Inter Press ServiceFood Sustainability – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Thu, 17 Jan 2019 16:51:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Blue Economy Can be a Lifeline for Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/blue-economy-can-lifeline-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blue-economy-can-lifeline-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/blue-economy-can-lifeline-africa/#respond Fri, 11 Jan 2019 15:43:45 +0000 Ruth Waruhiu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159588 By efficient management, the sustainable exploitation of resources in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers—also known as the blue economy—could contribute up to $1.5 trillion to the global economy, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an intergovernmental organization comprising of 36 countries. Last November experts, government officials, environmental activists, policy makers and academics […]

The post Blue Economy Can be a Lifeline for Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

By Ruth Waruhiu
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 11 2019 (IPS)

By efficient management, the sustainable exploitation of resources in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers—also known as the blue economy—could contribute up to $1.5 trillion to the global economy, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, an intergovernmental organization comprising of 36 countries.

Last November experts, government officials, environmental activists, policy makers and academics converged in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference. With the theme “Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the conference, convened and hosted by Kenya, with Canada and Japan as cohosts, looked at new technologies and innovation for oceans, seas, lakes and rivers as well as challenges, potential opportunities, priorities and partnerships.

Africa has 38 coastal and island states and a coastline of over 47,000 km, and hence presents an enormous opportunity for the continent to develop the sectors typically associated with the blue economy, says Cyrus Rustomjee, a blue economy expert and a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Nairobi Blue Economy conference was dedicated to realizing the untapped potential found in our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.

“Expanding fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, transportation and maritime and inland ports can help to reduce African poverty and enhance food and energy security, employment, economic growth and exports, ocean health and sustainable use of ocean resources,” says Dr. Rustomjee.

He notes that more than 12 million people are employed in fisheries alone, the largest of the African blue economy sectors, providing food security and nutrition for over 200 million Africans and generating value added estimated at more than $24 billion, or 1.26% of the GDP of all African countries. Of concern at the Nairobi conference was the current wanton and large-scale exploitation of the world’s waters, especially in developing countries.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya expressed concern over the “massive pollution of our water bodies; the evident overexploitation of water resources and their related biodiversities, as well as the specific challenge of insecurity, more so in the high seas.” Pre-conference advocacy by Kenya, Canada and Japan, the main organisers of the event, focused on many issues central to Africa’s development, including food security for vulnerable groups and communities, malnutrition, sustainable food production and gender equality in blue economy industries.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma, said the discussions were “dedicated to realizing the untapped potential found in our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers; and focused on integrating economic development, social inclusion and sustainability which promotes a blue economy that is prosperous, inclusive and sustainable.” While emphasizing the importance of unlocking the full productive potential of Africa’s waters, Ms. Juma said she especially hoped to see increased participation of women and youth in all areas of the blue economy.

A recurring theme at the conference was that the blue economy could boost a country’s economic growth and environmental protection and, by extension, help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. According to Macharia Kamau, the Principal Secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, overall the conference presented “immense opportunities for the growth of our economy, especially sectors such as fisheries, tourism, maritime transport, offshore mining, among others, in a way that the land economy has failed to do.”

The strategic importance of the blue economy to trade is clear, notes the International Maritime Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. For instance, up to 90% of global trade facilitation by volume and 70% by value is carried out by sea. One challenge is that the oceans and seas absorb about 25% of the extra carbon dioxide emissions added to earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. Oil and gas remain major sources of energy, with approximately 30% of production carried out offshore.

Before the event in Kenya, the organisers highlighted current challenges within the blue economy, including a lack of shared prosperity, maritime insecurity and unsustainable human activities around and in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers, including overfishing. Other challenges are pollution, invasive species and ocean acidification, which lead to biodiversity loss and compromise human health and food security. In addition, a weak legal, policy, regulatory and institutional framework and poorly planned and unregulated coastal development exacerbate existing challenges.

To address these problems, participants called on leaders and policy makers to implement appropriate policies and allocate significant capital to sustainable investment in the sector to boost production, inclusiveness and sustainability. The Nairobi conference drew global attention to the blue economy; the challenge is ensuring concrete actions follow the vigorous discussion.

*The link to the original article from Africa Renewal, published by the United Nations: https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2018-march-2019/blue-economy-can-be-lifeline-africa

The post Blue Economy Can be a Lifeline for Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/blue-economy-can-lifeline-africa/feed/ 0
Climate Change: Complex Challenges for Agriculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/climate-change-complex-challenges-agriculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-complex-challenges-agriculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/climate-change-complex-challenges-agriculture/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:55:44 +0000 Peter Luthi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159539 Peter Lüthi is in Communications at the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Zurich

The post Climate Change: Complex Challenges for Agriculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

In the Siraro District of Ethiopia, extreme weather patterns are increasing. Since 2005, people have endured five droughts. Credit: Peter Lüthi / Biovision

By Peter Lüthi
ZURICH, Switzerland, Jan 8 2019 (IPS)

The unusually hot summer of 2018 showed that climate change affects a central part of our lives: agriculture. The severe drought in Liechtenstein led to large losses in the hay harvest.

In countries of the Global South, the consequences of climate change are already much more drastic. In Africa, for example, extreme weather conditions threaten food security for millions of people.

East Africa has encountered droughts at increasingly shorter intervals in recent years, most recently in 2005-6, 2009, 2011, 2014-15, and 2017.

Apart from drought, the conditions for agriculture are also becoming increasingly difficult due to the gradual rise in temperature, salinization and changing rainy seasons.

Serious consequences include decreasing availability of food and increasing conflicts over water–both obstacles to development opportunities of the affected states and possible triggers for migration.

Agriculture is also the cause

Agriculture and the food system are not only victims but also causes of climate change. The term “food system” refers to the entire food cycle, from production to harvesting, storage, distribution, consumption, and disposal.

This cycle produces significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Paradoxically, modern industrial agriculture aims to intensify operations to compensate for the loss of production caused by climate change.

However, using ever more fossil fuels, synthetic fertilizers, and agrochemicals increases emissions of climate-damaging gases instead of reducing them. Industrialized agriculture causes additional problems as well, including large-scale deforestation, immense water consumption, soil compaction and erosion, chemical pollution of the environment, and biodiversity loss.

This exacerbates the overexploitation of natural resources and increases climate change vulnerability.

In the project “Food security in rural Ethiopia” by Biovision and Caritas Vorarlberg, the village communities of the Siraro district dig erosion control ditches.
This is important for preserving and enhancing natural resources. Credit: Peter Lüthi / Biovision

Carrying on like in the past is no longer an option

“Industrial agriculture has reached a dead end—there is no option to continue as before,” warns Hans Rudolf Herren, winner of the World Food Prize and longtime president of the Biovision Foundation.

The renowned agronomist and entomologist urges global agriculture to embrace organic, multifunctional, healthy and sustainable practices that take agroecological principles into account, rather than striving for the highest possible yields.

This option is now also recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a response to the many challenges of climate change.

Diversity increases resilience

Climate change is a complex problem involving various factors. This calls for holistic solutions. These include agroecology adapted to the local political, social, and natural conditions.

An important principle of agroecology is the promotion of diversity. The more diverse an ecosystem is, the more flexible it can react to changes, recover from disturbances, and adapt to new conditions.

Diversified agroecosystems use synergies from mixed cultivation or agroforestry systems and rely on natural fertilizers from compost and manure.

Agroecology combines traditional and new knowledge. This includes locally adapted and robust plant varieties and animal breeds. Efficiency-enhancing measures, such as irrigation systems, are becoming increasingly important.

At the societal level, fair trade conditions and market access for all producers are important, as is responsible governance. The latter is necessary to coordinate and issue appropriate political policies.

Save money for drought periods: Barite Jumba from Siraro learned how to raise and breed chickens in Biovision and Caritas Vorarlberg’s project. With the income from her egg business, she buys surplus vegetables to sell at a profit on the market.
This enables her to save money for food when her own supplies run out. Credit: Peter Lüthi / Biovision

Acting at all levels

A breakthrough for agroecology principles will require dialogue between all actors involved. Only then can the course of agriculture change towards a joint sustainable future.

This is the aim of the Biovision Foundation’s advocacy team. Together with an alliance of goal-oriented organizations and states, these agroecology advocates succeeded in establishing the demand for sustainable agriculture as part of the UN’s 17 sustainability goals in New York in 2015.

The Biovision Foundation supports the achievement of these goals both for agriculture and for climate protection at three levels:

Here at Biovision, we focus on raising public awareness for sustainable consumption and on establishing a network to implement sustainability goals.

At the international level, the advocacy team discusses agroecology with interested country representatives to position agroecology principles in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In the project “Advocacy for Agroecology,” Biovision supports countries with concrete recommendations for action and a coordinated policy dialogue to plan climate-friendly agroecological measures.

Through various grassroots projects in Africa, Biovision has demonstrated various concrete examples of successful application of these measures. LED’s support to train and inform smallholders is of crucial importance for farmers to have the ability to prepare themselves for the consequences of climate change.

*This article was first published in “Blickwechsel”, the magazine of the Liechtenstein Development Service LED.

The post Climate Change: Complex Challenges for Agriculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Peter Lüthi is in Communications at the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Zurich

The post Climate Change: Complex Challenges for Agriculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/climate-change-complex-challenges-agriculture/feed/ 0
Global Warming: Severe Consequences for Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/global-warming-severe-consequences-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-warming-severe-consequences-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/global-warming-severe-consequences-africa/#respond Fri, 04 Jan 2019 14:31:16 +0000 Dan Shepard http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159488 Dan Shepard is a UN public information officer specializing in sustainability issues--including SDGs, biodiversity & climate change.

 
Africa Renewal*

The post Global Warming: Severe Consequences for Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Farmers planting during a rainy season in Dali, North Darfur, Sudan. Credit: UN Photo / Albert Farran

By Dan Shepard
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 4 2019 (IPS)

Record global greenhouse gas emissions are putting the world on a path toward unacceptable warming, with serious implications for development prospects in Africa. “Limiting warming to 1.5° C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, cochair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III.

But IPCC, the world’s foremost authority for assessing the science of climate change, says it is still possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5° C—if, and only if, there are “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.” For sub-Saharan Africa, which has experienced more frequent and more intense climate extremes over the past decades, the ramifications of the world’s warming by more than 1.5° C would be profound.

Temperature increases in the region are projected to be higher than the global mean temperature increase; regions in Africa within 15 degrees of the equator are projected to experience an increase in hot nights as well as longer and more frequent heat waves.

The odds are long but not impossible, says the IPCC. And the benefits of limiting climate change to 1.5° C are enormous, with the report detailing the difference in the consequences between a 1.5° C increase and a 2° C increase. Every bit of additional warming adds greater risks for Africa in the form of greater droughts, more heat waves and more potential crop failures.

Recognizing the increasing threat of climate change, many countries came together in 2015 to adopt the historic Paris Agreement, committing themselves to limiting climate change to well below 2° C. Some 184 countries have formally joined the agreement, including almost every African nation, with only Angola, Eritrea and South Sudan yet to join. The agreement entered into force in November 2016.

In December 2018, countries met in Katowice, Poland, for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—known as COP24—to finalise the rules for implementation of the agreement’s work programme. As part of the Paris Agreement, countries made national commitments to take steps to reduce emissions and build resilience. The treaty also called for increased financial support from developed countries to assist the climate action efforts of developing countries.

But even at the time that the Paris Agreement was adopted, it was recognized that the commitments on the table would not be enough. Even if the countries did everything they promised, global temperatures would rise by 3° C this century. According to the IPCC, projections show that the western Sahel region will experience the strongest drying, with a significant increase in the maximum length of dry spells. The IPCC expects Central Africa to see a decrease in the length of wet spells and a slight increase in heavy rainfall.

West Africa has been identified as a climate-change hotspot, with climate change likely to lessen crop yields and production, with resultant impacts on food security. Southern Africa will also be affected. The western part of Southern Africa is set to become drier, with increasing drought frequency and number of heat waves toward the end of the 21st century.

A warming world will have implications for precipitation. At 1.5° C, less rain would fall over the Limpopo basin and areas of the Zambezi basin in Zambia, as well as parts of Western Cape in South Africa. But at 2° C, Southern Africa is projected to face a decrease in precipitation of about 20% and increases in the number of consecutive dry days in Namibia, Botswana, northern Zimbabwe and southern Zambia. This will cause reductions in the volume of the Zambezi basin projected at 5% to 10%.

If the global mean temperature reaches 2° C of global warming, it will cause significant changes in the occurrence and intensity of temperature extremes in all sub-Saharan regions. West and Central Africa will see particularly large increases in the number of hot days at both 1.5° C and 2° C. Over Southern Africa, temperatures are expected to rise faster at 2° C, and areas of the southwestern region, especially in South Africa and parts of Namibia and Botswana, are expected to experience the greatest increases in temperature.

Perhaps no region in the world has been affected as much as the Sahel, which is experiencing rapid population growth, estimated at 2.8% per year, in an environment of shrinking natural resources, including land and water resources.

Inga Rhonda King, President of the UN Economic and Social Council, a UN principal organ that coordinates the economic and social work of UN agencies, told a special meeting at the UN that the region is also one of the most environmentally degraded in the world, with temperature increases projected to be 1.5 times higher than in the rest of the world.

Largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, the Sahel is regularly hit by droughts and floods, with enormous consequences to people’s food security. As a result of armed conflict, violence and military operations, some 4.9 million people have been displaced this year, a threefold increase in less than three years, while 24 million people require humanitarian assistance throughout the region.

