Author Archives: The Genius Bright

Fisheries co-management policy approved by cabinet – Minister

Fisheries Minister Elizabeth Afoley Quaye says Cabinet has approved the Fisheries Co-Management Policy which seeks to enhance the current consultative approach to fisheries management by transitioning from a more top-down consultative management framework to an approach that will promote a shared responsibility among government, resource users and other stakeholders.

Addressing the media in Accra today, the Hon. Afoley Quaye said the Co-Management Policy is one of the most effective and efficient strategies for managing resources including fisheries resources through a shared responsibility among government, resource users and other key stakeholders.

It must be noted that, the operationalization of this policy would allow fishermen, the chief fishermen, and the chiefs and elders of the communities to assist government’s officials at the Fisheries Commission (FC) to codify local laws and to enforce the fishing laws, especially within the fishing communities. The District Assemblies would also be engaged to pass some by-laws to help fight the illegalities in the fishing sector as well as protect the fisheries resources like mangroves, estuaries, closed seasons and fishing holidays.

The minister further mentioned that, the Canoe Identification Card (CIC) which was launched on 10th December, 2019 at Keta is being implemented in the marine artisanal sub-sector to facilitate the identification of canoe owners.

“This will enhance the regulation and access to fisheries resources, provide recognition and legitimacy to canoe owners as well as assist in the provision of Government support “.

On Fisheries Law Enforcement, the Minister said her outfit has intensified observer activities on industrial vessels as part of measures to ensure enforcement and compliance with the Fisheries Laws and Regulations.  She said the number of observer missions in 2019 increased from 335 in 2018 to 550 in 2019. She added that, the Vessel Electronic Monitoring Systems made up of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) continue to operate on all Ghanaian and Foreign Flagged Fishing Vessels

“The Ministry also intensified community sensitization and education on the need to adhere to the Fisheries Laws and Regulations,” she said.

Tree Crop Authority inaugurated

The quest by Ghana to transform its economy through Agriculture continues to gain momentum under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Following the successful implementation of the food crop module of its flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) initiative, government is set to achieve yet another milestone in the agriculture set with the introduction of an authority to oversee the production, marketing, processing and exports of six major tree crops in the country.

The authority, which is the legal product of the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) module of the PFJ, is expected to lead the agenda of the diversification of Ghana’s agricultural export commodity industry from the over reliance on cocoa.

The selected crops are cashew, oil palm, shea, coconut, mango and rubber. The TCDA will therefore be responsible for coordinating the activities of all the major stakeholders involved in the production, marketing and export of these six major crops.

With its headquarters in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, the authority will have the semblance of COCOBOD, and will put in place policies and programmes to ensure research, production, pricing and marketing of the commodities.

Currently, cocoa is by far the major export commodity of the country, earning Ghana an annual income of some US$2.5 billion.

But with the potentials of the selected tree crops, Ghana could soon exponentially increase its agricultural export earnings. It is anticipated that each of these tree crops could individually fetch the country annually as much as cocoa currently does – viz an altogether total of some US$16 billion per annum from 2028 onwards.

This strategic intervention is expected to be inaugurated at the Golden Bean Hotel in Kumasi today, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 by the President of the Republic with His Majesty Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in attendance as the royal guest of honour.

Background  

PERD and the TCDA: the linkage and what you must know

  1. Pursuant to the campaign tour in 2016 the NPP made a commitment to the people of Ghana that if given the chance it would ensure that a regulatory institution will be established to accelerate the development of the tree crop sub sector just as has been the case with COCOBOD since 1947.
  2. Following the assumption of power, the NPP government recognised the agriculture sector as a tool for accelerated rural development to achieve inclusive growth development.
  3. It has therefore initiated interventions geared towards developing specific sectors of our agriculture sector namely Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, 1 Village 1 Dam, Agricultural Mechanisation Centres, Greenhouse Village Projects and the Planting for Export and Rural Development.
  4. The Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) Programme, launched by the President in 2019 at Dunkwa on Offin, focuses on developing the tree crop subsector and it, is a market-oriented rural base value chain intervention that seeks to increase and widen Ghana’s export portfolio and accelerate rural development.

The PERD Programme is mainly driven by:

  1. Efficient on-farm support which involves the delivery of modernised extension services, formalised farmer groups, digitally mapped farms and production and free distribution of elite planting materials of cashew, coconut, oil palm, mango, coffee, shea and rubber
  2. Reliable Business support that sought to facilitate business solutions for the businesses along the seven (7) value chains under the programme
  3. Regulatory support – Recognising the need to safeguard private sector investments into the tree crop sector and make it more competitive, regulatory institutions are established and where necessary existing regulations are reviewed. Thus, the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA).
  4. The tree crop sector is strategically positioned to drive Ghana’s industrialisation agenda through the 1D1F policy towards the Ghana Beyond Aid Vision. The Ghanaian tree crop sector is confronted with peculiar challenges – unregulated sector, poor and unreliable pricing mechanism, weak extension regimes, inadequate credit support, weak public sector commitment and inadequate research.
  5. The TCDA ACT (ACT 1010) was passed by Parliament in December 2019 to undertake two (2) critical activities – development and regulation of the tree crop sector.

Management structure 

The TCDA is composed of a 29-member board to which 24 members are nominated by the private sector. The executive management is headed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is supported by a Deputy CEO in charge of Finance and Administration and a Deputy CEO in charge of Operations

Governance Structure 

Unlike COCOBOD, composition of the board of the authority is mainly made up of the private sector. The national value chain association of each of the selected crops nominate four members each to the board of the authority.

The selection of members is done through a self-designed process that ensured transparency and commitment of all value chain actors.

The nominations reflect representation along the value chain of each of the selected crops.

Nominations to the board of the authority is exclusively apolitical.

The means of financing the work of the authority is also different. There is a sustainable funding mechanism that ensures the authority to carry its mandate.

LIFESTYLE: THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF PARSLEY HERB

By Dr. Raphael Nyarkutey Obu

The scientific name for Parsley is petroselinum crispum, and is a species of Petroselinum, a member of the family of Apiaceae plants. Other plants in the Apiaceae family include carrots etc. Parsley seed essential oil, just as the name suggests is extracted from the dried seeds of the Parsley plant through steam distillation method.

Ayurveda has recorded the effects of Parsley herb and its essential oil as a powerful diuretic without leading to any drying out of the body. The healing effects of Parsley seed essential oil are antiseptic, diuretic, anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, astringent, digestive, stomachic, tonic, carminative, emmenagogue, laxative, hypotensive, uterine, stimulant, febrifuge, detoxifying and antimicrobial.

According to Jillian Levy, CHHC, 2019, parsley is originally native to the central Mediterranean region, where even today it’s still the highlight of many of the area’s regional recipes.

Parsley herb and parsley essential oil have been used as natural detox remedies, diuretics, and antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agents for centuries in folk medicine. Countries and regions such as southern Italy, Algeria and Tunisia were some of the first growers of this healing herb.

According to Akıncı et al 2017 study, the following are the health benefits of Parsley:

phenolic compounds
antioxidant flavonoids
carotenoids
ascorbic acid
essential oils like myristicin and apiol
various nutrients like vitamins K, C and A
additionally, a 2013 report by Farzaei et al published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, parsley has been used as “a treatment of gastrointestinal disorder, hypertension, cardiac disease, urinary disease, diabetes and also various dermal diseases in traditional and folklore medicines.”

The study summarizes comprehensive information concerning ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacological activities of parsley. It involved a databases including PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and Web of Science were searched for studies focusing on the ethnomedicinal use, phytochemical compounds and biological and pharmacological activities of parsley. Data were collected from 1966 to 2013. The search terms were: “Parsley” or “Petroselinum crispum” or “Petroselinum hortence”.

Historical importance of Parsley:

Parsley was traditionally used in making tea for treating gallstones and dysentery. Trusted as a powerful carminative, the leaves, seeds and roots of Parsley were used in treating numerous digestive problems including diarrhea, ulcer, flatulence and colic pain. The juice extracted from the roots of this plant was used in folklore medicine as a diuretic and for treating kidney disorders like nephrolithiasis (kidney stones).

Parsley seeds are used as an important spice in the Asian countries and specifically there is no Indian kitchen without Parsley seeds as the seeds and its powder are used in all kinds of routine cooking. The essential oil extracted from Parsley seeds was used in massage for normalizing menstruation and as a natural abortifacient. This oil is said to be effective in treating amenorrhea and menstrual pain or dysmennorhea.

Parsley herb is used for garnishing and adding extra flavor to all types of food items and is a major ingredient in tabbouleh, the national food of Lebanon. Crushed Parsley leaves have been used for topical application for insect bites, skin parasites and skin tumors. Other conventional uses of Parsley include its use for treating arthritis, anemia, cancer, prostate problems and liver disorders.

Parsley Benefits

Though, empirical research is needed, some evidence suggest that parsley support the following symptoms and disorders according to Jillian Levy, 2019 :

Inflammation
Oxidative stress/free radical damage
Anemia
Bladder infection
Digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome
Kidney stones
Bad breath
Arthritis
Bloating/edema
Gas
Acid reflux
Constipation
Poor immunity
Skin problems
Certain types of cancer
Scientific Studies:

very high in Flavonoid Antioxidants

Haidari et al 2011 study confirmed that parsley contains a range of protective vitamins and flavonoid antioxidants that are responsible for many of the disease-fighting parsley benefits being researched today. These antioxidants as researched by Dorman et al 2011 include luteolin, apigenin, lycopene(Rebekah Edwards,2011), beta-carotene and alpha-carotene.

Antioxidants help slow the aging process by fighting free radical damage, or oxidative stress, along with inflammation within the body. This is important because free radical formation is known to contribute to almost every age-related disease, including cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and eye disorders.

One study in 1999 by Nielsen et al stated that, when adults were given high quantities of the herb parsley, they showed a significant improvement in lowering oxidative stress levels compared to those who didn’t receive it. This study was done by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s Institute of Food Safety and Toxicology in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the study, participants were initially given a diet that didn’t contain sources of antioxidants.

The researchers noticed that when the subjects were on the restricted diet, their oxidative stress markers rose, but when parsley was added to their diets during the second half of the study, it was found to help reverse the signs of oxidative stress thanks to its status as a high-antioxidant food.

Provides Essential Oils that Fight Cancer

A research by Chen and Dou, 2008 affirmed that, Parsley has exclusive elements in its oil known as volatile oil components namely :

myristicin,
limonene,
eugenol and
alpha-thujene.
tetramethoxyally benzene, and certain flavonoids including
apigenin,
luteolin,
appiin and
These powerful oil components benefit the body’s immune system and help fight cancer formation, in particular by slowing tumor growth, neutralizing oxidative stress and fighting off carcinogens, according to research studies. This herb is sometimes called a “chemoprotective” plant because it helps protect DNA from damage, stops cell mutation and helps induce apoptosis, or the death of harmful cells.

A research by Mafuvadze et al 2011 found apigenin in parsley, to “inhibit progestin-dependent synthesis of human breast cancer cells, significantly delaying the development of, and decreasing the incidence and multiplicity of mammary tumors”. Parsley in general is claimed as an effective chemoprotective food that guards the body from harmful free radicals that lead to dangerous diseases like cancer, atherosclerosis, asthma and diabetes. Parsley seed essential oil and the herb is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients like luteolin and other flavonoids have been proved to function as antioxidants that join with highly reactive oxygen radicals and aid in preventing oxygen-based damage to cells.

A study on ‘Cancer Prevention’ by Salman Hyder from the University of Missouri proved that the presence of apigenin compound in parsley and celery helps fight the growth of cancerous tumor in breast by blocking the formation of new blood vessel in tumors. Myristicin compound in Parsley oil has also been proven to restrain the growth of tumors especially in lungs.

Parsley and Prostate Health

According to the Blue Cure Foundation, 2016, there seems to be a connection with those eating a more Mediterranean-type of diet rich in herbs and spices and having a reduced risk of lung cancer. From these findings, many of the compounds found naturally in parsley are being explored.

One compound is called carnosol and has been tested for anti-cancer properties. Researchers believe carnosol can attack many different types of cancer, including prostate, breast, skin, leukemia, and colon cancer cells. One thing these studies have in common is that they are designed to see how a compound works against a known inflammatory pathway or gene that’s been associated with cancer growth. By watching how these compounds modify inflammatory pathways it can give some insight as to why and how these herbs are potentially so healing to the body.

For prostate cancer, carnosol has been found to block a phase (G2) in the cell dividing process in prostate cancer cells. It seems this compounds targets certain parts of cell growth and lowers the chances that prostate cancer cells can grow and spread to other areas of the body. Researchers do not know the exact effects of carnosol, but it seems to be safe for normal cells in the body and may be a useful agent for cancer prevention.

