Items filtered by date: Thursday, 11 May 2017

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) has held capacity training for some selected farmers and agricultural extension agencies on the monitoring and scouting of the Fall Army Worm (FAW) in Tamale of the Northern.

The USAID Feed the Future Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project and the Farmer to Farmer Program aimed at educating the beneficiaries on measures to take after detecting the invasion of the worm on their farms that affected agricultural production in last farming season.

The training was part of a series of activities earmarked by USAID ADVANCE in cooperation with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) to establish and maintain a national army worm monitoring and alerting system, starting in May 2017.

The participants were therefore also updated on the FAW situation in Western Africa, how to set up and maintain traps with pheromone, scout maize fields for FAW infestation, apply appropriate insecticides using FAW action thresholds and their rotation to avoid development of resistance.

The fall army worm (Spodopterafrugiperda) originated from Central and South America and was first identified in West Africa in January 2016. The pest is the larval form of the fall armyworm moth, and has indiscriminate appetite for consuming more than 100 different plant species, including cereals like maize as well as leafy crops.

The recent invasion of the armyworm in Ghana gives cause for concerns because it also devours plants’ reproductive parts and could eat through the maize cob, resulting in significant crop loss.

In July of 2016, the fall armyworm surfaced in northern Ghana and BrongAhafo Region, and thereby infested maize farms in the area that poses a major threat to food security and agricultural trade in Ghana as a whole.

The USAID ACDI/VOCA Farmer to Farmer Volunteer Professor Emeritus of the Oregon State University, Dan Mc’Grath, stressed the need for the farmers to collaborate with the extension agents to identify the worms and combat them to prevent post harvest loses.

He noted that the over spraying of the farm lands with uncertified chemicals also affect production hence the need for the farmers to use the certified chemicals and fertilizers to increase yields.

He urged the farmers to begin scouting of army worm infestation when the maize plants are small till the harvesting season to ensure value for money.

The Northern Regional Director of PPRS, Mr Akai Christopher, noted that the region is ready to fight the worms but logistical constraint is hampering activities.

He therefore appealed for funds to execute the projects to fight the worms to ensure increase yields of the farmers’ productions.

He stressed that the plant for food project cannot be achieved if the army worms are not cleared from the farms and therefore need for effective control of the pest in production and harvesting.
“We will liaise with the Extension agents to educate the farmers on the measures to put in place anytime they detect the worms on their fields” he added.

The Technical Director of ADVANCE, Allan Pineda, said ADVANCE is committed towards increasing food security, reducing stunting and poverty in the Northern Ghana.

“To increase productivity, we work with smallholder farmers through trainings on demo sites and perform activities to make agric inputs more available, and many others,” he added.

The yields of smallholder farmers’ beneficiaries of the project, he stressed, is about 85% higher than that of the national average in maize which double in rice and 83% more in soybean for about 118,000 beneficiaries.

He said the ADVANCE organised Farm Clinics to address pest and disease related problems with local experts.

According to him the invasion of the worm on the farms in Ghana led to the search for entomologist with experience in Fall Army worm (FAW) and ants to educate farmers and extension agents on best agricultural practices.

Source: Samuel Sam/thebftonline.com/Ghana

Published in Agriculture

Nigeria's lower and upper parliamentary chambers passed the 2017 budget, set at 7.44 trillion naira ($24.4 billion), on Thursday, lawmakers said.

Both chambers had agreed to a higher volume than the draft worth 7.298 trillion naira budget submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari to lawmakers in December. The budget assumes an oil price of $44.5 a barrel and foreign borrowing of 175.9 billion naira and domestic borrowing of 1.488 trillion naira, lawmakers said.

The budget must be passed by lawmakers before the president can sign it into law. President Buhari is on medical leave in Britain and on Sunday handed over power to his deputy Yemi Osinbajo.

Nigeria is in its second year of recession brought on by low oil prices which have slashed government revenues, weakened the naira currency and caused chronic dollar shortages.

Last year's budget - passed in May 2016 - was delayed for months due to disagreements between lawmakers and the presidency, cutting the supply of government money and deepening the economic crisis.

($1 = 304.6000 naira)

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by John Stonestreet) - Reuters

Published in Economy

When building a brand, companies are often challenged to stay real, be authentic and interface with their customers openly and honestly. Staying to true to the organisation’s founding values provides it with its guiding light and contributes to the organisation delivering equity building experiences.

However, this has now become a daunting task driven by a market place that wants to be kept excited about your company and its products. If your company is unable to continue to draw your target market’s attention, you risk losing them to your competitors who’re also fighting to remain relevant in an ever competitive market place.

When facing these challenges most organisations refer to innovation as a remedy for the dip in market share and relevance. Investment is then poured into coming up with a way to reinvent the organisation in a mannerJames Maposa that maintains its relevance based on current market trends.

