Fabianski happy with Swans switch

first_imgSwansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski insists there was nothing personal in his man-of-the-match display against former club Arsenal, which kept his new team in the hunt for Europa League qualification. The 30-year-old Fabianski received a good reception from the Arsenal supporters behind each goal, but insists his performance was never about anything other than getting the victory which puts Swansea just two points behind sixth-placed Tottenham. “I spent seven years here and I have loads of friends here so to play against them was a strange experience, and sometimes it even felt like a training game,” Fabianski said. “It was tricky. You never know how you are going to feel until you experience something. “It was a strange arriving at the ground and seeing all the people, but there was a game to play and I had to be focused.” Fabianski added: “I am past that frustration [at Arsenal]. It has been a long time since I left Arsenal so I am just enjoying my position at the moment at Swansea. “I am very happy with my decision to come here and I am really proud of the team’s performance.” Arsenal manager Wenger may have been less than impressed by the way Garry Monk set his side up on Monday night, but it proved effective for the Swans, who were able to record a third straight victory. Swansea captain Ashley Williams is confident the squad can maintain that momentum against second-placed Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday. He said: “We always try to hunt down the next team ahead of us in the table, and I don’t know if we will or not, but we have given ourselves a good chance. “Sunday will be another difficult game, but if we are going to get anything from it, we are going to have to put a shift in, and it will be a bit different because we are at home, so would like to see a bit more of the ball.” The Poland stopper enjoyed his return to the Emirates Stadium, having left in the summer after helping the Gunners win the FA Cup to secure more regular first-team football. Fabianski got himself in the way of everything Arsenal sent his way on Monday night, when Arsene Wenger’s side were punished for their lacklustre finishing as Bafetimbi Gomis headed in a late winner with just four minutes left, given via the Goal Decision System following a desperate lunge on the line by David Ospina. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Manchester City eliminate Real Madrid; Lyon knock out Juventus

first_imgLONDON: Manchester City reached the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Real Madrid 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) at the Etihad Stadium on Friday, with scorers Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus taking advantage of errors by defender Raphael Varane. Real, trailing 2-1 from the first-leg and without their suspended skipper and defensive lynchpin Sergio Ramos, made a disastrous start, gifting City a ninth minute opener. Frenchman Varane, having received a pass inside his own area from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, was robbed by City forward Jesus and he slipped the ball to Sterling who slotted home. There was a strong response from the Spanish champions, with City keeper Ederson forced into fine saves to keep out efforts from Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard. Ederson could do nothing, however, to keep out a bullet header from Benzema in the 28th minute, the Frenchman rising to power home a superb pin-point cross from Rodrygo. City created chances after the break but lacked the killer touch and it took another piece of calamitous defending by Varane to decide the tie in the 68th as his attempted header back to Courtois was too weak and Jesus was alert again, nipping in to flick it past the keeper and make it 2-1 on the night. Also Watch: CHECK OUT: Likham: The Book Made of Goldlast_img read more

Cricket News Archer gets England cap as rain washes out first day of second Ashes Test

first_img For all the Latest Sports News News, Cricket News News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps. In 17 of the last 19 Ashes campaigns, the team that has led 1-0 has won the series. The exceptions were in 1997 when Australia lost at Edgbaston, but won the six-match series 3-2 and 2005 when England lost at Lord’s but won the five-Test series 2-1.World Cup-winner Archer is set to play after James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, was ruled out with a calf injury that meant he bowled just four overs at Edgbaston. Neither England nor Australia have yet named their teams. They are not required to do so until the toss takes place. London: Jofra Archer received his England Test cap but was still to make his debut as rain saw the first day of Wednesday’s second Ashes match against Australia abandoned without a ball bowled at a soaking wet Lord’s. Chris Jordan, a Sussex team-mate, presented Archer with the cap in England’s pre-match huddle ahead of a revised toss at 3:00pm local time (1400 GMT) — only for further rain to delay the start once again.With rain still lashing an increasingly gloomy ‘home of cricket’, umpires Aleem Dar and Chris Gaffaney finally abandoned play for the day after tea at 4:19 pm local time. When the match should have been getting underway at 11:00 am (1000 GMT), the square and pitch remained fully covered. Further rain then meant hopes of any play before lunch soon disappeared as well.Now officials will hope the weather relents sufficiently for the match to begin at the scheduled 1000 GMT start of Thursday’s second day. Ashes-holders Australia lead the five-match series 1-0 after their 251-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston last week. It is 18 years since Australia last won an Ashes series in England.last_img read more