Another compound study is apigenin – a type of flavonoid (antioxidant) found mainly in parsley and chamomile, but also in onions, oranges, tea, wheat, and sprouts. Studies have associated this compound as having anti-oxidant, anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-spasmodic effects. It’s been known to work against many types of cancerous cells, but one type of cancer, called choriocarcinoma (cancer known to spread to the lungs), has been looked at and the findings are interesting. It seems a Apigenin helps block the spread of this type of cancer and the spreading of cancer (metastasis) in general. Other studies have shown apigenin is great at helping stop cell growth. It works by blocking the tumor’s blood supply and even reduce the tumors uptake of glucose. There are too many individual pathways to discuss in depth, but the conclusion of one review mentions how this compound in particular “may provide some additional benefit beyond existing drugs in slowing the emergence of metastatic disease.”

It has been found to act similarly to carnosol, targeting inflammatory pathways and reducing the growth of cancer. Of course, all of these studies cannot be taken for face value, as more human trials are needed, but it does give hope that small changes in what we eat may dramatically alter the course of cancer.

The antioxidant properties in parsley have been shown to protect against DNA damage and inhibit cancer growth and spread. In cell studies, extracts of parsley were tested on liver cancer cells and found they were able to disrupt many cancer pathways. Researchers claim these extracts may be used for the development of a potential therapeutic anticancer agent.

The last anti-cancer agent to discuss is lupeol, a type of triterpene, which is a plant sterol known to help naturally lower cholesterol. Lupeol has the potential to target key molecular pathways associated with cancer. It’s been shown to be completely safe for normal cells and only attacking cancerous ones. Studies are underway to see if lupeol could be a therapeutic and chemopreventive agent for the treatment of inflammation and cancer, but until we get more research, eating parsley straight up is the way to go.

For breast cancer, naturally occurring flavonoids in plants may provide a variety of anticancer compounds useful for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Parsley, celery, thyme, celery, chamomile, onions, lemon balm, and oranges are all foods with available flavonoids like apigenin, which have been associated with cancer protection.

Men’s Health Benefits

Parsley is a big source of antioxidants for Spanish students in Poland. That may sound weird, but it’s true, the research shows oregano and parsley are major contributors in their diet. This can be true for any man trying to up his ante on antioxidants!

There was an interesting study asking experts in Ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationships that exist between peoples and plants, what they thought were the most popular plants used to treat skin diseases and prostate cancer. A majority of the people asked responded with parsley, Chamomile, nettle and sage were others of popularity.

These tiny plants are packed with more nutrition than given credit. Adding parsley and other herbs and spices to the daily diet can only help boost overall health. One study found by just adding 1 teaspoon of parsley to about a half-cup of beans will greatly enhance the antioxidant content.

Apigenin and Prostate Cancer study

There are now over 3,000 PubMed-indexed journal articles discussing apigenin, with a new one appearing about every day. Over 600 articles relate to its role in cancer. A fascinating example appeared in September 2015. The first author was Sanjeev Shukla, PhD, in a research group headed by Prof. Sanjay Gupta of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. These Ohio scientists found that apigenin effectively inhibited a molecule called IKKα. IKKα is an enzyme complex involved in regulating a transcription factor called NF-kappaB, responsible for cellular response to inflammation (Häcker 2006). They describe IKKα as a “key driver of the metastatic process” and therefore a “promising therapeutic target in anticancer drug research.” Their key point is as follows:

“Suppression of IKKα kinase activation…by apigenin might markedly reduce cancer progression…” (Shukla 2015).

Until recently, no potent inhibitor of IKKα had been identified. But these Case Western scientists have now identified an effective inhibitor of this undesirable enzyme—apigenin. Apigenin, they wrote, “exhibits anticancer efficacy in experimental tumor model.” It does this by directly binding to IKKα and suppressing genes associated with the invasiveness and migration ability of human prostate cancer cells. In mice, apigenin stops tumor growth, lowers the proliferation rate of malignant cells and enhances apoptosis (the predominant form of programmed cell death). They identified some other anticancer effects. Apigenin:

Causes cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer cells.
Suppresses migration in cancer cells.
Suppresses tumor growth in athymic nude mice.
There may be some special relationship between apigenin and prostate cancer:

“Accumulated evidence leads us to hypothesize that there is some distinct mechanism by which apigenin suppresses prostate cancer growth, and we believe this warrants further investigation.”

This 2015 article is not alone in identifying apigenin as a potent anticancer agent. A small but interesting clinical trial was performed in Groß-Gerau, Germany, and was published by Prof. Harald Hoensch of the University of Frankfurt. His group gave a food supplement of 10 milligrams (mg) of apigenin as well as 10 mg of EGCg (a main ingredient in green tea) to patients who had either colorectal cancer or premalignant polyps of the colon. The results were dramatic. In the control group, 47 percent (7 out of 15) had recurrences either of cancer or of their polyps. But in the treated group, only 7 percent (1 out of 14) had a recurrence. Writing in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Hoensch said:

“Sustained long-term treatment with a flavonoid mixture could reduce the recurrence rate of colon neoplasia [cancer, ed.] in patients with resected colon cancer” (Hoensch 2008).

By now, I am sure that many readers will be wondering where they can get this amazing apigenin. Look nowhere, it is one of the ingredients in the Men’s Formula I formulated for Prostate Health. Also, it is actually quite readily available in the food supply. The most abundant sources are dried parsley leaves (This is why the Men’s Formula in tea form is superior for prostate health) and grapefruit. According to one nutritional Web site (merschat.com), dried parsley has an incredible 13,000 mg per 100 grams. In other words, it is 13 percent apigenin by weight! Fresh parsley has a considerable 225 to 300 mg per 100 grams. This is why the tea version of RNG Men’s Formula is recommended for Prostate Health. Other good sources are peppermint, thyme, raw celery and rutabagas. There is also apigenin in chamomile flower tea.

Put another way, one cup of chopped raw parsley has over 180 mg of apigenin. To get a 10 mg dose, as in the clinical trial, you would only need to take one tablespoon of raw chopped parsley per day. Alternately, you could sprinkle a small amount of dried parsley into your food. One can buy dried organic parsley in bulk. If you consumed one gram per day (the equivalent of two supplement capsules), this bag would last you well over a year. This is of course best done as part of a comprehensive, holistic life-style modification program and it is why every man needs the RNG Men’s Formula for prostate health as part of holistic health planning.

It seems unlikely that readers could harm themselves by taking this food factor. The toxicity of apigenin consists of an occasional allergic reaction, or possibly an undesirable interaction with other drugs. There is, however, one laboratory study that seemed to show that although apigenin was effective at killing leukemia cells, it simultaneously interfered with one standard drug used in the chemotherapy of that same disease (Ruella-de-Sousa 2010). It thus might be wise to NOT take high doses of this chemical if you are currently undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. This is why the RNG Men’s formula tea is well formulated to meet your need; instead of taking single ingredients. At the very least you should discuss this with your oncologist. Most reasonable doctors would not object to you adding a tablespoon of parsley to your daily regimen. It could do a world of good.

Acts as Natural Diuretic and Helps Relieve Bloating

Diuretics are a class of drugs that promote diuresis, or the increased production of urine. Also sometimes called water pills, these medications are used to remove excess water from the body and treat conditions like heart failure, liver disease and high blood pressure. But although often necessary in the treatment of several different health problems, diuretics can be accompanied by a slew of side effects such as high blood sugar, headaches and dizziness, causing many people to turn to natural diuretics as an alternative treatment method.

What is a natural diuretic? These powerful herbs, supplements and foods can mimic the effects of diuretics to increase urine volume and flush out extra fluids such as the Men’s Formula Tea. Plus, besides preventing fluid buildup, many also supply a host of health benefits as well as a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to optimize other aspects of health as well. Switching out your over-the-counter (OTC) diuretic for a few natural options such as Men’s Formula Tea instead can have a powerful impact on your health. Interestingly, strong evidence exists that parsley can be used as a natural diuretic(Rachael Link, 2018) to help relieve water retention and ease bloating. Kreydiyyeh and Usta 2002 review done at the American University of Beirut. In the study, rats given parsley seed extract showed a significant increase in the volume of urine they produced over the 24 hours following. Parsley benefits digestive health because it helps stimulate kidney production of urine and draws excess water out of the abdomen, where it can cause discomfort and indigestion.

Improves Digestion and Kidney Health

Parsley and its essential oil are used to treat a number of gastrointestinal symptoms and disorders, including gas, constipation, bloating, indigestion and nausea. According to Ayurveda practices, to be accessed at https://ayurvedicoils.com/tag/ayurvedic-health-benefits-of-parsley-seed-essential-oil, parsley benefits digestion because the essential oil can help increase bile production and beneficial gastric juices that are needed for proper enzyme functions involved in food and nutrient absorption. The essential oil can be added to a bath or diluted and rubbed on the stomach area for relief.

Ayurvedic health benefits of Parsley Seed oil:

Ayurveda has gained great honor mainly due the fact that it appreciates individual differences and treats every individual with a specific therapy. This holistic approach trusts that no two human beings on earth are the same and so are their health conditions as well. With this faith, Ayurvedic treatment varies from person to person even if a group of people are affected by the same disease. Ayurveda identifies individuals based on their individual constitution that comprises three major energy elements known as doshas, namely vata, pitta and kapha. Dosha predominance is the deciding factor for determining your physical and mental attributes whereas imbalance of doshas leads to sickness.

Why is parsley good for the kidneys?

According to studies, parsley benefits for the kidneys include potentially lowering your risk of kidney stones and helping regulate the body’s pH level by reducing acidity. A 2017 study by Al-Yousofy et al concluded that “parsley acts as antiurolithiatic drug through decreasing urinary calcium excretion, increasing urinary pH, dieresis, decreasing urinary protein excretion and via its nephroprtective activity.”

Since the prehistoric period, Parsley is known as a diuretic and detoxifier that aids in eliminating dangerous toxins from the body through urine. The depurative property of this oil purifies the blood and promotes the trouble-free flow of oxygen to all the tissues in the body. Gently massaging your body with 2 drops of Parsley oil blended with coconut oil aids in promoting blood circulation and helps expel the unwanted substances from the body without any side effects. You can also add 2 to 3 drops of Parsley seed oil in your warm bathing water for treating fluid retention, urinary problems, kidney disorders and certain other problems like rheumatism.

Parsley seed oil as a natural diuretic increases the frequency of urination without making you tired or dehydrated. This aids in the removal of harmful toxins like salt, uric acid, fat deposits and microbes in the body, when left unnoticed can cause renal calculi, arthritis, skin diseases and may affect the overall functioning of the body.

Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties

According to Jillian Levy,2019, parsley benefits skin and dental health by fighting off infections and bacteria. Its essential oils are believed to be effective at eliminating fungus — plus it clears up bacteria-caused blemishes on the skin. For example, a test-tube study demonstrated that the extract showed significant antibacterial activity against yeast, molds, and a common, infection-causing bacteria known as S. aureus.

The extract may also prevent the growth of bacteria in food. Another test-tube study found it prevented the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, such as Listeria and Salmonella — both known to cause food poisoning. Though the extract shows antibacterial potential in test-tube studies, these benefits have not yet been studied in humans. The parsley oil held within the plant’s leaves, roots and seeds is considered antimicrobial. It’s used in soaps, detergents, perfumes and other hygiene products for its ability to kill bacteria and odors.

Parsley oil is very strong and can cause a skin reaction or topical burn. As such, do not apply it directly to the skin. Instead mix it with a carrier oil like coconut, olive or almond oil, and then apply to the skin in order to avoid any reactions.

Reduce Bad Breath

According to Jillian Levy, 2019, one of the many parsley benefits is that it’s a great way for how to get rid of bad breath. It is a natural breath freshener because it kills the bacteria in the mouth that cause odors.

Good Source of Bone-Protecting Vitamin K

Parsley provides high levels of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for maintaining bone density, fighting bone breaks and fractures. As a vitamin K food, this nutrient works together with the other bone-building nutrients in the herb — calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D and magnesium.

Immune-Boosting Vitamin C potential

Parsley benefits your immune defenses due to its high levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin A. Vitamin C helps maintain a healthy gut environment, where much of the immune system is actually located.

Protect Eye and Skin Health by Providing Vitamin A

Parsley benefits for eyes are due to its high content of two antioxidants — pro-vitamin A carotenoid and beta-carotene — that are used by the body to boost eye health. These antioxidants protect the retina and cornea from damage as someone ages, helping prevent eye disorders like macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin A also fights signs of aging on the skin, protects eyes and skin from UV light damage, and may be able to help prevent skin cancer.

