FRW news in brief

    | October 14, 2013

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    Zambia slashes farmer subsidies

    The Zambian government has removed subsidies for farmers and millers because the expenditure is perceived as draining the country’s resources.

    The loss of subsidies has angered the Zambia National Farmers Union, or ZNFU, which said the move was “ill-timed.” The ZNFU warned that any reduction in support for beleaguered Zambian farmers could threaten maize production and national food security.

    About 900,000 small-scale farmers are likely to be affected. ZNFU spokesperson Kakoma Kaleyi said many farmers could not afford to buy fertilizer even before the subsidies were cut.

    According to an NGO that calculates the monthly cost of a basket of household essentials, prices have been rising since the subsidies were removed. The NGO’s spokesperson said the price of maize meal had risen, adding “The effects of [the] removal of subsidies on basic food items are deepening.”

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    Food crisis looms in Zimbabwe

    In a recent statement, the United Nations World Food Programme, or WFP, predicts significant food shortages in Zimbabwe during parts of 2014, with one in four rural people expected to need food assistance. The WFP says Zimbabwe will need over two million tonnes of maize next year.

    Since the seizure of white-owned commercial farms, food production has decreased significantly in Zimbabwe. According to a report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency, the contribution of commercial farms to national grain production has dropped by two-thirds over the past 20 years.

    Gibson Nhari is an agricultural extension officer in Mashonaland Central Province, 150 kilometres outside the capital, Harare. He says the looming food shortages are due to the inability of small-scale farmers to purchase inputs like seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, and that this has resulted in poor yields across the country.

    Officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party have blamed the food shortages on sanctions imposed by Western countries.

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    Nigeria’s Fulani find urban markets for milk

    Nigeria’s nomadic Fulani herders often struggle to sell their milk and cheese in towns, earning as little as $2 per day. The reason: Urban dwellers are worried about hygiene standards.

    But some Fulani have begun supplying fresh milk to a multinational beverage company, FrieslandCampina WAMCO. The company has built milk collection centres across the country, and is training herders to help maximize production and improve hygiene.

    Milk collected at the centres is cooled and transported to the company’s factory in Lagos. As a result, Fulanis have a new market which pays them $6 US for ten litres of milk.

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