The Latest: Tigers’ Boyd back after negative COVID test

first_imgThe Latest: Tigers’ Boyd back after negative COVID test The Big 12 Conference is delaying its virtual football media days until early August but hasn’t made any decisions on changes to the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.After meeting with Big 12 athletic directors this week, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it was still too early to make decisions about changing the football season or other fall sports. He said the league would move forward slowly and constantly re-evaluate the ever-evolving situation. Big Ten and Pac-12 officials announced last week that they would play conference-only football schedules this fall.The Big 12 did Wednesday night postpone its virtual football media days until Aug. 3. That event was scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday.The league still plans to release its preseason All-Big 12 football team Thursday, and the preseason media poll Friday. ___The University of Michigan says fewer fans, if any, will attend games at “The Big House” if the Wolverines play college football games this year.The athletic department says a final decision will be made after conferring with medical experts, the school’s leadership and the Big Ten Conference, along with government officials and agencies.Michigan’s policies include the elimination of season tickets for the 2020 season. Paperless tickets will be available for individual games to only season ticket holders, not the general public, if there is a season and spectators are given access to the 107,601-seat Michigan Stadium.___ Ravens president Dick Cass said the team believes the decision is in the best interest of the public and the organization.The defending AFC North champions have not announced the starting date for training camp, which usually begins in late July.___The Ohio Valley Conference announced Wednesday that it has postponed the league’s Virtual Football Media Day scheduled for Monday. The OVC says it plans to reschedule for a date closer to the start of the season, which is slated for Sept. 3, a Thursday night. Notre Dame officials said they were working on a seating plan that “will greatly reduce our capacity” as they try to incorporate distancing measures to keep spectators as safe as possible.___Del Mar has canceled racing for the upcoming weekend after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All the track’s riders and personnel who work in the jockeys’ room were tested a day earlier by San Diego County public health officials at the request of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Of the 15 positive tests, all were believed to be asymptomatic.Contact tracing procedures are underway. All but one of the riders who tested positive rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet in Orange County. The memo also outlined enhanced safety precautions at the stadium in addition to face masks and social distancing requirements, including cashless concession options, touchless bathroom fixtures, sanitation stations, and “the latest air purification technology.”–Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.___The Head of the Charles Regatta is going virtual because of the new coronavirus, only the second time since 1965 that the two-day rowing event has been canceled. The competition scheduled for October will instead go virtual, allowing rowers to take part by racing a 2.9-mile (4.7 km) course on their own bodies of water using a GPS device, or on an ergometer. Associated Press ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports,Update on the latest sports The conference’s meetings were held virtually in June for the first time in league history.___The Denver Broncos are telling season ticket holders that Empower Field at Mile High won’t be at full capacity this season because of the coronavirus outbreak and face masks will be required if local officials allow a limited number of fans to attend games to maintain social distancing.The Broncos told season ticket holders in a memo that they’ll get priority for any single-game tickets that are sold this season whether or not they opt for a full refund for 2020 or a credit for 2021.The team’s ticket office will contact season ticket holders about game and seat availability after local capacity guidelines are established, according to the memo sent Wednesday. ___A limited number of owners will be allowed at Saratoga on the day that their horse is entered to race. The New York Racing Association says the size of an ownership group will be limited to eight people who possess a license per horse. The application to attend must be received 24 hours in advance in order to reduce density and adhere to social distancing guidelines.Owners will have their temperatures checked and be required to wear a face covering.A limited number of owners will also be allowed in the track’s stable area if they provide a negative COVID-19 test result within seven days of a request. July 15, 2020center_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd was kept away from Comerica Park on Tuesday, a day after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The mass testing was ordered by the track after jockeys Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza tested positive. They are both quarantining at home.The track isn’t identifying any of the other riders. However, some have confirmed their own cases.