Ghana hosts West African consultative meeting to transform dryland agriculture

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), in collaboration with the African Drylands Crop Improvement Network, has organized a three-day West Africa Regional Consultation Conference in Accra. The conference came at a critical time when the sub-region's agricultural sector was grappling with the impact of climate change, posing challenges to food security and livelihoods. Dr. Paswel Marenya, a senior scientist at CIMMYT, explained that the West Africa Regional Consultation Conference on dryland food systems transformation aimed to address longstanding challenges in West Africa's Dryland Agriculture. He noted that the transformation of dryland food systems would help address the longstanding challenges of dryland agriculture in West Africa. He cited key among them as low adoption of modern varieties and poor yields of key dryland cereals such as sorghum and millet, which currently stands at an average of 1 ton per hectare while the global average rests at 4 tons per hectare. He also hi ghlighted key issues discussed at the conference, including integrating and leveraging agribusiness, exploring innovative seed delivery models, and designing sustainable seed delivery systems. The conference also focused on breeding strategies, formulating them for local and broader adaptation, catering to localized and broader markets. The initiative aims to increase the impact of dryland crops and ensure smallholders have consistent access to quality seeds, thereby enhancing productivity and livelihoods. Prof. Paul Bosu, Director-General of Ghana's Council for Scientific Research (CSIR), commended scientists for researching to leverage dryland crops for food security. He expressed the hope that the conference would make a tremendous impact and not remain just as a project. He noted that cereals like millet and sorghum were crucial in combating food insecurity domestically. Dr. Eveline Sawadogo, a specialist in science, technology, and innovation studies from INERA, Burkina Faso, applauded the efforts for organizing the conference and working towards developing pathways to ensure food security. She said there was the need to identify key gaps, particularly in the areas of seed production and distribution to local farmers and ensure effective collaboration to guarantee greater yields. The conference brought together 47 scientists from nine National Agricultural Research Institutes across West Africa, including Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Chad, and Niger. The goal was to transform the dryland agricultural sector, delivering sustainable improvements in food security and livelihoods for smallholders and communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Source: Ghana News Agency

ATCT: 732 Tunisian executives recruited abroad in Q1 2024

Tunis: The number of Tunisian skilled workers recruited abroad within the framework of technical cooperation reached 732 in the first quarter of 2024, most of them paramedics. The number of paramedics hired abroad from the beginning of 2024 until March 31, 2024 reached 291 executives, according to data published by the Tunisian Agency for Technical Cooperation (ATCT). The total number of guest workers abroad had risen to 25,570 by March 31. The education sector has the highest number of hirees (9,367), followed by the health sector (8,034). The Arab countries are the main destination for Tunisian skilled workers with 14,527 recruits, followed by Europe (6,900 recruits) and North America (3,033 recruits). Source: Agence Tunis Afrique Presse

Death toll rises to 66 after severe flooding in southern Brazil

 The death toll in flooding in southern Brazil after days of heavy rain has risen to at least 66, civil defence authorities said on Sunday. Another six possible deaths are being investigated, while 101 people are still missing, according to authorities in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. More than 80,000 people were forced to leave their homes and some 15,000 had to be accommodated in emergency shelters. More than 400,000 households were reportedly without electricity and around 840,000 people were left without water, while dozens of communities were without internet and telephone connections. Numerous roads remain blocked following the floods that have affected 332 communities since the beginning of last week, according to the authorities. The city centre of Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, was also flooded. The governor of the state that borders Argentina and Uruguay, Eduardo Leite, called the floods an unprecedented disaster. The number of victims could rise 'exponentially' de spite the gradual decrease in rainfall, as some areas have not yet been reached, he said. Leite said Marshall Plan-type efforts would be needed to rebuild Rio Grande do Sul, alluding to the US economic aid programme for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the affected area for the second time on Sunday. According to the government, around 1,600 people and 32 helicopters have been deployed in permanent rescue operations. The Air Force has rescued more than 200 people so far. Civil defence authorities warned on Sunday of potential further flooding and landslides. Parts of the affected region had already experienced storms and flooding in September, resulting in at least 42 deaths. Source: Ghana News Agency

Nobody has ever enticed me with money to rule on his or her favour – Asantehene

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has stated that he would continue to provide exemplary leadership filled with integrity, firmness, and sincerity, as the occupant of the golden stool. He said since he ascended to the golden stool, nobody had ever tried to influence him with money to take a decision in his or her favour because of his firm convictions and neutrality in the adjudication of issues brought before him at the palace. Otumfuo Osei Tutu pointed out that the golden stool was a wealth itself, and the spiritual integrity of the stool, made it impossible for anybody to dare to entice or influence his decision making for personal gain. Addressing participants at a thanksgiving service to mark his 74th birthday anniversary at the Saint Cyprian's Anglican Church in Kumasi, he said his firm conviction, royalty, firmness, humility, and fear of God, had led him to where he is today, and not by his wisdom. The occasion formed part of the activities marking the 25th anniversary of his ascension as the 1 6th occupant of the golden stool. Recounting how he was raised up as young man, he said, it was normal child upbringing in any local set up house and he never knew, he would one day be selected to occupy such an important position in the Asante kingdom. Otumfuo Osei Tutu recounted how he was denied entry into Prempeh College by his uncle, Sir Osei Agyemang Prempeh I, and later forced him to attend Sefwi-Wiawso Secondary school instead. He said that obedience to his uncle brought many manifestations in his life and today, that obedience brought a lot of transformation in him and the Asante Kingdom. He is of strong conviction that respect and obedience when followed could lead to many positive routes in personal lives. Otumfuo Osei Tutu thanked Ghanaians, especially the people of Asanteman, for the trust and continued support to his reign, which had seen many positive results and said with the help of God, many other things would follow in the years ahead. Right Reverend Dr George Kotei Neequaye, Anglican Bishop of Tema Diocese, who preached the sermon, encouraged Ghanaian chiefs to emulate the leadership qualities of Otumfuo Osei Tutu, and position the chieftaincy institution firmly to play its role in national development. He prayed for continued God's guidance for the king to be able to accomplish all his desire for the people he was leading and Ghana as a whole. Present at Thanksgiving were former President Kuffuor, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, former first lady, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Energy, and Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyeremateng, Leader of the Movement for Change. Others were Mr Samuel Payne, Kumasi Mayor, Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, former Minister for Agriculture and many others. Source: Ghana News Agency

Report: CIA chief to meet Netanyahu in hostage deal effort

 The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plans to make a 'last-ditch' effort for a hostage deal when he speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the Times of Israel has reported. The story comes as Israel announced an evacuation of the southern Gaza city of Rafah in preparation for an expected military operation there. William Burns 'is working to find a way to keep hope alive for a deal even as Israel begins to evacuate civilians from parts of Rafah in advance of a likely military operation,' the report said. On Sunday, a further round of indirect negotiations on a ceasefire between delegates of the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group and mediators from Egypt and Qatar in Cairo ended without any tangible results. Burns had accompanied the talks. Egypt, Qatar and the United States are acting as mediators in the efforts to end the Gaza war. Hamas announced on Sunday via its Telegram channel that its delegation had delivered a response to the mediators' proposals and discu ssed them with the representatives of Egypt and Qatar. The delegates left Cairo on Sunday evening to consult with the organization's leaders in Qatar. Burns had also travelled to Qatar for talks. On the table is a proposal from the mediators that envisages a multi-stage agreement between Israel and Hamas. This should lead to the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas, the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons and an end to the Gaza war. Source: Ghana News Agency