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IFPRI Kampala Newsletter – week of June 23th

2014 June 25
by bvancampenhout

12209977313_4aec27a633_m(1)Hello, and welcome to the IFPRI Uganda Strategy Support Program’s weekly news digest.

This weekly collection of recent news articles related to agriculture is compiled from online news sources. We also include links to recent publications on agricultural and policy-related research topics.

In news this week, we report on Africa's women entrepreneurs take the lead. In addition, there is more news on Hot and hungry: how to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger and The ‘super’ banana that fights for truth, justice and healthy levels of vitamin A among others.

Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:


Thank you and enjoy.


Africa's women entrepreneurs take the lead

The Associated Press

There is a growing trend in Africa with more women running businesses on a scale that was unthinkable a generation ago. About 63 percent of women in the non-agricultural labor force are self-employed in the informal sector in Africa, more than twice the worldwide rate, according to World Bank data, which also shows that necessity — not opportunity — is the main driving force behind female entrepreneurship in poor countries. Women often start by running informal retail or service businesses, but those who are more ambitious have created thousands of jobs in projects that break stereotypes about what women can do, physically and socially, in societies that are still largely conservative.

FAO success stories on climate-smart agriculture


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has released a publication entitled FAO Success Stories on Climate-smart Agriculture. The booklet provides examples of climate-smart systems by showcasing some FAO success stories in various countries. The cases have been selected from the FAO Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Sourcebook launched in 2013 to show the diversity of potential options across different regions and agricultural systems also covering subjects such as biodiversity and gender. Its main message is that climate-smart approach in agriculture will not only help prevent future problems in food security but also holds the promise of initiating economic renewal in rural areas stricken by hunger and poverty.

Hot and hungry: how to stop climate change derailing the fight against hunger


Hunger is not and need never be inevitable. However climate change threatens to put back the fight to eradicate it by decades – and our global food system is woefully unprepared to cope with the challenge. In the face of the climate change challenge, this report analyses how well the world’s food system is prepared for the impacts of climate change. It assesses ten key factors that influence a country’s ability to feed its people in a warming world – these include the quality of weather monitoring systems, social safety nets, agricultural research and adaptation finance.

Scientist gets world food prize for wheat research

Associated Press

A crop scientist credited with developing hundreds of varieties of disease-resistant wheat adaptable to many climates and difficult growing conditions was, last week, named as the 2014 recipient of the World Food Prize. Sanjaya Rajaram, 71, wins the $250,000 prize founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug that honors vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Rajaram, who was born in India and is a citizen of Mexico, began research and field work with Borlaug in 1969. He successfully crossed varieties of winter and spring wheat with his own plant breeding techniques, which led to the development of plants that have higher yields and dependability under a wide range of environments - important in keeping pace with the growing world population. He is credited with developing 480 wheat varieties that have been released in 51 countries on six continents.

Risk and transformational change

Impatient Optimists

Farming is the most risky of livelihoods. Those developing technologies aimed at reducing farmers’ exposure to the downside of risk must make sure that these technologies help farmers benefit from the upside. Unless we can re-couple the upside of risk-taking to farmers and research institutions, there is little incentive for adoption and transformational innovation.

The ‘super’ banana that fights for truth, justice and healthy levels of vitamin A

The Washington Post

In half of the world’s countries, vitamin A deficiency is a scourge that leaves disease and death in its wake. Every year, it inflicts between 250,000 and 500,000 helpless and malnourished young people with early-life blindness. And in half of those cases, it also brings death, according to the World Health Organization. Vitamin A deficiency also puts pregnant women at risk. It’s rare in developed countries, but the goal of completely eradicating vitamin A deficiency — mostly in Africa and Southeast Asia — remains unmet. Scientists are now working to genetically engineer “super” bananas that are fortified with crucial alpha- and beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

Deforestation leaves fish undersized and underfed


Deforestation is reducing the amount of leaf litter falling into rivers and lakes, resulting in less food being available to fish, a study suggests. Researchers found the amount of food available affected the size of young fish and influenced the number that went on to reach adulthood. The team said the results illustrated a link between watershed protection and healthy freshwater fish populations.

