Ijaw Youth Council Vows To Take Control Of Oil 'Even If It Means Being Killed By Trigger-Happy Soldiers'

Ijaw Youth Council Vows To Take Control Of Oil ‘Even If It Means Being Killed By Trigger-Happy Soldiers’


The Ijaw Youth Council (IJY), the umbrella body of the Niger Delta youth, has demanded for amendment of the Constitution to allow each region harness its resources and contribute to the centre.

The group expressed it’s readiness to do this “even if it means to be killed by the trigger-happy and the Niger Deltaphobe military Joint Task Force in the region”.

According to IYC, the call has become imperative due to the aspiration of the Niger Delta people to control the resources in their lands since solid minerals in the North are now reduced to individual ownership in spite of the enabling laws in the country vesting ownership of natural resources in the Federal Government.

Pereotubo Oweilaemi, IYC President, said they won’t lay low when aware of the illegal mining activities in the North where powerful individuals are allowed to tap the natural resources in their domain.

”If the Nigerian laws did not mean anything to the illegal miners of solid minerals in the North, then Niger Delta people will also take control of all petroleum resources in the southern region notwithstanding, the constitutional provisions. Niger Delta oil cannot be subjected to family ownership to Nigeria, while solid minerals in the North are being extracted by those concerned as individual ownership,” he said on Saturday.

”It’s either the government restructures the country by allowing states to harness and control the resources in their domains or we will take every step necessary to exercise control of the resources in our fatherland.

”Despite the fact that illegal mining activities are causing a bloody crisis in the North, the Federal Government has not deemed it necessary to set up a military joint task force to checkmate the illegal mining activities because the solid minerals in the country are seen as private ownership to the feudal Lords. There cannot be one Nigeria if everybody in the country is not treated with the same measure.”

”Every day, people have being killed and property worth billions of naira destroyed in the name of illegal oil bunkering activities by the marauding Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta region. The FG chose to protect the oil facilities at the expense of the oil-bearing communities because crude oil is seen as a national property, while solid minerals in the North belongs to the individual persons. Is this the one Nigeria they are preaching?

”President Buhari and the National Assembly should, as a matter of national importance, initiate the amendment of the Constitution by allowing states to harness and control the resources in their domains. That is the only sour path to peace in Nigeria. Anything short of that will be disastrous to our economic survival as a nation. Niger Delta people will control her resources even if it means to be killed by the trigger-happy and the Niger Deltaphobe military Joint Task Force in the region.”
 



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Africa: The Role of Family Planning in Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Africa: As Jamaica Looks to Cash in On Cannabis, Rastafarians Fear Being Left Out


analysis

Kingston, Jamaica — The government said it wants to bring all of Jamaica’s cannabis farmers into the formal industry as it tries to tap into a global market that it estimates will be worth $50 billion

R as Iyah V. describes himself as confrontational, especially with the police.

Well known in Jamaica for his outspoken support of the marijuana industry, the Rastafarian – who sports a long, white beard and dreadlocks – has had various run-ins with the law over the years.

Authorities have long persecuted Rastafari, he said, including their sacramental use of marijuana, which Jamaica decriminalised for personal use in 2015.

“I have no intention of letting my rights be trampled on by the state,” he added.

Now, he is hopeful that a government programme due to launch this month could lead to stronger rights for Rastafarians and help indigenous cannabis farmers benefit from the exploding global market.

The Alternative Development Programme (ADP) focuses on transitioning small, “traditional” cannabis farmers from illicit trade to Jamaica’s nascent formal industry.

It will provide land to cannabis farmers and subsidise the costs for the infrastructure they need to meet government licensing standards, said Floyd Green, state minister for industry, commerce and agriculture.

The aim is to encourage farmers to become licensed suppliers so they can sell the plant for research and development, as well as supply medical marijuana companies in Jamaica and Canada. At the same time, the programme will address longstanding issues of land ownership that have held back many indigenous farmers from joining the legal market.

The government said it wants to bring all of Jamaica’s cannabis farmers into the formal industry as it tries to tap into a global market that it estimates will be worth $50 billion within the next decade.

“We recognise that we have had traditional growers, and different parts of our societies have viewed the plant in different ways,” said Green.