___City of Philadelphia officials have clarified their ban on public events, opening up the possibility the Eagles would be allowed to have fans in the stadium if the city changes its rules before or during the season, assuming the NFL plays games this season. The city on Tuesday banned all large public events that require public permits through February 2021. Teams will be permitted to play without fans in Philadelphia. Boyd told reporters on a Zoom call on Wednesday night, after pitching in an intrasquad scrimmage at Comerica Park, that a high school senior was hurt while mowing his lawn Monday night.“Reacted and went out to help him,” Boyd recalled, adding he wasn’t wearing a mask when he assisted the young man.Boyd said when the family friend was treated for his injury, he was tested for COVID-19 and tested positive.“We played it safe, went and got a rapid test,” Boyd said, adding everyone in his household also tested negative and he will be tested daily.___ Without citing the coronavirus pandemic, USA Hockey executive John Vanbiesbrouck said it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel the event.___The Green Bay Packers say they won’t admit fans to any training camp practices or preseason home games due to the coronavirus pandemic.This also applies to the annual Packers Family Night, an annual event that features a practice and other activities. The Family Night event will still take place at Lambeau Field and will be televised statewide, though the date and time haven’t been announced yet.Plans regarding attendance for regular-season games haven’t been announced yet. Season ticket holders have the of opting out of the chance to buy tickets this year without losing control of their tickets for next season. The Head of the Charles is the world’s largest two-day rowing race, with 11,000 competitors from around the world.The race was also canceled in 1996 during a rain and wind storm.___USA Hockey has called off holding its world junior summer showcase, set to be held in Michigan in two weeks.With 44 players invited, the event was part of USA Hockey’s selection process in determining its team to compete at the world junior championships in Alberta in late December. The Packers have already conceded their regular-season home games will have a “significantly reduced” capacity, if there are any spectators at all.___The Philadelphia Eagles won’t be allowed to have fans in the stadium if the NFL plays games this season. The city banned all large public events that require public permits through February 2021. Teams will be permitted to play without fans in Philadelphia.The Phillies will host the Miami Marlins next weekend when the major league baseball season begins. The Phillies will host the Miami Marlins next weekend when the major league baseball season begins.___The Baltimore Ravens won’t have fans at their training camp this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.The team announced Wednesday that it will adhere to NFL/NFLPA protocols that prohibit fans from attending practices, even if state and local government regulations would eventually permit them to do so.Since 2011, up to 2,000 fans a day have attended camp at the team facility in Owings Mills, Maryland. The Tennessee Volunteers report multiple positive results for COVID-19 after the university ran a batch of tests last week.The tests were conducted after the Fourth of July holiday weekend. A spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the positive tests spanned “multiple sports.”Tennessee previously had two basketball players test positive, with both clearing quarantine. A graduate assistant for the football team tested positive and was quarantined for 14 days.Tennessee is bringing athletes back to campus in phases, with football the first to return on June 8.Josiah-Jordan James, a sophomore guard on the basketball team, spoke to reporters last week about how tough it was seeing two teammates test positive for COVID-19. He said that drove home the seriousness of the pandemic and the need to follow all the safety precautions even when he doesn’t feel like wearing a mask. Any owners planning to travel to Saratoga from states listed on the New York travel advisory must quarantine for 14 days.Saratoga opens its summer meet on Thursday.___Notre Dame isn’t selling single-game football tickets through its usual lottery this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.School officials sent an email to alumni saying that they couldn’t offer single-game tickets or parking for 2020 home games “given the uncertainties surrounding the upcoming season and our commitment to maintaining physical distancing in all of our venues.”last_img read more