Is global food security jeopardised by an old age time bomb?

The Guardian

FAO estimates that we need to increase global food production by 60% by 2050. Under current production patterns, much of the increase would need to come from smallholder family farmers in developing countries, including the poorest, who cultivate about 80% of arable land and produce most of the world's food. Improving productivity and intensifying crop production among these farmers could therefore be key to global food security and ending hunger. One issue that is hardly discussed is the demographic challenge that could limit global food production. Farmer populations are ageing rapidly. Worldwide, the average age of farmers is about 60, including in developing countries, and many amongst them are women and poorly educated. Older farmers are less likely to introduce new, transformative production techniques. One could expect their children to do so, especially in developing countries where 60% of the population is under 25 years of age and most living in rural areas. The problem is, however, that few rural youth see a future for themselves in agriculture.

War, rain and money – an anatomy of South Sudan’s food crisis


Across a swath of South Sudan, fields where green shoots should be poking through the wet soil lie untilled and overgrown; herds of cattle that would sustain communities through the lean season have been lost or stolen; food stores have been looted or burned. The people of South Sudan, the world’s youngest and one of its poorest nations, are accustomed to hardship. But six months of war has uprooted so many of them and destroyed their meagre livelihoods that some four million require humanitarian assistance.

Government asked to promote organic agriculture

Daily Monitor

As the world marked World Environment Day, government has been asked to promote sustainable organic agricultural practices as a way to mitigate effects of climate change. Rachel Musoke, a forestry expert, noted that climate change had taken a toll on food qualities and levels of production. Therefore, farming systems that support soil enrichment should be promoted.


Structure and performance of Ethiopia’s coffee export sector

Minten Bart, Tamru Seneshaw, Kuma Tadesse, Nyarko Yaw - International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI), 2014

We study the structure and performance of the coffee export sector in Ethiopia, Africa’s most important coffee producer, over the period 2003 to 2013. We find an evolving policy environment leading to structural changes in the export sector, including an elimination of vertical integration for most exporters. Ethiopia’s coffee export earn-ings improved dramatically over this period, i.e. a four-fold real increase. This has mostly been due to increases in international market prices. Quality improved only slightly over time, but the quantity exported increased by 50 percent, seemingly explained by increased domestic supplies as well as reduced local consumption. To further improve export performance, investments to increase the quantities produced and to improve quality are needed, including an increase in washing, certification, and traceability, as these characteristics are shown to be associated with significant quality premiums in international markets.

How reliable are crop production data? Case studies in USA and Argentina

V. O. Sadras, P. Grassini, R. Costa, L. Cohan, A. J. Hall – Food Security, 2014

Reliability of crop production data has implications for yield gap analysis, production time trends, trading and policy decisions. In this paper, we compared databases of major grain crops estimated by a pair of independent organisations in Nebraska, USA (USDA-NASS, National Agricultural Statistics Service of USDA vs NRD, Natural Resources Districts of Nebraska) and a pair of independent organisations in Argentina (MA, Ministerio de Agricultura vs. BC, Bolsa de Cereales de Buenos Aires). The comparisons involved the yield of irrigated and rainfed maize and soybean reported by USDA-NASS and NRD, and the yield, acreage and production of maize, soybean and wheat reported by MA and BC.

Bargaining Power and Biofortification: The Role of Gender in Adoption of Orange Sweet Potato in Uganda

Daniel O. Gilligan, Neha Kumar, Scott McNiven, J. V. Meenakshi, Agnes Quisumbing –International Food Policy Research Institute , 2014

We examine the role of gender in adoption and diffusion of orange sweet potato, a biofortified staple food crop being promoted as a strategy to increase dietary intakes of vitamin A among young children and adult women in Uganda. As an agricultural intervention with nutrition objectives, intrahousehold gender dynamics regarding decisions about crop choice and child feeding practices may play a role in adoption decisions. Also, most households access sweet potato vines through informal exchange, suggesting again that gender dimensions of networks may be important to diffusion of the crop. We use data from an experimental impact evaluation of the introduction of OSP in Uganda to study how female bargaining power, measured by share of land and non-land assets controlled by women, affect adoption and diffusion decisions.

