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Africa:As Africa’s Need for Food Grows, Mali’s Rice Turnaround Shows a Way Forward

By Isaiah Esipisu

Abidjan — "Africa has the resources, skills, and human and land capacity to move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa"

In 2008, as food prices rose around the world, riots broke out in West Africa, and Mali's government stepped in.

It quickly launched an initiative to subsidise purchases of good-quality certified rice seed, as well as fertilisers, for farmers, in an effort to cut reliance on rice imports and grow more food of its own.

In just two years, the country was producing enough grain for domestic consumption, and today is a rice exporter, said Bourema Dembele, who until July was director of research at Mali's Institut d'Economie Rurale, a government institution.

"We had no choice other than to develop a policy that would later see our country out of the crisis," said Dembele, now a Mali programme officer for the Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA), a nongovernmental organisation.

Such policies need to be replicated around Africa if the continent is to cope with a burgeoning population and climate change while improving food security and economic growth, African experts say.

"Rice is going to be the biggest challenge for Africa because countries highly depend on imports from sources that are totally unsustainable," William Asiko, the executive director of Grow Africa, a non-governmental organisation, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

RISING IMPORTS?

According to a report released last month at the African Green Revolution Forum, African nations spend $35 billion each year on food imports, a figure expected to rise to $110 billion by 2025 unless the continent can boost harvests.

Changing things "will take commitment of African governments to stimulate and guide the transition," said Agnes Kalibata, AGRA's president,

"If left to the private sector alone, growth in the agrifood system will not be as fast as it could, nor will it benefit as many smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs as it could," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

According to the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2017, if most African governments moved as aggressively as Mali's, the continent could not only feed itself but meet the growing demand from affluent city dwellers for high-value processed foods.

In Mali, production of rice grew from just 900,000 tonnes in 2008 - below the domestic consumption of 1.1 million tonnes - to 2.7 million tonnes in 2016, thanks in part to government subsidies of 35 billion CFA francs ($64 million). Rice production is now double the country's annual consumption.

Overall food production - including cereal crops such as sorghum, millet, groundnuts, cowpeas and maize, as well as rice - also increased over the same period from 3.6 million tonnes to 8.7 million tonnes, making the country largely self-sufficient.

Apart from subsidising seed and other farming needs, Mali's government in 2015 began buying 1,000 new tractors every year to sell to farmers at half price. Farmers are required to make a downpayment of just 20 percent and can take out loans from commercial banks for the remaining sum.

Poorer or very small-scale farmers also are eligible to buy tractors if they group together to cultivate at least 50 hectares (124 acres) of land with the equipment.

To support the effort, Mali's government has allocated at least 15 percent of the national budget to agriculture, surpassing a target of 10 percent agreed to at the 2003 African Union Summit as part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.

Dembele's organisation works with research institutions in Mali to produce quality-certified seeds for farmers to meet growing demand for them. Previously, many small-scale farmers planted uncertified seeds in part because certified seeds had to be imported and were too expensive.

"QUIET REVOLUTION"

Asiko, of Grow Africa, said more African countries need to create initiatives to increase rice production, especially in West Africa, where it is the main staple.

"When we invest in production, we create a market for seed and fertiliser companies which are investment and business opportunities. When we produce in plenty, we create further opportunities for processors, and when we process enough, we further create opportunities for transporters and sellers," he said.

The Africa Agriculture Status Report suggests that more productive farming could be Africa's "quiet revolution", creating jobs and sustainable economic growth that has largely failed to materialise from mineral extraction and increased urbanisation.

"Africa has the latent natural resources, skills, human and land capacity to tip the balance of payments and move from importer to exporter by eating food made in Africa," Kalibata said.

Apart from Mali, African countries that have had significant success moving towards food self-sufficiency include Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burkina Faso, she said.

(Reporting by Isaiah Esipisu; editing by James Baer and Laurie Goering :; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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MAPOLY lecturers suspend ‘work to rule’ for two weeks – The Punch

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FG takes ownership of funds in bank accounts not linked to BVNs – NAIJ.COM

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Africa:AllAfrica Launches Information Initiative for Non-Communicable Diseases

Photo: WHO

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization, speaking at the World Conference on NCDs in Montevideo.

