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AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on Agriculture and Related Issues - 2003-2006

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Select bulletins with material on Debt | Trade | Aid, Poverty, & Public Investment | Agriculture | ICT

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Economics of Climate Change http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/ster0611.php
    "All countries will be affected. The most vulnerable - the poorest countries and populations - will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change." - Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Nov 5, 2006  Africa: Up in Smoke? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/clim0611.php
    "The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is historically a result of rich world activity. Therefore to be fair, the rich world should bear the full costs of adapting to climate change, at least in the early years." - Working Group on Climate Change and Development

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Rice Congress http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/rice0610.php
    Rice development will be one of the key testing grounds of whether Africa's new "Green Revolution" can avoid some of the failures of earlier Green Revolution efforts, and reduce African rice imports. Enthusiasts point to the Participatory Varietal Selection methods used by the Africa Rice Centre to disseminate new rice varieties, and to growth in small-farmer income as well as yields.

Oct 15, 2006  Africa: Green Revolution? http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/gr0610.php
    The Gates Foundation has joined with the Rockefeller Foundation in promoting a new "Green Revolution" in Africa. But will the new effort learn from the mistakes of earlier "Green Revolution" initiatives? Sceptics say that the new proposals still disregard the interests of small farmers and the environment.

Sep 10, 2006  Africa: Environmental Threats/Opportunities http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/unep0609.php
    Many of Africa's ecosystems are not just serving the region, but the whole world, for example, through the carbon soaking value of tropical forests. This alone probably equals or exceeds the current or exceeds the current level of international aid being provided to developing countries.

Feb 21, 2006  East Africa: Dams and Lake Victoria http://www.africafocus.org/docs06/vic0602.php
    Low water levels in Lake Victoria, at their lowest point in 50 years, are threatening the livelihood of people dependent on fishing, raising the prices of fish, and provoking shortages of water for electricity generation. And now a new report charges that the crisis is due not only to drought but also to overuse of the lake's water for power generation by existing powerplants. At the same time the Uganda government has signed a new $500 million contract for building a third power plant, on the Bujagali Falls. Environmentalists charge that the new plant is likely to have more negative effects and that the hope of providing more electricity will prove unsustainable.

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 1 http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/wto0512a.php
    "Any expectations that developing countries or the public might have of Hongkong marking progress to achieving 'development' in the Doha negotiations have been very much dashed. The 'Doha Development Agenda' (DDA) got its nickname when the developed countries pressurised the developing countries to accept a new Work Programme at the Doha Ministerial in November 2001. To cover the fact that the programme was really aimed at opening the markets of the South, the WTO secretariat leadership and the major developed countries dubbed it the DDA." - Third World Network

Dec 16, 2005  Africa: Trade Talks Analysis, 2 http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/wto0512b.php
    Having failed to come up with a joint proposal on agriculture that begins to satisfy the demands of developing countries, Europe and the United States have proposed a "development package" that they hope will preserve some image of success in the World Trade Organization ministerial conference in Hong Kong. But critics say whatever the face-saving agreements reached by the weekend, the results will clearly show no progress at all for poor countries in what was supposed to have been a "development round."

Oct 24, 2005  Africa: Cotton Producers Demand Results http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/cot0510.php
    Two years ago in Cancun, the issue of the damage done to African cotton producers by rich-country subsidies sparked the breakdown of world trade talks, highlighting the failure of rich countries to make this round of trade talks a "development round." In Geneva last week, African countries warned that their interests were still being ignored.

Oct 18, 2005  Southern Africa: Food Emergency Shortfall http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/food0510.php
    With attention diverted and disaster fatigue accentuated by response to the hurricanes in North America, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) as well as private agencies are finding responses slow to the earthquake in South Asia and to food crises in Africa. The WFP appeal for Niger, which briefly hit world headlines in July, has still only raised $36 million of its $58 million target; the appeal for 12 million people in Southern Africa has only raised $245 million out of an estimated $622 million needed.

Oct 15, 2005  Africa: Trade Smoke and Mirrors http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/ag0510.php
    In an effort to give momentum to international trade talks, the United States and the European Union this week released new offers to cut widely-criticized subsidies to rich-country farmers. The proposals have already provoked opposition from defenders of subsidies, including U.S. legislators and French officials. But non-governmental analysts say in fact the concessions to developing countries are "smoke and mirrors."

Sep 6, 2005  USA/Africa: Call for Food Aid Reform http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/iatp0509.php
    On August 26, just before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States, the World Food Programme called for the international community not to turn away from Niger, as food contributions began to tail off with less than half of the budget funded. As subsequent images of devastated New Orleans both displaced and evoked comparisons with "Third World" catastrophes, there was abundant material for reflection on U.S. and international responses to entirely predictable disasters.

Jul 22, 2005  Niger: Background to Famine http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/nig0507.php
    With a BBC film crew in Niger broadcasting images of starving children to the world, food aid shipments to the country are starting to pick up. But UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Jan Egeland, who has repeatedly warned of neglected emergencies in African countries, told reporters that if donors had responded to earlier appeals, a child's life could have been saved for little more than a dollar a day. Now the estimated cost has risen to 80 times that, and for many it is too late.

Jul 5, 2005  Ghana: Playing Chicken http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/gh0507.php
    "For the last few years the Ghanaian market has been flooded with cheap imported chicken from the European Union and the United States. These are usually fatty chicken parts that come in packages without labels. Nonetheless, demand for local poultry has collapsed, threatening the livelihoods of over 400,000 poultry farmers in the small West African nation." - Corpwatch

Mar 23 2005  USA/Africa: Cotton Dumping http://www.africafocus.org/docs05/cot0503.php
    Pressure to reduce rich-country subsidies for agricultural exports ratchetted upward this month when the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its final ruling that U.S. current payments to cotton farmers were illegal. The Bush administration's 2006 budget submitted to Congress proposes reduction in these subsidies by setting new upper limits on payments. But the outcome in Congress is uncertain, and African cotton farmers need more than promises of somewhat fairer terms for their exports in the distant future.

Sep 6, 2004  Africa: Trade Deception http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/tr0409.php
    Initial news stories from world trade talks in Geneva heralded rich country commitments to cut agricultural subsidies, celebrating the July 31 framework agreement as a victory for rich and poor countries alike. For those who followed the later dissection of the fine print, however, it quickly became apparent that the commitment was largely a "shell game," as James Flanagan put it in the Los Angeles Times (Aug. 15, 2004).

Jul 31, 2004  Africa: Trade Talks Background http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/tr0407.php
    Discussions continued beyond Friday's midnight deadline in world trade talks in Geneva, as major countries pressed for wording compromises that would avoid an obvious breakdown. West African cotton-producing countries reportedly accepted a U.S. pledge to deal with the issue of cotton subsidies expeditiously within the wider agriculture negotiations. Even if disagreements are papered over, however, fair trade campaigners note that the text remains deeply unbalanced in favor of rich countries, with their commitments under the framework text still vague and ambiguous in comparison with concessions exacted from developing countries.

May 14, 2004  Africa: Cotton Update http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/cot0405.php
    "This system [of U.S. cotton subsidies] pits a typical Malian producer, farming two hectares of cotton, who is lucky to gross $400 a year, against US farms which receive a subsidy of $250 per hectare." - Oxfam. The World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon issue a formal ruling, in response to a Brazilian and African challenge, declaring these U.S. subsidies in violation of international trade rules. This changes the climate for international trade talks, but no policy shifts that could directly affect African farmers are yet imminent.

Mar 16, 2004  Congo (Kinshasa): Forests under Threat http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rf0403.php
    Central Africa is the region having the richest rainforest resources on the continent, and its Congo basin is second only to the Amazon among the world's rainforest regions. How these resources are used and who controls their "development" are issues that deserve wide debate. Yet new legislation to permit rapid expansion in logging is being introduced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on the advice of the World Bank, without significant consultation with civil society or people living in forest areas.

Mar 9, 2004  Africa: Commodity Trap http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/unct0403.php
    Africa remains caught in a "commodity trap," says a new report on trade performance and commodity dependence from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Africa is less competitive than in previous decades even in traditional primary commodities, its trade position undermined both by competition from Asia and Latin America and by agricultural subsidies in rich countries. Market solutions have aggravated this structural vulnerability, and it is time to reconsider a greater role for both national and international state actions, UNCTAD concludes.

Feb 4, 2004  Africa: Rice for the Future http://www.africafocus.org/docs04/rice0401.php
    Only two decades ago, rice was considered a luxury food in West Africa, comments Dr. Kanayo Nwanze of the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA). Now it is a staple, accounting for more than 25% of cereal consumption. Import growth has consistently outpaced growth in production. But new rice varieties developed by WARDA researchers give hope that Africa could rapidly increase domestic production.

Nov 16, 2003  Africa: Agriculture Strategic, Neglected http://www.africafocus.org/docs03/fao0311.php
    "Unfortunately, development partners have paid much less attention to agriculture and rural development over the past two decades," commented Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a speech last week. "The World Bank, the major funding source for Africa, targeted 39 percent of its lending in 1978 to the agricultural sector in Africa. By 2002, this proportion had dropped to 6 percent."