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AGRIBUSINESS & AGRICULTURE

AFEX Launches $100m Food Security Fund

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 By Andrea Ayemoba 

AFEX, a leading commodities market player in Nigeria, has today announced a new $100m 10-year bond called The Food Security Fund (FSF). The financing will strengthen Africa’s food security and produce three million MT of food annually on the continent.

AFEX’s fund will support the financing of 250,000 hectares of land for commercial and smallholder farming, initially consisting of 30,000 hectares in the Nigerian states of Kano, Kaduna, Oyo, Ogun, Cross River & the FCT, before covering markets across East and West Africa.

The focus of the The Food Security Fund will be to explore and optimize climate smart innovations and high yield agronomy protocols to ensure more food is produced and that land is used efficiently. As a blended finance structure, with an external fund manager, AFEX’s $100m bond will boost food security in Nigeria, with additional impact across Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

A significant portion of the funding will be allocated to constructing warehouses. In Nigeria alone there is only capacity to store 4% of annual grain production. Restricted production has led to a 300,000 MT gap between demand and supply of seeds, and a 10 million MT gap in demand and supply of grains, increasing food import costs, and declining capacity utilization of processing plants.

“The launch of The Food Security Fund is another really important milestone as we chart our journey building the physical and technology-enabled infrastructure for the continent’s commodity sector,” said Ayodeji Balogun, CEO at AFEX. “Finance will always be a key component of that infrastructure and so we’re very excited to roll out this bond to deliver what will eventually be a decade’s worth of impact. One of our core missions is to help the continent feed itself and we deliberately aligned our company goals with the UN SDGs from the outset, in particular the first and second goals to end hunger and eliminate poverty.”

Having worked with capital markets players to structure debt securities for over 200,000 smallholder farmers to date, AFEX is well positioned to roll out the Food Security Fund. Bolstered by an existing network of over 100 warehouses and digital trading platforms that link investors with producers and processors, the company’s commitment to the agricultural sector and deep industry knowledge will add crucial expertise behind this much needed funding.

Courtesy: Africa Business Communities


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AGRIBUSINESS & AGRICULTURE

ECOWAS Rules to Protect Pastoralists Discourage Investments in Modern Livestock Farming

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By Jane Ezirigwe

A common sight around west Africa is to see cattle grazing freely, even in major cities, on highways and in airports. Every year, about 300 million head of livestock (mostly cattle) move across west Africa. Based on seasonal factors, they leave their usual grazing areas in search of water and pasture.

These practices, called pastoralism, or transhumance, go back millennia. They helped maximise land use in dry regions. In a bid to support these practices, the Economic Community of West African State (Ecowas) drew up regulations in 1998 and 2003. All Ecowas member states were to apply the regulations.

As an expert in food and agricultural law, natural resources development and international trade, I examined the regulations to see what effects they might be having on investments in the livestock sector. My findings show that livestock productivity has not improved in the region since the introduction of the new rules. Cattle productivity has fallen and milk production has improved very minimally. Clashes between farmers and herders have increased, along with insecurity. Elites take advantage of the regulations to exploit poor herders.

I conclude that the regulations may be discouraging meaningful large-scale investments such as ranching that could increase productivity, create jobs and ensure peace in the region.

Movement of livestock across west Africa

Ecowas is the only regional economic community in Africa with specific regulations governing transhumance. The regional body is made up of 15 states.

Its regulations aim to improve livestock productivity and food security, enhance the environment and reduce poverty.

The regulations allow free movement of livestock across the borders of member states under certain conditions. For example, herders must possess the Ecowas International Transhumance Certificate, and a minimum of two herders must accompany the herds. The herders must be at least 18 years old.

Member states are obligated to apply the regulations. But they’re not doing so uniformly. Some coastal states don’t allow the herders into their countries. For instance, Benin Republic recently banned the entry of foreign herders into its territory. Togo and Côte d’Ivoire control the number of herders that enter their territories annually.

For its part, Nigeria is moving towards more sedentary cattle farming. Several states in Nigeria, such as Benue and Oyo, have also banned pastoralism.

These countries have restricted the movement of herds because of negative experiences such as farmer-herder clashescattle rustling and other forms of criminality.

Impact of Ecowas transhumance regulations

In my paper, I argue that Ecowas regulation allows transhumance to exist in a form that is inimical to other business investment options – like ranching – for livestock production in the region.

Investors want profit, safe environments and certainty in rules. Pastoralism, on the other hand, encourages cheap labour and other practices that put large-scale investment in livestock at risk.

Bad business environment

Transhumance has been commercialised – and criminalised – in ways that produce a negative environment for the livestock business.

Movement of herds has contributed to conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, gender-based violence, insecurity and other forms of criminality.

Traffickers, smugglers, bandits and drug peddlers capitalise on livestock movement to commit crimes.

