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African marine rules favour big industry – NewsDay

Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood/ Edward H Allison

THE African marine fisheries sector is huge. It’s valued at more than US$24 billion per year.

The sector comprises two main players. One is the continent’s artisanal or small-scale fisheries, a form of fishing conducted on small fishing boats by coastal communities.

The other is industrial fisheries, including trawlers and distant water fishing fleets. These vessels are sometimes owned by African nationals but mostly overseen by international fishing companies or as part of a joint venture. Fishing by non-African fleets is done through access agreements or licences issued by African States.

Perhaps surprisingly to some, the small-scale fisheries make a greater contribution to the continent’s economy than their industrial counterparts. They are also vital to the livelihoods and diets of millions of people.

In Africa, the fisheries and aquaculture sector employs about 12,3 million people. Half of these are fishers, the rest work in fish processing and marketing, or fish farming. Their catch feeds millions.

But all is not well in Africa’s oceans. Distant water fleets are over-exploiting fish stocks through over-fishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

This is because there is limited domestic or regional capacity to monitor the activities of these trawlers and enforce existing laws.

It’s hard to provide exact data, because the actions of some of these fleets are unsanctioned, but it’s estimated that in west Africa, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is the equivalent of 40% to 65% of legally reported catch.

The marine fisheries sector is under threat due to these unsustainable rates of fishing, and also because of weak fishery governance.

Some African States are trying to address the problems of unsustainable fishing through the introduction of new policies and management practices. In a recent paper, we reviewed four case studies of such measures, from Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar and Somalia.

Our findings demonstrate two things. First, fishery governance measures in Africa are largely constraining small-scale fisheries, while failing to contain the industrial fisheries sector.

Second, despite a higher incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in industrial fisheries than in small-scale fisheries, efforts to develop and regulate fisheries continue to advance the industrial sector.

African States have continued to enter new agreements and issue new licences to distant water fleets.

They also fail to institute stringent measures to curb their illegal activities.

We argue that the small-scale fishing sector is better adapted to meet the continent’s nutritional and socio-economic needs.

States must, therefore, redirect efforts to govern fisheries towards regulating the industrial sector.

They must also ensure small-scale fisheries have priority access to nearshore fishing grounds and fish stocks.

Targeting artisanal fishers

We found that African governments are introducing measures that target small-scale fisheries while maintaining a “business-as-usual” relationship with the industrial sector.

For instance, in Ghana, a “closed season” was introduced in 2015. This means fishing is prohibited in the period that the restriction is in place. The aim is to protect fish stocks.

According to the plan, the industrial sector must observe a two-month closed season, first implemented in 2016, while the artisanal sector observes a one-month closure implemented in 2019. This has increased poverty and vulnerability within fishing communities because they are expected to stay at home without an alternative source of livelihood and with little to no support from the State.

Meanwhile, the government issued licences to three new trawlers despite protests from the artisanal sector and NGOs.

This ignored a moratorium on the licensing of new trawlers. It also happened despite a 2015 fisheries management plan flagging that the industrial sector was operating at an unsustainable level.

This makes it clear that the government’s interest isn’t to contain the activities of the industrial sector. Ghana’s measures instead target the most vulnerable, who are also the least able to resist and easiest to police.

Reduced fishing areas

Governments in Liberia, Madagascar and Somalia, meanwhile, are reducing the fishing areas of small-scale fisheries and enlarging access to industrial vessels. This is happening despite the need for conservation and limited capacity to monitor the activities of industrial vessels.

Also, in some cases, agreements with industrial fleets are not providing much in the form of economic return.

Liberia announced the reduction of fishing areas close to the shore (inshore) from six to three nautical miles for small-scale fisheries. This would halve the area that small-scale fisher folk have exclusive access to.

Meanwhile, access to the area between four nautical miles and beyond was granted to industrial vessels from Senegal that are linked to distant water fleets from Spain.

In Madagascar and Somalia, the industrial fisheries sector is being expanded through access agreements and licences to distant water fleets linked to the European Union and China.

This is leading to a further decline of legally-allocated operational ranges for artisanal fishers and an increased threat to their livelihoods.

A way forward

Small-scale fishers and their communities are already under tremendous pressure. They bear the burden of conservation policies, while being squeezed out by other sectors within the blue economy.

Catches and catch opportunities for local fishers have declined, conflicts increased and fish processors and mongers, many of whom are women, are left with less fish to process and sell.

Fishery policies and management practices as they stand will only worsen the situation. Coastal States should instead support small-scale fisheries by adopting a unified social development approach to fishery governance.

Such an approach is detailed in the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Voluntary Guidelines in Support of Small-scale Fisheries.

The guidelines, created in 2015 with extensive input from fishfolk all over the world, recognise that multifaceted factors undermine livelihoods in fishing communities.

