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