Climate change is already considered a threat multiplier, exacerbating existing problems, including conflicts. Ibrahim Thiaw, special adviser of the UN Secretary-General for the Sahel, says the Sahel region is particularly vulnerable to climate change, with 300 million people affected.

Drought, desertification and scarcity of resources have led to heightened conflicts between crop farmers and cattle herders, and weak governance has led to social breakdowns, says Mr. Thiaw. The shrinking of Lake Chad is leading to economic marginalization and providing a breeding ground for recruitment by terrorist groups as social values and moral authority evaporate.

*Africa Renewal, which is published by the United Nations, reports on and examines the many different aspects of the UN’s involvement in Africa, especially within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It works closely with the many UN agencies and offices dealing with African issues, including the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.

The post Global Warming: Severe Consequences for Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dan Shepard is a UN public information officer specializing in sustainability issues--including SDGs, biodiversity & climate change.

 
Africa Renewal*

The post Global Warming: Severe Consequences for Africa appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/global-warming-severe-consequences-africa/feed/ 0
DRC Farmers in “Schools Without Walls” Learn to Increase Harvesthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/drc-farmers-schools-without-walls-learn-increase-harvest/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=drc-farmers-schools-without-walls-learn-increase-harvest http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/drc-farmers-schools-without-walls-learn-increase-harvest/#respond Wed, 02 Jan 2019 18:49:51 +0000 Badylon Kawanda Bakiman http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159461 It was almost four years ago in 2015 that members of Farmer’s Frame of Idiofa (FFI), a farmers group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), produced a mere eight tonnes of sweet potatoes on two hectares of land. But the main reason for the low yield had not necessarily been a climate-related one, but […]

The post DRC Farmers in “Schools Without Walls” Learn to Increase Harvest appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Smallholder farmers at Mamani 6 km from Kikwit, the capital of Kwilu province. Many across the country are learning new farming techniques through practical application. Credit: Badylon Kawanda Bakiman/IPS

By Badylon Kawanda Bakiman
KIKWIT, DR Congo, Jan 2 2019 (IPS)

It was almost four years ago in 2015 that members of Farmer’s Frame of Idiofa (FFI), a farmers group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), produced a mere eight tonnes of sweet potatoes on two hectares of land. But the main reason for the low yield had not necessarily been a climate-related one, but an educational one.
“Thanks to the knowledge about agricultural techniques learnt from Farmer Field School, FFI has produced 30 tonnes of sweet potato in 2017 from a field of two hectares,” says Albert Kukotisa, chairman of FFI, from Kikwit, Kwilu province in southwest DRC.

FFI’s group of farmers are just some of those across the country who are learning new farming techniques thanks to the Farmer Field School (FFS) – an initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The field schools are not necessarily a new concept. According to a survey they were first introduced in 1989 in Indonesia where schools were developed to hope farmers deal with pesticide-induced problems.

And while they are also not new to the DRC, they are proving an effective way to educate and assist farmers.

Lazard Milambo, an FAO expert says that the new element to the FFS is that farmers are introduced to “new ideas with guided exercises without imposition and stimulating discussions by farmers.” He says the involvement of farmers themselves in the training process is also new.

With the FFS, however, farmers are not just told about new techniques and research, they are able to implement it also. Each week, a group of 20 to 25 farmers meet in local field and under the guidance of a trained facilitator they implement new farming techniques. Facilitators have various backgrounds and can include extension workers, employees from NGOs or previously-trained farmers.

“In groups of five they observe and compare two plots over the course of an entire cropping season. One plot follows local conventional methods while the other is used to experiment with what could be considered best practices. The plot of land belongs to a member of the group,” Patience Kutanga, an expert, agricultural engineer and one of the trained facilitators, explains.

Didier Kulenfuka, an agriculture expert adds that “small farmers experiment with and observe key elements of the agro-ecosystem by measuring plant development, taking samples of insects, weeds and diseased plants, and constructing simple cage experiments or comparing characteristics of different soils. At the end of the weekly meeting they present their findings in a plenary session, followed by discussion and planning for the coming weeks.”

According to a World Bank report, “DRC farmers are particularly poor and isolated, therefore vulnerable to climate impacts and other external shocks…”
In a country with 80 million hectares of arable land, “there are more than 50 millions of farmers in the country with land. Most of them are smallholders,” Milambo says.

And according to the same World Bank report the government is, however, committed to a green revolution, pledging to reduce rural poverty by 2020 through agricultural production systems. The government allocated 8 percent of its 2016 budget to agriculture.

But Kikwit, the capital and largest city of Kwilu province, and home to some 186,000 people, has only one university with an agronomic faculty.

Farmers and smallholders instead rely on the advice and knowledge of agricultural extension officers. And now, as Milambo points out, about two million smallholder farmers are working across the country with some 20,000 FFSs.

Françoise Kangala, a 47-year-old farmer of Kongo Central (formerly Bas-Congo) province explains that he learned a lot from the course, including how to identify the best field for planting his crop and how to choose top seeds. His increased knowledge showed in the increased harvest.

“So, my family has harvested 20 tonnes of maniocs [Cassava], Obama variety for a field of one hectare. In 2014 it wasn’t the case. The same land produced only 7 tonnes. Observations about results between old practices and the new is among the innovations of the approach.’’

For John Masamba, a smallholder farmer from Goma, North Kivu province, east of DRC, it’s necessary to popularise this system around the DRC “because it’s a school without walls.” He said he appreciated learning through practice.

“Together, farmers swap experiences. With the knowledge from FFS and using resilient seeds, I have produced [in 2018] 19 tonnes of maize from one a field of one hectare, compared to 7 tonnes in 2016,’’ he says.

Going forward this increased production by smallholder farmers will be crucial to the country’s food security. Smallholding farming contributes — around 60 percent — to the country’s food security, according to Milambo.

The post DRC Farmers in “Schools Without Walls” Learn to Increase Harvest appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/drc-farmers-schools-without-walls-learn-increase-harvest/feed/ 0
Italy Has the ‘Greenest Agriculture’ in Europe, But it’s Not Sustainablehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/italy-greenest-agriculture-europe-not-sustainable/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=italy-greenest-agriculture-europe-not-sustainable http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/italy-greenest-agriculture-europe-not-sustainable/#respond Sun, 23 Dec 2018 13:01:54 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159431 While Italian agriculture is in a leading position in terms of organic farming, sustainable agriculture and being at the forefront of biodiversity conservation; water scarcity, illegal workers and the role of women and combined ageing of its workforce remain pressing concerns. “The Italian agriculture is the greenest in Europe,” Lorenzo Bazzana, Economic Manager of Coldiretti, […]

The post Italy Has the ‘Greenest Agriculture’ in Europe, But it’s Not Sustainable appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

The New Agriculture Cooperative was founded in 1977 by a group of young unemployed, labourers and farmers with two main objectives: create employment in agriculture and prevent the construction of a vast area of high environmental value. In 1990 the conversion to organic farming began, followed in 1996 by the conversion of livestocks. In 2010 the Cooperative moved to biodynamic agriculture. Credit: Maged Srour/IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Dec 23 2018 (IPS)

While Italian agriculture is in a leading position in terms of organic farming, sustainable agriculture and being at the forefront of biodiversity conservation; water scarcity, illegal workers and the role of women and combined ageing of its workforce remain pressing concerns.

“The Italian agriculture is the greenest in Europe,” Lorenzo Bazzana, Economic Manager of Coldiretti, which is the leading organisation of farmers at Italian and European level, told IPS.

“Italy has also a leading position in terms of organics, with 72,000 organic operators,” continued Bazzana. Indeed, according to 2014 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 10.5 percent of arable land is dedicated to organic agriculture.

“Our country is at the forefront of biodiversity conservation, with the decision not to cultivate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and with 40,000 farms committed to keep and preserve seeds and plants at risk of extinction. Moreover, it has the primacy in terms of food security, with the highest number of agri-food products in compliance with irregular chemical residues [99.4 percent].”

Italy and the ‘Food Sustainability Index (FSI)’: top performer in sustainable agriculture

The positive data os confirmed by various studies, such as the Food Sustainability Index (FSI), developed by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), a multidisciplinary think tank working for food sustainability. The FSI is an indicator on food sustainability that analysed 34 countries representing 87 percent of the world economy (Gross Domestic Product, GDP) and over two thirds of global population, It focused on three main pillars, in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  • sustainable agriculture;
  • food loss and waste;
  • nutritional challenges.

When it comes to sustainable agriculture, Italy is the top performer among the 34 ranked countries. It scores high across the “environmental impact of water on agriculture, sustainability of water withdrawal, water scarcity and water management sub-indicators,” according to a report from the BCFN summarising the data unveiled by the 2017 FSI.

“Italy has pioneered new techniques to reduce water loss in domestic and agricultural contexts,” states the report.

However, water scarcity in central and southern Italy, for example during the summer of 2017, exposed criticality’s in terms of poor and inadequate water infrastructures. The country has positive scores across many other indicators such as organic farming and strong laws exist to protect smallholders’ land rights.

The illegal working issue in agriculture

However, according to the BCFN’s report, the participation rate of women in farming is only one percent and that of youth is only 3.1 percent, a minimal number compared with that of similar economies such as Spain which counts nearly one third of its agricultural workforce as having women and youth represented.

Also of strong concern is the employment of illegal workers. According to the Italian trade union for farmers, Flai-Cgil, there are a huge amount of farmers—some 400,000—who employ illegal workers.

According to the union, they farmers employ illegal workers through a black market that is exploited by criminal organisations, making the phenomenon of so-called ‘agromafia’ or ‘caporalato’, an economic and social scourge for the country.

The generational turnover in agricultural work is not happening

“I have been working here since 1981 and I have dedicated my life to this cooperative producing organic,” a 60-year-old member of ‘Cooperativa Agricoltura Nuova’ (‘New Agriculture Cooperative’), tells IPS. The cooperative extends for hundreds of hectares, only 10 km from the centre of Rome, and exclusively produces organic products.

“Our cooperative is a reality already on its feet, it does not need to be built from the ground up,” he adds. “What worries me – and worries us all in here – is in fact the generational turnover: for the most part we are old people – over 50-60 years old – working here. There are no young people working here, they don’t want to.”

The fear of the farmers, breeders and beekepers working there, is that this area will one day die, because there will be no one able to manage all the activities that the Cooperativa Agricoltura Nuova deals with today.

“I am terrified by this perspective,” Davide Pastorelli, one of the very few young people working in this cooperative, told IPS. Pastorelli is only 30 years old and has been working at Cooperativa Agricoltura Nuova for 10 years, managing the production of milk and cheese. He frequently has to train people who come to work, but who they usually only stay for a short time and leave.

“Many young people are simply not willing to work hard in the farmlands, this is the reality,” he said. “If there were not many migrants and many disabled, who stay here relatively for a long term working for us, I would not really know how we could move forward.”

Cooperativa Agricoltura Nuova is an ‘integrated cooperative’, which means that it promotes a policy of integration within it, and this explains the presence of migrants and disabled people with mental illnesses. “By law, we should have at least 30 percent of disabled people among our workers while instead there are many more,” explains Letizia, a member of the Cooperative.

Perspectives: “Italy still has a long way to go”

Based on the positive data raised above by the FSI, Italy is on track, but at the same time it should not underestimate any challenge, either in the short or in the long-term. For example, Italy’s score in the nutritional pillar of the FSI was only moderate, with some high scores within the ‘life quality’ and ‘life expectancy’ categories, let down by weak indicators within the dietary patterns category. In particular, indicators like ‘physical activity’, ‘number of people per fast food restaurant’ or ‘policy response to dietary patterns’, have not so enviable scores compared to other countries, making the nutritional pillar the one which surely Italy must keep the most under observation.

What should not be underestimated is also the goal of reducing food waste and raising awareness in terms of dietary patterns. Italy, through a deep-rooted attention to the quality of food and tradition linked to the ‘Mediterranean diet’ – identified as the most balanced by nutritionists around the world – is at the top of the world for longevity, scoring 89.10 out of 100 on the FSI. “However,” warned Bazzana, “it is true that, especially in the new generations, there is a risk that these good eating habits linked to the Mediterranean diet, will be lost to the advantage of less balance food models, borrowed from bad habits and imported behaviours.” 

“In the 130 researches attached to the ‘Manifesto for Food and Health’, a document edited by the Navdanya International organisation, and which aims to be a useful tool for all those who want to start a transition towards a more sustainable paradigm, many of the critical issues highlighted, closely concern Italy,” said Cavazzoni.

“The fact that today the food is bought canned and inundated by a “shrewd” marketing at the supermarket, has separated what is the knowledge about food from what is its nutritional function, which very often is poor,” said Cavazzoni. “And instead, we have to recover these steps”.

He said that the crucial point of the discussion is that biological consumption must become something ‘popular’, which means ‘of the people’.

“That does not mean massified and trivialised. “We must favour disintermediation, that is, to get producers close to consumers as fast as possible, along the food chain. And we must revive the farmers’ markets because industrial production and supermarkets not only are they damaging small producers, but they are also compromising the quality itself of our food,” said Cavazzoni.

“Connecting consumers and producers, without giving up on the issue of quality and on that of the maximum price of food. This is the crucial point on which we must work.”

