Drought-hit hungry households could easily grow food in containers

Photo credit : WVC P1070394 – 2011-09

Vegetables and herbs grown in 8 weeks time on bottle towers

A simple solution for the global hunger problem

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

Container gardening has become a universal success.  Nowadays people are growing their own fresh food in all sorts of containers (bottles, buckets, pots, bags, sacks, drums, gutters, …).

More and more people are aware of the fact that families do not need a big garden anymore to produce a sufficient quantity of food.  Today, all over the world people are gardening in small spaces, often applying vertical growing systems, e.g. on towers or on pallets.

Growing food in containers on pallets (a vertical garden in a small space) - Photo WVC  P1110546 - 2014-10
Growing food in containers on pallets (a vertical garden in a small space) – Photo WVC P1110546 – 2014-10

In 2010 I have developed my first “bottle towers”, using superposed soda bottles and food grade pots to grow lots of vegetables and herbs.

The success of this simple and cheap technique to help hungry or malnourished people to fresh food and herbs can easily be measured on the basis of numbers of views of my videos, showing how to build the towers (in English and Spanish).

Should you want to convince yourself about the global applicability of this low-tech method and the affordability for all the drought-hit families, please check out my videos:

(1) Building a bottle tower for container gardening  (332,281 views):

https://youtu.be/-uDbjZ9roEQ

(2) HOW TO BUILD A BOTTLE TOWER (142,712 views):

https://youtu.be/HuykRRspWOY

(3) CÓMO HACER LA HUERTA VERTICAL DE BOTELLAS DE PLÁSTICO (2,224,894 views):

https://youtu.be/2mx-lzPz2DM

(4) Cómo cultivar plantas en botellas (258,111 views):

https://youtu.be/HHCThgB2Y8Y

(5) BOTTLE TOWER GARDENS  (1,427,421 views):

https://youtu.be/K9vN2eudWcQ

(6) HOW TO GROW PLANTS IN BOTTLES (196,989 views):

https://youtu.be/3gxmU3YAh6c

(7) Growing food in containers at home (321,100 views):

https://youtu.be/LmcnDH77xNw

(8) Growing plants in a barrel  (268,663 views):

https://youtu.be/2Rkv6rLBomY

SCAD’s home gardens for food security and nutrient deficiencies

Photo credit: Google

Kitchen Garden

An effective tool for household food security

in SCAD Newsletter Vol. 2 March 2015

Kitchen gardens or home gardens have the potential to improve household food security besides serving effectively to alleviate the micro nutrient deficiencies, quite a common phenomenon in rural areas. Raising different vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants on available land in and around the house premises is the easiest way to ensure access to healthy, fresh and poison-free food. This is especially important in rural areas where people have limited income-earning opportunities and the economically poor have less or no access to healthy food markets.

Mal nourishment and nutrition deficiency disorders are common among rural women and children. In order to improve nutrition and enhance household food security, SCAD initiated kitchen garden promotion in a striking manner. This programme encouraged home gardening to provide both food and income besides nutrition education for the families of malnourished children. The kitchen gardens were established with a simple and low-cost approach of providing 8-10 different types of vegetable seed packets. The seeds are carefully selected to yield greens, tubers, fruits and vegetables. It was observed that when the households understood the nutritional and economic benefits of home gardening, the impact of establishing and utilizing productive home gardens was larger. These efforts gave the household members a sense of being involved in the programme and an incentive to improve child feeding practices.

A well-developed home garden has the potential to supply most of the non-staple food that a family needs every day of the year. Keeping this in mind, comprehensive training packages, especially to suit the requirement of the women, have been prepared for people living in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli regions and are widely disseminated. SCAD’s Rural Development Division in conjunction with the SCAD Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) actively collaborate with the agricultural departments to procure quality seeds and train the field level extension staff, farmers, women ́s groups and school teachers in gardening techniques.

Read the full text in SCAD’s Newsletter

Social Change And Development (SCAD)

105/A1 North By Pass Road, Vannarpettai, Tirunelveli – 627 003, Tamil Nadu, INDIA
Email: scb_scad@yahoo.com / Web: http://www.scad.org.in

The future of rooftop gardens

Photo credit: Pictures.Dot.News

New York’s Riverpark Farm

Citizens Take Back Power in the Food System

EXCERPT

In their article entitled Deepening Food Democracy, Jill Carlson and M. Jahi Chappell highlight an innovative new take on democratic rule, known as deep democracy that is being used to address the problems in the food system. In theory, deep democracy is a system of governance in which all voices must be heard in order to fully understand and act upon a current issue. Instead of rule by a simple majority, deep democracy is accessible to everyone. It particularly ensures that marginalized and minority populations are involved and heard in the process of creating policy and implementing change. No issue, even the most divisive, is off-limits, according to the authors: in smaller, local contexts there is less emphasis on winning or losing, less expectation that everyone will agree. Instead, say Carlson and Chappell, the deep democracy formats allow for all citizens to share knowledge and experiences and engage in valuable compromises that result in the best scenario for the most people.

So while vertical farm concepts are to be applauded, their construction deserves much more.

New York has been the focus of intensive urban planning, especially in relation to urban farming. Fantastic concepts have been designed that create imagery of giant lush vertical forests, and amazing futuristic spaces, all of which have a very distinct focus on the US city. Perhaps because of its chic nature, stereotypically trendy population and dense population, New York has become something of a Mecca for urban farm concepts.

What some designers are missing in the maze of bright greens and blues of stylish concept images, is that for some time now, New Yorkers have been making the most of their extensive rooftop space and creating their own ground up rooftop farming systems.

http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/rooftop_farm_flickr_hello_foto.jpg?w=474
http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/rooftop_farm_flickr_hello_foto.jpg?w=474

 

Read the full article: FoodTank

70 outstanding African women agricultural scientists

Photo credit: Agro Nigeria

Rising to the Challenge! 2015 AWARD Fellowship Winners Set to Impact Smallholders in the Year of Women’s Empowerment

by Cynthia

EXCERPT

http://spectacles.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/African-Women-in-Agricultural-Research-and-Development-AWARD-Call-for-applications-2015-702x272.jpg
http://spectacles.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/African-Women-in-Agricultural-Research-and-Development-AWARD-Call-for-applications-2015-702×272.jpg

70 outstanding African women agricultural scientists from 11 countries have been chosen as the winners of the 2015 African Women in Agricultural Research and Development – AWARD fellowship in NAIROBI, Kenya.

Dr. Hawa  Abdi - http://www.bet.com/topics/d/dr-hawa-abdi/_jcr_content/topicintro.topicintro.dimg/101112-shows-bgr-timeline-Dr-Hawa-Abdi.jpg
Dr. Hawa Abdi – http://www.bet.com/topics/d/dr-hawa-abdi/_jcr_content/topicintro.topicintro.dimg/101112-shows-bgr-timeline-Dr-Hawa-Abdi.jpg

“Agricultural research and development in Mozambique is an important tool for increasing production, and consequently reducing household malnutrition and poverty, particularly in children and women,” says Olivia Narciso Pedro, a lecturer and researcher at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique. “My vision for agriculture-led growth in Mozambique is to design alternatives to mitigate loss of genetic diversity, and ensure conservation of species, while improving household food security.”

2015 AWARD Fellowship Laureates from left: Juliana Mandha (Tanzania), Ifeoluwa Olotu (Nigeria) and Ngozi Edoh (Nigeria), attending the Mentoring Orientation  - http://awakeafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-award-fellowship-laureates.jpg
2015 AWARD Fellowship Laureates from left: Juliana Mandha (Tanzania), Ifeoluwa Olotu (Nigeria) and Ngozi Edoh (Nigeria), attending the Mentoring Orientation – http://awakeafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015-award-fellowship-laureates.jpg

This year’s laureates were selected from among an impressive cadre of 1,109 applicants from 11 African countries. These scientists and researchers, will benefit from AWARD’s two-year career-development program that is focused on accelerating agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills. AWARD Fellowships are granted on the basis of each scientist’s intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of her work to improve the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.

AWARD Fellows share a common vision: they want to translate their research and knowledge into tangible action, tangible action that will benefit smallholder farmers—especially laudable in 2015, the African Union’s Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Read the full article: Agro Nigeria

 

Vertical gardening, successes on saline soils

Photo credit: Scientific American

Gardening on towers and sacks. Photo: Amy Yee

Vertical Gardens Beat Soil Made Salty by Climate Change

Saltwater is shrinking Bangladesh’s arable land, but a simple approach of planting crops in containers shows surprising success

By Amy Yee

EXCERPT

The soil in Chandipur village in southwest Bangladesh has become increasingly salty because of incursions of seawater. The situation became particularly acute in the aftermath of Cyclone Aila in 2009, which brought storm surges that broke embankments and flooded farmland. After 2009 vegetable crops planted in the ground there yielded only meager returns—if they didn’t fail completely.

