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Tanzania: Bulk sugar procurement system likely to start at the year end, says Chiza


IPPMedia

BY FELIX ANDREW

August 6, 2014

The government has said the bulk sugar procurement system might start this year after receiving recommendations from key stakeholders on the sub-sector.

Speaking to this paper in a telephone interview, the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Christopher Chiza, said at the moment the buyers and traders are still negotiating the best way to have the system put in place.
“They are still looking at ways on how to conduct the business, despite the fact that there is slight misunderstanding between two parties but hopefully they would come with good answer,” said Minister Chiza.
He noted that if things go well, the bulk procurement system would be applicable this year or early next year.
He said once implemented, it would involve stakeholder including the government, traders and owners of sugar plants.
They would be tasked to assess the demand of sugar in case there is shortage arising from closure of factories.
According to the acting Director General of Sugar Board of Tanzania, Lusomyo Buzingo, it is one of the possible options that may be taken by the board to sort out the problem of sugar shortage.
The bulk procurement system has been one of the ways to solve sugar shortage problems when it comes to importing the product, he said. Stakeholders have agreed on the matter and the process is underway to replace the current system, he added.
According to him, the current system of sugar importation involves too many traders and has too many challenges.
Asked whether the board has any plans to set indicative price for sugar in order to make the product stable countrywide, he said, that may be difficult due to the nature of the market economy.
“Our economy is a free market whereby prices of almost all consumer commodities are governed by market forces,” he said.
He also said with the current drivers of the economy it is difficult to introduce “pan-territorial prices for the product”.
On sugar smuggling, Buzingo, who is also the acting Regulatory Services Manager, said the government is always on the fight against smugglers of commodities.
The other agencies which are mandated to undertake checks on the borders have been working hand in hand to ensure that the product does not enter the country illegally.
Sometimes in 2010, the country faced an acute shortage of sugar which forced the government to intervene to ensure there were enough stocks of the product.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda allowed importation of the product so as to stabilise the market price that had started to rise.
However, some unscrupulous businessmen seem to be using the loophole for illegal importations. During the rainy season most sugar mills in Tanzania close down business causing shortage.
Tanzania’s annual sugar consumption stands at 480,000 tonnes but the country’s main producers – Tanganyika Plantation Company (TPC), Kilombero Sugar Company Limited and Mtibwa Sugar Estates in Morogoro and Kagera Sugar Limited in Kagera Region — only manage to produce an average of 400,000 tonnes.
Source: The Guardian.

Africa land deals lead to water giveaway


guardian.co.uk

By Mark Tran

June 12, 2012

Africa heads for ‘hydrological suicide’ as land deals hand water resources to foreign firms, threatening environmental disaster.

Millions of people will lose access to traditional sources of water because of “land grabs” in Africa, according to a report on Monday that looks behind the scramble for farmland in Africa.

The report: Squeezing Africa dry: behind every land grab is a water grab, shows how land deals, covering millions of acres of fertile lands, also pose a threat to Africa’s fresh water systems.

“If these land grabs are allowed to continue, Africa is heading for a hydrological suicide,” said Henk Hobbelink, co-ordinator of Grain, a group that backs small farmers.

The report – the latest to raise the alarm over competition for scarce water resources – said all land deals in Africa involve large-scale industrial agriculture operations that will consume massive amounts of water, could rob millions of people of their access to water and risk the depletion of the continent’s most precious water sources.

Grain cites the Nile and Niger river basins as two examples of the “giveaway” of land and water rights. Three of the bigger countries in the Nile basis – Ethiopia, South Sudan and Egypt – have already leased out millions of hectares in the basin. Citing figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Grain said these made clear that recent land deals vastly outstrip water availability in Nile basis.

According to Grain, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Egypt already have irrigation infrastructures in place for 5.4 million hectares (13 million acres) of land and have now leased out a further 8.6 million hectares of land.

“This would require much more water than what is available now in the entire Nile basin and would amount to no less than hydrological suicide,” said the report.

