New vegetable varieties

Photo credit: Africa Rising

Ripe tomatoes in a field (photo credit: IITA/Jonathan Odhong’).


No small change: Vegetable farmer cashes in on new vegetable varieties in Tanzania

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by Andreas Gramzow, World Vegetable Center.

‘I grow vegetables because they provide ready cash for me and my family,’ says a beaming Hassan Saidi; one of the farmers who has benefited from activities led by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)  under the Africa RISING-NAFAKA and TUBORESHE CHAKULA project for fast tracking delivery and scaling of agricultural technologies in Tanzania.

Saidi is 20 years old and lives in Maweni village, about 25 km east of Babati town in Tanzania. He has participated in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Tanzania mission-funded project since its inception in October 2014 and is finally reaping the benefits of making changes to his farming practices based on the advice of the project team.

Like the other 160 farmers trained by the project in April 2015 on vegetable garden establishment and maintenance, Saidi was also provided with an AVRDC vegetable seed pack with improved varieties to cultivate. His results have been impressive!

‘This is now the third time that I have reproduced my own vegetable seeds from the AVRDC varieties,’ he said. Out of the six varieties AVRDC has introduced to his village, he chose tomato (Tengeru 2010), African eggplant (DB3), and African nightshade (Nduruma).

‘These are the best I have ever grown. I don’t need any other crops. I was able to harvest 20 bags of African nightshade, where I previously produced only 1.5 bags. My tomato yields have doubled, and I am still harvesting African eggplant from the seed that I sowed half a year ago,’ he says. ‘Since I started with the AVRDC varieties eight months ago, my income has increased by more than TSH 400,000 (USD 190),’ explains Saidi.

Asked about the secret behind his exemplary success, he says the reasons are many but the main one is his use of the improved varieties from AVRDC. ‘But I also did other things like changing the spacing between seedlings. On the same plot (1/8 acre) where I sowed six lines of African nightshade before, I now sow only two lines. This is not to save seeds, but rather for disease control.’ As a result, Saidi now face much lower disease pressure and can harvest African nightshade for more than three months. Previously, he stopped harvesting after only one month because of pests and diseases. But now he even supplies African nightshade and African eggplant to other farmers and he hardly sprays any chemicals on the vegetables.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

Charcoal burners urged to plant trees


Photo credit: Nyamira County News

Some of the trees planted by an organisation in Nyamira. Charcoal burners in Nyamira south sub County of Nyamira County have been urged to continue planting trees to curb desertification in the area.[WMongare/]

Charcoal producers urged to plant trees to curb desertification


Charcoal burners in Nyamira south sub County of Nyamira County have been urged to continue planting trees to curb desertification in the area.

This comes following a directive by the national government which requires charcoal producers to replace the trees they cut to curb desertification.

Addressing a group of youth groups in Makairo early Wednesday, area Forest Officer Richard Mayaka said that the charcoal banners should ensure that they plant more trees than the ones they use to burn charcoal in order to ensure that the county is always green.

Read the full story: Nyamira County News


Erosion and pollution, major concerns about degraded soil



Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years, scientists say

Experts point to damage caused by erosion and pollution, raising major concerns about degraded soil amid surging global demand for food


The world has lost a third of its arable land due to erosion or pollution in the past 40 years, with potentially disastrous consequences as global demand for foodsoars, scientists have warned.

New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost at a rate that far outstrips the pace of natural processes to replace diminished soil.

The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which undertook the study by analysing various pieces of research published over the past decade, said the loss was “catastrophic” and the trend close to being irretrievable without major changes to agricultural practices.

The continual ploughing of fields, combined with heavy use of fertilizers, has degraded soils across the world, the research found, with erosion occurring at a pace of up to 100 times greater than the rate of soil formation. It takes around 500 years for just 2.5cm of topsoil to be created amid unimpeded ecological changes.

Read the full article: The Guardian



Key drivers for achieving sustainable development in Africa


Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Robin Hammond / Panos

Empower women for Africa’s sustainable development

Empowered women are more vital in shaping environmental management.

Sam Otieno

Promoting active participation of women in environmental management could be one of the much needed key drivers for achieving sustainable development in Africa.

That was one of the prime issues from the discourses that characterised the 2nd session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 2) meeting in Kenya this week (23-27 May), that I attended at the Nairobi-headquartered United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Of concern to me was that environmental changes have different impacts on women and men. However, due to long-standing inequalities that silence women’s voices and neglect their needs, particularly poor women, they are disproportionately impacted by the increasingly longer droughts, more severe storms and flooding, biodiversity species depletion, soil degradation, deforestation and other negative environmental challenges

Experts at the meeting emphasised that women are not only victims ofclimate change and environmental degradation but also possess the necessary knowledge and skills critical to finding context-specific solutions to the environmental challenges.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

A challenge for development organizations combating hunger and poverty

Photo credit: IPS NEWS

Marta Maldonado, secretary of the “Siempre Unidos Minifundios de Corzuela” association, standing next to a prickly pear, a cactus that is abundant in this municipality in the northern Argentine province of Chaco. Making use of the fruit and the leaves of the plant has changed the lives of a group of local families. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

Prickly Pears Drive Local Development in Northern Argentina

Success story to be copied all over the world’s drylands

By Fabiana Frayssinet

Family farmers in the northern Argentine province of Chaco are gaining a new appreciation of the common prickly pear cactus, which is now driving a new kind of local development.

Hundreds of jars of homemade jam are stacked in the civil society association “Siempre Unidos Minifundios de Corzuela” (smallholders of Corzuela united), ready to be sold.

Until recently, the small farmers taking part in this new local development initiative did not know that the prickly pear, also known as cactus pear, tuna or nopal, originated in Mexico, or that its scientific name was Opuntia ficus-indica.

But now this cactus that has always just been a normal part of their semi-arid landscape is bringing local subsistence farmers a new source of income.

“The women who took the course are now making a living from this,” Marta Maldonado, the secretary of the association, which was formally registered in 2011, told IPS. “They also have their vegetable gardens, chickens, pigs and goats.”

“The prickly pear is the most common plant around here. In the project we set up 20 prickly pear plantations,” she said.

Local farmers work one to four hectares in this settlement in the rural municipality of Corzuela in west-central Chaco, whose 10,000 inhabitants are spread around small settlements and villages.

The initiative, which has benefited 20 families, made up of 39 women, 35 men and four children, has been implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the U.N. Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Small Grants Programme (SGP).

Read the full article: IPS NEWS

El Niño, conflicts and food crisis


Photo credit: SciDevNet

Credit: European Union, 2016. Click image to enlarge.

El Niño and fighting leave 80 million in food crisis

Speed read

  • Conflicts in places such as Syria and Yemen have led to food shortages
  • El Niño has caused severe droughts in Africa, Asia and the Americas
  • A total of 240 million people are in ‘food stress’

Armed conflict and the droughts caused by the El Niño effect have left 80 million people around the world in acute food crisis this year, reveals afood security report.

The report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme adds that a total of 240 million people are in food stress.

This corresponds to level two on a five-level international classification of food insecurity; food crisis is level three and famine is level five.

The situation is more serious than in previous years, coauthor François Kayitakire tells SciDev.Net. “Ethiopia, for example, was relatively fine in 2015,” he says. “But this year there are ten million people who are in food crisis, in the most severe drought in decades.”

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Drought: New Ways of Growing Cotton



VIDEO: Amid India’s Drought Crisis, New Ways of Growing Cotton Helps Small Farmers

More than three million farmers in India’s Maharashtra state depend on cotton. In India, two consecutive years of weak monsoons have left some 330 million people — a quarter of the country — in the grip of drought. In Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit regions, nine million farmers have little or no access to water. Deepening the crisis, farmers are taking their lives. Now new ways of growing drought resistant cotton are not only alleviating debt but are also protecting the environment.

Watch now the video now.: