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Friday, 10 January 2020

CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – has decided to include Mukula trees, one of many rosewood species, in its Annex II listing. Species covered by CITES are listed in three Annexes according to how much protection they need. Annex II includes species not directly threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to ensure their survival. The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner asked Paolo Cerutti and Nils Bourland about the decision.

Why is Mukula wood so sought after?

Rosewood is an informal term which refers to a group of hardwood species that are red in colour and widely used in furniture processing. Historically, the “real” rosewood belonged to the Dalbergia genus as found in Brazil, India or Madagascar. But with time, the name has been commonly used to group strong woods with a reddish colour.

Demand for rosewoods has been growing for several years, particularly in Asia. China is one of the biggest rosewood consumers and, since 2000, has established an official list of 33 tree species harvested across the tropics in Africa (five), Latin America (seven) and Asia (21), and imported and traded under the “Rosewood” name.

The wood fetches very high prices in China as it’s used to make hongmu – antique red-wood furniture. Hongmu was historically used by the imperial elite and is now coveted by China’s rising wealthy middle-class.

Because the usual rosewood tree species – like the Dalbergias – have been over-harvested for decades and are now endangered, traders have tried to diversify, using trees which could provide similar colours and strength.

Mukula – Pterocarpus tinctorius – is the local name for rosewood harvested in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Even though it is not one of the tree species labelled as “rosewood” under China’s official list, traders and consumers still want it for its colour and strength. When freshly cut and debarked, Mukula’s timber has a bright brown-reddish colour – produced by oils and chemicals it contains – which turns to darker brown with time and exposure to light. These oils are also what make the wood durable.

As a result Mukula became part of the wider rosewood trade that affects much of southeast Asia and parts of Africa and South America.

What was the basis of the CITES decision to control the trade in mukula?

Government seizures of illegally harvested Mukula started to be reported in the media, mostly in Zambia, about five years ago.

But the seizures didn’t stop traders; the volumes harvested and traded increased year after year. Eventually, media and political attention started to flag the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of the trade, bringing Mukula to the attention of CITES.

Read more: Why Zambia has not benefitted from its rosewood trade with China

Mukula in Zambia mainly occurs in the country’s miombo fragile woodlands. It’s an area of great importance for local communities, because it’s a source of livelihoods for them. It also hosts flagship fauna species, including monkeys, that feed on its fruits.

How will the decision now be implemented and which countries does it affect most?

Mukula logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets and plywood are affected by this listing. It is important to remember that this decision doesn’t ban the trade of Mukula. Instead, it seeks to increase levels of monitoring so that we can be more and better informed about illegal trade and over-harvesting.

After the decision enters into force, all countries exporting Mukula will have to conduct what is known in CITES as “Non-Detriment Findings”. Range States – Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania – are immediately concerned.

This means that sustainability, legality and the ability to trace the wood from stump to market must be guaranteed and CITES permits will have to be issued when the species is traded. The permit is issued if it is demonstrated that the traded volume – the number of felled trees – does not threaten the survival of the species at the place of harvest in natural forests. Planted species are not considered.

In addition, the convention requires that exporting and importing countries report to the CITES secretariat, which enters the information into a specific database for global monitoring. The CITES’ Plant Committee is then mandated to conduct periodic reviews to detect abnormal situations, for example discrepancies in trade statistics.

There are several other mechanisms which allow irregularities in trade to be monitored at national and international levels. Civil society, NGOs and researchers can also play a great role, drawing attention on unclear situations and illegal activities.

Despite different bans and restrictions Mukula harvest and trade hasn’t stopped. What will be the challenges in implementing this decision?

Various timber-producing countries have adopted harvesting and/or trading bans on species of particular socio-economic and environmental value. Yet bans can only be as good as their enforcement and monitoring are. Many countries do adopt bans but not all enforce and monitor their impact. These are sovereign decisions, generally dictated more by the politics of the day than by any serious attempt at understanding their environmental consequences.

Mukula in Zambia is a clear example of this. Multiple bans have been adopted and lifted in recent years. But these decisions were dictated less by environmental considerations than political ones.

For example, at the beginning of 2016, a “Mukula timber harvesting and movement ban” was issued, then lifted in July 2016, and then reinstated at the beginning of 2017. Yet during all those years, no new assessment was conducted on the ground about the sustainable harvesting levels of Mukula, so traders were able to continue increasing the harvested volumes irrespective of the bans.

The Annex II listing is a great outcome for Mukula. It adds to the force of national decisions, like bans, and makes cheating much more difficult. It also gives it international attention.

But to beat the unsustainable harvesting of rosewoods, we need to aim for even more encompassing solutions. For example, CITES should consider a genus-wide listing which includes some Pterocarpus species, so that traders cannot just as easily move on to the next Rosewood tree and deplete it.The Conversation


Paolo Omar Cerutti, Senior Scientist, Centre for International Forestry Research and Nils Bourland, Senior Associate, Centre for International Forestry Research

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture

Egypt plans to start trading on its first commodities exchange within the next 36 to 48 weeks, Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA) head Ibrahim Ashmawy said on Thursday.

