UN: Food prices likely to remain volatile, high

Prices for rice, wheat and other key foods are expected to remain volatile and possibly increase and poor farmers and consumers particularly in Africa will be hurt most, the U.N. food agencies said in its annual report. A study also predicted that prices will be 20 percent higher for cereals and up to 30 percent higher for meat in the coming decade compared with the past 10 years. There is urgency for greater long-term investment in the agriculture sectors of poor countries so farmers can bolster production to meet increasing demand and cope better when food crises hit. Read more here.
Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Africa and the green economy: Crucial conversations

Citizen participation in talks over climate change and green economy issues has been very limited due to legal, scientific and technical language that is explicit to scientists, government delegates and experts and in the subject. In preparation for the COP17, to be held in Durban in December 2011, Idasa’s Smallholder Agriculture project held the first of its seminar series on 16 August with key policy-makers, business, civil society, academics, researchers and smallholder farmers. The aim of the seminar was to create awareness among different stakeholders and to provide a platform for concerned citizens to voice their concerns and opinions on climate change and the transition to a green economy. Read more here.

UN report: Higher food prices here to stay

According to report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), higher food prices and volatile commodity markets are here to stay. The report said a good harvest in the coming months “may keep prices below the extreme levels seen earlier this year.” However, this is about to change. The driving factors will be high energy prices, on the one hand, which are affecting input costs, and also demand for biofuels on the other side. Fortunately, the food security crop in Asia and parts of Africa, is not being dramatically affected right now. Read more here.
Joe DeCapua

Idasa questions judgement of Director of Public prosecution in arms deal

African democracy institute Idasa is questioning the judgement of former national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, who decided not to investigate Fana Hlongwane, an adviser to then defence minister Joe Modise, who we recently learned took a R24m payback  from a SAAB subsidiary Saab in its bid to supply Gripen fighter jets to SA.

In the light of the new information, Idasa adds its voice to the call growing in South Africa for the reopening of the arms deal investigation. Read the full article by Idasa’s Richard Calland and Judith February here.

African Charter campaign mounts pressure for successful elections

There are 17 presidential and legislative elections due to take place in Africa this year, and after the violent electoral standoff in Côte d’Ivoire the time has come for African leaders and institutions to take elections seriously.  Idasa’s campaign to promote the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance needs ratification from 15 more countries to become a force to be reckoned with. Read more here.

Idasa responds to Swaziland crisis

As the protest campaign grows in Swaziland, and alarming reports grow of a security clampdown, African democracy institute Idasa calls on Swaziland to avoid further bloodshed and a repeat of the crises we have seen in conflict-ridden Libya and Ivory Coast – and urges parties in the mounting conflict in that country to aim towards building an environment that is conducive to dialogue and negotiations.

Idasa recognises citizens’ right to protest and make their voices heard, and sees the demonstrations as a clear indication of the determination, commitment and willingness of the people of Swaziland to pursue democratic reform.
Read more here.

Idasa asks where is Africa heading?

Idasa has issued a call to the African Union, the United Nations, development agencies and think tanks to engage in a very honest appraisal of the transition processes currently in practice on the continent. We remind our fellow African citizens that with a number of elections pending in Africa, and as our continent moves towards democracy, now is the time to reiterate our call to respect democratic, electoral processes and outcomes. Countries like Ghana, Zambia and South Africa have held successful democratic elections, but we can’t afford to ignore the lessons of Ivory Coast. To prevent such bloodshed in future we recognise the role of the African Union to determine African solutions to African problems, but call for honest debate on its capacity and willingness to do so. We also recognise the responsibility of the international community to protect civilians but believe there is an urgent need for clarity on the international interventions in situations where the rights of self determination are superseded by the need to protect innocent civilians in conflict between governments and their peoples.

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Statement from the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Abidjan

A statement from the spokesperson for the archdiocese of Abidjan has been published on BBC online talking about refugees in the cathedral. Read the full statement here.  All comments are welcomed here.

World ‘dangerously close’ to food crisis, UN says

Global grain production will tumble by 63 million metric tons this year, or 2%, mainly because of weather-related calamities like the Russian heat wave, the United Nations estimates. Rising demand and lower-than-expected yields caused stocks of some grains to fall sharply and generated high volatility in world food markets in the latter half of the year. According to the UN, good yields in regions with poor food security like East Africa eased the pain of sharp rises in world grain prices this year. Read more here.

President of Namibia awarded 2010 FANRPAN Food Security Policy Leadership Award

President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba of Namibia has been awarded the 2010 FANRPAN Food Security Policy Leadership Award. The award recognises contributions of country’s fisheries policies for food security. His government has been instrumental in creating responsible fisheries policies in Namibia which were recognised by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in 2009. According to Tim Bostok, fisheries adviser to the United Kingdom Department for International Development, African was losing between US$2 billion and US$5 billion annually due to mismanagement in the sector. Read more here.