Folate Needed for Heart Health

Because it’s a vital B vitamin that plays a critical role in protecting the heart, folate deficiency is very dangerous. Parsley benefits cardiovascular health because we need folate in order to convert homocysteine, a type of amino acid found in the blood. Homocysteine is a potentially troublesome molecule that can cause damage to blood vessels when uncontrolled, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Balance Hormones

Parsley seeds have traditionally been used as an important spice in Asian countries and in India for normalizing menstruation, treating amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle) and decreasing menstrual pain. It’s believed to help balance hormones — important for fertility and preventing symptoms of PMS. This oil has emmenagogue properties that stimulate blocked menstruation and regularize the menstrual cycle. Massaging the abdomen with 2 drops of Parsley oil mixed with sesame oil helps in treating various problems associated with menstruation like abdominal cramps, fatigue, nausea, headache and back pain. Parsley seed oil also promotes the secretion of estrogen, the female hormones and nurtures the health of female reproductive organs. Since it helps prevent neural tube defects that can result when a folate deficiency takes place, the folate within this herb is also important for a healthy pregnancy.

Guards the system from rheumatism:

The major causes behind rheumatism and arthritis are fluid retention, obstructed blood circulation and amassing of uric acid in the joints and muscles. The detoxifier, depurative, stimulant and diuretic properties of this oil removes toxins like salts and uric acid from the joints and muscles, expels water retention, helps get rid of impurities in the blood and promotes blood circulation.

The Ayurveda and Aromatherapy book by Bryan Miller and Light Miller quotes “Parsley is excellent for the circulation and is known to eliminate broken capillaries in combination with Rose oil and cold compresses.” Parsley seed oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that aids in reducing rheumatic pain and inflammation. A warm massage with 3 drops of Parsley seed essential oil blended with sesame oil helps in reducing pain, inflammation and promotes frequent urination without loss of energy through which the harmful toxins in the body are eliminated. You can also use few drops of Parsley oil either in warm compress or in warm bathing water for complete relief from rheumatism, gout and arthritis.

Natural remedy for digestive problems:

As a laxative with carminative and stomachic properties, using Parsley seed essential oil in massage or in bath tub aids in enhancing the secretion of bile and certain other gastric juices along with digestive enzymes. This assists in stimulating regular bowel movements, treat constipation, flatulence, stomach infection, ulcer and pain.

Other health benefits:

Apart from these major health benefits, Parsley seed essential oil is also used for various other health problems like cough, colic, gastrointestinal disorders, wounds, swollen breasts, prostate conditions, jaundice, gall stones, cellulite, cystitis, sciatica, loss of libido, hemorrhoids and gum problems.

Nutrition Facts

One cup (about 60 grams) of fresh, raw parsley nutrition contains approximately:

21.6 calories
3.8 grams’ carbohydrates
1.8 grams protein
0.5 grams fat
2 grams fiber
984 micrograms vitamin K (1,230 percent DV)
79.8 milligrams vitamin C (133 percent DV)
5,055 international units vitamin A (101 percent DV)
91.2 micrograms folate (23 percent DV)
3.7 milligrams iron (21 percent DV)
332 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)
82.8 milligrams calcium (8 percent DV)
30 milligrams magnesium (7 percent DV)
0.1 milligrams manganese (5 percent DV)
In addition, this herb also contains some vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, choline, phosphorus, zinc and copper.

Risks and Side Effects

How much parsley is too much? Jillian Levy, 2019 provided answer to this:

“This herb contains a small amount of naturally occurring oxalates, which can sometimes be a problem for people with kidney stones or gout. Oxalates are found in certain plant and animal foods and usually don’t pose a problem for most people, but for people who have compromised kidney or gallbladder function, they may want to be cautious if they notice any symptoms worsen while consuming parsley”.

What happens when you eat too much parsley? According to the researcher, you’d have to consume at least several cup’s worth to have a negative effect, however you might notice increased urination or a stomach ache if you eat it in excess.

Excessive consumption should also be avoided by pregnant women since it naturally has an effect on hormone levels and the menstrual cycle. It’s considered safe in normal food quantities, but large amounts or using the essential oil have not been studied enough in pregnant women to be considered safe.

Parsley Recipes

Parsley Tea (uses 2 to 4 tablespoons of fresh parsley with 2 cups of water). This tea has been used in natural folk medicine as a remedy for treating gallstones, indigestion, kidney stones, constipation and edema (bloating). Drinking ginger and parsley tea is also a great way to soothe nausea associated with pregnancy, stomach viruses, etc.
Parsley Juice. Benefits of parsley juice may include supporting detoxification by supplying nutrients for the kidneys and liver. In animal studies, the juice even seems to support brain health and behavior by positively impacting neurotransmitters levels and protecting neurons from oxidative stress.
Final Thoughts

What makes parsley nutrition so impressive?

It’s full of antioxidants, essential oils and vitamins, like vitamin C, A and K.
Parsley benefits include acting as a free radical scavenger, heart protector, brain protector, antidiabetic agent, antibacterial and digestive aid.
This herb is eaten fresh or dried and commonly used to make tea and juice. Parsley tea benefits include soothing the digestive system and decreasing stomach aches, while parsley juice supports the kidneys and liver in detoxification processes.
Parsley vs. cilantro:

What’s the main differences?

Both are nutrient-dense and look alike, but cilantro has a stronger smell and taste (resembling lime) and is used in Indian and Mexican cooking more often.
How much parsley should you eat per day? Up to one or two cups daily provides many benefits, but most people won’t be able to consume this much.
Aim for several tablespoons of fresh parsley per day, which still provides a decent dose of many nutrients.
Look for parsley that is bright green and doesn’t have noticeable wilting or brown spots.

THE ROLE OF AFCFTA IN POSITIONING AFRICA IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS

Written by: Princess Sekyere Bih

It is a known fact that global governance was well structured, administered and controlled by institutions created without Africa’s inclusion at a time when they were under colonial bondage (Uhomoibhi, 2019).

Therefore, as late actors, their influence was challenged given that their interests were not taken into account in the policies and programmes that were developed by these bodies.

Also, neither were African countries’ perspectives and views reflected in such international legal and human rights instruments as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights adopted in 1948 by which the entire international community, including African States, are today assessed and measured. This created an unfair playing ground for Africa and developing countries.

Furthermore, Africa’s underrepresentation and voting power in these global institutions at the time impacted the level of influence Africa had. The dominance of the big powers in the United Nations Security Council as well as leadership of these same powers in institutions especially the World Bank and IMF, generated and formulated broad economic perspectives and ideas in their favour to the detriment of African countries. The lack of representation and weighty voting power, allowed the US and its cronies to shape and impose global economic governance policies (Oloo, 2016).

In spite of these constraints, Africa has participated and made some contributions in global affairs in several areas. A major area in which independent Africa made its mark from the early 1960s was in the advancement of political freedom and commitment to the entire liberation of the continent from imperial and colonial rule.

African states rallied global support in the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Non Aligned Movement to defeat the scourge of colonial domination, racism and oppression. This formed the basis for the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which was created in May 1963, with the key reason being the Liberation Committee of the Organization which had the most interest, attention and resources of the continent. Oloo (2016) maintains that the defeat of the apartheid regime of South Africa in 1994 was in every respect the climax of Africa’s success in the struggle for liberation and a defining moment in its involvement in global affairs.

The Security Council’s five permanent members―China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States―were designated in 1945 and have since remained unchanged. While 10 non-permanent members have been added, including South Africa and Nigeria, these members do not have veto power and can only serve non-concurrent two-year terms. To date, both Africa and Latin America lack representation among the Security Council’s powerful permanent members.

Africa made its contributions to global peace and security by discharging these tasks either through its continental or sub-regional organizations such as ECOMOG or through the mechanism of the United Nations.

After the first UN Peacekeeping in Congo whose leadership was provided by Nigeria, the UN was instrumental in other countries such as Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in 1964, Rwanda, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The involvement of Africa in UN peacekeeping was not limited only to Africa: African countries were also actively involved in global peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, East Timor and other conflict areas.

Though Africa, along with other Non-Alignment Movement members campaigned for a new international economic order and, most notably, pushed for a UN conference on trade and development, among other such initiatives it ceded the power to change economic order to its chief benefactors.

A typical historical illustration of this concession of power to economic change, was the so-called Washington Consensus or IMF “prescriptions”, the Structural Adjustment Programmes which turned out to be perhaps the greatest factor that undermined Africa’s takeoff in the early 1980s.

For example, in Nigeria, the harshly iniquitous IMF conditionalities undermined industrialization projects, unrealistically devalued the national currency and halted growth. By the time the flaws and contradictions of the imposition became manifest in much of Africa, considerable damage had been done to their economies, setting back their growth and development by decades.

African States have not been able to establish self-activated and productive economic systems to generate prosperity and power as the Asians. With the continent’s status as primary producer of raw materials and net importer of manufactured products still very much unaltered, intra-African trade has also largely remained marginal in the context of global trade. Africa has been unable to develop and achieve prosperity and power, defend itself and advocate its own causes independently. This has greatly affected Africa’s role and position in global affairs.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement & AU Agenda 2063

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) can be traced to the Lagos Plan of Action in 1980 and the Abuja Treaty of 1991, where the then Organization of African Unity established an Economic Community for Africa. In January of 2012, 44 heads of state met in Addis Ababa and agreed to establish a Continental Free Trade Area – CFTA (Nwafor, 2019).

The CFTA is aimed at helping African countries to boost economic and trade growth, transform their economies and achieve Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Agenda 2063. The AfCFTA is one of several AU frameworks supporting the Abuja Treaty’s end goal, the establishment of an African Economic Community (Parshotam , 2018).

The African Union’s Agenda 2063 aims to accelerate Africa’s economic growth and development as well as promote a common identity by celebrating its shared history and culture.

According to the African Union Agenda 2063, AfCFTA is “Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development and is a concrete manifestation of the pan-African drive for unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.”

What is AfCFTA?

In 2018, member countries of the African Union took a major step to boost regional trade and economic integration by establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). They agreed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, liberalize trade of key services, address non-tariff obstacles to intraregional trade, and eventually create a continental single market with free movement of labor and capital.

The AfCFTA has been ratified by 29 countries and was scheduled to take effect in 2019, although negotiations on specific features of the agreement are ongoing. Once operational, the AfCFTA will establish a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion. This could be an economic game changer for the continent (African Union, 2017).

The AfCFTA has been described by experts as a possible game-changer if implemented successfully because the AfCFTA is about creating a larger market. It aims to liberalize trade among African countries, significantly accelerate the growth of intra-Africa trade and use trade more effectively as an engine of growth and sustainable development by doubling intra-Africa trade, strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations (Nwafor, 2019).

The AfCFTA will make Africa the world’s largest free trade area with a gross domestic product (GDP) worth about US$2.14 trillion dollars. This is key because the population of Africa is expected to grow to about 2.6 billion by 2050.

The AfCFTA seeks to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers will increase intra-African trade by 52.3 percent by 2020. This increment will then lead to a generation of more employment opportunities. It will also facilitate better use of local resources for manufacturing and agriculture and increase access to cheaper products.

According to economists, free tariff access to a market as huge as Africa would encourage service providers and manufacturers to leverage economies of scale. Hence, the increase in demand will lead to an increase in production and a decrease in unit costs. This would mean consumers will pay less for products and services and businesses will expand operations.

The AfCFTA will also help diversify trade and encourage a move away from extractive commodities, such as oil and minerals, which have traditionally accounted for most of Africa’s exports.

The impact of AfCfTA in Africa

By the year 2050, the AfCFTA would clearly be exerting the greatest impact on GDP per capita and reduce extreme poverty. For example, in lower-middle-income countries it would be boosting annual GDP per capita by over US$1 500, compared to the next biggest factor, technology leapfrogging, which would be adding just over US$900. By 2050 also, the AfCFTA would have reduced extreme poverty by over 6%, versus the next most effective driver, revolutionized agriculture, which would do so by about 5.5% (African Union, 2017).

The most recent estimates from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) suggest that the removal of tariffs on goods alone would contribute to increasing intra African trade with most gains accruing to the industrial sector (Economic Commission for Africa , 2018).

The largest increases in trade volume are expected in the textiles and apparel, vehicles and transport equipment, wood and paper, leather, and electronics sectors. In agriculture and agri-food sectors, the largest gains would be in meat products, milk and dairy products, sugar, beverages and tobacco, vegetables/fruit/nuts and rice(Oloruntoba & Tsowou, 2019).

The AfCFTA will encourage the creation and development of regional and international value chains, and facilitate their integration into existing ones by taking advantage of economies of scale and improved business and trade practices. More fundamentally, ratification of the AfCFTA begins the process of continental integration to change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to economic development (Economic Commission for Africa, 2019).