Methods and protocol of a mixed method quasi-experiment to evaluate the effects of a structural economic and food security intervention on HIV vulnerability in rural Malawi: the SAGE4Health Study

Lance S Weinhardt , Loren W Galvao, Thokozani Mwenyekonde, Katarina M Grande, Patricia Stevens, Alice F Yan, Lucy Mkandawire-Valhmu, Winford Masanjala, Jennifer Kibicho, Emmanuel Ngui, Lindsay Emer, Susan C Watkins - SpringerPlus, 2014

Poverty and lack of a predictable, stable source of food are two fundamental determinants of ill health, including HIV/AIDS. Conversely, episodes of poor health and death from HIV can disrupt the ability to maintain economic stability in affected households, especially those that rely on subsistence farming. However, little empirical research has examined if, and how, improvements in people’s economic status and food security translate into changes in HIV vulnerability. In this paper, we describe in detail the methods and protocol of an academic-NGO collaboration on a quasi-experimental, longitudinal study of the mechanisms and magnitude of the impact of a multilevel economic and food security program (Support to Able-Bodied Vulnerable groups to Achieve Food Security; SAFE), as implemented by CARE. Primary outcomes include HIV vulnerability (i.e., HIV risk behavior, HIV infection), economic status (i.e., income, household assets) and food security (including anthropometric measures).

Household food security monitoring and evaluation using a resilience indicator: an application of categorical principal component analysis and simple sum of assets in five African countries

M. Browne, G.F. Ortmann, S.L. Hendriks - Agrekon, 2014

Recent global and African food crises have raised the importance of resilience as a determinant of the ability of households to cope with shocks and stresses that affect food security. This article sets out to develop a measure for resilience to provide a concise tool for measuring and monitoring food security in comparative ways across countries. It presents the results of the development of a resilience score tested using Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) household data for five African countries from two different time periods per country. Cluster analysis was used to classify households into socio-economic groups. The first index used Categorical Principal Component Analysis (CATPCA) and the second a simple sum of assets. Both indices were able to detect changes in household socio-economic status over the data periods in all five countries.

How do indicators of household food insecurity measure up? An empirical comparison from Ethiopia

Daniel Maxwell, Bapu Vaitla, Jennifer Coates – Food Policy, 2014

Renewed emphasis on programs and policies aimed at enhancing food security has intensified the search for accurate, rapid, and consistent indicators. Measures of food security are urgently required for purposes of early warning, assessment of current and prospective status of at-risk populations, and monitoring and evaluation of specific programs and policies. Different measures are often used interchangeably, without a good idea of which dimensions of food security are captured by which measures, resulting in potentially significant misclassification of food insecure populations. The objective of this paper is to compare how the most frequently used indicators of food security portray static and dynamic food security among the same sample of rural households in two districts of Tigray State, Northern Ethiopia. Seven food security indicators were assessed: the Coping Strategies Index (CSI); the Reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI); the Household Food Insecurity and Access Scale (HFIAS); the Household Hunger Scale (HHS); Food Consumption Score (FCS); the Household Dietary Diversity Scale (HDDS); and a self-assessed measure of food security (SAFS).

The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Food Security: Some Empirical Evidence

M Adhikary, K Sarkar - Asian Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, 2014

After emergence of the concept of Food Security it has evolved with time and with trade liberalization. It has also grown in importance. Trade liberalization has brought out many faces of food security. In some countries it has resulted in better security in household and national level and in some it has shown a trend of decline. This has been exemplified with empirical evidence. Food security as a concept is mainly related with household and thus has direct relation with purchasing capability of individual household. The trend in trade of a country depends wholly on its resource. Thus trade liberalization has different effects on different countries on the basis of their resources and their implication. So, it is better to have precautionary measures to avoid any negative impact of the world effecting phenomenon as trade liberalization. In this paper first we consider the food security position of different countries across the world, and after that we took special looks on Indian economies food security status empirically. We have examined the effect of openness of trade on food security. However the per capita food availability in Indian economies has been considered as a proxy for food security measure.

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