Cooperatives for sustainable developement

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Members of the Cooperative Agriculture Maraicher for Boulbi, water and hoe their vegetable fields in Kieryaghin village, Burkina Faso. Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank

UN hails cooperatives as vehicle to make sustainable development a reality for all

Cooperatives will play an “invaluable role” in the international community’s roll-out of a sustainable development goals, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who today marked the International Day of Cooperatives with an appeal for all to recommit to the business model, which could help make the vision of a sustainable future a reality for everyone.

“Inequality is a fundamental obstacle to development, depriving people of basic services and opportunities to build better lives for themselves and their children,” the Secretary-General declared in his message for the Day, which is on the theme ‘Choose Cooperative’s, Choose Equality.’

“The cooperative model helps meet this challenge. Cooperatives strive to uphold the principles of equality and democratic participation,” says Mr. Ban

According to Cooperatives and Sustainable Development Goals, a recently-produced study by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), cooperatives contribute to sustainable development and hold the potential to do much more: from creating employment and enhancing gender equality to providing clean energy and financial inclusion to ensuring food security and extending social protection.

Cooperatives are strongly committed to the communities they serve, Mr. Ban continued.


Read the full article: UN News Centre

Photo credit: Food Tank

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is confident Colorado’s small hydropower project, receiving funding from the USDA, will be a success.
David Wiley / flickr

Colorado’s Incredible Irrigation System Conserves Water, Produces Green Energy


Developed by Colorado’s ACRE³ program, the Pressurized Irrigation Small Hydropower Partnership Project should receive more than US$3 million in funding, US$1.8 million of it from RCPP. An additional US$1.6 million will come from local funding sources such as the nonprofit American Rivers, the governor’s energy office, the Colorado Rural Electric Association, and others. The project will use the money to develop new technology to create a more efficient irrigation system, significantly reducing the water required to sustain agriculture in semi-arid climates, such as Colorado’s. The new system will also produce hydropower, a renewable and clean energy source that can supply energy to a power grid without releasing greenhouse gases.

Designed to conserve irrigation water, the project delivers water more precisely to crops using specialized circular sprinkler systems, as opposed to older, water-intensive flood irrigation methods. Additionally, the system will create hydropower by pressurizing the flow of agricultural water and capturing energy normally lost as water runs downhill.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Agricultural Growth in West Africa: Market and Policy Drivers

Photo credit: FAO

A woman carries water to her crops in Dogondoutchi, Niger.

Huge opportunities for agricultural growth in West Africa

New report sees regional integration as high road to making the most of changing food patterns and dynamic populations

West Africa has unprecedented opportunities for agricultural growth, but making the most of them will require more effective  regional integration, says a new report by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

A woman in Tassa, Nigeria, makes pasta as part of her cooperative's efforts to earn extra income. -
A woman in Tassa, Nigeria, makes pasta as part of her cooperative’s efforts to earn extra income. –

To be competitive with large global actors, West African agriculture needs to capture some of the economies of scale that those countries enjoy in the markets for fertilizers and seeds as well as in agricultural research and technology development, adds the report.

While important progress towards regional integration has been made over the past two decades, effective implementation at national level has remained a challenge, as evidenced by roadblocks and trade bans hindering intraregional trade, along with continued use of disparate national standards for seeds and fertilizers despite regionally agreed-upon common protocols.

The report, “Agricultural Growth in West Africa: Market and Policy Drivers” (AGWA), comes at a time of great dynamism in the patterns of food demand in Africa.

Read the full article: FAO

Local communities and effective adaptation strategies

Photo credit: CCAFS-CGIAR

Emergence of new diseases and pests for some crop varieties has affected farm productivity in Uganda. Photo: IITA

Drought and pest epidemics among top climate risks in rural Uganda

by Vivian Atakos and Maren Radeny (CCAFS East Africa)

The traditional coping strategies developed by local communities provide useful foundations for effective adaptation strategies.

nd e“We find it difficult to plan our farm activities; rainfall patterns are very variable and confusing. Dry spells are common during crop production seasons,” said farmers in rural Uganda, during a focus group discussion session convened by researchers to understand farmers’ perception of climatic trends and climate-related risks.