Some of these guidelines include:

  •  Secure, equitable and socio-culturally-appropriate tenure rights to fishery resources, fishing areas and adjacent land and forests;
  • Ensure meaningful and informed participation of small-scale fishing communities in the whole decision-making process related to fishery resources;
  • Manage resources and allocate tenure rights responsibly;
  •  Support social development and decent work;
  •  Look at fish workers along the entire value chain, from catching through processing to trading fish.

Promote gender equality

Take climate change and disaster risk into account by championing and empowering fishing communities in fishery governance, the guidelines are a critical next step that African States and their development partners should invest in implementing.

They are already signatories to them.

African governments must also address the impacts of the industrial fisheries. This can happen through, among other things, greater monitoring and the introduction of no fishing zones for trawlers, to allow full recovery and protection of species.

States must put sustainability before profitability. This entails building collaborative initiatives that safeguard the social, economic and environmental contributions of their natural resources. Africa could learn from the Pacific Tuna Forum Fisheries Agency on how to form alliances to negotiate access as a bloc (for instance through the African Union) to balance power over agreements with distant fishing fleets, and place outcomes more equitably in the hands of African citizens.

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PepsiCo’s exclusive rights to potato variety revoked – Times of India

AHMEDABAD: In what has come as the final victory for Indian farmers and agriculture activists, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority on Friday cancelled US food and beverages giant PepsiCo’s registration of potato variety FL 2027 and with this the company’s exclusive rights to grow this variety of potato, which is used to manufacture chips of PepsiCo’s Lay’s brand.
In 2019, PepsiCo India Holding sued farmers from North Gujarat for growing this potato variety and demanded compensation from them for alleged unauthorized planting of the seeds without entering a contract with the company. The company cited its registration of the variety in 2016. The litigation snowballed into a controversy and agriculture activists raised questions against the corporate’s registration of the potato variety and its assertion of exclusive rights. This also forced the government to pressure the company to settle the dispute with the farmers and the company withdrew its litigation.
One of the activists, Kavitha Kuruganti, dragged the company before the authority and demanded revocation of PepsiCo’s registration of the potato variety under the provisions of India’s Protection of Farm Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. She submitted that the grant of certificate of registration was based on incorrect information furnished by the company; that the certificate was granted to a person not eligible for protection; that this granting registration and exclusive right over the variety was not in public interest.
Acting on the revocation application filed in June 2019, the authority revoked the company’s registration and accepted the activist’s argument that the law acknowledges farmers’ rights and any attempt to harass and intimidate farmers should be considered a matter of public interest.
After the judgment was pronounced, Kuruganti said the judgment set a precedent for all seed and food and beverages corporations and other registrants to not only uphold, but more importantly, not to transgress the legally granted farmers’ seed rights and freedoms in India. “Companies should not think that they are at liberty to harass farmers.
We are watching and will disallow any such mischief. For us, any intimidation and harassment of farmers is clearly a matter of public interest. We sincerely hope that the authority will proactively put into place all measures and mechanisms possible to ensure that farmers’ rights are not violated at any cost. The interpretation of ‘public interest’ by the authority today is very progressive. This is a victory for farmers in the country, especially potato farmers in Gujarat, who strongly resisted Pepsi’s onslaught on their rights in 2019,” she added.
Reacting to the development, Kapil Shah of Kisan Beej Adhikar Manch said, “We believe that the Authority and the government have a responsibility to let every applicant and registrant under the PPV&FR Act know that their rights do not supersede farmers’ rights. The registrants’ rights are limited to only production of a variety, and not production from a variety.”

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FAO Food Price Index rises in November – World – ReliefWeb

Wheat and dairy drive fourth consecutive monthly increase, global cereal supplies “comfortable” .

Rome -The barometer of food commodity prices in international markets rose for the fourth consecutive month in November, led by strong demand for wheat and dairy products, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 134.4 points in the month, its highest level since June 2011 and 1.2 percent higher than during October. The index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, was 27.3 percent higher than its level in November 2020.

The FAO Dairy Price Index led November’s aggregate rise, increasing by 3.4 percent from the previous month. Strong global import demand persisted for butter and milk powders as buyers sought to secure spot supplies in anticipating of tightening markets.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased by 3.1 percent in November from the previous month and was 23.2 percent higher than its year-ago level. Maize export prices rose slightly and international rice prices remained broadly steady, while wheat prices hit their highest level since May 2011. The increase reflected strong demand amid tight supplies, especially of higher quality wheat, while prices were also supported by concerns about untimely rains in Australia and uncertainty regarding potential changes to export measures in the Russian Federation.

