sábado, 3 de agosto de 2013

Unwelcome aid in Mozambique

Posted on Friday, 02 August 2013 13:46 (The Africa Report) By Estacios Valoi Lethal yellowing is a phytoplasma disease carried by a plant-hopper insect that lays its eggs in grasses and green ground cover Lethal yellowing is a phytoplasma disease carried by a plant-hopper insect that lays its eggs in grasses and green ground cover A US government development outfit continues the trend of mispent aid with a highly criticised $18 million project in Mozambique. An investigation carried out recently in Mozambique revealed nothing short of a development tragedy. US government development outfit, The United States' Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), and its local partner ACIDIVOCA, spent $18 million, trying to alleviate the plight of coconut and palm oil farmers suffering from diseases known as 'lethal yellowing', and 'rhinoceros beetle'. There has never been any consulting However their effort only succeded in making matters worse. The two development organisations faced desperate calls from anxious farmers and informed stakeholders for them to get the science right, and to run the project transparently. But foreign donors did nothing of the sort. Instead they pursued a course of cutting infected trees and then leaving rotting stumps in the fields, creating a perfect environment for the rhinoceros beetle to continue breeding. Their benevolent intentions only excaberating the problem further. Lethal yellowing is a phytoplasma disease carried by a plant-hopper insect that lays its eggs in grasses and green ground cover. After the disease takes roots and spreads the desctruction of a palm tree can occur in just 3 -6 months. Contrary to the efforts of foriegn aid agencies the only effective cure is prevention. This includes planting resistant varieties of coconut palm, and preventing optimal breeding conditions. While this disease is not native to East Africa it has nontheless become widespread, destroying tress and associated livelihoods as it hops. Evidence shows that once lethal yellowing has set in, it spreads rapidly. The Coconut Industry Board in Jamaica reports that of 6 million susceptible tall coconut palms in 1961, 90 per cent had been killed by 1981. Similarly Ghana has lost a million trees in 30 years, with large losses also recorded in Togo, Mexico and Tanzania. Meanwhile, the Rhinoceros beetle, a large flying beetle, is a major pest in all Mozambique's oil palm growing areas. Infestation by rhinoceros beetle is severe in plantations where field hygiene and sanitation are poor. In oil palm plantations, the beetles like breeding in rotting palm logs, stumps, bunch heaps, rotting and waste. The disease has in Mozambique destroyed 50 per cent of all the coconut trees in just 20 years in Zambezi province, from about 15.25 million trees to 7.8 million today in a plantation where 70 per cent of the trees are owned by families and 30 per cent by the private sector. In Zambezi the disease has brought significant economic losses and the out-migration of destitute families desperately moving to the cities in search of work. From the beginning the American MCA and its local implementing partner began to get things wrong, demonstrating the most fundamental flaw: critical failure to listen to various people, institutions, researchers, phitotherapists. As local coconut industry personnel tried to intervene and help the largest organised coconut plantation in the world, and the people reliant on it, their calls went unheeded. Further the MCA forged a close relationship to the Millennium Bank-BIM from the beginning, giving the agencies ample ressources to peddle their influence. However scientists and experts are speaking up to prove the myriad of instances where these donor inspired project which failed to connect with either science or the needs of the community. After many attempts to obtain a comment from the MCA its communications officer on the matter, Victor Nhatitima, made the statment: "All the MCA projects in Mozambique – including the one on coconut Lethal Yellowing disease (CLYD) – are designed by the Mozambican Government and presented to the American Government for financial support which has been approved. There has never been any consulting". He was of course correct, in the last part at least. Read the full report, here. Estacio Valoi is a member of the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) which funded this article. Research was conducted over a period of two years. Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Unwelcome aid in Mozambique | Southern Africa Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook

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