newsletter of week of July 13th 2014
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 Make agriculture a sexy career choice for young Africans, urges AGRA head. In addition, there is more news such as Climate change threatens your cup of coffee as soon as 2020 and African seed companies meet in Uganda to review progress among others.
Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:
- Challenges to Soya Export Promotion in Malawi: an Application of Net-Map in International Trade and Policy Reform
- Synergies and tradeoffs between cash crop production and food security: a case study in rural Ghana
Thank you and enjoy.
Thomson Reuters Foundation
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), founded by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006, focuses on getting better quality seeds to farmers, boosting their access to markets and finance, helping them band together to lobby for policy change, and revitalising degraded soils. Africa has almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, but more than 70 percent of young Africans live on less than $2 per day, and they are twice as likely to be unemployed as adults, the report said. Encouraging more young people into agriculture is a solution that can also prevent them migrating to city slums or being drawn into shady activities that pose a security risk.
Microsoft has partnered Glasgow-based technology company, Cojengo, to develop software seeking to provide East African farmers with innovative diagnostic tools and disease surveillance data. The VetAfrica app aims to help farmers in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania by enabling vets, animal health workers and farmers quickly and accurately to diagnose livestock illness and identify which drugs are most effective to treat disease. East Africa has over 100 million farmers spread across thousands of square miles, a number Cojengo predicts will influence massive growth of mobile and cloud tech solutions in its African markets.
Thomson Reuters Foundation
A new report warns that areas suitable for coffee growing will decrease substantially by as soon as 2020 due to climate change impacts in major producing countries."The situation is alarming," said the Coffee Barometer 2014, produced by a group of environment and development organisations including Oxfam-Novib, Hivos and WWF. Severe droughts, like that in Brazil this year, warmer temperatures or heavy rains make the coffee harvest season increasingly unpredictable, it said. Erratic temperatures and rainfall can affect coffee plants directly, making it harder for them to grow, as well as indirectly by providing favourable conditions for pests and diseases such as the berry borer and coffee rust, which has hit Central America and Colombia hard in the past three years.
A four day meeting has officially kicked off at the Lake Victoria Serena Hotel in Uganda to discuss issues that bedevil the seed sector in Africa. Over 52 seed companies fully African-owned and led are convening to recognize and learn from their peers who have attained the remarkable goal of producing and selling 10,000 metric tons of seed per year. African seed companies are key to food security because they have the local knowledge and capacity to meet the seed needs of African smallholder farmers. This meeting is dubbed the “10 K Seed Company convening.”
This year's publication which is supported by Hivos, IUCN Nederland, Oxfam Novib, Solidaridad and WWF, explores the global and local dimensions of the coffee production system, by observing how the social, economic and ecological aspects are intertwined. It examines recent developments in the coffee market to trace the main trends. It seeks to identify the consequences of climate change, the market development for sustainable coffee and its procurement by the world's top ten coffee roasters.
Fair Trade USA is in fast-growth mode. This fall, Patagonia and PACT will begin selling Fairtrade apparel, made in factories that they say will meet strict environmental and social standards; a small company called Oliberté already sells Fairtrade shoes. Several years ago, Fair Trade USA formed a partnership with a nonprofit startup called Good World Solutions, which has developed mobile technology to connect big companies to the farmers and workers in their supply chains. Meantime, Fair Trade USA is working to certify a bell pepper farm in British Columbia, Canada, expanding the movement beyond its roots in the global south. This flurry of activity has brought Rice lots of attention, some of it unwelcome. His supporters say that he works tirelessly to expand the impact of fair trade. Critics accuse him of abandoning its principles.
Put a jug of water on the table. As a slogan, it has the beauty of simplicity. As a health message, it is clear, affordable and inoffensive. But as a symbol of the state's willingness to get to grips with the damage the food industry does to public health, it is redolent of defeatism. The battle to get us all to eat better, drink more healthily and live well takes more than a smart strap line and – in the same way that ending endemic tooth decay meant putting fluoride in the mains water supply – it takes more than self-help and individual effort.