The Latest: Wisconsin AD warns of $100 million revenue loss

first_img Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditThe Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:___Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez says the school’s athletic department faces a potential $100 million loss of revenue in its $140 million budget due to challenges brought about by the pandemic. Alvarez wrote that in an open letter to “fellow Badgers” that appeared on the Wisconsin athletic department’s website.“The reality is that this financial crisis threatens our ability to sustain the success we’ve celebrated,” Alvarez wrote. “It threatens our pride in what we’ve built. It threatens our position in college athletics.”Alvarez added that “I believe we will reach a monumental crossroads in the coming days.”His letter follows a Wisconsin State-Journal repor t that the athletic department could lose more than $100 million if there’s no football season. According to that report, Wisconsin would lose between $60 million and $70 million if the football team played a Big Ten-only schedule while all other sports continued.___ The school said Thursday that the Williamses initially wanted to keep the May gift anonymous.“He didn’t want those students to miss that experience and wanted to fund those scholarships for next year,” athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “I still get chills when I think about his phone call and the impact it would have for dozens of our students.”Williams, a Hall of Famer with three NCAA championships, is preparing for his 18th season at his alma mater.___The Buffalo Bills are giving season ticket holders the option to have their money refunded or defer any payments made toward the 2021 season. The Latest: Wisconsin AD warns of $100 million revenue loss They include masks for young athletes in non-vigorous activities when social distancing isn’t possible, practicing in small pods that don’t switch players and not sharing equipment.Because the virus spreads most easily with prolonged, close contact with an infected person, risks to young athletes will likely depend on the type of sport, number of players and indoor versus outdoor setting, the academy said, adding, “Risk can be decreased but not eliminated, by athletes, parents, coaches and officials following safety protocols.” The academy posted the guidance online Wednesday.___The University of North Carolina says men’s basketball coach Roy Williams and his wife, Wanda, donated more than $600,000 to fund scholarships for spring-sports seniors who are returning for another year after the coronavirus pandemic cut short the 2019-20 season. A Venezuelan scout who worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Dominican Republic has died of COVID-19.The team released a statement saying Johan Maya died due to complications of the coronavirus on Thursday. He joined the Diamondbacks in 2019 after 15 years scouting for the Houston Astros.The team’s statement said Maya “was a great person, a family guy and true baseball man who started his career as a professional player and went on to coaching before becoming a scout.”___The American Academy of Pediatrics has announced new recommendations for youth sports during the pandemic to minimize risks of COVID-19.center_img Those who choose to defer payments will maintain an opportunity to purchase a limited number of single-game tickets for this year, should fans be allowed to attend, the team wrote in a letter to season ticket holders on Thursday.Season ticket holders will maintain their seniority for next season no matter which option they choose. Those choosing to keep their money in the account will also get subscriptions to NFL Game Pass and the NFL Network’s RedZone channel.___The Diamond League track meet in Gateshead, England, has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.It is the fifth of the 15 meets in the series to be canceled. The event in London was also called off. July 23, 2020 Associated Press The Gateshead meet was originally scheduled for Aug. 16 and then moved to Sept. 12 before being canceled.The first full Diamond League meet is currently set to be held on Aug. 14 in Monaco.Exhibition meets have been organized remotely from Oslo and Zurich with athletes worldwide competing simultaneously in a few events.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sportslast_img read more

Twenty teams set for Independence Cricket Festival

first_img… Superbet on boardAT least 20 teams will battle in the Seven-A-Side Independence Cricket Festival, which is scheduled for May 5 and 6 at the National Cultural Centre tarmac.The tapeball competition, which is into its third year, is already expected to be the biggest with at least six teams more than 2018. The Tran$cend Entertainment-organised, National Sports Commission-endorsed event has teams coming from Georgetown, East Coast, East Bank, West Bank and possibly one from Berbice.Last year, the competition, which was won by Team Corruption, featured 14 teams, while in its first year it had attracted 11 teams.Organiser Dwight Dodson said that some of the biggest names in cricket are set to battle this year, including the likes of Christopher Barnwell and Steven Jacobs.Over $1M in cash and prizes will be up for grabs in the knockout competition, which will be played over five overs.On Thursday, Superbet, one of the main sponsors of the competition, made its contribution. Other sponsors include Banks DIH, Ramps Logistics Ltd, Imperial Trading, Red Carpet Washbay, Regal Stationery and Computer Centre, Star Party Rentals, Xavier’s Investment, Movement Auto Sale, Precision Auto Works, W&J Entertainment, Fung-A-Fat Hatchery, Ole’s Jewellery, Seeta’s Bar, Regent Household and Electronics, Royal Real Estate, Church’s Chicken, Fireside Grill, Magic City and S&D Enterprise.last_img read more

Trojans eliminated from Pac-12 tournament with loss to Utah

first_imgThe No. 7 Trojans, who beat the No. 10 UCLA Bruins in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday, failed to overcome the No. 2 Utah Utes in the second round Thursday night, falling 80-72 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. In the 8-point defeat, the Trojans were outshot inside and outside the 3-point line, outrebounded by a margin of 35-31 and were beaten in terms of ball distribution with Southern California earning just nine assists to Utah’s 22. Head coach Andy Enfield complimented the Trojans overall effort, but criticized the lack of defensive execution, especially with Utah sophomore forward Kyle Kuzma scoring a team-high 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. ”We didn’t play great tonight, but we played hard enough, especially in the second half to come back,” Enfield said, according to the Associated Press. ”Their players, like Kuzma, stepped up and had a big game against us and that’s what happens. You try to take something away or maybe their first or second option and if the third or fourth option beats you, then you lose.”Pac-12 Player of the Year and potential Wooden Award candidate Jakob Poeltl was effective, scoring 14 points and helping with eight rebounds and two blocks. The Utes were especially keen on defense, limiting the Trojans to just 37 percent from deep and limited the previously potent freshman Bennie Boatwright and sophomore Elijah Stewart to a combined 8 points off of 3-of-16 shooting. As for the Trojans’ bright spots, sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin scored a game-high 24 points off of 9-of-16 shooting with two rebounds and a steal. Fellow junior guards Julian Jacobs and Katin Reinhardt added 16 and 13, respectively. And while the loss was hard for Jacobs, he emphasized the importance of moving on.“It’s what our coaching staff and the entire community around this team has emphasized — keep fighting,” Jacobs told the Los Angeles Times. And while the defeat may have knocked the Trojans out of Pac-12 title contention, they still are in the running for the NCAA tournament. They find out whether they will earn a spot in March Madness on Sunday.last_img read more

Betting on Sports Europe to address industry’s looming crisis

first_img Related Articles Share Submit SBC announces digital future for Europe, America, CIS & Africa July 30, 2020 Björn Nilsson: How Triggy is delivering digestible data through pre-set triggers August 28, 2020 StumbleUpon Share Christopher Metcalf, Leon House: Social barriers must be broken on gambling treatment June 25, 2020 What can the sports betting industry do to avert an industry-wide crisis across Europe will be a key theme at this year’s Betting on Sports Europe conference, being held at Stamford Bridge on 2-4 June. The conference will take place against a backdrop of the sports betting industry coming under fire from both politicians and the media, with the criticism causing severe reputational damage and helping to bring about a climate in which more stringent regulation grows ever more likely.While coping with this onslaught it also has to tackle sporting integrity breaches, urgent player protection issues, such as improving help for problem gamblers and stricter management of VIP programmes, and serious operational problems, including how to succeed within new advertising restrictions and finding banks prepared to work with gambling businesses.There is also a real need for operators to share best practice, develop solutions that help both the industry and its customers, and to speak with a unified voice when responding to plans to amend legislation.Betting on Sports Europe is the ideal forum for the regulated industry to come together as a community and work towards creating a sustainable, customer-focused model for a sector that employs huge numbers of people and generates hundreds of millions in tax revenues across the continent.  With tracks dedicated to lotteries, esports, sports integrity, industry leadership, horse racing, football, payments & compliance and responsible marketing, the conference addresses many of the crucial challenges the betting industry faces, as well as a CEO panel examining how operators can work together to drive improvements. Andrew McCarron, Managing Director of event organiser SBC, said: “The European sports betting industry is faced with a perfect storm of intense government scrutiny, sustained media criticism and rising levels of competition, while some self-inflicted wounds have exacerbated the situation.“And over the past few years the industry has not been very effective at standing up for itself and responding to the barrage of negative publicity, or at sharing the best practice that many operators have developed individually in response to past errors.“Betting on Sports Europe will help to change that, providing a forum for operators to discuss the major threats to the future of sports betting, to share their solutions, and to strengthen relationships across the industry in preparation for the likely regulatory challenges ahead.”Taking place at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium on 2-4 June 2020, Betting on Sports Europe features ten full-day content tracks with insights from more than 200 expert speakers from across the European sports betting industry.Delegates can also look forward to an exhibition showcasing the latest innovations from 30 leading suppliers and some of SBC’s renowned evening networking events, all of which are included with your pass.last_img read more