Sack gardening in Uganda - eggplants - Photo Vermicomposters - African_Gardens_Uganda_bag_garden_Douglas copy.jpg
Sack gardening in Uganda – eggplants – Photo Vermicomposters – African_Gardens_Uganda_bag_garden_Douglas copy.jpg

But for the past three years hundreds of villagers have enjoyed the bounty of so-called vertical gardens—essentially crops grown in a variety of containers in backyards and on the rooftops of their humble homes. Despite their modest size, these gardens produce quite a bit.

Working with local nonprofits WorldFish trained about 200 villagers in four districts in saline-affected areas of southwestern Bangladesh to make vertical gardens. Others not in the program have copied their neighbors’ designs after seeing how well they worked. WorldFish plans to expand the program to include 5,000 people over the next two years.

Sack gardening - onion - Photo Ville Farm - 625641_134848003355532_1593377365_n copy.jpg
Sack gardening – onion – Photo Ville Farm – 625641_134848003355532_1593377365_n copy.jpg

Growing the vertical gardens is a relatively straightforward process. Villagers harvest soil after the rains, around November, and use it later during planting season. They put the soil into containers and mix it with fertilizer made of dried water hyacinth, soil, coconut husks and cow manure. The containers range from plastic rice and concrete sacks to large, specially constructed “towers” made of simple plastic sheets encased by bamboo rings.

Gardening on garbage big bags - Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n copy.jpg
Gardening on garbage big bags – Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n copy.jpg

To prevent waterlogging, the containers are raised off the ground on bricks and filled with brick chips that improve water circulation and drainage. Small holes are cut into the sides where short-rooted vegetables such as Indian spinach and tomatoes can grow. Long-rooted vegetables such as gourds grow on top. These sacks can produce up to eight kilograms of vegetables in one season with an investment of 100 to 150 taka (about $1.30 to $2) per bag. The tower variety of container measures more than 1.2 meters across and can produce more than 100 kilograms of vegetables. One tower requires an investment of about 900 to 1,000 taka (around $11.50 to $13.00) to buy materials and seeds. WorldFish provides seeds and some materials to villagers in the first year.

Read the full article: Scientific American

 

REACH-ing for good projects to REALLY tackle child hunger and malnutrition (Willem Van Cotthem)

Let us read attentively some paragraphs (or parts thereof) of the former posting on this blog (UN News) :

RIO+20: UN AGENCIES SAY TACKLING CHILD HUNGER CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ (June 28, 2012)

  1. United Nations agencies today stressed the need to tackle child hunger and undernutrition in the pursuit of sustainable development, highlighting a joint initiative (REACH) that offers practical and effective approaches to combat this problem in the most affected countries.
  2. Under the REACH initiative, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have committed to a renewed effort against child hunger and undernutrition.
  3. …the main causes of child undernutrition – food insecurity, poor health and inappropriate care – are all known and preventable.
  4. … governments and other actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary and there is evidence for what works, when and where.
  5. “The greatest challenge, however, is how to scale up programmes so that they can have a real impact, and this is where the REACH approach can provide direction,”
  6. The whole idea is to share knowledge to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues and do it in a very un-bureaucratic way.

————

Now, let us understand the essence of this message :

  • Acknowledging the need to tackle child hunger, WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO have committed to a renewed effort : the REACH initiative.
  • Seemingly, the main causes of child hunger and malnutrition are all known and preventable.
  • All key actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary.
  • They all know what works, when and where.
  • Remains to scale up their programmes with direction provided by REACH, so that they have a real impact.
  • Therefore, the key actors will share knowledge (un-bureaucratically) to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues.

————–

As we all know what works, when and where, it seems to me that we do not have to share a lot of knowledge for years, not even for months.  We even know what to do today.

We do not have to scale up existing (expensive ?) programmes, in order to have a real impact.  On the contrary, we should use the available resources and means to replace those huge, but rather inefficient programmes by a multitude of very efficient small projects (an advice already given since decades).

We can use the lessons learned from the best practices to come up with good projects that really tackle hunger and malnutrition.

Let us follow Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s advice and join our efforts to promote small-scale farming, in which women play a very important role, at the largest scale.  It has been shown over and over again that all the women of this world can become “experts” in food production, simply by offering them a small kitchen garden for their family (see UNICEF’s project on family gardens in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria).

One of the hundreds of family gardens in a refugee camp in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria (UNICEF project) – (Photo WVC)

If it has been possible in the past to provide fresh food in a sustainable way to thousands of people living in the desert, and this within the shortest period of  some months, it should be possible for WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO to REACH a consensus over good projects for urban gardening, family gardening, container gardening, vertical gardening and other successful techniques of which we all know the lessons learned very well (see sack gardening in Nairobi and in the refugee camps of Dabaab).

May these international organizations work hand in hand with the national governments and other key actors, like the NGOs, to find the best lay-out for such good gardening projects, directly profitable for the hungry and malnourished children.

Hopefully, they will agree to do this in “a very un-bureaucratic way“, because “TACKLING CHILD HUNGER IS CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ “.

Solution for the hunger problem : food production at home (Jojo ROM / Muneer HINAY / Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Messages of Jojo ROM and Muneer HINAY to the HFC-HOME FARMERS CLUB :

http://www.facebook.com/groups/homefarmersclub.ucg/

Jojo ROM :

Jojo ROM's backyard transformed into a small food oasis - LEFT : vegetables and herbs in 5-gallon bottles and tetrapots (recycled tetrapacks) - RIGHT : a wooden A-form riser with bottles and tetrapots standing over a small fishpond (Photo Jojo ROM)

“I’m so shocked with the news today that in every 6 minutes 1 child dies in Africa because of hunger.  I’m figuring out if this Home Farmers Club Members, now reaching 1,600, will grow a garden 50 sqm each, we can have a 8-hectare garden. and could have reduced demand, increase supply and reduced prices of vegetables and indirectly helped the poor and the hungry ones access cheaper vegetables and fruits. Plus, if we integrated the fishpond under the “A” Riser we will have 3.2 hectares of fishpond-one good source of protein.
WHAT ABOUT IT AS A CHALLENGE?”

Fresh food at the lowest prize from the backyard directly to the kitchen : container gardening is one of the best solutions to combat hunger and save money, wherever you live, even in a city (Photo Jojo ROM)

Urban Container Gardening: Starting from what I have at home….

“In urban areas, agriculture seemed impossible due to compressed settlements.  Faith at work made it possible.  Household biodegradable waste is just a misplaced resource.  The only waste that cannot be recycled is WASTED TIME.
This is a response to the FOOD and WASTE crisis.”

MY REPLY (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Congratulations Jojo ! You made an excellent point and showed clearly that every individual family, rural or urban, should get a chance to set up its own kitchen garden. People should learn that container gardening and/or vertical gardening offers a lot of possibilities to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition. The real challenge is to get all aid organizations convinced that this is THE solution for the hunger problem. Continue to spread the good word, for the day will come …

Container gardening by Muneer HINAY - Growing Chinese cabbage (pechay) in plastic pots (small buckets) on the backyard wall (Photo Muneer HINAY)

Muneer HINAY :

“This is great! HFC (Home Farmers Club) membership is now at 1,600! Let’s continue to advance UCG (Urban Container Gardening) as an essential tool in solving malnutrition and hunger, achieving food security at home, reducing and recycling solid waste and democratizing agriculture! Let’s carry on!”

MY REPLY (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

HFC is clearly becoming a people’s movement, showing the way to a better future and inspiring people in other countries.Your successes are the stepping stones towards great international decisions to ban the hunger. “Best practices” and “Lessons learned” should be more than just words for decision-makers.

Of all food producing systems the annual vegetable garden has the greatest potential to supply daily food (Permaculture College Australia)

Read at :

http://permaculture.com.au/online/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=211:-harvesting-the-suburbs-and-small-space-gardens-micro-eden-series-2&catid=27:articles&Itemid=55

Harvesting the Suburbs and Small-space Gardens

Micro-Eden Series #2

Micro Eden Series: Making the most of small spaces to reduce food miles to meters with Robyn Francis

Anyone can have a garden. “Small is beautiful” and the discovery of small space sufficiency can yield surprising results, not only as produce for the table, but as a place of beauty and the great sense of satisfaction that comes from watching a seed grow and eating food you’ve grown yourself.

