Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis (BusinessMirror)

Read at : Business Mirror

Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis

Sunday, 09 November 2008

Even as national governments make strong efforts to fight off bankruptcy for their financial institutions, the lands that support their farmers and ensure food security for their populations are facing ever-increasing threats of degradation. According to Dr. William Dar, director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and the chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the business-as-usual cannot continue when it comes to dealing with land degradation.

“The health of our lands is the basis of our food chain and our climate, and of the livelihoods of our poorest peoples. Without healthy lands, people cannot thrive. Without a healthy atmosphere, land and biological systems cannot be sustained. Science tells us that the dynamics of land, climate and biodiversity are intimately connected. And we know that the lives of the poor hang in the balance, because they depend directly on these ecosystem services,” Dr. Dar, a former secretary of the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, stated. Continue reading “Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis (BusinessMirror)”

Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis (Google / Earth Stream)

Read at : Google Alert – desertification

Combating desertification is key to tackling global food crisis

Business Monitor: Even as national governments make strong efforts to fight off bankruptcy for their financial institutions, the lands that support their farmers and ensure food security for their populations are facing ever-increasing threats of degradation. According to Dr. William Dar, director general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and the chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification …

Monday November,10 2008 @ 03:35 AM

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ICRISAT advocates rescue plan for dryland farmers (The Hindu / CGIAR)

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Agri. & Commodities
ICRISAT advocates rescue plan for dryland farmers

Even as governments of developed and developing countries are bailing out banks, insurance companies and financial institutions to prevent them from going bankrupt and starting a domino effect, they continue to neglect the poor farmers in their countries, an action that can have short- and long-term adverse impacts on national and global economies. According to Dr William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), it is not just Wall Street that needs bailing out, but the “side streets”, where poor farmers across the world, especially those working the drylands of developing countries, need policy, institutional and financial bailout. Continue reading “ICRISAT advocates rescue plan for dryland farmers (The Hindu / CGIAR)”

India : Drought-Resistant Groundnut To Hit Markets Soon (Google / Commodity News)

Read at : Google Alert – drought

Drought-Resistant Groundnut To Hit Markets Soon – July 5, 2008

NEW DELHI: Indian farmers will soon get access to a new variety of groundnut that is drought-resistant and can be cultivated even in areas where water is scarce. “Genetic mapping has discovered certain genes in groundnut that are droughtresistant. The testing of seeds of this variety is at an advanced stage,” said Rajeev K Varshney, a senior scientist at Hyderabad’s International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). “The new seed can grow even in drought-prone areas and will produce higher yields. In Asia and Africa, where water shortage is a major issue, the new seed will be a boon for farmers,” Varshney, whose specialisation is applied genomics, said. Continue reading “India : Drought-Resistant Groundnut To Hit Markets Soon (Google / Commodity News)”

Global warming, hunger and poverty (Willem)


Dear Sirs,

Today I have been reading your article

entitled : Global Warming Batters Nigerian Ecosystems.

I found it most interesting and I agree fully with the conclusions on the Nigerian contribution to global warming.

However, the most important paragraph in the text for me is :

Rainfall in the Sahel has been declining steadily since the 1960’s. The result has been the loss of farmlands and conflicts between farmers and herdsmen over ever decreasing land. Many different communities, including fishermen, farmers and herdsmen, are now confronted with difficulties arising from climatic changes. Peoples’ livelihoods are being harmed, and people who are already poor are becoming even more impoverished. Climate refugees are being created, as the changes make some land unlivable and affect water supplies.

Indeed, recognizing the importance of the discussion on global warming, one should be aware that the more “immediate” problems are :

Loss of farmlands.
Conflicts over ever decreasing land.
Climate refugees.
Unlivable land.
Poor water supplies.

It will take an extremely long time to change national and international attitudes and behavior concerning industrial (economic) exploitation of  natural resources, like oil and gas, not only in Nigeria !  On the contrary, urgent solutions for the above mentioned basic problems of land degradation, food security, migration and poverty are badly needed.

Therefore, one should take into account that successful application of a cost-effective combination of traditional agricultural methods with modern technologies has shown that within the shortest time the combat of desertification and the alleviation of poverty can be won.  Let me refer to a number of “best practices” documented by some international institutes and organizations and to successes booked with small-scale development programs, like the one of UNICEF ALGERIA on the creation of family gardens and school gardens in the Sahara desert in S.W. Algeria.

With these family gardens, it was clearly shown that with minimal investment maximal results were booked within the shortest time, e.g. 6 months, whereby families in refugee camps (migrants) were enabled to grow their own food with a minimum of irrigation water.  A very simple soil conditioning method offered a maximum of chances to grow vegetables and fruit trees in two different seasons : a milder autumn-winter period and a hot spring-summer season.

Being aware of the necessity to take care of the global warming problem (a long-term task), the international community should FIRST provide short-term ways and means to solve the food problem in all the drylands of this world.  The solutions are known.

Poor rural people in the drylands, climate refugees, drought and political migrants, they all may show some concern over climate change and global warming. However, their most urgent wishes, their basic priorities are not directly related to the climate, but to their empty stomach and poverty.  If there is any option for us, then let us first take care of their water and food problems.  For no one can be fully active with an empty stomach !  And let us not forget : the cost-effective solutions are well-known.  Is the bell ringing ?

UNCCD : partnerships on Africa and Agricultural research (ENB / IISD)

Read at : Linkages Update – Thursday, 27 March 2008

Earth Negotiations Bulletin <>

The Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has recently entered into two new partnership agreements. On 7 March 2008, Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary, and Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding between their two organizations, through which they will address a number of issues, including science, technology, knowledge management, capacity building, financing and technology transfer, advocacy, awareness raising and education. They will also work with African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in mainstreaming issues of land degradation, desertification and drought in national sustainable development strategies, poverty reduction strategy papers and other sectoral and crosssectoral policies and programmes.

On 12-14 March 2008, the Secretariat hosted a meeting jointly organized by CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) Centers ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas) and ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) to finalize a global proposal for a science program to combat agriculturally-caused dryland degradation and desertification. This program is called the “Oasis Challenge Program,” and will be submitted to the CGIAR Science Council and Executive Council for consideration. The programme will focus on integrating bio-physical with socio-economic science through alliances with stakeholders to build their capacities while ensuring that the outputs meet their needs and can be scaled-up for global impact.

Links to further information
ECA press release, 7 March 2008
UNCCD website on Oasis Challenge Program

The Biofuel Revolution (CGIAR)

Read at : CGIAR

The Biofuel Revolution: Boon or Bane for the Developing World’s Poor?

The emerging revolution in biofuels has opened up new prospects for developing countries – stronger energy security, new sources of wealth and reduced greenhouse gas emissions and pollution from fossil fuels – which, even a few years ago, seemed almost unimaginable. While generating much enthusiasm, though, the rapid rise of the biofuel industry is also raising difficult questions about its development impacts. Who will benefit from the biofuel revolution? Will it bypass large numbers of marginalized people in developing countries, like other booms and revolutions before, or perhaps even worsen their lot? What will be its impact on agriculture’s natural resource base? Is there some economically viable way to ensure that biofuel development benefits the poor and does not harm the environment? Continue reading “The Biofuel Revolution (CGIAR)”

Scientists call for crop research on adaptation (IISD / Icrisat / CGIAR)

Read at : Linkages Update 2007-12-13


The international Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) organized an International Symposium on Climate Change from 22-24 November 2007, to coincide with the 35th Annual Day celebrations of the Institute. The symposium brought together experts from the 15 international agricultural research centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) as well as other scientists to discuss their research on adaptation needs related to their mandate crops. Martin Parry, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), delivered the keynote address on ‘The Implications of Climate Change for Crop Yields, Global Food Supply and Risk of Hunger.’ Parry and William Dar, Director-General of ICRISAT and current Chair of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s Committee on Science and Technology, emphasized the need to focus crop research on adaptation to environmental stress, such as rising temperatures and water scarcity.

Link to further information
ICRISAT press release, 22 November 2007

Desertification: heading for catastrophe ? (Google Alert / ICARDA)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Heading for Catastrophe?

Desertification is a growing threat worldwide. Two prerequisites for successful interventions: ensure the local community is fully involved, and combine modern technologies with local knowledge

Richard J. Thomas
Richard J. Thomas is Program Director for the Megaproject on Improving Land Management to Combat Desertification at ICARDA.

The world’s drylands are often associated with perennial misery, starvation, and conflict. They are home to about 2 billion people who depend on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihood – and are the hardest hit by desertification, drought, and poverty. Dryland communities are often accused of causing desertification, by extracting resources without fully replacing them. But this is not necessarily true. Many dryland farmers have used traditional methods to conserve resources within their natural environment. Some of these methods are innovative and sustainable – but discriminatory policies at national and international levels have often undermined farmers’ capability and intent to implement them. Policies that encourage artificially cheap imports, taxes on the agro-economy to support urban priorities, and neglect of rural infrastructure and institutions, all hamper conservation of natural resources. Far from being a hopeless cause, drylands actually yield higher returns to investments than other areas. A better understanding of desertification will enable us to develop more appropriate, effective solutions. Continue reading “Desertification: heading for catastrophe ? (Google Alert / ICARDA)”

Research and risks to biofuel farmers (Google Alert / Check Biotech)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Research needed to cut risks to biofuel farmers

By William Dar

Dryland farmers are growing novel crops for biofuel, but domestication and research into yields and pests is still needed, says William Dar. Countries with biofuel programmes have strengthened their efforts, and many without have set one up. Using biofuels blended with diesel (up to 20 per cent) requires very little or no engine modifications. It also reduces un-burnt hydrocarbons by 30 per cent, carbon monoxide by 20 per cent, and particulate matter by 25 per cent. Moreover, sulphur content is negligible. Whenever the world experiences prolonged high petroleum prices there is a search for alternatives, and in the last two years price rises have focused attention on biofuels. Continue reading “Research and risks to biofuel farmers (Google Alert / Check Biotech)”

‘Climate-proof’ crops (Google Alert / AFP)

Read at : Google Alert / desertification

Scientists to discuss ways to ‘climate-proof’ crops

HYDERABAD, India (AFP) — Scientists will discuss ways to protect crops from climate change and boost farm produce when they gather in this Indian city this week, organisers of the meet said Wednesday.  Experts from 15 international agricultural research centres will discuss how to “climate-proof” crops, at the three-day meet starting Thursday, said Gopikrishna Warrier, spokesman for the International Crops Research Institute. Martin Parry, co-head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will attend the event that precedes next month’s global summit on climate change in the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Ahead of that summit, scientists and environmental groups are mounting pressure for more action by governments to fight global warming. Continue reading “‘Climate-proof’ crops (Google Alert / AFP)”

ICRISAT : Agriculture and Climate Change (Google Alert / Checkbiotech)

Read at :

Google Alert – desertification

ICRISAT Focuses on Improving Agriculture to Trump Climate Change

Climate change and desertification put one billion poor people at risk and ICRISAT is dedicating the necessary research and means to rectify existing and future problems. Continue reading “ICRISAT : Agriculture and Climate Change (Google Alert / Checkbiotech)”

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