The EU is a crucial trading partner for Kenya, with the country earning an estimated 188 billion Kenya Shillings in foreign exchange primarily from the export of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The previously signed EU-Kenya Economic Partnership Agreement, which removed tariffs and quotas on all Kenyan exports of goods (excluding arms), further solidifies this vital economic relationship.


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September 26, 2023 AGRI ECONOMICSINDUSTRY NEWS0

 

In a concerning development for Kenya’s agricultural sector, the production of sugar by local millers has taken a sharp nosedive, plunging by nearly a third within just seven months. The primary culprit behind this dramatic decline is a severe shortage of sugarcane that has sent sugar prices soaring to record highs, impacting consumers and the broader economy.

An analysis of the most recent data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveals that domestic sugar production plummeted to 332,034 tonnes in the seven months leading up to July, marking a staggering 31.2 percent decrease from the 482,871 tonnes produced during the same period last year. This stark drop in sugar output paints a grim picture for an industry already choked with numerous challenges.

For consumers, the implications have been nothing short of a nightmare, as sugar prices have skyrocketed at an alarming rate over the past year. According to KNBS data, the cost of sugar has surged by a staggering 61.4 percent during this period. In plain contrast, the prices of other essential food commodities, such as beans, maize flour, and cooking oil, have seen substantial but comparatively modest increases of 27.9 percent, 9.6 percent, and 18.5 percent, respectively.

During the seven-month period under review, the highest sugar production was recorded in January when output peaked at 81,648 tonnes. However, this figure rapidly dwindled to just 31,495 tonnes by May.

Kenya boasts 16 sugar factories, with five of them – Miwani, Chemelil, Muhoroni, Nzoia, and South Nyanza – being government-owned. Additionally, the government holds a stake in Mumias Sugar, which currently operates under receivership. These millers have been struggling with a severe sugarcane shortage this year, primarily due to the depletion of stocks of mature cane. The dire situation even forced some millers to resort to crushing immature cane, a less than ideal solution.

To mitigate the crisis, some millers reduced their crushing schedules to only a few days a week, allowing them to maximize their limited cane supplies. Others temporarily suspended operations to conduct maintenance and upgrades. Nevertheless, the situation became so dire that the government stepped in, refusing to renew licenses for sugar millers in July. This suspension of milling activities will continue until November, giving cane the time needed to mature.

By the end of last month, only three factories – Transmara, Sony, and Sukari – were still operational, worsening the decline in local sugar production. The total sugarcane milled by all sugar factories also decreased by 10 percent, falling from 436,694 tonnes in June to 395,232 tonnes in July 2023. Sugar production mirrored this trend, dropping to 33,328 tonnes from 34,373 tonnes in June, according to the Agriculture and Food Authority.

This alarming decrease in sugar production is a drawback to the economy and also calls for the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in the Kenyan sugar industry. Earlier in September, the Kenyan government introduced stringent measures for duty-free sugar imports to curb rogue traders that are taking advantage of the market shortage.


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Kenya is taking significant strides towards restructuring its agricultural taxation system. The Kenyan government’s recent proposal to introduce a 5% withholding tax on agricultural products delivered to cooperatives or other organized groups has sent ripples through the country’s farming community.

In his statement, the Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury & Economic Planning, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, disclosed that in FY 2022/23, Kenya’s tax gap was estimated at 11.5% of GDP, indicating the need for the government to take measures to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio and ensure effective provision of services to the public.

Revenue collection from the agricultural sector has long been a challenge for many African governments. Historically, a substantial portion of agricultural income has escaped formal taxation due to the fragmented nature of the industry. The Kenyan government’s move to impose a 5% withholding tax seeks to remedy this issue by ensuring that revenue from agricultural produce is captured more efficiently. It is worth noting that this tax is designed to target agricultural producers delivering their goods to cooperatives or organized groups rather than individual small-scale farmers.

How Withholding Tax Works

Tax withholding is a way for the government to maintain its pay-as-you-earn income tax system. This means taxing individuals at the source of income rather than trying to collect income tax after wages are earned.

In the case of the proposed taxation system by the Kenyan government, this will mean that whenever a farmer delivers produce to the cooperative or farmer society and gets paid, the entity withholds five percent of the amount due to them as income tax. This is then paid by the cooperative or society (withholder) to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). The amount withheld should be remitted online by the withholder to KRA on or before the 20th of the following month.

Upon successful remittance of the withheld amount to KRA, the system generates and sends copies of the Withholding Certificate to the registered email addresses of both the cooperative or society (withholder) and the farmer (withholdee).

The amount deducted appears on the farmer’s payslip or statement, and the total amount deducted annually can be found on the P9 Form, which is a standard tax deduction card or form issued by the employers (in this case, the cooperative society) to the farmers with total emoluments. The cooperative or farmer society will then send the P9 Form to their members each year so they can file their annual income tax returns. The farmer will then be required to download the IT1 return form from the KRA online system and declare income earned as well as the tax withheld.

Although this proposal by the Kenyan government seems outrageous to many, it aligns with a global trend towards modernizing agricultural tax policies. In an era where governments are seeking innovative ways to boost revenue collection without overburdening the farming community, this approach warrants attention. This initiative by the government will be closely monitored by policymakers and experts, as it could serve as a case study for fine-tuning agricultural taxation systems in other regions.

While this may seem like a financial maneuver, it directly affects the lives of countless farmers and their families. The tax burden may result in disincentives for farmers to engage with cooperatives or organized farmer groups. However, if done correctly and with the right intentions, the system can have the transformative power of effective agricultural taxation. If appropriated well, the government can allocate resources more efficiently towards rural development, infrastructure, and agricultural extension services. This, in turn, empowers farmers with knowledge, resources, and market access, ultimately improving their livelihoods.

Only time will tell the effects this new tax system will have on the farming community in Kenya and on the country’s prominence as an agricultural hub in East Africa once it is implemented.

READ: Taxes on Alcohol and Sugar-Sweetened Products to Increase


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Photo: Farmers collect subsidized fertilizer at the NCPB depot in Eldoret in 2022 © Mathews Ndanyi

 

As the world contends with surging oil and natural gas prices, the global fertilizer markets have been experiencing a notable uptick in recent weeks, with consequences rippling across the agriculture industry. This development, while concerning, is not isolated, as it mirrors trends observed in the agricultural sector on a global scale.

The global price of ammonium nitrate per ton climbed in August, marking a significant price increase from the previous month. While this price hike may raise eyebrows, it is important to note that it remains significantly lower than the levels witnessed at the same time last year, which saw the introduction of subsidized fertilizer prices in September 2022 by the Kenyan government in response to the evolving dynamics of the global fertilizer market, providing a semblance of relief for farmers and growers.

Natural gas, a key component in fertilizer production, commands a significant share of the total production cost. In August 2023, natural gas prices sharply rose, and although they have since dipped slightly in early September, they remain above July levels. This natural gas price volatility has worsened the situation.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) in Kenya released the maximum retail prices for petroleum products that will be effective from September 15, 2023, to October 14, 2023. These new prices, calculated in accordance with the Petroleum Act 2019 and Legal Notice No. 192 of 2022, reflect changes in the global oil market and other economic factors. The price changes in Kenya have since taken effect, with Super Petrol, Diesel, and Kerosene increasing by KES 16.96 per liter, KES 21.32 per liter, and KES 33.13 per liter, respectively.

The soaring prices of crude oil and related products are exerting additional pressure on the fertilizer market. These developments demonstrate the industry’s vulnerability to external economic factors.

READ: Why the Increased Pump Prices Could Push Fertilizer Costs Upwards In The Long Run

To complicate matters further, the global supply of fertilizers has tightened due to reduced export volumes from China and decreased production within the European Union. In Europe, production cuts in Belgium, as well as lingering disruptions, have compounded the issue. These factors have created a challenging environment for both suppliers and growers alike.

The global tightness in supply is the primary reason behind the recent price hike and production cuts in Europe, particularly in Belgium, and geopolitical factors, such as Russia’s influence, are all contributors to the market’s volatility.

Globally, gas prices have retreated from their peak levels of the previous year, but they remain comparatively high. The geopolitical landscape, particularly sanctions impacting Russian fertilizer exports, has disrupted the historical flow of products across Eastern and Western Europe.

Additionally, China’s decision to reduce fertilizer exports in favor of bolstering domestic production has added to the supply challenge. These developments reverberate not only in Kenya but also across the global agriculture sector, where the interconnectedness of markets is increasingly evident.

Despite the challenges and price fluctuations, some traders in Kenya suggest that there is still an ample supply of fertilizers. However, market dynamics can shift rapidly, and a resurgence in grain prices may trigger increased demand for fertilizers in the coming weeks.

READ: Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Confronts Surging Interest Rates


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Over the years, we’ve witnessed an acceleration in the development of autonomous farming solutions across the world. From robotic harvesters to drones that monitor crop health, the AgriTech sector is undergoing a seismic shift.

The ever-evolving world of AgriTech has reached new heights and is frenzied with the race to develop autonomous farm vehicles. Autonomous farm vehicles are becoming increasingly sophisticated and capable, and are ready to revolutionize the agricultural industry. These vehicles can perform a wide range of tasks, from planting and harvesting to weeding and spraying, with little or no human intervention.

While the mechanical engineering aspects of creating these machines may seem straightforward – choosing the right powertrain, deciding between tracks and wheels, and building a suitable chassis – the real challenge lies in integrating advanced sensors, cameras, Lidar, satellite guidance, and other technologies that can withstand the rugged conditions of farmwork. The true heroes of this revolution are the software writers and electronics engineers who bring it all together, creating a digital platform for planning tasks and enabling 24/7 remote monitoring via mobile devices.

One of the biggest challenges in developing autonomous farm vehicles is creating a system that can reliably navigate complex environments and avoid obstacles. This requires a combination of sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence.

Another challenge is to develop a system that can efficiently and accurately perform agricultural tasks. This requires a deep understanding of the specific task at hand, as well as the ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Despite the challenges, there has been significant progress in the development of autonomous farm vehicles in recent years.

These autonomous machines are addressing two critical issues in agriculture: the scarcity of skilled operators and the imperative to protect soils through the use of smaller, lighter machinery that can work longer hours. A number of companies are now offering commercial products, and many more are in development. Let’s delve into some remarkable innovations in the field.

AgXeed AgBot

Where innovation reigns supreme, the AgXeed AgBot stands as a testament to the boundless potential of autonomous farming. This remarkable range of purpose-built autonomous tractors is revolutionizing agriculture, offering a spectrum of capabilities that cater to the diverse needs of modern farming.

