Taking resilient food security to scale means supporting innovation among millions of farmers over millions of hectares

 

Photo credit: Agroforestry World

Panelists representing participating organisations. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/ Susan Onyango

GEF-funded program on resilient food security targets smallholder farmers in 12 African countries

Africa’s population is expected to double from 1.26 billion today to over two and half billion by 2050, little more than 30 years from now. At the same time, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and the effects of climate change pose increasing challenges to the continent’s agriculture sector, particularly smallholder farmers.  If left unchecked, these challenges will threaten the food security of millions of people, particularly in the drylands. Affected countries will require national policies and farmer practices that safeguard food production, as well as frameworks for mutual cooperation across the agricultural and environmental sectors, if they are to ensure the sustainability and resilience required to feed their people.

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A smallholder farmer with his fruit tree seedlings. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Ake Mamo – http://blog.worldagroforestry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/26515855316_89953d50d5_o-768×510.jpg

In an effort to address these multiple challenges, more than 80 government and development sector experts met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 5 July 2017, to launch the Integrated Approach Programme on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa. Financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the 5-year, USD 116 million programme is designed to promote sustainability and resilience among small holder farmers through the sustainable management of natural resources – land, water, soils and genetic resources – that are crucial for food and nutrition security. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is the  lead agency with the Programme Coordination Unit hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at their headquarters in Nairobi. Bioversity International, UN Environment, UNDP, FAO, World Bank, UNIDO, AGRA and Conservation International are all involved.

Number of people needing humanitarian assistance on the rise

 

Photo credit: FAO

A livestock owner in Kenya with his remaining cattle after drought killed two-thirds of his herd.

FAO issues alert over third consecutive failed rainy season, worsening hunger in East Africa

14 July 2017, Rome – Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.

Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.

The alert issued by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) warns that the third consecutive failed rainy season has seriously eroded families’ resilience, and urgent and effective livelihood support is required.

“This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains – they are simply running out of ways to cope,” said FAO’s Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon. “Support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further.” 

Increasing humanitarian need

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the five aforementioned countries, currently estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30 percent since late 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population is food insecure.  Timely humanitarian assistance has averted famine so far but must be sustained. Conditions across the region are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.

Read the full article: FAO

Key to food and nutrition security

 

SDG LINKS

Linking up the SDGs: the key to food and nutrition security

The latest United Nations population projections released in June 2017 suggest that there will be 9.8 billion people by 2050, an increase of 2.4 billion people over 2015 estimates. That means that our population is growing faster than the last several rounds of UN projections for 2050 suggested. This growth will be concentrated in the so-called Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the African continent, but the number of people in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the United States is also expected to increase.

This projected population growth both heightens the need for the Sustainable Development Goals while simultaneously making them more difficult to achieve. The locations where population growth is likely to happen are also areas subject to increased exposure to climate extremes, civil conflicts, high levels of natural resource degradation and poor infrastructure development. Government resources in the poorest countries experiencing rapid population growth will be most constrained and basic needs, including food security and nutrition, are in peril. The FAO confirmed at their biennial conference in July that, currently, 19 countries are facing severe food crises due to a combination of conflict and climate change.

How can strong, positive progress on the SDGs be made under these daunting circumstances? A new report by the International Council for Science (ICSU), titled A Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation, will be presented during the July 10-19 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) at the United Nations in New York and provides some useful answers.

 Read the full article: CGIAR

Legume seed systems in Nigeria

 

Photo credit: ICRISAT

Participants at the workshop. Photo: OC Akerele

BUILDING ECONOMICALLY SUSTAINABLE AND EFFECTIVE LEGUME SEED SYSTEMS IN NIGERIA

An action plan for the 2017 cropping season for groundnut and cowpea was drawn up at a training workshop to strengthen the capacities of stakeholders in the legumes value chain in Nigeria.

The training centered around five specific objectives:

  • Strategy to increase production and productivity of groundnut and cowpea to meet the Nigerian seed road map target;
  • Appropriate data collection using updated digital tools;
  • Strengthening of seed dissemination pathway (formal and informal seed sector);
  • Developing a seed business plan and marketing strategy; and
  • Developing policies and regulations related to seed development.

The key issues identified for implementation are as follows:

Read the full article: ICRISAT

Investment in Small-Scale Agriculture

 

AGRICULTURE

Report Encourages Investment in Small-Scale Agriculture

The More and Better Network recently published a report, Investments in Small-Scale Sustainable Agriculture, shedding light on the lack of financial investment plans available to small-scale food producers across the globe. The More and Better Network is an international network for support of food, agriculture, and rural development to eradicate hunger and poverty, and this report emphasizes the major challenges small-scale food producers face in maintaining their businesses and enhancing food security, as well as the importance of community organization.