Smallholder farmers in Uganda face a wide range of agricultural production risks, with climate change and variability presenting new risks and vulnerabilities. Climate-related risks such as prolonged dry seasons have become more frequent and intense with negative impacts on agricultural livelihoods and food security.

A new working paper by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) assessed farmers’ perceptions of climate change and variability and analysed historical trends in temperature and rainfall in two rural districts of Uganda. The paper ‘Climatic trends, risk perceptions and coping strategies of smallholder farmers in rural Uganda’ (PDF) also identified the major climate-related risks affecting crop and livestock production and the existing innovative strategies for coping with and adapting to climate-related risks, with potential for upscaling in rural districts.

Read the full article: CCAFS-CGIAR

Climate change impacts and adaptation

Photo credit: DAPA-CIAT

Adaptation measures for especially maize, common beans, Arabica coffee, banana and finger millet are urgently needed in Africa to curb future negative climate impacts. Negative impacts on livestock are projected, though more research on livestock impacts and adaptation needed to pin down region-specific responses.

African crops and livestock in a changing climate

by Julian Ramirez-Villegas

Cross-posted from the CCAFS blog.

After some intense 5-6 years of CCAFS research and impact, a set of newly released CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Working Papers highlight both climate change impacts and opportunities for African crop and livestock production systems. The papers summarise science on climate change impacts and adaptation, and present new information specifically targeted to the 42th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), held in Bonn at the beginning of June 2015.

West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares -
West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares –×444.jpg

Climate change and African crop production

The SBSTA crops paper (available here), produced in collaboration between CIAT and ILRI scientists, shows that, under our current emissions trajectory (RCP8.5, where global warming by the end of the 21st century is between 6-8 ºC), common bean, maize, banana and finger millet are projected to reduce their suitable areas significantly (30-50%) across the continent, and will need some kind of adaptation plan, or be replaced with other crops.

Read the full article: CIAT-DAPA

Conservation and care of crop diversity by women

Photo credit: Food Tank

Women farmers in the Andes play an important role in preserving crop diversity.

Women Farmers are Guardians of Crop Diversity in the Andes

Women farmers across the world play an important role in the conservation and care of crop diversity. The maintenance of crop diversity is central to food security, nutritional diversity, health, and cultural traditions for rural communities globally. In the Andean highlands, smallholder women farmers use local knowledge and skills transmitted through generations to select and conserve seeds of traditional crop varieties. Andean women farmers protect biodiversity through their seed saving practices, sustainable agricultural practices, and unique culinary uses of different crops.

The importance of biological diversity and crop genetic resources is fundamental to sustainable agricultural production, yet biodiversity loss is quickly accelerating due to factors such as social, agricultural, and cultural change. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, a recent report by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity states that the “wild relatives of domestic crop species are increasingly threatened by habitat fragmentation and climate change.” In addition, factors impacting the loss of crop diversity include land use changes, off-farm migration, market integration, cultural change, and population reduction in rural communities. In the presence of the growing loss of agrobiodiversity, women farmers’ conservation efforts on farm (in situ) are essential.

The Andes are home to incredible biodiversity where farmers have selected countless varieties of native crops—such as quinoa, maize, potatoes, oca, olluco, and mashua—adapted to heterogeneous environments with varied climates, soils, geography, and altitude. For instance, although often portrayed as a superfood with vast nutritional properties, most people only consume a few commercial varieties of quinoa, and are unaware of the hundreds of quinoa landraces of different sizes, colors, flavors, and textures selected by indigenous farmers.

Women farmers perform much of the family farm work and participate in the entire agricultural cycle, with particular attention to post-harvest and food preparation activities. The women use different criteria for harvested produce, and they manage and divide these according to their family needs. For example, when women separate and classify the potatoes, they categorize which potatoes will be used for seed, for immediate meals, for storage, and for processed foods.

The case study “Women Farmers and Andean Seeds” documents how Andean women in Peru use their traditional knowledge and skills to select and conserve biodiversity.

Read the full article: Food Tank