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How Rwanda Plans To Save Farmers From Effects Of #COVID-19

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Rwanda has announced a comprehensive economic recovery plan and its implementation starts May up to the end of December in the first phase (2020).

This plan includes two-parts, first part consists of; Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy and interventions in specific sectors such as Agriculture, support to Private sector, Infrastructure projects for growth and jobs, Technology and Innovation plus Mining.

The second part is Social Protection Relief and Recovery Plan to #COVID19 (SP-RRP). It aims at fixing the negative effects on the vulnerability of rural and urban households by providing a packaged approach addressing different needs related to the #COVID-19 crisis.

Ever since the country slid into an almost two-month hibernation period under a #COVID-19 lockdown, all sectors of the economy plummeted, causing devastating effects ranging from massive financial loses, business closures and loss of jobs.

As the country reopens back to normal, with some anti #COVID-19 measures still in place until September, government has come up with a plan to help the economy return on its feet.

This recovery plan estimated at a cost of Rwf800 billion aims at guiding the government on required key interventions across different sectors that would provide support to households and boost employment and growth towards recovery.

“As we adopt the recovery plan, we want to address issues of social protection, agriculture. We need to improve productivity, and food security,” said Uzziel Ndagijimana-Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.

Farmer tending to her beetroot. In the government Economic recovery plan, farmers are advised to consider venturing into vegetable crops during July-September 2020.

How Are farmers Helped?

The country has been experiencing heavy rains that are expected to slow down mid-May and this will lead to transition into the start of a long dry season all through up to almost October.  This means that by now season 2020B is over.

However, before the water in the soils dries up, farmers have an opportunity to plant sweet potatoes and cassava, which are resilient to drought. “The Ministry of Agriculture will provide urea to be used in maize plantations,” according to recovery plan document.

Government also wants farmers to use this period to prepare for season 2020C and says it will provide necessary inputs. Farmers, who are not able to afford seeds and fertilisers, will be supported to access them.

In Season 2020C, Agriculture and Local government ministries will mobilise communities to cultivate all irrigation sites, marshlands and hillsides.

Between July and September- a mostly dry period, the Ministry of Agriculture says it has identified horticulture crops to be considered when valorizing marshland in season C (tomato, onion, eggplant, watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, French beans etc.). These vegetables will be cultivated on 1,833 ha. There is a need of vegetable seeds equivalent to 17,952 kg.

To valorize these marshlands in season C, the identified area will require 18,330 Kg and 366,600 Kg respectively for organic fertilisers and mineral fertilisers.

Sweet potatoes will be cultivated on 1,000 ha. and needs distribution of 42,000 cuttings, 10,000MT of organic fertiliser and 200MT of mineral fertilisers.

Carrots including other vegetables should be considered for planting in marshlands

2021 Farming Seasons Also Planned For

The recovery plan has detailed arrangements for the 2021A and 2021B seasons. Government has planned that in these seasons it will increase the availability, access and use of inputs (improved seed, fertilizers, lime and water).

On improved seeds, government has a plan of ensuring availability of sufficient quantities of hybrid maize, wheat and soybean seed – and shall be made affordable.

Availability of fertilizers is an important component in realizing good yields in the 2021A and 2021B seasons.

Government says in its economic recovery plan that it will ensure orders and shipment for fertilizers for the 2021 seasons are made on time.

Rwandan farmers under economic categories (Ubudehe 1&2) will receive farm inputs under social protection programs so as to improve their food security situation.

In this recovery plan, farmers are required to use lime. The government says it will ensure there are no delays in procurement and delivery of lime to farmers in need. Small-Scale irrigation programs will receive support too.

According to government, it is projected that the food reserve should store an equivalent of maize and beans for 10% of the population at 2,500Kcal per person per day.

This shall be achieved by increasing resources for National Strategic Reserves to stock food, by supporting the districts to establish their own district food reserves and mobilising farmers to have community stores as well as storage facilities at the household-level.

Small scale irrigation projects will receive support from government to maneuver through the effects of Covid-19

Business

Malawi Issues 86 Licenses For Cannabis Production

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Malawi’s Cannabis Regulatory Authority said on Friday they had issued 86 licenses to 35 companies and cooperatives to venture into cannabis cultivation for industrial hemp production.

Boniface Kadzamila the Board Chairman of Cannabis Regulatory Authority made the announcement from Lilongwe on Friday afternoon.

He said that a total of 41 companies applied but only 35 of them satisfied the requirements.

According to him the authority has issued licenses for cultivation, processing and storage and has not yet issued any license for export of cannabis.

A recent analysis by Invegrow Limited, one of the firms that conducted research on industrial hemp, found that a kilogram of industrial hemp could fetch U$1,444 on the market that there is potential for direct annual benefit for Malawians in excess of U$ 135,440,973 on 16.5 hectares or U$8,803,663 per five hectares.

The analysis further indicated that the crop has ready markets whose global value chain is worth U$9billion thus giving local Malawi investors a basis to take up cannabis production.

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Business

ex-Nakumatt CEO’s Home Auctioned

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Atul Shah, the former chief executive officer of the collapsed retail giant Nakumatt lost his home to auctioneers over a U$18,609,740 debt.

The auction follows the conclusion of a protracted court battle after the Kenyan High Court dismissed a petition seeking to overturn the forced sale of the high-end property by KCB Group.

Justice Francis Tuiyott dismissed the petition by the administrator of the collapsed Supermarket chain, saying it has no chance of success.

Nakumatt’s court-appointed administrator had opposed the sale on grounds that the auction failed to follow the law, and tagged Mr Shah as an interested party to suit.

The bank, through Leakey Auctioneers, early in the year quietly sold the property, which Mr Shah had used as additional security as Nakumatt’s guarantor to offer comfort to the multiple bank loans.

“This court is not persuaded that the suit, as currently presented, demonstrates a prima facie case with a probability of success. Being unable to surmount that hurdle, it is needless for this court to discuss other aspects raised in the application,” the judge said.

KCB had earlier sold Mr Shah’s prime property in Industrial Area, Nairobi, to Furniture Palace International Ltd for about U$9,677,064 court records show.

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Business

Why Kenya Banned Maize Imports From Neighbours

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Kenya may take long to lift a ban on maize imports from East Africanneighbours following a domestic bumper harvest.

Kenya’s Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) imposed the ban indicating that Kenya would not import the cereal from Tanzania and Uganda for now.

“Kenya would not need maize imports until June. There is plenty from North Rift,” said the crops inspector of the agency, Calistus Efukho, adding that maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda would not be considered until June.

On March 5 this Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) banned imports of maize from the two countries, citing Aflatoxin contamination above the safety benchmarks.

However Maize importers in Kenya have protested over this, saying contamination of the maize by the toxic material could be an excuse to lock them out of business.

“Our hearts are bleeding. This is our biggest loss ever in this business,” said Mr Daniel Wainaina, chairman of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa).

He said during a meeting convened by the East African Business Council (EABC) that they weren’t sure the maize samples taken meant that all the consignments were infected.

AFA insists that maize imports be accompanied with a certificate of conformity which has to comply with a maximum Aflatoxin levels of 10 parts per billion.

Kenya’s Maize production last year was 43.2 million bags against an annual requirement of 47 million bags.

The projection was not achieved, as the country produced 41.5 million bags, resulting in a shortfall of 5.5 million bags.

Reports have it that over 1.4 million Kenyans are at risk of starvation due to a shortage of 5.5 million maize bags.

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