The post Italy Has the ‘Greenest Agriculture’ in Europe, But it’s Not Sustainable appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/italy-greenest-agriculture-europe-not-sustainable/feed/ 0
Changing the Gender Bias in Agriculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/changing-gender-bias-agriculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=changing-gender-bias-agriculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/changing-gender-bias-agriculture/#respond Sat, 22 Dec 2018 13:46:06 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159427 Women entrepreneurs are playing an important role in transforming global food security for economic growth, but they have to work twice as hard as men to succeed in agribusiness. “Agriculture and agribusiness are generally perceived as run by men,” entrepreneur and Director of  the Nairobi-based African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) Beatrice Gakuba, told IPS. […]

The post Changing the Gender Bias in Agriculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Urban farmer, Elizabeth Tshuma in her horticulture plot, at Hyde Park outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Many say women entrepreneurs face more challenges in getting their foot in the door in agricultural business than men. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
WAGENINGEN, the Netherlands, Dec 22 2018 (IPS)

Women entrepreneurs are playing an important role in transforming global food security for economic growth, but they have to work twice as hard as men to succeed in agribusiness.

“Agriculture and agribusiness are generally perceived as run by men,” entrepreneur and Director of  the Nairobi-based African Women in Agribusiness Network (AWAN) Beatrice Gakuba, told IPS. She noted that women entrepreneurs have to prove themselves, even though they are as capable and innovative as men.

“Women entrepreneurs face more challenges in getting their foot in the door in agricultural business than men when it comes to access to finance because of several factors, including socio-cultural beliefs,” adds Gakuba, who runs a flower export business.

“The relationship between money and human beings has always been handled by men, so when a woman says ‘I want to grow my business, or I want to get a loan’, there are many questions asked. Women define agribusiness because more are employed in agriculture.”

Opening opportunities, closing barriers

Agriculture is an important source of livelihood for the poorest and is a way of eradicating extreme poverty, especially among rural women. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), if women had the same access as men to resources such as information, land, improved technologies and credit facilities, they could increase agricultural yields by up to 30 percent, and lift more than 100 million people out of hunger.

Given their contribution to agricultural development, how can women be empowered, and how can digitalisation in agriculture help to close the growing gender gap? These were some of the critical questions posed at a recent workshop hosted in Wageningen by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

The workshop, organised this month around the theme of ‘Making next generation agriculture work for women, explored concrete strategies for creating and improving women’s opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness. The three-day event drew 40 participants from African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries working to advance women’s position and performance in the agriculture sector.

CTA Director Michael Hailu reflected on the question of how to ensure that women have a fair share of the benefits of agriculture and value addition.

“In Africa, 68 percent of economically active women are in agriculture, but they get very little benefit from it,” said Hailu, citing disparities between the amount of labour women invest in agriculture and the volume of their earnings.

Being a woman entrepreneur in agribusiness comes with a catalogue of challenges, which include gender inequality, cultural and social barriers, limited markets, lack of land tenure, and skewed access to knowledge and information, finance and a range of productive assets.

“Women put in more into agriculture, but get far less from it, and can do more with a little recognition of their innovation and knack for enterprise,” said Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna, senior technical adviser for value chains and agribusiness at CTA.

CTA recently launched VALUE4HER, a collaborative project with AWAN and the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), in an effort to help women develop agribusinesses and derive more income from agri-food markets.

“We want to bring in more young women to be job creators and not just job seekers,” said Irene Ochem, entrepreneur and CEO of AWIEF. “Women entrepreneurs face barriers of not having adequate management and business leadership skills, and we try to address these through networks.”

Urban farmer, Elizabeth Tshuma in her horticulture plot, at Hyde Park outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Lack of access to technology is a one of major challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in agriculture. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Designing the right interventions

Inclusion and equal participation in agricultural production has long been an issue for women farmers and entrepreneurs.

“It is important to recognise that culture is part of agriculture,” said anthropologist Deborah Rubin, co-founder of Cultural Practice, a United States-based consulting firm working on gender in agriculture, health, evaluation and monitoring.

“We have to look at the cultural context in the way in which production takes place. What is important is to see the cultural context as enabling rather than as an impediment,” she added, warning against generalisation about the rigid roles of women and men in agriculture.

Roles have changed over time in response to conditions in and outside the community, said Rubin. She stressed the need to focus on specific constraints faced by women in agriculture, in order to design the right interventions.

“We have to look for things we can do immediately – either provide support, or change a discriminatory policy, or give access, for example for women to be able to cultivate land, not necessary ownership but to provide access,” said Rubin.

Closing the gender gap?

Researcher and development economist Cheryl Doss said the narrative about women and agricultural productivity should be reframed because narrow analyses have diverted focus from the bigger and more important question of how to target women for agricultural development interventions. In a 2017 research study, Doss cautions that genderblind approaches to designing interventions will miss key constraints, opportunities and impacts, because gender is embedded in the distribution of all resources for agriculture.

Despite the challenges of entering and staying in agribusiness, change lies within women themselves: “Women empower themselves,” said Rubin. “There is a role for policies and organisations to support the act of women empowering themselves, but in the end it is the women who have to take that responsibility, and who can act on it.”

The post Changing the Gender Bias in Agriculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/changing-gender-bias-agriculture/feed/ 0
Overfishing Threatens Malawi’s Blue Economyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/overfishing-threatens-malawis-blue-economy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=overfishing-threatens-malawis-blue-economy http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/overfishing-threatens-malawis-blue-economy/#respond Fri, 21 Dec 2018 17:38:12 +0000 Mabvuto Banda http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159420 Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake, provides an economic lifeline to many fishing families. But overfishing is affecting many of these lives, with women being affected the most. The lake, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique, has the largest number of endemic fish species in the world — 90 […]

The post Overfishing Threatens Malawi’s Blue Economy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Judith Twaili shows where she used to dry the fish catch when business was better. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS

By Mabvuto Banda
MANGOCHI, Malawi, Dec 21 2018 (IPS)

Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest lake, provides an economic lifeline to many fishing families. But overfishing is affecting many of these lives, with women being affected the most.

The lake, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique, has the largest number of endemic fish species in the world — 90 percent out of the almost 1,000 species of fish in the lake can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development estimates that fishing contributes about four percent to Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP), and that it employs about 300,000 people.

However, that is probably not the case now because fish stocks in the lake have been dwindling over the years due to over-fishing and women are the hardest hit.

Judith Kananji’s life-changing story tells it all. Kananji who is from a fishing family in Micesi Village Traditional Authority Mponda, in the lakeshore district of Mangochi, says she has in the meantime stopped purchasing fish because the trade is no longer lucrative compared to in previous years.

“The problem is that the fish is no longer found in abundance and it’s only the small fish available at the moment and it’s expensive. Unlike before we were having bigger fish which was easy to make profits. This time around it is hard to purchase small fish to sell at a higher price,” she told IPS.

“About 8 years ago, I used to make a good profit from capital of about MK100, 000 (137 dollars). But now it is even impossible to make profits with a working capital of MK800, 000 (1,095 dollars),” she said.

According to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), protocol report, “Years ago, it was the norm to catch about 5,000 fish a day, but now, fishers catch about one-fifth of that, or even as less as a mere 300 fish a day.”

Kananji said that the increase of fishing vessels on the lake has negatively contributed to depleting fish levels because there is stiff competition among the fishermen, which is leading to overfishing.

But SADC also said, “The rapid drop in Lake Malawi’s water levels, driven by population growth, climate change and deforestation, is threatening its flora and fauna species with extinction.”

Kananji said: “Sadly it is us women who buy fish from fishermen who have been pushed out of business because fishermen in most cases raise their prices to meet operating costs whenever there is a small catch.”

“This works to our disadvantage because fish prices at the market are always low,” she added.

Just like Kananji, Chrissy Mbatata received a loan from a micro finance lending institution popularly known as village bank to bank roll her fish selling business.

Mbatata is, however, in more trouble. She is currently struggling to settle the loan.

“Initially it was easy for me to pay the loan and support my family because I was making good money. Now it is even hard to break even. Fish is not available and I don’t know where the money to pay back the loan and support my family will come from,” Mbatata told IPS.

The dwindling fish is not only affecting businesses but also the protein intake in a country where the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund says around 46 percent of children under five are stunted, 21 percent are underweight, and four percent are wasted and Micronutrient deficiencies are common.

“Chambo [the famous local fish] used to be the cheapest source of protein for us but now it’s now a luxury we only can afford at month-ends. Imagine a single fish going at K1 800 (2.4 dollars)?” said Angela Malajira, a widow of four from Lilongwe’s Area 23 suburb.

To reverse the trend government and fishing communities have found sustainable ways to harness the industry by setting up some rules and empower chiefs to implement them.

Every year, the government prohibits fishing on the lake from the month of November to December 31 to allow breeding to take place.

Interestingly this has been well received, without any resistance, from fishing communities because they understand the importance of increasing the fish levels in the lake.

Instead the communities have formulated their own bylaws outlawing fishing from November to March —  extending the fishing for 5 months.

Vice Chairperson for Makanjira Beach Village Committee Malufu Shaibu said the fishing communities agree that fishing on the lake should shut down for a long time because it has shown that the move can help to improve fish levels on lake.

He explained that during the past five months, assessment has shown that there are more fish species and volume that have started to be seen on the lake as opposed to when the lake was closed for two months
only.

“We want the lake to be closed for six months. We are glad that now we have a lot of fish due to the prolonged time of breeding which we gave the fish,” said Shaibu.

“Our children will now be able to see fish the way we saw them. The benefits for closing the lake for a long time are more than the disadvantage.”

But Shaibu, like Kananji, complained that commercial fishermen are derailing their efforts to improve fish stocks.

Mangochi District Fisheries Officer Thomas Nyasulu said that an office they are working with the newly revived Fisheries Association of Malawi to rein in on big commercial fishermen on the lake.
He said closing the lake for a long period of time would make their work more easy and fulfilling.

“It is good that the fishermen are suggesting this move. It can really help a lot. On regulating the commercial fishermen, we are working with fisheries association of Malawi in making sure that all big fishermen are following their fishing grounds,” said Nyasulu.

The bylaws are working. In April this year a 40-year-old man was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of K800,000 (1,095 dollars) or in default serve 60 months imprisonment with hard labour for fishing on the lake when had closed contravening the  fisheries conservation and Management Act.

The Magistrate Court sentenced Kennedy Fatchi of Makawa Village in the area of Traditional Authority Mponda in the district after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Police prosecutor Maxwell Mwaluka told the court that on March 4, 2018 the chiefs working with the Fisheries Inspectorate in the district came across a commercial fishing company on the lake fishing.

He said the team seized the fishing materials and the convict was charged with three counts which he pleaded guilty to.

“This is the only way we can go back to having more fish in our lake which would inadvertently improve our lives,” said Kananji.

The post Overfishing Threatens Malawi’s Blue Economy appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/overfishing-threatens-malawis-blue-economy/feed/ 0
As Climate Change Pummels Agriculture, Irrigation Offers the Best Protectionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-change-pummels-agriculture-irrigation-offers-best-protection/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-pummels-agriculture-irrigation-offers-best-protection http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-change-pummels-agriculture-irrigation-offers-best-protection/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 11:58:13 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159357 The changing climate and extreme weather events are affecting agricultural productivity in Africa to such an extent that a panel of experts are urging governments to prioritise and invest in irrigation to ensure food security. Increased heat spells, coupled with flash flooding and frequent droughts, are making farming impossible and unprofitable as many African smallholder […]

The post As Climate Change Pummels Agriculture, Irrigation Offers the Best Protection appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

A farmer waters her plot at the Tjankwa Irrigation Scheme, in Plumtree District, 100km west of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS.

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Dec 19 2018 (IPS)

The changing climate and extreme weather events are affecting agricultural productivity in Africa to such an extent that a panel of experts are urging governments to prioritise and invest in irrigation to ensure food security.

Increased heat spells, coupled with flash flooding and frequent droughts, are making farming impossible and unprofitable as many African smallholder farmers rely on rain-fed agriculture.

Irrigation development can increase food security while extending the growing season, securing more income and jobs, said the Malabo Montpellier Panel, a group of international experts guiding policy to boost food and nutrition security in Africa.

Irrigation the best investment

In a study launched this week, the Malabo Montpellier Panel said Africa has the potential to irrigate 47 million hectares. This can boost agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods and accelerate economic growth.

“A number of economies in Africa depend on agriculture,” said Ousmane Badiane, Malabo Montpellier Panel co-chair and Africa director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). “That is why water control and irrigation are important to reduce poverty and to eradicate hunger across Africa.”

About 20 percent of cultivated land worldwide is irrigated and this contributes to about 40 percent of total food output, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Africa is one of the regions in the world with the highest number of people who are hungry. It also has the lowest crop yields in the world as only six percent of cultivated land is irrigated on the continent, compared to 14 percent in Latin America and 37 percent in Asia.

“Irrigation must be made a priority in Africa because it works,” Badiane told IPS. “Once you commit to irrigation as a high-level priority, you put into place the institution mechanisms to deliver that effectively within government but in partnership with private sector and local communities.”

In 2014, 54 African governments signed the Malabo Declaration committing to halve the number of people in poverty by 2025. They sought to do this through agriculture growth that creates job opportunities for young people and women.

A study, Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies for Africa found that irrigated crops can double yields compared to rain-fed yields on the continent.

Furthermore, the economic benefits of expanding areas under irrigation would be double the costs of rain-fed agriculture under climate change.

Greater levels of irrigation have led to better and longer harvests, higher incomes and better prospects for farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Niger and South Africa.

These six countries are success models for either having the largest irrigated areas or for achieving the fastest growth in expanding irrigation agriculture. For example, Ethiopia increased the area under irrigation by almost 52 percent between 2002 and 2014, achieving the fastest growth in irrigation in Africa. Morocco has nearly 20 percent of its arable land currently equipped for irrigation.

