FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva last week visited some of the worst affected areas in Chad and northeastern Nigeria.
Lake Chad Basin: a crisis rooted in hunger, poverty and lack of rural development
The crisis afflicting the strife-torn Lake Chad Basin is rooted in decades of neglect, lack of rural development and the impact of climate change, and the only way to ensure a lasting solution is to address these including through investments in sustainable agriculture, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, said today.
“This is not only a humanitarian crisis, but it is also an ecological one,” Graziano da Silva said at a media briefing in Rome on his visit last week to some of the worst affected areas in Chad and northeastern Nigeria.
“This conflict cannot be solved only with arms. This is a war against hunger and poverty in the rural areas of the Lake Chad Basin,” the FAO Director-General stressed.
“Peace is a prerequisite” to resolve the crisis in the region, but this is not enough, the FAO Director-General said. “Agriculture including livestock and fisheries can no longer be an afterthought. It is what produces food and what sustains the livelihoods of about 90 percent of the region’s population.”
Some 7 million people risk suffering from severe hunger in the Lake Chad Basin, which incorporates parts of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and northeastern Nigeria. In the latter, some 50,000 people are facing famine.
While fighting and violence have caused much of the suffering, the impact of environmental degradation and climate change including repeated droughts, are exacerbating the situation, the FAO Director-General said.
He noted how, since 1963, Lake Chad has lost some 90 percent of its water mass with devastating consequences on the food security and livelihoods of people depending on fishing and irrigation-based agricultural activities. And while Lake Chad has been shrinking, the population has been growing, including millions of displaced people from the worst conflict areas.
Food assistance and production support urgently needed
FAO together with its partners including other UN agencies is calling on the international community for urgent support – a combination of immediate food assistance and food production support is the only way to make dent in the scale of hunger in the region.
Graziano da Silva reiterated the call he made last week during his visit to Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria: if farmers miss the coming May/June planting season, they will see no substantial harvests until 2018. Failure to restore food production now will lead to the worsening of widespread and severe hunger and prolonged dependency on external assistance further into the future.
Poor nations’ economies grow with rising deforestation
by Baraka Rateng’
Researchers assessed the link between economic growth and deforestation
They found that in poor countries, increased deforestation leads to growth
An expert says the study is useful for formulating policies
Poor countries’ economic growth increases with deforestation rates but the effect disappears in wealthier economies, a study says.
According to researchers, climatic factors and inadequate data make it difficult to establish the link between economic development and overexploitation of natural resources.
But using satellite data, researchers were able to assess the link between deforestation rates and economic factors across countries.
“Our results quantify the potential costs that such policies could potentially have in terms of forest cover loss.”
Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, Vienna University of Economics and Business
The study published this month (16 January) in the journal Scientific Reports found that as developing countries become richer, a decrease in forest cover occurs, but such a relationship disappears at higher levels of income per capita.
“This implies that increases in deforestation, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, are expected as poorer economies converge in income per capita to that of developed countries,” says Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, a research scholar and professor of economics at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, who led the study.
Demonstration of pigeonpea inter-cultivation. Photo: H Mane, ICRISAT
ENHANCING TRIBAL FARMERS’ INCOMES THROUGH VALUE ADDITION
A dal mill (pigeonpea processing unit) and a sorghum processing unit has been set up to enable farmers in tribal areas of Telangana, India, enhance their incomes. The dal mill will fetch farmers a premium price of around INR 86 per kg instead of the farm gate price of INR 45 per kg as received by farmers during the previous season.
The aim is to eliminate intermediaries and step up farmers in the value chain by enabling them to process their own produce. By establishing direct linkages with retail and corporate actors, an incremental price benefit can be realized in comparison with the traditional market prices. This would also groom the entrepreneurial skills of the tribal farmers in the region.
The dal mill will process around 80 tons of pigeonpea estimated to be harvested in January. The market facilitation would be done by ICRISAT. With an investment of less than USD 10,000 per mill, it is a viable solution for rural areas.
During kharif (rainy) season of 2016, 2 tons of high yielding pigeonpea (ICPH 2740) seeds were distributed to 2000 farmers. These farmers were trained on best practices for pigeonpea cultivation. In addition exposure visits to ICRISAT were organized to address farmers’ queries on the challenges of cultivating pigeonpea. The crop production training at ICRISAT and in their respective mandals (smallest administrative area), ensured that farmers have a better understanding of the newly introduced pigeonpea hybrid in the region. Field visits were taken up by experts to provide timely support on fertilizer and pesticide usage as per field conditions.
