Monthly Archives: March 2015

New Hybrid Rice Expected to Double Production

Rice farmers in Busia County still grapple with low yields due to lack of quality seeds but this may change following the development of a new hybrid variety.

For many years, Bernard Egesa, a rice farmer in Alupe, Teso South, has had poor yields from his two-acre piece of land.

“I would invest approximately Sh35,000 on my farm only to make Sh20,000 from 10 bags of rice instead of 40 bags,” said Egesa.

However, the hybrid rice, which is on trial at the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organisation (Karlo), will enable farmers to get higher yields.

The new hybrid rice developed by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has significant yield advantage which can enhance food security and improve farmer’s livelihoods.

The rice is currently being pilot-tested at Alupe in Busia before being released to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture.

According to the AATF rice project manager Dr Kayode Sanni, there are 13 other sites such as Mwea and Ahero where the hybrid rice is piloted.

Kayode said the variety will see small-scale rice farmers in Western Kenya have access to quality rice seeds that will boost their production.

“Rice is a strategic crop in Africa with more than 80 per cent being grown by small scale farmers. The demand for the crop is currently higher than the supply, thus the need to increase production,” he said.

Farmers are also faced with lack of market, with middlemen from Uganda buying at Sh15 instead of Sh35 per kilogramme.

“We are forced to sell our produce to middlemen from Uganda after the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) declined to buy from us because of the low quality. I hope to reap big with the newly developed hybrid rice compared to the old varieties which I have been using for decade,” said Egesa.

Some of the rice varieties grown in the region include Nerica 1, 4, 10 and 11.

It is estimated that the total rice consumption in Kenya is between 10 and 18kg per person every annually, or 300,000 tonnes, against an annual domestic production of between 45,000 to 80,000 tonnes.

This huge gap, Kayode noted, is met through importation and Kenya spends about Sh92 billion to import rice annually.

Kayode said the hybrid rice project will benefit researchers, seed traders and more than 150,000 farmers.

John Kimani, a researcher at Karlo, said Kenya imports 75 per cent of rice from India and Pakistan among others to meet the domestic consumption of 520,000 metric tonnes annually.

“Rice uses low nitrogen and has high adaptability as farmers will not have to apply organic fertiliser,” Kimani said.

Kayode said rice consumption is increasing at about eight per cent annually in many sub-Saharan African countries.

“Consumption and imports are increasing at a higher rate than yields per unit area. In addition, not much work has been done on the development of rice hybrids for Africa,” he noted.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, there has been a dramatic increase in total rice imports for East and Southern Africa.

Kayode said the goal of the hybrid rice project is to improve food security and rural livelihood among small scale rice producers in Africa.

He added that AATF is working with partners to develop hybrid rice, with significant yield advantage over the current exhausted seeds in Kenya.

The partnership is developing hybrid rice germplasm that is adapted to Africa conditions using the two-line rice hybrid system technology, which uses only two-breeding lines to produce hybrids.

The partnership is also developing an information technology tool to predict temperature regimes and manage the hybrid rice production risk and also establish and train a network of researchers and seed production specialists.

Kayode said the project will develop and distribute hybrids and hybrid parental lines for use by smallholder farmers in selected African countries.

“It will also ensure that the technology reaches farmers and increase their yields and income through private companies and public institutions in Africa. The project will also help build capacity of private firms to use the technology by training breeders and seed production specialists, establishing testing and technology exchange networks, and providing other technology required to help ensure the success of the partners,” he added.

Kayode noted that resulting trial data will be shared in the network and to the general breeding community.

First Fencing Competition Successful

Botswana Amateur Fencing Society (BAFS) undertook the first fencing competition in Botswana when they hosted South African fencing teams for Gaborone Épée open at Mogoditshane Senior School over the weekend.

The sport, relatively new in the country, had a good turn up of competitors who took part in the inaugural games. BAFS invited South African teams from Soweto and Mamelodi fencing clubs.

Fencing is one of the five original Olympic sport that had three weapon categories being épée, foil and saber, the Gaborone open paraded only épée games under three groups, the Benjamins, Cadets (under 17), Junior under 19, Senior fighters and one veteran.

“The games were a success and well organised, even our fencers fared well playing against experienced South African players” said Botswana fencing federation president, Gaolatwe Mudongo. He said Botswana players showed a hankering desire and putting up a sterling performance when playing regardless of their lack of experience.

Mudongo said even though Botswana players were thrown into the deep regarding that it was their first time to play on that stage with professional and semi-professional players from South Africa they fought impressively.

He further expressed his gratefulness towards the South African Fencing teams and organisers for helping BAFS organise and actually execute an outstanding tournament. He said they are going to continue engage with them and even visit South Africa to participate in their events.

A high flying game that requires a player to have a top notch precision with swordsmanship, a great speed of footwork and composure when poking with an épée weapon and creamed above all with precise march and be able to defend any attack from an opponent.

This was well displayed by a fight between a Soweto Fencing club player Lindokuhle Magwaza and Tlokweng based Aobakwe Modise on the ladies junior category.

Magwaza a defence and quick tap tactician eased her way to the final until she met her match Modise a rather robust poking player at the finals. Modise fell short letting Magwaza slip away with the victory and claiming gold while she secured a silver medal.

Modise clearly frustrated by complains logged by her opponent about her hard tapping, she let her guard down trying to kill off the match quickly and giving way for Magwaza’s forte to reap.

On the men senior category that was much dominated by South African teams, number one ranking and Olympian participant Sello Maduma from Mamelodi Club claimed Gold while Manyane Serulafo settled for silver and impressively one motswana Sam Chape bowed for bronze medal ahead of two South Africans.

