The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe) will receive 7 million euros assistance to combat the Fall army worm in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The financial aid from the European Commission Directorate for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), is aimed at strengthening Icipe’s efforts in the management of the pest, which is wreaking havoc in the region, aggravating a cereals shortage that has seen prices shoot up.
The Nairobi-based Icipe said in a statement that it had envisioned the development of a science-led, African-context specific sustainable integrated pest management package for the Fall army worm.
In partnership with various stakeholders, the centre has initiated a range of activities, including the capacity for early warning, rapid response and regional preparedness, as well as damage assessment across various ecological zones. Icipe’s director of research and partnership, Dr Sunday Ekesi, said efforts to control the pest through conventional methods, such as the use of insecticides, were complicated.
“This is due to the fact that the adult stage of the worm is most active at night, and infestation is only detected after damage has been done to the crop,” he said.
“The pest also has a diverse range of alternative host plants that enable its populations to persist and spread. Moreover, the Fall army worm has been shown to develop resistance to some insecticides.
“The performance of such chemicals is also hindered by limited knowledge and purchasing power of farmers, resulting in the use of low quality, and often harmful products,” said Dr Ekesi.
The pests have caused crop yield losses, with data from the Ministry of Agriculture showing that more than 250,000 hectares of farmland have been affected in the food basket counties of Uasin Gishu that has lost (8,000 hectares), Trans-Nzoia (10,000), Bungoma (31,600), Nandi (7,000) and Nakuru (48,969).
The total acreage invaded by the worm in Kenya accounts for 11 percent of the total land on which maize is cultivated.
The pest is known to mainly feed on maize, but it can also infest 100 other crops, including rice, wheat, sorghum and avocado.
As millions of East African farmers seek to recover from drought, the worm is complicating matters.
The pest is also known to be present in Burundi, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
The Fall army worm was first reported in western Kenya by farmers in March last year, and was confirmed by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. The initial counties infested were Busia, Trans-Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin-Gishu and Nandi, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for April last year.
Areas affected are western, eastern, Nyanza (Fall army worm) while eastern and coast (African army worm).
Most of the smallholders say they cannot afford the cost of pesticides, as they are unable to access loans. Some have desperately resorted to applying ash on their crops.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.