A member of the 8-hectare Tjankwa Irrigation Scheme, in Plumtree District, 100km west of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS.

Success in the crop yields

In Zimbabwe, FAO has implemented a 6.8 million dollar Smallholder Irrigation Programme (SIP) programme in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (MAMID) funded by European Union (EU) to improve income, food and nutrition security of communal farmers involved in small-scale irrigation. The programme has seen the rehabilitation of 40 irrigation schemes has benefitted 2,000 households in Manicaland and Matabeleland South Province.

Smallholder farmers in Matabeleland South Province are benefitting from irrigation schemes, which have allowed them to increase productivity even during droughts.

Landelani Ndlovu, a member of the 8-hectare Tjankwa Irrigation Scheme, says she earns 400 dollars from growing vegetables under a community irrigation project that started in 2012.

“Irrigation has helped us produce more vegetables and crops and to increase our income which we would not do if we relied on the seasonal farming when we have rain,” Ndlovu said.

In West Africa, Patience Koku, who farms with a pivot irrigation system, tells IPS, “the importance of irrigation in increasing grain yields cannot be over emphasised.”

“We are currently able to grow two crop cycles a year, meaning we double our output annually. In addition to this our grain yields are always higher in our irrigated crop. Corn cobs fill up completely to the tip, translating in higher yields,” Koku said.

Filling the funding gaps

“The profitability of irrigation is proven and in most cases there are high rates of return,” said Badiane. “A commitment was made by African leaders in Maputo in 2003 for countries to allocate 10 percent of their national budgets for agriculture. If they did so, a fraction of that could fund the 47 million hectares of irrigation. The funding gap for irrigation is huge because the potential is large.”

Badiane said by making irrigation a high-level priority, African governments can attract private sector investment and innovation and facilitate the uptake of technologies in growing agriculture to drive economic growth. Improved regulations for safe and sustainable use of water are also a driving factor in promoting irrigation development.

Irrigation allows farmers to produce crops over extended periods, particularly in areas where there is one rainy, Badiane said, noting that there was a business case for investing in irrigation as a way to pull farmers out of poverty while securing food and income.

Expanding what works

Badiane said irrigation development will help deliver on the food security and nutrition targets under the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Malabo Declaration. A critical factor was getting the buy-in of decision makers at the highest level of government who need proof that irrigation works.

Decision makers do not take innovation lightly because they know the cost of failure is extremely high, said Badiane, adding that scaling up irrigation development will aid agricultural transformation.

Africa, in particular, will require nothing short of a complete water transformation,” says Nathanial Matthews, Programme Director at the Global Resilience Partnership a partnership of public and private organisations that work together to build a resilient, “sustainable and prosperous future for vulnerable people and places”.

He urged Africa to transform its water use by scaling up traditional practices, deploying new technologies and improving governance.

“Taking action is urgent, with 95 pe cent of the continent relying on rain-fed agriculture and 25 countries already experiencing widespread hunger, poverty and under nutrition,” Matthews told IPS.

The post As Climate Change Pummels Agriculture, Irrigation Offers the Best Protection appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/climate-change-pummels-agriculture-irrigation-offers-best-protection/feed/ 0
Q&A: Many African Countries Already Live the Future of 2°C Warmerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 11:01:50 +0000 Isaiah Esipisu http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159249 As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue. According […]

The post Q&A: Many African Countries Already Live the Future of 2°C Warmer appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at the World Food Programme says that because of climate change the number of natural disasters in the world have doubled since 1990. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

By Isaiah Esipisu
KATOWICE, Poland, Dec 14 2018 (IPS)

As the United Nations climate conference nears an end, all eyes are on the negotiators  who have been working day and night for the past two weeks to come up with a Rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

However, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), climate change is also a humanitarian issue.

According to the humanitarian organisation, natural disasters such as droughts, storms and floods, have doubled since the 1990s.

“So nowadays there are so many people who require food assistance and other humanitarian aid after disasters than it was a few decades ago,” Gernot Laganda, Chief of the Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes at WFP, tells IPS at the sidelines of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Kotowice, Poland.

“We are also concerned because with humanitarian aid, we cannot run fast enough as the problem of hunger in the world is running away from us,” Laganda says.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people increased to over 820 million in 2017 from approximately 804 million in 2016. And Laganda says the ‘trend is on the rise”.

“When we look into a future of 2 degrees Celsius warmer world, it means we will have over a billion people who are at risk of hunger and food security,” he says. Excepts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): How is climate change impacting on food security?

Gernot Laganda (GL): Climate change affects food security in two principle ways. First, there is the whole question around agriculture from production of crops, to the storage to the transport to the market. Climate change can affect each of these stages.

The other one is about extreme events that keep throwing people back into poverty. Each year, 28 million people fall back into poverty because of extreme weather events. That means no matter how much development progress we are making to achieve zero hunger by 2030, every year we slide back, and that is a concern.

IPS: Will women’s ownership of land be of good value especially for climate adaptation?

GL: Having ownership of land certainly increases sustainability of agriculture production because people look after their land. In many cases, development projects fail also because land ownership and who has the right to use the land for how long has not been considered. So it is a big factor in development.

Of course when you mention the issue of ownership of land, then the whole issue of gender comes in, in various ways. On one side, there is a discussion about women being vulnerable in general. But we see it in slightly a different way.  We see it as women being agents of change in many countries and in many communities, so when you want to invest in a sustainable manner, it is a very good idea to have women saving groups. They have very good experiences in building risk reserves. And whenever there are little problems for example when the rains come late, it becomes very efficient to go through such crises. But when it comes to catastrophic shocks, we look more at insurance based models.

IPS: Do you see this COP solving some of the climate problems in relation to food security?

GL: This COP is primarily about implementing the Paris agreement and maintaining the global average of temperature increases well below two degrees Celsius. I think in all the discussions about temperature ranges we tend to forget that many countries, especially in Africa, are already experiencing two degrees Celsius of temperature increase. So the reality in these countries look like what we are still discussing here. Indeed, many African countries already live the future that we are collectively still trying to avoid.

IPS: How has climate change contributed in terms of displacing families?

GL: Statistics from the last 10 years tell us that on average 22 million people are driven from their homes every year because of climate extremes. Migration is actually a traditional adaptation mechanism because people move to other places in search of greener pastures, job opportunities and so on. But we are talking about forced displacement due to climate related disasters. Climate related events can also aggravate conflicts at local levels between farmers and herders for example, or it can still happen between countries especially where we have large international river basins.

IPS: What does the latest  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report mean to Africa in terms of food security?

GL: All countries are affected by climate change but agrarian countries feel it the most. In Africa, many countries have a huge percentage of their GDP coming from agriculture. That makes such economies very vulnerable because agriculture is about climate sensitive resources such as water, crops, fish-stock, livestock among others. All poor countries that heavily depend on natural resources are the most impacted.

IPS: What are your expectations for COP24?

GL: Everybody’s expectation is that we will have a Rulebook by the end of the COP. But there is also a recognition that this is not an easy task because for one it is difficult enough to agree on what we want to do. But [the Rulebook] is about how we are going to hold ourselves accountable.

In the Rulebook, I expect to see a regime by which countries can track and report on the degrees of their progress against their self set targets or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The post Q&A: Many African Countries Already Live the Future of 2°C Warmer appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/qa-many-african-countries-already-live-future-2c-warmer/feed/ 0
Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainabilityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/#respond Mon, 26 Nov 2018 07:33:30 +0000 Stella Paul http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158858 As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. […]

The post Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainability appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

An organic farmer in his sustainable farm in Paro, Bhutan. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

By Stella Paul
MILAN, Italy, Nov 26 2018 (IPS)

As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. Along with rising hunger, food security has declined across Africa and South America while undernourishment is on the rise again in Asia, said the report which attributed the changing scenario to climate-related changes, adverse economic conditions and conflict. With this alarming picture as the backdrop, the 9th Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan is all set to take off on November 27.

A Diverse, Promising Platform

Founded with the aim to “provide an open space for interdisciplinary discussion on issues of nutrition and sustainability,” the annual 2 day BCFN forum has always drawn food and nutrition experts, policy makers, media leaders and civil society. With a long line of speakers from governments, academia, business, research and media organizations, this year’s forum also appears promising where participants and followers can expect rich and diverse opinions, stories, and ideas, especially on sustainable food –which is the core focus area at this year’s forum. There is also a long list of topics being discussed that include hunger and obesity, optimum use of natural resources, reducing food waste, promoting sustainable diets, and the effects of climate change.

SDGs, Collaborative Food Action in Focus

The 2-day event is co-hosted by BCFN, in joint collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), and is designed to have three sessions. The first session focused on understanding the three paradoxes of food: An obese planet dying of hunger; competition for natural resource among people, animals, and cars; and food loss and food waste. Session two is focused on the role of agriculture, nutrition, and food in migration and development while the third and fine session focuses on solutions towards a sustainable urban food system.

A prawn farmer selling his produce in Can Tho of Vietnam. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The Forum also will present the publication Food and Cities, a joint initiative between BCFN and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) which highlights effective food policies of various European Cities.

It is estimated that over 50 per cent of the world’s population today live in cities – a number expected to rise to 80% by 2050. If such trend continues undeterred, current food systems cannot meet the growing demand with sustainable development, especially since high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming directly affects food production. Also, rising demand for food will require more water and land which will be in shortage due to raising of animals, grazing and cultivation of fodder.

The MUFPP which has 180 signatory cities worldwide, is an excellent example of collaborative action taken by cities to deal with the food security issues of tomorrow. The BCFN will, therefore, be a window to this global food action.

Food Sustainability and Role of Media

A salient feature of the forum has been its strong focus on the role of media in highlighting food and nutrition issues and also helping create a model for food sustainability, especially in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For the second year on, the forum is hosting the Food Sustainability Media Award – an international contest that recognizes journalistic excellence in reporting on food from a different perspective and turning the spotlight on food sustainability. Apart from this, the pool of speakers also has a number of leading voices from media who will share their experiences of covering food and nutrition issues, throwing light on the biggest challenges faced by the global communities as well as the solutions that are working on the ground.

The full agenda of the event can be accessed here

The post Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainability appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/amidst-rising-hunger-bcfn-forum-promote-food-sustainability/feed/ 0
Lack of Funds Prevent Ugandan Communities from Investing in Cage Aquaculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture/#respond Mon, 12 Nov 2018 13:31:48 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158459 Colvince Mubiru had heard about cage fish farming on Uganda’s lakes. The small business owner decided to try his hand at it and spent USD8,000 to set up farming cages for Nile Tilapia on Lake Victoria, expecting to reap a huge profit. But just six months into his enterprise, he made huge losses. “It was […]

The post Lack of Funds Prevent Ugandan Communities from Investing in Cage Aquaculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Fishermen on the Ugandan side of Lake Victoria. Uganda has ventured into non-traditional methods of fishing on the lake with a few of companies using cage fishing. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

By Wambi Michael
JINJA, Uganda, Nov 12 2018 (IPS)

Colvince Mubiru had heard about cage fish farming on Uganda’s lakes. The small business owner decided to try his hand at it and spent USD8,000 to set up farming cages for Nile Tilapia on Lake Victoria, expecting to reap a huge profit. But just six months into his enterprise, he made huge losses.

“It was too costly to manage so I could not continue because I could have lost all I had,” Mubiru tells IPS.

Both Uganda and neighbouring Kenya have introduced cage fish farming as a sustainable method of ensuring a steady supply of fish stock from Lake Victoria.

Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria, is shared by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. It has, according to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Management Plan III, “experienced dramatic ecosystem change over time resulting into loss of more than 500 endemic haplochromine fish species.”

Uganda began promoting cage fish farming in 2006. Cage culture encloses the fish in a cage or basket made up of floats, anchors and a frame, submerged to a depth of 10 metres.

In Uganda, small tilapia of no less than one gram are stocked in nursery cages at a density of 1,000 – 2,500 fish. These are reared to at least 15 grams in eight weeks, graded, and stocked in production cages and then reared for a further six to seven months to reach a weight of 350-600 grams before they are harvested.

Fifty-two-year-old Joseph Okeny first became a fisherman on Lake Victoria in 1997. But he abandoned wild fishing two years ago at a time when illegal fishing methods were rife and fish were scarce in Lake Victoria. He has since started a boat cruising business instead.

“You could stay on the lake for almost the entire day but could not get enough fish for consumption at home and for sale,” Okeny tells IPS.

But things have changed since Okeny stopped fishing for a living. According to the Status of Fish Stocks in Lake Victoria 2017, released in December by the NaFIRRI of Uganda, the Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) of Kenya and the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI), fish stocks in the lake have recovered by 30 percent compared to 2016 figures.

This also included the stock of Nile perch, a fish not native to the lake, which was introduced in the 1960s.

The increase in stock is noted also in a study by the Makerere University-based Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), which said aquaculture fish production in Uganda alone increased from approximately 10,000 MT per annum in 2005 to approximately 100,000 MT per annum in 2013 – accounting for around 20 percent of the total national fish production in Uganda. The study said 899 tonnes of fish were being produced in Uganda from cages in every six- to eight-month production cycle.

It also stated that there were 28 registered cage culture farmers in Uganda, with a total of 2,135 cages around Lake Victoria alone. However, KMFRI reported last month that this figure is now close to 3,696.

IPS travelled to Uganda’s Jinja district area on Lake Victoria and discovered that six cage fish farms are owned by foreign investors.

The largest of the six sells fish retail to residents around Bugungu where it has established several nursery ponds. It exports the rest to Kenya, DRC and Europe.

