Drought Pushing Food Prices up Sharply in East Africa
By Dipo Olowookere
Drought throughout East Africa has sharply curbed harvests and pushed the prices of cereals and other staple foods to unusually high levels, posing a heavy burden to households and special risks for pastoralists in the region.
Local prices of maize, sorghum and other cereals are near or at record levels in swathes of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, according to the latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin (FPMA).
Inadequate rainfall in most areas of the sub-region has put enormous strain on livestock and their keepers. Poor livestock body conditions due to pasture and water shortages and forcible culls mean animals command lower prices, leaving pastoralists with even less income to purchase basic foodstuffs.
“Sharply increasing prices are severely constraining food access for large numbers of households with alarming consequences in terms of food insecurity,” said Mario Zappacosta, FAO senior economist and coordinator of the Global Information and Early Warning System.
The trends in East Africa, where prices of staple cereals have doubled in some town markets, stand in marked contrast to the stable trend of FAO’s Food Price Index, which measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of traded food commodities.
The difference is due to the drought that is hammering the sub-region, where food stocks were already depleted by the strong El Niño weather event that ended only last year. Poor and erratic rainfall in recent months, crucial for local growing seasons, are denting farm output.
Somalia’s maize and sorghum harvests are estimated to be 75 percent down from their usual level, and some 6.2 million people, more than half of the country’s total population, now face acute food insecurity, with the majority of those most affected living in rural areas.
The FPMA Bulletin tracks food price trends on a granular level and in local terms, with an eye to flagging instances where the prices of essential food commodities increase sharply or are abnormally high.
In Mogadishu, prices of maize increased by 23 percent in January, and. the increase was even sharper in the main maize producing region of Lower Shabelle. Overall, in key market towns of central and southern Somalia, coarse grain prices in January have doubled from a year earlier.With an earlier than usual depletion of household stocks during the coming lean season and preliminary weather forecasts raising concerns for the performance of the next rainy season, prices are likely to further escalate in the coming months.
Maize prices in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania, have almost doubled since early 2016, while they are 25 percent higher than 12 months earlier in the country’s largest city, Dar Es Salaam.
In South Sudan, food prices are now two to four times above their levels of a year earlier, exacerbated by ongoing insecurity and the significant depreciation of the local currency.
In Kenya, where eastern and coastal lowlands as well as some western areas of the Rift Valley all suffered below-average rainfall, maize prices are up by around 30 percent, with the increase somewhat contained somewhat thanks to sustained imports from Uganda.
Cereal prices aren’t the only ones rising. Beans now cost 40 percent more in Kenya than a year earlier, while in Uganda – where maize prices are now up to 75 percent higher than a year earlier – and increasing around the key border trading hub of Busia, the prices of beans and cassava flour are both about 25 percent higher than a year ago in the capital city, Kampala.
Double jeopardy for pastoralists
Drought-affected pastoral areas in the region face even harsher conditions.
In Somalia, goat prices are up to 60 percent lower than a year ago, while in pastoralist areas of Kenya the prices of goats declined by up to 30 percent over the last twelve months.
Shortages of pasture and water caused livestock deaths and reduced body mass, prompting herders to sell animals while they can, as is also occurring in drought-wracked southern Ethiopia. This also pushes up the prices of milk, which is, for instance, up 40 percent on the year in Somalia’s Gedo region.
Lower income from livestock collides with higher prices for cereals and other staple foods in a wrenching shock to terms of trade for pastoralist households. A medium-sized goat in Somalia’s Buale market was worth 114 kilograms of maize in January 2016, but at today’s prices can be traded for only 30 kilograms of the grain.
FAO uses its proprietary FPMA Tool, accessible to the public online, to monitor local markets and gather data for more than 1350 domestic price series in 91 countries around the globe in order to produce its Indicator of Food Price Anomalies.
Bitfinex Lists World’s First Mobile-Native Token Wrapped Minima
By Adedapo Adesanya
Bitfinex has listed the wrapped Minima ($WMINIMA) token, an ERC-20 token, aimed at helping build a truly decentralized network that empowers freedom worldwide and increases access to Web3 for any person with a mobile or IoT device.
Bitfinex is one of the first crypto exchanges to list WMINIMA, built on the world’s first mobile-native Layer 1 blockchain.
Minima’s presale for WMINIMA started on February 14, 2023, with 10 million tokens currently acquired out of the total supply of 125 million $WMINIMA tokens.
Traders on Bitfinex are taking this new innovation as a huge opportunity to become early adopters of the $WMINIMA token, by making deposits and purchases during the presale period. Effective 21st of March, 2023, on Bitfinex, trading for WMINIMA against the US Dollar (USD) and Tether tokens (USDt) will be available for all traders.
Wrapped Minima (WMINIMA) is a wrapped version of Native Minima (MINIMA), which has been issued on the Ethereum blockchain. Wrapped Minima (WMINIMA) enables Minima to be tradable on exchanges shortly after its Token Generation Event, without waiting for the technical integration of Native Minima ($MINIMA) onto exchanges, scheduled for Q3/Q4 2023. WMINIMA has an initial circulating supply of 98,100,000 coins and a total supply of 125,000,000 coins, with a listing price of $0.30.
The move is part of Bitfinex’s efforts to bring financial inclusion and financial freedom to less-advantaged and emerging communities around the world, particularly where there is currency volatility.