According to the United Nations Global Compact, small-scale agriculture provides food for approximately 70 percent of the world’s population. Additionally, there are approximately 2 billion people living in poverty in developing countries that depend on some form of agriculture for their livelihoods, according to the Initiative for Smallholder Finance. While small-scale producers are shown here to play a major role in global food systems, The More and Better Network highlights that global investments in small-scale agriculture constitute a small share of governmental budgets and investments in developing countries, which results in a decline in food security and an increase in overall hunger and poverty levels.

To illustrate this, the report draws on statistics published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which states that, globally, governments have allocated less than two percent of central government expenditures to small-scale agricultural development between 2001 and 2015; and, that Official Development Assistance (ODA) —which refers to the flow of international financial aid for developing countries— for agriculture declined by 50 percent globally by 2004.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater

 

Photo credit: IWMI

Basudev Mondal irrigates a farm near the busy EM Bypass road of Calcutta, India growing brinjal or egg plant. Photo: Chhandak Pradhan / IWMI

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater

A major health and environmental menace

The use of wastewater to irrigate crops is far more widespread than previously estimated, according to a new study, exposing hundreds of millions of people to health risks and posing a major environmental hazard.

Study results, based on on advanced modeling methods, show that 65% of all irrigated areas within 40 kilometers downstream from urban centers – amounting to about 35.9 million hectares (Mha) worldwide – are affected by wastewater flows to a large degree. Of this total area, 29.3 Mha are in countries where wastewater treatment is very limited, exposing 885 million urban consumers as well as farmers and food vendors to serious health risks.

Five countries – China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran – account for most of this cropland. The new findings supersede a widely cited 2004 estimate, based on case studies in some 70 countries and expert opinion, which had put the cropland area irrigated with wastewater at a maximum of 20 million hectares.

Read the full article: IWMI

Jamaican Farmer Field Schools and drought

 

Photo credit: Foodtank

Surviving the Drought with Jamaican Farmer Field Schools

Since winning the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition’s YES! Competitionlast year, Shaneica Lester and Anne-Teresa Birthwright now run a knowledge transfer project for small-scale farmers in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Lester and Birthwright’s program, which focuses on irrigation conservation education, provides farmers with skills and education necessary to combat drought-related issues that impact their lands.

Lester and Birthwright’s Irrigation Farmer Field Schools (IFFS) include lessons on water conservation, understanding climate change, soil and water management, and ecosystem analysis. Through participating in the IFFS program, Jamaican farmers learn about technologies and techniques that can be directly applied to their fields and adapted to suit their needs, providing farmers with agency to decide how to manage their land and allocate their resources.

“We wanted to avoid a top-down approach and instead encourage self-empowerment within rural communities. A participatory approach allows farmers to be a part of their own solution by contributing their knowledge and expertise, as well as their perception and understanding of climate change,” Lester and Birthwright said in an interview with Food Tank.

Small farmers drive Jamaica’s agricultural sector and ensure the nation’s food security. When researching the challenges experienced by small rural farmers, Lester and Birthwright discovered that drought was the primary leading factor causing Jamaicans to quit farming and preventing young people from wanting to farm.

Read the full article: Foodtank

More investments in sustainable rural development required

 

Photo credit: FAO

Turning political will on ending hunger into action requires strong focus on national strategies, including to those on nutrition, health and education policies.

Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 requires turning political will into concrete actions

Achieving the international community’s goal of eradicating hunger and malnutrition by 2030 is indeed possible, but this requires a scaling up of action, including greater investments in agriculture and sustainable rural development, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said.

Speaking at a side event on Zero Hunger at the FAO Conference, Graziano da Silva pointed to some stark facts and figures.

“Today more than 800 million people are still chronically undernourished … and unfortunately the number has started to grow again,” the FAO Director-General said.

Around 155 million children under five are stunted – close to a quarter of the total while 1.9 billion people are overweight, of which at least 500 million are obese and 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiency, he added.

While progress in combating the related scourges of poverty and hunger has been made in recent decades, these achievements are at risk of being reversed as conflict, population growth, climate change and changing dietary patterns, all pose new challenges, Graziano da Silva said.