Proliferation of arms, terrorism, kidnapping and drug use have also increased in the guise of transhumance.

In Nigeria, for instance, it has been alleged that Boko Haram insurgents disguise themselves as pastoralists to convey improvised explosive devices to attack communities.

Limits modern methods

I also argue that the Ecowas regulations, by allowing herds to move around the region, discourage investment in modern methods of livestock production. This is because the cost of production in transhumance is low. Land and fodder are free. Labour is cheap and exploitative. All this makes other business models, such as ranching, relatively unattractive by comparison. It affects their profits and investment risks.

Some countries which practise pastoralism, such as Mongolia and Tibet, restrict it to arid regions.

What should be done

In my view, the practice of transhumance in west Africa should be gradually phased out. By this I mean a gradual – and then finally a total – ban on herder movements across borders.

This is because it is not an efficient use of land. About a third of west Africa’s land area is used for agriculture. Two-thirds of this serves as rangeland and pastures while one-third is used for crop production. Designated rangelands should be established in semi-arid areas of the region. Pastoralism should be restricted to these rangelands.

In my view conflict will be reduced if transhumance is restricted to arid and semi-arid regions. This in turn will make ranching more attractive, making room for large-scale investments that could create jobs and improve food security.

In the immediate future focus should be given to:

  • the strict implementation of the International Transhumance Certificate. The certificate usually contains particulars on the composition of the herd, the vaccinations given, the itinerary of the herds, and the destination of the pastoralist. The responsibility of issuing the certificate rests on the country of origin. This should reduce incidences of criminal elements disguised as herders.
  • limiting the number of cattle that people can have in a moving herd. This will help avoid herds straying, and resultant conflicts.
  • introducing new rules requiring the use of ear-tags. This would help with traceability when cattle are stolen or when they destroy farmlands.

By Jane Ezirigwe is a Postdoctoral Fellow, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa


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AGRIBUSINESS & AGRICULTURE

The Great Tomato Debate: Fruit or Vegetable?

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Tomatoes are one of the most commonly used ingredients in the culinary world, yet there has been a long-standing debate regarding their classification as either a fruit or a vegetable. This debate has been ongoing for centuries, with no clear consensus being reached. In this article, we will explore the science behind this debate and try to unravel the mystery of whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable.

Tomatoes are one of the most commonly used ingredients in the culinary world, yet there has been a long-standing debate regarding their classification as either a fruit or a vegetable. This debate has been ongoing for centuries, with no clear consensus being reached. In this article, we will explore the science behind this debate and try to unravel the mystery of whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable.

The Great Tomato Debate: Fruit or Vegetable?

The Definition of a Fruit vs. a Vegetable

Before we dive into the tomato debate, let’s first define what constitutes a fruit versus a vegetable. Botanically speaking, a fruit is the mature ovary of a flowering plant, containing seeds. This means that any edible plant that contains seeds is a fruit. On the other hand, vegetables are typically defined as the edible parts of plants that do not contain seeds, such as leaves, stems, and roots.

The Botanical Perspective

When it comes to tomatoes, botanically speaking, they are classified as a fruit. This is because they contain seeds and are derived from the ovary of a flowering plant. Tomatoes belong to the same family as other fruits such as apples, oranges, and grapes.

However, the confusion arises because tomatoes are often used in savory dishes and are treated as a vegetable in culinary contexts. This is due to their mild flavor and their ability to be cooked and used in a wide range of dishes, from salads to sauces.

Seedy Secrets: Why Some Vegetables Are Technically Fruits

It’s a fascinating fact that many vegetables we consume, such as cucumbers, peppers, zucchini tomatoes, pumpkins, and other squash, contain seeds, yet they are not classified as fruits. The reason behind this lies in the botanical definition of fruits and vegetablesFruits are the mature ovaries of flowering plants that grow after fertilization and contain seeds that aid in reproduction. Vegetables, on the other hand, refer to any edible portion of a plant, including roots, leaves, stems, and even flowers. As a result, while being officially classed as fruits due to their seed-bearing nature, they are nonetheless considered vegetables based on their cultural and culinary usage. So, the next time you savor a juicy tomato or a crunchy bell pepper, keep in mind that despite their seedy secrets, they are still regarded as savory vegetables in the culinary world.

The Legal Perspective

The debate over whether tomatoes are a fruit or a vegetable has even made its way into the legal system. In 1893, the United States Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes should be classified as a vegetable for taxation. The decision was based on the fact that tomatoes were typically used in savory dishes and therefore should be considered a vegetable.

However, from a botanical perspective, the Supreme Court’s ruling was incorrect. This decision has led to a continued debate over whether tomatoes should be classified as a fruit or a vegetable in various contexts.