SBW opens up about a return to league

first_imgWilliams is targeting next year’s Rugby Union World Cup with the All Blacks but his future beyond that is undecided.The dual international turns 34 next August and is weighing up ending an illustrious career spanning Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, rugby league, rugby union and boxing.Williams became a pariah in the 13-man game after his walk-out on Canterbury in 2008 over a contract dispute.He returned to play a leading role in the Sydney Roosters’ 2013 NRL premiership victory, only to again return to union, where he won the 2015 World Cup and appeared in the 2016 Olympics.He’s eyeing his third World Cup next year but refuses to rule out a third stint in rugby league in 2020 and says opportunities to work with the Pacific community and in coaching will affect his decision.”I’m 34 next year. I’m just happy doing what I love doing,” Williams told Fox Sports.”I really want to affect my Pasifika people. With that comes responsibility.”I need more knowledge in that field, which I’m doing – I’m doing for my coaching papers.”God willing I make it through next year and I make that World Cup side.”Then after that, I have to keep the wife happy and then if I do play on, it’ll have to be at a place where I can still have a voice.”Williams returned to the Roosters for two years in 2013-14 after a handshake agreement with Roosters chairman Nick Politis, which was struck following his first exit from the NRL.In the past few years, there have been rumours Williams will end his career with the Tri-Colours.He refused to give anything away about his future on Sunday but said he regretted the way he turned his back on the Bulldogs, the club that gave him a start as a teenager.”I still stand by my decision to leave. Though as a young fella you’re a bit rash and you do things you probably regret,” Williams said.”I’m no different. I’m human, I make mistakes.”When it came to that decision to leave, although things weren’t going the right way off the field, I just felt like I was backed into a corner and that was all I could do.”Looking back now, if I was a lot more confident in myself as a man, I probably could have gone and spoken to the administration and told them, ‘Look, I’m going to leave if you don’t do what you guys promised me’.”last_img read more

Can Liberia Answer the Agriculture Challenge?

