In a five-year, $13m collaboration, the MasterCard Foundation is partnering with Michigan State University (MSU) for the AgriFood Youth Opportunity Lab which will support 15,000 young people aged 18 to 24 in major bread basket food shed regions surrounding Lagos and Dar es Salaam to access employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
AgriFood Youth Opportunity Lab will encourage youth to participate in the fast-growing horticulture, aquaculture, poultry, cassava and oilseed sectors in Nigeria and Tanzania. The partnership will also assist economically disadvantaged, hard-to-reach out-of-school youth as they transition into employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the agri-food system.
The MasterCard Foundation and MSU will launch this initiative at the AgriFood Youth Opportunity Lab Private and Public Sector Plenary and Launch Reception.
Monday, 15 May 2017 from 4pm – 5.30pm
Press conference at 5.30pm.
Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel
Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island
• Alemayehu Konde Koira, senior programme manager, Youth Livelihoods, The MasterCard Foundation
• Dr. Julie Howard, Agrifood Youth Opportunity Lab director and senior advisor, associate provost and dean, International Studies and Programmes, MSU
• Dr. Adesoji Adelaja, Hannah Distinguished professor in Land Policy, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, MSU
• Oyindamola Asaaju, youth agripreneur, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
• Dr. Kenton Dashiell, deputy director general for Partnerships for Delivery, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
• Jacob Gbemiga Adewale, provost of Oyo State College of Agriculture and Technology (OYSCATECH)
• Bunmi Akinyemiju, managing director and CEO, Venture Garden Group Nigeria
Journalists are encouraged to register by 2pm on Friday, 12 May 2017.
Ensuring that Hunger does not Kill more people than COVID-19 in Africa
With the global spread of the COVID-19, and gradual lockdowns in cities and countries across Africa, I have new fears – that starvation and hunger are mounting threats for people across continent. These fears are hinged on the realization that it is planting season in most parts of the Continent, and yet farmers are being asked to sit at home, the movement of seasonal workers is restricted, research institutes that provide seeds, fertilizer blending companies and agrodealers, processors and markets are all being shut down. Our regional and national borders are closed, and trading is being restricted. These realities, if pro-longed and not urgently addressed, will lead to short term consequences of food shortages, price hikes, and medium to long term consequences of under-nutrition, mass starvation and eventually death, especially among our most vulnerable populations.
We have to act with urgency to stem the virus through social distancing and lock downs. At the same time, we must recognize that farmers and workers in the food industry are essential to the fight against the pandemicand desperately need to be protected and supported. Indeed, without nutritious food, the sick cannot recover, and the healthy will eventually become unwell.
My fears are shared by a few stakeholders on the Continent and around the world. The EU Farmer’s organization – COPA-COGECAearlier this week actively advocated for support to ensure minimal disruptions to the food supply chain, worker protection and contingency plans. The United Kingdom and the United States have already outlined comprehensive plans to provide intervention grants, loans, and tax holidays, for stakeholders in the food industry, including restaurant owners and retailers affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic. In Mexico, farmers who continue to plough their fields are being celebrated as heroes.
Sadly, there has been no coordinated action from industry groups, the private sector, civil society, or the public sector to raise awareness about the looming food crises on the African Continent, linked to COVID-19.
Thankfully, it is not too late to act! We must take decisive and proactive steps to ensure that our people have access to affordable nutritious food in both our urban and rural communities. This will require that;
- Our governments at the federal, state, and local levels recognize key stakeholders in the food and agricultural landscape as essential workers and provide them with the protection and support that they need to continue to work, following pre-stipulated safety and health protocols. We must keep food markets and factories open, with clear guidelines around limiting crowds, and widely publicized schedules for who can enter during what periods of time. We can also learn from China’s example over the last few months, where government officials, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and National Health Commission repeatedly issued comprehensive notes to farmers on the control and prevention of the virus in rural areas, as well recommendations and protocols for preparing for their planting season and sustaining the livestock and poultry sectors.
Beyond guidance and protocols, our governments must urgently partner with the financial services sector to develop comprehensive loan packages for farmers, and entrepreneurs who are committed to working during the crises and can demonstrate their capacity to fill critical gaps in the food ecosystem. These interventions must actively engage women, who play a critical role in the sector. In addition, our governments must assess thenational strategic and emergency grain reserves to gauge what is available and how to effectively manage and deploy these reserves in a transparent and accountable manner to minimize price hikes and widespread shortages.
- Our industry associations, fast moving consumer goods companies, international trading companies, aggregators, wholesalers, and retailers must work together seamlessly to ensure the efficient and effective provision of affordable food to the masses of people. Leveraging technology, raw material suppliers and processors can actively partner with logisticsproviders and retailers to ensure that food is moved to where it is needed most, and no community is left behind.
This is not a period for hoarding and price gouging, with a focus on profits and growth at all costs. Companies must rise to the higher ideal of shared corporate values, where they put the needs of their customers and the African people ahead of their own requirements for profits and shareholder value. To ensure that this occurs, consumer protection and anti-competition agencies must closely monitor the activities of the largest actors in the food industry to ensure a level playing field.
In addition, the private sector can facilitate the introduction ofdrones, sensors and other precision agriculture andinnovative technology solutions, which will allow for active monitoring of commercial farm activity from a distance. Companies such as Atlas AI have demonstrated the power of technology to manage farms and assess impact, without direct human contact.
Our nonprofit organizations and media organizations must provide thought-leadership, monitoring and guidance to the entire ecosystem. Organizations such as GAIN are already providing critical guidance during this period.