He noted that the world is facing “one of the largest humanitarian crises ever” with more than 20 million people at risk of famine in four countries: North Eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

An enabling policy and institutional environment

Graziano da Silva noted that the 2030 Agenda calls for strong commitment to national decision-making and greater self-reliance by Member States, underscoring how “we are seeing this happen with regional initiatives and organizations playing a substantial role.”

He cited the Malabo Declaration adopted by African Union leaders to end hunger in Africa by 2025 and also referred to the strong commitment to food security made by countries in the Asia and Pacific region and in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Turning political will into action requires a stronger focus on national strategies, including to those relating to nutrition, health and education policies. The FAO Director-General called for enhancing governance and coordination mechanisms to facilitate dialogue and create incentives for different sectors and stakeholders to work together and to sharpen the focus of Zero Hunger initiatives. “For that, decision-makers need solid and relevant evidence, including statistics and monitoring data,” he added.

“And last but not least, we have to significantly increase investments,” Graziano da Silva said. 

Read the full article: FAO

New zinc-enriched high-yielding wheat

 

Photo credit: CIMMYT

Hans-Joachim Braun (left, white shirt), director of the global wheat program at CIMMYT, Maqsood Qamar (center), wheat breeder at Pakistan’s National Agricultural Research Center, Islamabad, and Muhammad Imtiaz (right), CIMMYT wheat improvement specialist and Pakistan country representative, discussing seed production of Zincol. Photo: Kashif Syed/CIMMYT.

Farmers in Pakistan benefit from new zinc-enriched high-yielding wheat

Farmers in Pakistan are eagerly adopting a nutrient-enhanced wheat variety offering improved food security, higher incomes, health benefits and a delicious taste.

Known as Zincol and released to farmers in 2016, the variety provides harvests as abundant as those for other widely grown wheat varieties, but its grain contains 20 percent more zinc, a critical micronutrient missing in the diets of many poor people in South Asia.

Due to these benefits and its delicious taste, Zincol was one of the top choices among farmers testing 12 new wheat varieties in 2016.

“I would eat twice as many chappatis of Zincol as of other wheat varieties,” said Munib Khan, a farmer in Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi District, Punjab Province, Pakistan, referring to its delicious flavor.

Khan has been growing Zincol since its release. In 2017, he planted a large portion of his wheat fields with the seed, as did members of the Gujar Khan Seed Producer Group to which he belongs.

Read the full article: CIMMYT

Solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

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A farmers in Lemo woreda with his newly installed solar irrigation pump (photo credit: IWMI/ Petra Schmitter). – https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4266/34754722623_a0b5fa5688_z.jpg

 

Expanding use of solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

In the first phase of the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian highlands, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) investigated technologies that could improve farmers’ access and use of the available water in their surroundings for better agricultural production and productivity. Water scarcity and lack of technologies for accessing and managing available water are major constraints to farming in Ethiopia.

Starting in August 2015, IWMI introduced and tested the effectiveness of water lifting technologies such as solar-powered irrigation pumps that help farmers’ easily access water from near their farms. The solar pump-based irrigation was tested in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. Farmers from the Upper Gana and Jawe kebeles used these pumps to irrigate fodder (oats and vetch mixed cropping) for their animals and fruits and vegetables farms in the dry seasons.

An assessment showed that most of the farmers used the pumps to lift water for domestic purposes and agriculture across seasons. They claimed improved production and productivity; saved labour and time and improved access to clean water.

To expand these benefits to more farmers, IWMI, the Solar Development PLC (the main supplier of solar pumps in Ethiopia) and partners are working together to accelerate wider adoption of the technology as a key goal of the second phase (2017-2021) of the Africa RISING project.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

 

Photo credit: SABC

As we respond to the famine and starvation crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle of food insecurity.(SABC)

 

The problem isn’t hunger

OPINION: Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré

Famine and starvation are threatening the lives of tens of millions of people in Africa today.

In Ethiopia alone, over 7 million people need emergency food aid. What is troubling is the fact that food aid will run out soon in the country. This is extremely unsettling and begs the question: Will this cycle of hunger ever end?

As we respond to the current crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle
of food insecurity.

In 1974 a global conference on food security resolved that “within a decade no child would go hungry.”

Ironically, exactly a decade later, almost one million Ethiopians died in one of the worst famines in recent history. This was not the last one. Famines have been recurring, and they will return, unless public authorities, the donor community, United Nations agencies, regional bodies and national institutions genuinely refocus their efforts on dealing with the underlying causes, some of which I highlight below.

Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

Read the full article: SABC