Montevideo — AllAfrica's global platform to provide information on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) debuted today at the World Health Organization's Global Conference on Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), hosted by the government of Uruguay.

The information portal is a project of AllAfrica Global Media, the only independent, comprehensive pan-African news source – of, by and about Africa – with unrivaled reach and reputation. More people rely on allAfrica.com for news and information from all over Africa than on any other source.

NCDs represent the greatest challenge in public health today, accounting for over 70% of deaths worldwide. Communities around the world are mobilizing to fight back against cardio vascular diseases, cancer, type-two diabetes, obesity and mental health – to stop the massive burden caused by these life-threatening illnesses.

In some African countries, NCDs are responsible for more than seven out of every ten fatalities, and in most countries, the proportion of deaths due to NCDs is rising. Principal causes include unhealthy diets, tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, pollution and chemical products. Those affected are children, middle-aged people and elderly - both rich and poor.

Attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), spearheaded by the United Nations and adopted in September 2015 by world leaders, aim "to transform the world" by 2030, through improving lives and protecting the planet. Achieving them will require putting the fight against NCDs at the center of public health policies, particularly in Africa, with its youthful and fast-rising population.

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Governments alone cannot win the fight. Participation by the private sector, including media, is essential to the campaign against NCDs.

The new NCD platform - in English and French – aims to be a primary source for both news and contextual information. Surveys show that reliable, health-related data and developments is at the top of what the public wants from news sources.

"AllAfrica has always been there when it matters the most for Africans", said Amadou Mahtar Ba, AllAfrica's co-founder and Executive Chair. "Information is power, and that is particularly true when it comes to combatting diseases". Surveys show that reliable, health-related data and developments are at the top of what people want to learn from news sources.

"That is why AllAfrica is committing resources to create this public information tool to provide policy makers and citizens at large the news and information needed to win the fight against NCDs. We invite the WHO, research institutions, foundations, civil society groups and the private sector to engage with us to disseminate as much information as possible on this topic", Ba said.

View the platform in English: http://allafrica.com and French: http://fr.allafrica.com/ncds.

For more information contact: ncds@allafrica.com

AllAfrica Global Media is the leading source for online content from and about Africa that reaches global 'influentials' - heads of state and other policymakers, leaders of business and industry, entrepreneurs and international investors, analysts, diplomats, scholars and activists – decision takers of all kinds. Distribution channels include the popular allAfrica.com website, mobile devices, Apple News, Google Newsstand, LinkedIn and Viber, plus the AllAfrica News Wire on Bloomberg, Factiva/Dow Jones and other commercial services, as well as Facebook and on Twitter, where AllAfrica's reach exceeds 14.5 million a month.

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An interview with Olusegun Obasanjo: Up close and a little too personal

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Zimbabwe:Dozens Apply For Hangman Post

Photo: Pixabay

(File photo).

By Jerry Chifamba

Cape Town — More than 50 job-seekers have applied for the hangman's post in Zimbabwe, Newsday reports.

The post has been vacant since 2005, amid reports that former justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa was hesitant to have it filled because of his opposition to the death penalty. Mnangagwa, who missed the hangman's noose by a whisker at the height of the liberation struggle, is on record describing capital punishment as inhuman and wants it abolished.

Amnesty International has pleaded with Zimbabwe to abolish the death penalty, which only applies to men who were aged between 21 and 70 when they committed their crimes.

In March, fourteen inmates who complained of overstaying on death row, lost their bid to nullify the death sentences imposed on them after the Constitutional Court threw out their application. The inmates, who have spent between four and 18 years awaiting their execution, approached the court challenging their pending execution. They argued that the length of their stay on the death row was an insult to their human dignity in breach of the Constitution.

The death penalty which exempts women murderers from execution while only allowing for certain male criminals has remained a controversial issue in Zimbabwe with more than 90 people currently on death row, although Zimbabwe hasn't executed any prisoners in the past 12 years.