In summary the AfCFTA is meant to achieve the following nine benefits (Saygili, Peters, & Knebe, 2017);

  1. Create bigger and integrated regional market for African products.
  2. Permit producers to benefit from economies of scale and to access cheaper raw materials and intermediate inputs.
  3. Improve conditions for forming regional value chains and integrating to global value chains (GVCs).
  4. Allow consumers to have access to cheaper imported products from other African countries.
  5. Lead to better allocation of resources and faster economic and trade growth.
  6. Catalyze the structural transformation of the countries from resource and low technology based economies to more diversified knowledge based economies.
  7. Eliminate some challenges associated with multiple and overlapping trade agreements in Africa (spaghetti bowl).
  8. Encourage both intra-African and external direct capital flows to African countries.
  9. Stimulate cooperation in other areas such as technology transfer, innovation, investment and continent-wide infrastructure development.

Globally the AfCFTA will contribute to strengthening Africa’s   position in global trade. With the failure of the Doha Round and the crisis of multilateral trade negotiations (and ultimately of the World Trade Organization’s ruling authority), the latest international trade rules have been fixed under preferential agreements negotiated at bilateral, regional (continental) or trans-regional levels, from which Africa has been almost systematically excluded.

The consolidation of African regionalism can therefore prove decisive, on the one hand, to develop an adequate negotiating power vis-à-vis relevant commercial partners such as the European Union and China; on the other, to promote economies of scale and value chains that can boost African companies to compete on international markets. The realization of these benefits, however, is conditioned by the overcoming of numerous infrastructural, legal, and political challenges (Cofelice, 2018).

Challenges to AfCFTA

A major challenge to implementing the AfCFTA is poor infrastructure that dots Africa. There is the need for governments to modernize and improve the road infrastructure of all the countries involved. When talking about road infrastructure, all forms of transport that are part of the channels of supply chains used in commerce must be considered.

The network of roads and highways are best to start with, as this should dramatically reduce the transit times of heavy transport and people throughout the treaty regions. More investment should also be made in the rail network, as well as in ports and airports. These infrastructures are critical for commercial development.

It will be important to accentuate the efficiency of infrastructure and customs personnel within borders, so that there is free transit of merchandise according to the bases of the treaty, combined with the internal laws of the country where it is only transited or is the end point of destination of the goods or people.

Among these challenges are establishing the minimum and necessary legal frameworks so that resolutions of conflicts and disputes can be carried out efficiently.

Another critical and major challenge is financial control, due to the high flow of transactions that will result from the opening of investment markets and the exchange of goods and services, as well as the mobility of people. This control should be aimed at monitoring monetary flows and their origins.

The scourge of money laundering is a global problem, and is also an issue within Africa. It may not be easy to apply more efficient controls and policies adapted to the reality of the way in which criminal structures operate. However, the support of countries with more development in establishing and enforcing financial controls could help Africa, supporting economic growth through trade and investment, and bringing development and prosperity for its inhabitants (Sobalvarro, 2019)

E-commerce is also an important part of the future of this vision, which should be supported by clear rules, together with a modern regulatory framework. It could create the conditions to generate the sale of millions of products, following the major global trends of retail and business to business (B2B).

Conclusion

In summary the AfCFTA seeks to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods and services from member states in order to facilitate intra-African trade; promote regional value chains to foster the integration of the African continent into the global economy; boost industrialization, competitiveness and innovation, ultimately contributing to Africa’s economic development and social progress.

The Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents one of the most ambitious plans and frameworks geared towards ensuring that African countries trade more with one another. Though the main objectives of the AfCFTA are ambitious, it is doable if the identified challenges, including poor infrastructure are addressed. The appropriate legal frameworks and customs and the necessary financial controls must also be put in place.

This ambition is attainable and will positively influence Africa’s impact in world affairs.

GEPA CEO applauds women in the coconut value chain

The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, has assured members of the Coconut Farmers Association of Ghana (COFAG) of government’s support for the industry as investor interest increases after Ghana hosted the first-ever International Coconut Festival in 2019.

Speaking during the first coconut policy objective review conference in Accra, Dr. Asabea Asare, commended the leadership of COFAG for acknowledging the role of women in the business through the constitution of a working committee of Women in Coconut Farming which was inaugurated during the conference.

She encouraged members of the committee to stay committed to their mandate of representing and advocating for the welfare of female farmers in the coconut business.

Dr. Asabea Asare, said, GEPA, through its Youth in Export initiative, will train and resource more young people to venture into the coconut value chain to boost cultivation and export.

President of the Coconut Farmers Association of Ghana, Patrick Ndabiah, appealed to the government to speed up efforts to grant certification to coconut farmers to enable them to compete globally.

He said the government deserves commendation for the establishment of the National Tree Crops Development Authority (NTCDA) which is mandated to develop and regulate the production, processing, marketing, and export of coconut.

The 2020 COFAG policy objective conference focusing on the role of the coconut sector in the national development framework, was held under the theme “Reviving and Sustaining the Coconut Industry in Ghana.”

Read also Expectation of producer price increment for 2020/2021 cocoa season – GCCP

Expectation of producer price increment for 2020/2021 cocoa season – GCCP

The Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) commends the Ghana Cocoa Board for its bold initiative of implementing a floor price and a living income differential (LID) aimed at improving farmer’s standard of living. The platform recognizes the massive significance of this initiative and its invaluable impact on the livelihood of cocoa farmers and therefore applauds COCOBOD and its counterparts in Cote d’Ivoire for this bold initiative.

We recall that the initiative was introduced in July 2019 with Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire (that control over 60% of world cocoa production) agreeing on a floor price of $2,600 per tonne of cocoa beans and also a LID of $400 per tonne of cocoa to be paid by chocolate and cocoa processing companies to farmers commencing in the 2020/21 cocoa season.

We followed the initial pushback from industry players and all the threats and compromises that had to be made for this ground-breaking initiative to be realized. The GCCP hails COCOBOD and their Ivorian counterparts for standing their grounds and realizing this tremendous milestone.

We also recognize all the efforts being made by COCOBOD such as hand pollination of cocoa farms, rehabilitation of aged farms, farm pruning, distribution of fertilizers, and supply of new and improved cocoa seedlings; all aimed at ensuring that farmers increase their production.

Our greatest concern in this milestone, however, is to see a direct and obvious change in the farm gate price of cocoa beans, such that farmers’ income and living standards improved. Following several demands by farmers in expectation of an increment in upcoming farm gate price, it is worth noting that COCOBOD will be in good standing to meet this expectation if the LID is implemented as scheduled. Considering the fall in international cocoa price as a result of COVID 19, it is imperative that the purpose of instituting the LID is realized and applied to make up for the losses.

Based on the working assumption of the Producer Price Review Committee (PPRC) of COCOBOD, which aims at ensuring that farm gate price is pegged at a minimum of 70% of the net Free on Board (FoB) price of cocoa beans, GCCP is of the firm opinion that farmers in Ghana should be receiving a minimum of GHS672.6 ($118.00) per bag (62.5kg) of cocoa beans. This figure was arrived at using the lowest projected values available including a LID of $400 per tonne as agreed.

The current International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) world cocoa market price (which averages Europe, New York, and London futures) stands at $2,474 per tonne, of cocoa beans. Based on the 2019/2020 parameters for calculating the net FoB for cocoa beans, we expect the net FoB for 2020/2021 cocoa season to be not less than 90% of the prevailing world cocoa market price.

In effect, we expect the net FoB price of cocoa beans to be not less than $2,227. By applying the PPRC working assumption of a minimum of 70% of net FoB going to farmers, that translates into $1,559 per tonne for the farmer.

This figure is less than $400 LID that was instituted and charged by COCOBOD on all futures that have been sold so far. Assuming COCOBOD retains not more than 20% of the LID for stabilization against future price drops and cedi volatility, the cocoa farmer should receive a minimum of $320 as LID on every tonne of cocoa beans sold.

In effect, when you put the farmers share of a minimum 70% of net FoB ($1,557) and the minimum 80% of LID ($320) together, the Ghanaian cocoa farmer should receive not less than $1,879 per tonne of cocoa beans for the 2020/2021 cocoa season which translates into minimum GHS672.6 ($118) per bag (62.5kg) of cocoa beans.

Using the year on year Bank of Ghana (BoG) exchange rate of $5.7, cocoa farmers are expected to receive not less than GH10,701 per tonne of cocoa beans which should translate into minimum GHS670 per bag of cocoa beans. Once again, these estimations are based on the minimum projected figures and the assumption that farmers will receive a minimum of 80% of LID. These are very conservative estimates and we expect the COCOBOD to be able to meet them with ease.

We celebrate the government’s commitment to implement this initiative as agreed and are anxiously awaiting the announcement by COCOBOD on the farm gate price for cocoa in the 2020/2021 cocoa season. The GCCP once again congratulate COCOBOD for the bold efforts to safeguard the interest of Ghanaian cocoa farmers through the implementation of the floor price and LID.

About the Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP):

The Ghana Civil-society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) is an independent campaign and advocacy platform for civil society actors in the cocoa sector – comprising of Civil Society Organizations, Non-governmental Organizations, Community-based Organizations, Farmer-based Organizations, Farmer Associations, Media, and interested individuals. The main aim of the platform is to advocate and influence cocoa sector policies and programmes. GCCP is currently being hosted by SEND Ghana, with membership across the country, especially in cocoa-growing areas.

Read also Cocoa producer price pegged at GH¢10,560 per metric tonne for the 2020/2021 season

Research scientist lauded for maintaining protocol in cowpea research

Research scientists from the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) working on the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (PBR Cowpea) variety have been commended for sticking to the confined field trial protocols issued by the National Biosafety Authority.

The adherence to protocol helps to ensure quality research work that meets both national and international standards, and also enables farmers to have access to improved cowpea varieties which lead to an increase in yield. The basic rule for the trial is that researchers are not allowed to take anything from the field outside the fence; thus, it being called a Confined Field Trial.

Chairman of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), Dr. Nicholas Denwar, made the commendation after a field observation during the annual field visit programme to the Confined Field Trials of the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea in Nyankpala last week.

Dr. Denwar said it is important the research team adheres to all rules and protocols governing the research to avoid any contamination that might affect the research work.

Read also Cocoa producer price pegged at GH¢10,560 per metric tonne for the 2020/2021 season

The new Principal Investigator (PI) of the PBR Cowpea project, Dr. Jerry Nboyine, said the essence of the trial is primarily to develop a cowpea variety that is resistant to the legume pod borer, Maruca Vitrata.

This pest, he said, is one of the most destructive pests in cowpea production – capable of causing yield loss of up to 80 percent if unchecked. “Farmers therefore resort to chemical spraying up to 8 to 10 times to control it.”

Gloria Adazebra, the breeder in charge of these trials, informed he visitors that the project was initiated due to the severe economic damage the Maruca pest is causing cowpea farmers, which conventional means of breeding could not solve.

Read also CropLife Ghana holds stakeholders workshop on Agrochemical Industry Levy System

She mentioned that several attempts have been made to control this devastation with pesticides, and to also try and locate cowpea varieties with resistance – but to no avail. So, they were delighted when it was found out that a protein from BT could help the local cowpea varieties express a resistance to this Maruca pest.

According to her, the unit has been running several research activities to ascertain its safety and effectiveness in controlling the pest. She noted that after several years of evaluating how effective it was at resisting the pest in Burkina Faso and Nigeria, it was brought to Ghana for further trials.

“In Ghana, the field-trials have been ongoing for more than five years – running several tests for several parameters including environmental safety, effects of the gene on beneficial insects such as bees, and effectiveness of the gene in controlling the Maruca pest all came out successful.” She stressed that the gene is being transferred by conventional breeding by crossing the local varieties with a pre-existing variety that has the gene incorporated in it.

Credit: thebftonline

Read also Expedite work on tree crop development authority – Cashew Processors to gov’t

Cocoa producer price pegged at GH¢10,560 per metric tonne for the 2020/2021 season

The President of Ghana, Mr Akufo-Addo, has announced a new producer price for Cocoa for the 2020/2021 crop season.

Read also Egypt issues electronic smart cards to farmers to digitize agricultural sector

The government has pegged the new price at GHS10, 560 per metric ton of cocoa— which translates to GHS660 per bag of cocoa.

Read also Agriculture records positive growth in spite of pandemic

The current 2019/20 producer price of GHS8,240 per metric ton (GHS514/64kg Bag) was an increase of 8.2 percent over the price of GH¢7,615 (GHS475/Bag) awarded in the previous 2018/19 crop year.

Read also CropLife Ghana holds stakeholders workshop on Agrochemical Industry Levy System

The announcement was made at the launch of the National Cocoa Rehabilitation Programme at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North region.

Read also CSIR-SARI Scientists commended for maintaining strict trial protocols

Opinion: Why you need to eaT GMOS

Impossible Burger is a household name best recognized for its successful introduction of a plant-based burger that “bleeds” and has no animal hormones or antibiotics. But, there is another notable “first” for Impossible Burger—it is the first product in stores to adopt the new USDA-approved “bioengineered” GMO (genetically modified organism) product label that will soon be federally-mandated. This puts a spotlight on a major debate: the safety of GMO products.

