Daily Archives: August 28, 2018

International tourism arrivals hit record high in 2017, UN agency reports

The number of people travelling abroad has hit its highest level since 2010, according to data from the Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
The latest edition of its Tourism Highlights, published on Monday, shows international arrivals reached 1.323 million last year.
The figure represents an 84 million increase over 2016, and a new record, with the sector also recording “uninterrupted growth” in arrivals for eight consecutive years.
Europe and Africa led the regions with increases in arrivals, with growth of eight per cent and nine per cent, respectively.
WTO added that tourism is the world’s third largest export category, earning $1.3 trillion in receipts in 2017: an increase of five per cent.
Meanwhile, total exports from international tourism stood at $1.6 trillion, or an average of $4 billion a day: that is, seven per cent of the world’s exports.
“These strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years,” WTO said in a press release.
“Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations.”
Seven of the 10 top tourism destinations are also leaders worldwide in both international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
China also was responsible for generating nearly one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017. Citizens of the world’s most populous country spent $258 billion on international travel last year.
WTO added that so far, 2018 shows international tourism continues to grow, “with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April.”

Source: UN News Centre

The African Development Bank and FAO target agriculture investments to end hunger and create wealth in Africa

Rome – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and FAO today agreed to boost joint efforts aimed at catalysing agriculture sector investments in Africa to end hunger and malnutrition and increase prosperity throughout the continent. In terms of the agreement, the AfDB and FAO are committed to raise up to $100 million over five years, to support joint partnership activities.
Specifically, the new strategic alliance seeks to enhance the quality and impact of investment in food security, nutrition, social protection, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signed the agreement, which builds on a longstanding collaboration between their organizations, at the UN agency’s Rome headquarters.
“FAO and the AfDB are deepening and broadening our partnership to assist African countries achieve the sustainable development goals. Leveraging investments in agriculture, including from the private sector, is key to lift millions of people from hunger and poverty in Africa and to ensure that enough food is produced and that enough rural jobs are created for the continent’s growing population,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said: “The signing of this supplementary agreement is a milestone moment in the relationship between the African Development Bank and FAO. It signals our joint commitment to accelerate the delivery of high quality programs and increased investment for public-private-partnerships in Africa’s agriculture sector. This will help us achieve the vision of making agriculture a business, as enshrined in the Bank’s Feed Africa strategy.”
The Bank’s Feed Africa strategy, launched in 2015, targets to invest $24 billion into African agriculture over a ten-year period. The aim is that of improving agricultural policies, markets, infrastructure and institutions to ensure that agricultural value chains are well developed and that improved technologies are made available to reach several millions farmers.
A programme of action
The strengthened partnership between the AfDB and FAO envisages a collaborative programme of action with a series of outcomes, including: better and more effective AfDB financed investment operations; increased public-private-partnership investments; a better investment climate and portfolio performance; and, advocacy and joint resources mobilization. FAO’s technical assistance would cover areas such as sustainable agricultural intensification and diversification, scaling up value chain innovations, youth in agriculture and agribusiness, agricultural statistics, climate smart agriculture, blue growth/blue economy, food security and nutrition, agri-food system, food safety and standards, women’s economic empowerment, promotion of responsible private investments, resilience and risk management and capacity building for transition states.
The collaborative programme would be created through an initial financial contribution of up to $15 million by the two institutions.
Joint advocacy and policy advice activities will include the promotion of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, both endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security.
The collaboration between the AfDB and FAO began in 1968. Since then, FAO has provided technical assistance to the formulation of 161 AfDB financed projects, valued at over $3.7 billion representing about 21 percent of AfDB’s support to the agricultural sector.
Recent collaboration between the Bank and the FAO include project formulation support in Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea; technical assistance for the development of Blue economy programmes in Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and Cape Verde, feasibility studies for agricultural transformation centres in Zambia, Tanzania and Côte d’Ivoire; and participation in the African Leaders for Nutrition initiative.
The Bank and the FAO have also contributed to a series of continental dialogues on post-harvest loss reduction, and the Great Green Wall of the Sahel and Sahara Initiative.

Source: Food and Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations

Outbreak of African swine fever threatens to spread from China to other Asian countries

