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

HOW MUCH LONGER WILL THE OTHER DRYLAND COUNTRIES WAIT TO FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE ?

AND WHAT ABOUT THE GROWTH OF OPUNTIA IN AND AROUND THE REFUGEE CAMPS ?  IT’S A SUCCESS STORY. IT’S COMMON SENSE !

One can eat the Opuntia cactus pads (see “nopales”), drink pad soup, eat the fruits (barbary figs), make jam, use it as fodder for the livestock, ground the seeds to produce an oil, produce cosmetics and medicine against blood pressure and cancer.

Look at the nice picture above. It could have been taken in any desert or desertification affected country. What do you need more to be convinced ?  Well, maybe first read about Morocco’s initiative below !

Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

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Photo credit: BBC NEWS

Women farmers find cactus plants are a real money spinner

Cactus commerce boosts Morocco

By Sylvia Smith
BBC News, Sbouya, Morocco

Opuntia in Yemen - Photo Yemen Times 1799-4117 - - get_img
Opuntia in Yemen – Photo Yemen Times 1799-4117 – – get_img

It is just after dawn in the hills above the Moroccan hamlet of Sbouya and a group of women are walking through the thousands of cactus plants dotted about on the hillside, picking ripe fruits whenever they spot the tell-tale red hue.

But these woman are not simply scraping a living out of the soil.

The cactus, previously eaten as a fruit or used for animal feed, is creating a minor economic miracle in the region thanks to new health and cosmetic products being extracted from the ubiquitous plant.

This prickly pocket of the semi-arid south of the country around the town of Sidi Ifni is known as Morocco’s cactus capital.

It is blessed with the right climate for the 45,000 hectares (111,000 acres) of land that is being used to produce prodigious numbers of succulent Barbary figs.

Every local family has its own plot and, with backing from the Ministry of Agriculture, the scheme to transform small scale production into a significant industry industry is under way.

Some 12m dirhams ($1.5m) have been pledged to build a state-of-the-art factory that will help local farmers process the ripe fruits.

The move is expected to help workers keep pace with the requirements of the French cosmetics industry which is using the cactus in increasing numbers of products.

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Barbary fig (Opuntia ficus-indica, prickly pear) oil is a lucrative market – http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/46109000/jpg/_46109458_46107440.jpg

Lucrative

Izana Marzouqi, a 55-year-old member of the Aknari cooperative, says people from the region grew up with the cactus and did not realise its true benefit.

“Demand for cactus products has grown and that it is because the plant is said to help with high blood pressure and cancer. The co-operative I belong to earns a lot of money selling oil from the seeds to make anti-ageing face cream.”

Read the full article: BBC NEWS

 

World Day to Combat Desertification

Photo credit: Google – Imgres.jpg

 

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June 

Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are
destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD.(See PRESS RELEASE below).

COMMENTS

Willem Van Cotthem: We keep hoping that success stories and best practices will be applied at the global level. Priority should be given to methods and techniques providing daily fresh food to the hungry and malnourished. It cannot be denied that hunger and malnutrition are constantly undermining the performances of people. Application of existing success stories in local food production (kitchen gardens, school gardens, hospital gardens, …) would positively influence the efforts to combat desertification (limiting erosion, stimulating reforestation, etc.). We keep hoping.

ReplyUnited Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Hi Willem Van Cotthem, would you like to share some success stories you have? We always welcome all to share!”

       ReplyWillem Van Cotthem : Hello Friends at the UNCCD Secretariat: It will be my pleasure to select a series of success stories in the literature. However, I am convinced that the UNCCD secretariat has the necessary documentation to compile even a book on this subject (to the best of my knowledge the documents, e.g. presentations at COPs and meetings of CST and CRIC, have been there during my active period in the CST and in Bonn). Please consider a consultancy to achieve top class work that would serve all member countries, the CST and the CRIC. To be presented at the next World Day June 17th 2016.

PRESS RELEASE
UNCCD’s Monique Barbut Calls for Long‐Term Solutions Not Just Quick Fixes To Drought Bonn, Germany, 22/02/2016 –
“Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. This is the slogan for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification to be held on 17 June. I am calling for solidarity from the international community with the people who are battling the ravages of drought and flood. Let us find long‐term solutions, not just quick fixes, to disasters that are destroying communities,” urged Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The droughts and floods beating down on communities in many parts of the world are linked to the current El Niño, which is expected to affect up 60 million people by July. In some areas, including in North Eastern Brazil, Somali, Ethiopia, Kenya and Namibia, the El Niño effects are coming on the back of years of severe and recurrent droughts. It is impossible for households that rely on the land for food and farm labor to recover, especially when the land is degraded.
What’s more, these conditions do not just devastate families and destabilize communities. When they are not attended to urgently, they can become a push factor for migration, and end with gross human rights abuses and long‐term security threats.
“We have seen this before – in Darfur following four decades of droughts and desertification and, more recently, in Syria, following the long drought of 2007‐2010. It is tragic to see a society breaking down when we can reduce the vulnerability of communities through simple and affordable acts such as restoring the degraded lands they live on, and helping countries to set up better systems for drought early warning and to prepare for and manage drought and floods,” Barbut said.
Ms Barbut made the remarks when announcing the plans for this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, which will take place on 17 June.
“I hope that World Day to Combat Desertification this year marks a turning point for every country. We need to show, through practical action and cooperation, how every country is tacking or supporting these challenges at the front‐end to preempt or minimize the potential impacts of the disasters, not just at the back‐end after the disasters happen,” she stated.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as the observance Day to raise public awareness about international efforts to combat desertification and the effects of drought.
Ms Barbut thanked the Government and People of China, for offering to host the global observance event, which will take place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
“China has vast experience in nursing degraded lands and man‐made deserts back to health. This knowledge can and should benefit initiatives such as Africa’s Great Green Wall, the re‐ greening in southern Africa and the 20 X 20 Initiative in Latin America. We can create a better, more equal and climate change‐resilient world,” she noted.
“I also call on countries, the private sector, foundations and people of goodwill to support Africa  when the countries meet later in the year to develop concrete plans and policies to pre‐ empt, monitor and manage droughts,” Ms Barbut stated.
The 2016 World Day campaign is also advancing the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September last year. The Goals include a target to achieve a land degradation‐neutral world by 2030. That is, a world where the land restored back to health equals to, or is more than, the amount degraded every year.
For more information on the Day and previous events, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐campaigns/WDCD/Pages/default.aspx
For background information and materials for the 2016 Observance, visit: For information about the Global Observance event, visit: http://www.unccd.int/en/programmes/Event‐and‐ campaigns/WDCD/wdcd2016/Pages/default.aspx
Contact for World Day to Combat Desertification: Yhori@unccd.int
For Media information: wwischnewski@unccd.int