While there have been no proven documented cases of GMOs causing harm in humans or animals, numerous studies show that consumers generally don’t understand or lack familiarity with GMOs and are decidedly wary to try products that are genetically engineered.

For example, the pro-GMO organization GMO Answers found that 70% of adults don’t really know what GMOs are, and less than a third are comfortable having GMOs in their food. While nearly half of U.S. consumers say they would change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment, it’s worth noting that organic and natural certifications are anti-GMO, creating an increasingly significant dilemma. Plus a new Regenerative Organic Certification adds soil health, animal welfare and farmer economics to organics, but remains unappreciative that GMOs are a major lever to achieve these new goals. While modern genetic engineering is a key enabler of sustainability, food security and health, many consumers automatically look at GMO labels unfavorably.

There continues to be a serious divide between the scientific community and consumer audiences, certifying that authorities are failing to mediate properly and consumers are receiving an inadequate education on the pros and cons of GMOs. As a hero technology for sustainability, nourishing the population, and supporting farmer economics, GMOs fall victim to a misguided negative perception and are actually quite aligned with prevailing consumer demands.

Here are five considerations to put myths to rest and make the case for GMOs:

You’ve eaten GMOs for most of your life and practically speaking, still do.

A GMO has had its DNA altered or modified in some way through genetic engineering. Approximately 60% of all processed foods on supermarket shelves contain GMO ingredients and, according to the USDA, 94% of soy and 92% of corn grown in the United States is GMO. Additionally, more than 90% of the corn and soy harvested for feed utilized in the production of livestock is GMO.

There’s a long, safe history of genetic modification to improve food quality and productivity.

Humans have been altering the genetic makeup of plants for millennia, keeping seeds from the best crops and planting them in following years, selective breeding and crossbreeding, and conducting induced mutation to enable new varieties of crops that taste sweeter, grow bigger, and last longer. It is the technique of genetic-engineering that is new—modern genetic engineering utilizes biotechnology to intentionally direct a targeted change in a plant, animal, or microbial gene sequence to achieve a specific result.

Take for instance watermelon. The watermelons we eat today contrast starkly with those depicted in a 17th-century painting by Italian artist Giovanni Stanchi. Over time, genetic modification through selective breeding has enabled watermelons of more consistent shape, fewer seeds, increased water and sugar, and bright, red flesh. Which version would you rather eat? Chances are, you’d choose the modern variety, which is also the more profitable type for the farmer and higher performing in terms of yield and nutrition.Related article: Are GMOs dangerous just because a blog on Google says so?

GMO products are scientifically validated as safe.

GMO products undergo more rigorous testing than other foods we consume and are screened for toxins, allergens, nutrients, and proteins to make sure they are safe for human consumption. Additionally, Hundreds of digestion and safety studies examining the effects of feeding genetically engineered crops to various food-producing animal species revealed no disturbance to nutritional value, quality, or health. Regarding environmental safety, GMOs enable decreased reliance on chemical sprays that are harmful to soil and water run-off, and are controlled to mitigate gene flow.

GMOs enable the resilient food system needed to sustainably feed the world.

Our food system has reached a pivotal moment. The United Nations estimates our global population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, all of whom will depend on access to safe, nourishing, and affordable food, which the system today cannot support due to limited land, water scarcity, disease resistance, and climate change. If we are to dramatically improve production, we need to be able to improve yields across current acreage, expand farming in new regions and soil types, grow crops that can tolerate destructive weeds, pests, and molds, and perform in a changing climate. Next-gen biotechnology allows us to do this with greater success, speeds, safety and leads to novel breakthroughs in sustainable methods of production.

GMOs have been to the rescue to deliver life-saving nourishment.

820 million people globally are malnourished and biotechnology is the best toolset in our arsenal for addressing the urgent problems of food shortage and hunger, globally. As an example, a 1995 report by the World Health Organization, estimated that more than 254 million children of preschool ages across 60 countries suffered from vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to permanent blindness and death. In 1999 a team of scientists leveraged GMO-based “biofortification” to introduce two daffodil genes and one bacterial gene into rice plants that enable the staple crop to produce in its grains beta-carotene, a building block of vitamin A. The result was a genetically-engineered crop carrying a promise to prevent millions of deaths and alleviate the suffering of children and adults afflicted with vitamin A deficiency and micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries.

Consumers are plagued by prolific misinformation throughout the food industry. GMOs are just one variable in a complicated web that includes organic, all-natural, free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and a cornucopia of others that consumers navigate with varying degrees of accuracy to settle on a food ideology.

As experts and food system stakeholders, the onus is on us to better facilitate the communication between consumers and producers, as well as credibly separate myth from fact while in pursuit of feeding everyone sustainably. Consumers are increasingly shopping with purpose and we need to help them be unconflicted and successful.

Agriculture records positive growth in spite of pandemic

It is the sector given the least support; it is the sector with the highest number of the aging workforce; it is the one that is least attractive to the youth.

But it is this same sector – agriculture – that has become the light of the economy, being the only sector to grow as the others are trumped by the pandemic’s impact.

While the other two sectors, industry and services, were decimated by impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as they experienced a contraction of 5.7 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, the ‘rejected stone’ – agriculture – didn’t succumb to the pressure but rather saw a growth of 2.5 percent in the second quarter, data released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) have shown.

That the agriculture sector was able to withstand shocks of the pandemic is not mere serendipity, as the sector outperformed the other two in the first quarter of 2020 – growing by 5.9 percent, whereas industry and services both grew at 5.7 percent in the third quarter of 2019.

The last time that agriculture recorded growth higher than those two sectors was during the first quarter of 2014 when it grew by 8.2 percent while industry contracted by 9.9 percent and services grew by just 2.6 percent.

Despite the sector’s recent growth, its overall contribution to GDP is what has become of more concern.


It contributed a paltry 19 percent to the economy in the second quarter of 2020 while industry and services, which rather contracted, contributed 33 percent and 48 percent respectively – reflecting the fact that agriculture is no longer the economy’s backbone or considered the most important sector.

Dean of the University of Cape Coast Business School, Prof. John Gatsi, says the data should prompt managers of the economy to formulate policies that will make growth in other sectors automatically contribute to growth in the agriculture sector by promoting the value chain.

“I think what the entire data tells us is that we should be more inclusive in our economic management. From the data, agriculture seems to do well because the pandemic didn’t stop people from consuming agriculture products. It didn’t stop farmers and traders of agriculture produce from going about their normal business, because agriculture is a necessity. It tells us that if we are planning, then we should engineer our policies such that they promote agriculture across the value chain.



“The data show the information and communication sector also performed very well. So, what we can do is that we should take advantage of that sector and use it to support and revive agriculture. Some countries are using ICT to boost agriculture growth, so we can learn from them and do the same thing. It is not merely about allocating huge money in the budget to agriculture; we are talking about creating a viable investment attractive to both internal and external players,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.

It is fair to say that successive governments have introduced several interventions over the years to boost growth in the sector, the most recent being the Planting for Food and Jobs introduced by the Akufo-Addo-led administration in 2017. Even though the program has achieved some success, which many attributes the recent performance of agriculture to, fundamental challenges still remain an obstacle to the full potential of the sector in economic growth.

One age-old challenge of agriculture in this country is rampant land litigation issues which threaten the investments of businessmen and eventually lead them to abandon lands they have acquired with huge capital. This has discouraged many private investors from pushing resources into the sector.

There is also the problem of poor road networks linking farming communities to towns and cities which are the main markets for farmers, resulting in post-harvest losses to the farmers.

Then, there is the issue of finance. Agriculture is still considered a high-risk sector in the finance industry, hence many banks and other financial institutions are cautious in lending money to the sector. It remains one of the sectors that receive less support from banks.

As a result of this, farmers continue to use outmoded methods of farming rather than modern methods involving mechanisation.

If these and other challenges blighting the sector’s prospects are addressed by both government and the private sector, then agriculture can be the game-changer in the country’s efforts to reset the economy after the coronavirus pandemic plunged it into ruin – which has resulted in a contraction of 3.2 percent for the second quarter, a situation the country has not experienced in almost four decades.

All you need to know about Grasscutter Farming

Starting Grasscutter Farming
Many people want to know how to start a grasscutter/cane rat farming business. However, before going into the details about starting a profitable grasscutter farm, it is important to discuss grasscutters or cane rats.

Grasscutters (Thryonomys swinderianus), also called Cane Rats and Grass Cutter in English-speaking West African countries, Agouti in French-speaking West African countries and hedgehogs in Central Africa, are rodents that are widely found in wet or grasslands areas in Africa. Though these animals are widely hunted in Africa, they can be domesticated like other micro-livestock animals such as rabbits.

Some characteristics of grasscutters are:
Grascutters are placid and relatively prolific animal
They become sexually active and mature at 5-6 months. At this age, they can reproduce and give birth to as high as 12 young.
They can be easily reared or managed, and this made their domestication as an alternative to poaching them in the wild.
They can grow rapidly in intensive conditions
The meat of grasscutters is very rich in protein and economically valuable.
How to Breed or Raise Grasscutters
The best way to breed grasscutter is by raising them under an intensive system, i.e. keeping them in cages or pens inside a very safe shed. It is very important to choose a very good location as this is highly critical for successful grasscutter rearing.

Other conditions that must be met for a successful grasscutter rearing include:

The area/location should be easily accessible and free from flood
It must be well ventilated, secured, availability of a source of feed and water
The number of grasscutters kept and the objectives of production determine the size of the building or pen. However, the standard is that a family of grasscutters, comprising one adult male and four females should be provided a space of 1.6-2 m2.

How to Construct Rearing Sheds for Grasscutters

There are various materials used in constructing the rearing shed of grasscutters, Breezeblocks, bricks, straws and bamboo can be used for this purpose. It is always advised to use local materials to reduce construction costs. It is mandatory that the building have adequate light and ventilation. The long sides of the pen must be low-walled (1.5 meters high) and the upper half can be covered with a chicken net. Corrugated iron or other waterproof materials can be used for roofing the rearing shed.

How to Construct Rearing Pen for Grasscutters
Rearing pen
Grasscutters are commonly kept and raised inside rearing pens. It is the production objectives that determine the number of pens to construct. One breeding female per pen is recommended and the surface area per adult grasscutter is 0.2 m2.

Your pen setup could be:

A pen for adults
A pen for mating
A pen for giving birth and feeding the young
A pen for fattening young grasscutters

The pen’s construction materials determine the layout of the pens. Brick pens are fixed and unmovable while metal pens are movable.

Using wood, bamboo, or straw to construct pens for grasscutters is not recommended because the grasscutters can eat them. Rearing pens can be opened or closed, and when constructing, it is important to have passages to move around between rearing pens.

open-pen-for-grasscutter

Open Pens

These are enclosures that are not covered at the top and they have a surface area of 3m2 and height of 1.5m. The pens have openings in the side that facilitate access for the farmer to move in and out of the pens.

Close Pens

These are enclosures that are covered at the top with some appropriate roofing material. These pens may be partitioned into compartments. The surface area could be between 2-3 sqm and the height of 80cm.

If two compartments are created, they should have the same surface area. They should also be separated by partitions and have a 15cm opening for free movement of grasscutters to and fro the compartments.

Various materials can be used to make the covering and the floor of the building should be even and smooth, while the floor of the pens can be plastered.

A grasscutter pen with partition
A grasscutter pen with partition

How to Construct the Feeding and Drinking Troughs of Grasscutters

These can be constructed with clay or cement but should be heavy enough for the grasscutters. This is to prevent the animals from knocking the troughs over. The farmer can personally construct the troughs by molding them out of wood or metal. One trough should be for three grasscutters.

a feeding/water trough for-grasscutter
A feeding/water trough for grasscutter

The squeeze cage

A squeeze cage is used for easy handling of grass cutters. It should have dimensions that are the same as the animal to be handled. A squeeze page can be made by building a rectangular cage with fine-meshed screening. When constructing this cage, the average weight of the animals and variety should be considered. It shouldn’t be built in a way that the animals can turn or move about inside the cage.

Squeeze Box
Squeeze Box

Reproduction in GrasscuttersSome basic facts about grasscutter with regards to reproduction are as follows:Sexual maturity:Male grasscutters mature in 8 months or 32 weeks and they have a minimum body weight of 2.5kg while the female grasscutters mature in 6.5 months or 26 weeks having a minimum body weight of 1.8 kg.Sex ratio: 1 male can service 4 to 10 females.Ovulation: Just like female rabbits (does), female cane-rats start ovulating on sighting a maleGestation period: 152 daysNumbers of litters per year: 2 littersNumber of young per litter: 3-11 youngSuckling period: 40 days before weaningSelection for BreedingIn grasscutter production, random selection should be avoided. You should procure the best animals from the nearest breeding center or another grasscutter breeder. Additionally, when making your selection, it should be based on body weight. All the females within a family should be having almost the same body weight and the male grasscutter should be 0.5-1kg heavier than the females. Don’t buy or breed closely related mating pairs; that is, a male closely related to the females.Mating in GrasscuttersA male grasscutter is capable of mating with many females grasscutters in a single period. The male should be placed in the mating pen and the female grasscutter is moved from her own pen to the male’s pen. Leave both in the pen for 24 hours.

