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The Herald – Zimbabwe
The 109th edition of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show is the major economic activity this week where the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS), coordinates and registers tens of thousands of farmers, agriculture dealers and financiers among key stakeholders in the sector to showcase their products.
This year the society argues there were 77 693 entries on exhibition space, an increase from 70 466 entries registered during the same period last year. Given the 2014 figure of 70 263 entries, it means the number of entries is increasing, giving credence to the land reform programme.
However, from the manner the show has been organised, where there is a strong focus off farmers and stakeholders in the farming sector, but concentrating on the exhibition side, we feel the event is slowly drifting out of target. We are of the opine that for the event to remain relevant and help the agriculture sector become robust and a major pillar towards helping turning around the economy, there should be a mind-set shift at ZAS and indeed other show societies countrywide.
Lest people misconstrue what we are saying to mean undermining ZAS, our suggestion is that the society should continuously innovate and come up with products that provide solutions to the needs of our new breed of farmers ushered in by our successful land reform programme.
For starters, we do not want an agricultural exhibition where farmers, especially smallholder farmers come to exhibit and go home empty-handed. It is against this backdrop that we, and obviously our dear farmers, want an agriculture exhibition that links them with local and foreign markets for their products. After profiling categories of farmers and the produce they specialise in, the societies, we believe, should go into the world and find markets for our farmers so that come the next addition, there will be hundreds of foreign buyers going straight to enter into contracts with our farmers.
We know some of our farmers are still small and the society should help organise them and make synergies that will help them cut better and lucrative deals that benefit them as clusters or communities.
We are not saying their current efforts are not yielding results, but we are of the opinion that a coordinated approach by farmers, facilitated by some agriculture show societies might be beneficial to both parties in the long run. There are countries, especially island states and those in deserts that demand crops grown under natural conditions and dealers from such areas should be major players invited to attend our shows.
The majority of our new farmers have not been supported by local and foreign banks that have been insisting on tittle deeds from farms as basis for lending capital. The banks have for long been declining the bankability of the 99 year leases, even those modified as collateral. This has seen the majority of our farmers using very old and obsolete machinery and implements that are fuel inefficient and not reliable due to constant breakdowns that demand more money to buy spares. We are suggesting that in the future, agriculture shows should mobilise hundreds of agriculture equipment dealers dotted around the region and beyond to come and interface with local farmers and see how they can replenish their fleets. Yes, in the meantime there are local dealers, but their offers are beyond many local farmers.
We also want more research to be commissioned courtesy of the show societies that help invent home-grown farm implements that address the current challenges farmers face. Farming models introduced under A1 and A2 demand that farmers are assisted to secure equipment that cater for the size of the farms they have. It does not make economic sense for a six-hectare plot holder to buy a 75 horse power tractor, most of them old and inefficient because that equipment will cause a lot trouble. Smaller tractors will be ideal for such farmers and some organisations should facilitate that such equipment is made available. Besides funding, lack of mechanised equipment, as most of our farmers face demands that we continuously sponsor research and development into new farming methods and seed varieties.
The population is growing, cost of doing business continue to surge northwards and therefore we encourage show societies to lead in this critical area. We need crop varieties that are drought and disease tolerant so that farmers do not expend much of their resources on irrigation equipment and pesticides.
Reduction in the amount money needed to control weeds and effects of drought on crops means the farmers’ ability to increase on their hacterage and profitability. Therefore, as we move into the future, it is our hope that show societies will continue to innovate, introduce more products and make the event a meeting place for minds yearning to improve the country’s agriculture sector and empower our farmers, majority of them from rural areas.
Yes, lucky farmers win tractors and other farming implements, but that alone should not be the reason why they come to exhibit. Every farmer should smile on the way home after harnessing a skill, a deal or a prize.
Most eligible candidates in Tunisia's presidential elections
By: Khadija El-Rabti
Following the death of Tunisia’s former president Beji Caid Essebsi, the country’s 2019 presidential elections have been brought forward and are now set to take place on 15 September.
Seventy-one out of the nearly 100 candidates were rejected, while the remaining 26 were approved by the Tunisian Electoral Commission.
Among the candidates is lawyer Abdel-Fattah Mourou, co-founder and vice-president of the Islamist Ennahda Party. After receiving 157 votes from a possible 214, Mourou was also made the first vice-president of Tunisia’s parliament.
The 71-year-old was nominated by Ennahda to submit his candidacy for the 2019 presidential elections, making him its first-ever contender to run for president since the movement was recognised 38 years ago. Mourou is known to be an Ennahda moderate and is one of Tunisia’s most prominent political figures.
According to Tunisian political analyst Mohamed Dhia Hammami, Mourou is a “clever choice… [as] his popularity goes beyond the traditional base of Ennahda. If he gets to the second round, his chances of becoming president are very significant.”
The trilingual nominee is distinctive among the rest of the candidates not only because he speaks German alongside Arabic and French, but also because of his choice of wardrobe. He prefers to wear the traditional Tunisian attire of the “jebba” and “chechia” hat rather than Western-style suits.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed also submitted his candidacy after being nominated by the liberal Long Live Tunisia Party. The 43-year-old is Tunisia’s 23rd prime minister and an agricultural engineer by profession who has taught agricultural economics in several countries.
Chahed was previously secretary of state for fisheries from 2015 to 2016 and became minister of local affairs in 2016. He was a member of Nidaa Tounes, the party of former president Essebsi, before forming his secular party Long Live Tunisia in 2019, currently the country’s second-largest party.
Also running for president is Tunisia’s current Minister of Defence Abdel-Karim Zbidi. The 69-year-old was a close ally of former president Essebsi, and although supported by Nidaa Tounes he is running as an independent in the presidential elections.
Before becoming a political figure, Zbidi gained a degree in human biology and a doctorate in medicine. His academic history and choice of career make him stand out from the rest of the candidates and may also make him the most serious rival to Chahed.
Former interim president Mohamed Moncef Marzouki is another candidate in the forthcoming presidential elections. He was Tunisia’s first president after the overthrow of former president Zein Al-Abidine Ben Ali in the 2011 Revolution before being succeeded by Essebsi.
The 74-year-old is the long-term leader of the centre-left party the Congress for the Republic (CPR), and he has been a human-rights activist and a member of the Constituent Assembly responsible for developing a new constitution after the revolution.
Tunisian businessman Nabil Karoui, owner of the Nesma TV channel, is also a candidate in the elections. He was a founding member of Nidaa Tounes and was almost disqualified from standing in the forthcoming elections owing to an amendment to the electoral law that did not come into effect before Essebsi died.
The Bizerte-born tycoon is facing prosecution on charges of money laundering and tax-evasion alongside his brother Ghazi Karoui. The opinion polls show that he is well situated with respect to the forthcoming elections despite the charges against him.
Tunisia’s election contenders
Businessman Slim Riahi has also joined the electoral race despite the possibility of arrest if he sets foot in Tunisia. Riahi submitted his candidature from abroad after a Tunisian court found him guilty of corruption. He was a founder of the Free Patriotic Union Party and then secretary-general of Nidaa Tounes.
Abir Moussi is one of the two female candidates for the presidency, the other being Nidaa Tounes’s Selma Elloumi. Forty-four-year-old Moussi is a lawyer by profession and is currently president of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) that aligns itself with the ideas of former president Habib Bourguiba.
MP Mongi Rahoui was the first contender to put forward his candidacy in the elections. He is supported by the Al-Watad and Al-Taliaa Parties, both of which are left-wing. Before becoming involved in politics, Rahoui worked for Tunisia’s National Agricultural Bank and then went on to become a political and union activist as well as a member of the Constituent Assembly.
According to Tunisian commentator Fethi Riahi, the majority of Tunisians are politically involved even if they may not be aware of the intricacies of the voting system.
“Many Tunisians may want to vote for Abdel-Fattah Mourou because they see him as a person like them that they can relate to. He dresses like them and even talks like them,” Riahi said. “They don’t see him as an extremist in term of his Islamist ideology,” he added.
The upcoming elections are the second time Tunisia has held elections since the 2011 Revolution, and they are being held earlier than planned. After the voting closes on 15 September, preliminary results are set to be announced on 17 September.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Kemal derviş & Sebastián strauss
Climate change is probably the biggest threat facing humanity today. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels in this century. The challenge calls for drastic immediate action, because the infrastructure investments the world makes today will determine the carbon intensity of its growth path for decades.
Yet despite widespread recognition of the size and urgency of the climate challenge, emissions continue to increase, land is “under growing human pressure,” and the Amazon has never been more threatened.
Much of the early climate debate revolved around whether the world should take drastic immediate action to mitigate global warming, or adopt a more gradual approach. The gradualists argued with some success that drastic immediate measures would impose heavy short-term economic costs.
But three recent developments have altered the course of the debate. First, the various feedback loops triggered by global warming now threaten to cause greater and more imminent damage than previously thought.
Second, the cost of clean energy has declined much faster than previously assumed. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewable-energy sources are already the cheapest power option in much of the world, with solar and wind technologies leading the way. Moreover, the cost of “greening” could fall even faster in the future through learning-by-doing. This is also likely to be the case in urban design, transportation, agriculture, and forest protection, all of which need to undergo a green transition.
Finally, the immediate negative externalities of the world’s current high-carbon growth model, such as air pollution, are now better recognized as adding to the short-term cost of climate change. Reducing them would therefore partially offset the upfront cost of mitigation.
These shifts greatly strengthen the case for pursuing much faster and bolder forms of mitigation. As the 2014 New Climate Economy Report concluded, there need not be a tradeoff between growth and forceful climate action, even in the short term.
So, why is more not being done? For starters, although the green transition may have a small netaggregate cost, it is certain to generate losers (as well as winners). And as is often the case with such transitions (for example with trade liberalization), the gains will be spread across large parts of the population, while the losses will be more concentrated on specific groups, making them more visible and politically disruptive.
When advocating policies that result in aggregate welfare gains, economists often fail to give enough consideration to their likely distributional impact. Instead, they often implicitly assume that the winners will compensate the losers. But if such compensation does not actually occur, the losers are left worse off and can often block change, as the “yellow vest” protesters (gilets jaunes) have done since 2018, when the French government proposed a new climate-friendly fuel tax.
The de facto coalition that is currently resisting climate action consists of the vested interests that own carbon-intensive assets (such as oil companies) and the mostly lower-income groups that would be short-term losers in a rapid transition. Compensating the latter and isolating the former is politically essential.
Unfortunately, it is not clear whether, say, the young German urbanites who voted for the Greens in the European Parliament elections this year would happily compensate the older auto workers – let alone Polish coal miners – who would suffer in a rapid transition. And complicating matters further, the groups at risk of short-term losses from green policies are often bearing the brunt of digitization and globalization, too.
Another hurdle to bold action is that climate protection constitutes an “additive” global public good, because there is only one atmosphere and the emissions of any one country add to global greenhouse-gas concentrations as much as those of any other country. This causes the free-rider problem of “carbon leakage.” Europe may well reduce its emissions in line with (or even beyond) the aims of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, but if India and China’s emissions keep increasing – or if Brazil allows the Amazon to collapse – those efforts will have been futile.
Clearly, the whole world would benefit from a cooperative solution. But without a binding international agreement or a supranational authority that can impose global green policies, few countries have an incentive to engage in sufficient mitigation efforts – leaving everyone worse off.
One possible measure to deter free riding is a carbon border tax, as recently proposed by the incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Governments that tax carbon could levy a border tax equal to the implicit subsidy given to their “dirty” exports by governments who do not have such a tax. This would effectively impose a kind of shadow carbon price on free riders, prompting them to produce fewer carbon-intensive goods.