January 11, 2010
I have found it difficult to run a number of blogs on fairly closely related topics.
I have therefore set up a combined blog with continues to provide the content this and other blogs were providing. This blog also provides other services and information.
Clicking on the image above will take you to the blog at http://www.digivu.co.za. Please Email me here. if you have any difficulty or comment.
March 16, 2009
I have often posted on the waste issue – highlighting the problem, looking at solutions and reporting on achievements. Now, in the UK, we have a real agreement in place and initial results that look promising.
from: WRAP (click image for full story online)
Retailers and manufacturers are committed to working together to cut the UK’s household food waste by 155,000t or 2.5 per cent of the total waste by the end of 2010 – equivalent to $520 million and 700 000 tons of Carbon Dioxide a year.
The agreement is part of WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign and has already achieved The campaign which was launched in November 2007 had already delivered a reduction of 110,000 tons in the annual amount of household food waste by March 2008.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery products, dairy, meat and fish products are the biggest sources of household food waste, according to WRAP. The latest initiative will focus on eliminating waste by developing more effective labeling; pack size range, storage advice and packaging to keep food fresher for longer.
This is interesting when compared to the situation in Africa where hunger and famine are widespread. There is of course no way of saying how many people this mass of food could feed but its interesting that that in the recent Myanmar Emergency Operation by the World Food Programme people received 450 g/day of food or 0.16 ton a year so a million people would have consumed 160 000 ton a year!
March 5, 2009
This is a nice article on honey in rural Kenya.
from: AFRIGADGET (click image for full story online)
Of particular interest is the fact that the traditional hive, with some of its disadvantages is widely used because of the high cost (US$ 100) of commercial hives. Also that honey separation is done by a co-operative because of the cost of a separator.
The group of 40 beekeepers produced 8 000 kg of raw honey which had a value of US$ 8 000 or US$ 200/person/year. The co-operative was able to sell separated honey for US$ 8/kg indicating the possibility of value addition.
The potential of honey may be large given the difficulties in Europe and USA where swarms are being wiped out by colony collapse disorder and the possibility of moving toward own processing, organic, ethical and FAIRTRADE honey with much larger incomes.
February 16, 2009
This website is a simple commercial undertaking offering a range of Nigerian Foods to expatriates in the United States.
The company is clearly an e-commerce company which has built a management team of Nigerians who are able to drive both the food product and the sourcing issues of the company.
As many of these foods are common to other West African countries the market is surely wider than Nigerians in the US. Then there is also an opportunity to apply the business model to other National Foods and set up stores for other groups.
The company is NY based and prices need to be judged by those who know the foods not me. As examples yam roots sell for $2.30 / lb, garri around $1 / lb, dried shrimp $12 / lb and palm oil $25 / gall.
December 8, 2008
I always feel good when I see what looks like real useful information that is available to African entrepreneurs for free!
The West Africa Trade Hub is funded through and managed by the USAID Regional Mission for West Africa.
This is packed with useful information from trade directories to export and business guides, country and sector analyses to product reports and transport analyses to conferences and workshops.
There are two other hubs for East and Southern Africa, but these do not yet have the breadth of information presented by the West African Hub.
What I would like would be to hear from people who have used the West Africa Hub – is it as good as it seems? Leave a comment or email me here.
If so I think we could start to support and encourage USAID, the main funder of the hubs, to speed up the development of the other hubs.
November 16, 2008
We had the low carbohydrate, the low protein and the low calorie diet and the pineapple and drinking man’s diet and many others. Now we have the low Carbon (Footprint) Diet which considers the well being of the world rather than the individual.
from: Wikipedia (click image for full story online)
Wikipedia defines it as
making choices about eating that reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) as a response to estimates that the U.S. food system is responsible for at least 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases
and identifies the focus areas as
- selecting low carbon foods
- reducing animal protein intake
- evaluating transport energy
- understanding processing, packaging and loss
While a number of issues like reducing loss, selecting non hot house food, eating local and reducing cooking energy inputs seem to be obvious things to do – there is a lot of debate and an the overall impact needs to always be understood.
There is a calculator that allows one to compare different dishes and meals.
