Need to increase agricultural productivity

 

Photo credit: FAO

A farmer taking cuttings from cassava plants. The FAO report stresses the need to increase production and productivity of staple food crops.

Food insecurity and poverty pose major challenge to goal of ending hunger by 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa

Some 153 million people, representing about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014-15, according to a new FAO report.

The second edition of the Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa (2016) underscores how severe food insecurity and poverty pose a major challenge to the region’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030.

“What it means is that, around one out of four individuals above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa was hungry,  meaning they did not eat or went without eating for a whole day for lack of money or other resources for food,” Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, said commenting on the findings of the report.

“This assessment underlines the significance of the challenge facing the region in meeting SDGs’ target 2.1 and the relevance of sustainable and substantial support to food security and nutrition policies and programmes in the region,” he added.

At the aggregate level, sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability, in terms od dietary energy supply, over the 2014-2016 period. However, several countries in the region remain highly dependent on food imports to ensure adequate food supplies, with some sub-regions depending on imports for up to a third of their cereal needs.

This indicates that substantial demand for food exists for these countries, and there is a need to increase agricultural productivity, food production and value addition, among other things.

Read the full article: FAO

“Major transformations” are needed to make food production sustainable

 

Photo credit: FAO

Empowering small-scale farmers and providing them better access to information, markets and technologies is key to ensuring future food security. Photo: FAO

Business-as-usual not an option with future global food security in jeopardy, cautions UN agency

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsId=56221

Warning that diminishing natural resources and a changing climate have put humankind’s future ability to feed itself “in jeopardy,” the United Nations underlined today that while the planet still has the potential to produce enough food, “major transformations” are needed to make production sustainable and to ensure that all of humanity benefits.

In The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights that while “very real and significant” progress in reducing hunger has been achieved over the past 30 years, these have often come at a heavy cost to nature.

“Almost half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded,” noted the report.

“[As a result,] planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue,” added FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, underlining the gravity of the situation.

With global population estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, world-wide demand for agricultural products could be pushed by as much as 50 per cent above current levels, intensifying pressures on already-strained natural resources.

At the same time, the report argues, greater numbers of people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food – a result of an ongoing global dietary transition that will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our land. Our home. Our Future”: the World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June 2017

 

Photo credit: Africa Science News

UN launches campaign to invest in degraded lands to create jobs, boost incomes and food security

“Our land. Our home. Our Future,” is the rallying call for this year’s celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June 2017. The slogan draws global attention to the central role productive land can play in turning the growing tide of migrants abandoning unproductive land into communities and nations that are stable, secure and sustainable, into the future.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has also released the campaign logo for use by any group, organization, government or entity that will organize a celebratory event for the Day.

“Migration is high on the political agenda all over the world as some rural communities feel left behind and others flee their lands. The problem signals a growing sense of hopelessness due to the lack of choice or loss of livelihoods. And yet productive land is a timeless tool for creating wealth. This year, let us engage in a campaign to re-invest in rural lands and unleash their massive job-creating potential, from Burkina Faso, Chile and China, to Italy, Mexico, Ukraine and St. Lucia,” says Ms. Monique Barbut, the United Nations top advisor on combatting desertification and drought.

“The possibility for success today is greater than ever before. More than 100 of the 169 countries affected by desertification or drought are setting national targets to curb a run-away land degradation by the year 2030. Investing in the land will create local jobs and give households and communities a fighting chance to live, which will, in turn, strengthen national security and our future prospects for sustainability,” Ms. Barbut added.

Read the full article: Africa Science News

Trees overlooked as a source of income for farmers

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

Farms near forests tend to have more trees, which provide income and other benefits for local people, such as these farmers in the buffer zone of W National Park, Benin.
Credit: Daniel Miller

Trees supplement income for rural farmers in Africa

Date:
January 23, 2017
Source:
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Summary:
Trees may be easy to spot on the plains of Africa but they are often overlooked as a source of income for farmers. A new study shows trees on farms may help reduce rural poverty and maintain biodiversity. The study used satellite images showing forest cover and nationally representative household-level data gathered from in-person interviews in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

 

Read the full article: Science Daily

Genetic variability and crops with superior genetic yield potential and stress adaptation

 

Photo credit: CIMMYT

Farmer Bida Sen prepares rice seedlings for transplanting in Pipari, Dang. Photo: P. Lowe/CIMMYT

New Publications: How to maintain food security under climate change

Wheat, rice, maize, pearl millet, and sorghum provide over half of the world’s food calories. To maintain global food security under climate change, there is an increasing need to exploit existing genetic variability and develop crops with superior genetic yield potential and stress adaptation.

Climate change impacts food production by increasing heat and water stress among other environmental challenges, including the spread of pests, according to a recent study published by researchers at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). If nothing is done to currently improve the crops we grow, wheat, maize and rice are predicted to decrease in both tropical and temperate regions. Wheat yields are already slowing in most areas, with models predicting a six percent decline in yield for every 1 degree Celsius increase in global temperature.

Read the full article: CIMMYT

Harvests in the United States are liable to shrink

 

Photo credit: Climate Home

(Pic: Pixabay)

Global warming to shrink US harvests, say scientists

Rising temperatures will lead to massive crop losses in the US, which will increase prices and cause problems for developing countries, says international study

By Alex Kirby

Harvests in the United States are liable to shrink by between a fifth and a half of their present size because of rising temperatures, an international scientific team has found.

They say wheat, maize (known also as corn) and soya are all likely to suffer substantial damage by the end of the century. And while increased irrigation could help to protect them against the growing heat, that will be an option only in regions with enough water.

Their report, published in the journal Nature Communications, says the effects of a warming atmosphere will extend far beyond the US. But as it is one of the largest crop exporters, world market crop prices may increase, causing problems for poor countries.

The lead author of the study is Bernhard Schauberger, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. He says: “We know from observations that high temperatures can harm crops, but now we have a much better understanding of the processes.”

Read the full story: Climate Home

Too hungry to play

 

Photo credit: IPS

Once fertile agricultural land in Kenya is being degraded by encroachment and the effects of climate change. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

Kenyans Turn to Wild Fruits and Insects as Drought Looms

Too hungry to play, hundreds of starving children in Tiaty Constituency of Baringo County instead sit by the fire, watching the pot boil, in the hope that it is only a matter of minutes before their next meal.

Unbeknownst to them, the food cooking inside the pot is no ordinary supper. It is actually a toxic combination of wild fruits and tubers mixed with dirty water, as surrounding rivers have all run dry.

“We are now facing severe effects of desertification because we are cutting down more trees than we can plant.” –Hilda Mukui

 

Tiaty sits some 297 kilometers from the capital Nairobi and the ongoing dry spell is not a unique scenario.

Neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet and Turkana County are among the counties spread across this East African nation where food security reports show that thousands are feeling the impact of desertification, climate change and rainfall shortage.

“In most of these counties, mothers are feeding their children wild fruits and tubers. They boil them for at least 12 hours, believing that this will remove the poison they carry,” Hilda Mukui, an agriculturalist and soil conservationist, told IPS.

Read the full article: IPS