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Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors

Favourable prospects for EU agricultural sectors © European Commission
© European Commission

 

The European Commission’s first 2021 edition of the short-term outlook for EU agricultural markets concludes that the EU agricultural sector showed resilience throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The sector did relatively well thanks to increased retail sales and home consumption. In addition, prospects are favourable with a dynamic global demand and the reopening of food services (restaurants, bars, cafés) expected once the vaccination campaign is sufficiently advanced.

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Trade license procedures temporarily lifted in Myanmar

Trade license procedures temporarily lifted in Myanmar © Werner Bayer Source Flickr (Public Domain)

Source: Flickr (Public Domain)

 

Following the coup by the Myanmar military, agricultural trade has been crippled due to country-wide peaceful protests in opposition to the military’s actions and the military’s increasingly violent response. To tackle shortages, the country’s Ministry of Commerce is waiving import and export license requirements for select agricultural commodities from March 8-April 9, 2021. While a lack of drivers to move the more than 10,000 stuck containers at a major port remains the largest single barrier to trade.

The commodities temporarily exempted from export/import license procedures include garlic, onion and fertiliser.

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Nepal to allow foreign investment in agriculture

Nepal to allow foreign investment in agriculture

© Jcomp, Freepik

 

On January 4, 2021, the Government of Nepal announced it would allow foreign investment in agriculture. The country’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies utilised a provision in the 2019 Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act that amended the prohibition on foreign direct investment in primary agricultural activities including, but not limited to, poultry, aquaculture, livestock, dairy, apiculture, and horticulture. The amendment allows FDI in primary agriculture, so long as 75% of the food products are exported. Nepalese government officials indicate the country could potentially export US$5 billion annually in agricultural products, reduce its trade deficit, and enable agricultural modernisation.

The decision was criticised by Nepal’s private sector, who accused the government of acting in favour of multinational corporations. Conversely, the government contends that FDI would enable agricultural modernisation, increase production, and support export development opportunities.  Due to concerns on the validity of the order following a writ petition, Nepal’s Supreme Court placed a temporary hold on the order on January 20, 2021, which remains in effect pending a final decision.  Nepal continues to rely on FDI in other economic sectors, despite calls for building a self-reliant economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in 2020, mildly reduced Nepal’s trade deficit but exposed vulnerable supply chains, especially in agriculture.

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EU and US conclude negotiations on agricultural quotas 

EU and US conclude negotiations on agricultural quotas 

 

The European Union and the United States have reached an agreement to adjust the European Union’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) agricultural quotas, following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This is the culmination of two years of negotiations in the WTO framework to divide these EU quotas, with part of the volume remaining with the EU 27, and part going to the UK, based on recent trade flows. The agreement covers dozens of quotas and billions of euros of trade including for beef, poultry, rice, dairy products, fruits and vegetables and wines.

Commenting on the agreement reached in principle, Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciejowski said: “I am delighted we have reached agreement with our most important trade partner the US. This agreement – done inside the framework of the WTO – preserves the original volumes but shares them between the EU and the UK. It gives certainty and stability to agricultural trade and our markets. I am particularly pleased that this agreement marks the significance of our trade and economic relationship. This sends a good signal of our commitment to work together both bilaterally and in the WTO framework. I want to thank my team and our US colleagues for a job well done”.

The EU is conducting similar tariff rate quotas (TRQ) apportionment negotiations with twenty-one other partners having rights to access these quotas, and has concluded negotiations already with Argentina, Australia, Norway, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and others.

Once the Commission has adopted the EU-US Agreement, it will then be sent to the Council and European Parliament for ratification, so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.

 

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South Asian countries encouraged to collaborate to combat impacts of climate change

South Asian countries encouraged to collaborate to combat impacts of climate change © Matthias Silveri, IIASA
© Matthias Silveri, IIASA

 

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has called on countries in South Asia to work together to reduce costs, soil pollution and water stress by forming joint plans for developing water resources, electricity and food production. An IIASA study focused on food, energy, water and climate change in South Asia’s Indus River Basin (Afghanistan, China, India and Pakistan), which has a population of around 250 million people, who are already suffering the impacts of climate change.

