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.

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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

Smallholder irrigation

 

http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2017/06/iwmi-working-paper-174-smallholder-irrigation-schemes-in-the-limpopo-province-south-africa/

IWMI Working Paper – 174: Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

A survey of 76 public smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province was jointly conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), South Africa, and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), as part of the ‘Revitalization of Smallholder Irrigation in South Africa’ project. About one-third of those schemes was fully utilized; one-third partially utilized; and one-third not utilized in the winter of 2015; however, no single socioeconomic, physical, agronomic and marketing variable could explain these differences in utilization. Sale, mostly for informal markets, appeared the most important goal. Dilapidated infrastructure was the most important constraint cited by the farmers. The study recommends ways to overcome the build-neglect-rebuild syndrome, and to learn lessons from informal irrigation, which covers an area three to four times as large as public irrigation schemes in the province.

 

van Koppen, Barbara; Nhamo, Luxon; Cai, Xueliang; Gabriel, M. J.; Sekgala, M.; Shikwambana, S.; Tshikolomo, K.; Nevhutanda, S.; Matlala, B.; Manyama, D. 2017. Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI) 36p. (IWMI

The burden of malnutrition in all its forms is shifting from rural areas to cities

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http://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_African_Leafy_Veg_seedlings_211a0a88e4.jpg

 

Food and nutrition are moving to the city

For too long, we have traded off calories for nutrition in our quest to end world hunger. While the numbers of people with caloric deficits is falling, the number with micronutrient deficiencies is stubbornly high – an estimated 2 billion people – and the number suffering from over-nutrition is rising distressingly fast.

The impact of these nutrition challenges on people’s quality of life and their productivity is devastating, and the impact on public sector budgets will continue to increase unless we find a way to achieve food security and improve nutrition. Sustainable Development Goal 2 — End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture — requires no less. That will be challenging enough.

In addition, for too long, most efforts by the agricultural development community to reduce hunger have only focused on rural areas. But already 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and by 2050, more than two-thirds of those people are going to be in cities. This poses a new set of challenges.

The Global Food Policy Report 2017, published today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), one of our CGIAR research partners, makes that clear.

James Garrett, Bioversity International Senior Research Fellow who contributed to the book, explains that one in three stunted children now lives in a city. That proportion is likely to increase. In addition, overweight and obesity are also concentrated in urban areas. As the report notes, the burden of malnutrition in all its forms is shifting from rural areas to cities, and so we need to ensure that our efforts now and in the future respond to this new reality.

Read the full article: Bioversity International

Innovative technologies for young agricultural entrepreneurs

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Turning the youth into agricultural entrepreneurs

Equipping the youth with innovative technologies could expand their business opportunities in agricultural value chain and turn many into entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.

This was one of the major impressions I got from Canadian Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) entrepreneurship and innovation training last month (21-24 February) in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I also learnt that youth in agriculture face limited access to natural and financial resources, inadequate opportunities for upward mobility skills and experience to run successful business.

This necessitated call of interest from youths on fish value chain to generate and test novel, creative and bold models that increase the participation of youth in fish industry in Malawi and Zambia and maize post-harvest agribusiness sector in Zimbabwe.

YAAD is of the view that the presence of the food science department within the campus will help them raise the bar in terms of standards, nutrient identification but also quality before marketing.

Priscilla Nsandu, YAAD

I gathered from the meeting that the review process was initially developed around five core evaluation criterion: product understanding, strategies for capturing the market, business vision, management and financial discipline.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Emergent and small-scale farmers face constraints that limit their profitability

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Small-scale soya farming can outperform large-scale agricultural investments

Read the full article: IIED

Agriculture is an important engine for economic growth in Africa, but effective agricultural strategies to support rural development and poverty alleviation are scarce. State investment in the small-scale farming sector is minimal and the entrepreneurial family farm sector remains underrepresented. Meanwhile, large-scale land investments are advocated as means to bring capital to rural areas and stimulate development. However, the investigation of soya production in Central Mozambique presented here suggests small-scale farming can produce similar profits to large-scale operations and better social outcomes. Concentrating only on large-scale investments can mean forgoing opportunities for rural development and poverty reduction. With the right support, poorer households can develop market-oriented farming that contributes to local value chains at many levels.

Strengthening women’s participation

DinaNajar
The work was led by Dina Najjar, Social and Gender Specialist, Social, Economics and Policy Research Theme, Sustainable Intensification and Resilient Production Systems Program (SIRPS), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Amman, Jordan. (Photo: ICARDA) – http://wheat.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/03/DinaNajar.jpg

 

Strengthening African women’s participation in wheat farming

Gender inequality is a recurring feature of many agricultural production systems across the wheat-growing regions of Africa, and women farmers often lack access to credit, land, and other inputs. The result: limited adoption of new innovations, low productivity and income, and a missed opportunity to enhance household food security and prosperity.

In contrast, enhancing women’s involvement in agricultural development generates positive impacts beyond the lives of individual women – with benefits felt across entire communities and nations.

Identifying and challenging obstacles

Challenging the obstacles that rural women face is a key priority of a wheat initiative managed by ICARDA and supported by the African Development Bank and the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat.

Action research to integrate women beneficiaries into the SARD-SC project in Sudan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia has helped identify actions and approaches that can be applied more widely to enhance women’s integration within diverse wheat production systems.

The main objectives were: increasing women’s income generation and contributions to food security, while addressing structural inequalities in access to inputs and services such as information, training, and microcredit.

Context-specific interventions

Our project employed context-specific interventions for growing grain, demonstrating technologies, adding value, and facilitating access to microcredit. Women’s involvement (65% in Sudan, 32% in Ethiopia and 12% in Nigeria) was often facilitated by gaining the trust and approval of male kin and support at the institutional levels – for example, recruiting women beneficiaries through the inclusion of female field staff: 4 in Nigeria, 4 in Sudan, and 6 in Ethiopia, all trained on gender integration.

Read the full article: CGIAR