In the Niger river basin, independent experts believe Mali has the water capacity to irrigate only 250,000 hectares. Yet, said Grain, the Malian government has already signed over 470,000 hectares to foreign companies from Libya, China, the UK, Saudi Arabia and other countries in recent years, virtually all of it in the Niger basin.

Grain said the secrecy around land deals makes it hard to know exactly what is being handed over to foreign companies, but from those contracts leaked or made public, it is clear they tend not to contain any specific mention of water rights, leaving the companies free to build dams and irrigation canals at their discretion…Read more.

Band aid:Why has Africa had such a small role in the famine relief effort?


Michael Hofman

August 24th, 2011 – Prospect Issue 186 FREE.

Dadaab in northeast Kenya is one of the largest refugee camps in the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our hearts demand a generous response to the Horn of Africa famine. Our heads should now ask some tough questions. The UN general assembly, convening on 20th September, should be the venue for frank answers.

For all the calls from international aid donors for African “ownership” of policies involving the continent, for all their pledges to ensure a role for “stakeholders,” for all their advocacy of “community participation,” one thing stands out. Aid agencies have assumed leadership of the famine relief effort in east Africa, and have taken decisions that will impact the region for years to come. Far from providing a hand on the policy tiller, and a voice at the planning table, Africa has sat back, watching from the sidelines the biggest relief operation on the continent since the Ethiopian famine of 1984.

Of course, operating in such a tough neighbourhood is a huge challenge. The drought embraces some of Africa’s most troubled states: Eritrea and Ethiopia are bitter enemies; Sudan is a pariah; the newly-independent South Sudan is a fledgling in world affairs; Somalia, the worst afflicted by famine, has no government; Kenya, where up to 3m are at risk, is a byword for corruption.

But this does not justify Africa’s absence from the operations room. Nor does it explain why a president or senior minister from one of the afflicted states, or a former leader, or at least a top official from the African Union, has not been chosen by peers to take responsibility for coordinating donor assistance and recipient needs.

Instead, Africa has twiddled its thumbs, postponing by a fortnight an African Union “emergency” summit, scheduled to be held on 9th August. Meanwhile, there has been no one to field some awkward questions.

Many lives have been saved by international intervention, but many have been lost by a late response to an obvious crisis; and many more will be affected by decisions made by aid donors after inadequate consultation. Why was the official announcement of the famine, and the appeal for help, made so late in the day? Children were dying of hunger in northeast Kenya weeks earlier: a fact underplayed at the time by elements of the Kenyan media. Who decided when to declare that the famine was leading to a catastrophe? Were African governments involved in the announcement? If not, why not?

It is unclear who is in charge of relief strategy in the Horn; who takes responsibility for decisions such as endorsing the role of Dadaab, the settlement in north east Kenya, as a centre for relief operations and home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis, fleeing the drought. With a population of over 400,000, Dadaab is one of Kenya’s largest “cities.” But catching up fast will be a second such camp: the result of pressure on a reluctant Kenyan government, despite the fact that the country’s weak coalition doesn’t have the governance and security capacity to absorb a huge flow of refugees to another site.

Africa’s economic recovery has gathered pace in recent years, changing many countries dramatically. But decades of decline have left a grim legacy. In far too many places, the state is weak; its capacity to initiate change has shrunk. The reluctance or inability of African governments to play a part in the response to the famine marks yet another step in their surrender of authority and abnegation of responsibility—and the beneficiaries are the very organisations that play such a big role in disaster relief: non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The power and influence of NGOs has grown dramatically since African independence 50 years ago. From a few thousand in the 1960s, controlling funds measured in the millions, there are now over 50,000 NGOs operating in South Africa alone.

Although the NGO record on development is mixed at best, the number of NGOs granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council—the central UN forum for formulating policy on social and economic issues—has risen from 41 in 1948 to over 1,350 in 2008.

