Smallholder farmers should be supported in groups and not individual to access credit


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Copyright: Abbie Trayler-Smith / Panos

Seed entrepreneurship critical to agricultural growth


by Gilbert Nakweya

One of the most interesting session at high level conferences for me is the debate on a critical matter of development.

As a Journalist, I value discourses where experts critically analyse matters development. It interests me more when the debates are centered on smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa because they contribute to agricultural productivity.

Such a moment came during the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa Synthesis Conference last week (19-20 September) in Nairobi. ISSD Africa is coordinated by the Centre of Development Innovation (CDI), the Royal Tropical Institute Kit, and the Future Agricultures Consortium and is hosted in Nairobi by Egerton University’s Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.

Its pilot action research took place in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The big question was: Are grants to seed business essential for seed growth in Africa? Experts from academia, government and the private sectors were sharply divided on whether grants were essential for the seed sector development. Those for grants argued that it provides start-up capital for seed businesses and could spur business.

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Fostering food and nutrition security is key to sustainable development



Food and nutrition security key to Africa’s development

by Gilbert Nakweya bb9e69386f2d71ee1687c3e38927b131

Fostering food and nutrition security is key to sustainable development. But access to high quality seeds from research and development by smallholder farmers is still a major challenge to agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In fact, the second goal in the UN’s Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goal is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

But how much is Africa investing to improve food security? Is Africa committed to taking leadership in building resilient seed sector for improved food security? Th

Africa requires a continental effort in development of sustainable seed sector through leadership.

Gilbert Nakweya

ese were some of the issues I pondered over during the Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) Africa Synthesis Conference in Kenya this week (19-20 September). The conference drew agricultural experts from all over the world to discuss the findings of ISSD Africa’s two year pilot project that ends this year.

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El Niño alert

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Copyright: Andrew McConnell/Panos

East Africa on alert for El Niño deluge

Gilbert Nakweya

Speed read

  • Floods, disease and crop losses expected in coming months
  • Kenya has built camps for displaced people and is ready for cholera
  • East African farmers may face drought after the rains

East African countries near the equator are bracing for high El Niño-related rainfall that meteorologists warn may cause floods, crop losses and disease in the coming months.

The region is set to experience much more rain than usual during the October-December wet season, and possibly until early next year, forecasts say — although the rains may be less heavy than those experienced during the powerful 1997-98 El Niño ocean warming event.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Kenya Meteorological Department, Tanzania Meteorological Agency and Uganda National Meteorological Authority have issued warnings about the risks associated with higher rainfall.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says flooding along rivers and lakes, such as Lake Victoria, and flash floods in lowland areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania are likely to force people from their homes, lead to crop and livestock losses, and make it difficult for people to access food and work.

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New technologies could attract the youth to the agricultural sector

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Copyright: Mikkel Ostergaard/Panos

Adopting new technologies key to Africa’s food security

“The biggest challenge to the adoption of these technologies is the perception by farmers that they are very expensive and technically complicated.” – Richard Munang, United Nations Environment Programme


Gilbert Nakweya

Speed read

  • Africa has 65 per cent of arable land worldwide but its youth remain unemployed
  • A meeting says technologies could attract the youth to the agricultural sector
  • An expert calls for platforms to share innovative solutions for business growth

Increased adoption of new agricultural technologies and innovations sensitive to climate change will help Sub-Saharan Africa eradicate food insecurity, experts say.

Researchers, scientists, policymakers and farmers who attended the 3rd Annual African Food Security and Agri-Extension Conference in Kenya last month (22-23 September) heard that the slow adoption of new agricultural technologies across Africa threatens to accelerate food insecurity on the continent.

“The agricultural sector is the most effective in reducing poverty and fostering food security in Africa,” said Richard Munang, the coordinator, Africa Regional Climate Change Programme of the United NationsEnvironment Programme (UNEP).

Munang noted that over 60 per cent of the African youth are unemployed yet the continent holds 65 per cent of the world’s arable land, and thus the agricultural sector could employ young people.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

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