Asked why there were no local fish farmers with established cages on the lake, Okeny believes that adopting that technology requires financing that locals cannot afford.

Aside from the cost of the cage, which can start at USD 350, seed or fingerlings, depending on the size, can cost about USD 270, according to Uganda’s National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI). There is also the added cost of feed for the fish.

Fish farming cage on Lake Victoria. Cage culture encloses the fish in a cage or basket made up of floats, anchors and a frame, submerged to a depth of 10 metres. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

Dr. Richard Ogutu-Ohwayo, a Fish Biology and Ecology specialist with NaFIRRI, has worked in Uganda’s fisheries research for over 40 years, and agrees with Okeny about the cost.

“Cage fish farming is extremely expensive and you are keeping fish in a small area. If you don’t look after them very well, it is not only the environment which is going to lose, but you are also going to lose,” Ogutu-Ohwayo tells IPS.

“It is not cheap when compared to farming in ponds. And that is why cage fish farming must be practiced as a business just like you rear broiler chicken,” says Ogutu-Ohwayo.

Pointing to an abandoned cage floating within the area allocated to fish cages of an international company, Okeny says some locals tried to invest in cages but got their fingers burnt.

“They thought that cage fish farming brings money and they also started fish farming without having enough capital to buy feed,” explains Okeny.

“These people started without consulting those who have experience. So they failed and most of them withdrew from the business. So that is why you see only one cage remaining,” says Okeny.

Researchers of the survey “Prospects of Cage Fish Farming in South Western Uganda” published in June suggest that lack of funds is the main constraint in cage aquaculture and not lack of feed and fingerlings, as has been suggested in other studies in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gerald Kwikirizaa, one of those involved in the survey, told IPS that the results suggested that lack of funds to purchase inputs was the main constraint in cage aquaculture in South Western Uganda.

He suggested that the government could boost cage fish farming through subsidising feed cost for small-holders, especially if quality floating feed is produced locally.

This cage fish farmer plans to harvest fish from the fishing cages on Lake Victoria. Credit: Wambi Michael/IPS

Fishery development is one of the key global development goals in Agenda 2030, which comprises the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with countries seeking to support the restoration of fish stocks to improve safe and diversified healthy diets.

Ending hunger, securing food supplies and promoting good health and sustainable fisheries are among the topics to be discussed at the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being held in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28. Over 7,000 participants from 150 countries will be discussing, among other things, how to build safe and resilient communities and to ensure healthy and productive waters.

According to Ogutu-Ohwaayo, cage fish farming is common in the Great Lakes of North America. He said Africa should utilise its inland waters to produce more fish instead of relying on declining wild fish populations.

He added that if properly and systematically developed, it can be another means of food production, explaining that 21 percent of Uganda is made up of fresh water, meaning land for food production is scarce. “So we must use our water to produce food. And cage fish farming is one way of using our waters, in addition to other services, to actually produce food,” Ogutu-Ohwayo further explains.

He said Uganda’s population, which is growing at over three percent a year, cannot survive only on wild fishing, which has stagnated.

Ogutu-Ohwayo said aquaculture is the fastest growing food industry in the world and provides an option for meeting the deficit in fish production.

Uganda’s fisheries production for capture fisheries and aquaculture is estimated at 400,000 tons per year, which is not sufficient to meet growing demand. The six kg per capita fish consumption is far below the FAO-WHO recommended level of 17.5 kg.

“My conviction is that Africa should not be left behind in cage fish farming. And we have the capacity not to be left behind if we do it well,” said Ogutu-Ohwayo, also a board member of the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR), a scientific organisation made up of researchers studying the Laurentian Great Lakes, other large lakes of the world, and their watersheds.

There have been regional efforts to address the declining fish stocks through innovative technologies.

Ogutu-Ohwa told IPS that he is mobilising fellow researchers from the African Great Lakes region to develop best practices for what he described as an “important emerging production industry.”

“You must follow best management practices. Just like you would manage a zero-grazing cow. You must put in adequate management. We as scientists are doing our best to develop these best management practices,” says Ogutu-Ohwayo.

A project known as Promoting Environmentally, Economically and Socially Sustainable Cage Aquaculture on the African Great Lakes (PESCA) is part of the efforts to address social and environmental concerns related to cage culture.

It operates in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and generally in the African Great Lakes. PESCA has been operational since the beginning of June 2018.

“There have been concerns that cage fish farming is going to spoil the quality of the water. We want to develop tools that would promote cage fish farming in an environmentally and social way,” said Ogutu-Ohwayo.

Meanwhile, Okeny tells IPS that the introduction of cage fish farming and the efforts by the government to fight illegal fishing seem to be paying off.“Now when people go fishing they come back with good fish because that bad practice has been controlled,” says Okeny

He has seen the negative and positive aspects of cage fishing farming. “I think cage fish farming is very productive going by the amount of fish harvested by [a cage fishing company] fish. And because of that, they are paying their workers very well,” Okeny tells IPS as he docks his boat after a busy day.

The post Lack of Funds Prevent Ugandan Communities from Investing in Cage Aquaculture appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/lack-funds-prevent-ugandan-communities-investing-cage-aquaculture/feed/ 0
Making Agriculture Coolhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/making-agriculture-cool/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=making-agriculture-cool http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/making-agriculture-cool/#respond Thu, 08 Nov 2018 17:43:24 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158598 At every conference she has attended on the youth, Nawsheen Hosenally has been frustrated to hear that agriculture is not ‘cool’. The 29-year-old graduate in agricultural extension and information systems knew she wanted to do something to redeem the image of agriculture among young people. So the Mauritian and her Burkanibe, journalist husband decided to co-founded […]

The post Making Agriculture Cool appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Young farmers and brothers Prosper and Prince Chikwara are using precision farming techniques at their horticulture farm, outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/ IPS

By Busani Bafana
WAGENINGEN, The Netherlands, Nov 8 2018 (IPS)

At every conference she has attended on the youth, Nawsheen Hosenally has been frustrated to hear that agriculture is not ‘cool’. The 29-year-old graduate in agricultural extension and information systems knew she wanted to do something to redeem the image of agriculture among young people.

So the Mauritian and her Burkanibe, journalist husband decided to co-founded Agribusiness TV. Content for the channel is viewed through the website where short video stories about successful youth entrepreneurs who have careers in agriculture are uploaded.

“I had heard so much about how uncool agriculture was and realised no one changes this image but youth themselves,” Hosenally tells IPS.

“Our tagline at Agribusiness TV is ‘seeing is believing’. The visuals showing success stories in agriculture have greater impact than, for instance, reading a publication. Slowly, youth are seeing agriculture differently.”

With a little help from their mobile phones, apps, YouTube and Facebook, young entrepreneurs like Hosenally are changing the face of farming across Africa. Despite having 60 percent of the world’s arable and uncultivated land, the African continent is battling to eliminate hunger and poverty as the majority of its smallholder farmers are getting older, and realising lower crop yields than before.

The likelihood of the agriculture sector spurring Africa’s economic turnaround are huge, as are the challenges of attracting young farmers to an industry employing more than 60 percent of the continent’s population.

Population experts project that Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion people in the next 40 years. This will place pressure on African governments to deliver more food, energy, jobs shelter, health and better standards of living for their citizens.

The digitalisation of agriculture offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to create disruptive business models that accelerate modernisation of the sector, says Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), based in The Netherlands.

“Young people can relate. When they see other young people doing something, they ask ‘why not me’?” said Hosenally. “By showing that farmers and entrepreneurs can be young and successful, they are changing the narrative about agriculture,” she adds. More young people are tuning into Agribusiness TV for inspiration and farming tips.

The TV channel, which also has a mobile application, attracted 500,000 views in the first year of its launch in 2012. Within six months, the videos had drawn 1 million views. Today, the viewership has increased to more than 8 million on the app, with over 180,000 followers on Facebook and almost 18,000 subscribers on YouTube.

“We conceived it for mobile phones because we were targeting youth,” Hosenally tells IPS. “The statistics are really great and show the audience is growing over time, but in terms of stories we see more impact in the feedback we get. The first impact is when someone is featured online. All of a sudden they are like a star as soon as their video is published. Some have 100,000 views in less than 24 hours. It is visibility that leads to networking and other opportunities.”

A pig farmer from Burkina Faso featured on Agribusiness TV mentioned that he was keen to expand his business into crop production, but did not have a tractor. A Burkinabe living in Spain saw the video and donated a tractor to the young farmer.

“This is the impact we want to see, and this will get more young people to see agriculture as a business,” says Hosenally. She has also created an Agribusiness Shop that sells natural value-added products from youth and women in Burkina Faso through a Facebook page.

More than 1.3 billion people are employed in agriculture across the world, making it one of the largest job providers and key source of income and livelihoods, according to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Farming role models

Youth in Ghana look down on agriculture because they can only see elderly and poor farmers struggling to make ends meet, says Michael Ocansey, a computer science specialist and founder of Agrocenta, an online platform linking small-scale farmers and large farmer organisations in Ghana.

“Many young people move out of the farming communities to the cities to seek delusional greener pastures,” Ocansey tells IPS. “At AgroCenta, we are changing this by improving the financial livelihood of smallholder farmers, and also making agriculture sexier for the younger generation.”

Ocansey admits that examples of struggling farmers still exist, making it hard to undo the perception youth have about farmers and farming. More success stories may help to change the mind-set so that young people are persuaded to make a career in agriculture.

Lilian Mabonga, Head of Programmes at Ustadi foundation, a capacity development organisation based in Kenya, agrees.

“Many youth do not view agriculture favourably, and it is usually seen as something you do when you retire,” says Mabonga.

“Youth are the majority of the population in my country, and agriculture employs more than 40 and agriculture contributes 26 per cent to GDP while providing livelihoods for more than 80 per cent of the population.”

Barriers to young entrepreneurs

Youth entrepreneurs can face rough ground when it comes to planning a future in agriculture. Many lack access to land and infrastructure, and have inadequate skills and knowledge, as well as limited access to agricultural information, markets and finance.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) forecasts that Africa can increase its agricultural output to 880 billion dollars per year by 2030 if it removes barriers to development, which include, among other factors, low investment, poor credit access for farmers, limited market access, and limited use of modern agro inputs and mechanisation.

Already, Africa’s agribusiness market is projected to be valued at 1 trillion dollars by 2030, according to the AfDB.

Show the money

The perception that you can make money on the farm needs to be supported with advise that hard work must be expected, cautions Lawrence Afere (35), founder of Springboard, an online network of producers and rural entrepreneurs in Ondo State of Nigeria.

“When we project farming as a viable economic opportunity for young people, we should tell them it is a process and you have to get your hands dirty,” says Afere whose programme is working with 3,000 members across six states in Nigeria, growing plantains, beans and rice. Springboard gives the farmers inputs and training, and buys back the produce for processing and value addition.

Access to finance tops the farming bucket list. Some initiatives are helping young entrepreneurs to go into agriculture without breaking the bank.

An FAO programme on Youth Employment is helping to beat poverty by developing the technical skills of young people in agriculture. In Guinea Bissau, FAO has promoted skills development for young farmers in aquaculture after realising that its target group of young entrepreneurs did not have the technical skill to run fish farming projects, even if they had all other resources.

Skills, effective policies and a conducive environment are key foundations on which to build successful agribusiness entrepreneurs, argues Tony Nsanganira, a youth employment specialist with FAO in Ghana.

Entrepreneurship needs education too

Despite the many success stories of agripreneurs, one of the evidence-based studies from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that youth entrepreneurship cannot be the solution for the massive youth employment challenge.

Over the next two decades, 440 million young people in sub-Saharan Africa will enter the labour market looking for work, according to the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).

Most youth in sub-Saharan Africa are poorly educated and have low skills, and the majority live in rural areas, says Ji-Yeun Rim, project manager at the OECD’s Development Centre, based in Paris.

“Yet rural youth have high job expectations, and they do not want to farm,” Rim told IPS.

A recent OECD study on rural youth aspirations in developing countries shows that 76 per cent aspire to work in high-skilled occupations, but in reality, only 13 per cent are actually in such jobs.

In the past four years, Rim has coordinated a youth inclusion project supporting governments in nine developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve policies targeting youth.

The post Making Agriculture Cool appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/11/making-agriculture-cool/feed/ 0
“Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy Works”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/governments-starting-see-organic-food-policy-works/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=governments-starting-see-organic-food-policy-works http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/governments-starting-see-organic-food-policy-works/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 18:22:54 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158460 Many countries and farmers around the world are not readily making the switch to organic farming. But the small Himalayan mountain state of Sikkim, which borders Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, is the first 100 percent organic farming state in the world.  Earlier this month, Sikkim, won the Future Policy Award 2018 (FPA) for being the […]

The post “Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy Works” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

According to ‘The World State of Agriculture 2018’, India is the country with the highest number of organic producers (835'000). This is a woman cultivating her tea plantation in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala. Credit: Ilaria Cecilia/IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Oct 31 2018 (IPS)

Many countries and farmers around the world are not readily making the switch to organic farming. But the small Himalayan mountain state of Sikkim, which borders Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, is the first 100 percent organic farming state in the world. 

Earlier this month, Sikkim, won the Future Policy Award 2018 (FPA) for being the first state in the world to declare itself, in 2015, 100 percent organic.

Its path towards becoming completely organic started in 2003, when Chief Minister Pawan Chamling announced the political vision to make Sikkim “the first organic state of India”.