In as much as I appreciate that it is important to remain relevant in light of a dynamic place, innovation could come at the price of shocking some of your existing customer base. Your business’ values serve as principles of how your organisation goes about its day-to-day business to achieve its long-term goals. The company’s ecosystem is also built around these values, including partnerships that the company will enter into and likewise how it will behave this market place.

These values also set the basis of the organisation’s authenticity, that is, what it can and can’t do and also why it doesn’t do certain things. All in all, the firm sets itself up to take full advantage of an identified gap within the market place, with the developed vision, strategy, character and behaviour of the organisation also aligning with the founders’ way of doing things. This way of doing things should be evaluated and its merits promoted to obtain staff and other relevant stakeholder buy-in; ultimately providing clarity on what the company is about and how it delivers value within the market place.

I assume that when a company starts losing market share, the situation is often analysed from an operational instead of a strategic viewpoint. I also suggest that often the problem is dealt with when the organisation is in panic mode and it needs to deal with the drop in sales as a matter of urgency.

It is at this point that the innovation approach takes centre stage with consultants and advisors are engaged to develop a solution that will deliver a result in the shortest turnaround and return the organisation back to its winning ways. At this stage because of the dire position the organisation finds itself in, the guidance of values and vision are often overlooked with the organisation now only being fixated on bringing something to the market that will enable it to regain lost market share in a big way and like yesterday. When presented with the solutions, management often decide on the option to take based on their gut. I think of it more as a gamble but from their side of the table bold decisions need to be made when shareholders are demanding more for their investment.

So based on the above, a decision is made and a new product is brought into the market place to salvage the ailing firm’s bad situation. The market is always curious about what a significant player is bringing to the table so they flock to your stores to test and give feedback on your new offering. It is in this moment that the truth is revealed about whether what you’re present to the market place adds or takes away from the authenticity that your organisation stands for.

There are times when you will get “lucky”, that is, when the decision makers will leverage their institutional memory to back a gut feel decision referring to the historic understanding of the business to confirm whether the new innovation will indeed restore lost market confidence. There are however times, when the organisation will get it wrong, rushed by the make or break situation or leaked information that a competitor is also planning to launch a product similar to the one your firm is working on to get yourself out of your financial predicament. At this stage caution is thrown to the wind and its full steam ahead.

If you’re wrong and the market is not happy with what you’ve brought to the table; your firm is hoping for one thing. Your company is hoping that you haven’t gone overboard with your innovation so much that it has alienated you from your extant customer base. If you’re way off the mark, it is perceived as desperate and stakeholders add to this by thinking that you’ve run out of good ideas and your brand should no longer be rated among the best.

This is a very hard position to come back from. In as much as we believe that customers forget with time when you do get it right; you’ll always be reminded about this mistake. You also don’t want to be in such a position because the new offering is supposed to save you, not put you in a worse off position which warrants you to dig even deeper to return you to a good standing with your stakeholders. So if you do get it wrong make sure it’s a wrong that can be corrected with relative ease or an issue you can turn around with your stakeholders because they still have your ear.

How you will do this is by sticking to the fundamentals. Being authentic means believing in the organisation’s founding principles and using this as a guiding light even when it comes to aspects such as becoming more innovative to remain relevant within the market place.

Evaluate a new product offering or direction based on how it will benefit your firm over the longer term and not the short term. Test the new product not just on whether it will be accepted or rejected by the market but also on whether it will enable you to add to your legacy. Refer back to your heritage and define whether the new offering is in tandem with what your organisation has always been about. In conclusion, I reiterate that strong brands are built on authenticity and everything the firm does whether in crisis mode or not should be guided by whether it adds to or takes away from what it stands for.

 

- James Maposa - Director Consultant Intergroup Brand Science (formerly Interbrand)

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Uganda's electricity exports to Kenya grew 300 per cent in the four months to April as drought cut the neighbouring country's local generation of hydro-electric power by 347 million kilowatt hours.

Kenya imported 92.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) from Uganda in the four months compared to 13.66 million units in the same period last year - marking a 302 per cent growth, according to official data. This is a departure from last year when Kenya cut by half electricity imports from Uganda following the injection of the additional 280 megawatts geothermal power to the national grid a year earlier.

But the drought, which follows low rainfall during the October and November rainy season, has left at least 1.3 million people in need of food aid and driven down water levels in dams.

Around 910 million kWh of the energy supplied to the Kenyan grid came from hydropower in the four months, down from 1.25 billion units in the same period last year. The supply shortfall was plugged by increased intake of imports and expensive diesel-fired electricity.

Kenya has a direct electricity transmission line connecting with Uganda via Tororo, enabling bulk power imports. Besides Uganda, Kenya also imports power from Ethiopia to feed the neighbouring Moyale town, which is not linked to the national electricity grid.

