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The platform is active in 25 Nigerian states and moved almost US$30mn worth of produce last year. (Image source: GITEX Africa))

Event News

Winich Farms has announced its decision to participate in Africa's largest Tech and startup event, GITEX Africa for the second time in a row this year

Winich Farms is an agritech platform specifically designed to tackle the pain points plaguing Nigeria's agricultural sector. It operates on two key pillars, namely providing farmers with better market access and financial empowerment, and thus successfully operating at the intersection of agritech, embedded finance, and financial inclusion. 

Through a digital marketplace, Winich Farms connects farmers directly with off-takers like factories and retailers, effectively cutting out the middleman to ensure farmers receive a significantly fairer share for their produce. The product tackles a problem facing most of the African continent. 

Today, Winich Farms has over 80,000 users on its platform spanning smallholder farmers, agents, truck drivers, and off-takers. The platform is active in 25 Nigerian states and moved almost US$30mn worth of produce last year. In a 2023 survey of 5,000 registered farmers on the Winich Farms platform, 93% of the farmers said that it has increased by over 50%. Some 65% of them said that Winich has made them more climate-resilient.

For more information, visit: https://GITEXAfrica.com 

Feed the Future Innovation Lab team members currently or formerly associated with Iowa State's Department of Animal Science. (Image source: Iowa State University)

Poultry

As part of an international effort to improve the health of small poultry flocks of indigenous chickens, researchers from the Iowa State University have been working on a 10-year project by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Genomics to Improve Poultry, that is aimed at addressing the threats that disease and infections pose to the region’s poultry sector 

One of the most devastating poultry diseases includes the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV). According to Susan Lamont, distinguished professor in the Department of Animal Science and one of the leads on the research team, this disease does not appear to be a major threat to the chickens of the region, mainly due to the availability of a vaccine. However, vaccination programmes are not practical to implement in much of Africa due to the likeliness of small numbers of chickens being scattered, thereby resulting in their intermingling with other chickens and fowl. 

As stated in a report by the Iowa State University, in order to ensure that the project has the best chance of bringing meaningful impacts to local smallholder farmers, several unique approaches were adopted. These included a series of initial focus groups to gain a sense of what was important to smallholders of poultry and what interventions they would be most likely to find usable. Moreover, to keep things more relatable to real life, the scientists studied birds exposed to disease in natural situations, rather than in more controlled experimental environments. 

A recent paper by the team which forms the Feed the Future Innovation Lab, was published in the World’s Poultry Science journal. The study carried out focuses primarily on genetic and molecular studies of the chickens and their response to NDV and extreme heat, from the cellular level to bodily systems. 

From their findings, the researchers found that a regional breed, indigenous to the Fayoum region of Egypt, are relatively more resistant to infection from many pathogens and to heat compared to a commercial Leghorn line derived from chickens in the US. They also identified several genes as important candidates for their influence on NDV viral replication

In addition, researchers were also able to learn a lot about the genetics of the Newcastle disease virus and the strains prevalent in the different poultry-producing regions studied. This information will surely be useful for the development of more effective methods to fight the disease in the future. 

“This work is especially important to the lives of women,” Lamont noted. “In Africa, poultry is generally managed by women, which gives them more access to good nutrition for their families and economic opportunities when they can sell eggs and meat birds.” 

By elaborating the business case for banks and policy-makers, the projects helps to reorient policy and financial resources towards farmers. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Agriculture

In April this year, a US$379mn initiative was launched to combat the devastating impacts of pesticides and plastics in agriculture

The project which involves a collaboration between the govenments of Ecuador, India, Kenya, Laos, Philippines, Uruguay, and Vietnam aims to address the significant risks that these chemicals pose both to human health and the environment. Highly hazardous pesticides and mismanaged agricultural plastics release toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs) – chemicals which don’t break down in the environment and contaminate air, water, and food. These inputs being cheaper than sustainable alternatives, gives farmers little incentive to adopt better practices.

However, the five-year Financing Agrochemical Reduction and Management (FARM) programme led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is projected to prevent over 51,000 tons of hazardous pesticides and over 20,000 tons of plastic waste from being released, while avoiding 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions and protecting over three million hectares of land from degradation as farms and farmers convert to low-chemical and non-chemical alternatives.

By elaborating the business case for banks and policy-makers, the projects helps to reorient policy and financial resources towards farmers, thus helping them to choose low- and non-chemical alternatives over toxic agrochemicals, in turn facilitating a transition towards better practices. The FARM programme will support government regulation to phase out POPs-containing agrochemicals and agri-plastics and adopt better management standards, while strengthening banking, insurance and investment criteria to improve the availability of effective pest control, production alternatives and trade in sustainable produce.

“Food productivity and safety is reliant on identifying better practices and safer alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides,” said director of UNEP’s Industry and Economy division, Sheila Aggarwal-Khan. “Adoption is key to scaling these alternatives. There is no real option other than a strong, coordinated response to the pollution crisis.”

 

John Deere debuted five new P-Tier Skid Steer Loaders and Compact Track Loaders. (Image source: John Deere)

Machinery & Equipment

John Deere recently debuted five new P-Tier Skid Steer Loader (SSL) and Compact Track Loader (CTL) models boasting a brand-new one-piece cab design with premium options, enhanced technology features and an overall increase in operating power

These new models include the 330 and 334 P-Tier SSLs and the 331, 333 and 335 P-Tier CTLs, which come with the debut of three brand new attachments. These comprise the MK76 and MH72D mulching heads and the CP40G cold planer. In order to enhance productivity on the job, the 333 and 335 P-Tier machines can be equipped with John Deere SmartGrade technology

Taking the feedback of their customers into consideration, John Deere has proceeded with prioritising operator comfort and productivity. Customers can now experience better insight and customisation of machine settings and viewing information, by utilising the eight-inch premium touch-screen display interface, available on the full line-up of P-Tier models and standard on the 334 and 335 P-Tier.

The pairing of Bluetooth devices is enabled on the touchscreen display and enables the answering of calls and control of streaming audio, making for seamless operation. With a focus on serviceability, the new cab tilts up in one piece, giving ground-level, all around access to the engine, drivetrain, and undercarriage of the machine. In regard to SmartGrade and Grade Control features, a new hydraulic system has been designed to help operators maximise efforts on the job. 

Moreover, two brand new technology capabilities have also made their debut with the rollout of these models, including Attachment Manager and Surround View. The John Deere Operations Centre will continue to be included on all large-frame CTL and SSL, enabling fleet managers to monitor machine location, codes, fuel usage and other key features more efficiently.

In addition, the company has also debuted strategic Quick-Tatch system updates and three new attachment offerings. A full overhaul of the John Deere Quik-Tatch coupler means customers can experience less downtime and continue to easily switch back and forth between attachments. Also, both install implementation and design improvements have been made to increase customer and confidence, making for a more efficient jobsite.

For more information, visit: www.JohnDeere.com

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