The FPA, also known as the ‘Oscar for Best Policies’ is organised every year by the World Future Council (WFC). The aim of the FPA is to investigate solutions to the challenges in today’s world. The WFC looks at which policies have a holistic and long-term outlook, and which protect the rights of future generations. And once a year the WFC awards showcases the very best of them.

This year, in cooperation with IFOAM-Organics International (IFOAM) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the FPA decided to focus on the best policies to scale up agroecology.

In 2004, one year after the vision was announced, Sikkim adopted its Policy on Organic Farming and in 2010, the state launched the Organic Mission, an action plan to implement the policy. In 2015, thanks to strong political coherence and strategy planning, the goal was achieved.

Among the noteworthy measures adopted by Sikkim during that decade, the fact that 80 percent of the budget between 2010 and 2014 was intended to build the capacity of farmers, rural service providers and certification bodies. The budget also supported farmers in acquiring certifications, and had various measures to provide farmers with quality organic seeds.

Best practices on agroecology: Denmark’s Organic Action Plan

The WFC has also rewarded other government policies with Silver Awards, Vision Awards and Honourable Mentions. Among the Silver awardees was Denmark’s Organic Action Plan, which has become a popular policy planning tool in European countries over the last decade.

Almost 80 percent of Danes purchase organic food and today the country has the highest organic market share in the world (13 percent).

“What has made Danish consumers among the most enthusiastic organic consumers [in the world], is that we have done a lot of consumer information and we have worked strategically with the supermarkets to place organics as part of their strategy to appeal to consumers on the value of food, putting more value into food through organics,” Paul Holmbeck, Political Director of ‘Organic Denmark’, told IPS.

The importance of being organic and agroecological

The policies of Sikkim and Denmark, as well as those of Ecuador and Brazil — countries that also received Silver Awards — are steps towards a world where agroecology becomes widespread and practiced globally. In fact, to conceive cultivated land as ecosystems themselves, in which every living and nonliving component affects every other component, is vital to obtain not only healthy and organic food, but also to preserve our environment.

Indeed, it would be a mistake to think that having organic products on our tables necessarily means having solved all problems related to intensive agriculture and to the damages on the environment.

“Agroecology is one approach that applies ecological concepts and principles to food and farm systems, focusing on the interaction between micro-organisms, plants, animals, humans and the environment, to foster sustainable agriculture development, in order to ensure food security and nutrition for all, now and in the future,” Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General, told IPS. “It is based on co-creation of knowledge, sharing and innovation, combining local, traditional, indigenous practices with multi-disciplinary science.”

Emerging trends on organic

According to the report, The World of Organic Agriculture 2018 – Statistics and Emerging Trends, released earlier this year and authored by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM, 57.8 million hectares (ha) worldwide were farmed organically in 2016. This is an increase of 7.5 million ha (or 13 percent) compared to the previous year.

In 2016, the share of land dedicated to organic farmland increased across the globe: Europe (6.7 percent increase), Asia (34 percent increase), Africa (7 percent increase), Latin America (6 percent increase), North America (5 percent increase).

Australia had the largest agricultural area farmed organically (27.2 million ha), followed by Argentina (3 million ha), and China (2.3 million ha).

In 2016, there were 2.7 million organic farmers. Around 40 percent of whom live in Asia, followed by Africa (27 percent) and Latin America (17 percent).

According to the report, the total area devoted in Asia to organic agriculture was almost 4.9 million ha in 2016 and there were 1.1 million organic producers in the region, with India being the country with the highest number of organic producers (835,000).

So the success of Sikkim is not surprising considering that the Asian continent can be considered among the regions at the forefront of organic production.

Perspectives about the future

However, favouring the scale up of agroecology, which includes producing organic products, is unfortunately not that simple.

“To harness the multiple sustainability benefits that arise from agroecological approaches, as enabling environment is required, including adapted policies, public investments, institutions and research priorities,” said Semedo.  “However, this is not yet a reality in the majority of countries.”

Indeed, poverty, malnutrition, unfair distribution of wealth, decreasing of biodiversity, deterioration of natural resources like soil and water, and climate change are significant challenges in most countries.

Agriculture will become one of the greatest challenges, if not addressed properly. Therefore, moving towards more sustainable agriculture and food systems is certainly a potential part of the solution, not only for our health and wellness but for the planet itself.

“It’s vital for everyone to be organic [and] for every person to eat organic because otherwise people would eat poison and basically writing a recipe for chronic diseases. It could be cancer [as well as] neurological problems,” warned Vandana Shiva, a food and agriculture expert and member of the WFC, told IPS during the ceremony of the Future Policy Award 2018 at FAO headquarters in Rome this October.

“Organic is the only living solution to climate change. Chemical farming is a very big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions but organic farming takes the excess carbon out of the atmosphere and puts it in the soil,” she added.

However, there seems to be a large consensus with the fact that the planet needs to move towards a more sustainable way of living and this is a reason for optimism.

“I’m very optimistic about organics [because] we are creating new solutions for climate and animal welfare, sustainability and good soil every single day,” said Holmbeck. “Governments are starting to see that organic food policy works: it is good for farmers, for consumers and for the planet.”

The post “Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy Works” appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/governments-starting-see-organic-food-policy-works/feed/ 0
Why It is Vital for Everyone to Eat Organichttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/vital-everyone-eat-organic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=vital-everyone-eat-organic http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/vital-everyone-eat-organic/#respond Mon, 29 Oct 2018 17:07:04 +0000 Maged Srour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158424 “Organic is the only living solution to climate change,” says Vandana Shiva, food and agriculture expert and member of the World Future Council (WFC). Nowadays, favouring the scale up of agroecology – which includes producing organic products – is unfortunately not that simple. The WFC, together with International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the […]

The post Why It is Vital for Everyone to Eat Organic appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

By Maged Srour
ROME, Oct 29 2018 (IPS)

“Organic is the only living solution to climate change,” says Vandana Shiva, food and agriculture expert and member of the World Future Council (WFC). Nowadays, favouring the scale up of agroecology – which includes producing organic products – is unfortunately not that simple.

The WFC, together with International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), have identified legal frameworks and policies that feature important elements of agroecology. The awarded policies are real examples of best practices that can contribute substantially to scaling up agroecology as a pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The post Why It is Vital for Everyone to Eat Organic appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/vital-everyone-eat-organic/feed/ 0
Barbados Looks Beyond its Traditional Sugar and Banana Industries into the Deep Bluehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue/#respond Wed, 24 Oct 2018 19:07:20 +0000 Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158306 Allan Bradshaw grew up close to the beach and always knew he wanted to become a fisherman. Now 43 years old, he has been living his childhood dream for 25 years. But in recent years Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, […]

The post Barbados Looks Beyond its Traditional Sugar and Banana Industries into the Deep Blue appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
With the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS - Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

With the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
CONSETT BAY, Barbados, Oct 24 2018 (IPS)

Allan Bradshaw grew up close to the beach and always knew he wanted to become a fisherman. Now 43 years old, he has been living his childhood dream for 25 years.
But in recent years Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, Barbados.

“Like in most other places the fishing stock has declined over the years, especially the flying fish,” Bradshaw tells IPS.

As is the case for all Caribbean islands, fishing and associated activities have been integral components of the economic fabric of Barbados for many years. And flying fish, which are common to most tropical seas, are found in the warm waters surrounding Barbados.

In a typical year, flying fish account for around 65 percent of the total fish catch, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

Bradshaw says not all of the fish have gone but there is a definite change and this is negatively affecting the industry.

“The mahi-mahi or dolphin, somehow they have increased in numbers but not in size, in the sense that we have a lot more abundance but smaller ones. There is a lot more juvenile fish around,” Bradshaw says.

He argues that the government needs to step in to save the industry from further collapse.

Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

Allan Bradshaw says he has noticed a dramatic decline in the number of flying fish around his hometown of Consett Bay, Barbados. Courtesy: Desmond Brown

Four years ago, there were just over 1,000 vessels registered and 2,200 fishers involved in harvesting with 6,600 people working in associated businesses – market vendors, processors, traders etc. – according to information provided by the FAO office in Barbados.

FAO reported that approximately 2,500 metric tonnes of fish were caught between 2013 and 2014, and noted that the catch appears to have been going down in recent years.

Flying fish catches have been shrinking due to the influx of Sargassum seaweed.

Barbados mainly exports high-value tuna (approximately 160 metric tonnes) and the exports have been marginal in comparison to the catches.

But with the high demand for fish by the tourism sector, Barbados imports the majority of the fish consumed here.

Since taking office in May this year, the new administration of Prime Minister Mia Mottley has heeded calls for Barbados to look beyond the island’s 166 square miles of land for sources of wealth. The suggestion is that the island needs to look beyond its traditional sugar and banana industries to the sea to develop an economy there.

Mottley has included a Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy (MABE) within her administration, a decision hailed by many. Some have recommended that this ministry should be replicated further afield in the Caribbean.

“FAO supports development of the Blue Economy in Barbados through providing assistance over the coming year for both the fisheries and aquaculture sectors,” Regional Project Coordinator at FAO Dr. Iris Monnereau tells IPS.

“This will be achieved through updating legislative frameworks, assessing the feasibility for utilisation of rest raw material from fish processing for direct human consumption, animal feed or fertiliser, training of 70 small-scale farmers in aquaponics, capacity building of fisherfolk and fisherfolk organisations, and providing assistance to implement sustainable value adding activities throughout fisheries value chains.”

Monnereau says Blue Economy development is considered key to the long-term sustainability of healthy coasts and oceans and is inextricably linked to the long-term management, social inclusive development and improved human well-being of coastal and island populations.

In this approach, oceans and coasts can be seen as “development spaces” whereby traditional uses (e.g. fisheries and aquaculture, transport, ship building, coastal tourism and use of offshore oil and gas) are combined with new emerging sectors (e.g. bioprospecting, marine renewable energy and offshore mining) while at the same time addressing the challenges the oceans and coasts are facing.

“For example: fisheries overexploitation, pollution of coastal waters, [Illegal], Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, invasive species, habitat destruction, coastal erosion, and climate change impacts,” Monnereau says.

MABE was only developed after the elections, on May 24, and Monnereau says it is too early to measure changes.

However, she says that with this move, the government is clearly indicating they would like to develop the Blue Economy in Barbados.

Over the past few months, the government has been actively seeking partnerships with FAO and other international organisations and private partners to develop Blue Economy activities.

The move comes as Kenya is set to be co-host, along with Canada and Japan, the first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference from Nov. 26 to 28. The high-level conference will bring together over 4,000 participants who support a global agenda to build a blue economy much in the way Barbados wants to.

Meanwhile, Minister of MABE Kirk Humphrey tells IPS he wants to see a greener and bluer Barbadian economy. This, he explains, will involve the island becoming the centre for seafaring across the Caribbean, an end to overfishing, and greater protection mechanisms put in place to guard the coral reefs.

He further expressed concern that Barbados presently imports 80 percent of the fish consumed locally, and that the sector is affected by overfishing.

He explains that the ministry was presently in the process of building out its strategy, and there was a desire to capitalise on the island’s sea space, which was 400 times greater than its land space.

In terms of the blue economy, Humphrey also stressed the need for a baseline study, so that Barbados could ascertain what is in its oceans and then assign a value to these assets so as to be able to measure the contribution to Gross Domestic Product.

The post Barbados Looks Beyond its Traditional Sugar and Banana Industries into the Deep Blue appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/barbados-looks-beyond-traditional-sugar-banana-industries-deep-blue/feed/ 0
Rich in Agriculture, Madagascar Suffers from Extreme Malnutritionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rich-agriculture-madagascar-suffers-extreme-malnutrition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rich-agriculture-madagascar-suffers-extreme-malnutrition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rich-agriculture-madagascar-suffers-extreme-malnutrition/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2018 06:00:36 +0000 Hanitranirina Rarison http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158331 Hanitranirina Rarison is an agronomist specializing in food sciences in Fanilon’I Madagasikara. She is also a Girl Guide and actively involved in its nutrition advocacy program.

The post Rich in Agriculture, Madagascar Suffers from Extreme Malnutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Agronomist and Girls Guide Hanitranirina Rarison is combining all her skills and experiences to help rid Madagascar of malnutrition.

By Hanitranirina Rarison
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar, Oct 24 2018 (IPS)

As much as 80 percent of Madagascar’s population of 24 million people is involved in agriculture and the country’s economy largely depends on the sector, yet 48 percent of households are faced with food insecurity according to the National Nutrition Office (NNO). Over 70 percent of households live below the national poverty line of 535,603 Malagasy ariary per year (1 U.S. dollar equals 3,447.50 ariary).

In rural Madagascar, where subsistence farming is the primary economic activity, as high as 86 percent of households live in poverty. For most of these households, there is a predictable gap of four to five months each year in which staple food production (mainly rice) is not enough to cover the demand.

During this time, the rice yield is low or destroyed by cyclone or flooding. Cassava or sweet potatoes replace the rice, providing mostly carbohydrates in the diet.

Madagascar is the fifth most malnourished country in the World, the NNO says. Slightly more than 47 percent of children under five years are stunted meaning nearly one in two children are malnourished.

According to the DHS Survey in 2010, acute malnutrition affected 27 percent of young women 15–19 years old in 2009, especially in rural areas. Anemia is present in 35 percent of women 15–49 years old.

A lack of direct access to food and production more seriously disadvantages women than men the World Food Program says, and good nutrition is especially critical for adolescence girls.

During this critical growth period, they need more iron, for example, to compensate for blood loss from menstruation. Good nutrition also helps to provide immunity against diseases and provides the energy they need to help them thrive.

However, there are not enough projects or programs supporting women and girls’ nutrition. Most projects support the first 1000 days of life through nutrition intervention at national nutrition sites located mostly in rural areas or in areas vulnerable to malnutrition.

These are common spaces in communities reserved for training mothers on breastfeeding, how to monitor and evaluate the growth of the child from birth to two years, and on nutritious baby food and the importance of colored-diversified food. These programs are an important part of Madagascar’s attempt to fight malnutrition.

This strategy is guided by the National Action Plan on Nutrition III. Launched in 2005, the first phase outlines nutrition activities with 14 goals. Eight of these have been implemented: 1) promotion of breastfeeding and complementary food, 2) integration of the community in nutrition, 3) fight against micronutrient deficiency 4) integration of nutrition intervention in primary healthcare, 5) care for acute malnutrition, 6) improvement of household food security, 7) integration of school nutrition, and 8) improvement of communication on nutrition.

Madagascar has partially implemented the four remaining strategies: 1) preparation and intervention for nutrition emergency, 2) a national system of nutrition and food supervision, 3) development of the national capacity building, and 4) nutrition intervention relating to emergent problem (HIV/AIDS) and non-communicable disease.

The remaining two interventions have not started. These focuses on integrating development initiatives and providing legislative framework around food and nutrition.

Phase two of the plan outlines steps to address malnutrition, the food and nutrition security for vulnerable households, and the coordination and improvement of the nutrition sector growth.

Phase three was launched in 2017 (NNO, 2017) and focuses on deepening the phase two interventions as well as improving access to health services and safe drinking water and sanitation, with special attention on pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls.

Raising public awareness of the National Plan of Action on Nutrition is key to its overall success. This is being addressed, in part, by community sensitization through television, radio, and print media.

Madagascar is among the pilot countries in the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts Nutrition Programme, and as agents of change, Girl Guides in Madagascar are joining the campaign to fight malnutrition through advocacy and communications. We have taken part in the design of the nutrition curriculum, and currently, 80, 000 members in all 22 administrative regions (even in extreme rural areas) are involved in the movement in Madagascar

The youth advocates pool, a group of Girl Guides involved in nutrition advocacy in Madagascar, will help promote sensitization through online portals and in-person meetings in communities. The pool will help deliver public education from the nutrition program curriculum and speak at relevant nutrition events in our country.

Media support on nutrition will be important to change community behavior and influence decision-makers and policymakers. In addition to its members, Girl Guides plans to use media to sensitize another 40,000 people in the community.

The post Rich in Agriculture, Madagascar Suffers from Extreme Malnutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Hanitranirina Rarison is an agronomist specializing in food sciences in Fanilon’I Madagasikara. She is also a Girl Guide and actively involved in its nutrition advocacy program.

The post Rich in Agriculture, Madagascar Suffers from Extreme Malnutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rich-agriculture-madagascar-suffers-extreme-malnutrition/feed/ 1
Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challengehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 11:03:04 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158170 While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon. A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants […]

The post Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challenge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Women and children caught in a dust-laden gust at an IDP settlement 60km south of the town of Gode, reachable only along a dirt track through the desiccated landscape. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

While it can be a challenging issue, migration must be seen as an opportunity and be met with sound, coherent policies that neither stem nor promote the phenomenon.

A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) examines rural migration and urges countries to maximise the contribution of such migrants to economic and social development.

“We cannot ignore the challenges and costs associated with migration,” FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva said.

“The objective must be to make migration a choice, not a necessity, and to maximise the positive impacts while minimising the negative ones,” he added.

FAO’s senior economist and author of the report Andrea Cattaneo echoed similar sentiments to IPS, stating; “Migration, despite all the challenges that it may pose, really represents the core of economic, social, and human development.”

Though international migration often dominates headlines, the report shows that internal migration is a far larger phenomenon.

More than one billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80 percent of moves involving rural areas.

Migration between developing countries is also larger than those to developed countries. For instance, approximately 85 percent of refugees globally are hosted by developing countries, and at least one-third in rural areas.

Cattaneo additionally highlighted the link between internal and international migrants, noting that in low-income countries, internal migrants are five times more likely to migrate internationally than people who have not moved.

A significant portion of international migrants are also found to have come from rural areas. FAO found that almost 75 percent of rural households from Malawi migrate internationally.

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka's Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Abdul Aziz stands with his child in Dhaka’s Malibagh slum. He came to Bangladesh’s capital a decade ago after losing everything to river erosion, hoping to rebuild his life, but only to find grinding poverty. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Why all the movement?

While human movements have long occurred since the beginning of time, many migrants now move out of necessity, not choice.

Alongside an increase in protracted crises which force communities out of their homes, it is the lack of access to income and employment and thus a sustainable livelihood that is among the primary drivers of rural migration.

In China, significant rural-urban income gaps drove rural workers to abandon agriculture and migrate to cities.

Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of China’s population living in urban areas increased from 26 percent to 56 percent, and an estimated 200 million rural migrants now work in the East Asian nation’s cities.

However, such rapid urbanisation increasingly seen around the world is posing new challenges in the availability of resources.

Poor environmental conditions and agricultural productivity have also driven rural workers away.

A recent study revealed that a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature is associated with a 5 percent increase in the number of international migrants, but only from agriculture-dependent societies.

In other countries such as Thailand and Ghana, migration is prompted by the lack of infrastructure and access to services such as education and health care.

This points to the importance of investing in rural areas to ensure migration is not overwhelming and that residents have the means to live a prosperous life.

However, it is very important to consider the right type of investments and development, Cattaneo said.

“The type of development matters. Development per say is not going to reduce migration…but if you have the right type of development and investments in rural areas, you can make the case that you can reduce some of this migration,” Cattaneo told IPS.

A forward outlook

In the report, FAO advocates a territorial development approach to reduce rural out-migration  and thus international migration including investments in social services and improving regional infrastructure in or close to rural areas.

For instance, investments in infrastructure related to the agri-food system—such as warehousing, cold storage, and wholesale markets—can generate employment both in agriculture and the non-farm sectors and provide more incentive for people to stay instead of move to already overburdened cities.

Policies should also be forward-thinking and context specific, Cattaneo noted while pointing the consequences of climate change. This could mean investing in new activities that are viable to a particular region while another region moves towards more drought-resistant crop.

While migration may still continue, it will not be driven by the lack of economic opportunities or suitable living conditions.

“Migration is a free choice but if you put in place good opportunities at home, many people may decide not to migrate. Some will still want to migrate and that’s fine—that’s actually the type of migration that works. It’s not out of need, it’s out of choice,” Cattaneo told IPS.

In fact, migration often plays a significant role in reducing inequalities and is even included as a target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10, which aims to reduce inequality within and among countries.

Whilst reducing their own inequalities, migrants also contribute to economic transformation and development around the world.

“We focus on the challenges without looking at the opportunities that can come with migration because at the end of the day, people are a resource for society,” Cattaneo said.

“If we can find a way to put them into productive use, then that’s an added value for the destination or host country,” he added, pointing to Uganda as an example.

In recent years, Uganda has seen an influx of refugees from conflict-stricken nations such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

With its open-door policy, the East African country now has 1.4 million refugees, posing strains on resources.

Despite the challenges, its progressive refugee policy allows non-nationals to seek employment, go to school, and access healthcare. The government also provides a piece of land to each refugee family for their own agricultural use.

“This is a country that has looked beyond the challenges to see the opportunities, and they are making these people be productive part of society,” Cattaneo said.

With certain rhetoric that has cast migrants in a negative light, the international community still has a way to go to learn how to turn challenges into opportunities.

“Much remains to be done to eliminate poverty and hunger in the world. Migration was – and will continue to be – part and parcel of the broader development process,” Graziano da Silva concluded.

The post Rural Migration: An Opportunity, Not A Challenge appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rural-migration-opportunity-not-challenge/feed/ 0
Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:58:12 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158133 This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Mary Auma feeding one of the cows she bought with credit from her table banking group. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

It was less than eight months ago that Mary Auma and her three children, from Ahero in Kenya’s Nyanza region, were living in a one-room house in an informal settlement. Ahero is largely agricultural and each day Auma would go and purchase large quantities of milk and resell it – earning only a 10 percent profit.

But in February life for the single mother and her children changed for the better when she raised the USD 1,500 required to purchase an acre of land and two cows. The money did not just buy her assets, but financial security and a sustainable income. And she has moved her kids to a nicer neighbourhood. “Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings." --Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group.

This is all because two years ago Ahero joined a table banking group. Table banking is a group saving strategy in which members place their savings, loan repayments and other contributions. They can also borrow funds immediately. Table banking groups are growing in popularity across Africa, and can be found in Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In some places they are called  table banks and in others they are known as village banks.

Auma always wanted to own land so she could become self-sufficient.
“With a piece of land, I could live on it, keep cows, chicken and grow vegetables behind my kitchen. This is what I have always wanted but I had no money to start these projects,” she tells IPS.

When you can’t bank on land, bank on the table

While women can freely own and buy land in Kenya, less than seven percent of them have title deeds, according to the non-governmental organisation Kenya Land Alliance.

“You need collateral to secure a loan from a commercial bank and women generally do not have property. They are therefore unable to access credit to buy land. The concept of table banking is highly attractive to women because they loan each other the capital needed to acquire property,” Francis Kiragu, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, tells IPS.

Auma says that the loans from her table banking group are attractive since the only collateral women need to provide are household assets. “It is rare for members to default on loans as members are mainly neighbours and fellow church [goers] who come together in good faith,” she explains.

As more women take over control of their farmlands, this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Increased access to loans means increased access to land

Farming on lands they do not own has made it difficult for women to make transformative decisions and to contribute to sustainable food security. But as informal banking takes on a new form among rural women in Africa, there is a chance that women will start having increased access to land.

“Women are no longer hoarding pennies to share amongst themselves. We meet once a week and in just one sitting, 24 of us can now contribute up to 5,000 dollars,” Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group in Turbo, Rift Valley region, tells IPS.

Tuwei says that unlike in the past, women do not have to wait months to receive their savings. Table banking is an improved version of traditional merry-go-rounds where women would save a little from their household budgets and the lump sum would be handed over to one person at a time. This would sometimes mean that if there were 15 members in a merry-go-round it could take 15 months for each member to have their turn in accessing the funds.

Things have, however, evolved from this to a revolving fund.

“In table banks, not a single coin is banked, which gives us instant loans without providing the kind of security banks ask for,” Tuwei says.

Table banking still guided by rules

One of the most visible table banking movements in Kenya is the Joyful Women Table Banking movement that has 200,000 members in all 47 counties, and which claims to have a revolving fund estimated at 27 million dollars. This is said to be currently in the hands and pockets of women across the country in form of loans.

Tuwei’s Chamgaa group is one of 12,000 under this movement.

“These groups are so successful that we now have banks reaching out to us offering special accounts where we can borrow money at very friendly terms. Before, these banks would never accept our loan applications because we did not have assets to attach while applying for them,” Tuwei tells IPS.

Table banking is guided by rules and regulations designed and agreed upon by members. They include how often to meet, with some groups meeting weekly and others monthly.

The rules also include loan repayment periods and also touch on how members should conduct themselves during meetings. Tuwei says that across table banking groups, small misdemeanours such as being late for a meeting can attract a fine of between USD 2 to USD 5. Loans given to members are also charged interest.

Land and independence to call their own 

“Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings,” Tuwei says of her group.

Tuwei was struck by polio at an early age which affected her legs. So she could not move around freely and required assistance to plough her fields.
Since joining the group, she owns three motorbike taxis, some cows, chickens, pigs and an ox plough. She also has plans to open a petrol station near a busy highway soon.

She now also harvests approximately 80 bags of maize cobs, which translate to about 40 bags of grains once shelled. From this, she makes approximately USD 2,300 every harvest season and puts some of this money into her table banking group to boost her savings.

“At the end of the year we share all the money that has been revolving among us for 12 months based on what each member has contributed, additional money gathered from penalties and interest from loans is shared equally,” says Tuwei.

Women need land to combat world hunger

This year’s World Food Day comes on the heels of alarming reports that after a period of decline, world hunger is now on the rise, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to FAO, while rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force and to day-to-day family subsistence, they have great difficulty in accessing land and credit.

Kiragu is emphatic that while the face of farming is still very much female, it will take more women accessing loans, land and information on better farming practices to end hunger, achieve food security as well as improved nutrition.

“To begin with, the agricultural sector is not receiving sufficient financial support. In Kenya, only four percent of private sector credit is going to the agricultural sector,” Allan Moshi, a land policy expert on sub-Saharan Africa, tells IPS.

Women in Kasungu, a farming district in Central Malawi, select dried tobacco leaves to sell at the market. According to FAO, rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS

Women understand land better

According to FAO, women in forestry, fishing and agriculture receive a paltry seven percent of the total agricultural investment.
Even more worrisome is that while women in Africa contribute 60 to 80 percent of food, only an estimated five percent of women have access to agricultural extension services.

“Women understand land even better than men because they interact with the soil much more closely. We are now seeing more women taking charge of the land and not just as laborers, but also as land owners,” says Charles Kiprop, an agricultural extension officer in Turbo. He says that the number of women who own land as well as those who hire acres of land during the planting season is slowly on the rise.

Kiprop tells IPS that women have also become more proactive in accessing key information on better farming practices. “I have been invited by women’s groups to speak to them on farming practices on many occasions. Women no longer wait and hope that we will pass by their farms, they are now coming to us either as land owners or those who have hired land,” he explains.

The worst is yet to come

Participation of women in harnessing food production cannot be overemphasised, particularly in light of the Global Report on Food Crises 2018, which says that the worst is yet to come. The report was co-sponsored by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

It predicted that dry weather conditions would aggravate food insecurity in a number of countries, including those in the horn of Africa’s pastoral areas in Somalia, parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

“The March-May rainy season in Kenya was below average, this has affected food production and spiked food prices,” Kiprop adds.

According to the food security report, in the absence of conflict and displacement, climate change shocks were the main drivers of acute food insecurity in 23 out of the 65 countries and territories analysed in the previous 2017 on food crises. African countries were particularly affected.

The report indicates that at least 10 percent of the population in Ethiopia, 25 percent in Kenya, 27 percent in Malawi and 42 percent in Zimbabwe are food insecure. Other affected African countries include Madagascar, Senegal, Lesotho, Swaziland and Djibouti.

According to the report, “the global prevalence of childhood wasting (low weight for height) is around eight percent, higher than the internationally agreed nutrition target to reduce and maintain childhood wasting to below five percent by 2025.”

Women with an income and purchasing power

Moshi tells IPS that as more women take ownership of farmlands, “this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power.”

“Rural women will then be able to buy foods that they do not have therefore ensuring that their households are food secure,” he adds.

He notes that the women will also be able to purchase farm inputs.

Tuwei confirms that having an income has had a direct impact on her capacity to adhere to better farming practices.

“Five years ago, I could not afford to hire an Ox plough and would rely on the goodwill of neighbours who would first plough their lands and then come to my rescue. Many times they would come when it was too late to plough and plant in time,” she explains.

Tuwei further says that she and others in her group can now afford to use quality seeds, unlike before when they relied on seeds saved from previous harvests and those borrowed from neighbours.

“With the right tools, women can overhaul the agricultural sector because they have always been the ones involved in the day to day farm activities,” says Kiragu.

And thanks to the success of her milk business, Auma is ultimately glad that not only can she feed her children, but she can provide for their education and thereby their future also.

“Our table banking group is slightly different because we also contribute 20 dollars each week towards the welfare of our children. If a child needs school fees the mother is given a loan specifically from this part of our saving and at the same time she can take the usual loans from the general contribution so that she can keep her other projects going.”

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/feed/ 1
Over and Under Nutrition: Two Sides of an Unhealthy Coinhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 03:39:34 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157966 A dramatic shift in the way we eat and think about food is more urgent than ever to prevent further environmental degradation and an even larger health epidemic.    A diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, and United Nations agencies convened at the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the pervasive issue […]

The post Over and Under Nutrition: Two Sides of an Unhealthy Coin appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Poor dietary intake and lack of food varieties affect huge numbers of children, who mostly hail from large, impoverished families in Nepal. Malnutrition is a significant concern in Nepal as around one million children under 5 years suffer from chronic malnutrition and 10 percent suffer from acute malnutrition. Credit: Naresh Newar/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 2018 (IPS)

A dramatic shift in the way we eat and think about food is more urgent than ever to prevent further environmental degradation and an even larger health epidemic.   

A diverse group of experts from academia, civil society, and United Nations agencies convened at the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss the pervasive issue of food insecurity and malnutrition and potential solutions to overhaul the system.“Sustainable food choices is starting to both look good and taste good which hasn’t been the story of the past.” -- founder of EAT Gunhild Stordalen

“It’s striking that we are still, despite all the advances we have seen in science and technology, we still have this big gap between those who eat too much and those who don’t have enough food to eat,” Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition Foundation’s head of media relations Luca Di Leo told IPS.

According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, the number of hungry people increased to over 820 million in 2017 from approximately 804 million in 2016, levels unseen for almost a decade.

At the same time, and perhaps paradoxically, obesity rates have rapidly increased over the last decade from 11.7 percent in 2012 to 13.2 percent in 2016. This means that in 2017, more than one in eight adults, or over 670 million people, in the world were obese.

Adult obesity and the rate of its increase is highest in North America, and increasing trends can now also be seen across Africa and Asia.

Participants at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition stressed the need to deal with both forms of malnutrition, and pointed to the lack of access to healthy food as the culprit.

“It’s not just what’s in the food, it’s what’s in the discourse about food…there is more than one way to eat badly,” said director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Centre David Katz.

However, many noted that there is a lack of a unified, factual consensus on what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system.

“Without goals to mobilise collective action, and also no mechanisms to either coordinate nor monitor progress, it is really hard to achieve large-scale system change,” said founder of EAT Foundation, a science-based global platform for food system transformation, Gunhild Stordalen.

Katz echoed similar sentiments, stating: “You will never get there if you can’t agree where there is…we must rally around a set of fundamental truths.”

Fighting the System

Among these truths is the need to overhaul the entire food and agricultural system.

Despite the notorious and shocking findings from the 2004 ‘Supersize Me’ documentary, the consumption of unhealthy processed foods and sugar has only increased.

According to the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition’s Food Sustainability Index (FSI) 2017, the United States had the highest sugar consumption out of 34 countries in 2017.

The average person in the U.S. consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day, twice the amount that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for daily intake.

This not only leads to increasing obesity rates, but it has also contributed to a rise in levels of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

“The number of lost years to nutritional deficiencies and cardiovascular diseases has been going up very sharply in the United States,” said Leo Abruzzese from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which develops the index.

“One of the U.S.’ less impressive exports has been bad nutrition…people aren’t necessarily dying but they are living pretty miserable lives. Under those circumstances, wouldn’t you think there has to be something done?” he told IPS.

The FSI also found that the U.S.’ consumption of meat and saturated fat is among the highest in the world, contributing to unhealthy diets and even climate change.

According to U.N. University, emissions from livestock account for almost 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Beef and dairy alone make up 65 percent of all livestock emissions.

In fact, meat and dairy companies are on track to become the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, surpassing the fossil fuel industry.

However, Stordalen noted that delivering healthy and sustainable diets is within our reach.

Alternatives to meat have taken many countries by storm, and could slowly transform the fast food and meat industries. Consumers can now find the ‘impossible burger,’ a meatless plant-based burger, in many restaurants and fast food chains such as White Castle.

Recently, the U.S.-based vegan meat companies Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods was recently honoured by U.N. Environment with the Champions of the Earth award.

“Sustainable food choices is starting to both look good and taste good which hasn’t been the story of the past,” Stordalen said.

“Once people get the taste of better solutions, they not only start craving but even demanding  a better future. They come together to make it happen,” she added.

The FSI is also a crucial tool to guide governments and policymakers to pay attention to progress and weaknesses in their own country’s food systems.

“By collecting all of these [indicators] together, we essentially have a framework for what we think a good food system would look like,” Abruzzese said.

In some African countries even though there is enough food, it is the type of food that is available that counts. In Malawi, for instance, even though families had increased access to maize, nearly half the children are malnourished. In this dated picture, these children from south Madagascar are malnourished. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

A Problem of Power

The lack of access to healthy food and its consequences can also be seen at the other end of the food value chain: producers.

Women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour across Africa, yet still have poor access to quality seeds, fertiliser, and mechanical equipment. At the same time, they often look after the household, taking care of children and cooking meals.

Such gender inequality has been found to contribute to poorer household nutrition, including increases in stunting among children.

Forum participants highlighted the need to empower women farmers and address the gender inequalities in agriculture in order to advance food and nutrition security as well as establish sustainable societies.

“The opposite of hunger is power,” said University of Texas’ research professor Raj Patel, pointing to the case of Malawi.

In Malawi, more than half of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The harvesting of corn, which is the southeastern African country’s main staple, is designated to women who are also tasked with care work.

“Even when there was more food, there was more malnutrition,” said Patel.

One northern Malawian village tackled the issue through the Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities Project and achieved extraordinary results.

Alongside actions to diversify crop, the project brought men and women together to share the workload such as cooking together and involving men in care work.

Not only did they achieve gender equality in agriculture, the village also saw dramatic decreases in infant malnutrition.

“We need to value women’s work,” Patel said.

Future of Food

Fixing the food and agricultural system is no easy task, but it has to be done, attendees said.

“We know what the problems are, we’ve also identified the potential solutions…and the main solution is each and every one of us,” Di Leo told IPS.

One of the key solutions is education and empowering people to be agents of change.

“Healthy production will come if the consumer ask for the healthy eating. And healthy eating will come if the consumer has the right education and information,” Di Leo said.

For instance, many do not see or know the link between food and climate change, he added.

In fact, a 2016 study found that there was a lack of awareness of the association between meat consumption and climate change and a resistance to the idea of reducing personal meat consumption.

“It’s a kind of change that needs a bottom-up approach,” Di Leo said.

Stordalen echoed Di Leo’s comments, calling for a global ‘dugnad’—a Norwegian word describing the act of a community uniting and working together to achieve a goal that will serve them all.

“The state of the global food system calls for new collaborative action,” she said.

“It’s time to officially ditch the saying that ‘the more cooks, the worse soup’ because we need everybody involved to serve our people and planet the right future.”

The post Over and Under Nutrition: Two Sides of an Unhealthy Coin appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/nutrition-two-sides-unhealthy-coin/feed/ 0
More Women Owning Agricultural Land in Africa Means Increased Food Security and Nutritionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition/#respond Sun, 30 Sep 2018 12:01:24 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157894 Despite women being key figures in agriculture and food security, gender inequality is holding back progress towards ending hunger, poverty, and creating sustainable food systems.  During a high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) reviewed the persistent […]

The post More Women Owning Agricultural Land in Africa Means Increased Food Security and Nutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>

Evidence shows that when women are empowered, farms are more productive, natural resources are better managed, nutrition is improved, and livelihoods are more secure. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2018 (IPS)

Despite women being key figures in agriculture and food security, gender inequality is holding back progress towards ending hunger, poverty, and creating sustainable food systems. 

During a high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) reviewed the persistent gender gaps in agri-food systems in Africa and highlighted the need for urgent action. “It is therefore economically rewarding to invest in women’s education and economic empowerment since women often use a large portion of their income on children and family welfare.” -- AU commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Leonel Correa Sacko.

“There is a strong momentum to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in agri-food systems because women constitute the majority of agricultural labour,” said AU commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Leonel Correa Sacko.

However, despite women’s crucial role in such systems, there are persistent gender gaps.

“We need to better recognise and harness the fundamental contribution of women to food security and nutrition. For that, we must close persisting gender gaps in agriculture in Africa,” said FAO’s Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

“Evidence shows that when women are empowered, farms are more productive, natural resources are better managed, nutrition is improved, and livelihoods are more secure,” he added.

While women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour, approximately 32 percent of women own agricultural lands across 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through either joint, sole ownership, or both.

Only 13 percent of women, compared to 40 percent of men, have sole ownership on all or part of the land they own, according to the Regional Outlook on Gender and Agrifood Systems, a joint report by the FAO and AU that was presented during the event.

In 2016, thousands of rural women across Africa gathered at Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro to protest and demand the right to land and natural resources.

Some even climbed to the peak of Africa’s highest mountain, showcasing their determination for change.

Even when women are able to own their own land, many still lack access to productive resources and technologies such as fertiliser, agricultural input, mechanical equipment, and finance.

This poses numerous challenges along the food value chain, including food loss.

Globally, approximately one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Food loss and waste is a major contributor to climate change and in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic cost of such losses amount up to USD4 billion every year, FAO found.

Closing productivity gaps could increase food production and consumption by up to 10 percent and reduce poverty by up to 13 percent.

While women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour, approximately 32 percent of women own agricultural lands across 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through either joint, sole ownership, or both. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

The FAO-AU assessment also estimated that agricultural output could more than triple if farmers had access to the finance needed to expand quality and quantity of their produce.

Panellists noted that addressing the agricultural gender gaps in Africa could additionally boost food security and nutrition in the region.

Globally, hunger is on the rise and it is worsening in most parts of Africa. Out of 821 million hungry people in the world in 2017, over 250 million are in Africa.

Many African nations are also seeing a rapid rise in obesity, which could soon become the continent’s biggest public health crisis.

“It is therefore economically rewarding to invest in women’s education and economic empowerment since women often use a large portion of their income on children and family welfare,” Sacko said.

Graziano da Silva noted that among the key issues is the lack of women in governance systems and decision-making processes. 

Between five and 30 percent of field officers from ministries and rural institutions are women while only 12 to 20 percent of staff in ministries of agriculture are female.

This coincides with the lack of gender targeting and analysis mechanisms, resulting in services that target male-dominated sectors.

If such trends continue, Africa will not be close to achieving many of the ambitious development goals including the Malabo Declaration, which aims to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable agriculture, and improved livelihoods.

There has been some positive trends as many African countries have started to recognise the importance of putting women at the heart of the transformation of rural food systems.

Botswana’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme provides grants to women, enabling them to start their own enterprises and advance their economic well-being.

First Lady of Botswana Neo Jane Massi attended the high-level event and stressed the “importance of inclusive growth in our national development agendas in order to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Similarly, the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Women, implemented by various U.N. agencies including FAO and U.N. Women, has provided more than 40,000 women with training on improved agricultural technologies and increased access to financial services and markets.

While women’s participation in decision making has increased from 17 to 30 percent, Graziano da Silva stressed the need for better and more balanced representation of women at all levels.

Presenting the recommendations from the AU-FAO outlook report, Sacko called for an “enabling environment,” reinforcement of accountability mechanisms for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and a “gender data revolution” to better inform gender-sensitive policies and programs.

“Let us be ambitious, and let us all put our wings together,” Massi concluded.

The post More Women Owning Agricultural Land in Africa Means Increased Food Security and Nutrition appeared first on Inter Press Service.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition/feed/ 0