IIASA researcher Adriano Vinca, said, “The Indus basin countries are not currently on track to avoid critical issues – water scarcity in particular. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the water demands in the Indus Basin will exceed the available water resources by 2050 and put the system at risk of collapse. This risk could be exacerbated by climate change.”

According to the study’s recommendations, an estimated US$10bn is needed each year to mitigate water scarcity issues and ensure improved access to resources by 2050. However, collaborative policies could lower this amount to US$2bn a year.

The study was conducted by scientists from China, India, Pakistan, Austria, Canada and the US, as part of the Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy and Land (ISWEL) project.

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Struggle against the locust in Central Asia, successful initiatives

Struggle against the locust in Central Asia, successful initiatives

Agriculture is a significant part of the economics of Central Asia; unfortunately, the crop is often damaged under locust invasion. FAO and six partner countries (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) drafted a project designed to help the farmers to protect the crop. Japan international cooperation agency (JICA) is the financial partner of this $7.3 million project.

The project being successfully realized in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2015-2019, FAO and JICA determined to spread out the support. Now the project is directed to resolve regional and national setbacks through the introduction of efficient up-to-date strategies and methods of the struggle against the pests.

 

More info:

https://east-fruit.com/article/strany-tsentralnoy-azii-potratyat-73-mln-na-borbu-s-saranchoy

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UK to host the world’s first robotic fruit farm

UK to host the world’s first robotic fruit farm

 

Innovate UK has announced that the country is to be the venue of the world’s first robotic farm at Clock House Farm in Kent., following the confirmation of funding to the tune of £2.5 million. Robot Highways is a project that aims to ensure industry sustainability by addressing labour shortages, the need for global food production and reduce the environmental impact of the farming sector. The consortium responsible of delivering Robot Highways includes Berry Gardens, Saga Robotics, the University of Lincoln, the University of Reading, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, BT, and strawberry grower Clock House Farm.

The project will receive nearly £2.5m to perform the biggest-known demonstration of robotics and autonomous technologies, which will The trial will set out to deliver a vision for the future of soft-fruit growing, where robots will assist growers by carrying out essential, energy-intensive physical farm processes such as picking and packing fruit and treating crops to reduce pests and diseases, powered by renewable energy. The project is also aimed at increasing industrial sustainability by reducing reliance on seasonal labour by reducing labour requirements by an estimated 40%.

Robot Highways also constitutes a move towards a carbon-zero future, with an estimated 20% reduction in fruit waste, 90% reduction in fungicide use, a huge reduction in the use of fossil fuel across all farm logistic operations and a 15% increase in farm productivity.

Artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies will be harnessed, and improvements will be made to telecommunications infrastructure in rural settings.

UK Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, said, “It’s great to see investment in these outstanding ideas which will help us tackle the farming industry’s greatest challenges, from achieving net-zero emissions to investing in sustainable alternative protein for animal feed. Farming has never before been at the centre of such exciting and forward-looking innovations.”

Oli Pascall, managing director at Clock House Farm, said, “Clock House Farm is very excited to be part of the consortium and the demonstration farm for the project, which will help us with our ambition to be an innovative leader in our sector.”

Photo: www.roboticsandinnovation.co.uk

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AILIMPO: first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon

AILIMPO: first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon

AILIMPO´s first estimate for Spain’s 2020/2021 lemon harvest is of 1,250,000 tons, representing an overall increase of 10% compared to 2019/2020. Whether this first crop estimate is realised will depend on the availability of water in summer and autumn rains. The estimated global lemon production figure will allow Spain to remain the leading exporter of fresh lemon, and the second largest processor of lemon juice, essential oil and dehydrated peel in the world.

In the case of the Fino lemon variety, an increase of 10% is estimated. AILIMPO has considered the effect of the progressive entry into production of new plantations made in recent years and the situation of the size of lemons at the present time, which is considered optimal thanks to the good availability of water, to estimate a production of 845,000 tons.