We can bring nature and the farm back into the city. We can homestead in our backyard, sideyard, frontyard and transform the streetscape into an oasis of beauty and abundance and create a micro-eden.  Robyn Francis explores the productive potential of small gardens to reduce our food miles to meters, and ways permaculture design can yield more than just a good feed.

The concept of “square foot” (or metrically speaking, “square meter”) gardening can inspire new perspectives on the use of space. One square foot can be used in many ways – it can produce one cabbage, or a dozen carrots, or a tomato plant, or grow a grape vine that will produce tonnes of delicious fruit over its life span – and you get nine square feet in a square meter! Continue reading “Of all food producing systems the annual vegetable garden has the greatest potential to supply daily food (Permaculture College Australia)”

To all aid organizations: offer a ‘survival or victory garden’ to the hungry families (Willem Van Cotthem)

all the hungry families of this world

To all aid workers, please read the former posting on this blog:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/homegarden/2012903160_websurvive17.html

‘Survival gardens’ can help save cash

Patches deliver high yields from small spaces and produce wholesome foods that store well.

I am convinced that you will have noticed the following important parts of Dean FOSDICK’s interesting article in The Seattle Times:

(1) Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession.
(2) “They were called ‘victory gardens’ during the world wars because they helped ease shortages, ‘…… ‘We call them ‘survival gardens’ now because they help families cut spending.’
(3) The term is part of a larger do-it-yourself trend toward growing more backyard veggies and eating locally grown food.
(4) Survival gardens are used mainly to raise the kind of produce that you can grow for less than what you would pay at a grocery store – …………..
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.
(6) Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, ………. “Families have told us they sell some of their overage (from the starter kits) to pay bills and get medicines,” ……….
(7) …………sells ‘survival seed’ packets, and said their sales have more than doubled in the past year. Each package contains 16 easy-to-grow heirloom vegetables, from beets to pole beans, cabbage to sweet corn. They come triple-wrapped in watertight plastic, designed to increase storage life.
(8) ………… gardening with seed is one way to save on food dollars, particularly if it’s the right kind of seed.
===========

The fact that 1 billion (or 925 million ?) people on this world are hungry or malnourished is generally attributed by the international media to the economic crisis (food crisis), all those poor people supposed to be unable to afford the expensive food at the market. That’s probably why nowadays ‘Many cash-strapped families are turning to “survival gardens” to help dig out from the recession.‘.

During World Wars I and II, not the food prizes, but simply the lack of food caused huge hunger problems. All the war-affected countries reacted on these emergencies in the exactly the same way: by offering the hungry population small spaces or allotments for gardening. Those allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens’ helped ease the food shortages, people eating their locally grown food. Do you know that most of those allotment gardens still exist all over the world and that millions of people still avoid malnutrition and hunger, producing fresh vegetables and fruits in their ‘victory garden’? A success story, don’t you think?

We appreciate very much the term ‘survival gardens’ used in this Seattle Times article, as these small patches really help families to cut spending by producing food in a cheaper way than the one at the market or the grocery store.

The applicability of this ‘survival garden strategy’ at the global level is clearly shown (see above) by:
(5) People new to gardening can get help from county extension offices, churches and community groups. Some offer training, others provide growing sites and a few distribute supplies — all for little or no charge.

If county extension offices, churches and community groups can help these people, it should be easy for international organizations and foundations to do this – all for little or no charge – for the 925 million hungry people of this world.

Let us also keep in mind that ‘Survival gardens can do more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table, …’, but that families can also enhance their annual income by taking their ‘overage’ of vegetables or fruits to the market, particularly in developing countries.

To offer a ‘survival or victory garden’ to all the hungry families of this world, it’s such a noble task that no one can ever believe that all the aid organizations remain blind for the value of the experience of World Wars I and II, the extraordinary success of allotment gardens or ‘victory gardens’ to alleviate hunger and child malnutrition in tiles of crisis.

May the light come ….!

————————————————
Frank ZIDDAH :

“My personal wish is that every adult [or capable child] should be able to cultivate some food crops in or around his home. Even urban dwellers with no compound can have ‘container crops’ by their window.Sincerely, we should not wait for another meltdown, it should be way of life. May this be the light.”

Small-scale farming and gardening to alleviate malnutrition, hunger and poverty (Willem Van Cotthem)

As the representative of the Belgian experts on desertification, I had the privilege and honour of being a member of the Belgian delegation at all the meetings of the INCD (Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Desertification) and the Conferences of the Parties of the UNCCD between 1992 and 2006.  I am still a proud member of the CST (Committee on Science and Technology), and, as a co-chair of the Adhoc Panel for the Creation of the CRIC (Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention), I have contributed to the improvement and enhancement of the input of scientific experts in the actions and initiatives of the UNCCD. I am also proud to be one of the fathers of the European DesertNet.

Today, I feel happy about the growing importance of the CST.

During the INCD-meetings (1992-1994) and at the COPs (Conferences of the Parties) in 1994-2006 I had many opportunities of collaborating with colleagues-scientists and representatives of NGOs from all over the world at the formulation of proposals for concrete actions to combat desertification and to alleviate poverty.

My personal main suggestion for successful interventions in developing countries, numerous times illustrated with a poster stand at the COPs, has always been and still is the need for small-scale farming or the creation of family gardens as the best option to halt desertification, to avoid malnutrition of the children, to alleviate hunger and poverty and to create sustainable development for the poorest people.  Our successes booked at many development projects in Africa, Asia and South America delivered sufficient proof for this view.

Today again, my most sincere wishes are one step away of coming true.  Indeed :

1. The European Union has recognized that one of the best ways to make sure people have access to food is to help small farmers increase production

(see my former postings on this subject)
and

2. WFP schemes helping mostly female small-scale farmers grow food more efficiently in Bolivia, Guatemala, Senegal, Nepal and the Philippines will receive the additional spending from the EU’s €1 billion Food Facility fund. That way, they can feed their families and increase availability of  food on their local markets.

Again today, I read with great interest that

1. Washington is committed to boost sustainable agricultural development in the world’s poorer countries as a way to root out global hunger and poverty.

2. There is a shift in emphasis – from dependence on food aid to greater investment in agriculture as a key to eradicating poverty”.

3. “We have spent too many dollars and too many decades on efforts that have not delivered the desired long-term results”.

4. “Investing in agriculture – and in particular smallholder agriculture – is indeed the most cost-effective way of reducing poverty, saving and improving lives”.

5. Rome-based IFAD works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes, and determine the direction of their own lives.

———————-

After all, UNICEF ALGERIA’s project to create a small garden for every family in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria is one of the best illustrations of the enormous potentialities of this “new” strategy.  Therefore, my sincere thanks go to all those who confirm at this very day that small-scale farming is the best way out of malnutrition, hunger, famine and poverty.  Successes booked in the near future with demonstration projects, combining traditional knowledge of the local people with modern technologies, should be the platform on which a global action programme for family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens in rural and urban areas has to be launched.

You may know already my device : “Don’t bring food to that man, teach him how to grow it”.

 

The desertification and malnutrition bells are ringing (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

It was one of my happiest days when I was reading one of the messages on UNNews of yesterday (One of the best ways to make sure poor people have access to food).

Indeed, for many years I have been preaching that small-scale farming and/or construction of family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens is the best way to combat food insecurity, malnutrition (in particular of children), hunger, famine and poverty.  Helping people in developing countries, both in rural and in urban areas, to produce their own fresh food in order to avoid food crisis is so logic that one can’t imagine a better solution for that problem.  It is far more better than sending a fleet of airplanes full of food without curing the cause of the local food problems.

I always said : the day will come that …  And the day has come !

UNICEF ALGERIA's family garden project in the refugee camps near Tindouf
UNICEF ALGERIA's family garden project in the refugee camps near Tindouf : fresh food in the Sahara desert, an example to be multiplied at the largest scale. See how proud and happy the female small-scale gardener and her family are.

Today, the bells are ringing to announce a swift change towards better living conditions of the poor and towards sustainable development.  Let us read again some of the key sentences in yesterday’s message (see my former posting) :

“Poor farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America are set to receive a productivity boost through new United Nations-led agricultural projects funded by a €34 million donation from the European Union (EU), the UN World Food Programme (<”http://www.wfp.org/news/news-release/eu-food-facility-grant-increase-farmers-productivity“>WFP) announced today.

WFP schemes helping mostly female small-scale farmers grow food more efficiently in Bolivia, Guatemala, Senegal, Nepal and the Philippines will receive the additional spending from the EU’s €1 billion Food Facility fund.

The European Union has recognized that one of the best ways to make sure people have access to food is to help small farmers increase production,” said Gemmo Lodesani, Director of the WFP liaison office in Brussels.

That way, they can feed their families and increase availability of food on their local markets,” said Mr. Lodesani, adding that more than “2 million people, many of them children and vulnerable adults, will benefit from the  food generated by five WFP programmes.”

These WFP projects, such as collective farming, crop diversification, and food-for-work programmes aimed at improving irrigation and flood resistance, will be coordinated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (<”http://www.fao.org/”>FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (<”http://www.ifad.org/”>IFAD).”

Hear the bells ringing :

1. WFP schemes helping mostly female small-scale farmers grow food more efficiently !

2. One of the best ways to make sure people have access to food is to help small farmers increase production !

3. That way, they can feed their families and increase availability of food on their local markets.

4. Collective farming, crop diversification, and food-for-work programmes aimed at improving irrigation and flood resistance.

What a nice feeling to hear that my message was getting through.  My sincere thanks to the European Union for the €34 million donation to create this breakthrough.

May Bolivia, Guatemala, Senegal, Nepal and the Philippines be the successful demonstration projects to be followed by a universal application at the broadest scale : small-scale farming, family gardens, school gardens and hospital gardens are the gate to alleviation of hunger and poverty.

It is fine to know that UNNews called it : One of the best ways to make sure poor people have access to food.  If not THE best !  Dingdong.

Involving young people in food production in arid regions (Willem)

During the last 20 years, we have booked a lot of successes with involving girls and boys in food production in arid and semi-arid regions. No one denies that children are very keen on participating in gardening activities.  Many initiatives are focusing on “Kids Gardening“.

Have a look at some of the many examples :
http://www.kidsgardening.com/

http://www.wabisabibaby.com/blog/index.php/2008/10/family-gardening/

http://books.google.be/books?hl=en&id=Dq7tvKjJP1MC&dq=kids+gardening&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=XUZf7z39eU&sig=7lDBqBmAuSoRq5WIVLFYY4YsPMI&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

http://www.copper-tree.ca/garden/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/

http://www.gardening-with-kids.com/

Today I was reading a publication, confirming how interesting it is to involve kids in food production :

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/10/20/08/pangasinan-pupils-learn-%E2%80%98pinakbet%E2%80%99-gardening

Pangasinan pupils to learn ‘pinakbet’ gardening

By CRIS ZUNIGA, ABS-CBN Dagupan

URDANETA CITY – Schools in Pangasinan are set become venues for food production by elementary students. Through Gulayan at Maisan sa Eskwelahan or GAMES, students are going to be encouraged to engage themselves in vegetable gardening, said Abono Partylist Representative Rosendo So.

The project aims to encourage instill to pupils, at their young age, the value of nutrition, good health, as well as productivity and love for work. It further aims to establish schools as small-scale food production sites which would help ease shortage of food, So added. Students would be taught how to plant “pinakbet vegetables” such as string beans, squash, okra, tomato and bitter gourd, together with high-value crops like yellow corn. Seeds and fertilizers would be given free. Aside from enjoying the fruits of their labor, students and schools with winning gardens would reportedly be awarded a new school building.

The creation of family “kitchen” gardens and school gardens can indeed play a very important role “as small-scale food production sites which would help ease shortage of food“.  Striking examples of the positive contribution of such small gardens can be seen in the refugee camps of the Saharawis people in the Sahara desert (Tindouf region, S.W. Algeria).  One can find a number of pictures of these gardens on this very blog.

Combating desertification, preventing food insecurity and even hunger or famine, even alleviating poverty by installing small-scale kitchen gardens for families and schools should be considered by any international organization concerned, by any governmental and non-governmental organization.

It does not suffice to “speak” about best practices and success stories, we should apply them at the largest scale possible.  Probably one has to adapt these best practices and success stories to the local conditions?  Probably one has to combine these with traditional methods and technologies?  Why not?  But it should be done, and as soon as possible.

We can even make all the kids of this world in crisis happier by offering them a chance to contribute to finding a nice solution for food shortages and poverty.  Let’s give them this chance by helping them to their own family garden, even in the cities (see possibilities to start with allotment gardens, vertical gardens, indoor container gardening,).  Why would people start guerilla gardening, if there weren’t reasons enough to produce food on every available “square foot”?

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