Note: Don’t move the male to the female pen because it may result to fight and mating may not occur. Also, avoid mating a male that is lighter than the female in weight.

There are two mating options in grasscutter farming:

  1. Permanent mating: Here, the male and female grasscutters are allowed to mate together in the same pen but the young are moved to another pen after they have been weaned.
  2. Temporary mating: Here, the female is placed together with the male until she is pregnant and she is moved to another pen.

Both permanent and temporary matings have their advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of permanent mating

  • Increased breeding cycle

Disadvantages of permanent mating

  • Difficult to identify the mother of each offspring
  • Less control over reproduction
  • Risk of cannibalism
  • Risk of exhausting reproductive females
  • Under-exploitation of the male

Advantages of temporary mating

  • Clear identification of mother and offspring
  • Excellent management of the breeding process
  • Reduced risk of adult male killing offspring

Disadvantages of temporary mating

  • Increased investment (several pens needed)
  • Need for larger space to house females
  • Reduced number of litters per female and per year

Gestation

The gestation period for grasscutters or cane-rats is 152 days. After your male and female grasscutters must have mated with each other, it is necessary to check if the female is pregnant.

Pregnancy Test

4-8 weeks after mating, carefully insert a cotton bud into the genital of the female. If it changes color to red, then that grasscutter is pregnant. If there is no discoloration, then the female is not pregnant.

Birth

Newborn grasscutters resemble adult ones. Within a few hours, they can move around. After the female has delivered, she must be provided with enough feeds and water for adequate milk production.

Weaning Grasscutters

You should wean your newborn grasscutters 40 days after they are born. This is necessary because any extension will make the mother grow weak due to prolonged breastfeeding. When weaning, separate the males from the females. You can identify a male grasscutter by distancing the genitals and anus, which is twice as large as those in the young females.
The feeds or foods that are given to grasscutters should meet all their daily nutritional requirements. Since the grasscutters would be in captivity, their diet should consist of majorly green forage, but fresh or dried food could also be provided. They can also be given concentrates rich in energy, proteins and minerals.

Feeds and Feeding in Grasscutter Farming

Grasscutters need a balanced diet daily. The green mistake some grasscutter farmers make is given their animals only green forage. That is one of the reasons for the slow growth and low milk production in nursing female grasscutters. On the other hand, if they are not fed with green forage such as grasses or legumes, they would suffer digestive problems. A balanced diet would produce an average weight of 3.5kg and 2.8kg in male and female cane-rats respectively.

Some of the forage and concentrates that grasscutters could be fed with as presented below:

  1. Edible grasses and legumes 
  2. Agricultural by-products such as garden wastes, leftover vegetables, ripe or unripe fruits, coconut, leaves, pawpaw, and bamboo shoots.
  3. By-products from agricultural processing like Brewers dried grain (BDG), corn bran, wheat bran, and groundnut cake (GNC).
  4. Tubers and roots: Yam, yam peels, cassava, cassava peelings, potato, potato peels, cocoyam, and cocoyam peels.
  5. Cereals grain such as rice, millet, sorghum, and corn
  6. Shells like eggshells, oyster shell, or bone meal

Grasscutters should be provided with food always. Also, the grasscutters should be fed with fodder 2 hours before feeding them concentrate in the morning and evening. It is also very important to provide water always to animals. Hence, grassy fodder needs to be dried in the sun for 1-2 days before feeding them to animals.

Concentrate could be combined with fodder. The concentrate can be made from just one ingredient or several ingredients. It is advisable to alternate the concentrate if single ingredient concentrate is used. If the concentrate is a mix of more than one ingredient, then it could be given to the grasscutters continuously.

Importance of Conserving and Storing feeds

Conservation of feeds and stocking the feed barn is another aspect of grasscutter farming that should be considered. The fodder for the animals should be air-dried or sun-dried and kept in a dry place. Planting and cultivating fodder could be done to have sufficient fodder in the period of scarcity.

Concentrates should be stored in a dry place and avoid storing them for long because a concentrate feed is very sensitive to changes in humidity, temperature, and/or oxidation. It could also be attacked by insects, rodents, mites, bacteria, fungi, or mold.

Health Management in Grasscutter Farming

Health management is very important in all aspects of livestock farming. As a grasscutter or cane rat farmer, the health of your big rats should be very important to you because if they come down with diseases, you would be spending additional money to combat those diseases. Of course, your cost of production is increasing. To protect your grasscutters from diseases, the following measures should be done:

  • Inspect grasscutters daily in order to detect any sick animals early.
  • Giving your animals the appropriate feed and taking basic hygiene measures help in reducing potential losses to diseases.
  • Avoid rough handling of your animals and unnecessary noise
  • Regularly disinfect the pens, sheds, cages its environment and materials. Wash the feeding and drinking troughs twice a week.
  • Quarantine new grasscutters for 2 weeks before joining them with the main stock.
  • Keep feed away from rodents by making the feed store rodent-proof.
  • Give minerals and vitamin supplements bi-weekly. You can also give sweetened lemon juice which has been recognized as an immune system strengthener. To make this juice, get 400 ml of pure lemon juice and add 55 cubes of sugar and mix with 20 litres of water.

How to Identify a Sick Grasscutter

To know if a grasscutter is sick, there are some observable signs you will see. These include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull-looking or matted fur
  • Social withdrawal or isolation from others
  • Inability to escape capture
  • Liquid or soft faeces
  • Paralysis
  • Coughing
  • Inflammation of certain parts of the body
  • Abnormally long incisors




Upper West: shea butter nursery seedling initiated at Kokoligu

The Nandom Municipal Assembly in the Upper West Region, in collaboration with the Cocoa Research Institute, has established a shea seedling nursery at Kokoligu.

The seedlings with a gestation period of between 3 and 4 years will be distributed to farmers when they mature.

Read also COVID-19: Ghana’s Economy contractED by 3.2% in second quarter

MCE for the Municipality, Thaddeus Aasoglenang, said the nursery is part of a grand scheme for a Shea Butter Processing Factory, to be set up in Nandom, to improve the production of Shea.

Speaking to GBC’s Radio Ghana, Mr. Aasoglenang said the Shea Plantations, will ensure that the Processing Factory does not run out of raw materials.

Read also COCOBOD announces closure of 2020 Minor Cocoa Season

There is no shortage of fertilizer in Nandom

Some farmers at Bu in the Nandom Municipality have expressed some disquiet about the shortage of subsidised fertilizers under the Planting for Food and Jobs in the Municipality earlier this year.

The farmers say that the shortage occurred at a critical time of the plant growth cycle.

One of the farmers, Paulinus Daber, who spoke to GBC’s Mark Smith said the shortage caused delays in the application of the fertilizers.

Mr. Daber expressed worry that his crops would not be able to bear as much produce as it should have because of the delay.

Bu is one of the many communities in the Nandom Municipality known for the cultivation of maize, sorghum, millet and cowpea.

Farmers in the community have taken advantage of government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program to acquire subsidized inputs for their farms.

Read also Upper West: shea butter nursery seedling initiated at Kokoligu

The Farmers who spoke to the GBC praised government for the initiative. They however opined that there were aspects of the program that have been poorly implemented.

A farmer, Paulinus Daber said aspects like encouraging more women into agriculture, managing postharvest losses and e-marketing have not been properly executed. Even more worrying according to Mr Daber is the distribution of fertilizers.

“What I know about the Planting for Food and Jobs is government subsidizing some farm inputs but even with that not everyone can access them. When you go to Nandom town, there was period that farmers could not get fertilizers to buy.

It [fertilizer] will come but you will not get some to buy and you would wonder where it has passed,” he narrated.

Mr Daber said despite the advantages of the PFJ, some youth in the Nandom area are still unable to take advantage of the program because of issues with acquisition of lands.

The Nandom Municipal Director of Agriculture, Gaeten Baligi, however, denied reports of the shortage of fertilizers in the Nandom Municipality.

He said throughout the planting season, fertilizers were available at all the appropriate places.

Mr Baligi said even at the end of the planting season, fertilizers are still available.

Mr Baligi encouraged more farmers to subscribe to government’s Planting for Food and Jobs program.

Read also COVID-19: Ghana’s Economy contractED by 3.2% in second quarter

COVID-19: Ghana’s Economy contractED by 3.2% in second quarter

It must be recalled that the hospitality industry was the sector that was most significantly affected by restrictions on movements and events as the government implemented lockdown measures and ordered the closure of all drinking bars, night clubs, among others.

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) data show sales revenue among accommodation and food businesses dropped as low as GH¢700,000 in April compared to GH¢2.5 million for April 2019.

The hospitality sector was not the only one to experience this misfortune. The manufacturing sector also saw sales revenue slashed by almost half as it recorded GH¢25.6million in April compared to GH¢44.9million for the same period last year.

Restrictions on travel and trade also saw sales revenue from the sector drop to GH¢30.5 million in April from GH¢45.5 million in 2019 of the same period.

Read also Being An Economist Is Not a Prerequisite For The Vice President Role – Alex Mould

In terms of real sectors of the economy, agriculture was the only one that experienced some growth, growing by 2.5% while industry and services contracted by 5.7% and 2.6% respectively.

Measures to mitigate pandemic’s impact

It is obvious from the second-quarter performance that the future looks grim for the economy. However, the government has outlined a raft of measures to save the economy from going into recession. These include the COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation Enterprises Support (CARES) programme, which is a GH¢100billion project to be carried out in two phases aimed at stimulating the economy.

First is the stabilisation phase, which aims at supporting enterprises’ recovery. This includes paying outstanding obligations to contractors and suppliers; injecting liquidity into the system and easing the cash-flow difficulties of businesses; developing another programme to support large business hard-hit by the pandemic; also sourcing from the pharmaceuticals and textile & garment sectors, and expanding procurement from local producers for its goods and services.

Read also Nutritional benefits of Sweet Corn

Other interventions in the programme are: establishing a guarantee scheme of up to GH¢2billion so as to enable the business to borrow from banks at more affordable rates; increasing funding to the CAP-BuSS Programme being run by National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI); and providing seed-funds for a retraining programme to help workers who are laid-off because of COVID-19 to develop new skills.

The second, which is the medium-term revitalisation phase, will also include initiatives such as supporting commercial farming by complementing the Planting for Food and Jobs and the Rearing for Food and Jobs programmes; providing targetted support to enable the private sector to accelerate progress in building Ghana’s light manufacturing, technology, and digital economy sectors.

This phase will also make Ghana a regional financial hub by establishing an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), as well as a regional manufacturing and logistics hub for the West Africa region; ensure a review of flagship programmes such as the 1D1F, Free SHS and water and sanitation; and enhance the private sector’s business environment through digitization, skills training, improvements in business regulations and their implementation, energy sector reform and expanding access to finance.

Credit: thebft

Read also Ghana On The Verge Of Losing EU Timber Trade Opportunities

Ghana On The Verge Of Losing EU Timber Trade Opportunities

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the forestry Sector, are appealing to the Forestry Commission (FC), the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and Parliament to collaboratively ensure that Ghana doesn’t miss the December 2020 deadline to complete processes aimed at anchoring home this milestone as Parliament holds the nation’s fate.

Mr. Obed Owusu- Addai, Managing Campaigner of EcoCare Ghana, speaking at a press conference stated that, failure to finish the process started since 2009 would result in everything going down the drain and Ghana losing its credibility on the international timber market.

“Parliament is expected to convert Timber Extant Leases into Timber Utilization Contracts (TUCs) to complete the process before the December 2020 deadline set by Ghana itself as completion date,” Mr. Addai Owusu reiterated.

He disclosed that the over 100 contract documents had been prepared and forwarded to the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry for signature and onward submission to Parliament for ratification. When this process is completed, it would pave way for Ghana to issue FLGET license under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Ghana entered into with the EU to ensure only legal wood is traded between the two parties.

The required processes under the agreement are geared towards ensuring that only legal wood is traded between the two parties and that would help conserve Ghana’s forests for posterity.

As the clock ticks to the deadline and Parliament prepares to rise amidst the electioneering season, the COSs fear Ghana risks missing out on this unique opportunity into which resources and efforts have been invested by the various stakeholders including Timber Industries.

In 2007 Ghana began negotiations with the EU on steps to ensure only legal timber is exported to the latter’s member countries, leading to the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).

This set the tone for processes towards the granting of FLEGT license to Ghana, a document that certifies that the country has put in places all the mechanisms for ensuring its exported timber is legal per international standards.

Ghana’s credibility on the international timber market and in the eyes of the European Union in particular is at stake at this crucial time as its seriousness towards forest conservation would be measured by the commitment shown by these statutory bodies – Forestry Commission, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Parliament of Ghana.

If Ghana beats the deadline, it becomes the second country in the world and the first in Africa to trade in FLEGT licensed timber, thus raising its reputation and creating opportunities for stakeholders and the numerous forest fringe communities.

FLEGT license will also greatly remedy the ailing timber industry and assist in redirecting much needed funds into supporting the welfare of their workers in this covid-19 pandemic.

Ghana sits on a time-bomb as the deadline approaches and CSOs in the sector are appealing for immediate action.

Nutritional benefits of Sweet Corn

Corn is one of the significant popular cereals within the world. Originally from Central America, it’s now grown in countless varieties round the world.

Popcorn and sweet corn are popular varieties, but corn is additionally often consumed as a refined product as an ingredient in processed foods.

These include tortillas, tortilla chips, polenta, cornflour, sirup, and oil. Wholegrain corn is as healthy as any cereal grain because it’s rich in fiber and lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Corn is sometimes yellow but is grown in a style of other colors like red, orange, purple, blue, white, and black.

Nutritional values
Here are the nutritional values ​​of 100 grams of boiled yellow corn:

Calories: 96
Water: 73%
Protein: 3.4 g
Carbohydrates: 21 grams
Sugar: 4.5 g
Fiber: 2.4 g
Fat: 1.5 grams

Carbohydrates
Like all cereal grains, corn consists primarily of sugars.

Starch is its main carbohydrate, which makes up 28-80% of dry weight. Corn also provides small amounts of sugar (1-3%).

Sweetcorn or sweet pop could be a unique variety with a coffee starch content and the next sugar content, representing 18% of the dry matter. Most of this sugar is sucrose.

Despite the sugar content in sweet corn, it’s not a high glycemic food because it’s an occasional or medium glycemic index (GI).

GI could be a measure of how briskly carbohydrates are digested. Foods that are high during this index can cause unhealthy increases in glucose levels.

Read also COCONUT WATER: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Dietary fiber
Corn contains an adequate amount of fiber.

One medium bag (112 grams) of popcorn boasts approximately 16 grams of fiber.

This is 42%, resp—64% of the daily value for men and ladies. Although the fiber content of various maize forms varies, it’s generally around 9-15% of the dry matter.

The predominant corn fibers are insoluble fibers like hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.

Proteins
Corn may be a decent source of protein.

Depending on the variability, the protein content varies from 10 to fifteen.

The most common proteins in maize are called zeins, representing 44-79% of the overall protein content.

Overall, the protein quality of zeins is low because they lack some essential amino acids.

Zeins have many industrial applications, employed in the manufacture of adhesives, inks, and coatings for pills, candies, and nuts.

Corn oil

The fat content of corn ranges from 5-6%, which makes it a low-fat meal.

However, corn germ, a by-product of corn milling, is rich in fat and is employed to create oil, a standard product used for cooking.

Refined vegetable oil consists mainly of polyunsaturated fatty acid, a polyunsaturated carboxylic acid, while the rest consists of monounsaturated and saturated fats.

It also contains significant amounts of tocopherol, ubiquinone (Q10), and phytosterols, which increase its period and make it potentially useful in lowering cholesterol.

Vitamins and minerals

Corn can contain adequate amounts of several vitamins and minerals. The quantity is incredibly variable betting on the kind of corn.

Popcorn is usually rich in minerals, while sweet corn contains many vitamins.

Popcorn

This popular dish boasts several vitamins and minerals, including:

Manganese: The fundamental element is manganese in large quantities in cereals, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. However, because of the phytic acid content of this vegetable, it’s poorly absorbed from maize.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus, which is found in higher amounts in popcorn and sweet corn, could be a mineral that plays a vital role within the growth and maintenance of body tissues.

Magnesium: Low levels of this vital mineral can increase the danger of the many chronic diseases, like cardiopathy.

Zinc. This chemical element has many essential functions in your body. However, because of the presence of phytic acid in maize, its absorption is also low.

Copper: The antioxidant chemical element, copper, is sometimes low within the diet of Western countries. Insufficient intake can have adverse effects on heart health.

Read also Cocoa farmers’ pension scheme kicks start in October 2020 – Joseph Aidoo

Sweet corn

Sweetcorn boasts a variety of vitamins, including:

Pantothenic acid. This acid is additionally called vitamin B5 and is found to some extent in the majority of foods. Its deficiency is, therefore, rare.

Folic acid. Folate, also called vitamin B9 or B complex, is a necessary nutrient, especially essential during pregnancy.

Vitamin B6. B6 could be a group of related vitamins, the foremost common of which is pyridoxine. It serves various functions in your body.

Niacin. Niacin in corn, also called vitamin B3, isn’t well absorbed. When cooking corn with lime, this nutrient will be better absorbed within the body.

Potassium. The essential nutrient, potassium, is necessary for controlling pressure and may improve heart health.

Other compounds

Corn contains a variety of bioactive plant compounds, several of which may help improve your health.

Corn boasts higher amounts of antioxidants than many other standard bowls of cereal:

Ferulic acid: It’s one in every of the most polyphenolic antioxidants in corn, which is present here in higher amounts than in other cereal grains like wheat, oats, and rice.

Antokyanov: This group of antioxidant pigments is to blame for blue, purple, and red corn.

Zeaxanthin: Zeaxanthin, named after the maize’s scientific name (Zea mays), is one in all the foremost common plant carotenoids. In humans, it’s related to improved eye health.

Lutein: Lutein, one among the most carotenoids in corn, is an antioxidant and protects your eyes from oxidative damage caused by blue light.

Phytic acid: This antioxidant can impair the absorption of minerals within the diet, like zinc and iron.

Popcorn

Popcorn could be a special kind of corn that cracks when exposed to heat.

This is because the water trapped in its center is converted into steam by the action of warmth and creates an inside pressure, which causes the cores to explode.

Popcorn is one of the most common whole grain foods within the world, consumed as a “snack,” especially within u.  s.

Wholegrain foods can have several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and sort two diabetes.

However, regular consumption of popcorn isn’t related to improved heart health.

Although popcorn is healthy on its own, it’s often consumed with sweet soft drinks and sometimes comes with added salt and high-calorie cooking oils, which raise your cholesterol and damage your health.

If you prefer popcorn and need to avoid consuming unhealthy fats in it, you’ll be able to prepare it reception from corn to popcorn.

Read also Land of Disabilities: Life in Karni Village, where persons with disability are productive and hopeful – part 2

Cocoa farmers’ pension scheme kicks start in October 2020 – Joseph Aidoo

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Mr Joseph Aidoo, has announced that all is set to implement the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme for all cocoa farmers across Ghana in October this year (2020).

He said the National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) would be the managers of the scheme, adding that the scheme would not only care for cocoa farmers when they retire, but would guarantee the sustainability of Cocoa production in the country as the youth would be attracted to cocoa farming.

Mr Aisaid this on Monday (September 14) when he paid a courtesy call on members of the Western Regional House of Chiefs to brief them of the achievements and challenges of COCOBOD and the way forward.

Read also China-Africa Relations: Rethinking China’s Participation in African Agricultural Development in the Post-COVID Era

He was accompanied by the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of operations of Cocoa, Dr Emmanuel Opoku and Directors and research Scientists from COCOBOD.

The CEO said the implementation of the scheme was in fulfillment of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s promise to cocoa farmers in 2016.

He said COCOBOD was set to roll out a cocoa management system, which sought to access the Bio-data of Cocoa farmers.

Mr Aidoo said the Bio-data would afford COCOBOD the opportunity to streamline operations and cater for the welfare of farmers.

Read also Grosso Foods Launch: Promises food security in Africa

He said under the system, COCOBOD would measure the acreage of each cocoa farm and that identification cards would be issued to farmers before they could market their farm produce, noting that payment to farmers would be made on their ID cards to avoid snatching of their money by armed robbers.

Post-harvest loss in watermelon and tomatoes: a case of seasonal glut or market system failure?

It’s yet again that time of the year in the Upper West Region of Ghana especially within the Wa municipality where there is a lot of tomatoes in the market. Many farmers are harvesting the product and there appear to be a glut. A few weeks ago, this was the case of watermelon. There was a glut of it in the market in places like Paala in the Wa West and other watermelon production centres.

Though attempts have been made to explain the situation as being occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been different in pre-COVID-19 era. Hence, as usual the glut comes with the challenges of post-harvest loss (PHL) of tomatoes and watermelon and consequently losses in incomes of farmers.

Situation of PHL in watermelon and tomatoes

Post-harvest loss is one of the major challenges in the Agriculture value chain. It is generally defined as all the quantitative and qualitative losses that are incurred along the commodity value chain after harvest until the produce reaches the final consumer. Therefore, from production to consumption, PHL can occur where some of the produce does not reach the final consumer but is lost along the chain.

In Ghana, it is estimated that the country losses US$700,000.00 annually to post harvest losses. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture estimates that 20-50% of perishables like fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops that is produced in the country is lost due to post-harvest losses. Watermelon and tomatoes fall under the category of perishables and therefore are highly susceptible to losses.

Read also Cocoa farmers’ pension scheme kicks start in October 2020 – Joseph Aidoo

Causes of PHL in watermelon and tomatoes

A major cause of PHL in tomatoes and watermelon is poor handling of the produce by farmers. Watermelon and tomatoes are perishable products, and therefore the way it is handled is very important in preventing losses. They require the right knowledge in terms of handling them and the adherence to good agronomic practices around the products. The absence of these makes them to be susceptible to losses.

Poor road linkage is another contributory factor to high PHL of farm produce like watermelon and tomatoes. Many roads linking production centres and urban areas are not in the best of shapes. For instance, a community like Paala in the Wa west district is one of the communities where water melon production is high, but the road linking Paala and Gusi can best be described as non-existent.

Many watermelon and tomato farming communities across Northern Ghana have similar challenges. The absence of good roads therefore heightens the losses incurred by farmers who are into the production of these perishables.

Inadequate market for watermelon and tomatoes contributes to high losses. Currently there appear to be a glut of tomatoes within the Wa Municipality of the Upper West Region as many farmers have difficulty accessing market for their produce. Many farmers are not able to get market and given that the produce is perishable, a lot of it is lost.

Also, appropriate storage facilities for tomatoes and watermelon is lacking and hence contributing to high losses of the produce. Currently, there are inadequate cold room and packhouses for vegetables and fruits in the Upper West Region. For instance as at 2017, in the entire Upper West Region there was only one packhouse located in Jirapa. This therefore is a major challenge in storing the produce so as to minimize losses.

Read also Is there any correlation between increased local value addition and cocoa farmers’ income?

Effects of PHL in Watermelon and Tomatoes on Farmers

Post-harvest loss incurred in the production and consumption of watermelon and tomatoes has serious implications on farmers and food security in general. It denies the farmers income. An increase in PHL constitutes an unfortunate and avoidable reduction in the incomes of farmers. It shows that produce that could have been sold and accrue as income to the farmer is lost.

It also constitutes a waste of resources. There are many resources that are committed to production such as land, water and other key inputs. Therefore, PHL is an unsustainable way of engaging in agriculture as a means of livelihood. It amounts to wasting the resources that have been committed to the production process.

PHL in watermelons and tomatoes also poses a threat to the food and nutrition security of the country. In this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the consumption of products like watermelon and tomatoes could boost the immune system of consumers, PHL denies the food system good and nutritious food. This therefore contributes to nutrition insecurity of many people.

Recommendations and way-forward

In order to get these issues addressed, there is the need for strong public investment in rural infrastructure to augment the existing ones. For example road networks connecting farming communities to market centers needs to be constructed for easy transportation of watermelons, tomatoes and other farm produce to the market centres. Failure to do that could further increase the losses.

Additionally, the full implementation of the one-district one factory concept in production centres around the country could also help to curb PHL in watermelon and tomatoes. Such factories could be established to ensure that they process and add value to the raw watermelon and tomatoes. For instance watermelon can be transformed into juice to be sold in both the local and international markets. Similarly excess tomatoes can be canned to reduce the incidence of losses.

Also, there is the need to put in measures to ensure all year production of the products. Seasonal spikes in the production of watermelon and tomatoes cannot attract any serious investment. Hence there is the need to ensure there is consistent supply of the product all year round. This would require the provision of appropriate irrigation facilities that suits small holder farmers.

Besides, strengthening of the market system with information on Watermelon and tomatoes could help curb losses. Currently data on production volumes on the two products is scanty. Information on the variety, the location, the quantities, and the prices of the produce could help other market actors play their roles to ensure losses of the produce are minimized.

