Ethiopian women cooperative increases incomes thanks to FAO-Eataly partnership / Cactus pear marmalade to join more traditional jams on Italian shelves

ROME, Italy, February 25, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A cooperative of women in Ethiopia is set to reach the international market thanks to a partnership between Italian gourmet food store Eataly and FAO.

The two joined forces in 2013 to support family farmers around the globe in boosting their production and finding ways to reach new overseas customers. The work with the women’s cooperative is one example of this collaboration.

For a few years Tsega Gebrekidan Aregawi ran a small kiosk in the northern Ethiopian town of Mekelle, where local university students would stop by to purchase fresh fruit juice, biscuits and homemade marmalades on their way to and from class.

It was a small operation. At that time Tsega could hardly imagine that some of her own products might someday fly from Africa to reach international markets.

But things changed last year when FAO and the Italian food chain Eataly reached out to her and her five-woman cooperative with a challenging offer.

Founded in northern Italy in 2007, Eataly has grown into a global, high-quality food and beverage chain that combines culinary excellence with tradition — with a special focus on small-scale production, sustainability, and fair trade.

FAO and Eataly offered Tsega and her colleagues support in producing more cactus pear marmalade, which would be then bought and shipped to European tables.

The group rose to the challenge. So far, they’ve produced 4,000 jars of marmalade and are now looking at using the revenues to even expanding their output and the variety of what they produce.

To help them in this effort, trainings were organized to help them improve their performance during harvesting as well as to increase their quality standards. The Ministry of agriculture has been providing technical assistance throughout.

A better future

Over the last few months, Tsega and her colleagues have been working hard to produce over 1,500 kg of jam that meet Ethiopian and European food safety standards. The cooperative has also benefited from Eataly’s knowledge sharing on best practices for packaging and marketing and their 4,000 jars of jam are now ready to travel to Rome, where they will soon reach the shelves.

The cooperative’s working space consists of a closed compound with separate spaces for raw fruits, production and the storage of glass jars. The raw fruits, purchased from local growers, are washed and cleaned in an outdoor space.

In this pilot phase, daily production has reached 200 jars. Each of them will be bought at 3.50 EUR, a price considered in line with local market standards and which covers production costs and guarantees significant revenues for its members.

Some of the women in the cooperative are still quite young, but those who are mothers see in this work an opportunity to guarantee an education and a better future for their kids.

Unlocking potential

On January 31 a delegation from the cooperative travelled to Addis Ababa to meet FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who was in the Ethiopian capital to attend the African Union Summit.

“Our lives have changed since we started in this endeavor,” Tsega told him.

“These are the kind of results we expect from agriculture,” Graziano da Silva said, congratulating them on their success.

“Family farming and small scale producers have a lot to offer — to their local communities, and on international markets. Their potential is large; they just need the right kind of support to unlock it,” he added.

The success story in Ethiopia illustrates what FAO is aiming to do on the ground: empowering women farmers to generate extra income and improve their livelihoods. The result: better food and nutrition, stronger local economies, and small businesses that will be able to thrive on their own once FAO’s intervention ends.

The partnership between FAO and Eataly is also providing support to other small producers in other countries, helping them to find new markets, improve value addition, and get better prices for their goods.

“FAO and Eataly share a common vision regarding sustainable agriculture and the positive impact it can have on local economies,” according to the store’s CEO Nicola Farinetti. “This is an important trial run for cactus pear jam on international markets, and presents an excellent opportunity for the Mekelle cooperative to support itself,” he says.

The teamwork with Eataly is an example of FAO’s focus on partnerships. Since 2013, the Organization has signed over 60 agreements with a wide range of different stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society, non-governmental

organizations, cooperatives and academia.

Source:: Ethiopian women cooperative increases incomes thanks to FAO-Eataly partnership / Cactus pear marmalade to join more traditional jams on Italian shelves

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White House Nomination of United States Ambassador to Somalia

WASHINGTON, February 25, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Press Statement

Jen Psaki

Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

February 24, 2015

President Obama, today, nominated Katherine S. Dhanani to serve as the first United States Ambassador to Somalia since 1991. This historic nomination signals the deepening relationship between the United States and Somalia. It also allows us to mark the progress of the Somali people toward emerging from decades of conflict. Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation. The United States is committed to supporting Somalia on this journey as a steadfast partner. If confirmed, the Ambassador will lead the U.S. Mission to Somalia, currently based at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. As security conditions permit, we look forward to increasing our diplomatic presence in Somalia and eventually reopening the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu.