“It is very important for us to move the illegal activity to a legalised trade,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

BIG BUSINESS

According to the U.S. State Department, Jamaican farmers cultivate 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of cannabis every year.

Since decriminalising marijuana – also called ganja, herb or weed – in 2015, Jamaica now allows citizens to grow up to five cannabis plants, while the possession of two ounces or less has been downgraded to a petty offence.

And the government has been granting licences to farmers who want to grow cannabis for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes.

The new policies also for the first time recognise the rights of Rastafarians to grow and consume marijuana as part of their faith.

Rastafarians, who make up less than two percent of Jamaica’s population of 2.9 million, have faced over 150 years of persecution, said Jalani Niaah, a professor at the University of the West Indies in Kingston who studies the Rastafari community.

While the new laws theoretically give Rastafarians more leniency, allowing them to possess and grow more than the general public, in practice they still face obstacles to participating in the legitimate marijuana trade, said Niaah.

He pointed out that applying for a grower’s licence costs $300 for an individual, which is more than many Rastafarians can afford.

For a business, the initial cost is $500. Depending on the type of licence acquired, the annual fee can be up to $10,000.

“They (the government) are not giving Rastafarians a link directly to the industry,” said Niaah. “Unless you are a big businessman, you can’t compete.”

He said the government is capitalising on cannabis while imposing impossible requirements on small farmers who have helped put Jamaican marijuana on the global map.

And he sees the new programme as just another tool for exploiting the country’s small cannabis farmers: “The ADP is a grossly inadequate afterthought to an objectionable and exclusive economic design.”

Instead, Niaah would like to see the government fully legalise cannabis and support a national industry built specifically to benefit indigenous farmers.

LAND OWNERSHIP

Another group that struggles to access the now-formalised marijuana industry is the Maroons.

Maroons were Africans who escaped slavery and mixed with indigenous populations to form independent settlements. The vestiges of the Maroons’ post-emancipation flight and the marginalisation of Rastafarians mean much of the cannabis farming in Jamaica happens on land without a title, according to lawyer Grace Lindo.

Lindo, who specialises in intellectual property and has an interest in the patenting of marijuana strains, sees the ADP as a chance to start untangling the complicated relationship between Jamaicans and their land.

“A significant amount of land is unregistered in Jamaica and the ganja laws recognise that people may be using family land for which there is no title,” she said.

If the government helps indigenous farmers get titles to their land, “then Rastafarians will be further along in the application process” for cannabis licences, she added.

Green, the state minister of agriculture and industry, said the difficulty of establishing land ownership is one reason the ADP still has not launched two years after it was first announced.

He agreed that proper titling of land is an essential part of the programme.

CREATING EMPLOYMENT

Although marijuana advocate Ras Iyah V. supports the government’s efforts, he feels the ADP is not moving fast enough.

“The government is dragging its feet in terms of getting this programme off the ground,” he said.

He noted that work has stalled on the 10-acre cannabis farm that was set up under the programme in his community of Orange Hill, 100 miles (160 kilometres) west of Kingston.

Tired of waiting, he has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds for fencing, security, irrigation and other things it needs to meet government standards.

When the programme finally launches, he can see it benefiting his community, and others all over Jamaica, for generations.

“Jamaica has a heavy unemployment rate, and a lot of youths out there who just don’t have anything to do,” he said.

“This could create employment and give ownership to grassroots people.”

Reporting by Kate Chappell, Editing by Jumana Farouky and Zoe Tabary



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Tesla’s board is about to get a lot smaller – TechCrunch

Tesla’s board is about to get a lot smaller – TechCrunch


Tesla is cutting its board down by more than one-third, to seven directors, by 2020, a move that includes the loss of some of CEO Elon Musk’s early advisers and allies, according to regulator filings posted Friday.

The filing comes days before a busy week for Tesla that will include an April 22 event meant to highlight its progress with autonomous vehicle technology, its April 24 quarterly earnings call and a hearing with a judge to determine whether Musk and the SEC were able to reach a resolution contempt of court request over his Twitter use.

Longtime board member Brad Buss and Linda Johnson Rice, who joined two years ago as an independent director, will not seek re-election this year. Their terms will expire at the upcoming annual meeting. The board said in the proxy filing that it doesn’t plan to fill their seats.