October 29, 2008
The ongoing disagreement about whether biofuels were effecting food availability, which 2nd generation biofuels offered most, whether wind farms polluted, if nuclear was a better option etc have become somewhat less significant.
Now the economy is the unarguable brake on the development and implementation of alternate energies.
The economic downturn has forced the price of oil down which ends all investors and investees scrambling to the spreadsheet. It has further reduced the availability of capital in those cases where the venture capitalist is still interested in investing. The billions of dollars, euros etc of capital pumped into the banks to keep them afloat will inevitably lead to less money to be invested in subsidising alternate energy and probably more worrying into R&D.
The alternate energy movement runs the risk of faltering and again loosing momentum as it did after the fuel crisis in the 1980s.
October 8, 2008
Two recent stories are I think indicative of where South Africa is in the biofuel market.
Sasol recently discussed their succeeding in being listed in the Dow Jones sustainability world index and gave an overview of their focus.
On the biodiesel project they have been publicising with the Central Energy Fund for some years now they stated that “there is not a very certain government framework at this point in time, which makes finalising a decision not very easy” even though the crude price is multiples of what it was in the beginning!
A recent article highlighted the discontent of commercial maize growers with the South African Governments decision to only allow the production of ethanol from excess maize.
These two stories reinforce what was obvious at the time the Biofuels Strategy was being actively developed – no one was going to be able to make a profitable business out of it without significant subsidisation from government.
The concern is that South Africa can now move away from first generation biofuels, but Africa seems to be getting deeper involved although the constrains are obvious.
The article below by the US Department of Agriculture at the end of 2007 has a good overview, but concludes that maybe there is still room for government to adjust its position. This has apparently not happened to date.
Republic of South Africa Biofuels Situation Update – Get more Legal Forms
October 8, 2008
Africa Biofuel and Emission Reduction Company is focussed on bringing a triple-bottom-line biofuel business model to Africa.
Africa Biofuels set out to find a biofuel process that did not compete for a food or use agricultural land. It looked for a product that could actually enhance the environment and benefit the people of the area.
It identified Croton megalocarpus, an indigenous tree, as its focus.
There is detailed discussion of the project under the explanatory and news section of the website that promotes its arguments in detail.
In a quick scan and search I was unable to identify how the byproducts (oil cake and glycerine) are to be used and what income they will generate. This “income” and the cost of manual collection from wild trees are critical to the viability of the process. In fact I not find any costing or economics on the site but am taking that up via email.
September 21, 2008
In an interview with green2tech
from: Earth2Tech (click image for full story online)
Jeff Broin of ethanol producer Poet said the following
8). In the great debate over how much corn ethanol is affecting food prices, what do you think about some newer reports that have said biofuels have affected food prices significantly?
Every study depends on the assumptions of its author, and the opponents of renewable fuels have been able to generate a few that say what they want. Almost every independent study I’ve seen has said that ethanol production has had a very small impact on the consumer’s price for food, especially in comparison to the impact of rising energy prices.
A study from the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M said, “The underlying force driving changes in the agricultural industry, along with the economy as a whole, is overall higher energy costs, evidenced by $100 per barrel oil.” Just do the math. A semi can haul 4,200 boxes of corn flakes at a time, and with 10 ounces of corn in each box, that’s a total of 46.9 bushels of corn. At a $6 bushel, the corn in all 4,200 boxes has a value of $281.40. To haul those boxes 1,500 miles, however, would cost $881.25 with diesel priced at $4.70 per gallon. That means it takes 21 cents of diesel per box to get it to the store, yet the value of corn in that box is less than seven cents. What do you think is the real driver of higher food prices?
But this study surely has nothing to say about biofuels not pushing up the price of food? In fact what would the fuel cost have been if the truck was run on biodiesel?
Its also flawed in that the calculation is for $100 crude & $ 4.70 / gallon diesel – even at $50 crude and the corresponding diesel price of $ 2.86 / gallon (extrapolated from GasBuddy data) the diesel cost is still 13 cents. This is a of food retail and consumer demands not fuel costs!
from: GasBuddy (click image for full story online)
Lets not even start calculating the packaging cost and the wholesale and retail margins!