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Police plan massive deployment for Anambra guber poll – The Punch

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Zimbabwe: Activist Cleric Slams U.S. Embassy Over Mugabe Visas

Photo: Cia Pak/UN

(file photo).

By Staff Reporter

ACTIVIST cleric Pastor Patrick Mugadza has petitioned the US embassy in Harare, challenging the decision to give President Robert Mugabe and his 'bloated delegation' visas to attend this year's United Nations (UN) general assembly.

The summit is scheduled for September 19 to 23 and Mugabe is reportedly travelling with a claimed 70-strong delegation, including his entire family.

Mugabe is banned from travelling to the US under sanctions imposed by Washington to punish rights abuses by his regime. He can, however, attend meetings of the UN in New York.

The 93-year-old is expected to leave Friday for the 2017 UN general assembly.

Reports quoting diplomatic sources this week claimed that the US embassy queried the inclusion of Mugabe's wife, Grace, their daughter Bona and grandson Simbanashe.

The delegation also reportedly includes Mugabe's son Bellarmine Chatunga and step-son Russell Goreraza. Government reportedly gives each delegation member $1,500 per day in spending allowances.

In his petition to the US Harare embassy Wednesday, Pastor Mugadza said the granting of visas to Mugabe and his family is a slap in the face for suffering Zimbabweans.

"We have orphans and widows who have nothing to put on the table, and teens who have been pushed into prostitution because of the difficult situation they find themselves in because of the Mugabe regime," said Mugadza.

"This move you have taken will result in the death of people who cannot afford to buy medication while you have given visas to these heartless people to go and do shopping in New York."

The cleric, who has been campaigning for the 93-year-old to step down, said the US government should cancel 50 of the visas issued to Mugabe's team.

"We thought you would stand with us as a suffering nation but we have realized that you are not on the side of the suffering. Having said that, we demand that you cut the number to 20 looters or else we are going to be occupying your embassy soon," he said.

The cleric was supported by the Welshmen Ncube-led MDC party which said Mugabe's entourage was abnormal in a struggling economy.

"It is a heart stopper to learn that the 10-day trip will see each member of the delegation gobble over US$15 000 - at a time when the state media reports that the cost of living has gone up again by 0.52 per cent. Only a few relevant government officials are adequate for the summit," Kurauone Chihwayi, the MDC spokesperson, said in a statement.

"It is a no-brainer that since the First family is barred from travelling to Europe on personal business, they see no shame in using important government trips such as these for vacation purposes," Chihwayi said.

He added: "Since the beginning of the year we have witnessed President Mugabe's foreign trips taking up millions of dollars in tax-payers' money while yielding absolutely no tangible benefits for the ordinary Zimbabwean."

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Tension in Kaduna as fear of reprisal grips Igbos – The Nation Newspaper

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I like Nigeria well-well – UK envoy

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British High Commissioner to Nigeria gives BBC interview in Pidgin

If you want to learn some Pidgin, Britain's high commissioner in Nigeria could give you some pointers.

Paul Arkwright told the BBC's Pidgin service what he enjoyed about being in Nigeria, in Pidgin.

Pidgin is spoken by an estimated 75m people in Nigeria, with additional speakers across West and Central Africa.

BBC Pidgin

13 Sep 2017

From the section Africa Share

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Nigeria: National Assembly Postpones Resumption Date

Photo: Leadership

National Assembly.

By Damilola Oyedele

Abuja — The National Assembly has announced the postponement of the resumption of senators and members of the House of Representatives from their six week annual recess by one week.

The lawmakers are now expected to resume on September 26, 2017 instead of September 19, 2017.

The announcement was contained in a notice issued by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Mohammed Sani Omolori, wednesday.

Although the notice did not give any official reason for the postponement, THISDAY gathered that it might not be unconnected with the massive renovation currently ongoing in the premises of the National Assembly.

THISDAY observed on Tuesday and yesterday that major repairs of infrastructure and repainting of some sections were being undertaken.

Electrical wirings in dark corridors which connect office sections to each other, have been repaired to light up the areas.

Although THISDAY could not access either chambers, it was gathered that renovation works to fix leaking roofs are ongoing.

The notice obtained by THISDAY reads:

"This is to inform all senators and members of the National Assembly that the resumption date of both Houses in plenary has been rescheduled from Tuesday, September 19, 2017 to Tuesday, September 26, 2017,"

"All senators and members are by this notice requested to resume sitting in plenary on Tuesday, September, 26, 2017 at 10a.m. prompt please," it read.

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Egypt: Security Council Strongly Condemns ‘Heinous’ Attack On Egyptian Police

The members of the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the "heinous and cowardly" terrorist attack that took place on Monday in Sinai, in which at least 18 policemen were killed and 3 were injured.

"They expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government of Egypt, and they wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured," read a statement issued to the press by the 15-member body.

Council members reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these "reprehensible acts of terrorism" to justice.

Also today, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said the world body sent its condolences to the Government and people of Egypt on the attack.

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True federalism beckons for Nigeria

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Kenya: Opposition Walks Out of Polls Body Meeting

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/The Nation

Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga, flanked by ODM legislators, addresses the media at his office in Nairobi.

By Patrick Lang'at

Nasa co-principals led by Raila Odinga have walked out of planned meeting with the electoral agency, protesting a nine-page agenda and Jubilee's no-show.

Mr Odinga's team had arrived at the IEBC Anniversary Towers offices at 11.15am, and by 12.05pm when they addressed the media, the Jubilee Party representatives had not showed up.

50 MINUTES

Deputy President William Ruto was expected to represent President Uhuru Kenyatta in the meeting.

In the meeting, IEBC and two sides were scheduled to discuss, among others, plans for the October 17 repeat presidential election after the Supreme Court quashed Mr Kenyatta's re-election.

Nasa wants IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba sacked for allegedly bungling August 8 poll while Jubilee has rejected the project team named by Chairman Wafula Chebukati to manage the repeat poll.

After the over 50-minute wait, Nasa chief agent Musalia Mudavadi accused the IEBC of not being ready for the meeting.

"The IEBC told us that they needed to meet our presidential candidate and one or two people. We came here at 11.15 and up to now, we have not seen the Jubilee side," said Mr Mudavadi.

He said it was wrong for the IEBC to present them with an agenda as they went into the meeting.

"We have just been presented with a document, about nine pages that we are seeing for the first time now," explained Mr Mudavadi.

RUTO

He went on: "We had hoped that the IEBC will have the basic courtesy to give us the document much earlier if it was going to form the basis of the meeting."

Mr Mudavadi termed as "not serious" the Jubilee team when asked if they would wait for the DP to arrive.

The DP's security detail and media team has been at the IEBC since 11am, with increased police presence at the Anniversary Towers offices.

"We as Nasa is ready for a structured meeting where all the cards are on the table," said Mr Mudavadi.

The Nasa chief agent said that the coalition did not get to talk about their push to have seven officials of the Ezra Chiloba-led secretariat fired before the October 17 fresh presidential election.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on Monday said that Mr Chiloba and six others that Nasa want removed will stay in office, to back a new seven-member team led by Mr Chiloba's deputy Marjan Hussein Marjan to manage the fresh poll.

More follows.

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South Africa will not appeal against World Cup replay unless referee is cleared | Stv News @ 4pm

Watch all the latest stories making headlines on Silverbird Television at the comfort of your mobile device, tablet or PC. Click www.silverbirdtv.com/live to watch live Like, follow and subscribe to Silverbird TV! Website: www.silverbirdtv.com YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/SilverbirdTelevision Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/silverbirdtelevision Twitter: https://twitter.com/silverbirdtv Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/silverbirdtv Subscribe: https://goo.gl/EUqVRT source

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Death toll in NE Nigeria cholera outbreak jumps to 35

Thirty-five people have now died during a cholera outbreak in northeast Nigeria, up from 21 at the start of the week, local health officials said on Sunday. "The number of deaths reported is 35. The total number of suspected cholera cases is now 1,283," the Borno state health ministry said in a statement.

Start the conversation, or Read more at Vanguard.

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Nigeria: Multichoice to launch pay-per-view

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