Antonio Gracias, whose term ends in 2020, and venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson will leave the board in 2020.

The changes are the latest moves by the board to gain more independence and follow the company and Musk’s settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last year. Under the settlement, Tesla agreed to add two independent directors and Musk would step down as chairman for three years.

In December, Tesla added two independent directors to its board — Oracle founder, chairman and CTO Larry Ellison and Walgreens executive Wilson-Thompson.

Jurvetson, an early adviser of Musk, just returned this month from a leave of absence from the board. Jurvetson had been on leave from the Tesla and SpaceX boards since 2017 following his resignation as partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Jurvetson has since launched an early-stage venture firm, Future Ventures, and recently announced he has raised $200 million for its debut fund.

Ira Ehrenpreis and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson were nominated for re-election at the 2019 annual meeting.

The settlement between Musk, Tesla and the SEC grew out of a tweet in August that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share. The SEC filed a complaint in federal district court in September alleging that Musk lied.

Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing, and Tesla agreed to pay a $20 million fine; Musk had to agree to step down as Tesla chairman for a period of at least three years; the company had to appoint two independent directors to the board; and Tesla was also told to put in place a way to monitor Musk’s statements to the public about the company, including via Twitter.

The relationship between Musk and the SEC has remained strained. Musk has openly criticized the SEC via Twitter on various occasions, openly mocking the agency at times, even days after the settlement was reached. The SEC requested Musk be held in contempt for a tweet sent in February that the agency argued contained material information.



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Power Outages Are A Thing Of The Past In Zambia — And Supply Could Even Become Surplus Soon

Power Outages Are A Thing Of The Past In Zambia — And Supply Could Even Become Surplus Soon


The African Development Bank Group has celebrated the success of Zambia in eliminating frequent power outages, which used to be a regular feature of the southern African country.

‏Using its verified Twitter account @AfDB_Group, the bank tweeted on Saturday: “Power cuts are now a thing of the past in #Zambia! A major boost in electricity production – thanks to a robust hydraulic and solar power generation industry – means the country is now self-sufficient in energy.”

The bank shared a previous piece breaking down how Zambia overcame its constant power cuts, largely due to a robust hydraulic and solar power generation industry in recent years.

“And, there is even better news for citizens of the South African nation — electricity production could soon be in surplus,” the bank said.

Zambia generates practically all its energy production from its own primary resources: biomass, coal and hydroelectricity, with flagship plants such as the power station near the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam, in the south-east of the country, taking centre stage.

The $375 million Itezhi-Tezhi hydroelectric generating station became operational in 2016. The plant has a 120-megawatt capacity and is the fruit of the first public-private partnership project in the Zambian energy sector. Its primary objective has been to produce enough power to end the crippling daily blackouts and meet consumer needs of the country’s 17 million inhabitants.

Itezhi-Tezhi power plant has already increased the country’s power generation capacity by 7.5% and supplied an extra 50,000 people with electricity. In the first quarter of 2018, and for the first time in its history, Zambia stopped importing electricity from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

As far back as September 2017, national operator Zesco’s head of power transmission, Webster Musonda, told Ecofin agency: “Zambia’s power generation capacity has improved and will now be able to largely meet its energy needs. Overall, we will be able to meet demand and routine energy imports will cease […] but we will continue to import energy to meet occasional peaks in demand.”

According to the piece, the next step for the Government of Zambia includes plans for an energy surplus over the next two years. To meet this goal, it is exploring renewable energy, such as solar power.

The country’s new hydropower stations at the Musonda, Lusawaki and Kafue Gorge dams are important developments and in September 2018 the government inaugurated a 50 MW power plant at a cost of $60 million. An even more ambitious programme is under way, involving the construction of mini solar plants with an eventual overall capacity of 600 MW at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.

The AfDB, which is championing its High 5 development priorities, such as the ‘Light up and power Africa’ Initiative under which this project falls, contributed $55 million to the Itezhi-Tezhi plant.  Additional funding has been provided by international donors including the Netherlands Development Finance Company, the Development Bank of South Africa and Proparco France.

The bank’s portfolio in Zambia currently includes 23 ongoing projects, amounting to an investment of one billion dollars, in three main sectors: transport, water and sanitation and agriculture.