first_imgYesterday the Daily Observer published an article quoting the Central Bank of Liberia’s 2014 Policy Statement which said that the only way for the Liberian Dollar to stabilize against the soaring US Dollar is for Liberia to produce goods for domestic consumption and export.  That same day, two things happened: the first was the grassroots campaign and advocacy organization One.org, along with some of Africa’s top music stars and with hundreds of African Civil Society Organizations who presented their “Do Agric, It Pays” petition to African leaders at the AU summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, calling on them to recommit to spending at least 10% of national budgets on effective agriculture investments. The second thing that happened yesterday was a conversation with one of our readers who could not help expressing his utter shock and disgust over a photo (see above) he had discovered, suggesting some brutal truths about Liberia’s attitude toward agriculture. The image is a 2014 Google Earth photograph of the Guinean and Liberian sides of the border (yellow line) near Gbedin, the site of major rice project during the Tolbert administration.  To our reader’s dismay, he saw a series of organized parcels of land – agricultural developments – along the Guinean side of the border, while on the Liberian side, the image shows only forested areas and settlements, hardly any farming activity to speak of.  Agriculture activities along the Guinea side of the border are purportedly part of that country’s ‘Agriculture, Trade and Foreign Exchange Strategy: Organized Farms near Ganta and Gbedin’.“This is where a lot of our foreign exchange is going!” he exclaimed.  “The Guineans have learned that Liberians are not serious about agriculture, since our market women go there every week to buy produce with which to supply the Liberian population.  So [by establishing large farms right along the border with Liberia], they are drawing our foreign exchange into their economy, while we have government officials being named African Minister of the year and so on.”The man’s discovery of the Google Earth image of the Liberia-Guinea border could not have been timelier, with the African Union Summit was just underway in Equatorial Guinea.  There, One.org together with Nigerian pop star D’banj and other African musicians and CSOs hand-delivered their petition to several African Heads of State including Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Yayi Boni of Benin, John Mahama of Ghana, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and Macky Sall of Senegal. “It is time for our leaders to step up and Do Agric at this year’s summit during the AU Year of Agriculture. Millions of smallholder farmers are counting on you—including the over 2 million African citizens who have signed the Do Agric petition and the 400 million who live on less than a dollar a day,” said One.org’s Executive Director for Africa, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, ahead of the summit.  Receiving the petition on June 10 in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete promised to “champion this cause at the AU Summit. I will present this petition to the other Heads of State. We as African governments cannot succeed in taking agriculture forward unless we modernize it, instead of our people continuing to use the hand-held hoe and other farming implements from pre-biblical times.”Ghana’s President John Mahama accepted the petition in Accra, Ghana on June 20. He hailed the initiative and reiterated Ghana’s commitment to improving the lives of smallholder farmers, adding that “your campaign is preaching to the converted as we in Ghana are already stepping up the policies and investments in agriculture.”The Do Agric petition contains a bucket list of recommendations to AU members that, if adopted, could among other things boost yields for smallholder farmers and a reduced food import expense, which currently stands at about $25 billion annually. Africa could also benefit from increased food availability for the 265 million Africans who are under-nourished; increased intra-Africa trade benefits, estimated to reach $2 trillion by 2030; increased incomes for farming families through reduced post-harvest loss which today stands at $48 billion a year; and increased food production and agro-processing, providing millions of jobs for African youth.Noteworthy are Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Agriculture Minister Adesina Akinwumi, both of who also received the petition. ONE.org officially launched its “Do Agric, It Pays” campaign on January 20, 2014 along the margins of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in support of the 2014 AU Year of Agriculture. The campaign encourages African governments to keep their 2003 Maputo promise to invest at least 10% of national budgets in agriculture, and makes a case for better strategic policies and transparent public investments that will better support smallholder farmers, especially women, and lift millions of Africans out of poverty. Well over 2 million persons have signed the Do Agric petition so far, totaling 97% of the target number of signatures.  “We came together because we know Africa is rising,” says Nigerian recording artist D’banj. “Yet the farmers who produce most of our food still struggle to survive. 70% of Africans are employed in agriculture. This week’s AU Summit in Malabo is a historic opportunity for you to change the lives of millions of Africans and create a better future for our youth through better agricultural investment.” Meanwhile, back in rural Liberia, smallholder famers are still desperately yearning for the support of the Agriculture Ministry and other relevant functionaries of government to come to their aid.  They are haunted every year by lack of technical support to improve and maximize their output; lack of means (roads, etc) to get their produce to markets; as well as funding needed for acquiring more efficient farming methods and equipment.  Even though the Central Bank of Liberia has made available some US$7 million to commercial banks to help farmers, the banks are requiring Monrovia-based land as collateral, which is essentially a non-starter for most small Liberian farmers. There are no quick solutions or easy answers, the Central Bank has already noted.  Over the last three years, the Bank reported, some of the country’s top agricultural exports – rubber and cocoa – suffered, contributing to the hike in the exchange rate.  Although 2013 saw a slight rebound in cocoa exports, there is a need for serious investment in mechanized farming to give Liberian cocoa (and coffee) the attention it needs on the world market.There are, however, noteworthy sprouts of hope. The newly established Liberia Collateral Registry is expected to count “movable assets” as acceptable collateral for commercial loans, essentially allowing farmers to bank their enterprises using their projected harvests as potential collateral.  There is also the phenomenon of school gardens gaining traction around the country, nurturing a renewed passion for planting, targeting Liberia’s youth.  The school gardens are effective because the students are fed at school from what they grow, thus learning discipline, diligence and pride in achieving good results alongside core agricultural skills.  With guided practice as well as deliberate investment and encouragement from government and relevant stakeholders, this could be the window of opportunity for fighting poverty in Liberia. Like the youth themselves, such opportunities will take time to mature.  And then, with hard work, only time will tell.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more