As far as the Verna lemon harvest is concerned, the first forecast points to a harvest of 300,000 tons, which would mean a reduction of 2% compared to the last season.

AILIMPO expects a good and fair balance of prices and distribution of economic value throughout the chain, which will allow the Spanish lemon sector to give a profitable commercial outlet to the harvest, while maintaining commercial competitiveness against the aggressive supply of lemon from competing third countries such as Turkey (which will continue to be subject to official pesticide controls at the European border) or Egypt.

Furthermore, from the producer’s point of view, the GlobalG.A.P. and GRASP certifications are key elements for the next season, within the interprofessional strategy to differentiate the Spanish Lemon and promoting sustainable production under the triple focus: economic, environmental and social.

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Expansion of Spanish organic farming

Expansion of Spanish organic farming

 

In 2019, the area dedicated to organic agriculture in Spain rose by 4.8% to 2.35 million hectares, according to Agriculture Minister Luis Planas, who added that the growth shows that the country is on the right track to meeting the EY’s sustainability and biodiversity goals. Over the past five years, organic agriculture has grown at an average rate of 7.5% per year and now comprises 9.3% of Spain’s total farming area. The main category is pasture and arable crops, which combined account for 75% of organic acreage. The next largest organic categories are nuts, grapes and olives. The organic fruit and vegetable are has grown significantly in recent times in response to increased demand and greater availability of fertilisation and pest control systems suitable for organic production. In the past five years, organic banana production area has increased by 25%, citrus by 19%, other fruits by 9%, and potatoes by 13%.

Photo: Unexport

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Women and Gender Equality in agriculture

Women and Gender Equality in agriculture
PRESS RELEASE

 

An Exploratory Study on Women and Gender Equality in South African Agricultural Careers

 

South Africa, 23 July 2020 – SIZA, in cooperation with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, is excited to announce the launch of a project specifically aimed at gathering more insight into the representation and treatment of women within the South African agricultural industry, with a strong focus on careers. The focus on gender equality and dignity of all people is becoming ever greater across the globe and people and businesses alike are realizing the value behind dignified treatment of all employees.

The project was initiated as an exploratory study aimed at gaining an understanding of the number of females actively involved in various career positions within the South African agricultural industry. This is largely due to export markets requiring more information from their suppliers on gender representation within businesses. The study includes a quantitative research component as well as a qualitative component. An independent researcher was contracted to collect data from credible and academic sources and included the findings gathered from a survey distributed to various industries and organisations across South Africa. After the initial data collection, interviews were conducted with relevant stakeholders within various industries to allow for more insight into female representation. The data has been compiled in a research paper and the interviews are available to view in a documentary You Tube video. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the majority of the interviews were done via virtual platforms.

The primary objective of this study is to determine how many women are employed in this industry, how they experience the working environment as women, what some of the challenges are, what barriers are faced by women in the industry, and how they are represented. The study elaborates on what responsibilities fall onto men and how organizational assistance can contribute to the future of all those within agriculture. Furthermore, to allow for effective and practical support, the secondary objectives are to ascertain whether women are treated with dignity at all levels of the industry and to identify barriers which hinder gender equality in agriculture.

This research study is prepared to allow all stakeholders in the value chain a glimpse into how women are represented and treated in South African agriculture, the extent to which women have been liberated, and to identify areas of improvement. SIZA also would like to identify the limitations so that support can be created to ensure that women are well represented in Agriculture in the years to come.

Women have an important role to play in the future of agriculture worldwide. Although the role of women in agriculture enjoys more recognition than a few years ago, much more can be done to support women in the industry. SIZA is excited to launch this project and provide a better look at females within our industry. It is ultimately not only about women, but about the wider industry and society at large and how roles are going to change once more women entered the workplace.

For more information please contact Retha Louw (retha@siza.co.za) or Werner van Dyk (werner@siza.co.za) or contact the SIZA office at Tel (021) 852 8184.