A strong partnership with Zimbabwe has also been the key to Zambia’s success, the two southern African neighbours working on a major energy project on the Zambezi River, which marks their common border. The 2750 km long river is the fourth-largest on the continent.

The project, which has a projected output of at least 2400 MW, is to be built upstream of the Kariba dam, close to the famous Victoria Falls, at a cost of $3 billion.

Electricity output will be shared equally between Zambia and Zimbabwe, with excess production sold on to other member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SACD), according to the project’s initiators.

Zambia’s electricity progress will be a subject of jealousy back in Nigeria, the self-styled Giant of Africa, where decades of electricity outages has still not been resolved despite the supposed investment of billions of dollars.

Only in the buildup to the February 23 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has questions to answer on the “irresponsible expenditure” of $16billion on power when the party was in government for 16 years without a corresponding increase in power supply.

Buhari also reiterated his resolve to probe the $16billion spending, saying at a presidential campaign rally in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, in March: “The previous government mentioned on their own that they spent $16billion on power, but you are better witnesses than myself; where is the power? Where is the money? We will follow them; eventually, God willing, we will catch them and get our money back.”





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Africa: The Role of Family Planning in Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Africa: UN’s Empty Promises to World’s Indigenous Peoples


analysis

The United Nations, as in so many other areas, gives lip service in support of Indigenous issues while lacking the political will and enforcement power over individual member states to comply with the protection of fundamental human rights for the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the world.

It took 47 years since the 1960’s UN declaration in support of the right of “all peoples” to self-determination to be extended to Indigenous Peoples, with the adoption of the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

But twelve years later, those words have not moved far off the paper on which they are written. Indigenous issues are still being subsumed under the individual domestic rubric of the member states of the UN Nations General Assembly, in defiance of the commitment to universal human rights that self-determination invokes and professes for all humanity.

It is no accident that the last four nation states to support the Declaration – Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States – were precisely those nations where the Anglo-European colonizers of the British Empire globally entrenched their colonial relationship with the Indigenous Peoples subsequent to the decline of Great Britain as a world power.

The devastation and genocide of Indigenous Nations and territories continues till today, but under a new mantle of progress called “Development”

For the Original Nations of Indigenous Peoples of the Great Turtle Island Abya Yala [Americas], we know that the subjugation of Indigenous Peoples started 526 years ago with the sword and the cross are now perpetrated with trade agreements and the empty promises of dead letters from the United Nations.

It is all a reflection of the continuing pernicious influence of the Doctrine of Discovery, the series of 15th century papal bulls in which a succession of popes authorized European explorers “discovering” lands in the New World that were not occupied by Christians to consider those lands vacant – terra nullius, in the words of the Doctrine – and to seize those lands in the names of their sovereign and enslave those people who lived there.

Pope Francis, the first pontiff from the Americas, in a 2015 speech in Bolivia went so far as to apologize for the sins of the Church – not individual conquistadores, but the Church itself – in the subjugation and colonization of Indigenous peoples during the conquest of the Americas.

But even as the Pope denounced the “new colonialism” of global capital oppressing Indigenous peoples, he ignores the pleas by a wide array of Christian denominations, including the World Council of Churches, for the Church to renounce the Doctrine. It is ancient history; the Papal Nuncio at the United Nations has said.

But it is not ancient history. It remains the basis of all Indigenous land law in the United States, and across the continent. In Mexico, the entire legal infrastructure since independence from Spain in 1836 is also based on the dictates of the Doctrine, known as the legaloid concept of Original Property of the State.

That is why Indigenous peoples take Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s recent letter to the Spanish king and the Pope asking for apologies for those genocidal colonial campaigns with little more than a grain of salt.

We know the Doctrine of Discovery’s impact is still pernicious. We see it in the Trump Administration’s racist immigration and refugee policies in the United States, which refuses to even recognize the historical reality of the descendants of those Indigenous peoples who have traveled freely across the US-Mexican border region before it even existed.

We see it in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsinairo has emboldened racist attacks on Indigenous Amazonian communities in the name of promoting even more destruction of ancient forest and waterways that sustain the entire planet.

We see it in Mexico, where President Lopez Obrador has pushed ahead with the tourism-promoting “Maya Train” across the Yucatan peninsula, tearing through the jungles and rivers in Indigenous homelands without even legitimately consulting the indigenous peoples who have lived there since time immemorial.