As their numbers have grown, they have helped to undermine what the character named Oldest Member, a crusty retired district officer who lives in Kenya and features in my latest novel, Dizzy Worms, identifies as the social contract. In the novel, he asks himself: “What if the government doesn’t deliver? What if the chaps in the north east come to realise that although there is a ‘food deficit’ every year, they won’t starve?… Why? Cos WorldFeed and Oxfam and their UN chums will chip in. All managed by foreigners. Tens of thousands of the buggers come out each year, catching the gravy train that chuffs its way around Africa… If you are starving, the UN will feed you; if the mozzies are killing your kids, Bill Gates will provide a mosquito net; if your road needs rebuilding, DanAid will help… So if the state can’t deliver, why be loyal? Why pay your taxes? Instead you look to big-man politics—to your relative, to your clan, to the ethnic leaders, or the regional boss.”

In other words, a vicious cycle has been created. As the state surrenders many of its core responsibilities to aid agencies, its capacity to manage deteriorates. In the process, it loses some of the country’s brightest and best to the NGOs and UN agencies, who offer salaries that local employers cannot match.

Soon the aid caravan will move on, leaving the two biggest questions unanswered: where has Africa been during the crisis? And why have international aid donors not raised this question themselves? Generosity without accountability is no way to respond to Africa’s gravest famine for 25 years.

Contractors are Accused in Large-Scale Theft of Food Aid in Somalia


United Nations C-130 Hercules transports deliv...
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Global Policy Forum

August 16, 2011

By Jeffrey Gettleman

New York Times

August 16, 2011

The UN World Food Program (WFP) is investigating allegations that corrupt contractors have stolen thousands of sacks of grain and other supplies intended for Somalian famine victims.  Food theft has occurred in Somalia since the early 90s, causing aid workers to coin the term “traditional distribution” to describe when food aid is stolen to be sold on the black market.  Though this New York Times article largely criticizes al-Shabab and the new Somalian transitional government for active participation (and failed prevention) in this large scale food theft, this is only a part of the picture. The root causes of the famine are largely geopolitical, as the Somali people have been made vulnerable to exhausted food resources due to continuous military and political interventions in the region (particularly by Ethiopia, the AU, and the US).

Beyond freelance gunmen, Islamist militants, cholera, malaria, measles and the staggering needs of hundreds of thousands of starving children, aid agencies scrambling to address Somalia’s famine now may have another problem to reckon with: the wholesale theft of food aid.

As it scales up its operations in Somalia, the United Nations World Food Program is investigating allegations that thousands of sacks of grain and other supplies intended for famine victims have been stolen by unscrupulous businessmen and then sold on the open market for a profit.

“We’re looking into this,” Greg Barrow, a spokesman for the World Food Program, said Tuesday.

He said the World Food Program was first alerted several months ago to the possibility of stolen food aid in the capital, Mogadishu, but added that he did not want to provide specifics, in the event that the allegations were baseless.

Few experienced aid workers believe that all, or even close to all, of the emergency food in Somalia reaches the people it was intended for. Because much of Somalia has been mired in chaos and violence for the past 20 years, large aid organizations tend not to base their own staff members there and instead appoint local groups to monitor aid deliveries, worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year…Read more.

Swaziland-Meat suppliers call for adjustment of tenders


Ruptured blisters on the feet of a pig with FMD
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Swazi Observer by Winile Mavuso

March 18, 2011.