At the helm of the AgBot lineup is a 156hp twin-track machine, a powerhouse designed to tackle the most demanding agricultural tasks. Complementing this titan are the 75hp four-wheel drive and narrow trike models, ensuring that there’s an AgBot for every application on the farm.

What unites these autonomous marvels is their innovative Deutz diesel-electric power unit. This ingenious setup sees the engine driving an integrated generator that supplies power to electric motors, a technological marvel in itself. Furthermore, these AgBots offer the option to incorporate a 55kW (74hp) electrically driven power take-off (PTO) at the rear. What sets this PTO apart is its ability to rotate both clockwise and anti-clockwise, affording these vehicles the unique capability to work with PTO-driven implements in either direction, with the implement leading or trailing.

The tracked AgBot 5.115T2 is a testament to engineering excellence. It boasts a substantial 350-litre fuel capacity, ensuring extended hours of uninterrupted operation. Additionally, it features up to four double-acting proportional spool valves, along with an 85-litre/min hydraulic pump that can be upgraded to a load-sensing system. This combination of power and hydraulic efficiency empowers the AgBot to seamlessly handle a diverse range of tasks.

Implement carriage is a crucial aspect of any agricultural machinery, and the AgBot shines in this regard. It sports an 8-tonne capacity three-point linkage at the rear, complemented by a 3-tonne capacity assembly at the front. This design flexibility allows for the transportation of various implements, such as a rear-mounted drill with a hopper.

One of the defining features of the AgBot range is its adaptability to different crop and cropping systems. With numerous combinations of traction belt widths, ranging from 300mm to 910mm, and adjustable track spacings, these autonomous workhorses can effortlessly navigate varying agricultural terrains.

The AgBot 2.055W3, often referred to as the “trike,” is tailored primarily for orchard and vineyard applications. Its versatility shines through as it can be configured to be as narrow as 1.38 meters, ensuring easy navigation through tight spaces.

On the other hand, the four-wheel AgBot 2.055W4 offers a more versatile autonomous solution, catering to farming and commercial horticulture. With front-end steering, unequal tire diameters, and tire widths typically ranging from 270mm to 710mm, this model provides a robust and adaptable solution for various agricultural needs. Its hydraulics setup mirrors that of the tracked machine, featuring up to three spools and implement linkage capacities of 1.5 tonnes at the front and 4 tonnes at the rear.

The AgXeed AgBot range exemplifies the evolving landscape of agricultural technology, where automation and innovation converge to redefine farming as we know it. These autonomous tractors are not just machines; they are the future of agriculture, providing efficiency, precision, and adaptability that empower farmers to meet the demands of a changing world.

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AgBot 2.055W4, 75hp, four-wheel drive from AgXeed © AgXeed

CNH Industrial

CNH Industrial, the parent company of Case IH and New Holland has a rich history of innovation and a commitment is pushing the boundaries of agricultural technology by easing into commercial autonomous tech after successful exploratory projects that hinted at a future where machines take the reins in the field.

One of their pioneering ventures, the Case IH AVC concept, introduced the idea of a cabless Magnum tractor, a bold step that showcased the potential of autonomous farming machinery. Following this trailblazing concept, CNH Industrial unveiled the New Holland NHDrive T8, a driver-optional tractor with autonomous working capabilities. These projects laid the groundwork for what was to come.

Fast forward to 2023, and CNH Industrial has set its sights on revolutionizing agriculture in the United States with the introduction of the Case IH Farmall 75C Electric and New Holland T4 Electric Power utility tractors. These battery electric tractors herald a new era, with limited self-driving features that promise to reshape the farming landscape.

One standout feature of these electric tractors is the “Follow Me” function. It allows operators to effortlessly guide the tractor along a designated path, such as a feed or fence line, without the need to constantly climb in and out of the cab. By simply walking ahead of the tractor and transmitting the appropriate commands through a smartphone app, the operator can ensure precise and efficient navigation. No more need for manual intervention during these routine tasks.

Another game-changing function empowers the tractor to autonomously pass-through gateways under remote command. This means no more time wasted hopping on and off the tractor to open and close gates, a common task that has traditionally disrupted workflow on the farm. With this innovation, the tractor seamlessly adapts to its environment, enhancing efficiency and reducing operator fatigue.

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Case IH Farmall 75C Electric Autonomous Electric Tractor © Case IH

Agrointelli Robotti

This Danish manufacturer’s Robotti tool-carrier is a versatile workhorse capable of operating various implements. Its capabilities are nothing short of astonishing, and it’s a testament to the ongoing transformation in agricultural technology. It has demonstrated its prowess by sowing beans, oilseed rape, cereals, sugar beets, maize, vegetables, salad crops, weeding, and even planting potatoes, showcasing its adaptability to diverse farming needs.

This intelligent machine represents a pivotal leap towards a more efficient and sustainable future for agriculture, effortlessly handling a wide array of implements between its four wheels.

But what truly sets the Robotti apart are its two distinctive versions, each tailored to meet specific agricultural demands. The Robotti LR is designed for light-duty operations, equipped with a modest 750k-rated linkage assembly. Its power source is a single 72hp Kubota diesel engine, ensuring up to 60 hours of uninterrupted operation on a single tank of fuel.

In contrast, the 150D version steps up to 144hp, making it suitable for more demanding tasks. It boasts an impressive 1,250kg lift capacity, a power take-off (PTO) system to drive various implements, and the brilliance of two engines – one for propulsion and another for PTO and hydraulic functions. This dual-engine setup provides a formidable total power output of 144hp when the situation demands it.

The Robotti’s design is a marvel of engineering, with a short wheelbase measuring a mere 1.55 meters. It offers flexibility with track widths ranging from 1.8 meters to 3.65 meters, making it adaptable to varying crop and terrain conditions. Its standard 320/65 R16 tires provide stability, while an optional narrower 260/70 R16 configuration is available for specific needs.

Maneuverability is at the heart of the Robotti’s operation, thanks to its front-end steering and four-wheel drive system. When being manually controlled, it can achieve speeds of up to 10 kilometers per hour, ensuring precise navigation. During work, the Robotti gracefully halves its speed, maintaining the utmost accuracy in steering.

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The Robotti can operate varied implements © Robotti

Combined Powers

In a groundbreaking collaboration that fuses the expertise of grassland equipment specialist Krone and tillage machinery firm Lemken, a remarkable stride in agricultural technology has emerged—a four-wheel-drive tractor designed exclusively for autonomous operation. This revelation represents the pinnacle of innovation in the ever-evolving AgriTech industry and aligns seamlessly with the transformative momentum we’ve observed over the years.

With dimensions measuring 2.7 meters in width and a modest height of 2.6 meters, this autonomous marvel tips the scales at a sturdy 7.5 to 8 tons. Powered by a diesel-electric unit delivering an impressive 170kW (230hp), this tractor is more than capable of executing a wide array of tasks, from ploughing, cultivating, and seeding to mowing, tedding, and raking. Its versatility knows no bounds.

What sets this tractor apart is its intricate control system, tailored to harness the power of isobus Tractor Implement Management (TIM). This cutting-edge integration enables seamless communication between sensors and a dedicated job computer on the implement and the tractor itself. This means that control instructions, ranging from speed adjustments to hydraulic tweaks, and even start-stop commands, can be relayed effortlessly.

The year 2022 marked a significant milestone when this autonomous wonder publicly demonstrated its field capabilities. However, the journey doesn’t stop there. The project is now embarking on a phase of rigorous testing, exposing the tractor to typical and extreme working conditions. Simultaneously, invaluable feedback is being collected from farmers and contractors, providing essential insights into the concept’s practicality and adaptability.

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Combined Powers Fully Autonomous Tractor © Lemken/Krone

John Deere

As a pioneer in the industry, John Deere continues to push the boundaries of innovation with its groundbreaking forays into autonomous technologies and vehicles.

One of the most exciting breakthroughs from John Deere is the guided tractor and sprayer designed for orchards and similar applications. These intelligent machines feature automatic re-filling capabilities, enhancing efficiency and reducing the need for constant operator oversight.

John Deere has also unveiled a purpose-built driverless sprayer, specifically configured for high-clearance maize spraying, utilizing four track units for superior maneuverability. This innovation caters to the specialized needs of various crops, showcasing the adaptability of autonomous technology in the agricultural sector.

Recently, we have observed how the AgriTech industry worldwide has embraced electric-powered machinery. John Deere has not lagged behind in this aspect, introducing a remarkable 500kW (670hp) electric-drive single-axle autonomous tractor. This versatile tractor can seamlessly transition between wheels and tracks when coupled with cultivators, drills, and similar implements. This development resonates with the global shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly farming practices.

However, the revelation that truly turned heads was John Deere’s announcement in January 2022 regarding the imminent release of an autonomous version of its revered 8R series tractor in the USA. While the order book remains closed for now, the anticipation is palpable. The initial focus for this autonomous marvel will be chisel cultivation work, featuring the most potent model in the 8R series lineup.

The 8R 410, boasting 443hp for draft work and 458hp for PTO, transport, and applications with intense hydraulic demands, maintains the familiar configuration of its conventional counterpart. Still, it incorporates a groundbreaking feature—an array of six pairs of stereo cameras that facilitate 360-degree obstacle detection and distance calculation.

John Deere's Single-axle Electric Tractor
John Deere’s Single-axle Electric Tractor © John Deere

FarmDroid

FarmDroid’s FD20 stands out as a specialist tool carrier dedicated to precision sowing and weeding. Operating predominantly in the United Kingdom, it is finding its niche in organic sugar beet, fodder beet, and vegetable production.

The FarmDroid FD20, available in both trike and four-wheel configurations, showcases a commitment to sustainable energy sources. This marvel of engineering harnesses battery-electric power, fortified by an expansive solar panel canopy. But what truly sets it apart are the two unique autonomous power unit concepts currently being explored by Horsch, a pioneer in agricultural technology.

One concept takes the form of a driverless tracked unit that bears a striking resemblance to the traditional field tractor. The other, a formidable large tool carrier-type machine, is no less impressive. While official specifications remain somewhat elusive, insiders suggest that the Robo independent power unit, despite its compact size, boasts a formidable 450hp diesel engine. Equipped with either a hydrostatic drive or a hydro-mechanical “vario” transmission, it offers remarkable versatility.

