People are eating more chocolate than ever before and it could be resulting in a global shortage of chocolate. Mars, Inc. and Switzerland-based Barry Callebaut released data on the matter and it shows that farmers are producing less cocoa than what the world consumes.
In 2013 global consumption of cocoa was 70,000 metric tons more than the amount of cocoa produced. If this trend continues then Mars and Barry Callebaut have warned that by 2020 this discrepancy between cocoa consumption and production could rise to 1 million metric tons, and then double to 2 million metric tons by 2030.
The world’s biggest cocoa supply comes from the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which account for about 70 percent of supply. However, growing conditions in the region’s cocoa farms have been affected by severe drought and a fungal disease called frosty pod. The demand for chocolate is not decreasing, particularly in countries like China, where chocolate consumption is increasing every year.
The increase in demand for chocolate was nearly seven times greater in Asia compared to that of traditional European markets. In addition, the demand for dark chocolate, which has a higher cocoa volume, is gaining ground. Since 2012 the price of cocoa has gone up by 60 percent, forcing chocolate makers to increase the prices of their confectionaries.
The latest edition of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Monitor shows the continuing and devastating impacts of the pandemic on jobs and labour income since early 2020, and the massive disruptions in the labour market that will persist into the fourth quarter of this year.
ILO analysts argue that policymakers will need to maintain support to employment and incomes over the coming months and well into 2021, and to address key challenges.
Botswana’s flagship mining company, Debswana is currently engaging various stakeholders with a view to put the currently abandoned Palapye Glass project plant into good use.
The glass manufacturing plant was left as a white elephant, midway into construction, following the liquidation of its holding company Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana.
Last week, when responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe East Kgoberego Nkawana, on the status of Palapye Glass Project, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Molebatsi Molebatsi told Parliament that Debswana is one of the companies interested in utilizing the project facility to establish a glass manufacturing factory.
Responding to a questionnaire from Weekendpost regarding the matter on Thursday, Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager Agatha Sejoe said, Debswana is currently assisting Somarelang Tikologo, an environmental watch NGO to develop a business case to set up a glass manufacturing plant in Botswana.
Debswana has in the past funded Somarelang Tikologo to run a glass crushing business, the two organizations are now contemplating ways of expanding the business from just crushing glasses to completing the whole recycling process by setting up the re-manufacturing component locally.
Currently the crushed glass produced by Somarelang Tikologo is exported in its entirety to glass manufacturing plants in South Africa.
“Debswana believes that rather than to continue to export crushed glass to South Africa, there is an opportunity to establish a glass crushing and manufacturing plant in Botswana and create jobs and secondary businesses in Botswana” Sejoe said .
She explained that Debswana, in partnership with Somarelang Tikologo and Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), have made a preliminary enquiry on the availability of the glass plant from Botswana Development Corporation.
“Discussions are still at conceptual stage and currently ongoing with all the relevant stakeholders. Based on the outcome of the feasibility study, Debswana and Somarelang Tikologo will only then establish the appropriate way forward on the matter,” added Sejoe.
Quizzed on Debswana‘s future investment plans, the company’s Lead media liaison revealed that the mining giant continues to play a major role in various partnerships within communities in Botswana as part of its Social Performance Framework and in accordance with the Life of Mine planning.
She said currently the company is undertaking stakeholder consultations in communities within the Zone of Influence to identify sustainable partnership opportunities that can leverage on large-scale projects such as the game park assets and form an economic diversification stream through tourism.
“There are other projects in the pipeline, which fall within the ambit of community development, and these will be revealed as we implement them through the usual channels,” said Sejoe.
The Palapye glass plant currently lies unutilized and incomplete in Palapye. The glass project was conceptualized in 2007, wholly Government owned investment arm Botswana Development Corporation( BDC) and Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company , a Chinese corporation entered into an agreement and formed Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana at 43 % -57 % Shareholding whith Shanghai Fengyue holding majority shares.
Botswana Development Corporation invested a total of P511 million for its 43 % interest and a loan to the established company. Shanghai Fengyue Glass Company on the other hand invested P113 million.
After failure to fully operationalize, Fengyue Glass Manufacturing Botswana was liquidated. Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) remained with ownership of the erected plant and warehouse.
Last week Investment, Trade & Industry Junior Minister told Members of Parliament that Government through its wholly owned investment arm, BDC is in the process of breathing life to the project by opening up discussions with interested parties.
“There are companies and different parties such as Botswana Railways who showed interest on the facility for either manufacturing some components of their coaches or refurbishment or servicing of their coaches,” Molebatsi said.
He further noted that Government was coming from the fact that Botswana currently produces abundant resources and raw materials that can be used to manufacture glasses, creating much needed economic diversification and jobs for the youth.
Research from Agrilinks shows that more than 60 percent of Africa’s working population is engaged in agriculture which accounts for a third of the continent’s GDP. However, the sector is plagued by the use of outdated methods and tools, hence the need for rapid modernization.
The lack of modernized and up to date methods of farming have been a set back to the local farming sector which has attributed to the decline in production. Access to markets, new trends, better tools can be resolved through digitization and high speed information. The recent introduction of the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) technology by Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has seen local farmers taking advantage of the development to enhance their operations.
There are signs that, the expansion of high-speed Internet coverage into settlements and rural areas has boosted the production of farming locally. Farmers use the internet to access market information, crop production farming implements and vital details that influence farming decisions.
The VSAT technology enables countrywide coverage even in the most remote parts of the country, giving farmers internet connectivity through its vast telecommunications network. Results have already started showing especially in the Kaka region which boasts of cattle ranches. Farmers can now also access the BAITS System and Herd Cards, easily. Furthermore, computerized movement permits and new Change of Ownership documents can be printed on the spot.
The BAITS system provides a platform for farmers to provide information on their livestock.
This platform is offered online, it is used for animal registration, transfer of ownership, arrival of livestock, veterinary drug treatments and removal of dead/fallen stock.
Prior to its introduction, farmers had expressed interest in using internet and digital technology to enhance farming operations but lack of internet held them back. Five years ago a website developed for livestock farmers failed to gain traction due to poor access for those in remote areas.
“Communication has been bad in this part of the country, which led me to installing a satellite phone which is very expensive to maintain. I settled for this alternative because I am required to be in communication with the commercial world as well as my farm workers. But, since the introduction of the BTC VSAT technology, farm business operations and communication with stakeholders has since improved significantly,” said Gokatweng Coach Tshekiso, a cattle ranch farmer based in Kaka.
Through the contribution of this technologies that falls under the auspices of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) it’s a matter of time Drone technology which supports numerous major applications for agriculture gets to be fully utilized by local farmers. The Drone Technology increases efficiency in certain aspects of farming. From crop monitoring to planting, livestock management, crop spraying and irrigation mapping. The VSAT and such technology will definitely work smoothly even in the most remote parts of the country.
Farmers are hopeful that with access to BAITS, they will see reduced likelihood of cattle theft because of secure identification of stolen cattle due to easy identification of stray (Matimela) cattle. In essence, there will be increased security for the Beef Export Market because customers overseas will be assured of origination and traceability of cattle therefore providing a marketing edge for Botswana beef. The network uptime on this technology is approximately 99.5%, exceeding typical terrestrial cable lines. The VSAT is designed mainly for any customer who is remote from the main grids and base stations to access voice and data services.
These technologies have the potential to have a positive impact on the productivity and profitability of the agricultural sector especially during this COVID- 19 period which has greatly disrupted the global supply chain. Through the help of 41R in agriculture, Botswana has potential to be a self- sustainable farming country.