Kenya bought 870,000 units of power from Ethiopia in the first quarter, up from 740,000 units in a similar period last year. Official data shows that Kenya's electricity exports to Uganda fell 95 per cent to 740,000 units in the four months, reversing a trend where the exports have been rising. Uganda has been exporting electricity to Kenya under an agreement signed during colonial times but renegotiated at Uganda's insistence in 1997.

 

- The Monitor Uganda

Published in Engineering

Growing youth unemployment remains a socio-economic challenge in Africa. Several initiatives, including foreign development aid programmes, are being deployed to address this. Many come with noble intentions. But they are undermined by the flawed approach of parachuting solutions made in the West.

A study focusing on a seven year old multi-million dollar programme from the US illustrates this point. The programme was established under former US President Barack Obama’s administration in 2010. It was first called the Young African Leaders Initiative. In 2014 it was renamed the Mandela Washington Fellowship. It’s coordinated by the United States Agency for International Development. The programme’s main objective is to support Africa’s next generation of leaders.

It’s just one of many development aid initiatives undertaken from the US and the broader western world. These programmes have good intentions. But many suffer from a number of weaknesses. These include the fact that they are parachuted in.

Our research suggests that the Mandela Washington Fellowship isn’t realising its potential because of two major problems. The participation of key stakeholders, such as governments and the private sector, is limited. And the courses are based on a weak understanding of the local context in which entrepreneurs have to function.

Our survey suggests that it remains unclear whether the programme has considered key elements that are crucial to the successful implementation of its goals.

Challenges

The Mandela Washington Fellowship consists of three main tracks of leadership development. They are business and entrepreneurship, civil leadership, and public management.

Every year since 2010, 100 fellows with strong leadership potential are selected from various African countries. They participate in a six to eight week period of mentoring, networking and entrepreneurial training in different US institutions.

The Agency for International Development has channelled $10 million into this programme. In addition to the training in US institutions, four regional leadership centres have been established in Africa. These are designed to be public private partnerships.

Together with developing leadership capacity, the initiative helps in developing a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem by fostering regional networks. It can help local small businesses become sustainable. The initiative can also create private sector driven economies and encourage innovative startups across various sectors. These include agriculture, health, science and technology.

Interviews with several stakeholders from academic and government institutions, the private sector, and programme fellows provide insight into the significance of the programme in Africa. Most thought the initiative could contribute to building strong and competitive African economies. But several flaws were also identified.

The first was that key stakeholders, such as government departments and ministries, research institutions and the private sector, are visibly absent from the programme across many African countries.

Secondly, a number of those interviewed suggested that the programme’s objectives didn’t reflect African governments’ policy agendas. For example, one government official wanted to know how the programme helped to address a competitive agri-business sector. He asked about this connection because the sector is central to his government’s agricultural policy. He also wanted to know what research and development is being conducted in local universities.

These concerns potentially undermine the prorgramme’s credibility.

Local context is key

The huge differences between business entrepreneurship in America and Africa generated heated discussion, particularly among academic experts. Some questioned the limited understanding of local context of American instructors and training providers. A few fellows suggested that some professors focused too much on issues that are irrelevant to Africa.

There was also a strong view that the programme has developed packages that neglected decades of experience and research in Africa. Some argued that it must be integrated with other local initiatives.

One expert explained that being an entrepreneur in New York has little in common with the experiences of one in Lagos or Johannesburg. Unique underlying conditions require the entrepreneur to function quite differently than she would in the American context. This is compounded by weak institutional capacity and lack of access to various forms of finance that prevails in many African countries.

Bad leadership, corruption and weak infrastructure also remain significant hindrances to entrepreneurial development in Africa. Stakeholders argued that basic training could be given to some bright young entrepreneurs. But without the right governance, economic support and infrastructure required to run the businesses, they are bound to fail regardless of any training.

Because these problems are endemic, the programme’s relatively short duration also becomes a concern.

Moving forward

African governments must pay attention to entrepreneurship development before foreign assistance can yield good results. Their entrepreneurship policies should encourage three key points. Firstly, entrepreneurship development must be integrated across all levels of education and training programmes and economic development initiatives.

Secondly, entrepreneurship policy must promote innovation and recognise human development and its cultural value. Thirdly, entrepreneurship development should encourage investment in infrastructure, research and development.

It will be difficult for foreign aid programmes to make a difference unless this kind of policy is put in place. For their part, foreign aid initiatives must identify with national government programmes within Africa – especially those that target local entrepreneurship activities.

They must run on productive partnerships with research institutions as well as local, private and public sectors. These are important. They can help monitor progress and evaluate against targets. They can also be useful in scaling up the programme.

The partnership should prioritise the involvement of more African trainers. Local experts with deep knowledge of local conditions should be engaged in teaching and running the programme in partnership with American counterparts. This can overcome the critical challenge of providing training that’s relevant to Africa.

Ademola Adenle, Fellow at the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Business

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