The Robo’s ingenuity extends to its remote manual control for easy setup and a convenient pull-out drawbar at the front, allowing effortless towing to and from the field. But it’s the field trials featuring the Robo operating a trailed Maestro precision planter in a close-coupled configuration that have truly turned heads. This configuration effectively transforms the Robo into a self-propelled outfit, with the tracked unit shouldering a significant portion of the seed cart’s weight, offering efficiency like never before.

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FarmDroid FD20 weed even before crops emerges © FarmDroid

 

Kubota

Kubota, a name synonymous with agricultural machinery, made waves in 2020 when they unveiled the Kubota X, a four-track electric tractor concept that embodied the future of farming. Fast forward to today, and Kubota is on the cusp of turning this vision into reality by testing a fleet of autonomy-capable AgriRobo wheeled tractors.

Japan is facing a unique crisis with an aging population of farmers and a reluctance among younger generations to step into the shoes of their predecessors. This demographic challenge threatens the sustainability of agriculture in the country, but Kubota is determined to find a solution.

In addition to their iconic rice transplanter and rice combine, Kubota has introduced the MR1000A, a 100hp tractor equipped with an impressive array of self-driving guidance and sensor technologies. This innovation aims to ease the farm labor shortage by providing farmers with cutting-edge tools that enhance productivity and reduce their dependence on manual labor.

100hp MR1000A AgriRobo tractor Kubota Tractor
100hp MR1000A AgriRobo tractor Kubota Tractor © Kubota

Horsch

One of Horsch’s visionary projects is the Robo independent power unit. This compact yet formidable machine is shrouded in secrecy, but some intriguing details have emerged. At its heart, it boasts a robust 450hp diesel engine, coupled with either hydrostatic drive or a hydro-mechanical “vario” transmission. This powerful combination ensures that the Robo is more than capable of tackling the demands of modern agriculture.

What sets the Robo apart is its versatility. With remote manual control for setup and a front-mounted drawbar, it can be effortlessly towed to and from the field, making it as adaptable as it is powerful. In a fascinating twist, the Robo has been put through its paces in field trials, where it operated in conjunction with a trailed Maestro precision planter. This close-coupled configuration effectively transforms the Robo into a self-propelled unit, with the tracked platform bearing the weight of the seed cart.

Meanwhile, Horsch’s Brazilian division is making waves with a gantry-like machine designed for precision planting. This 24-meter Maestro precision planter, tailored for maize, is perched atop four large-diameter swivel-steer drive wheels with hydrostatic propulsion motors. The design’s wide frame, which transitions seamlessly from the yard to the field, houses a central power unit flanked by hoppers on either side, with planter units suspended beneath.

While these innovations are undeniably impressive, what’s even more intriguing is the potential for a commercial rollout. Horsch has been collaborating with Trimble to develop an autonomy package for self-propelled sprayers. This partnership extends beyond just autonomous control; it encompasses full workflow automation, bridging the gap between office and field.

In its initial phase, the collaboration aims to automate planning, machine control, and logistics for sprayer operators. This holistic approach not only enhances machine performance but also alleviates the operator’s workload and minimizes the risk of errors. It’s a significant step towards realizing fully autonomous agricultural machines.

Horsch’s Robo Tractor with a Maestro precision planter © Horsch

Raven Industries

One of Raven’s groundbreaking contributions to the field is the development of two systems tailored to enhance the productivity of US growers. First in line is the OmniDrive system, a marvel of technology that empowers combine operators to effortlessly synchronize with automated grain tractors and trailers. This synchronization feature not only streamlines operations but also alleviates the burden on farmers during the demanding harvest season. This concept isn’t entirely new in the AgriTech world, as it builds on the foundation laid by similar systems globally.

The second jewel in Raven’s crown is the Cart Automation system. Unlike OmniDrive, this system focuses solely on speed and heading synchronization. Its beauty lies in its versatility, as it can be retrofitted to virtually any make of machinery and adapted to various harvesting tasks, including sugar beet farming. This adaptability showcases Raven’s commitment to providing solutions that cater to a wide spectrum of agricultural needs.

Raven Industries hasn’t limited its innovation to retrofit solutions alone. In a significant stride towards full autonomy, they have recently unveiled a comprehensive solution for the Case IH Trident 5550 self-propelled fertilizer spreader. This development resonates with the global trend of automating agricultural equipment, as we’ve seen similar strides in precision farming systems across continents.

While Raven’s Autonomy division primarily focuses on electronics and software, they do have a vehicle in their portfolio—the OmniPower 3200 tool carrier. Originally developed in collaboration with Dot Technology and Seedmaster in Canada, this vehicle boasts hydrostatic drive, four-wheel steering, and interchangeable modules for sowing, spreading, and spraying. It’s a testament to Raven’s commitment to diversification and ensuring they offer comprehensive solutions to their clientele.

Raven AutoCart
Raven AutoCart works by synchronizing with harvesters and trailers © Raven

To sum it up, we have seen that in this era of technological advancement, the agriculture technology industry is witnessing a transformation that promises increased efficiency, reduced labor dependency, and enhanced sustainability. These autonomous farm vehicles are not just a glimpse into the future of agriculture; they are the future, working tirelessly to meet the demands of modern farming while protecting our precious soils. As we look back on the journey so far, it’s clear that the AgriTech industry is on an unstoppable trajectory towards smarter, more sustainable agriculture.


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Increased tax on alcohol, sugar-sweetened products, and tobacco are on the horizon in Kenya as we look ahead to 2024. The newly proposed taxes are the government’s proactive measures to promote healthier lifestyles and discourage excessive consumption, aligning with global efforts to combat the rising tide of diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Historically, studies have linked excessive sugar consumption to a host of health issues, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, which is increasingly prevalent in Kenya and across Africa. In line with this concern, the Kenyan government is planning to reevaluate its taxation approach for sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages. The new proposal aims to tax these products based on their sugar content, effectively creating an economic disincentive for their consumption. This move is part of the government’s broader strategy to combat obesity and related non-communicable diseases.

This development follows the earlier introduction of a tax on locally manufactured sugar confectionery, including white chocolate, in July 2023. This tax imposition was also justified as a means to promote healthier living.

Targeting Alcohol Consumption for Public Health Benefits

Alcohol consumption, too, is in the government’s crosshairs due to its association with various health risks, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has further stressed the risks by linking alcohol consumption to injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, drownings, and burns.

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In the upcoming fiscal year, consumers of spirits and other high-alcohol-content products can expect an upward revision in taxes. The Treasury has explicitly stated that this tax hike is intended to discourage their consumption, given the elevated health risks they pose. The adjustment in tax rates will be guided by quantitative analysis to determine the optimal rates for each alcoholic product.

Tobacco Products Also Under Scrutiny

Taxes on cigarettes and tobacco-related products are also set to increase as part of the broader strategy to promote healthier living. This will apply to both filtered and non-filtered cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products. The objective is to harmonize excise duty rates across all tobacco products, ensuring fairness and equal treatment in taxation.

The government’s rationale is clear – the negative health consequences associated with these products necessitate action. Tax rates will be determined based on the extent of these health consequences, as well as recommendations from an ongoing study conducted in collaboration with East African Community partner states.

These changes, outlined in the draft three-year tax revenue strategy beginning in July 2024, will inevitably lead to higher prices for the affected products and will unquestionably have an impact on consumer behaviors, industry dynamics, and, ultimately, the country’s GDP.

READ: Kenya Implements Stringent Measures for Duty-Free Sugar Imports


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Kenya has shipped its inaugural avocados consignment to India, an occasion presided over by Kello Harsama, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Crops Development, on September 16, 2023. During the event, Harsama emphasized the government’s unwavering dedication to strengthening international partnerships in agriculture, adding that the milestone was not just significant for Kenya but also for India, marking the fruitful outcome of their persistent bilateral negotiations. He stated that the move underscores Kenya’s status as a leading avocado exporter in Africa and the sixth-largest in the world.

This achievement aligns with Kenya’s pursuit of exploring new markets for its agricultural produce. Harsama affirmed that Kenya will continue to seek more markets for avocado farmers in line with the spirit of the government’s ‘bottom-up’ economic transformation agenda.

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Kenya’s ascent in the global avocado export landscape has been remarkable. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Kenya now ranks among the top 15 avocado exporters globally. While Mexico leads the pack with a staggering 2.4 million tons of production, Kenya’s presence in this league is a testament to its agricultural prowess. The country rubs shoulders with the likes of Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, and the Dominican Republic in the upper echelons of avocado exporting nations.

Among those who witnessed the flagging off of the avocado export to India were Ms. Namgya C. Khampa, the High Commissioner for India in Kenya, and Ambassador Willy Bett, Kenya’s High Commissioner in India, symbolizing the strengthening of diplomatic and trade ties between the two nations through the lens of agriculture.

Kenya’s foray into avocado exports to India echoes a broader narrative of the continent’s potential in global markets, a move that aligns with advancing the nation’s agricultural agenda.


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Brookside, a milk processor in Kenya, has disbursed a staggering 711 million Kenya Shillings, an estimated $4.9 million, to farmers in Kenya’s North Rift region for their raw milk deliveries. The payment by Brookside is aimed at growing the dairy industry in Kenya.

Leading the pack in this payout is West Pokot, where dairy producers received a handsome sum of 197.8 million Kenya Shillings from Brookside. Trans Nzoia closely followed, with an impressive 183.9 million Kenya Shillings disbursed to farmers. Uasin Gishu, Nandi, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties also reaped the rewards, with payouts of Ksh.171.3 million, Ksh.126.1 million, and Ksh.31.9 million, respectively.

These figures demonstrate Brookside’s substantial financial investment in the North Rift region, stressing the economic significance of dairy farming in this part of Kenya.

Mr. Emmanuel Kabaki, the General Manager in charge of milk procurement at Brookside, emphasized the company’s unwavering commitment to working hand in hand with farmers to elevate dairy farming into a full-fledged commercial enterprise, offering guaranteed incomes to farmers. In his statement, Mr. Kabaki stated that, Brookside’s expanded processing capacity and aggressive product sales campaigns ensure that it remains a guaranteed market for milk from farmers. He further added that Brookside procures 100 per cent of all contracted milk volumes from its farmers, and does not ration supply, even in the seasons of surplus.

READ: Kenya’s ‘Omena’ Exports to China Surge, Reflecting Growing Trade Ties

In its efforts to promote sustainability and climate-smart practices, Mr. Kabaki highlighted that Brookside’s is actively promoting agroforestry on dairy farms by encouraging the planting of trees. He added that the company has established fodder resource centers in its raw milk bulking stations, including one in Kitale, for fodder multiplication and distribution to farmers, and to mitigate the impact of unpredictable weather patterns.

Mr. Kabaki urged farmers to conserve feed during the anticipated El-Niño rains for use during the dry season, adding that Brookside is piloting a semen and liquid nitrogen distribution program to enhance cow breeds, ultimately boosting milk production.


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In a significant milestone for Kenya’s fisheries sector, the nation has recently exported a substantial shipment of 52 tonnes of Silver Cyprinid, locally known as ‘omena,’ to Changsha Huanghua International Airport in China’s Hunan Province. This achievement is a direct result of a bilateral agreement inked between the two countries in January 2022, demonstrating the mutual benefits stemming from international cooperation.

This remarkable feat finds its roots in a broader narrative of strengthening trade ties between Kenya and China. The recent export success resonates with the ongoing efforts in Kenya and Africa as a whole to expand their agricultural exports and tap into international markets.

China’s commitment to importing freshwater fish from Kenya, as stated by Wu Peng, Director-General of the Department of African Affairs at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signifies a significant shift in trade dynamics. Kenya’s export of anchovies to China marks the culmination of previous developments in the fish industry, highlighting China’s growing appetite for African agricultural products, ranging from anchovies to other fish products.

In June, Kenya commenced the export of anchovies to China, starting with a 315kg batch. The landmark event took place during the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, emphasizing China’s determination to diversify its sources of high-quality food and agricultural products. This mirrors previous reports on the evolving trade relationships between China and Africa, where African nations strive to meet China’s increasing demand for their produce.

READ: Kenya Ramps Up support for Fish Industry in a Move to Boost GDP

The successful export of Kenyan ‘omena’ was facilitated by Huawen Food, a Kenyan subsidiary of the Jinzai Food Group. The company, based in Kwale on Kenya’s coast, collaborates with local fishermen to source ‘omena’ for their processing plant.

Huawen Food’s value addition to ‘omena’ involves the infusion of various ingredients, including vegetable oil, onions, spices, sauce, and chili, to create snacks in 12-gram packages. The process has resulted in a final product that is distributed in China and sold in more than 30 countries worldwide, underscoring the global reach of African agricultural products.

In Kenya, these value-added anchovies are available at selected supermarkets, priced at an average of $6 per packet. The move towards value addition aligns with the ongoing efforts in Kenya’s agricultural sector to increase the value of their exports and capture a larger share of the international market.

Anchovies have found a versatile place in Chinese cuisine, featuring in a wide range of dishes from stir-fries to street snacks, and salads to heartier meals like anchovy fried rice. The trend showcases the adaptability of African agricultural products to diverse culinary traditions.

However, this success story also highlights the challenges facing Kenya’s local fish industry. Dwindling fish stocks have led to a heavy reliance on Chinese fish imports, valued at over 2 billion Kenyan Shillings and accounting for more than 80 percent of the Kenyan fish import market. This echos calls for the imposition of a 20 percent excise duty on imported fish to safeguard the interests of local fishermen.

 


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Image Credit: Reddit

 

In a bold move to bolster Kenya’s economy, the Kenya Fish Marketing Authority (KFMA) has unveiled a plan to substantially elevate the fish industry’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product. The KFMA’s strategic vision is to expand the sector’s contribution by a staggering 80%, skyrocketing from its current $204.4 million to a remarkable $1 billion within the next five years. The plan is set to revolutionize Kenya’s fish and fisheries products sector, potentially becoming a transformative force in the country’s agricultural landscape.

The commitment to this target was ardently expressed by Martin Ogindo, Chair of the KFMA Board, who detailed the authority’s comprehensive approach to boosting fish production and consumption across the nation. With the world gradually recognizing the profound health benefits associated with fish, the consumption rate is still not very high in Kenya.

Drawing from previous experiences and industry reports, it’s evident that the challenges facing the fish industry in Kenya are not unique. Similar issues have plagued the tea industry, another vital agricultural sector in the country. Over the years, both industries have grappled with the need for innovative solutions to enhance production, minimize losses, and improve quality. The KFMA’s strategies align with these longstanding concerns, illustrating a dedication to learning from past experiences to drive future success.

KFMA’s outlined strategies include leveraging research and technical expertise for evidence-based decision-making, introducing innovative value-added fish products, reducing post-harvest losses, and enhancing quality assurance standards for fish products. This is a keen reflection of the importance of streamlining the industry’s value chains, in a quest for efficiency and quality.

There have been calls to explore opportunities for technology transfer in the blue economy sector, which encompasses fisheries resources, for better yields and product quality.

The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), through its College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE) has embarked on research efforts to promote sustainable exploitation of blue economy resources. This includes groundbreaking innovations in aquaculture and human capital development.

JKUAT will be collaborating with KFMA in upgrading the value chain of silver cyprinid fish, locally known as ‘omena’. This collaborative project is part of a broader regional initiative named “Strengthening Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem for Inclusive Rural Transformation and Livelihoods in Eastern Africa (AIRTEA),” funded by the EU and coordinated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Noteworthy achievements from this partnership include the deployment of hybrid (solar and biomass) greenhouse fish drying units, effectively reducing post-harvest losses at various locations.

Despite the formidable challenges facing the sector, including low technology adoption, uneven distribution of gains, a lack of value-addition technologies, and poor beach access roads, fish production in Kenya reached 163,702 tons in 2021. However, per capita fish consumption remains at 4.5 kg/person/year, below both the African and global averages. This situation mirrors the hurdles that other producers face in terms of distribution, access to markets, and value addition.

The ongoing development of value-added silver cyprinid-based products under the EU-funded project, led by a team at JKUAT, is intended to stimulate fish consumption throughout the nation. Kenya’s 445 documented fish landing points offer vast potential for integrated product innovation and value addition in processing facilities across Kenya.


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In a concerning revelation for Kenyan agriculture, farmers, horticultural workers, and users of open-source water systems are increasingly finding themselves at risk due to the pervasive use of toxic pesticides imported from China and Europe. These two global giants are the primary exporters of farm chemicals to Kenya, where the consequences of this practice are now becoming alarmingly clear.

Recent data released by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, an organization dedicated to environmental and food security advocacy, has shed light on a deeply troubling issue: Kenyan consumers are unwittingly ingesting food tainted with residues of pesticides that were banned in Europe over a decade ago but continue to be sold to Kenyan farmers. This report, titled “Toxic Business: Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in Kenya”, highlights that among the 310 pesticides investigated, more than half were found to contain substances like carbosulfan, known for its potential to harm critical human organs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified carbosulfan exposure as a catalyst for liver and kidney failure, along with detrimental effects on protective layers in the human intestinal lining. Additionally, despite WHO and UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) endorsements, glyphosate has been linked to cancer in humans, according to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2016.

Equally concerning is the continued presence of carbofuran, labeled differently in Kenya but listed as a banned substance by the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), both in Kenya and the US. These three substances—carbosulfan, glyphosate, and carbofuran—dominate the Kenyan pesticide market.

Today, Kenyan farmers are applying billions of liters of these toxic pesticides across their maize, wheat, coffee, potato, and tomato fields, particularly in the Rift Valley, Central, Western, and Nyanza regions. Shockingly, many of these readily available pesticides have been scientifically linked to cancer, genetic defects, fertility issues, and harm to unborn children.

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This thriving toxic pesticide industry costs Kenyan farmers up to USD 72.7 million annually (approximately Ksh.10.7 billion), sustaining the importation of these lethal chemicals while regulatory oversight falls short of reining it in. The report reveals that imported pesticides and fungicides are being used on over 635,000 hectares of agricultural land, implicating over 73 multinational agrochemical companies in this hazardous importation saga.

The report further underscores a stark reality: only a mere two percent of the total pesticide volume used in Kenya consists of sustainable biopesticides, while hazardous pesticides dominate at 76 percent. The pricing of Highly Hazardous Pesticides makes them more attractive per hectare compared to biopesticides, which are primarily used on beans destined for the European export market.

The consequences extend beyond human health. Chlorpyrifos, for instance, banned in the US due to its profound effects, continues to be used to control aphids in wheat-growing regions, negatively impacting the nervous systems of children and posing a threat to aquatic life. Even around Lake Naivasha, where flowers are predominantly grown, chlorpyrifos remains approved for aphid control, endangering the water supply and fisheries that local communities depend on.

This toxic pesticide issue is not isolated; it intersects with the nation’s food security concerns amid climate change impacts and drought. With genetically modified foods and their safety debated vigorously, neither GMOs nor the existing food supply chain assure Kenya’s food security.

READ: Indiscriminate Antibiotic Use in Agriculture Threatens Human Immune System, Study Warns

While the court halted the Kenyan government decision to import GMO foodstuffs, the ultimate decision now rests with Kenyan citizens who did not participate in the lifting of an 11-year-old ban. Climate change, coupled with the emergence of new pests and diseases, is forcing both commercial and smallholder farmers to resort to increasingly lethal pesticides, exacerbating the risks to human health and the environment.

In 2021, the African Development Bank (AfDB) conducted a survey in sub-Saharan Africa, revealing that smallholder farmers are turning to harmful pesticides to adapt to climate change, with these chemicals posing substantial risks to human health and the environment. The AfDB recommends a comprehensive ban on their manufacture, trade, and use.

As Kenya seeks to enhance its agricultural output to address the impact of drought in the North, these revelations about pesticide-laden foodstuffs on the market raise serious questions about both the safety and security of the nation’s food supply. The urgent need for stricter pesticide regulation and sustainable farming practices cannot be overstated, with lessons from this predicament echoing throughout Kenya and the broader African agricultural landscape.


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Photo Credit: NMG

 

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has introduced stringent regulations governing the importation of sugar under the State’s recently gazetted duty-free import window, which came into effect on August 9, 2023. The move by KEBS is aimed at taming the sugar production deficit hounding the Kenyan market, and stabilizing sugar prices, which had soared to a record range of Ksh.225 to Ksh.250 per kilogram by mid-2023 due to a severe shortage of the commodity.

In response to these soaring prices, the Kenyan Cabinet authorized an extension of duty-free sugar imports as a temporary measure to mitigate the crisis. However, with the anticipated influx of substantial sugar consignments, KEBS has taken proactive measures to thwart potential exploitation by unscrupulous traders.

The new regulations will require all imported sugar shipments possessing Certificates of Conformity (CoCs) to undergo mandatory re-inspection and testing at the port of entry, a service that will be provided free of charge. This inspection will be carried out in the presence of the importer or their appointed agent and is aimed at verifying compliance with the relevant quality and safety standards.

In instances where sugar consignments are shipped from countries where KEBS has engaged inspection companies, but they lack the necessary CoCs, the imports will be subject to inspection upon arrival. This service will be offered at a fee equivalent to five percent of the approved customs values. Additionally, sugar imports originating from countries without appointed inspection agents will continue to undergo destination inspection, with the importer bearing the cost of inspection, equivalent to 0.6 percent of the approved customs value, along with any applicable testing fees.

READ: KTDA Directors Set to Approve Bonuses to Tea Farmers

This new development in the sugar industry follows the Agriculture and Food Authority’s decision to suspend sugar milling operations earlier in July to allow sugar factories to address the pressing issue of sugarcane shortages, which have had a cascading effect on the industry’s overall production.

The biting sugarcane crisis in the Western and Nyanza regions of Kenya is a consequence of neglect and inadequate support for the sugar industry by key stakeholders. The two regions support the bulk of commercial sugarcane production in Kenya, in addition to other areas such as the Rift Valley and Coastal areas. More than 300,000 farmers supply sugarcane to various millers, with over 94 percent of this supply coming from out-growers, while the remainder is sourced from nucleus estates owned by milling companies.

Kenya currently boasts 16 sugar mills with a collective processing capacity of 51,450 metric tons of sugarcane per day. However, the actual capacity utilization stands at a modest 56 percent, as indicated by projections from the Ministry of Agriculture. This underutilization reflects the industry’s inability to reach its full potential due to numerous challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a lack of investment, and recurring sugarcane shortages, all systemic issues that have plagued the sugar industry in Kenya for years.


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Directors representing the 71 tea factories managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are gearing up for a crucial series of meetings this September to focus on the review and approval of their respective factories’ annual financial accounts for the year 2022/2023. The timing of these deliberations is pivotal, as they precede the eagerly awaited declaration of the second and final payment to farmers scheduled for October 2023.

KTDA announced that the directors’ primary agenda will revolve around assessing the performance of their individual factories during the financial year that concluded in June 2023. It is only after this comprehensive evaluation that the directors will unveil the second payment rates pertinent to their specific factories.

The backdrop against which these discussions are taking place has been marked by twin challenges for the tea industry in Kenya. First, a severe drought has plagued the tea-producing regions, significantly affecting farm output. Secondly, the global tea market has posed a formidable challenge due to the limited access to the US dollar by key tea-buying markets. In his statement to stakeholders, the KTDA Managing Director gave assurances that the organization remains unwavering in its commitment to ensure that farmers receive just compensation for their unwavering dedication and hard work.

This announcement harks back to the January disbursement by KTDA, which saw a total of Ksh.5.5 billion distributed. This sum encompassed Ksh.2.8 billion as payment for December’s green leaf deliveries and an additional Ksh.2.7 billion disbursed as mini-bonuses. These mini-bonuses were allocated to factories whose directors had passed resolutions to implement them. During this disbursement, farmers received bonuses ranging from Ksh.5 to Ksh.10 per kilogram of green leaf delivered to their respective factories for the six months leading up to December the previous year.

READ: Kenya’s Agriculture Sector Confronts Surging Interest Rates

According to KTDA, it adheres to a two-step payment model, encompassing monthly payments, interim payments (mini-bonuses), and a final payment (bonus) contingent upon the performance of each individual factory. The current meetings to determine bonus payments are being convened at a juncture when preliminary data reveals a marginal decline in both green leaf production and sales prices at the Mombasa tea auction.

Green leaf volumes delivered to factories managed by KTDA dwindled by 8.5 percent in the year concluding in June 2023, plummeting from 1.3 billion kilos to 1.1 billion kilos when compared to the preceding year. This decline is attributed to the enduring drought conditions that have plagued the region, leading to decreased farm output. In addition, the prices fetched at the tea auction experienced a modest decline of three percent. The average price per kilo across all factories stood at $2.7 (Ksh.394) during the 2022/2023 financial year, in contrast to $2.8 (Ksh.409) recorded in the previous year.

READ: Nairobi Coffee Exchange Auction Resumes After Brief Suspension

These recent developments in Kenya’s tea industry echo the recurring challenges faced by the sector in recent years. The ongoing drought conditions serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of tea farming to climatic fluctuations. In the past, we have witnessed similar struggles as farmers grappled with unpredictable weather patterns, resulting in diminished yields and financial strains.

In addition, the international tea market’s dynamics have proven to be a persistent challenge. Limited access to the US dollar by key tea-buying markets has often left Kenyan tea exports vulnerable to currency fluctuations and market uncertainties. The need for diversification and risk mitigation strategies in tea trading has been a recurring theme in discussions surrounding the industry’s future.


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September 3, 2023 EAGMARK NEWSINDUSTRY NEWS0

In a monumental gathering of minds and a rallying cry for change, the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF) 2023 Summit officially commenced today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. With the theme “Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation,” the event places emphasis on youth and women at the forefront of rebuilding and revitalizing food systems across the continent.

The Summit, which is scheduled to run from September 5th to 8th, 2023, has garnered attention and participation from a diverse range of stakeholders, including policymakers, experts, farmers, youth advocates, and women leaders. It seeks to address the profound challenges facing Africa’s food systems while charting a path towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

The theme of the Summit encapsulates a comprehensive roadmap for achieving a transformation in Africa’s food systems through recovery, regenerative, and action pathways – geared towards shaping the future of agriculture in Africa, with a focus on recovering from crises, regenerating natural resources, and taking decisive action for transformative change.

A notable aspect of the Summit is its strong emphasis on youth and women as catalysts for positive change. Recognizing that they represent a substantial portion of the agricultural workforce and hold immense potential, the AGRF summit will provide a platform for these groups and other experts to share their perspectives, innovations, and solutions.

The Summit also sheds a spotlight on the role of digital technologies and innovation in enhancing agricultural productivity, improving access to markets, and strengthening resilience in food systems. The integration of cutting-edge solutions is viewed as crucial for advancing Africa’s food security agenda.

As the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 Summit unfolds over the next few days, it promises to be a pivotal moment in the journey toward sustainable, equitable, and resilient food systems on the African continent. Africa’s future on food security is at the balance, and the world is watching with anticipation.


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In a significant stride towards enhancing trade relations and agricultural growth, the US government, in collaboration with Kenstate, a leading Kenyan coconut processing company, has announced a joint investment project amounting to $1.6 million. The project aims to not only expand Kenstate’s exports to the United States but also create substantial market opportunities for over 4,500 Kenyan coconut farmers.

Supported by Feed the Future and Prosper Africa funding, facilitated by the United States Agency for International Development, this strategic initiative is poised to uplift Kenstate’s processing capabilities by an impressive 67 percent, enabling the firm to process up to 50,000 coconuts daily.

Meg Whitman, the US Ambassador to Kenya, highlighted the transformative impact of such collaborations, stating, that partnerships like this enhance trade, transforms lives, and combats food waste and its impacts on climate change. Whitman also added that sustainable growth and international collaboration are key to the prosperity of both Kenya and the United States.

One of the project’s key objectives is to significantly reduce food loss and wastage. Over the next two years, the initiative seeks to eliminate a staggering 32,500 liters of wastage. At the same time, the project is set to generate approximately 90 full-time employment opportunities and enlist 1,500 new growers as suppliers, thus catalyzing economic opportunities for Kenyan farmers.

The collaboration also paves the way for Kentaste, the coconut processor, to establish strong ties with major US retailers. These retailers are poised to carry Kentaste’s premium coconut water products, thereby expanding access to the US market for Kenyan coconut offerings.

This strategic venture couldn’t come at a better time for Kenya, as the country experiences stable demand for local processing and export of coconuts. The United States is a primary importer of Kenyan nuts, followed by Germany and the Netherlands, underscoring the global demand for high-quality coconut products from the region.

The Kenyan coconut processor is known for producing and distributing an array of coconut-based products, including coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour, virgin coconut oil, and desiccated coconut. With a strong commitment to sustainable practices, Kentaste collaborates with a network of some 2,700 smallholder farmers, many of whom are organic and fair trade certified.

The collaboration resonates with the projected growth of the global coconut products market. According to Research and Markets, the market size is anticipated to reach an impressive $38.58 billion by 2030. This surge is primarily driven by the increasing demand for coconut products like coconut milk, coconut water, and desiccated coconut within the dynamic food and beverage industry.


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South Africa is abuzz with activities as leaders of the five-member BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — began a three-day summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 22 August 2023 with the agenda of expanding the club as an alternative to a geopolitical alternative to Western-led forums such as the Group of 7.

The latest assembly of the BRICS leaders has sparked international interest at a level not witnessed since its formation 14 years ago. Collectively, BRICS nations contribute over a third of the world’s agricultural output and this could even be more after Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia expressing interest in joining the coalition, which will further add to the diversity of the BRICS bloc, accounting for 40% of the global population and a quarter of the global economy.

Agriculture featured as one of the headlines during the BRICS Business Forum in Sandton, Johannesburg, given the industry’s transformative shift, propelled by the integration of technology which has been pivotal in reshaping and modernizing the global agriculture. The evolution of the industry promises to increased food security and presents an opportunity to reduce costs and promote sustainability.

Notably, this paradigm shift could pave the way for Africa to become the world’s food basket. The integration of technology enhances food security and presents an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, presenting a path towards de-carbonization and food security.

The 2023 BRICS Business Forum discussions on sustainable agricultural development and the promotion of trade and investment within the agricultural sector across member nations featured esteemed voices from various sectors who shared insights on the potential impacts of technology in agriculture.

Jai Shroff, Chairman and Global CEO of UPL, and a member of the BRICS Business Council from India, emphasized the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector. Shroff advocated for rewarding farmers for adopting sustainable practices, suggesting that such incentives could catalyze a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Beyond carbon credits, he proposed rewarding farmers either monetarily or by offering improved shelf space in stores as a means to drive sustainable behavior.

Bruno Ferla, Vice President of BRF – Brazil’s leading animal protein producer and largest poultry exporter – stressed the role of technology in meeting the growing food demand. He highlighted how technology can optimize resource allocation, such as water and soil, and improve livestock management. Ferla urged BRICS nations to embrace technology and play an active role in shaping global agricultural policies.

In the words of Ferla, “Everyone wants a seat at the table, but what’s the point if there’s no food on the table?” He emphasized the need to strike a balance between various factors while providing quality food at an affordable price. This sentiment underscores the importance of aligning sustainability efforts with consumer demands.

Vladimir Nosov, Head of Competence Centre: PhosAgro in Russia, highlighted the multifaceted challenges facing the agriculture sector. He advocated for smart products, including bio-fertilizers and eco-efficient solutions, to address these challenges. Nosov’s insights shed light on the innovative strategies required to enhance agricultural productivity sustainably.

Sharing China’s strategic agricultural approach, Jun Lyu, Chairman of COFCO Group, China’s largest food processor, manufacturer, and trader, shared the county’s unique perspective. Despite limited arable land and fresh water resources, China plays a pivotal role in global food provision. Lyu emphasized the strategic use of technology and innovative methods that have contributed to China’s success in agricultural production.

These discussions underscored the transformative potential of technology in modernizing the agricultural industry. As the world looks toward a future marked by both challenges and opportunities, embracing technological advancements remains paramount for a thriving agricultural sector.


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In the vibrant heart of Nairobi, a transformation is underway in the coffee industry that promises to reshape the fortunes of coffee farmers. The Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) auction, after a brief suspension aimed at implementing substantial reforms, has now resumed operations, breathing fresh hope into the lives of coffee growers across the nation.

A mere month-long hiatus was all it took for the NCE auction to recalibrate its approach and implement reforms that hold the potential to revolutionize the coffee sector. These reforms, geared toward enhancing the financial prospects of coffee farmers, are grounded in the concept of direct sales through the auction. This novel approach allows farmers to bypass intermediaries and directly sell their coffee, curbing the profiteering practices that have plagued the industry.

Breaking the Chains By Eliminating Middlemen

One of the cornerstones of this transformation is the introduction of the Direct Settlement System (DSS) technology platform, brought forth through a partnership with the Co-operative Bank. This innovative platform is the conduit through which all future coffee trading will occur. By embracing technology, the auction is not only modernizing its operations but also streamlining the trading process for coffee farmers, making it more efficient and transparent.

Transparency is a key ingredient in fostering trust and growth within any market. In line with this ethos, the Capital Markets Authority has stepped up to oversee the proceedings of the NCE auction. This measure adds an additional layer of oversight, ensuring that every transaction is conducted fairly and every participant has a level playing field.

Empowering farmers and Educating the Market

Before the auction resumed, a comprehensive training forum was organized to familiarize all stakeholders with the intricacies of the new Direct Settlement System. Brokers, traders, warehouse operators, and coffee farmers convened in Nairobi to gain insights into the workings of the DSS, fortifying their ability to participate effectively and maximize their returns.

Empowering coffee farmers lies at the heart of these reforms. To this end, 11 coffee co-operative unions have already secured licenses to directly sell their produce at the exchange and internationally, effectively eliminating the role of middlemen. This move not only ensures better financial remuneration for the farmers but also enhances their agency in the coffee trade.

The momentum of change continues as an additional five unions are set to be licensed before the end of August. This will increase the total number of farmer-owned coffee brokerage companies to 16, according to the Cooperatives Principal Secretary. This diversified landscape promises to provide more options and opportunities for coffee farmers to find the right avenue for their produce.

In a bid to ensure fairness and equity, three distinct licensing authorities are now involved in the process: county governments, the Capital Markets Authority, and the Agriculture and Food Authority. This multi-layered approach establishes checks and balances along the entire value chain, safeguarding the interests of coffee farmers and promoting a sustainable trade ecosystem.

Acknowledging the diversity within the coffee farming community, the government is collaborating with county governments and the Capital Markets Authority to enable small, medium, and large estates to form co-operatives or associations. This move aims to democratize access to brokerage licenses, ensuring that all categories of farmers can benefit from the reforms.

Kenya’s coffee production is characterized by two distinct systems: smallholder farming and larger estates. The smallholders, totaling around 700,000 growers, are organized into 559 active coffee cooperative societies operating 1,065 wet mills. Meanwhile, the estates, estimated at 3,000, operate 2,132 wet mills. This dynamic landscape reflects the intricate fabric of the coffee industry in Kenya.

With a commitment to bolster coffee production from the current 51,000 metric tonnes to 81,000 metric tonnes by 2024 and ultimately to 260,000 tonnes by 2027, the government is paving the way for a more prosperous future for coffee farming in Kenya. These ambitious targets underscore the transformative power of the NCE auction reforms and their potential to reinvigorate the coffee sector.

The revival of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange auction marks a watershed moment in the history of Kenyan coffee. Through innovative technology, enhanced transparency, and a renewed focus on empowering farmers, the auction is poised to create a fairer, more equitable, and thriving coffee ecosystem. As Kenya sets its sights on greater coffee production, these reforms stand as a testament to the resilience and determination of the nation’s coffee industry.


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In a move aimed at stabilizing domestic prices and ensuring adequate availability, India, the world’s largest rice exporter, has imposed a ban on several categories of rice exports. Experts warn that this decision could have far-reaching consequences, driving up global prices of the grain and exacerbating existing concerns over food insecurity. The ban comes at a critical time when the world is already grappling with rising food prices and supply uncertainties.

India’s Importance in Global Rice Trade

India accounts for a substantial 40% share of the global rice trade, with its shipments reaching approximately 140 countries. The recent ban, announced by the government, was prompted by an 11.5% increase in prices over the past year and a further 3% rise in the past month. The ban, which became effective in July 2023, aims to ensure sufficient availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market and mitigate the inflationary pressures on domestic prices.

Impact on Global Prices

The ban’s implications extend beyond India’s borders, with experts warning that it could significantly impact global rice prices. By estimates, India used to export around 22.5 million tons of rice, but with the ban, approximately 10 million tons will be removed from the international market, representing nearly 40% of India’s rice exports.

Further Turmoil in Global Food Grain Markets

This development comes shortly after Russia withdrew support for Ukrainian wheat passage through the Black Sea, triggering warnings of surging prices. Consequently, the combination of India’s rice ban and the uncertainty around wheat supplies creates additional shocks in the global food grain markets.

Reasons Behind India’s Ban

While India is among the world’s largest rice producers and has sufficient stockpiles for its vast population, fears arise due to the possibility of an erratic monsoon season that could damage the paddy crop, planted in June and harvested in September. Recent heavy rains and floods in key rice-growing regions, such as Punjab and Haryana, have raised concerns. Additionally, deficient rains in southern states further contribute to uncertainty in rice production.

Potential Impact of El Nino

The “El Nino” effect, which brings hot, dry weather and lower rainfall to Asia, where most of the world’s rice is grown, adds to the worries over potential crop shortages. Considering rice’s status as a staple food for over 3 billion people globally, the Indian government’s cautious approach is understandable, aiming to avert any risks associated with food inflation.

Diplomacy and Political Considerations

The ban on rice exports excludes specific varieties primarily exported to Bangladesh and African nations, reflecting a diplomatic move to maintain good ties with neighboring countries and strengthen influence in Africa.

Global Consequences and Future Trends

Given India’s significant role in the rice market, the ban may lead to further disruptions. Countries like Benin, Africa’s largest rice importer, are already grappling with soaring food costs, raising further alarm about the potential consequences of India’s export ban. Furthermore, Vietnam and other major rice producers have been stockpiling rice in anticipation of shortages, further intensifying the global supply concerns.

India’s decision to impose the ban has historical precedence. In 2008, Vietnam banned rice exports, prompting other countries like India, China, and Cambodia to follow suit. According to a World Bank study, these export restrictions caused a significant 52% increase in global rice prices. Should other nations emulate India’s move and impose export restrictions, the effects on food prices could surpass those experienced in 2008.

As the global population grows and climate change continues to affect agricultural yields, the temptation for governments to resort to export restrictions to secure domestic food security may become more frequent. Rice, being a primary source of sustenance for nearly half of the world’s population, faces increased threats to its supply, which could potentially trigger more restrictive actions in the future.

With food insecurity becoming a pressing concern on the international stage, experts and policymakers will closely monitor the effects of India’s rice export ban. The situation calls for thoughtful and cooperative measures to ensure stable and affordable food supplies for vulnerable populations worldwide.


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The avocado trade is experiencing a significant boom, with the market witnessing robust growth over the past decade. As per the latest RaboResearch Report, the increasing demand for avocados, driven by their attractive product attributes, combined with higher profitability, has led to a surge in global production and trade. However, the soaring popularity of avocados has also intensified competition, prompting industry players to focus on efficiency and sustainability.

Avocado production has expanded by approximately 7% globally in the last ten years, with key regions like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Kenya leading the charge. Mexico, the largest avocado-producing country, has seen a 6% increase in production, accounting for 30% of the global output. In tandem, Colombia, Peru, and Kenya have experienced production growth rates of 15%, 12%, and 11%, respectively, collectively contributing 27% to global production. Notably, the United States, while previously a top 10 producer, has slipped in the rankings.

One crucial factor contributing to the year-round availability of avocados in key markets like the US, the EU, and some Asian countries is the complementary harvesting seasons of these countries. While Mexico maintains year-round production, it experiences a seasonal low in June and July when other major producers, like the US (California) and Peru, step in, ensuring a steady supply to the US market.

Mexico retains its position as the largest exporter, with exports growing at an average annual rate of approximately 8% over the past decade, surpassing 1 million metric tons in 2022. The primary destination for these exports is the US market, which continues to be the largest importer of avocados globally, witnessing an 8% increase in imports from 2012 to 2022. Moreover, countries like Peru, Spain, and Kenya have also seen significant growth in exports, primarily supplying the European market.

The commercial market value of fresh avocados reached an estimated USD 18 billion in 2022, and experts believe there is still ample room for growth, especially in regions with lower per capita consumption. Mexico and Chile lead in per capita avocado availability, with approximately 9kg and nearly 8kg of fresh avocados per person per year, respectively. Australia and the US also show considerable consumption, each with over 4kg per capita.

However, amidst this success story, sustainability concerns loom large, with water usage being a crucial issue for avocado producers. Recognizing the importance of preserving natural resources, avocado growers have been investing in advanced irrigation systems to enhance water efficiency.

In a significant development, the UN FAO has recognized Kenya as one of the major players in the global avocado industry, ranking among the top 15 avocado-producing countries. With a current production of 417,000 metric tons, Kenya leads other African countries and is set to boost production further by tapping into the Indian market. The country aims to double its avocado production in the next five years, with plans to expand farming land to over 50,000 hectares.