Source:: White House Nomination of United States Ambassador to Somalia

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Joint statement by the UN, AU, EU, IGAD, UK and US Envoys to Somalia / International partners welcome efforts by local elders in the central regions to mediate peaceful solution in Guricel

MOGADISHU, Somalia, February 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Kingdom and the United States of America have welcomed efforts by local elders and business people in Somalia’s central regions to mediate a peaceful solution to the recent conflict in Guricel. They expressed concern about the humanitarian impact and loss of life stemming from the conflict and called upon all parties to refrain from violence.

They said: “We look forward to the conclusion of the valuable Dhuusamareb reconciliation conference, and look forward to the swift launch of the state formation conference in Adaado. The significant human suffering that has resulted from the conflict is unacceptable; we urge all parties to the conflict to refrain from violence and make concerted efforts to de-es calate tensions. Differences must be resolved through peaceful means and dialogue. We attach great importance to the swift conclusion of an inclusive and fully representative process leading to the establishment of an interim administration in the central regions.”

Source:: Joint statement by the UN, AU, EU, IGAD, UK and US Envoys to Somalia / International partners welcome efforts by local elders in the central regions to mediate peaceful solution in Guricel

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Communique – 487th Peace and Security Council of the African Union meeting on the situation in Somalia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 487th meeting held on 20 February 2015, adopted the following decision on the situation in Somalia:

  1. Takes note of the briefing provided by the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on the current situation in Somalia. Council also takes note of the statements made by the representatives of Ethiopia, Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States (LAS), as well as by the representatives of Chad, France, Nigeria, United Kingdom and United States of America, as members of the UN Security Council, and Italy, as Co-chair of the IGAD Partners Forum;
  2. Recalls its previous communiqués and press statements on the situation in Somalia and, in this regard, welcomes the steps taken, with the support of partners, including the UN, the EU and bilateral partners, in the implementation of the mandate of AMISOM;

  3. Welcomes the political progress in course in Somalia, including the on-going state formation processes, and the passing of the Electoral Act by the Parliament, as well as the parliamentary endorsement of Prime Minister Omar Sharmarker’s Cabinet of Ministers. Council applauds the recent inauguration of the new Cabinet, which that includes women appointed as Ministers, as a further step on the road towards the attainment of the Vision 2016 agenda. Council also notes the re-emergence of political parties, which are necessary in the strengthening of the political landscape of Somalia;

  4. Calls upon the Somali leaders and people to continue on the path of political progress by ensuring that the state formation processes are concluded in a broad based, participatory and inclusive manner that will engender national reconciliation, and that the newly-passed electoral legislation is implemented towards the conduct of credible elections in 2016, including through the adoption of a nationally-acceptable and people-centered Constitution;

  5. Applauds the security gains that continue to be recorded in Somalia. In this regard, Council welcomes the conclusion, at the end of 2014, of two joint military operations code-named EAGLE and INDIAN OCEAN by the Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM, which have resulted in the further recovery of key strategic locations from Al-Shabaab. Council underlines the need for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), with the support of the international community, to promote and support the stabilization of those recovered areas so that the populations can enjoy basic social services, especially in education, healthcare, provision of water and security;

  6. Urges the Somali political leadership to step up its efforts towards the integration of the various militia forces under a unified national command of the SNA, in order to ensure that Somalia consolidate and safeguard the gains made on the ground and facilitate reconstruction and peace-building as part of the exit strategy for AMISOM;

  7. Pays tribute to the AMISOM military, police and civilian personnel of AMISOM for their courage and dedication, and, once again, commends the FGS, AMISOM troop (Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda) and police (Nigeria and Uganda and the countries providing individual police officers) contributing countries for their continued commitment to the promotion of lasting peace, security, stability and reconciliation in Somalia;

  8. Reiterates its appreciation to the UN, the IGAD, the EU and its Member States and bilateral partners, notably Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, for their invaluable contribution to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Somalia;

  9. Further reiterates its commitment to the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Somalia and reaffirms AU’s full support to the FGS and its commitment to continue to assist the FGS in its stabilization and reconstruction efforts;

  10. Requests Somalia’s bilateral partners, especially those hosting significant Somali populations, to ease the transfer of remittances for the Somali communities, while taking measures to eliminate terrorism-based financial networks;

  11. Strongly condemns the terrorist attacks against unarmed and innocent civilians, including the attack that took place on 20 February 2015 against senior Government officials at the Central Hotel in Mogadishu. Council notes that those behind these attacks are desperate remnants of the Al-Shabaab seeking to create despair, despite the political and security progress being made in Somalia. Council condoles with the families of the deceased, as well as the people and Government of Somalia. Council wishes speedy recovery to all those wounded in those terrorist attacks;

  12. Decides to undertake a field mission to Somalia at an appropriate time, to be determined by Council;

  13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Source:: Communique – 487th Peace and Security Council of the African Union meeting on the situation in Somalia

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South Sudan must establish a transitional government of national unity

OSLO, Norway, February 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The final round of peace negotiations aimed at establishing a transitional government of national unity for South Sudan by 9 July was formally opened in Addis Ababa today. ‘The parties to the conflict must use this round of negotiations to work out the necessary compromises and agree on the establishment of a government of national unity,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

‘I am concerned that President Salva Kiir did not show up for the negotiations in Addis Ababa today, despite his commitment in the previous round of negotiations to do so,’ Foreign Minister Brende said.

Thousands of people have been killed, millions have been forced to flee their homes, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, and the economy is in rapid decline.

‘I urge the leaders of South Sudan to have the best interests of the people in mind and to use these negotiations to create peace in South Sudan. The people of South Sudan have suffered enough, and deserve economic and social development rather than more war,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.

‘The proposed constitutional amendment to extend the mandate of the president and the parliament for two years must not be used as an excuse not to reach a peace agreement at the peace negotiations in Addis Ababa, which are being carried out under the auspices of the regional organisation IGAD,’ Mr Brende said.

Source:: South Sudan must establish a transitional government of national unity

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New fish drying technology boosts livelihoods in Ivorian towns / Reduces health and food safety hazards, simplifies fish smoking for women processors

ROME, Italy, February 24, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A new and easy-to-assemble fish drying technology pioneered by FAO is helping to reduce health hazards, improve food safety and quality, improve working conditions and cut down food losses in West African fishing villages.

Smoked fish is a vital source of food and income for many African coastal communities. In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, an estimated 20-30 percent of local marine and freshwater catch is consumed in smoked form, according to FAO.

A popular protein alternative, smoked fish is preferred by locals because of its taste, its nutritional benefits, its competitive prices compared to other protein sources such as milk, meat and eggs, and its long shelf-life which ranges from 3-6 months.

However, traditional kilns widely used to prepare this popular food item do pose some concerns.

“Traditional smoking techniques often involve a massive burning of wood which leads to a variety of problems. For one, an exorbitant amount of CO2 is produced, so the kilns produce more greenhouse gas pollution than they should. Also, traditional smoking releases contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic and hazardous to the human respiratory system,” says Yvette Diei-Ouadi, a fishery industry expert at FAO.

Traditional techniques also leave higher amounts of tar particles on the final product, affecting taste and quality – making it much more difficult to sell.

The new FTT technology – consisting of a dual functioning oven and mechanical drier, which also can act as storage unit – is especially designed to help small-scale fish processors like those in Abobodoumé prepare and market safe, high-quality food.

A result of five years of design improvements, FTT makes it easy to upgrade traditional ovens and is capable of significantly slashing the carcinogenic contaminants produced during smoking. At the same time, the technology reduces the amount of fuel needed and provides a load capacity five times greater than traditional barrel ovens or twice the Chorkor kiln.

A boom with the FTT

“This is a system developed to address many aspects of fish smoking operations,” says Ndiaye Oumoulkhaïry, who worked on the FTT design. “In the first place stands the safety aspect – to secure consumers’ health and meet international food standards. Then there’s reducing post-harvest losses, and also curbing the drudgery of fish processors who are now least exposed to the heat and smoke.”

In Abobodoumé, for example, a village in Côte d’Ivoire, female fish processors took immediate liking to the new FTT additions. Among their favorites, a collection plate which traps dripping fish oils they can re-use for manufacturing soap or as cooking oil.

They are also glad to be breathing in far less contaminant-containing smoke.

Different varieties of vegetable materials can also be burned, instead of just wood or coal. Coconut shells and husks, maize or even millet cob are just as effective in smoking fish and place far less pressure on the environment.

Women at center stage

“We are extremely happy, because as of today, with the FTT, our conditions for smoking fish have changed,” says Deborah Oulou, an Ivorian woman fish processor.

”We are now working under hygienic conditions,” confirms Micheline Dion Somplehi, another woman fish processor in Abobodoumé. “The FTT-Thiaroye ensures less heat, burn and smoke exposure. Smoking operations do not pose risk anymore to the health of our eyes and of our respiratory system”.

Shorter processing times and reduced risk of burns or smoke-inhalation also mean these women can focus more time on their roles as mothers and caretakers.

Dion Somplehi says: “We have seen the advantage of saving time in fish smoking, and this is really important because in our communities, women are at the same time engaged in household chores – taking care of the children, working in the kitchen – while carrying out fish processing activities. We are even able to smoke in bad weather conditions.”

Platform for success

The new technology is proving popular in other African fishing nations as well, and its use is starting to spread in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Ghana.

Development organizations like the Netherlands-based SNV is encouraging the use of FTT technology in Ghana as a way for small-scale producers to gain access to such lucrative international markets.

Source:: New fish drying technology boosts livelihoods in Ivorian towns / Reduces health and food safety hazards, simplifies fish smoking for women processors

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