A woman participating to an irrigation project in Zimbabwe. Photo credit: UN Photo/Milton Grant
Publication Review: Gender Dynamics in Water Governance Institutions in Zimbabwe
Submitted by Martina Antonucci
In Zimbabwe, the decentralization of water management in irrigation schemes may be an opportunity for rural communities to actively participate in and contribute to the management of their development process. In this context, the GCIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems emphasises the need for a participatory approach to water management and development interventions that also includes women. The recent study “Gender Dynamics in Water Governance Institutions: The Case of Gwanda’s Guyu-Chelesa Irrigation Scheme in Zimbabwe” gives an example of the challenges encountered by women who are involved in irrigation schemes management.
Through documentary research, interviews, questionnaires and non-obtrusive observation the authors of the article investigated women’s involvement in the water governance intervention of the Guyu-Chelesa Irrigation Scheme in Zimbabwe. Guyu-Chelesa is a farmer-managed irrigation scheme located in the Mzingwane Catchment, which is part of the Limpopo River Basin in Matabeleland South Province. The majority of farmers in this area are women, representing approximately 75% of the labourers. Women are the major users of water, as they not only irrigate the fields, but also perform the maintenance of irrigation infrastructures, investing significant time and efforts into it.
This important participation of women in irrigation farming is reflected in their high involvement in the Water Users Associations. Despite this, gender inequality still strongly exists at the committee level of the institutions where the percentage of women, although high, is still not proportional to the number of women conducting irrigation farming, and their decision-making power is significantly limited.
The authors report that although women participate in meetings more consistently than men, their voice is generally not heard or barely accepted. For example, women’s ideas about management and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructures are recognized only when the complexity of the issue is minimal. For the rest of the discussions, only men have the power to make binding decisions, while women are only given the possibility to reinforce them.
Hed: Global report on rural development offers targeted policies to eliminate poverty
The world is changing rapidly, across urban and rural areas. Growing demand for food – driven by population increase and rising incomes – is creating opportunities and challenges for people working in rural areas, including in smallholder agriculture and in the non-farm economy.
Rising agricultural productivity, more jobs off the farm and migration to cities are reshaping rural life – but so too are adverse factors such as climate change, environmental degradation and other risks.
Small farms continue to provide livelihoods for up to 2.5 billion people and account for up to 80 per cent of food produced in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In a fast-changing world, rural areas must transform – and rapidly – in order to be sustainably included in growing economies and to contribute to overall prosperity.
This report comes at a time of major change in the world. Structural shifts in the global economy, increased urbanization, climate change and protracted conflicts have altered the development landscape. While poverty has decreased, inequality has increased and forced displacement has become a global crisis.
Against this backdrop, world leaders have agreed to ambitious goals to end extreme poverty and hunger by 2030. This cannot be done without developing rural areas and investing in smallholder farmers who are key to food security.
Rural Development Report 2016 looks at how to bring rural people into the economic mainstream and how to transform rural areas so that development is not only inclusive but also socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.
Rural transformation is not automatic. It is a choice. And the choices made by governments and development practitioners have an enormous impact on the lives of people and nations.
In 2014, DG worked with its partners at AidData to support the African Development Bank (AfDB) to geocode and visualize its portfolio of operations, culminating in the launch of the public-facing MapAfrica platform at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Kigali. Earlier this year, we were proud to re-engage with our AfDB colleagues to launch MapAfrica 2.0, an updated version of the portal.
From hunger, via best practices to produce fresh food, to ICT
by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
(Ghent University, Belgium)
All over the world people are starting container gardening at home to react upon the high food prices and/or, in the drylands, upon the effects of drought and desertification. Growing vegetables and herbs at home is nowadays so widely spread, that one can only admit that this is one of the best practices to combat hunger and malnutrition.
I therefore wonder what would be the answer of the African, Asian or South African (female) farmers if they would have the choice between a starting kit for container gardening or a cell phone, “the modern ICT challenge for poor farmers at the global level”.
Shall we first invest in ICT or give priority to local production of food for all those hungry families ? Shall we opt for spending billions in new ICT technologies for malnourished children or shall we first offer them a chance to grow their own vitamins and minerals at school and at home, instead of providing ICT access?
Here are facts, not hopes or speculations: many success stories of container gardening are well known at the universal level, even in the poorest parts of the world, and the best practises are affordable by any poor family. Even for reforestation programmes, like the Great Green Wall in Africa (GGW), production of saplings in containers can lead to successes of survival rate with a minimum of water and thus accelerate the progress of this nice initiative.
Shall the farmers of today get a free cell phone, a free rechargeable battery, never an invoice for the use of their cell phone ? Or shall they be enabled to pay for it ? To whom ?
Even if “ICT helps in the monitoring of crop growth, utilization of new techniques, field management and harvests” (FAO’s Director General Graziano da Silva, see former posting), priority should be given to the cheapest, but most effective way to create food security for the millions of hungry people on all continents, and that is CONTAINER GARDENING.
I keep wondering where the decision makers are heading to !