Kenya’s avocado production is not fully commercialized yet, with a substantial portion being grown by small-scale farmers for domestic consumption, local markets, and exports. However, there is a growing trend among farmers in regions like North Rift and South Rift to shift from traditional cash crops like maize and wheat to avocado farming due to its lucrative returns.

As the global avocado trade continues to thrive, it becomes essential for industry players to strike a balance between meeting the escalating demand and adopting sustainable practices. By embracing efficient technologies and environmentally responsible methods, the avocado industry can not only remain competitive but also contribute to a greener and more prosperous future.

Eagmark is proud to bring you this comprehensive report on the booming global avocado trade, combining insights from top agriculture economists, industry experts, and UN FAO data. Enroll to the Eagmark Avocado Production Course for more insights and comprehensive understanding of avocado cultivation and management.

 


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In the face of a deepening global food crisis, domestic food price inflation remains stubbornly high around the world, posing significant challenges for low- and middle-income countries. According to recent World Bank Food Security Update from February to May 2023, 61.1% of low-income countries, 79.1% of lower-middle-income countries, and 70% of upper-middle-income countries are experiencing food price inflation greater than 5%, with several facing double-digit inflation.

High-income countries are not immune to the effects, with 78.9% experiencing rising food prices. The situation is particularly dire in Africa, alongside regions like North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia. This alarming trend has raised concerns about the stability of global food security.

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The most recent agriculture market statistics paint a mixed picture. The agricultural and cereal price indexes have fallen by 4% and 12%, respectively, with maize prices falling by 21% compared to two weeks ago. Meanwhile, wheat prices have fallen by 3%, while rice prices have increased by 1% over the same time period. Maize and wheat prices are around 19% lower year on year, but rice prices are 16% higher. However, maize prices are down 4% from January 2021, while wheat and rice prices are up 1% and 3%, respectively.

The Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) Market Monitor for July 2023 has expressed concern about geopolitical tensions that endanger the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Following the tragic collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, massive flooding has threatened drinking water supplies and hampered irrigation, affecting over 40,000 hectares of land as well as multiple cities and villages. The scenario is jeopardizing Ukraine’s agricultural productivity and might lead to the agreement’s termination, potentially limiting Black Sea exports and harming world grain supply.

To compound matters, the newly released Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-Food and Agriculture Organization (OECD-FAO) Agricultural Outlook 2023-2032 identifies the rise in agricultural input prices as a serious danger to global food security. Food prices are projected to rise more as fertilizer costs rise. According to the analysis, every 1% increase in fertilizer prices could result in a 0.2% increase in agricultural product prices. Crops that rely significantly on fertilizers are projected to suffer more than livestock goods, with chicken and pig being particularly vulnerable due to their need on compound feed.

You may also want to read: What the Rising Food Prices and Shortages Mean for Kenya’s Agricultural Sector

In response to the mounting global food crisis and trade restrictions imposed by various countries, the World Bank announced a commitment of up to $30 billion over 15 months, with $12 billion committed to new projects, in April 2022. The funding will be used to improve food and nutrition security as well as food system resilience, with a particular emphasis on Africa, one of the hardest-hit regions.

Several noteworthy projects have already been initiated by the World Bank in collaboration with affected African nations. These include:

  1. West Africa Food Systems Resilience Program: A $766 million initiative designed to increase preparedness against food insecurity and enhance the resilience of food systems in West Africa. The program leverages digital advisory services for agriculture and food crisis prevention, invests in regional food market integration and trade, and builds the adaptive capacity of agricultural system actors. Additional funding of $345 million is under preparation for Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  2. Support for Chad, Ghana, and Sierra Leone: A $315 million loan to increase their preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of their food systems.
  3. Emergency Food Security and Resilience Support Project for Egypt: A $500 million project to ensure that poor and vulnerable households have continuous access to bread, strengthen the country’s resilience to food crises, and support reforms that improve nutritional outcomes.
  4. Aid for Tunisia: A $130 million loan to mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war by financing vital soft wheat imports and providing emergency support for dairy production and smallholder farmers’ planting season.
  5. Food Systems Resilience Program for Eastern and Southern Africa: A $2.3 billion initiative aimed at enhancing food systems resilience, increasing agricultural production, and ensuring sustainable development of natural resources in the region.

In May, the World Bank Group and the G7 Presidency jointly established the Global Alliance for Food Security to address the unfolding global hunger crisis. The alliance has developed a publicly accessible Global Food and Nutrition Security Dashboard, offering timely information for global and local decision-makers to facilitate better coordination of policy and financial responses to the food crisis.

As the global food crisis deepens, concerted efforts by international organizations and nations alike are essential to mitigate its impact. The World Bank’s commitment to supporting food and nutrition security in Africa and beyond demonstrates the urgency with which stakeholders must act to safeguard the well-being of millions and secure the future of food systems worldwide.


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Rotten cocoa pods after torrential rains experienced from mid-May, affecting cocoa production in all regions, at Akressi village in the Aboisso region, Ivory Coast. Image source: REUTERS

In a significant development impacting the global cocoa market, the Ivorian Cocoa Coffee Council (CCC) has announced the suspension of cocoa futures sales for the 2023/2024 campaign until further notice. The decision comes in light of ongoing uncertainties surrounding the cocoa supply chain, exacerbated by adverse weather conditions and the outbreak of brown rot disease.

Yves Brahima Kone, the director general of CCC, revealed that concerns over the availability of an adequate quantity of raw materials from production areas to cover sales, combined with heavy rains between May 15 and July 10, have severely affected cocoa production. The persistent humidity has also provided ideal conditions for the proliferation of brown rot, a fungal disease that poses a threat to cocoa trees. CCC acknowledged the disease’s rapid spread across many plantations and is promptly assessing the situation to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Mr. Kone expressed apprehension about the cocoa harvest in the initial stages of the main season, expecting a considerable decline compared to the current year. He emphasized the importance of the production from January to March in offsetting potential volume imbalances. Currently, the cocoa sales have already exceeded one million tonnes, accounting for approximately 50% of the projected harvest of 2.2 million tonnes.

The impact of the brown rot outbreak and the suspension of cocoa sales will be felt by various stakeholders, including major commodities trading houses such as Cargill, Olam, and prominent chocolate manufacturers like Barry Callebaut, Hershey, and Nestle. Furthermore, this development represents a significant blow to Ivory Coast, a nation heavily reliant on cocoa, with the United Nations estimating that it contributes 40% of the country’s export earnings. Ivory Coast and other major cocoa producers including Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon that account for around 70% of global production, have witnessed heavy tropical downpours in recent weeks.

Farmers, cocoa pod counters, and exporters based in Ivory Coast are bracing for a notable decline in cocoa output during the initial phase of the main harvest. The CCC’s initial projection for the current season was a total cocoa output of 2.2 million tonnes.

Ivory Coast, recognized as the world’s leading cocoa-producing country, supplying 45% of global cocoa, is aiming to increase domestic cocoa processing. The country plans to process 49% of its production starting from October by adding several new processing plants. Currently, approximately 35-40% of cocoa is processed within the country, with the remainder exported. However, the government intends to raise the domestic processing share to at least 50%.

To support this goal, Ivory Coast has entered into contracts with the United Arab Emirates for the construction of a new plant in San Pedro, with a grinding capacity of 120,000 tonnes, and China for the construction of two factories, each with a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes. Upon completion, these new facilities will enable the country to process over 1 million tonnes of cocoa annually, solidifying its position as the world’s leading cocoa grinder.

The global cocoa market will closely monitor the situation in Ivory Coast as stakeholders navigate the challenges posed by the supply chain uncertainties and the brown rot outbreak. Eagmark will continue to report on the developments and their potential ramifications for the international cocoa industry.


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  • Kenya’s Milk Production Improves to New Heights as Taita Taveta County Reports Promising Increase in Milk Output, Boosting Agricultural Sector

Taita Taveta County’s Department of Livestock in Kenya has announced a significant rise in milk production thanks to the implementation of subsidized artificial insemination (AI) services, enhanced livestock disease and pest control, and the adoption of improved animal feeds and management practices. The county is now on track to reach an annual milk production of 30 million liters.

Erickson Kyongo, the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Irrigation, expressed optimism about the county’s progress. He highlighted the efforts made to provide affordable and high-quality AI services, as well as support for best practices in animal feed management and disease control.

“Our continuous efforts to make cheap and high-quality AI services accessible, along with the promotion of best practices in animal feed management and disease control, are driving us towards achieving an annual milk production of 30 million liters,” stated Kyongo.

He further projected that by the end of 2023, farmers in the county would have produced at least 20 million liters of milk before the onset of the dry season, which typically slows down production.

The journey towards this significant milestone began in 2018 when the county leadership signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Center, leading to a substantial reduction in the price of AI services. The cost per animal dropped from between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000 to an affordable Sh200.

Dr. Margaret Kibogy, the Managing Director of the Kenya Dairy Board, provided insight into the broader national dairy industry. She noted that Kenya’s dairy sector has been experiencing an estimated annual growth rate of 5%, with current milk production standing at 5.2 billion liters per year.

Dr. Kibogy emphasized the importance of the dairy industry, stating, “Kenya’s dairy sector contributes 4% to the national GDP, 12% to the agriculture GDP, and 44% to the livestock GDP. Approximately 1.8 million smallholder farmers depend on dairy production for their livelihoods.”

Meanwhile, the government has pledged support for dairy farmers through various interventions as part of its agricultural reformation efforts, aiming to create wealth and expand job opportunities within the sector. Cooperative union members have expressed optimism about the transformative initiatives of the government and have vowed to leverage them to advocate for and reform the dairy industry in the country.

During the launch of the Meru Central Dairy Cooperative Union Factory Phase, President William Ruto made commitments to further support the dairy sector. He pledged to reduce the cost of semen from the current Sh8,000 to Sh1,500, along with plans to establish a Sh400 million plant producing 500,000 doses of semen locally, eliminating the need for imports.

According to the 2020 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Food Balance Sheet report, milk and its related products have the highest per capita consumption in Kenya, with 93.3 kilograms per person annually. This is followed by maize (69.5 kg), wheat (41.3 kg), and vegetables (32.6 kg).

The rise in milk production in Taita Taveta County and the government’s commitment to supporting the dairy sector are encouraging signs for the agricultural industry in Kenya. As the nation continues to prioritize the dairy sector’s growth, it will contribute to improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers, increased economic prosperity, and enhanced food security.