And we see it in the continuing devastation that a capital-centered economy, with its extractive industries that destroy the air and water we all rely on for survival, threatens the very future of global humanity. The stakes could not be higher.

We had hoped the UN’s creation of the Permanent Forum and passage of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples had started to turn the battleship of oppression at long last, but we have been disappointed. Instead of extending the universal human rights enshrined in those actions to include protection for Indigenous Peoples, the UN member states have subsumed them to the interests of the nation states that wield the most power with the UN’s halls.

That is why we will take to the streets on Monday, April 22, in New York across from the UN on the first day of this year’s session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to let delegates know that we will not be quiet, and we will not ignore the continuing impact of the racist and white-supremacist policies let loose on the Western Hemisphere by the Doctrine of Discovery.

And we will continue to call on the United Nations to live up to the commitments it has made to ensuring that the universal human rights it professes to champion before the world extends to the Indigenous peoples as it has, at least in word, committed. We call for world peace, and peace with Mother Earth.

We know the United Nations is far better at its words than at its deeds. We are here to say that is not enough.



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Acquisitions, more than IPOs, will create Africa’s early startup successes – TechCrunch

Acquisitions, more than IPOs, will create Africa’s early startup successes – TechCrunch


Africa has made its global IPO debut. Pan-African e-commerce company Jumia—a $1 billion-valued company—began trading live on the NYSE last week.

The stock offering made Jumia the first upstart operating in Africa to list on a major global exchange.

This raises expectations for unicorns and IPOs to create the continent’s first wave of startup moguls. But unlike other markets, big public listings and nine-figure valuations could remain rare in Africa.

The rise of venture arms and startup acquisitions will factor more prominently than IPOs in creating Africa’s early startup successes.

I’ll break down why. First, a quick briefer.

Primer on African tech

Not everyone may be aware, but yes, Africa has a booming tech scene. When measured by monetary values, it’s minuscule by Shenzen or Silicon Valley standards.



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Militant Leader's Younger Brother, Driver Killed During Ransom Negotiation In Bayelsa

Expatriate Killed, Three Abducted During After-Party At Kaduna Resort


Two people were reported killed and three kidnapped after a group of suspected kidnappers armed with dangerous weapons invaded Kajuru Castle, a resort and holiday centre in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The incident was said to have occured around midnight on Friday. 

DSP Yakubu Sabo, the Public Relations Officer of the Police in Kaduna, confirmed the incident in a statement he issued in Kaduna, saying the bandits shot sporadically after they had stormed the castle. 

He added that an expatriate was one of the the two persons killed.

“At about 0020hrs, we received an information through DPO Kajuru that at about 23:40hrs, that some suspected kidnappers armed with dangerous weapons gained entry into a recreational resort called Kajuru Castle in Kajuru Local Government Area, shooting sporadically and in the process shooting dead two persons, including an expatriate lady and taking away three others,” the statement read.

The victims were said to be among 12 others who came to the castle from Lagos.

Sabo said those who sustained injuries had been evacuated by the patrol team led by the DPO that rushed to the scene and taken to St. Gerald Hospital.

“Normally, whenever such social events would happen, the organisers used to inform the Police for security coverage; but the party was done without the knowledge of the Police in the area,” he said.

“However, intensive efforts are being made by the Command to rescue the kidnapped persons, apprehend the fleeing culprits and bring them to justice.”

He said the Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmad Abdur-Rahman, appealed to members of the public to assist the Police with relevant information that would help in the arrest of the perpetrators.

 



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Africa: The Role of Family Planning in Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV

Africa: Zimbabwe in Global Blood Showcase


National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has been selected among six other countries in the world to share best practices in ensuring a safer and quality blood transfusion process. The five other countries are Rwanda, Cameroon, Belgium, Netherlands and the United States.

The global commemorations, which will run under the theme “Safe blood for all”, will be held in Rwanda.

Speaking at a media briefing held in Harare on Tuesday ahead of the World Blood Donor Day, which will take place in Africa for the second time on June 14, NBSZ public affairs manager Ms Esther Massundah said Zimbabwe will also be sharing its experiences regarding effective marketing strategies, including digital communications and social marketing in the recruitment of blood donors.