- Finally, average citizens must invest in their own backyard and community gardens, while ensuring social distancing, manage their food budgets judiciously and share with their neighbors. Faith based organizations must open soup kitchens, offering free meals and partner with logistics providers to coordinate drop-offs. We must rebuild trust in our communities by caring for the most vulnerable at this exceedingly challenging time in our history as humanity!
As an eternal optimist, I am hopeful that as a people we will survive the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging with some critical lessons and a more resilient, united,and efficient food ecosystem. Now is the time for governments, stakeholders in the food ecosystem and citizens to act! Every minute counts!
Article By: Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is the managing partner of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition and the Co-Founder of AACE Foods. She is a 2018 Aspen New Voices Fellow and is currently writing a book titled “African Entrepreneurs Nourishing the World,” as a research fellow at the MR-CBG at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Visit: Sahel Consult
In Morocco youths are making money from agriculture with the support from the African Development Bank
In Morocco, the African Development Bank has helped thousands of young people towards a new future in agriculture.
Abdelhak Boukhari, a young farmer said he learned farming from his father. “I started in this area in 1995 when I was very young. It was really difficult at first because I didn’t have any land; I didn’t have anything. I shared a plot with other farmers and after that I started renting land. It was then that I really got into agriculture as a career,” said Boukhari.
At the age of 40, Boukhari, who grows strawberries for export mainly to Europe and North America, struck out on his own. Now, thanks to improved farming methods, he has become an entrepreneur and has leased more arable lands and modern equipment.
“I really feel like a champion, because my father had only one or two workers, but I now have between 40 and 50. Thanks to God, I have a lot of equipment: the tractor for ploughing, agricultural machinery, greenhouses, and drip-feed irrigation. I really do have modern tools at my disposal,” he said.
Other young farmers, like Hicham Mokadem, 30, share similar testimonies.
Mokadem, 30, is an agronomist. He went into berry production in Laouamra, in north-west Morocco and exports the bulk of his produce to Europe.
“It is a 15-hectare farm and I decided to invest in soft fruit because it is a growth sector,” said the young agronomist. “I’m confident and I’m not on my own,” he added, referring to the thousands of young people flocking to farming , motivated by Morocco’s new agricultural policy, ‘the Green Morocco Plan’ (PMV).
Launched in April 2008, the PMV aims to make agriculture one of the first sectors of productive development and to modernize it. It also intends to promote agricultural investment, ensure food security, stimulate exports of agricultural products, and promote local products.
Since its inception, this project has received more than 500 million euros from the African Development Bank through the Green Morocco Plan Support Programme (PAPMV).
“A 30% increase in agricultural yield, a 40% decrease in water usage and a 45% increase in agricultural earnings. These have been the outcomes of the Green Morocco Plan which we have been supporting since 2008,” said Bank resident representative for Morocco, Leila Farah Mokaddem.
Young Moroccans such as Boukhari and Mokadem demonstrate the Bank’s success in transforming livelihoods under its High Five development priorities: Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
Important Food Habits You Should Adapt This Year
It’s a new year and while you’re writing up your new year resolutions, we hope “contributing to food security” is one of them. If it isn’t, there’s still time to add it.
One of the biggest threat to food security is Food loss and waste (FLW). According to the FAO, approximately one-third of all produced foods (1.3 billion tons of edible food) for human consumption is lost and wasted every year across the entire supply chain. When food is wasted, the resources such as water and nutrients which were used to produce that food, are also wasted.
With numbers that high, it might seem like adapting the food habits which will be discussed later in this post will not solve affect anything. However, if we all make our own little efforts from our various homes, the results might surprise us.
Shop Smart: Have you ever found an old banana you bought rotting out in the fridge because you bought it and forgot about it? Probably.
Shopping is not easy. Sometimes we end up buying and forgetting about the existence of what we bought, sometimes we end up buying more than we need, or sometimes we don’t buy enough. To be a smarter shopper, it is important to not only make a shopping list, but to stick to it. This will help reduce impulse buying which could lead to food waste.
Shopping smart also means knowledge of that buying in bulk may not always be smart. You might be certain of what you will eat next Monday but by next Monday, someone takes you out for a meal and what happens to the food produce you bought ahead of Monday? It could go to waste.
The reality of life is that plans change and purchasing food items against the unforeseeable future could lead to waste. You could easily see an advert for a nice meal which could cause you to change your plans to cook dinner. What happens to the food produce you had already bought? It could go to waste.
A study conducted by Victoria Ligon of the University of Arizona to understand how people acquire, prepare, consume, and discard food. She tracked shopping and food preparation patterns and her results confirmed that bulk-buying too often leads to food waste.
“To me, the big-picture finding is that while this meal planning helps us psychologically feel less stressed about all of the home tasks we have to manage, it is not easy to execute. In the end, it results in inefficiency and waste because food is perishable.”
- Victoria Ligon.
She also explained that the rapid increase of fast food has created more food options. This has caused people to change meal plans without notice. This could cause the previous meal plan to go to waste if products had already been purchased for it.
These are some key points you should take into consideration when shopping so you can make smarter decisions.
Pay Attention to Expiry Dates: You might feel justified throwing out food because it is expired. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to wait till the food expires before you take action.
Another reason why buying in bulk should be discouraged is because we are humans and sometimes, we forget. Purchasing canned food in bulk can also lead to expiration and eventual wastage.
One of the ways of curbing this is by creating a “last in, first out” system in your refrigerator. This means that the last thing you put in should be the first thing out. That way, nothing overstays its welcome in the fridge. You should also use this system for expiry dates. The foods closest to their expiration should be used up before the ones whose expiration is still far off.
Which of the above listed habit will you be adapting? Let’s know in the comments section below.