The country's stock exchange said in October that it will form a joint venture with the Supply Ministry to manage a commodities exchange for spot trading of commodities with large markets.

The commodities to be traded initially include wheat, sugar, corn and rice that can be produced locally or imported, Ashmawy said.

Shareholders in the new exchange will include the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA), the Egyptian Holding Company for Silos and Storage and the Egyptian stock exchange among others.

Egypt has for years long considered setting up a commodities exchange. In 2016,the supply ministry said commodities trading would include agricultural produce as well as oil and gold.


($1 = 15.9500 Egyptian pounds)


- Reuters

Published in Business

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says 23 ships laden with petroleum products, food items and other goods have arrived Tincan Island Port, Lagos and are waiting to berth.

NPA made this known in its publication, `Shipping Position’, a copy of which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.

The ships are carrying containers, bulk wheat, petrol and base oil.

The publication also disclosed that 20 ships were expected at the ports with fuel, containers, general cargo, frozen fish, bulk salt, bulk sugar and gypsum.

It said that the ships were expected between Jan. 9 and Jan. 28.

The organisation said that 18 other ships were already at the ports discharging general cargo, containers, bulk wheat, bulk sugar,base oil and petrol.

Published in Business

Apple has earned a record $155 billion from its App Store since 2008 when the platform was launched. The iPhone and laptop maker earned $1.42billion from the store between Christmas and New Year Day alone.

Apple said a quarter of the $155billion from the App store was earned in 2019.

The disclosure set the company shares northward on Wednesday, soaring as much as 2.4%, reported Market Insider.

The holiday-week sales represented a 16% increase over last year’s figure, according to the statement. App Store revenue totaled $386 million on New Year’s Day alone, a 20% jump from the year-ago figure and a record for single-day sales.

The past year was the biggest yet for the company’s increasingly important services sector, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, said in the announcement.

“We begin the new decade with incredible momentum and gratitude to our customers who have shown such enthusiasm for all of our Services, and we continue to celebrate the work of the world’s best creators, storytellers, journalists and developers,” Cue said.

The Cupertino, California-based company helped push major stock indexes higher throughout 2019, surging 86% over the 12-month period on strong iPhone 11 demand and rapid growth in its wearables business. The annual gain was Apple’s best since 2009.

Published in Telecoms

Ecobank Nigeria has announced an Agriculture Businesses Finance Scheme where it plans to disburse additional loan of N70 billion for practitioners in different value chains of Agriculture within the next two years.

This announcement is coming just as the bank is set to organise Nigeria’s Biggest Agribusiness And Food Summit in February 2020. The Agribusiness summit is part of its determination to further showcase the potentials in the agricultural sector of the nation’s economy in partnership with Vanguard newspapers, The Economic Forum Series and Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG).

The summit with the theme: “Unlocking productivity and investment opportunities across the Agribusiness value chain,” is scheduled for February 13, 2020 at the Grand Banquet Hall, Civic Centre, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Head, Agribusiness, Ecobank Nigeria, Mojisola Oguntoyinbo, said the summit is part of the bank’s continuous contribution to the growth and development of the agriculture sector of the nation’s economy. According to her, a pool of notable thought leaders and industry experts have been assembled to address key and current issues in the agricultural space as it relates to current economic developments and participants will also be given the opportunity to exhibit their products and services within the agriculture value chain.

“This maiden edition of the Ecobank Agribusiness Summit is to stimulate discussions, examine critically the opportunities with the intent of unlocking the growth potentials in the entire value chain of the agric sector. The full day event will include keynote speakers, panel discussion sessions and exhibition of Agro and Agro-allied products where marketplace experience will be created for buyers and sellers to interact and make sales. Between 400 to 450 companies, regulators and other stake holders in Agric-business are expected to attend and participate at the event. This will create opportunity for networking among the industry players,” she noted.

Further, Oguntoyibo noted that the Summit would among other things examine the potential impact of agriculture technology investment in fixing low productivity in Nigeria’s food production; how government policy, laws and regulatory framework can drive effective public private partnership; evaluate existing traditional agriculture finance models in Nigeria and the role and impact of technology enabled commodity exchange trading across the agriculture value chain, and the role of developmental partners and international agencies in driving funding and investments across the agriculture value chain.

Jude Ndu Co-Founder, the Economic Forum Series and Director, Vanguard Conferences says “we are delighted to be partnering with Ecobank Nigeria on the conceptualisation, strategy and execution of this high profile event in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agriculture policy and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal Government. As a media organisation, this is our own way of contributing to the growth prospect of the sector through audience engagement by bringing together critical stakeholders to discuss solutions to the issues of low productivity and investment opportunities across Nigeria’s agricultural value chain.”

Notable participants at the summit include the Honourable Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Sabo Nanono as Special Guest of Honour, Dr Andrew S Nevin, Chief Economist and Partner, Financial Services Sector, PwC as Keynote Speaker. Other speakers and Panelists are Patrick Akinwuntan MD/CEO Ecobank Nigeria, Abdulhameed Aliyu MD/CEO NIRSAL, Mr Emmanuel Ijewere Vice President Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Ayodeji Balogun, Country CEO AFEX Commodities Exchange among others.

Published in Bank & Finance
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