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

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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

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

Agricultural technology innovations and diversification strategies to manage droughts

 

Photo credit: Africa Rising

Extent of adoption of sustainable intensification practices in target communities of eastern Zambia in 2010/11 to 2015/16.

Sustainable intensification practices―a ray of hope for Zambian farmers facing drought

by

 

Smallholder farmers in eastern Zambia, whose livelihoods are heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture, have been increasingly exposed to rising intensity and frequency of El-Niño induced droughts. Recurrent droughts have escalated over the past 35 years with serious droughts in 1982/83, 1991/92, 1993/92, 1997/98, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2007/08, and 2015/16. Erratic rains and prolonged dry spells have adversely affected agricultural production and sustainability of rural livelihoods in those years.

The 2015/16 El Niño-induced drought is predicted to reduce maize yield by more than 40% in eastern Zambia, with the valley areas heavily affected. High levels of poverty among smallholder farmers (78%), insufficient resilience, economic diversification, and investment initiatives leave farmers vulnerable to these climate shocks. Predicted increases in intensity and frequency of droughts are likely to exacerbate climate-induced economic shock in the next decades, pushing farmers into a vicious cycle of poverty.

The socioeconomic team under the Africa RISING Project carried out a study to understand smallholder farmers’ perception of El-Niño-induced droughts, their impacts on their socioeconomic activities, and their adaptation strategies at the household level. In this study, adaptive capacity is defined as the ability of a system to adjust to climate shocks (including prolonged in-season droughts and shorter growing seasons < 100 days), to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities or to cope with the consequences. The adaptive capacity of communities depends on many factors such as a) household resource endowments; b) strong social network; c) climate-resilient farming technologies; d) access to inputs; e) knowledge of climate risk; d) agricultural extension services; f) rural financial markets; and g) marketing and storage systems. Although Zambia has an early warning system, forecasting institutions are inadequately equipped and communication to extension officers and farmers in user-friendly formats is limited.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

What smallholders in the drylands should know

 

How to grow fresh food in all kinds of recipients that can hold soil

by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Ghent University, Belgium)

Grow your vegetables and herbs at home in pots, buckets, bottles, cups, barrels, bags, sacks, whatever can hold soil.  See some of my photos below:

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Massive production of vegetables and herbs in a small space. Pots and buckets on pallets to limit infection. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN P1100559.
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Cherry tomatoes all year long, zucchinis and bell peppers in pots and buckets with a drainage hole in the sidewall. Maximal production with a minimum of water and fertilizer (compost or manure). Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100561
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Zucchinis in a bucket, as simple as can be. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100565.
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Tomatoes and zucchinis, not in the field (where they would be infected), but in buckets and pots. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100568.
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Bell peppers in abundance, not in degraded soil, but in a bucket with a mix of local soil and animal manure. That can be done everywhere, even in Inner Mongolia, the Australian bushland, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Cabo Verde, Arizona, the pampas and in all the refugee camps on Earth. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100579
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Eggplants, tomatoes, zucchinis, marigolds (to keep the white flies away). See the drainage hole in the sidewall. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100581 copy.
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Chilli peppers in a bucket. Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100602.

Imagine every family in the drylands, every school, every hospital, every maternity would have a container garden like the one below: wouldn’t you believe that we can alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?  Wouldn’t we have a serious chance to ameliorate the standards of living of all the people living in desertified areas.

Problems ?  What problems ?

Teach the people how to set up a small kitchen garden with some containers and do not forget:

https://containergardening.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/drainage-holes-in-the-sidewall-of-a-container/

They do not have containers ?  Offer them the necessary quantity at the lowest cost, or even for free, because that would be sustainable development in the purest sense.

Let them make their own potting soil by mixing local soil with manure.

Offer them some good quality seeds and teach them how to collect seeds afterwards.

Before rejecting this idea, have a last look at the photo of my experimental garden below and consider the potentialities of this method.

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Photo WVC 2013-07-28 MY NEW EXPERIMENTAL PALLET GARDEN – P1100656, set up to show that production of fresh food with simple and cheap means is so easy that it can be applied all over the world. With some goodwill, of course.

 

Shall we go for the rehabilitation of 2 billion hectares of degraded land in Africa (and how much on the other continents ?), or shall we go for a feasible support of the poorest and hungry people on Earth?

With my warmest wishes for 2017 to you all !

 

 

 

Introduction of Crocus sativus L. in the Chilean desert; a project.

