A part of the international response to prevent another famine in Somalia

 

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Women milking goats on the outskirts of the village of Qardho, Somalia. Photo: FAO/Karel Prinsloo

UN approves $22 million loan to boost agricultural work to prevent famine in Somalia

The United Nations agricultural agency will be further scaling up its activities in drought-hit regions of Somalia thanks to a $22 million loan approved this week by the UN emergency response fund.

“More than 2.9 million people are at risk of famine and many will predictably die from hunger if we do not act now,” said the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, in a news release.

As under-secretary-general, Mr. O’Brien heads the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which manages the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

“CERF is one of the fastest ways to enable urgent response to people most in need,” he said, explaining that the loan will bridge a crucial gap and allow FAO to immediately save lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders until additional funds from donors are received.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

600 millions of children lack access to safe water

 

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Shown here in this 2016 photo from Siyephi Village, Bullilima District in Matebeland South Province, Zimbabwe, a 17-year-old girl is seen at the drying up dam where she and her family fetch water. Photo: UNICEF/Mukwazhi

‘Nothing can grow without water,’ warns UNICEF, as 600 million children could face extreme shortages

Warning that as many as 600 million children – one in four worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely scare water by 2040, the United Nations children’s agency has called on governments to take immediate measures to curb the impact on the lives of children.

In its report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and children in a changing climate, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) explores the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water and the ways climate change will intensify these risks in coming years.

“This crisis will only grow unless we take collective action now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a news release announcing the report, launched on World Water Day.

“But around the world, millions of children lack access to safe water – endangering their lives, undermining their health, and jeopardizing their futures,” he added.

According to the UN agency, 36 countries around the world are already facing extremely high levels of water stress.

Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, increased floods, droughts and melting ice affect the quality and availability of water as well as sanitation systems. These combined with increasing populations, higher demand of water primarily due to industrialization and urbanization are draining water resources worldwide. On top of these, conflicts in many parts of the world are also threatening access to safe water.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Africa can achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet – Copyright: Panos

 

Fighting low wheat production in Africa

If scientists, farmers and policy makers could consistently work together, Africa will achieve self-sufficiency in wheat production in the very near future.

That was one of the central themes at a meeting convened in Nigeria recently to discuss wheat matters, including presentations of various studies.

From the participants at the 4-day international wheat conference of the Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC) Project held in Abuja, Nigeria, 27 February to 2 March, it was quite clear to me that wheat is becoming a major staple on the continent.

It is an important source for vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, folic acid, antioxidants and phytochemicals. These nutrients can help prevent many of the chronic diseases plaguing Africa, where the disease burden is great and overstretching the health infrastructures.

Growing the crop, I gathered from the meeting, has faced various challenges but in recent years, scientists working on the project including those at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture have been able to breed wheat varieties that are adaptable various African agroecological conditions, early maturing, pest and disease resistant as well as heat tolerant and thus ensuring farmers produced about five tons per hectare against 1.2 tons previously.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Organic and sustainable food future

 

 

Organic is only one ingredient in recipe for sustainable food future

Many shades of gray: The context-dependent performance of organic agriculture

Date:
March 10, 2017
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Many people choose organic thinking it’s better for humans and the planet, but a new study finds that might not always be the case.

 

“Organic is often proposed a holy grail solution to current environmental and food scarcity problems, but we found that the costs and benefits will vary heavily depending on the context,” said Verena Seufert, a researcher at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES).

In their study, Seufert and her co-author Navin Ramankutty, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Change and Food Security at UBC, analyzed organic crop farming across 17 criteria such as yield, impact on climate change, farmer livelihood and consumer health.

It is the first study to systematically review the scientific literature on the environmental and socioeconomic performance of organic farming, not only assessing where previous studies agree and disagree, but also identifying the conditions leading to good or bad performance of organic agriculture. [Explore their findings in-depth in the image]

Read the full article: Science Daily

School meals and ending hunger

Photo credit: WVC 2003 SCHOOLGARDEN-SAL CABO VERDE 02.jpg

A schoolgarden, one of the best solutions to improve the school meals

FAO joins celebrations for International School Meals Day

International School Meals Day, celebrated around the world today, is a timely reminder of the need to promote healthy eating habits for all children through sustainable policies, including sourcing food from family farmers.

Every day around 370 million children around the world are fed at school through school meals programmes that are run in varying degrees by national governments.

Each programme is different: beans and rice in Madagascar, spicy lentils in the Philippines, vegetable pastries and fruit in Jordan. In some countries it may be a healthy snack, or it could include take-home food such as vitamin A-enriched oil for the whole family.

School meals have proved successful in providing educational and health benefits to the most vulnerable children. School meals boost school attendance, and a full stomach can help students concentrate on their lessons.

Communities, particularly in rural areas, also benefit when family farmers and small and medium enterprises are the main source of healthy food for the schools.

International School Meals Day marks these achievements and helps raise greater awareness of the value of school meals globally.

A generation of well-nourished children

FAO believes that consistent global investments in school meals will lead to a generation of children who develop healthy eating habits and who benefit from a diverse diet. Ultimately this effort will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger.

Read the full article: FAO

You may also read:

https://foodtank.com/news/2017/02/school-gardens-provide-just-lunch-disadvantaged-communities/

 

Accessible fresh water in North Africa and the Middle East has fallen by two-thirds over the past 40 years

Photo credit: UN News Centre

Morocco Photo: UNDP/Dylan Lowthian

UN agriculture agency warns of water scarcity in North Africa and Near East

Accessible fresh water in North Africa and the Middle East has fallen by two-thirds over the past 40 years, posing a huge challenge requiring “an urgent and massive response,” the head of the United Nations agriculture agency said today.

Access to water is a fundamental need for food security, human health and agriculture, and sustainable water use for agriculture requires transforming food systems and diets, said Jose Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a news release on his visit to Egypt.

Per capita availability of fresh water in the region is now 10 times less than the world average, he said, underscoring the need for a significant overhaul of farming systems.

A recent FAO study showed that higher temperatures may shorten growing seasons in the region by 18 days and reduce agricultural yields a further 27 per cent to 55 per cent less by the end of this century.

The rising sea level in the Nile Delta is exposing Egypt to the danger of losing substantial parts of the most productive agriculture land due to salinization.

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Gender equality to end hunger and poverty

 

Photo credit: FAO

Empowering rural women is a crucial ingredient in the fight against hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Women farmers walking through a field in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic.

UN agencies in Rome step up on gender equality to end hunger and poverty

Empowerment of rural women is fundamental for achieving 2030 Agenda

FAO/IFAD/WFP Joint News Release 

8 March 2017, Rome – Leaders from the three UN Rome-based agencies today marked International Women’s Day  by reinforcing their commitments to step up efforts to invest in the capacities of rural women as key agents of change in building a world without hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) reminded the world that women and girls play a crucial role in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular, the goal of eradicating hunger and extreme poverty.

“Women play a critical role in agriculture and food systems – not just as farmers, but also as food producers, traders and managers,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva on the occasion of the Day. “However, women still face major constraints in rural labour markets and in agricultural value chains. They are more likely to be in poorly paid jobs, without legal or social protection. This limits women’s capacity to advance their skills, earn incomes and access employment opportunities.”

Graziano da Silva noted that the future of global food security depends on unleashing women’s potential. “Achieving gender equality and empowering women are crucial ingredients in the fight against extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition which is strongly recognized by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

Read the full article: FAO