At this very moment I receive this message on my Facebook page ‘Container gardening and vertical gardening)::
“Something that weighs heavy on my heart… I read all these posts where people in America are dying of starvation and the vast majority are underprivileged children.What makes me just … crazy … is that there are free(ish) resources to help. We could have every single school working on a garden program and giving kids food. We could be legislating that all yards could be, should be gardens. We could be and should be legislating that all of the trees planted for city “beauty” be it parks or just sidewalks, be fruit bearing trees. But how do we go about doing this? I’d so much rather see people picking apples or tomatoes to eat than see them bone skinny and miserable – thinking the only way to get ahead is to lie and steal. Am I the only one that bears this weight?”
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)
Women farmers find cactus plants are a real money spinner
Cactus commerce boosts Morocco
By Sylvia Smith BBC News, Sbouya, Morocco
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.
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.”
Back in 2007, I have read with interest the following text published in Development Gateway’sdgCommunities :
“Going for Growth: Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa”
“This collection of essays by key experts in the field of international development looks at the role of science, technology and innovation in encouraging a risk-taking, problem solving approach to development cooperation in Africa. This year has seen an unprecedented determination by the world’s richest nations to engage with the development of the poorest. The report of the Commission for Africa, chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair, Our Common Interest, set out the themes that dominated the G8’s discussions at Gleneagles over the summer, while a mass movement, in the form of the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign, affirmed that the political agenda was matched by a widespread public demand for action. Central to this transformative agenda will be the role of science, technology and innovation, both as a driver of economic growth within the developing countries and as a core element in nurturing managerial and governance competencies.”
Calestous Juma, ed. The Smith Institute, London, November 2005.
Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
ISBN: 1 902488 97 0
Document Length: 129 pp.
For more information about this publication please contact:
Contributor: John Daly – Published Date: February 7, 2007
Going for Growth in Action: Smith Institute Report’s Ideas Applied to Africa’s Mining Industry
“Science, Technology, and Globalization Project Director Calestous Juma has sparked a serious debate about education, entrepreneurship, and Africa’s mining industry in Dr. Chris Hinde’s “Comment” column which appears in Mining Magazine. Juma is the editor of Going for Growth: Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa (.pdf), a collection of essays published by the Smith Institute, a British think tank. “Going for Growth” emphasizes building Africa’s capacity to solve its own problems.
Juma starts his essay with “Most African economies have historically been associated with natural resources and raw materials. There is growing recognition, however, that a transition into modern economies will involve considerable investment and use of new knowledge.”
He has since called for the mining industry to fund and lend expertise to a school of entrepreneurship that would raise scientific literacy — and be located in the African country that makes the best case for hosting it. The school would have places for approximately 100 students per year and would serve as a model for similar centers of learning all over Africa. See “African Lessons” (.pdf) by Dr. Chris Hinde in Mining Magazine (February 2006) for the complete interview.
A later issue of Mining Magazine continued the discussion, focusing on the need for the proposed schools to teach how both the international risk-capital markets operate and mining ventures are financed. African mining operators and investors must be trained on how and where to obtain capital. See “Money Matters” (.pdf) by Dr. Chris Hinde in Mining Magazine (June 2006).
On June 22, 2006, Professor Calestous Juma resumed the discussion by addressing the Human Rights & Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. The Roundtable is comprised of representatives of the extractive industry (oil & mining companies), human rights organizations, and development agencies. They meet regularly in invitation-only, confidential sessions to discuss issues of common cause and concern — specifically the promotion of the rule of law and open societies. Over the last few years the group has focused increasingly on community and economic development projects and issues surrounding community engagement.
This session, entitled “Bain or Blessing: Can the Extractive Industry Help Reinvent African Economies?”, focused on how resources can be utilized to “extract growth” for Africa, as well as other developing countries. Professor Juma discussed how the extractive industry, which is becoming dominant in many African economies, can be used as an engine of sustainable growth, breaking the widely held view that natural resource extraction is associated with corruption and environmental non sustainability. The Roundtable explored the direct links between community/development activities, including corporate partnerships with international donor agencies and the larger strategy of economic development. As companies invest to increase the local content of their work and managerial force, they are promoting (and could further promote) higher technologies in the fields of business, communications, engineering, and the environment.
MY VIEWS ON “GOING FOR GROWTH IN ACTION” (Willem Van Cotthem)
What an interesting text about “the role of science, technology and innovation in encouraging a risk-taking, problem solving approach to development cooperation in Africa”!. This is what we were looking for since long: “a problem solving approach development cooperation in Africa”, and all other developing regions of course, in particular when entering a period of “an unprecedented determination by the world’s richest nations to engage with the development of the poorest” (Make Poverty History campaign).
It sounds like a dream-come-true when we read:
“Central to this transformative agenda will be the role of science, technology and innovation, both as a driver of economic growth within the developing countries and as a core element in nurturing managerial and governance competencies”.
Let us go a bit deeper into the “serious debate” about education, entrepreneurship, and Africa’s mining industry, sparked by Director Calestous Juma (see above) when he starts his essay with …
“Most African economies have historically been associated with natural resources and raw materials. There is growing recognition, however, that a transition into modern economies will involve considerable investment and use of new knowledge.”
We learn that Juma “has since called for the mining industry to fund and lend expertise to a school of entrepreneurship that would raise scientific literacy — and be located in the African country that makes the best case for hosting it. The school would have places for approximately 100 students per year and would serve as a model for similar centers of learning all over Africa.
That is the turning point where I am not following anymore the heartbeat of the “serious debate”. Looking for “a problem solving approach development cooperation in Africa”, a continent where drought, desertification, hunger, poor public health and poverty are the main obstacles for a swift development, shall we now turn to funding and lending expertise to schools of entrepreneurship that would raise scientific literacy?
I would rather think that transfer of Science, Technology and Innovation should first concentrate on funding and lending expertise in agriculture, horticulture and health sciences, used as drivers for sustainable economic growth and as “as a core element in nurturing managerial and governance competencies” in those basic fields mentioned above.
I can never believe that it will be possible to educate good entrepreneurs in schools of excellence (100 students a year!), as long as the stomachs of those students will be empty or only partly filled. But maybe we are not speaking about the same students, members of the poor rural communities?
Let us not put the horses before the carriage of the rural population!
If we really want to focus “on community and economic development projects and issues surrounding community engagement”, it will be necessary to first solve the problems of the community’s primary needs, like food and health care, before spending mountains of financial resources on creating “top managers for the mining industry”.
Instead of discussing “…how the extractive industry, which is becoming dominant in many African economies, can be used as an engine of sustainable growth, breaking the widely held view that natural resource extraction is associated with corruption and environmental non sustainability”, it would be better to discuss possibilities to create first an engine for sustainable growth in agriculture and public health, where environmental sustainability can be the crux of the matter.
If it is really true that “… companies invest to increase the local content of their work and managerial force, they are promoting (and could further promote) higher technologies in the fields of business, communications, engineering, and the environment”, I would rather invite those companies to promote higher technologies in the fields of agricultural and environmental engineering, without thinking too much at “extracting or mining natural resources”, because that almost never happens with the clean objective to improve the daily life of the local people.
* Wooden Riser A-form – Photo Jojo ROM – 283225_4230820167045_1991451138_n.jpg
One of the best practices: The A-riser or the H-riser
By Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)
My good friend Jojo ROM (Davao City, The Philippines) is one of the famous experts on container gardening. He was one of the first to construct in his own backyard an A-riser on which he grew (and still grows) vegetables and herbs in different types of containers.
It has been clearly shown that this is one of the best practices to grow vegetables and herbs in the smallest space. As container gardening has many advantages over traditional gardening (mostly in bad soils !), this successful method deserves to be promoted at the global level, in particular in an environment with poor soils, e.g. in the drylands.
One of the applications to be strongly recommend is: construction of risers for the refugee camps, where people never have sufficient space or the necessary means to install a kitchen garden for their family. Imagine the refugees’ joy being enabled to grow fresh food close to their tents: interesting time spending, being busy for a nice part of the day, and producing their own fresh food, herbs and mint for their tea.
Impossible you say ? Have a look at the pictures below and convince yourself that minimal investment in risers loaded with containers will automatically yield a maximal food production.
You want to forget about the refugee camps ? OK ! But please remain convinced that risers can be installed in small backyards and even on a flat roof, all over the world, also in your own neighbourhood.
Now then, enjoy the pictures !
Still not convinced about the great value of this method to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ? Please, send us your better idea.
The local government, Wollo University and ICRISAT are working on restoring the degraded landscape around Lake Haik and improving agricultural productivity in the region.. Photo: J Kane-Potaka, ICRISAT
Protecting and improving productivity of fragile landscapes in Ethiopia
Increasing agricultural productivity while improving the ecosystem and managing the fragile landscape around Logo Haik (Lake Haik) of the Amhara region in Ethiopia was the key issue discussed at a workshop that brought together policy makers, researchers, development partners and academic institutions in the region.
Soil erosion and water scarcity in the upstream areas, siltation, and deterioration of water quality downstream are the major issues.
Speakers highlighted the need for initiating a new joint watershed management initiative in the degraded landscape around Logo Haik, a crater lake. This initiative is expected to jointly develop strategies to enhance agricultural productivity (mainly sorghum) and food security upstream, while protecting the ecosystems of Logo Haik downstream through integrated watershed management. Developing a learning site for intensification of dryland sorghum-based systems in Ethiopia is another important objective.