The FAO Sugar Price Index was 1.4 percent higher in November than in October and nearly 40 percent above its level in November 2020. The increase was primarily driven by higher ethanol prices, though large shipments from India and a positive outlook for sugar exports by Thailand tempered the upward pressure on quotations.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index declined by 0.3 percent from a record high reached in October, reflecting lower values for soy and rapeseed oils as well as lower crude oil prices. International palm oil prices remained firm.

The FAO Meat Price Index decreased by 0.9 percent, its fourth consecutive monthly decline. Influenced by reduced purchases of pig meat by China led to lower international quotations, while ovine prices also fell steeply on increased exportable supplies from Australia. Bovine and poultry meat prices were largely stable.

Record cereal production to keep markets supplied

FAO’s new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also published today, forecasts world cereal production at 2 791 million tonnes in 2021, a new record and 0.7 percent higher than the previous year. Compared to 2020, worldwide coarse grains and rice outputs are expected to increase, respectively, by 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, while that for wheat to drop by 1.0 percent.

World cereal utilization in 2021/22 is forecast to rise by 1.7 percent to 2 810 million tonnes, while world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 are predicted to decline by 0.9 percent form opening levels. The consequent stocks-to-use ratio of 28.6 percent “would still indicate a comfortable supply situation overall,” according to FAO.

FAO forecasts global trade in cereals in 2021/22 to increase by 0.7 percent to 480 million tonnes, with an anticipated 2.2-percent expansion in world wheat trade more than offsetting a likely contraction in coarse grains trade.

Crop production to fall in low-income food deficit countries

Conflicts and drought are exacerbating food insecurity conditions in several parts of the world, particularly in East and West Africa, according to the latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, also released today. FAO assesses that globally 44 countries, including 33 in Africa, nine in Asia and two in Latin America and the Caribbean, are in need of external assistance for food.

The 44 countries in need of external assistance for food are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The quarterly report also provides updates on cereal harvest trends, forecasting production in 2022 to grow by 2.0 percent in developed countries but slightly contracting by 0.1 percent in developing countries. For Low-Income Food Deficit Countries, the contraction is expected to be 2.4 percent, due to significant drops foreseen in Near East and East Africa.


FAO News and Media
(+39) 06 570 53625
[email protected]

Christopher Emsden
FAO News and Media (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 53291
[email protected]

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Mainstreaming sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved … – The Herald

The Herald

FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO Regional Office for Africa

The process of land degradation negatively affects 3.2 billion people globally out of which 2 billion are located across dryland regions. Promoting and investing in healthy and vibrant drylands worldwide is therefore key to build back better and to promote a resilient world that fosters food security, biodiversity, addresses climate change, achieves land degradation neutrality, and leaves no one behind. Degradation of forest and land resources have been identified as major impediments to sustainable development in Zimbabwe. The way people use and exploit natural resources largely contribute to their degradation, and this is mainly due to activities such as over-cultivation, overgrazing, cutting and clearing of forests to pave way to expand agriculture and other activities.

To avert this, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECTHI), Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and other national partners launched a new Global Environment Facility (GEF-7) project to promote sustainable forest and land management in dryland landscapes in the South Eastern low-veld of Zimbabwe. This initiative will support a cross-sector approach which will result in mainstreaming of sustainable forest and land management to enhance ecosystem resilience for improved livelihoods in the Save and Runde Catchments of Zimbabwe. The Honourable Minister Nqobizitha Ndhlovu (MP) officially launched the project today.

“As part of my Ministry’s contribution to attainment of agenda 2030, an accelerated land restoration programme will be implemented to enhance economic resilience, food security, biodiversity replenishment and increasing land cover thus mitigating against climate change and creating green jobs,” said Hon Minister Ndhlovu in his remarks officially launching the project. “My Ministry takes this opportunity to thank the United Nations family and in particular FAO for their continued collaboration in resource mobilization to environmental management in the country under the Multilateral Environmental Agreements framework,” he added.

The project which is funded by GEF to the tune of USD 10.4 million will be implemented from December 2021 – 2026. The project in Zimbabwe is part of a larger, programmatic and integrated GEF-7 Impact Programme for Dryland Sustainable Landscapes covering 11 countries of which seven are in Southern Africa. The countries will be supported by a Global Coordination Project and a regional exchange mechanism both led by FAO. Implementation of the project is led by EMA together with other governmental, NGO and private sector partners. The project interventions will be implemented in three provinces of Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands.

“The project is anchored in the new FAO Strategic Framework, which focuses on the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life. The project is also aligned to national priorities and will contribute to the attainment of targets outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 and contribute towards attainment of SDGs as well,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative to Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Lesotho.

In the face of climate change, unsustainable land management and growing population pressures, there is a need to draw heightened attention of drylands forests (such as in the Save and Runde catchment areas), so as to prevent, avoid and reverse degradation trends, in alignment with the SDG target 15.3 which calls on countries to become Land Degradation Neutral by 2030.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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