• August 10th, 2020

The urgency of climate resilient smart agriculture (CRSA)

The Yoruba say that “with shoes, one can walk on thorns.” My understanding is that once a danger is known, one can take the necessary precautionary measures.

  Last month, the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) invited the public to submit proposals for the supply and delivery of eighteen tractors and eighteen tractor rippers. The equipment is needed for the Kavango West, East and Zambezi areas, which the Green Climate Fund calls the “vulnerable extreme northern crop-growing regions.”

The three areas rely on rain-fed agriculture, and have limited livelihood and employment options. When successfully implemented, the project will boost the communities’ resilience while reducing the food insecurity of the subsistence farmers.

 The August 2019 tender looks like a repeat. The EIF previously issued a similar invitation for the supply of eighteen tractors and eighteen rippers (2-tine ripper with furrower wings attached with toolbar). It seems discussions on the ill-fated tender were still ongoing in June last year.

The European Union defines “calls for tenders as procedures applied to generate offers from companies competing for works, supply or service contracts in the framework of public procurement.”
 An additional note from InfoEntrepreneurs explains that “at a basic level, you expect to quote for a job or write a letter saying why you should be given the business.”

The initial EIF call for bids allegedly suffered some setbacks. Thirteen companies responded to the original call. The evaluation committee noted what it called “considerable pressure” from the ministry of agriculture, water and forestry (MAWF) on the preferred make of equipment. The ministry insisted on the John Deere brand.

   As a consequence, eleven companies may have been disqualified for failing to offer the MAWF-preferred brand. The procurement committee objected to the ministry’s intervention on two grounds, namely, that insistence on a particular product amounted to “changing the qualification requirements.” It also argued that the ministry’s recommendations were not forwarded in writing – another “unprocedural” intervention.
Several steps were taken to try and save the adjudication process. With eleven companies disqualified, only two were evaluated. A winner was found. However, it soon emerged that the selected bidder is registered as a consultancy services in the immigration and civic affairs sectors. More importantly, the bidder seems to have failed to provide proof of customers who have benefited from its “agricultural division.”

 The Purchasing and Procurement Centre identifies seven types of tender fraud. Among these are misrepresentation and falsification. It suggests increased disclosure “at all stages of the tender process including publishing names of successful and unsuccessful bidders.”
As part of damage-limitation measures, it was suggested that the bid evaluation committee should re-

evaluate all thirteen bids and compile a new report for the procurement committee. Interestingly, a suggestion that the evaluation committee should focus on the top four companies also met with challenges. 

 After problems with the immigration services consultancy, the presumptive winner did not meet the MAWF-specification for John Deere equipment. The company that would be in third place seemed to fall foul of the requirements of affirmative action.

With the impasse seemingly impossible to break, it is suggested that the EIF abandoned the original invitation for bids and is now working on responses to the new call issued in August.

My primary concern is with the impact such delays have on efforts to rescue our rural populations. In the aftermath of the Cyclone Idai, which hit parts of Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique with 170km per hour winds, Oxfam’s post-mortem noted that, “it is clear that a comprehensive African response is needed and that much can be learnt from the disaster. We know that climate change will make natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai become more frequent and stronger. We need to invest in expertise – most especially local expertise – to better prepare and manage our humanitarian responses in the future.”

Relief Web says “Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is being widely promoted as the future of African agriculture and as a viable answer to climate change. Because agriculture remains key to development in Africa, CSA has the potential to increase productivity and resilience while reducing the vulnerability of hundreds of smallholder farmers. It can benefit smallholder farmers by increasing the efficiency of precious inputs like labour, seeds and fertilisers.

This year, the United Nations issued the following advisory: “Global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3 degrees Celsius since 1990. The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies.”

Whether referred to as CSA or CRSA, it is agreed that it enhances awareness among smallholder farmers about climate change and its impact on lives and livelihood sources. The acceptance that climate must now direct the decisions taken in agriculture also ensures that farmers have healthy soils that retain moisture and help compensate for erratic rainfall and unseasonal high temperatures. 

Staff Reporter
2019-09-27 09:40:50 | 10 months ago

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