The Trade Hub’s agricultural activities are driven by USAID’s Feed the Future Strategy and focus on intra-regional trade in targeted value chains: maize, soybeans and groundnuts. Primary support is directed to the Feed the Future focal countries within the region (Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia) with special emphasis on encouraging investment and technology transfer from South African organizations in line with USAID’s Strategic Partnership with South Africa. The Trade Hub supports initiatives that improve trade in targeted agricultural commodities and improve food security.
Thanks to a Strategic Partnership Grant from USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub (see September 25 Weekly Report), a new HPCL aflatoxin testing machine has now been commissioned at Intertek’s Beira agricultural laboratory, and imported foodstuffs and agricultural samples from World Food Program and World Vision are already being tested for mycotoxins.
During the week of September 14-18, 2015, USAID’s Southern Trade Hub visited with Strategic Partnership Grantees throughout Mozambique to coordinate grant program implementation.
During the week of September 21, 2015, a delegation from USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub traveled to Zambia where it met with energy and environment counterparts from USAID/Zambia and held consultations with the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) in the run-up to a workshop that was held on September 22 to discuss the final stages of the Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff (REFIT) regulations and pricing development.
From 2014 to June 2015, the Trade Hub supported Strategic Partnership Grantee Ybema Grain Services to expand its grain handling services throughout the Southern Africa region as the company provided multiple training sessions to various agricultural organizations.
COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation) in Chipata, Zambia has increased output of its peanut butter product by threefold since the addition of new threshing, drying, and bottling equipment procured through a Strategic Partnership Grant from USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub.
On September 29, 2015, Umlimi Lokhonile Seeds (which means “the farmer is able”) from Swaziland launched MRI514, a hybrid maize seed from Syngenta MRI in Zambia, making Swaziland the first country to demonstrate practical implementation of the SADC harmonized seed system. Under the system, once a seed variety is approved in two SADC countries, it can be released in all SADC countries without extensive trials and paperwork, making investment in seed development more attractive and profitable.
Through a grant from USAID's Southern Africa Trade Hub, Intertek Laboratories commissioned a new high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) (high performance liquid chromatography) aflatoxin testing machine at its Beira agricultural laboratory on September 22, 2015. It is believed that it will reduce the testing cost from US$120 per test (in South Africa) to about US$16 per test in Beira.
On September 16, 2015, the first ever electronic warehouse receipt was issued to a farmer in exchange for 50 tons of maize at Grain Silo Services (GSS) in Lusaka.
The Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) requested Trade Hub support for the development of a Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) after witnessing the success of the Trade Hub-supported Warehouse Receipt Systems in Malawi and Mozambique in providing farmers with access to cheaper finance, higher prices, and safe storage for their crops.
Following a series of aflatoxin trainings in Nampula, Mozambique, USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub made a follow-up visit from September 6-13, 2015 to assess the success of the techniques trained and the possibility of scaling up. Eleven training forums were visited, which had trained 152 farmers, of which 107 were women.
On September 15, 2015, Intertek Laboratories demonstrated the “Blue Box” technology at the USAID Southern Africa mission in Pretoria, South Africa. The Blue Box is an affordable precision tool kit composed of sampling and testing instruments that provides on the spot quality control to monitor crop or grain condition. It can be used both in the field and in storage facilities at any stage in the value chain.