The Nutritional Perspective

Regardless of whether tomatoes are considered a fruit or a vegetable, they are a highly nutritious food. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. They also contain antioxidants, such as lycopene, which may help reduce the risk of certain diseases.

Tomatoes are also low in calories and high in fiber, making them a great food for those looking to maintain a healthy weight. Whether you choose to classify them as a fruit or a vegetable, there’s no denying that tomatoes are a nutritious addition to any diet.

Incorporating Tomatoes into Your Diet

Whether you prefer to classify tomatoes as a fruit or a vegetable, they are delicious. Tomatoes can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, or cooked in a wide range of dishes such as soups, stews, sauces, and more. With their bright color, juicy texture, and sweet, tangy flavor, tomatoes are a true culinary staple that can be enjoyed year-round.

While the great tomato debate may never be fully resolved, it’s clear that tomatoes are a versatile and nutritious food that can be enjoyed in a wide range of dishes. Botanically speaking, tomatoes are classified as a fruit, but they are often treated as a vegetable in culinary contexts. Regardless of their classification, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and should be included in a healthy and balanced diet.


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AGRIBUSINESS & AGRICULTURE

The Triangulation of Entrepreneurialism with Women, Food Production and Technologies

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By Naseem Javed

A Grand Inquisition of Free Economies: Finally, why now, it is the best of times, for at least once, to have a bold global debate, nation-by-nation, critique, and evaluation on visible challenges, amongst the world’s free economies, a one time, a single grand inquisition;

Let loud strikes of the gavel, the anxious sounds of vibrant arguments, and public roars rise to the top of the rotundas; let the echoes bounce and awaken the woke, sleepy, or sloppy. Let there be trepidations in narratives, and let there be a shouting match.

Like a real-life drama unfolding, so critically needed at each national stage to harshly probe what types of power skills it takes to transform a nation’s struggling economy and uplift by tapping the hidden talents of the national citizenry, let it be a bold open discussion on a global stage.

The simple fact is that developed economies are visibly broken and need more answers, expertise, skills, and an agenda on the national mobilization of hidden talents. Wars are destructive on both sides, but each calls their side winning heads while both sides are, in fact, the losing tails. No matter what, the noise will get louder, and eventually, great solutions will be found.

Nevertheless, this narrative is very different for those seeking daily motivational sing-songs, as this is all about the economic wars on planning and national mobilization of entrepreneurialism which is a tactical battlefield of national-global commerce and a place for the economic warriors. Deep thinking with a somber presence of mind is essential.

The Triangulations: Agriculture + Entrepreneurialism + Women + SMEs + Technologies + Exportability 

The door is wide open, as global hunger for food as a prime necessity cannot be boxed into recessions, depressions, or inflations. Therefore mastery of uplifting the agro-technicality must prevail, from seeds to the table, logistical support to ensure perishable needs, and global fintech to make exportability a routine. All such challenges highlight two powerful forces of unique skills to succeed; Farming + Entrepreneurialism.

Worldwide, agro-industrialization and techno-automation is a monumental task. The triangulation of agriculture + entrepreneurialism + women + SMEs + technologies + exportability brings agro-rich nations suddenly emerge as new hidden economic powers. The actual conquest is by fertilizing agro-sectors juxtaposed with entrepreneurialism, blended with women’s power, well-defined, balanced, high potential, and skilled SMEs with re-skilling on exportability, when all skills match the entire organization and the agro-trade sectors.

Three advancements; First, The ultimate secrets of growth are hidden within the combined and balanced job seeker’s and job creator’s mindsets, as both are required to achieve balanced performances. Second, this is not just about the economy; it is far more interconnected, as the economy is just a naked ballerina tippy-toeing to dance by numbers on the national stage. This is about fully dressed parades from highly skilled and talented farmers and SME Entrepreneurs with high potential operations to handle exports and distribution to industrial packaging and processing.

Such skills are entrepreneurial job creators and SME creators; women will play a key role here, and some become grand entrepreneurs leading to large-scale operations. This is where the rise of the 1st industrial revolution of mind starts deciphering the business models, goals, and capabilities to expand outbound global exportability to dozens of countries.

When, like an open book, how the USA, from a century of gun-slinging, rose to become an entrepreneurial nation, where national growth was conceived, created, and executed by the entrepreneurs, for the entrepreneurs. The USA became the first agro-industrial giant country and later the only superpower to acquire mastery of creating widespread grassroots prosperity and a global industrial giant for the longest time. American women played the most significant part in this process.

Like poetry recitals, China, where owning a watch, bicycle, and sewing machine was the national dream just decades ago, made a brand new style of economic revolution and managed a billion-plus population with exemplary performance.