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  • The Kenyan Government’s Decision Aims to Balance Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Sustainable Forestry

In a recent announcement, Kenya’s President, William Ruto revealed the government’s decision to lift the six-year ban on logging in the country. This move comes as a response to the need for revitalizing economies in areas that heavily rely on forest products. Speaking at a church service in Molo, Nakuru County on 2nd July 2023, President Ruto emphasized the government’s commitment to sustainable logging practices, focusing on harvesting mature trees while simultaneously implementing tree-planting initiatives.

To promote locally made products, the Kenyan government has introduced a tax on all imported timber products in the national budget. President Ruto explained that this strategic step would encourage the growth of domestic industries and create employment opportunities for the youth. He further expressed his ambition to plant 15 billion trees over the next decade, ensuring a sustainable approach to forestry and climate change mitigation.

Over the past ten years, the logging industry has played a pivotal role in Kenya’s economy, particularly in providing employment to uneducated youth in urban areas. Regions such as Elburgon, Molo, Total areas in Nakuru, and Maji Mazuri in Eldama Gorge have heavily relied on the timber sector for employment. The industry has created jobs for various roles, including loaders, power saw operators, transporters, millers, and workers involved in clearing milling areas.

However, the ban on logging, enforced since February 2018 due to concerns over illegal logging and declining water levels in the country’s main rivers, has had a significant impact on these towns. Initially flourishing with a vibrant economy based on the lucrative timber trade since the 1990s, Elburgon and Molo have faced economic setbacks and witnessed the collapse of forest-dependent centers and communities.

A recent study conducted by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) reveals the extent of the ban’s economic consequences. It estimates that Kenya Forestry Services suffered a loss of Sh4 billion in revenue and 44,000 jobs over the past six years. Moreover, the ban has contributed to the economic decline of forest-dependent regions and the loss of livelihoods for many.

President Ruto’s decision to lift the logging ban aims to strike a balance between economic growth, job creation, and sustainable forestry. While acknowledging the adverse impact of illegal logging and environmental concerns, the government seeks to regulate and monitor logging activities effectively. By implementing responsible logging practices, emphasizing reforestation, and supporting local industries, Kenya endeavors to harness the economic potential of its forests without compromising long-term environmental sustainability.

As the logging industry resumes operations, stakeholders and policymakers must work collaboratively to ensure that forestry practices align with climate change mitigation efforts. Sustainable logging methods, coupled with ambitious reforestation initiatives, will be crucial in preserving Kenya’s rich biodiversity and combatting the effects of climate change.


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Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) and its parent company, East African Breweries Limited (EABL), emerged as top winners at the prestigious Africa Food Awards held at Nairobi’s Safari Park Hotel. KBL was honored as the Company of the Year in Africa, while EABL secured five awards across multiple categories. Click to view full list of winners.

EABL showcased its commitment to community impact through its Water for Life Initiative, which aligns with Sustainable Development Goal #6, advocating for clean water and sanitation access. With a five-year plan, EABL aims to supply over 500 million liters of water to households facing shortages and replenish water in the communities it operates in. The EABL Foundation has already invested over Ksh20 million in water and sanitation projects in areas such as Lukume, Olembo, Magunga, Okiki Amayo, and Ndhiwa in the Lake Basin region.

Under the Pioneer Grain To Glass Sustainability initiative, which encompasses the Preserve Water for Life campaign, EABL is dedicated to reducing water usage in its operations. The company targets a 40% increase in water usage efficiency in water-stressed areas and a 30% improvement across the entire company. EABL aims to improve water availability and quality in all local communities in water-stressed regions, replenishing more water than it uses in those areas by 2026. Additionally, the company plans to invest in enhancing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in water-stressed markets and communities near its sites and local sourcing areas.

EABL’s commendable sustainability efforts were recognized further with the Sustainability Initiative of the Year award for its Biomass Boilers project. The subsidiary of Diageo has invested over Sh5 billion in a biomass plant as part of its transition to renewable energy. During the event, EABL’s Managing Director, Jane Karuku, highlighted that the biomass plant will contribute to achieving a net-zero status, effectively reducing carbon emissions by 48,000 tonnes annually.

Notably, EABL excelled in the New Product of the Year category, securing three awards for its innovative alcoholic beverages. Gordon’s & Tonic, Gordon’s Pink & Tonic, Captain Morgan Gold & Cola, and Rockshore Tropical beer all stood out among the most favored drinks in Africa.

EABL’s dedication to sustainability, community impact, and product innovation has positioned the company as a leader in Africa’s food industry. The Africa Food Awards, since its establishment in 2017, has celebrated outstanding individuals, innovative products, sustainability initiatives, and exemplary companies. The recognition ceremony witnessed over 50 African companies receiving awards across various categories, solidifying the Africa Food Awards as the most esteemed food industry award in sub-Saharan Africa.


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June 28, 2023 INDUSTRY NEWS0

In a strategic move aimed at mitigating the challenges posed by foreign exchange exposure, Swiss food giant Nestle has made a deliberate decision to increase its sourcing of local raw materials in Africa. By opting for locally available resources such as starch and turmeric, Nestle hopes to alleviate the headaches caused by fluctuating currency rates and foreign reserves.

Nestle has already begun replacing imported corn starch in Nigeria with cassava starch, and the company has been working closely with seven local suppliers to enhance their capacity in order to meet Nestle’s supply requirements. Encouraged by the positive outcome in Nigeria, Nestle is now looking to expand this localization initiative to other countries in the region, including Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal.

The growing debt burden in many African nations has put immense pressure on foreign reserves, leading to currency volatility and making it increasingly difficult and costly to import essential inputs. Just last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria allowed the Naira currency to depreciate by up to 36% on the official market, highlighting the urgency for companies like Nestle to explore alternative sourcing options.

Foreign exchange costs have become a major driving force for global consumer goods companies to shift their focus to African suppliers. British consumer packaged goods giant Unilever recently revealed that managing foreign exchange costs was a primary factor behind its transition from Asian suppliers to African ones, despite the relatively higher costs associated with sourcing from the continent compared to parts of Asia.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent disruptions in global supply chains have compelled companies worldwide to reevaluate their production and raw material sourcing strategies. Nestle, recognizing this shift, has intensified its efforts to localize production and source raw materials closer to its consumer markets. The company has already been working on developing local suppliers of vegetables and spices used in its Maggi products, such as onion powder in Nigeria and Senegal, and turmeric powder in Nigeria.

Nestle’s commitment to sustainable practices is also evident in its approach to agriculture. The company has been actively supporting the training of local farmers and processors in good agricultural practices, as well as in harvesting, warehousing, and cleaning techniques for grains. Now, Nestle plans to take the next step by introducing regenerative agriculture to these farmers as part of its sustainability journey. Regenerative agriculture focuses on preserving and restoring soil health, enabling the capture of more carbon from the atmosphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To facilitate this localization and sustainability drive, Nestle has provided letters of intent to suppliers, offered technical expertise, engaged with local authorities to establish standards, and provided financial support through advance payments to address working capital challenges.

The Middle East and Africa region has been a significant market for Nestle, with sales amounting to approximately 5.25 billion Swiss francs ($5.9 billion) last year. These figures accounted for around 6% of the company’s total annual sales of 94.4 billion francs.

Nestle’s strategic shift towards sourcing local raw materials in Africa not only addresses the challenges posed by foreign exchange exposure but also aligns with the global trend of promoting sustainable practices and bringing production closer to consumer markets. As the company expands its localization journey across the region, it is expected to foster economic growth, enhance supply chain resilience, and contribute to the overall development of African economies.


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Syngenta Crop Protection’s Seedcare business has unveiled a groundbreaking solution for farmers seeking effective control over soil pests while also improving the sustainability of their farming practices. The new seed treatment, named EQUENTO®, harnesses Syngenta’s state-of-the-art PLINAZOLIN® technology to safeguard crops from the earliest stages of their growth.

What sets EQUENTO® apart is its novel mode of action, categorized as IRAC Group 30, which effectively combats the rise of insect resistance. By utilizing this innovative approach, EQUENTO® ensures precise control over a wide range of soil pests, including notoriously challenging ones like wireworms and red-legged earth mites. This seed treatment can be applied across multiple crops, such as cereals and canola, enhancing its versatility and applicability.

One of the standout advantages of EQUENTO® is its ability to promote sustainability within farming operations. With its low dose rates and limited solubility and mobility in soil, EQUENTO® offers highly effective pest control while remaining safe for both seeds and plants. By concentrating its action around the plant’s roots, it not only provides precise and efficient pest management but also fosters healthier root systems that contribute to improved soil health and biodiversity.

Furthermore, this groundbreaking seed treatment affords farmers greater flexibility in making informed decisions regarding their farming practices. It accommodates various application timings, dose rates, and even allows for mixtures with other insecticides and fungicides. EQUENTO® proves effective even under low soil temperatures, effectively controlling pests that either ingest or come into contact with the plant, ultimately reducing pest populations in the soil. Its exceptional target specificity empowers farmers to tailor the dose rates precisely to address specific pest challenges they may encounter.

Speaking to another newsroom, Jonathan Brown, the Global Head of Syngenta Seedcare, expressed the company’s dedication to innovation, stating, “EQUENTO®’s combination of a novel mode of action, broad spectrum pest control, as well as superior seed and crop safety reflects Syngenta’s commitment to innovation.” This groundbreaking solution transforms farmers’ ability to manage pests such as wireworms, enabling the establishment of healthy young crops critical for optimal yields, all while safeguarding soil health, biodiversity, and the environment.

Farmers face substantial challenges from insects and soil pests that not only threaten crop yields but also compromise harvest quality by providing gateways for diseases. Climate change exacerbates these challenges as it leads to shifts in insect pressure and spectrums faced by farmers. The continuous evolution of pests, coupled with the urgency to protect sustainable productivity, necessitates innovative solutions.

Approximately 600 insect species are already resistant to at least one insecticide, highlighting the need for effective and sustainable pest management approaches. In response to these challenges, Syngenta plans to launch EQUENTO® globally, starting with its introduction in Australia later this year under the trademark EQUENTO® Extreme. Further registrations are expected in markets worldwide, ensuring access to this revolutionary seed treatment for farmers worldwide.

By introducing EQUENTO®, Syngenta Crop Protection’s Seedcare business is spearheading the advancement of pest control technologies in agriculture while prioritizing sustainability and the future of farming. This breakthrough solution holds the potential to revolutionize the way farmers combat soil pests and enhance their farming practices, contributing to a more resilient and productive agricultural sector.





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