Thursday, 23 August 2012

Chinese leaders send condolences over Ethiopian PM`s death as Tunisian journalists protect against appointments in media sector

President Hu Jintao
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao sent messages of condolences on Wednesday to Ethiopia over the death of that country's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Meles was an outstanding leader of Ethiopia and a renowned African statesman who was dedicated to the great cause of national development and Africa's revival, Hu said in his message to Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis.
Meles was an old friend of the Chinese people and paid high attention to advancing ties with China, Hu said.
"We will never forget the great contributions that he made to the establishment and development of the China-Ethiopia comprehensive cooperative partnership," he said.
The Chinese government and people cherished the traditional friendship with Ethiopia and the government was ready to make joint efforts to push forward the continuous development of the comprehensive cooperative partnership between China and Ethiopia, Hu added.
In his message to Ethiopia's acting prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, Premier Wen said that, as an excellent Ethiopian statesman, Meles had made great contributions to the country's construction and Africa's peace and development.
Meles' death was not only a great loss to the Ethiopian people, but also to the Chinese people as he had always adhered to friendly policies with China and actively promoted bilateral cooperation in all areas, Wen said, adding the Chinese people felt regret and sadness at losing such an old friend.
China paid close attention to its comprehensive cooperative partnership with Ethiopia and would continue to deepen bilateral cooperation in all areas in order to benefit the two peoples, the Chinese premier said.
In Tunis scores of journalists rallied in Kasbah Square in Tunisia's capital of Tunis Wednesday, protesting against the recent government appointments in the country's media sector.
The demonstrators, who gathered outside the government headquarters, denounced the appointments a day earlier of Lotfi Touati and Imen Bahroun as the heads of the Dar Essabah group and Tunisian first national television Watanya 1, respectively, as the two were accused of having strong ties with the regime of ex- president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Local reports said the pair were appointed despite the strong opposition of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), which has warned of an impending strike in the media sector if its requests are not considered.
Most of the protesters are reportedly affiliated to a private Tunisian press group, Dar Essabah, and are backed by a number of representatives from the constitutional assembly. (Xinhua)

And news from Nairobi according to Xinhua below
Local residents receive relief food in Turkana county in northern Kenya, last year.(Xinhua/Christine Lagat
Kenya facing dark days of food security for its population
Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- As Kenya highly expects a bumper harvest in the next one month, long term declining rainfall due to climate change remains a significant threat to staple
food production.

Poor soils, limited storage facilities, inefficient markets and marketing systems including persistent under investment in agricultural research and extension continue to limit
the potential of the sector. "There is much to be done to strengthen the sector and improve food security since millions of people struggle to get what to eat and 17 percent of
the children under the age of five suffer from effects of malnutrition," the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) President Dr. Jane Karuku said on Wednesday.Karuku
called on the government to form alliances and invest in innovation that will help women and men on front lines of Kenya's agricultural workforce.

 Karuku was speaking during the Kenya Agricultural Transformation Forum that brought together government, private sector and agricultural research experts in Nairobi.The
meeting is expect to map out strategies for developing practical solutions to fuel Kenya's agricultural and nutritional future, that given the proper support, the smallholder
farmers can feed the future of the country and the continent. Karuku said that AGRA is due to launch the Kenya Incentive Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending
(KIRSAL) that is expected to leverage at least 500 million U.S. dollars of financing for more than 1.5 million small scale farmers and 10,000 agribusinesses.She said that
through the integrated programmes on soils, seeds, markets and agri-finance, AGRA engages in a variety of private and public sector partnerships designed to promote rapid
growth on smallholder farms. "Our shared vision is the transformation of agriculture into a highly productive, sustainable and competitive system," she added.

Karuku noted that through AGRA's intervention in building a stronger network of agro-dealers in western Kenya, the average distance that smallholder farmer's travel to
obtain commercial inputs has been reduced to four kilometres from 17 kilometres."The Kenya government is deeply committed to investing in this sector, because we can see
the potential it carries for attaining our food security objectives as well as increasing rural incomes," Prime Minister Raila Odinga said.Odinga said that the government has
positioned agriculture as one of the six sectors expected to generate the bulk of vision 2030 targets for economic growth.He said that Kenya's food insecurity can easily be
won over through dialogue that can translate to better terms for food producers and consumers.

Odinga observed that the youths must be involved in agriculture by making agriculture interesting to them as a way of motivating them and not asking them to resort to
agriculture yet they are not availed with the new tools in the market. "We need to have a deliberate and carefully targeted strategy for expanding opportunities for youth in
this sector," he added. He said that with devolution system of government, greenhouse farming can be extended to help create more jobs and economic growth of the rural
areas. Odinga told the ministry of agriculture to ensure that only good quality planting seed reach the farmers to avoid devastating effects."It is high time Kenya Agricultural
Research Institute (KARI) start developing resistant varieties to the current maize disease that is destroying farmer's maize in Rift Valley besides extend their research to other
crops like sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum and legumes," he noted.

Odinga said that with the eminent effects of climate change, delicate crops like maize are severely affected hence calling for the development and research into traditional
crops.Kenya's Vision 2030 Director General Mugo Kibati said that the non range reserves that are rarely in agricultural use should be used in food production to help improve
food security. "Agriculture is the engine of our nation's economy: yet far too many Kenyans struggle to ensure their fields prosper and their families are fed. There is far too
much promise in our country's agricultural sector for us to fall short of our economic potential, " Kabati said.

Kibati challenged the government to improve the road network to help improve food distribution in all parts of the country adding that it is unfair to have food in some parts
of the country while the rest of the country goes without food. The Forum discussed the need for agricultural innovation, food pricing agricultural financing and links to
nutrition. These issues are critically important given that agriculture accounts for 65 percent of Kenya's total exports and provides more than 70 percent of informal
employment in rural areas.

Last year, Kenya's food prices rose to an alarming rate. Today majority of families still struggle to put food on the table. Kenya is currently implementing the Agriculture Sector
Development Strategy (ASDS) which envisages a food secure and prosperous nation by 2020. Two pillars of that strategy are to reduce the number of food insecure people by
30 percent, and to reduce the numbers of people living below the poverty line to less than 25 percent. Under vision 2030, Kenya plans to have a fertiliser manufacturing plant
to help reduce costs to the farmers who rely on the expensive imported fertiliser. The meeting was designed to strengthen the strategy framework for enhanced research
innovation and small-holder farmer supports that will help Africa achieve its rightful place as a global leader in achieving sustainable food security. (Xinhua)

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