Read also China-Africa Relations: Rethinking China’s Participation in African Agricultural Development in the Post-COVID Era

Conclusion

In conclusion, the country’s agriculture has been touted over the years as the mainstay of the economy. But if measures are not put in place to curb PHL especially in perishables like watermelon and tomatoes it would reduce the impact of the sector on job creation and incomes generation. Indeed, it would render the farming of the products unstainable.

The subsector requires investment that would ensure food security, massive employment and sustainable development. Until that is done, the perennial woes of watermelon and tomatoes farmers is more of a market system failure and not just case of seasonal gluts of the products.

WRITER: Emmanuel Wullo Wullingdool

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GMO: Ghana working on GMO rice and cowpea – CSIR

Dr. Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, a Senior Research Scientist at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),hs announced that Ghana is in the process of developing two Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) varieties for rice and cowpea at a training workshop on GMOs for farmers in the Ejura-Sekyeredumase Municipality.

In his remarks, research had proved that GMO varieties were important in the sustainable production of rice and cowpeas in the country.It is therefore important for Ghanaians to accept and embrace GMO technologies in order to match up with the world’s technological advancement.

Attempts by researchers to use the conventional breeding methods to tackle the attacks by aphids, thrips and Striga in cowpea have failed.

He emphasised that, genetically modified technologies had been identified as one of the safest methods for preventing insect and pest invasion in rice and cowpeas, while saving farmers from losing their crop fields to these insects and pests.

Mr. Daniel Osei Ofosu, a Research Scientist at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) said insects and pests could make farmers lose about 90 percent of their crops on the field. He cited the Maruca pod borer as one that attacked the cowpea plant, sucked the pod dry, and sometimes, by harvesting time, farmers lose a whole farm to pest infestation.However, after some trials with GM technology on a cowpea plantation, it repelled insects from boring and sucking into the plants.

Mr. Ofosu said the GM technologies could complement the conventional ways of breeding to counteract the activities of the pests and cowpea production rate and planted area had declined in the last decade due to pest and insect attacks.

The workshop was organized by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Ghana, in collaboration with the CSIR as part of efforts to educate farmers and clarify issues and misconceptions on GMOs.It also created a platform for the farmers to learn about GMO seeds development, regulation, and commercialization in Ghana.

China-Africa Relations: Rethinking China’s Participation in African Agricultural Development in the Post-COVID Era

Africa was already facing food insecurity and agricultural underdevelopment prior to COVID-19. In 2018 studies showed that Sub-Saharan Africa was the world’s most food-insecure region, hosting 239 million undernourished population.

Although many African countries are proactive in boosting agricultural production and protecting their food supply by raising crop productivity and reducing their sensitivity to weather conditions, it is clear that COVID-19 will derail these processes.

The impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition is likely to be severe, especially in African countries that were already under strain due to conflict, natural disasters, and hosting a large number of refugees.

Additionally, lockdown measures and trade restrictions imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing locust infestation will intensify food shortage across the continent.

The combination of the locust infestation and COVID-19 could wipe out any hope of food security and put the lives of entire populations at prolonged starvation and death if urgent action is not taken to deal with the situation.

The burden of movement restrictions and lockdowns is being felt strongly by low-income households and those working in the informal economy due to their loss of livelihoods and inability to access markets.

Some countries have already announced measures to mitigate some of the risks of lockdowns on food supply such as in-kind food distribution and to the issuance of COVID -19 certificates for cross-border truck drivers in East Africa to ensure the safe delivery of essential goods.

A country-wide curfew in Kenya and restriction of movement in and out of counties with high infection rates posed a great challenge to smallholder farmers in terms of high transportation finding alternative markets for their produce.

It is predicted that these restrictions might hike food prices and disrupt agricultural supply as witnessed during the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014. In major African cities, millions of people have been left without the income to purchase food due to the abrupt loss of jobs that often provide daily earnings.

In rural areas where agriculture is the main source of people’s livelihoods, disruptions to transportation and logistics have made it difficult for producers to sell their produce and to gain access to agro-veterinary inputs and services.

National policy responses to limit the impact of COVID-19 on food markets in Africa have varied, from the removal of value-added taxes on food products to export restrictions on key food items. For example, on 26 March, Kenya reduced the value-added tax on all goods from 16% to 14%.

Sudan introduced a ban on sorghum exports on 15 April to ensure domestic availability. Export restriction policies and hoarding short-circuit trade and distribution, thus exacerbating the risks of food insecurity, especially for the continent’s most vulnerable populations such as women and children.

Administrative restrictions imposed by governments, such as lockdowns, travel restrictions and physical distancing measures have also worsened the risk of food insecurity.

China’s Agricultural Engagement Priorities in Africa Pre-COVID-19
China’s participation in African agricultural development has a long history. Over the past 60 years, China has offered grants to provide practical agricultural technology, and train agricultural technical and managerial personnel for Africa, provided loans to support agricultural infrastructure, and gradually shifted focus to agricultural trade and investment in Africa.

The recent first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Agriculture held before the COVID-19 pandemic had again underlined China’s strategy to Africa on agricultural development.

As expected, Xinhua headlined China, Africa for broader agricultural cooperation. Key approaches to achieve broader agricultural cooperation are trade and training and boosting agricultural modernization.

The key approaches can also be traced back to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018, in which the two parties jointly issued Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021).

The document outlined key areas for China’s participation in African agricultural development under section 3.1 Agriculture, Food Security, and Food Safety, aiming to achieve improved food security, enhanced capacity building, improved value chain, expanded trade, agriculture modernization, and research development in Africa.

China promised to provide RMB 1 billion of emergency humanitarian food assistance to African countries affected by natural disasters. Other actions were pledged to enhance the capacity of agribusiness entrepreneurs and farmers, improved value chain through increased production, high-tech agro-processing, and market access to regional and international markets.

Interestingly, China highlighted two commodities, sugar and cotton. Supporting Africa’s agricultural modernization is another area of focus. China desires to help Africa upgrade the industry and agricultural infrastructure and plans to invest in testing and adaptation of machines to African conditions.

A total of US$30 billion financial packages were promised by China to cover its overall cooperation with Africa, the agricultural sector is one of the key areas. The financial package includes US$20 billion of credit lines and the setting up of a US$10 billion special fund for development financing.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has inevitably disrupted the trade of global and regional agricultural products, exchange visits between China and Agricultural professional, and even the construction of agricultural demonstration sites.

China’s expectation to promote shared prosperity and support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030 will be challenged.

Since COVID-19 hit the continent in April, China has been at the forefront of supporting several African countries by providing immediate technical and material support such as personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and testing kits.

Two months later, President Xi demonstrated China’s determination to jointly fight against COVID-19 with Africa and expressed China’s commitment to promoting the unshakable China-African friendship and upholding multilateralism in a keynote speech entitled “Defeating COVID-19 With Solidarity and Cooperation at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19” held on June 17th.

Debt relief for Africa was also discussed in the summit, though China prefers to address debt issues bilaterally but indeed calls for the international community to consider debt relief for Africa to unlock finance in response to COVID-19.

On the African side, recent estimates suggest that 73 million people are acutely food insecure in Africa. The UN says the continent needs to raise more than US$100 billion to address the economic and health impact of COVID-19. The immediate question posed to China is how to support African in ensuring food security in the post-COVID-19.

POST-COVID-19: 5 Ways China Can Enhance Its Agricultural Engagement in Africa
In the age of post-covid-19, it is important to build resilience and take radical measures to develop sustainable food systems that can address various negative influences beyond providing adequate food, including on public health, youth employment, education, economic development, and social well-being. In order to address the numerous food security posed by COVID -19, below are a recommendation for China’s participation in African agricultural development

  1. Early Warning Systems Support.

There is no inadequate Early Warning Systems (ESW) due to lack of qualified professionals such as meteorologists and agro-meteorologists; weak institutional and capacity and limited investment at the national and regional levels in most African countries.

Additionally, meteorological and hydrological capacities in many are inadequate and decrease, according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). To increase the availability of disaster risk information, countries should invest in EWSs which will in turn contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There is a need to increase coverage of the weather observation networks through Africa – China cooperation to make agro-meteorology data more reliable. Most EWS in Africa relies heavily on project-based international financial assistance which are not sustainable, when giving Agricultural financial assistance, China should consider EWS as part of regular development because the EWS data are essential for planning interventions.

A number of Chinese private companies can initiate public-private partnerships in the area of EWS which is currently very limited, such partnerships will reduce donor reliance among African countries in addressing food security.

Through collaborations with SSTC collaboration with China, African countries can develop and strengthen Food security information systems at the national and regional levels, this will improve EWS effectiveness and emergency response.

A good food security information system will strengthen the data-sharing framework and act as a one-stop food security information hub accessible to different stakeholders such as the international community and government agencies.

  1. Social Protection Through SSTC Aid and Grants.

Researchers posited that social protection can be a good tool to enhance food security in Africa, through social protection policy interventions vulnerability of individuals and communities can be reduced both in the short and long term.

It is predicted that COVID -19 shocks might affect food availability, access, and use appropriate social protection intervention will enable marginalized communities to access social justice and prevent chronic poverty.

With proper preparation, the depth and implications of the suffering can be reduced through policies such as public works (including food-for-work- and cash-for-work programs); food aid; subsidies; and the use of social funds.

China’s grants and aid to African countries focus on ensuring that the poor do not lose access to social services. The target group for such policies should be the most vulnerable members within the household (children, women, the elderly, and the sick) should be shielded from bearing the brunt of the adjustment”.

Through SSTC knowledge sharing and peer learning, China can support different countries to protect households against shocks to reduce poverty, hunger, and under-nutrition.

If well implemented and coordinated, social protection can increase agricultural growth in Africa, both directly and indirectly.

A holistic approach is important to address food security by strengthening coordination between social protection, social services, and productive sectors.

  1. Enhanced Production Capacities.

In order to address the impact of COVID-19 on food security in the long term, Africa will need to build productive capacities to address underlying economic vulnerabilities, and strengthen continental capabilities to better manage food, pandemic, and/or health-related crises.

In the previous decades, China has helped build agricultural technology demonstration centers (ATDCs), supplied senior agricultural experts and technicians, and imparted best practices in management and practical techniques in agricultural production in Africa.

The exchanges and training on modern agricultural technologies are still key to enhance production capacities in Africa. The activities could be still carried out in virtual formats such as a webinar, online courses, mentoring programs in today’s pandemic situation.

Another area of focus is youth-target and women-specific entrepreneurship training and promotion, where the Chinese private sector could act as mentors.

The Africa Union says nearly 20 million jobs in Africa will be threatened by the COVID-19 crisis, with youth unemployment twice that of adults. Women, consisting of 50% of agriculture labor in sub-Saharan, are essential for fighting against hunger and COVID-19 crisis.

China has accumulated vast experience in promoting SMEs in rural areas, especially the youth-oriented, women-inclusive e-commerce, and value chain development led by private sectors including giant Tech Alibaba, JD.Co, Tiktok.

The private sectors in China, if facilitated by the governments, have the potential to be trainers or teachers for SMEs in Africa. One great example is the eFounders Fellowship Initiative funded by Alibaba Business School and UNCTAD, and the associated Netpreneur Prize to support exemplary African business leaders.

  1. Rural Infrastructure as a Key To Boost Agricultural Development

According to experts, China-Africa cooperation is key to boosting COVID-19 response and industrial growth. Agricultural development in the continent is hampered by lack of infrastructure, poor irrigation system, and value chain system, intricate local politics.

China has prioritized investing in infrastructure in its strategic cooperation framework with Africa, but many investment projects centered on manufacturing.

To realize food security in a post-COVID-19 era in Africa, it is vitally important to improve the infrastructure (roads, transport, warehouses, farms, agricultural extension centers) along the development stages of the agricultural value chain.

  1. Embrace Digitization Throughout the Value Chain.

It is widely acknowledged that COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption worldwide, ranging from health information dissemination, data collection, e-commerce, to teleworking.

Agricultural experts suggest that African countries should create digital data rooms to track and forecast food availability, pricing, and accessibility, both during and after the crisis.

It could track trade flows, food pricing at the retail level, and availability at food shops in urban and rural areas. Digital transformation for African agriculture value chains is also highlighted.

China has comparative advantages in terms of digital infrastructure, technology and the established e-commerce model.

In the post-COVID-19 era, China is in a good position to support efforts to speed up the development of Africa’s digital economy and expand exchanges and cooperation on digitalization, information, and communication technologies, especially telemedicine, tele-education, 5G, and big data.

To sum up, African countries can benefit from the advancement of China’s technology, experience, and knowledge of agricultural development to curb food security in the post-covid-19.

South-South and Triangular Cooperation can be a great mechanism to accelerate China’s contribution to the sustainable food system in Africa.

Source: chinaafricaproject.com

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