Rome/Bangkok – The rapid onset of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China, and its detection in areas more than one thousand kilometres apart within the country, could mean the deadly pig virus may spread to other Asian countries anytime, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.
There is no effective vaccine to protect swine from the disease. And, while the disease poses no direct threat to human health, outbreaks can be devastating with the most virulent forms lethal in 100 percent of infected animals.
So far, in efforts to control the spread of the disease, Chinese authorities have culled more than 24,000 pigs in four provinces. China is a major pig producing country and accounts for approximately half the global population of swine, estimated at 500 million. Its value chain involves a very large and wide range of producers from small family holdings to large-scale commercial operators.
While this is not the first time African Swine Fever has been detected outside of Africa – outbreaks in Europe and the Americas date back to the 1960s – its detection and diverse geographical spread of the outbreaks in China have raised fears that the disease will move across borders to neighbouring countries of Southeast Asia or the Korean Peninsula where trade and consumption of pork products is also high.
A robust virus with a long life
The ASF virus is very hardy and can survive long periods in very cold and very hot weather, and even in dried or cured pork products. The strain detected in China is similar to one that infected pigs in eastern Russia in 2017 but, so far, and while the investigations continue, the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center has found no conclusive evidence of this latest outbreak’s source or linkages.
“The movement of pig products can spread diseases quickly and, as in this case of African Swine Fever, it’s likely that the movement of such products, rather than live pigs, has caused the spread of the virus to other parts of China,” explained Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinarian.
FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is communicating closely with authorities in China to monitor the situation and to respond effectively to the outbreak inside the country, as well as with authorities in neighbouring countries, to raise the importance of preparedness to respond to the threat of further spread.
“FAO began working with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs a few years ago and, together, we have set up an ASF contingency plan and developed diagnostic capacity,” said Wantanee Kalpravidh, FAO-ECTAD’s regional coordinator. “We have also jointly developed a Field Epidemiology Training Programme for Veterinarians which aims to strengthen epidemiological investigation, disease situation tracking, risk assessment and emergency preparedness.”
The immediate response to this outbreak will be to stamp it out as quickly as possible, Kalpravidh added. However, a complete restriction in the movement of animal and pork products could undermine those efforts, FAO warned, as it could lead to illegal methods of transportation.
Response systems in place – action underway
“Outbreaks such as this one are important reminders to us all that we must work together in a multi-lateral and inter-governmental effort to prevent and respond to outbreaks of animal diseases because these diseases know no borders,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. “Good communication and coordination with the region’s private sector is essential to strengthen cooperation in ASF prevention and control,” she added.

Source: Food and Agricultural Organizations of the United Nations

Deadly swine fever threatens Asia, UN agriculture agency warns, urging regional collaboration

The rapid onset of the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) in China has been detected in areas a thousand kilometres apart – posing an imminent threat to other Asian countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Tuesday.
While the deadly pig virus poses no direct threat to human health, there is no effective vaccine, and outbreaks can be devastating as the most virulent forms are 100 per cent lethal in infected animals.
“The movement of pig products can spread diseases quickly and, as in this case of African Swine Fever, it’s likely that the movement of such products, rather than live pigs, has caused the spread of the virus to other parts of China,” explained Juan Lubroth, FAO’s Chief Veterinarian.
China is a major pig producing country, accounting for about half the global population of swine, estimated at 500 million. Its value chain encompasses a sweeping range of producers, from small family farms to large-scale commercial operators.
To control the disease, Chinese authorities have culled more than 24,000 pigs in four provinces.
Although African Swine Fever has before been detected outside of Africa – including outbreaks in Europe and the Americas, dating back to the 1960s – its diverse geographical spread in China has raised fears that the disease will move across borders to South-east Asia or the Korean Peninsula, where trade and consumption of pork products is also high.
A long-lasting hardy virus
The robust ASF virus can survive in extreme weather conditions, and even in dried or cured pork products. This particular strain is similar to one that infected pigs in eastern Russia in 2017 but, to date, the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center has found no conclusive evidence of its source or linkages.
FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) is monitoring the situation with the Chinese authorities to respond effectively inside the country, as well as with authorities in neighbouring countries, to raise the importance of response preparedness.
“FAO began working with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs a few years ago and, together, we have set up an ASF contingency plan and developed diagnostic capacity,” said Wantanee Kalpravidh, FAO-ECTAD’s regional coordinator.
While the priority is to quickly stamp out the virus, restricting animal and pork product movements could undermine those efforts, warned FAO, saying that it could lead to illegal transportation.
“Outbreaks such as this one are important reminders to us all that we must work together in a multi-lateral and inter-governmental effort to prevent and respond to outbreaks of animal diseases because these diseases know no borders,” said Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
“Good communication and coordination with the region’s private sector is essential to strengthen cooperation in ASF prevention and control,” she concluded.

Source: UN News Centre

SOUTH AFRICA: NEW ENERGY PLAN ABANDONS DEAL TO BUILD NUCLEAR PLANTS

CAPE TOWN — The South African government released a draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that abandons a previous deal to build costly nuclear plants by 2030.

The draft plan confirms that the deal to build nuclear plants has now been shelved in favor of cheaper, cleaner sources of energy like wind, solar, gas and hydro-power.

The government under former president Jacob Zuma had been working on a deal, allegedly with Russia, to build nuclear reactors at a cost of 1 trillion rand (about 70 billion U.S. dollars). That deal would provide for 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power as part of the energy landscape by 2030.

The opposition and environmental groups strongly oppose the deal which they say is unaffordable and would entail corruption.

The IRP, released by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, includes the following new additional capacity by 2030: 1,000 MW from coal, 2,500 MW from hydro-power, 5,670 MW from solar power, 8,100 MW from wind, and 8,100 MW from gas.

“This approach… provides the necessary policy certainty while creating the space for all of us to engage in detail on the impending energy transition and the options available to us as South Africa,” Radebe said.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the policy shift.

“The fact of the matter is that we never needed new nuclear plants, and we didn’t have the money to build them. On this score, the new draft IRP is a substantial improvement on the old one,” the DA said.

“We are moving towards cleaner, renewable energy and away from the corrupt nuclear deal,” the party said. “This is something to be welcomed.”

The government invited the public to put their input into the draft IRP in a 60-day period.

“We urge you not to wait for the 60 days but to provide us your written comments and proposals with supporting data or evidence where possible as soon as you have them ready to help minimize the time to finalize the IRP and therefore create policy certainty,” Radebe said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK