Inoculated Rhizobia bacteria to increase legume yields

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos


Nitrogen-fixing tech aiding legume yields in Zimbabwe

Speed read

  • Smallholders are unable to afford fertilisers to increase crop yields
  • In Zimbabwe, use of low-cost fertiliser tech is increasing legume yields
  • At least 60,000 smallholders are using the technology

A low-cost nitrogen fixing technology for legume crops is being given to small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to improve national food and nutrition security.

The Chemistry and Soil Research Institute in Zimbabwe is distributing sachets that contain inoculated Rhizobia bacteria — a technique for adding bacteria to a carrier medium to improve biological nitrogen fixation — to farmers for increased yields and affordable organic fertilisers.

Emmanuel Chikwari, head of the institute, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, says this process is useful for meeting the nitrogen requirements of legume plants.

“This is a promising technology in the production of legume crops,” says Chikwari. “The inoculants can be added to the seed before planting.”

Nitrogen, he explains, is essential for photosynthesis, a process whereby plants make their own food in the presence of water, sunshine and carbon dioxide for vigorous growth and increased yields.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

IRC New Roots newly resettled refugees to grow food in community gardens and on urban farms

Photo credit: Food Tank

Resettled refugees grow food as part of the International Rescue Committee’s New Roots Program.
Susanna Byrd


Refugees Grow Roots in the United States

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a non-profit organization helping refugees rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Every year, the IRC works with thousands of displaced people, whose lives have been shattered by war and oppression, to find new homes, jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities in 24 cities in the United States. The IRC New Roots program provides newly resettled refugees with opportunities to grow food in community gardens and on urban farms. New Roots assists resettled refugees in finding land, supports participants to hone their food production skills, and is building marketing and food access opportunities in several communities around the country.

Aley Kent, an IRC National Technical Advisor for Food Security and Agriculture, and Elizabeth Moore, Farm Manager of the New Roots Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke with Food Tank about the important role of food production in the refugee resettlement process.

Food Tank (FT): How did the New Roots program begin?

Aley Kent (AK): Around 2005, a staff member working in the San Diego office was talking to some Somali women about options for them in the U.S. A lot of them did not have your typical job readiness skills that most employers look for in this country. However, the women were saying, “We want to farm! Is there a place that we can grow food? We want our kids to understand our roots. Can you help us do that? Maybe we can make money that way!” So, the idea of New Roots was born.

FT: How is New Roots an important piece of the resettlement process?


To identify areas where water use produces poor crops

Photo credit: FAO

All countries in North Africa and the Near East suffer from severe water scarcity, raising significant challenges for agriculture that are expected to be compounded by climate change.


Netherlands donates $7 million to improve water management in Near East and Africa

Remote sensing satellite imagery will help to identify areas where water use produces poor crops

The Netherlands and FAO are expanding their collaboration in the area of water management with a $7 million donation by the Dutch government to support the use of remote sensing technology in helping water-scarcecountries in the Near East and Africa monitor and improve the way they use water for crop production.

The additional donation brings the total budget up to $10 million for the Dutch-funded project that uses satellite data to find land areas where water use is not translating into optimal agricultural production, identify the source of the problem and recommend different planting and irrigation techniques.

“The project uses some of the most advanced technologies and takes into account the ecosystems and the equitable use of water resources,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at an event marking the extended agreement at FAO headquarters in Rome.

He highlighted the importance of the project on the eve of the UN climate conference in Paris, noting the added stress that climate change places on farmers in the way they manage limited water resources.

“We all know that water is becoming scarce while at the same time it is crucial to producing enough good food for a growing number of people,” said Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to FAO Gerda Verburg.

“With this innovative remote sense approach to improving water productivity we give farmers a concrete tool to take decisions about the best use of water and what kind of crops to grow — but also about the growing season so that they can target their investments,” she added.

The data tools created under the project, which will be freely available to governments and farmers alike, also aim to help policymakers in taking evidence-based policy decisions.

Some 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawn worldwide is used for agriculture – a figure that rises to as much as 95 percent in certain developing countries, posing major challenges to the sustainability of food production.

Growing scarcity of and competition for water also threaten to derail poverty alleviation efforts, especially in semi-arid rural areas where access to for this precious resource to grow food and rear livestock is essential for stable livelihoods.

How it works

Read the full article: FAO

Food security and disasters caused by all types of natural hazards

Photo credit: FAO

A parched field in Kenya. Drought is especially devastating to sub-Saharan agriculture.


Surge in climate change-related disasters poses growing threat to food security

In developing countries the agriculture sector bears much of the economic impact

Droughts, floods, storms and other disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity, FAO warned in a new report released today ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris.

Worldwide, between 2003 and 2013 – the period analyzed in the study – the average annual number of disasters caused by all types of natural hazards, including climate-related events, almost doubled since the 1980s. The total economic damage caused is estimated at $1.5 trillion.

Focusing specifically on the impact of climate-related disasters in developing countries, some 25 percent of the negative economic impacts were borne by the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors alone. In the case of drought, over 80 percent of the damage and losses affected the agriculture sector, especially livestock and crop production.

The FAO report is based on a review of 78 on the ground post disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries coupled with statistical analyses of production losses, changes in trade flows and agriculture sector growth associated with 140 medium and large scale disasters – defined as those affecting at least 250,000 people.

The report clearly demonstrates that natural hazards – particularly extreme weather events – regularly impact heavily on agriculture and hamper the eradication of hunger, poverty and the achievement of sustainable development.

The situation is likely to worsen unless measures are taken to strengthen the resilience of the agriculture sector and increase investments to boost food security and productivity and also curb the harmful effects of climate change.


Read the full article: FAO

Seeds without Borders

Photo credit: Biodiversity International


Seeds without borders: Using and sharing plant genetic diversity to adapt to climate change in Africa

11 African countries gathered last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to implement seed sharing and use to adapt to climate change, ensure food security and alleviate poverty.

These days, we are all faced with new environmental challenges, such as increased flooding, heat and drought – and that is why everyone needs crop diversity: to be able to maintain food security for everyone.”

No single country has all the genetic resources it needs to adapt to global challenges of climate change, food security and poverty alleviation – the reason that 11 African country teams  met last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were finding ways to work together to implement two international agreements to conserve and exchange plant genetic resources with each other and with the rest of the world, and share related benefits.

Interdisciplinary teams from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda spent the week working together to set their country roadmaps for embedding the sustainable use of plant genetic resources into the heart of national development plans.

This is a critical and timely issue in the lead-up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, which will be held in Paris, France at the beginning of December – The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that agricultural production is set to decline, with yields of major crops in Africa declining by up to 8% . This means that alternative varieties or replacement crops that can grow in the changing climatic conditions are urgently need to be available to farmers.

Two international agreements govern how countries exchange seeds beyond their borders – the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) and the Nagoya Protocol. But to implement these agreements at the country level is not always straightforward as Michael Halewood, Bioversity International, explains:

Read the full article: Biodiversity International

Quality seeds in Nigeria

Photo credit: CGIAR-RTB

A farmer at work in his cassava farm. Photo by IITA

New project to develop cassava seed businesses will enhance quality seed access, increase productivity and generate income in Nigeria

We are pleased and proud to announce the signing of a new project entitled ‘Building an Economically Sustainable, Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria’ with $USD11.6 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The four year project aims to sustainably improve farmers’ access to high quality and affordable cassava planting materials through the development and promotion of commercial models for seed provision.

The project will also build the capacity of Nigerian institutions like The National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and the National Root Crops Research Institute in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and other stakeholders, including both men and women cassava farmers, processors and commercial seed producers to develop and put in to place a testing, field inspection and certification system for cassava seed. This will in turn help fast-track improved breeders’ cassava varieties to farmers.

Read the full article: CGIAR-RTB

Food security and gender

Photo credit: CGIAR

Gender differences can create barriers to climate change adaptation. In many places, women are less likely than men to adopt new technologies, use credit or other financial services or receive education or extension advice. Photo: C. Peterson (CIAT/CCAFS)
(view original)


Tackle gender gaps to improve food security, say researchers

Data shows differences in how men and women experience – and deal with- climate change.

by Vanessa Meadu (CCAFS)

Women and men perceive climate change differently, and gender differences influence their ability to adapt, according to an analysis published on the IFPRI blog. Researchers Elizabeth Bryan, Patti Kristjanson and Claudia Ringler looked at gender dissagregated data collected at CCAFS research sites in Senegal, Uganda, Kenya and Bangladesh. What they found can help researchers and policy makers develop better interventions.

For example, there are differences in how women and men in the different countries perceived climatic changes, weather and events like flooding.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR