Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

 

Photo credit: SABC

As we respond to the famine and starvation crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle of food insecurity.(SABC)

 

The problem isn’t hunger

OPINION: Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré

Famine and starvation are threatening the lives of tens of millions of people in Africa today.

In Ethiopia alone, over 7 million people need emergency food aid. What is troubling is the fact that food aid will run out soon in the country. This is extremely unsettling and begs the question: Will this cycle of hunger ever end?

As we respond to the current crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle
of food insecurity.

In 1974 a global conference on food security resolved that “within a decade no child would go hungry.”

Ironically, exactly a decade later, almost one million Ethiopians died in one of the worst famines in recent history. This was not the last one. Famines have been recurring, and they will return, unless public authorities, the donor community, United Nations agencies, regional bodies and national institutions genuinely refocus their efforts on dealing with the underlying causes, some of which I highlight below.

Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

Read the full article: SABC

Desertification can be effectively tackled, solutions are possible

 

 

Tanzania: Tackle Desertification to Avert Catastrophe

Official reports on desertification are apocalyptic and are, therefore, likely to make millions of Tanzania cringe: economic lives of 80 per cent of farmers and livestock keepers are under threat as 61 per cent of landmass is increasingly becoming dry, losing vegetation and wildlife.

The Ministry of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environmental Affairs) has been forthright that the situation is worsening in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Manyara, Simiyu, Geita and Arusha regions.

In its report ahead of this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification, the government yet warned again the growing danger. The day reminds everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim at community participation and cooperation at all levels.

Read the full article: allAfrica

Over-exploitation of land for cultivation, grazing, water resources and deforestation

 

Photo credit: TRUST

Desertification eating into agricultural land in India, satellite images show

“Population pressure has resulted in over-exploitation of land for cultivation, grazing, water resources and deforestation”

More than a quarter of India’s land is turning to desert and the rate of degradation of agricultural areas is increasing, according to new analysis of satellite images.

A report from the Indian Space Research Organisation says land degradation – broadly defined as loss of productivity – is estimated at 96 million hectares, or nearly 30 percent of Indian land.

“As a country we should be more than alarmed by this data,” said S. Janakarajan, chairman of the South Asia Consortium for Inter-disciplinary Water Resources Studies.

“There is no coherent plan to reverse this process or its impact.”

Analysis of satellite mapping shows new areas in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir and eastern Indian states like Orissa and Jharkhand turning arid, with nine states together accounting for nearly 24 percent of desertification.

In states like Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa, more than 50 percent of land is under desertification.

Read the full article: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Investing in preparedness and building the resilience of farmers is fundamental to cope with extreme drought

 

Photo credit: UN NEWS CENTRE

Herders collect water with camels at one of the few remaining water points in drought-affected Bandarero village, Moyale County, Kenya. Photo: Rita Maingi/ OCHA

UN urges ‘reboot’ of drought responses to focus more on preparedness

Investing in preparedness and building the resilience of farmers is fundamental to cope with extreme drought, because responding to such situations when they hit might be too late, the head of the United Nations agricultural agency said today.

“People die because they are not prepared to face the impacts of the drought – because their livelihoods are not resilient enough,” Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva told an international seminar in Rome, Italy, recalling that more than 250,000 people perished from hunger in the 2011 drought in Somalia.

“Saving livelihoods means saving lives – this is what building resilience is all about,” he added, noting that for years, the focus has been responding to droughts when they happen, rushing to provide emergency assistance and to keep people alive.

While these emergency responses are important, investing in preparedness and resilience puts countries on a footing to act quickly before it is too late, meaning that farmers and rural communities are better positioned to cope with extreme weather when it does hit.

The need for a global drought re-boot is pressing. The many impacts of drought drive not only hunger and instability but cause economic losses up to $8 billion each annually.

As the planet’s climate changes, severe dry-spells are becoming more and more frequent. Since the 1970s, the land area in the world affected by situations of drought has doubled.

People die because they are not prepared to face the impacts of the droughtFAO Director General

The burden is especially high in developing countries, where agriculture remains an economic mainstay. Over 80 percent of damage and losses caused by drought are born by agriculture in the developing world, FAO studies have shown.

And Africa in particular has borne the brunt. Between 2005 and 2016, 84 droughts affected 34 different African nations.

Read the full article: UN NEWS CENTRE

How to pre-empt devastating drought impacts

 

Photo credit: FAO

Parched earth in Kenya, one of the East African countries currently feeling the impacts of drought.

World needs to pre-empt devastating drought impacts through better preparedness

Seminar at FAO seeks to rekindle international cooperation, wider use of existing tools and approaches

Investing in preparedness and building the resilience of farmers is fundamental to facing situations of extreme drought, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Saving livelihoods means saving lives – this is what building resilience is all about,” he said in a speech at the start of an international seminar on drought organized by Iran, the Netherlands, and FAO and held at the UN agency’s Rome headquarters.

Recalling the 2011 drought in Somalia that saw over 250,000 people perish from hunger, Graziano da Silva said: “People die because they are not prepared to face the impacts of the drought – because their livelihoods are not resilient enough.”

“For years, the focus has been responding to droughts when they happen, rushing to provide emergency assistance and to keep people alive,” Graziano da Silva said, noting that while “of course, that is important,” investing in preparedness and resilience is essential. Doing so puts countries on a footing to act quickly before it is too late, means that farmers and rural communities are better positioned to cope with extreme weather when it does hit.

John Mutorwa, Minister for Agriculture, Water and Forestry of Namibia, said that in these times of climate change, drought has emerged as a challenge that all countries will be forced to face, again and again.

Read the full article: FAO

Improving the yield potential of 40 % of global land area under arid and semi-arid conditions

 

170615213728_1_540x360
Tillage systems research is ongoing at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari. Murali Darapuneni, an assistant professor of semi-arid cropping systems in the NMSU Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, is researching dryland cropping systems at the Tucumcari center. – https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2017/06/170615213728_1_540x360.jpg

Dryland cropping systems research addresses future drought and hunger issues

Date:
June 15, 2017
Source:
New Mexico State University (NMSU)
Summary:
The projected world population by 2056 is 10 billion. If researchers succeed in improving the yield potential of 40 percent of global land area under arid and semi-arid conditions, it will lead to a significant contribution to future food security.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Pinpointing untapped irrigation potential

Photo credit: IWMI

Irrigation and agricultural development in rural areas of Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Photo: Graeme Williams / IWMI

A baseline for revitalization of smallholder schemes in South Africa

Ambitious efforts are underway in Africa to promote the spread of smallholder irrigation. This work is critical for achieving sustainable intensification of agriculture and for enhancing its resilience in the face of more frequent and severe droughts.

As part of its concerted support for such efforts, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has published a new study – titled Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa (Working Paper 174) – which sheds light on the underutilization of these schemes in former “homeland” areas of a key agricultural province. Working in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), a team of researchers lead by IWMI principal researcher Barbara van Koppen conducted a survey of 76 public smallholder irrigation schemes. Their purpose was to establish a baseline understanding of key features of these schemes, including smallholders’ perceptions about their limitations.

Read the full article: IWMI

Smallholder irrigation

 

http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2017/06/iwmi-working-paper-174-smallholder-irrigation-schemes-in-the-limpopo-province-south-africa/

IWMI Working Paper – 174: Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

A survey of 76 public smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province was jointly conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), South Africa, and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), as part of the ‘Revitalization of Smallholder Irrigation in South Africa’ project. About one-third of those schemes was fully utilized; one-third partially utilized; and one-third not utilized in the winter of 2015; however, no single socioeconomic, physical, agronomic and marketing variable could explain these differences in utilization. Sale, mostly for informal markets, appeared the most important goal. Dilapidated infrastructure was the most important constraint cited by the farmers. The study recommends ways to overcome the build-neglect-rebuild syndrome, and to learn lessons from informal irrigation, which covers an area three to four times as large as public irrigation schemes in the province.

 

van Koppen, Barbara; Nhamo, Luxon; Cai, Xueliang; Gabriel, M. J.; Sekgala, M.; Shikwambana, S.; Tshikolomo, K.; Nevhutanda, S.; Matlala, B.; Manyama, D. 2017. Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI) 36p. (IWMI

Heavy toll of disrupted farming, higher prices and displaced livelihoods

 

Photo credit: FAO

A homestead in Al Hudaydah, once an important food-producing part of Yemen and now at risk of famine.

Food insecurity strains deepen amid civil conflict and drought

Large agricultural harvests in some regions of the world are buoying global food supply conditions, but protracted fighting and unrest are increasing the ranks of the displaced and hungry elsewhere, according to the new edition of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

Some 37 countries, 28 of which are in Africa, require external assistance for food, according to the report.

Civil conflict continues to be a main driver of severe food insecurity, having triggered famine conditions in South Sudan and put populations in Yemen and northern Nigeria at high risk of localized famine. Adverse weather conditions are exacerbating the threat of famine in Somalia. Refugees from civil strife in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on local food supplies in host communities, the report notes.

Some 5.5 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in South Sudan, where maize and sorghum prices are now four times higher than in April 2016. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people are in need of food and agricultural emergency assistance, while in Yemen the figure is as high as 17 million. In northern Nigeria, disruption caused by the conflict has left 7.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the affected areas, with even more deemed to be in less dire but still “stressed” conditions.

The 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa rebounds, East Africa is parched

While worldwide cereal output is near record levels, production outcomes are mixed across the globe. South America is expected to post strong increases, led by Brazil and Argentina.

Regional production in Southern Africa is expected to jump by almost 45 percent compared to 2016 when crops were affected by El Niño, with record maize harvests forecast in South Africa and Zambia. This should help reducing food insecurity in several countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The overall food supply situation in the Sahel region is also satisfactory after two consecutive years of bumper crops, the report notes.

 Read the full article: FAO

Conflicts, drought and food insecurity

 

Photo credit: UN NEWS CENTRE

Community members transport humanitarian supplies delivered in Mayendit town, South Sudan. An inter-agency mobile team was deployed to support the resumption of life-saving services by static partners. Photo: OCHA/Guiomar Pau Sole.

Conflict and drought deepen food insecurity in Africa, Middle East – UN agency

Protracted fighting and unrest are swelling the ranks of displaced and hungry ins some parts of the world, even as large agricultural harvests in some regions are buoying global food supply conditions, according to a new report by the United Nations agriculture agency.

“Civil conflict continues to be a main driver of food insecurity, having triggered famine conditions in South Sudan and put populations in Yemen and northern Nigeria at high risk of localized famine,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on today’s release its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

FAO also notes that adverse weather conditions are exacerbating the threat of famine in Somalia. Refugees from civil strife in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on local food supplies in host communities.

It also points out that some 5.5 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in South Sudan, where maize and sorghum prices are now four times higher than in April 2016. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people need food and agricultural emergency assistance, while in Yemen the figure is as high as 17 million.

In northern Nigeria, disruption caused by conflict has left 7.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the affected areas, with even more deemed to be in less dire but still “stressed” conditions, according to the report.

According to FAO, 37 countries require external assistance for food, namely Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa rebounds, East Africa is parched

While worldwide cereal output is near record levels, production outcomes are mixed across the globe.

According to the report, South America is expected to post strong increases, led by Brazil and Argentina.

Regional production in Southern Africa is expected to jump by almost 45 per cent compared to 2016 when crops were affected by El Niño, with record maize harvests forecast in South Africa and Zambia. This should help to reduce food insecurity in countries, such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

After two consecutive years of bumper crops, the report notes that the overall food supply situation in the Sahel region is satisfactory.

Read the full article: UN NEWS CENTRE

New, high-quality, drought-tolerant forage grasses could boost milk production by up to 40 percent

 

Photo credit: ILRI CLIPPINGS

Cattle grazing on Brachiaria grass at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Collins Mutai).

Recent drought-induced livestock losses in East Africa mask deeper problem of animal feed scarcities

The following excerpts are taken from an opinion piece published by An Notenbaert, a former scientist with ILRI for 11 years who now serves as the tropical forages coordinator for Africa at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

‘With the onset of the rains, livestock farmers around Kenya might breathe a sigh of relief. But they have come too late for the thousands of cattle that have already died, hit by the drought that led President Uhuru Kenyatta to declare a national disaster in February this year. . . .

Yet this phenomenon is one which will not be solved by rain alone. It is down to a few, fundamental challenges which go deeper than drought.

Across east and southern Africa, livestock farmers routinely face the same hurdles in increasing meat and milk production: low availability of good quality livestock feed, especially during the dry season.

Our research shows that new, high-quality, drought-tolerant forage grasses could boost milk production by up to 40 percent, generating millions of dollars in economic benefits for struggling East African dairy farmers.

‘Some of these new varieties of a grass called Brachiaria, are high-yielding, nutritious and, because they are easier for cows to digest, animals produce far less of the greenhouse gas methane per liter of milk produced.

‘These benefits make it the most extensively used tropical forage in the world, with seed production already commercialized in big cattle-producing countries like Brazil. Yet Brachiaria grass originates in Africa. . . .

Read the full article: ILRI CLIPPINGS

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