“Positive outlook for food security” – SADC

The food baskets of the region are set to fill up thanks to above average rainfall in most parts of member countries of the Southern African Development Community, despite the presence of threatening pests. According to the latest SADC quarterly food security update, the regional food security situation for the…

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Policy agency calls for reduction in FISP spending

The Zambian Government’s agricultural subsidy programme (FISP) is failing and it should investigate and promote other options to encourage growth in the agricultural sector, says the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI). “Despite evidence showing how the country’s signature Farming Input Subsidy Programmes, FISP, has failed to spur agricultural diversification,…

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Livestock production: Selective and sensible use of antibiotics to prevent microbe resistance

Calls to reduce the use of antibiotics are becoming more frequent. The aim is not to prevent the use of antibiotics, but to use antibiotics rationally and carefully, so that we can prolong the useful lives of current antibiotics, and comply with residue regulations. Antibiotic resistance is a global concern.…

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SA breakthrough in fight against armyworm

A South African scientist made a breakthrough in the fight against the destructive fall armyworm by using a nematode species to kill it. It will however take a few years before the planned biological control is commercially available. The breakthrough was made by Dr Tiarin Ferreira, technical manager at Nema…

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Increased chance of El Niño returning in 2017

It seems like the El Niño phenomenon, associated with drier conditions in southern Africa, is going to make another appearance in 2017, according to forecasts from the American Climate Prediction Centre. The US government weather forecaster says there are increasing chances of El Niño developing during the southern hemisphere fall…

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SA summer harvest estimates higher than expected

South Africa can potentially produce its second largest maize harvest yet, if the first crop estimate for 2017 becomes reality. The first official estimate from the National Crop Estimates Committee (CEC) predicts a maize harvest of 13.918 million tons for 2017. This is almost 80% more than the 2016 harvest…

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Parts of Zambia still in drought, despite abundant rains

About 3 000 hectares of maize and other crops have dried up in Muchinga Province’s Isoka district, one of the areas still suffering from drought. Luangwa district is another area hit by the dry spell which left most crops dead. Isoka district commissioner Evenwell Mutambo said the area suffered from…

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Fall armyworm causing damage in central Africa

The fall armyworm is now also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first central African country to report the presence of the South and Central American pest in its maize fields. According to news agency Reuters, a total of 63 000 ha of maize was destroyed in the southern…

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Picture provided by Des van Heerden, Syngenta

Prevention key to containing bird flu in Southern African countries

The spread of highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza in Africa is of concern for the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). “In Africa, for some time now the disease was in north and West-Africa, but in late January, the H5N8 strain spread to Uganda, hence causing more fears of…

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Armyworm threatens Southern African food security – UN

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns the current armyworm outbreak could put Southern Africa’s food security at risk. The warning came at the end of a three-day regional meeting in Zimbabwean capital Harare, to discuss the outbreak. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the FAO says…

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Three jailed over FISP irregularities in Zambia

A Zambian court sentenced three people to jail for theft of fertiliser meant for beneficiaries of government’s Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). Government welcomed the sentences as a deterrent to those involved in racketeering schemes related to the programme. Luanshya magistrate Dominic Makalicha said the actions of the trio amounted…

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‘Red locusts threat to food security in Southern Africa’, IRLCo-CSA warns

Forecasts show migratory red locusts may affect food security in southern Africa. This according to the International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa. In a related development the IRLCo-CSA has started spraying the 3 000 hectares of maize fields under attack by pests in Central Province. The…

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New technology predicts yields for African smallholder farmers

American researchers successfully developed a new way to measure African farm yields, using high-resolution photos snapped by a wave of recently developed compact satellites. The Stanford University researchers now plan to scale up their project from a small Kenyan trial across more of Africa. “Our aspiration is to make accurate…

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AFGRI rewarded for work in Uganda

The agri-services group AFGRI Uganda was recently honoured as the largest contributor to food security in East Africa at the East Africa Book of Records (EABR) Awards. The EABR annually recognises achievements in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals by individuals or companies. Ending hunger, achieving food security…

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Fall armyworm confirmed in SA maize fields

Pretoria – South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Senzeni Zokwana, confirmed the occurrence of fall armyworm in South African maize crops. Concerns about the possible presence of the pest were raised about two weeks ago, but scientists had to wait until the caterpillars started to pupate and…

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Government soothes anxious poultry farmers

The Zambian government will next week Tuesday convene a stakeholders meeting to address concerns of a jittery poultry industry, reeling from the effects of dumping and rising input costs. Industry sources said the concerns were heightened by developments in the South African poultry sector, where major producers were set to…

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Stress tolerant maize ensures food secure future

Old seed varieties, one of the hurdles for smallholder farmers trying to secure yields, is currently the focus for international agricultural research. Over the past 10 years, two international non-profit research organisations – the International Maize Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) – have gone…

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Government, ZNFU warn FISP embezzlers

Government has confirmed officials were involved in unlawfully selling inputs and embezzling cash under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). In a related development the Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has threatened to ban agro dealers who were inflating prices, from participating in the FISP e-voucher system in future. “We…

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Dora Siliya, Zambia's Minister of Agriculture.

Mealie-meal prices expected to fall as maize deal is finalised

Mealie-meal prices are expected to drop by up to K15 per 25kg bag in the coming week. This after the conclusion of a government brokered maize deal with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) and the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ). Under the new deal…

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“Civil servants abusing FISP” – NGO

An agriculture NGO claims extension officers in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) are abusing the system. The claims by the Zambia Agriculture Rural Development Initiative (ZARDI) came amid mounting pressure to eradicate problems in FISP’s management. President Edgar Lungu said he would soon constitute a team of experts to…

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Financial boost for agri-business good news for small scale farmers

An approved loan facility from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the Meridian group is good news for some small scale farmers in southern Africa. This $20 million facility was procured for the financing of Merdian’s agricultural operations in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. “It will enable the bank to reach…

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Govt, IAPRI differ over FISP subsidy

Government and the Indaba Agriculture Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) differs on the impact of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) subsidy. Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa told parliament’s budget committee FISP subsidies have been pivotal in improving productivity in the agriculture sector. This while IAPRI acting executive director Ballad Zulu…

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