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newsletter week of 7th of July!

2014 July 9
by bvancampenhout

14514840175_faf6c53c01_mHello, 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 pertinent to Uganda.

In news this week, we report on Law on biosecurity to regulate scientists’ work. In addition, there is more news such as UK Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee Releases Food Security Report and Taxes on agro inputs a set back - experts among others.

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

Thank you and enjoy.


From beer to insurance: Businesses bet on climate change


As the Obama administration pushes a new plan to fight climate change, many businesses, from start-ups to multinationals, already are adapting to ensure their businesses can grow and profit amid sustainability challenges. One unique example is led by SABMiller, the world's second-largest beer company. Beer can be made with barley. But the grain isn't always available, and sometimes is exported to regional markets. That can mean a really expensive pint of lager in, say, East Africa. So SABMiller had an idea for Mozambique. The London-based company would manufacture a brew with one of Africa's most widely available crops—the cassava. Also known as yuca, the root resembles a potato. SABMiller would support local, sustainable farming. There was just one problem. Yuca rots quickly. So the brewer helped create a mobile unit that's used to process the crop on the farm. The first commercial scale, cassava-based beer—called "Impala"—was launched about three years ago. The project today helps cassava farmers earn income, some for the first time.

UK Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee Releases Food Security Report

The UK Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee published the Food Security report which focuses on the food production and supply dimensions of food security. The report supports the idea of "sustainable intensification" which means producing more food with less resources. The report calls on the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) to stem decline in the UK self-sufficiency and deliver more resilience in the UK food system. It was also noted in the report that UK's self-sufficiency on food has declined over the years. Thus, the long-term challenge for the food production system is to produce more food amidst the effects of climate change. The report calls for supermarkets to shorten supply chains to decrease threats of disruption, farmers to extend seasonal production of fresh fruits and vegetables, government to decrease dependence on imported soybean for feed and develop better emissions reduction plan.

Climate change enhances collaboration between men and women in northern Ghana


The impact of climate change on agriculture and livestock is causing trouble for everyone, and putting particular pressures on those who depend on agriculture for income and to feed their families. In northern Ghana, this responsibility has traditionally been that of men and, therefore, they are under particular stress. More people particularly women are diversifying their livelihood activities and gaining more influence in decisions at the household level.

Law on biosecurity to regulate scientists’ work

Daily Monitor

As Uganda's Parliament makes consultations on the Biotechnology and biosafety Bill, there is another Bill in offing that focuses on biosecurity and bioterrorism. Scientists drafted the Bill with the help of lawyers and are now consulting stakeholders before it is presented to the Attorney General. Both Bills are different. One addresses safe use in application of a technology, the other covers broader issues related to food safety, use of reagents in laboratories, animal health, and wildlife. “When the biotechnology and biosafety policy was passed in 2008, it only handled issues around the agricultural research meaning there is still a gap we need to address,” Dr Onapa said.

Saving milk from spoilage in rural India: A thermal-battery powered cooling device could help farmers in India save millions of litres of milk every year

The Guardian

Lack of refrigeration in rural India is leading to millions of tonnes of fresh produce going to waste every year. India is the largest producer and consumer of milk in the world; 130m tons of milk are produced annually by rural farmers in India, yet a significant proportion of this is lost. Lack of a reliable electricity supply is one of the biggest challenges. Around 400 million people are without access to a reliable power supply, and some communities consider themselves lucky if they get 10 hours of electricity per day. It's hoped that innovation can help solve the problem. Refrigeration company Promethean Power has developed a new thermal battery which led to the creation of a Rapid Milk Chiller (RMC), which is now being deployed in the agricultural areas of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Rapid Milk Chiller uses a combination of software and reconfigurable hardware from National Instruments (NI). The aim is to eliminate much of the waste, drive up nutritional standards and improve the livelihoods of millions of rural dairy farmers.

Taxes on agro inputs a set back - experts

Daily Monitor

With about 80 per cent of the country dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, the removal of tax exemptions on agricultural inputs and introduction of other taxes has come as surprise, if not a shocker. On June 12, while reading the 2014/2015 National Budget, the Finance minister, Maria Kiwanuka, pronounced removal of tax exemptions on agro-inputs, poultry and livestock feeds, terminated exemption on interest income on agricultural loans and introduced value-added tax (VAT) on packaging materials.

“This is a bad situation especially for country that is looking out to get better,” says Gideon Badagawa, executive director, Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU). “Now government has introduced taxes on agriculture which is the country’s competitive advantage to grow exports. This will see farmers invest less, thus there will be less jobs and less production.”


Adaptation to climate change in Sub-Saharan agriculture: assessing the evidence and rethinking the drivers

Salvatore Di Falco – European Review of Agricultural Economics, 2014


In this paper, after a review of the evolution of the literature on climate change economics in agriculture, I present some evidence of the impact of different moments of the distribution of rainfall on farmers risk aversion. It is found that while more rainfall is negatively associated with the probability of observing risk aversion, rainfall variability is positively correlated. This result highlights an important behavioural dimension of climatic factors.

Vulnerability of African maize yield to climate change and variability during 1961–2010

Wenjiao Shi, Fulu Tao – Food Security, 2014

Because of the necessity of feeding growing populations, there is a critical need to assess the variation and vulnerability of crop yields to potential climate change. Databases of maize yield and climate variables in the maize growing seasons were used to assess the vulnerability of African maize yields to climate change and variability with different levels of management at country scale between 1961 and 2010.


Testing Claims about Large Land Deals in Africa: Findings from a Multi-Country Study

Lorenzo Cotula, Carlos Oya, Emmanuel A. Codjoe, Abdurehman Eid, Mark Kakraba-Ampeh, James Keeley, Admasu Lokaley Kidewa, Melissa Makwarimba, Wondwosen Michago Seide, William Ole Nasha, Richard Owusu Asare , Matteo Rizzo - The Journal of Development Studies, 2014

Despite much research on large land deals for plantation agriculture in Africa, reliable data remain elusive, partly because of limited access to information and practical and methodological challenges. International debates are still shaped by misperceptions about how much land is being acquired, where, by whom, how and with what consequences. This article aims empirically to test some common perceptions through an analysis of findings from research conducted in three African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania. The article presents new evidence on the scale, geography, drivers and features of land deals, relates findings to data from earlier research and international efforts to monitor land deals, and outlines possible ways forward for ongoing monitoring of the deals.

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