Chape, prior to his semi-final bout, impressively paved his way knocking out experienced South African players, he eventually met Maduma a well-established fencer. The chap didn’t shy away but actually had a go with Maduma.

Regarding the games, Maduma said it was one of those well-organised competitions he once attended which started ahead of scheduled time. Even the involvement of the technical equipment that was used when grading and score counting made the competitions easy to run.

Gauteng Fencing Association competition organiser Director of technical, Joan Saner said the competition was very successful and applauded the organisers for choosing a good venue which allowed the competition run smoothly.She further said the collaboration with the South African side will benefit the locals to advance their technique with fencing. She encouraged BAFS to keep on doing such competitions and tighten their friendship.

Saner encouraged Batswana to promote and get involved in development of the sport because of the benefits which can actually bring into good mind set to children upbringing. She stated the benefits as it develops them as strategist agile thinkers.

Source : BOPA

'Economic Prospects Good'

ZAMBIA’s economic fundamentals have remained strong despite the recent depreciation of the local currency due to its healthy Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Government’s commitment to development path.

Stanbic Bank head of corporate and investment banking Helen Lubamba said Zambia’s economic prospects remained bright despite the impact the strengthening of the United State (US) dollar and economy on the local currency.

Ms Lubamba said in Lusaka that the key issues providing a positive economic outlook included the cyclical nature of the mining industry where long term supply and demand fundamentals for copper remained positive.

“In the sector, we have seen the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) address the Value Added Tax (VAT) Rule number 18 where we are positive a favourable outlook will be achieved for the benefit of the economy,” she said.

The Zambian economy in the global context had been affected by the fall in copper prices triggered by falling prices on the international market.

“In recent weeks, the Kwacha’s depreciation has exceeded the South African Rand’s depreciation and this will likely add to inflationary pressure due to high import levels from South Africa,” she said.

Ms Lubamba said the Bank would this year focus on providing financial products and services aimed at supporting the Zambian economy.

She noted that the Bank was supporting various nation-building sectors including infrastructure, energy and agriculture.

SA, Algeria to Step Up Relations

Relations between South Africa and Algeria will experience a new impetus with the visit of President Jacob Zuma which starts this morning.

At the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President Zuma arrived in Algiers, Algeria, for his state visit on Monday, the Presidency said.

The visit, which will be marked by the holding of the 6th Session of the Bi-national Commission of Cooperation (BNC), is another step in strengthening the traditional relations of friendship between the two countries.

Talks between the two presidents will help deepen the dialogue between South Africa and Algeria on important regional and global issues of mutual concern such as peace and security as well as to review the status of bilateral relations.

The President is also expected to sign several bilateral agreements with his Algerian counterpart.

The two countries enjoy close bilateral cooperation through the framework of the South Africa-Algeria BNC, whose work is centred on the following key areas of interaction: quality of life and human resources; people-to-people relations; energy and infrastructure; natural resources; defence; safety and security and trade.

In addition to further consolidating these areas of cooperation, the 6th BNC which will be convened by Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and her counterpart Minister Ramtane Lamamra on the side-lines of the State Visit, will cement collaboration in the areas of agriculture; energy; higher education; telecommunications and information technology; labour and social security; health; tourism; transport; human settlements; local government; and sports and recreation.

Since the convening of the 5th Session of the BNC, the two countries have made good progress, especially in the areas of Science and Technology, Defence, Arts and Culture and Trade and Investment.

Algeria is South Africa’s largest trading partner in the region and bilateral trade has grown progressively over the last few years, therefore providing great potential to further enhance trade and investment co-operation.

It accounted for 32% of total trade in the North African region in 2014, while the total exports to Algeria were valued at R1.8 billion, while total imports from Algeria were valued at R86 million.

President Zuma is accompanied by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Telecommunications and Postal Services’s Siyabonga Cwele and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, President Zuma will proceed to Cairo, Egypt, for his working visit where he will hold official talks with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

The working visit, according to the Presidency, aims to further strengthen and consolidate the strategic bilateral relations between the two countries and to reaffirm South Africa’s commitment towards the strengthening of bilateral relations with Egypt through the convening of the 9th Session of the Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC).

Liquid Telecom Execs to Speak At Connected East Africa Summit

Liquid Telecom’s head of IP strategy, Andrew Alston is set to speak at the Connected East Africa Summit on information security on March 31, 2015.

Dan Kwach, the GM of East Africa Data Centre (EADC) is also set to give a presentation on Cloud Computing on April 1, 2015 according to the event’s agenda.

The Connected East Africa summit will take place from 30th March to 2nd April 2015. The summit, themed as “The strength is in our networks” will address some of the most pressing issues for ICT advancement in the region including policy and framework,economic growth and services delivery to the citizen.

Liquid Telecom is the bronze sponsor at the summit.

The connected East Africa Summit is the brainchild of the ICT Authority in consultation with the IT industry players and key decision makers. The Summit aims to establish a platform for collaboration, capacity building and knowledge sharing between government and the ICT sector with a view of linking and hastening implementation of government IT projects to world-class standards.

Liquid Telecom is an independent data, voice and IP provider in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. It supplies fibre optic, satellite and international carrier services to Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs, financial institutions and businesses of all sizes.

The firm has built Africa’s largest single fibre network which runs from the north of Uganda to Cape Town, currently spanning over 18,000km across borders and covering Africa’s fastest-growing economies where no fixed network has existed before.

Liquid Telecom’s network provides connectivity onto the five main subsea cable systems landing in Africa; WACS, EASSY, SEACOM, SAT3 and TEAMs.

Working under various brands, the Liquid Telecom Group has operating entities in Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, UK, Zambia and Zimbabwe.