MEAT suppliers say government would have to adjust the procurement process now that they are sourcing meat from Botswana.
Businessman and Senator Robert Zwane said he was on his way to Botswana to find out about the logistics of sourcing meat from that country.
He said their businesses were crumbling as a result of the ban on meat imports from South Africa.
Government imposed the ban following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FDM) at the KwaZulu Natal province. Zwane said what government did not tell farmers was that they could import meat from Botswana instead of leaving their businesses to suffer as a result of the ban.
He said they relied heavily on South Africa because Swaziland produced very little livestock for the market. When called yesterday, Zwane revealed that he was on his way to Botswana to find out more about the meat available for importation into the country. Read more

Beyond the GDP frontier: A ‘comparative understanding’ of U.S. contractual overspending and delays


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Traditional ways of approaching issues of development give preference to questions that seek to establish differences between developed and developing countries  on specific issues. Put differently, we are used to defining and deriving policy from the experiences of states that distinguish themselves from rank-and-file statehood in the world system. For instance, it is customary to compare the U.S. and Africa’s GDP and derive inferences for African reforms more or less suggested by the path  the U.S. took.

To some extent, this ‘prescriptive’ approach is reasonable because it allows developing countries to learn from developed countries without having to reinvent the wheel of development. Nevertheless, knowledge and intervention derived from ‘prescriptive’ comparative studies that solely focus on  differences between developed and developing countries often fail to produce expected outcomes because they pay little or no attention to the learning processes of developing countries. Thus, while the emphasis on ‘difference’ is suited for prescriptive policies, it  remains ill-fitted for ‘comparative understanding’ of important politico-economic problems in the world.

In contrast to GDP and other differential markers used to measure the evolution of societies and politico-economic institutions in the world system, similarity-based comparison yields high pedagogical value for both developed and developing countries. Public procurement is one of the many areas of study amendable to such a similarity-based comparison. With procurement studies, one could appreciate similarity and adopt a comprehensive  –and, might I suggest, more humble? — approach to development models for developing countries. More often than not, mistakes made by government officials and parastatal procuring entities point to the same challenges that  developed and developing states face. Two procurement stories involving the U.S. government at home and abroad illustrate this point.

In a televised interview recorded in Sept. 2010, Ashton Carter, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition,Technology and Logistics, announced that the defense budget won’t go up or down but should stay within the limits of “the resources that the country and the taxpayer can afford.” He also predicted that the new post-9/11 era is going to be ‘good for industry and government.’


 

However, a report on the administration of provisions to troops in Afghanistan by the Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense released on March 2, 2011 shows that what is ‘good for government and for industry’ might exceed what the U.S taxpayer can afford. The report shows that the Defense Logistic Agency failed to provide ‘sufficient oversight of contract, cost, and performance.’ That is, the vendor for food products for Afghanistan was overpaid for work that remains incomplete.

What is interesting in this story is the ways in which the initial contract with the food vendor for Afghanistan was changed through a simple verbal order, which, as the Inspector General found, violated the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement. The report clearly states that the  verbal change of the contracting order by U.S. officials led to overpayment of the food supplier in Afghanistan. Because the modification of the initial contract through a verbal agreement between U.S. contracting officers and the Afghanistan food supplier was not definitized, transportation costs were exaggerated and the contractor was overpaid. Hence the verdict of insufficient oversight of cost.

Unfortunately, delays and overpayment related to cost assessment  are not limited to U.S. activities abroad and in combat zones. Last year, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) audited the Strategic Asset Management Pilot (SAM) project and found that the managers did not control cost. In the report, selected contractors unfamiliar with  the VA’s needs poorly managed risk. Consequently, the SAM pilot project  was delayed by more than 17 months  potentially ‘doubling the original contract cost of $ 8 million.’

Delays, overspending and missed deadlines, poor cost  and risk assessment in public contract renegotiation  makes the U.S. procurement system less than perfect. In this sense, contract renegotiation mistakes made with the food vendor in Afghanistan and delays with the SAM project are similar to procurement challenges in  Cameroon and Zimbabwe commented on last week.

Procurement challenges observed in Cameroon, Zimbabwe and the U.S. at the implementation and renegotiation phases highlight relative similarities between developing and developed countries in the management of public finances. Attention to government procurement makes the case for unbiased similarity-based case selection for  ‘comparative understanding’ that could yield high pedagogical value because of the preeminent roles that decision making and forecasting play in defining outcomes. S.N. Nyeck.

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