“Zimbabwe has a lot to share in relation to how its blood programme has been running and we also anticipate to learn a lot from this platform, especially now that blood is now available for free, issues of maintaining quality and standards become crucial,” said Ms Massundah.

She said as part of the country’s participation in the global campaign, Zimbabwe will be running a content marketing campaign through various digital platforms and profile some of the planned activities in Rwanda.

“A number of pre-awareness activities have since been lined up, which include NBSZ Red Week campaign scheduled to take place on May 3 Clean-Up Day (May 10), testimonial marketing (May 26), know your blood group campaign and publicity marketing,” said Ms Massundah.

She said Zimbabwe will simultaneously commemorate its National Blood Donor Day on 6 July in Manicaland in solidarity with all blood donors and the people of Manicaland following effects of Cyclone Idai.

Meanwhile, NBSZ says it has enough blood stocks for any emergencies during the long Easter/Independence holiday and has since activated its collection activities to ensure stocks will not run dry.

Long holidays are characterised by road accidents owing to high mobility as people visit various places for festivities.

Ms Massundah said they had an average of a week’s supply in the national blood bank, including supply of Blood Group O, which is usually in short supply.

NBSZ was looking at collecting at least 108 405 units of blood this year, up from a target of 87 000 units last year owing to the increased demand for blood.



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From lab-grown meat to fermented fungus, here’s what corporate food VCs are serving up – TechCrunch

From lab-grown meat to fermented fungus, here’s what corporate food VCs are serving up – TechCrunch


In a foodie’s ideal world, we’d all eat healthy, minimally processed cuisine sourced from artisanal farmers, bakers and chefs.

In the real world, however, most of us derive the lion’s share of calories from edibles supplied by a handful of giant food conglomerates. As such, the ingredients and processing techniques they favor have an outsized impact on our daily diets.

With this in mind, Crunchbase News decided to take a look at corporate food VCs and the startups they are backing to see what their dealmaking might say about our snacking future. We put together a list of venture funds operated by some of the larger food and beverage producers, covering literally everything from soup to nuts (plus lunch meat and soda, too!).

Like their corporate backers, startups funded by “Big Food” are a diverse bunch. Recent funding recipients are pursuing endeavors ranging from alternative protein to biospectral imaging to fermented fungus. But if one were to pinpoint an overarching trend, it might be a shift away from cost savings to consumer-friendliness.

“You think of food-tech and ag-tech 1.0, these were technologies that were primarily beneficial to the producers,” said Rob LeClerc, founding partner at AgFunder, an agrifood investor network. “This new generation of companies are really more focused on what does the consumer want.”

And what does the consumer want? This particular consumer would currently like a zero calorie hot fudge sundae. More broadly, however, the general trends LeClerc sees call for food that is healthier, tastier, nutrient-dense, satiating, ethically sourced and less environmentally impactful.

Below, we look at some of the trends in more detail, including funded companies, active investors and the up-and-coming edibles.

The new, new protein

Mass-market foods may get better but also weirder. This is particularly true for one of the more consistently hot areas of food-tech investment: alternative protein.

Demand for protein-rich foods, combined with ethical concerns about consuming animal products, has, for a number of years, led investors to startups offering meaty tasting tidbits sourced from the plant world.

But lately, corporate food giants have been looking farther beyond soy and peas. Lab-grown meat, once an oddball endeavor good for headlines about $1,000 meatballs, has been attracting serious cash. Since last year, at least two companies in the space have closed rounds backed by Tyson Ventures, the VC arm of the largest U.S. meat producer. They include pricey meatball maker Memphis Meats (actually based in California), which raised $20 million, and Israel-based Future Meat Technologies, a biotech startup working on animal-free meat, which secured $2 million.

Much of the early enthusiasm for new products stems from disillusionment with the existing ingredients we overeat.

If you cringe at the notion of lab-grown cell meat, then there’s always the option of getting your protein through microbes in volcanic springs. That’s the general aim of Sustainable Bioproducts, a startup that raised $33 million in Series A funding from backers including ADM and Danone Manifesto Ventures. The Chicago company’s technology for making edible protein emerged out of research into extremophile organisms in Yellowstone National Park’s volcanic springs.

Meanwhile, if you hanker for real dairy milk but don’t want to trouble cows, another startup, Perfect Day, is working on a solution. Per the company website: “Instead of having cows do all the work, we use microflora and age-old fermentation techniques to make the very same dairy protein that cows make.” Toward that end, the Berkeley company closed a $35 million Series B in February, with backing from ADM.

Fermentation

Perfect Day isn’t the only fermentation play raising major funding.

Corporate food-tech investors have long been interested in the processing technologies that turn an obscure microbe or under-appreciated crop into a high-demand ingredient. And lately, LeClerc said, they’ve been particularly keen on startups finding new ways to apply the age-old technology known as fermentation.

Most of us know fermentation as the process that turns a yucky mix of grain, yeast and water into the popular beverage known as beer. More broadly, however, fermentation is a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes. That is, take a substance, add something it reacts with and voilà, you have a new substance.

Several of the most heavily funded, buzz-generating companies in the food space are applying fermentation, LeClerc said. Besides Perfect Day, examples he points to include the unicorn Ginkgo BioworksGeltor (another alt-protein startup) and mushroom-focused MycoTechnology.

Colorado-based MycoTechnology has been a particularly attractive investor target of late. The company has raised $83 million from a mix of corporate and traditional VCs, including a $30 million Series C in January that included Tyson and Kellogg’s venture arm, Eighteen94 Capital . Founded six years ago, the company is pursuing a range of applications for its fermented fungi, including flavor enhancers, protein supplements and preservatives.

Supply chain

Besides adding strange new ingredients to our grocery shelves, corporate food-tech investors are also putting money into technologies and platforms aimed at boosting the security and efficiency of existing supply chains.

Just like new foods, much of the food safety tech sounds odd, too. Silicon Valley-based ImpactVision, a seed-funded startup backed by Campbell Soup VC arm Acre Venture Partners, wants to employ hyper-spectral imaging to perceive information about contamination, food quality and ripeness.

Boston-based Spoiler Alert, another Acre portfolio company, develops software and analytics for food companies to manage unsold inventory. And Pensa Systems, which uses AI-powered autonomous drones to track in-store inventory, raised a Series A round this year with backing from the venture arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Is weirder better?

We highlighted a few trends in corporate food-tech investment, but there are others that merit attention, as well. Probiotics plays, including the maker of the GoodBelly drink line, are generating investor interest. New ingredients other than proteins are also attracting capital, such as UCAN, a startup developing energy snacks based on a novel, slow-digesting carbohydrate. And the list goes on.

Much of the early enthusiasm for new products stems from disillusionment with the existing ingredients we overeat. But LeClerc noted that new products aren’t always better in the long run — they just might seem so at first.

“The question in the back of our head is: Are we ever creating margarine 2.0,” he said. “Just because it’s a plant product doesn’t mean it’s actually better for you.”



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Politicians Who Spend More Than !2 years In Public Office Are Social Parasites, Says Pat Utomi

Politicians Who Spend More Than !2 years In Public Office Are Social Parasites, Says Pat Utomi




Pat Utomi, a professor of political economy and management, has described politicians who spend more than 12 years in public offices as social parasites.

The creator of Patito’s Gang, a television talk show, made this comment on Saturday while being Intervied on ARISE TV.

“I despise people who live on politics. I think that people who make a career in life based on politics are doing society a disservice,” he said.

“I have said that nobody should hold public office for more than 12 consecutive years. You go from a commissioner to the governor, senator; you are a social parasite.

“You should come out of your hard work, make a difference for four to eight years and go back to what you do. If it’s not like that for you, you are a parasite to society. The characters making it

difficult to make progress are social parasites who call themselves politicians.”

Utomi, who contested who contested for the Delta State governorship ticket under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019 and also had a shot at the presidency in 2011, said Nigeria needs a national redemption mission.

He said for the  country to make political progress, the President must form a cabinet constituted by competent and patriotic citizens regardless of their political affiliations.

“You should create a cabinet of rivals; Yakubu Gowon did it,” he said.

“He built a cabinet of people who were more capable than himself: Awolowo, Enahoro, Shagari and co. We don’t need warlords trying to take advantage; our country is dying. We need people who have love in their hearts for the people of this country. Instead, we get these warlords who are trying to exclude.”



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