By becoming an owner of Wrapped Minima on Bitfinex, users will be helping build a truly decentralized network that empowers freedom all around the world.
The Minima protocol and its network have already been built, with Mainnet recently launching after several years in Testnet, yet Minima is still relatively unknown.
As a result, there is still a huge opportunity to become an early adopter of the world’s first mobile-native layer 1 blockchain before it becomes widely adopted.
How to trade WMINIMA on Bitfinex
WMINIMA is available to trade with US Dollar (USD) and Tether tokens (USDt). To sign up now, follow these few easy steps:
- Visit the Bitfinex website or download the Bitfinex mobile app and click on the sign-up button.
- Use the African Bitfinex LEOs community affiliate code “9r9ifKfHx” to get a 6 per cent discount on trading fees for life.
- Create an account by entering the required details: username, email, password, country of residence, and referral (optional).
- Create and confirm a log-in pin code or enable touch ID or face ID, if your phone enables it.
- You will be directed to the setup security page. Here, download the Google Authenticator app. If already downloaded, select the “I’ve installed the app” tab.
- Open the GA app to directly add your new token. Alternatively, you can also select to use the QR or Setup key. Enter your code to enable 2FA setup.
- Check your inbox to confirm your email address via an email sent by Bitfinex.
- After email confirmation, accept the Bitfinex Terms of Service to complete the account setup and proceed to the trading page.
- Once that is done you can now trade the WMINIMA on Bitfinex.
CBN Releases N12.65bn for Three Agricultural Projects in Two Months
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disbursed N12.65 billion to the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), its flagship agriculture intervention scheme, in the first two months of 2023.
The Governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this on Tuesday in Abuja when he read the communique issued at the end of the 290th meeting of the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
According to Mr Emefiele, the total disbursement under the ABP since its inception by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015 is N1.09 trillion.
“Between January and February 2023, the bank disbursed N12.65 billion to three agricultural projects under the ABP,” he said.
“It brings the cumulative disbursement under the programme to N1.09 trillion to more than 4.6 million smallholder farmers cultivating or rearing 21 agricultural commodities on an approved 6.02 million hectares of farmland,” Mr Emefiele added.
According to Mr Emefiele, the improved performance of the economy has been driven largely by sustained growth in the services and agricultural sectors.
He also cited a rebound in economic activities associated with economic recovery and continued intervention in growth-enhancing sectors by the CBN as responsible for the growth.
He said that the CBN had also disbursed huge sums as an intervention to various other sectors of the economy.
“The CBN also released the sum of N23.70 billion under the N1.0 trillion Real Sector Facility to eight new real sector projects in agriculture, manufacturing, and services.
“Cumulative disbursements under the Real Sector Facility currently stands at N2.43 trillion disbursed to 462 projects across the country, comprising 257 manufacturing, 95 agriculture, 97 services, and 13 mining sector projects,” he said.
He said that the apex bank also released N3.01 billion under the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF-2) for capital and operational expenditure of electricity distribution companies (Discos).
He said that the facility was aimed at improving the liquidity status of the Discos, there aiding their recovery of legacy debt.
“This brings the cumulative disbursement under the facility to N254.39 billion,” he said.
UK Firm Unveils Portal to Aggregate Property Prices in Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
Baron and Cabot, a UK-based international real estate firm, has launched a portal that will use artificial intelligence technology to predict property prices in Africa to allow real estate agents to sell properties and earn in pounds, providing an unprecedented opportunity for growth and financial success.
The novel approach will allow real estate firms to de-risk their investments in international markets and gain access to a wide range of fully compliant properties.
Baron & Cabot has been particularly successful in Africa due to inflation driving clients to move their money into GBP and Dollar to purchase assets. It is one of the top fastest-growing property companies in the world and transacts around £100 million per annum ($120 million) of UK property while having access to some of the best property developments in the UK.
Speaking on this, Mr Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Baron & Cabot, said, “We are thrilled to be launching this innovative concept that will not only provide a platform for real estate agents in Africa to sell UK properties but will also create job opportunities and drive economic growth.
“We believe that by leveraging AI technology to predict property prices, we can provide our partners with a unique advantage and help them to achieve financial success. Our joint venture expansion plans are aimed at creating mutually beneficial partnerships that will bring value to all parties involved.”
In addition to providing agents with access to new revenue streams, Baron and Cabot’s property portal is also expected to create new job opportunities in the African market.
The company also revealed that it would provide its agents with comprehensive 2 to 4-week training and support to help them succeed in their new roles. This training will ensure that agents are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the real estate market and take advantage of the opportunities that Baron and Cabot’s concept provides.
As part of its offering, Baron and Cabot will provide clients with mortgages anywhere in the world (excluding war zones), with mortgage rates lower than 6 per cent and deposits below 35 per cent, making it easier for clients to invest in UK properties.
“Our management company boasts an impressive occupancy rate of over 99 per cent, with properties awaiting new tenants for an average of only 10 days. This sets us apart from other cities around the world, where the average occupancy rate is only 70 per cent.
“In addition, our Airbnb or short-term rental products have an average occupancy rate of over 70 per cent, resulting in substantial rental returns and secure investment. Our secret to success lies in our ability to identify high-demand areas with low supply, combined with exceptional management that keeps both our tenants and landlords satisfied,” Mr Pearson added.
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