 

Photo credit: Google

Tamarugal la cepa autóctona de Chile

Diversification of the agricultural supply in the Tamarugal Province through the introduction of Crocus sativus L. in the Chilean desert.

by

jose_delatorre-herrera2
Jose Delatorre-Herrera, Arturo Prat University – Iquique – Chile
Goal:

This project funded by the Agricultural Innovation Foundation (FIA) aims to evaluate a new agricultural alternative for the Tamarugal province located in the desert of Atacama of the region of Tarapacá. Agriculture in the area is characterized by being of a family type with small farms. Saffron is a highly profitable crop whose producer price reaches per kg to 3,000 euros. Since its edaphoclimatic requirements are compatible with the characteristics of the Pampa of the Tamarugal, we hypothesize that it is possible to expect yields in terms of quantity and quality according to those obtained in Spain or Iran.

The project proposes to validate technologies and to experiment with new ones; especially it is necessary to study planting times since given the conditions of the Tamarugal pampa it is possible that there may be several harvest times, which would be innovative since in the places where this species is cultivated it is concentrated in two months.

The general objective of the project will be: to diversify the productive alternatives through the introduction of saffron in the soil and climate conditions of the Pampa del Tamarugal.

The specific objectives will be:

(1) To evaluate agronomically diverse cultivars in the edaphoclimatic conditions of the Pampa del Tamarugal.

(2) To multiply saffron corms and increase the growth of corms by in vitro techniques.

(3) To evaluate the post-harvest quality of saffron.

(4) To carry out an evaluation of the profitability of the global crop and propose a business model.

(5) To transfer agronomic and post-harvest and marketing techniques to farmers.

 

El Niño’s impact on Central America’s Dry Corridor

Photo credit: FAO

Small-scale family farmers and rural communities are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

To reduce El Niño’s impact on Central America’s Dry Corridor, build resilience and invest in sustainable agriculture

UN meeting urges long-term development action for food security, safeguarding livelihoods

Urgent action by the international community and governments in the Dry Corridor of Central America is essential to help build resilience, food security, and restore livelihoods damaged by drought and other extreme-weather effects of El Niño, United Nations leaders said today.

The devastating El Niño event that began in 2015 was one of the worst on record and its impact continues to be felt in the Dry Corridor, compounding the damage from two consecutive years of drought. As a result, some 3.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance with 1.6 million moderately or severely food insecure in the hard-hit countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

To raise awareness and coordinate responses to both the protracted El Niño-related crises in the Dry Corridor and the possibility of a related La Niña event in the second half of 2016, UN agencies and other partners met today at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The meeting included the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), with the aim of mobilizing the international community to support the efforts of governments, UN agencies and other partners.

Read more: FAO

Water harvesting with an innovative ‘sand’ dam

 

Photo credit: IFAD

Said is a farmer in Dhubato, Somaliland, he is married with 10 children. As part of an IFAD-supported project an innovative water management solution was put in place, and now the construction of sand water storage dams guarantees a steady supply of water. ©IFAD/Marco Salustro

 

How an innovative ‘sand’ dam is causing a rush for water in Somalia

Drought and failed rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon have sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in northern Somalia.

Self-declared independent Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden has been especially hard hit.

However, in the sub-regions of Maaroodi-Jeex and Awdal, in the arid and semi-arid region of Somaliland, an innovative water management solution is helping small farmers stay in business despite the changing weather patterns.

Inhabitants who previously left to look for work opportunities are flocking back to the area to return to farming, which they now see as profitable.

Even people from other communities in the area are lured by the promise of rapid returns on investment. After years of war, drought, political instability and famine, the construction of sand water storage dams, as part of the programme known as the North-Western Integrated Community Development Programme (NWICDP), supported by IFAD and funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and the Belgian Fund for Food Security (BFFS), guarantees a steady supply of water.

“Water scarcity during the dry season is a major problem afflicting millions of Somali households, particularly agro-pastoral and nomadic poor people,” said Samir Bejaoui, Programme Analyst for IFAD’s Near East, North Africa and Europe Division.

“This innovative solution has improved access to drinking and irrigation water, increased crop and livestock production as well as farmers’ income.”

Although the project was completed in March 2015, the substantial benefits of the dams and associated shallow wells – along with other project investments to improve agriculture and livestock productivity, the quality of rural health and sanitation facilities – have triggered socio-economic change that is likely to be sustained in the future.

Read the full story: IFAD