Behold India, promoted by the British throughout literature as the exotic land of snake-charmers and fakirs, is already cooking the next global club of billion-citizenry on industrial-technicality, where The Revolution of the 1st Industrial Mind “reconnects” the commerce of the world. There are no books yet written on such monstrosities of growth. In the next hundred new moons, as the wolves train the cubs under the moonlight, the BRICS and ‘population-rich-rich-nations,’ when combined, can suck the economic power of Western economies over lunch.

Silence, across the West, amongst the leading institutes and economists on the high-speed Entrepreneurialization of the Asian world not only points to the lack of special skills in mobilization but also displays fear of facing the upcoming realities with a generational gap stolen by poor education quality, the rise of the broken-culture, continuously vulgarized by weak and confused fancy-dressed politics. The grace period of recovery expired a decade ago, and today only urgent debates declared as national emergencies with specific solutions and mobilization programs are needed now as corrective measures to save the national economies.

The Missing Wheel of the National Economic Cart: Women’s power has been glorified in the West and showcased as equality quotas in selected spots considered a thriving success. The rest of the nations are in the dark ages regarding the Entrepreneurialization of women. On the global-agro-industrial-technocalamity:

Triangulation of entrepreneurialism with women + food production, and + technologies.

The audit and cross-examination; what is the difference between growing apples and inventing Apple the phone? They are more or less the same from the trade and commercialization point of view as products how you generate a top-quality product and organize a system to manage unlimited growth and distribution organization. Without entrepreneurialism, there is no innovative growth because the Apple phone would have taken another century to develop and the phone probably as a failed product on arrival—study Apple and Steve Jobs, plus 100 entrepreneurial projects that changed the world forever.

The original Silicon Valley of the USA was not a technology or a financial revolution but the mobilization of an entrepreneurial journey long before the term ‘IT’ became popular and ‘technology’ was conceptualized as worthy enough to trade in billions. The clusters of entrepreneurs with job-creator revolutionary mindsets and out-of-box thinkers emerged from their garages. They created previously unheard ideas and new languages, broke old systems, created new alternates, and changed the world forever. Some 100 other copycat sites still seek to imitate and copy the name for their glory.

Imagine if, within any large or small agro-power-nation, there existed a system to place 10% to 50% of high potential small and medium farmers and SMEs as national mobilization of Agro-Technocalamity, where they were on digital platforms of up-skilling and re-skilling and able to drive with the entrepreneurial supremacy and high-speed executions for the global goals and shake down the trees on successful exportability models.

Openly challenged and openly debated. Economic development without entrepreneurialism is economic destruction. There is no political power without economic power. There is no economic power without entrepreneurial power. There is no entrepreneurial power unless the mindset hypothesis is balanced. The mindset hypothesis creates a balance between the job seeker and job creator mindsets.

Study the women’s role in the economy in China, but not as someone regularly visiting local Chinatown for ‘chicken fried rice’ but claim expertise on the subject of China, mighty in size, history, and performance. The West was systematically goofed by the global events of the last century when every Western city inherited a local Chinatown. Even today, most Western citizens with ‘chicken fried rice’ certificates on the wall and a fortune cookie in their cubicle claim expertise in China.

Unable to compare the apples and oranges of economic growth and unable to decipher the levels of meritocracies or random public executions of top brass on corruption, all such lack of knowledge ends up to their disadvantage. Unless they visit and face the mammoth earth-shattering developments in China, now expanding in India, and eventually many other Asian nations, the story is untold. Unless they are open to cross-fertilization ideas, trepidations and competition fears are not the answers. Therefore, without understanding the prevalence of entrepreneurialism among women of the land, their growth, and their active role in the daily economic grind, this narrative calls for deep study.

For women to lead, agro sectors there are huge potentials. It is true to lead a women’s revolution, most often, does not require only a powerful woman. Still, a dedicated senior large team of men and women combined once dedicated to mobilizing 10% to 50% of the women and bringing them closer to all economic growth via entrepreneurialism fronts.

The Expothon narrative:  Henry Ford neither invented the tire nor the car engine; he created the Assembly line. Expothon neither created the SME nor the exportability. It began advanced thinking on ‘national mobilization of entrepreneurialism’ as a highly streamlined, 24x7x365 simultaneous synchronization of the most significant. Still, most ignored national assets, now, a decade later, are gaining global attention. Expothon has been sharing information weekly with some 2000 senior officials at the Cabinet level in around 100 countries for the last 50 -100 weeks. Mastery of new entrepreneurial economic thinking is a new revolution in SME Mobilization. A global high-level virtual event series will further advance the agenda; in planning are debates to clarify and table turnkey mobilization options in the coming months. Study more on Google.

Extreme customization of programs to fit the nation and culture, with high potential economic opportunities, with global trading to bring exportability and trading to new heights, is where all the problems are hidden. Unless there is starting point, nothing will be gained. The rest is easy.

COURTESY: Modern Diplomacy


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