Five years ago today, amidst a global economic recession and world food price crisis, world leaders gathered at the G-8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, and made one of the largest financial commitments to fight hunger and poverty alleviation to date — $20 billion in aid to agriculture. At the time, price spikes had plunged millions of people into poverty and prompted riots in cities across the world. Donor support for agriculture was at its lowest point in 20 years. This lack of investment was alarming for many reasons. According to a 2008 report by the World Bank, growth in a country’s agricultural sector is twice as effective at reducing poverty as growth in any other sector. Coupled with the fact that the majority of the world’s poor and hungry are farmers, donors used this crisis moment to reverse course and begin again to invest in agriculture — both to prevent future global food crises and to fight hunger and poverty. We know that broadly if African farmers’ productivity continues to stagnate, then by 2030, Africa will only be able to meet 25 percent of its own demand for food.
The future of northern Uganda in coffee production has been promising following the introduction of coffee by the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA). However, the prospects of growing this key cash crop is likely to be ruined by preventable quality factors in the seedling multiplication and supply system in this part of the country. Currently, there are 16,000 coffee farmers in northern Uganda who have planted 10,045 hectares of coffee. In 2013, coffee output was 154 metric tons, and projected to increase to 16,323 metric tons by 2017, from the stock of coffee trees so far planted. However, there is an imminent setback to the success in the Robusta coffee growing drive in the mid-northern Uganda. This is mainly driven by the low capacity to produce the certified quality elite clonal robusta coffee seeds. There is only one scientifically recommended clonal coffee mother garden in mid-north sub-region stationed at the Ngetta - Zonal Agricultural Research Development Institute (ZARDI).
The East African
Regional co-operation has been increased as a result of CAADP engagement. CAADP has also facilitated the establishment of mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation, review, dialogue and accountability. What is going to define the next decade will be the implementation of CAADP investment plans. There are a number of expectations for 2014, the AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security and for the next decade. Africans are fatigued by the numerous declarations and decisions that are not translated into action. This time around, the expectations are huge.
Tal Lee Anderman, Roseline Remans, Stephen A. Wood, Kyle DeRosa, Ruth S. DeFries – Food Security, 2014
Despite dramatic improvements in global crop yields over the past half-century, chronic food insecurity persists in many parts of the world. Farming crops for sale (cash cropping) has been recommended as a way to increase income that can, in turn, improve food security for smallholder farmers. Despite long-term efforts by development agencies and government to promote cash cropping, there is limited evidence documenting a relationship between these crops and the food security of households cultivating them. We used a mixed methods approach to build a case study to assess these relationships by collecting quantitative and qualitative data from cacao and oil palm farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Three dimensions of food security were considered: food availability, measured by the months in a year households reported inadequate food; food access, indicated by the coping strategies they employed to secure sufficient food; and food utilization, gauged by the diversity of household diets and anthropometric measurements of child nutritional status. We found significant negative relationships between each of these pillars of food security and a household’s intensity of cash crop production, measured by both quantity and area. A qualitative assessment indicated community perception of these tradeoffs and identified potential mechanisms, including increasing food prices and competing activities for land use, as underlying causes. The adverse relationship between cash crop production and household food security observed in this paper calls for caution; results suggest that positive relationships cannot be assumed, and that further empirical evidence is needed to better understand these tradeoffs.
Noora-Lisa Aberman , Brent Edelman, 2014
Malawi soya exhibits strong export potential and could help Malawi’s economy address an acute balance of payments challenge, fiscal deficits, and pervasive rural poverty. However, farmers and traders attempting to export soya face a complicated set of procedures to carry out a formal export. In this study, we attempt to bring clarity to the export process and then lay the groundwork for trade policy reform to facilitate soya exports. First, we use Process Net-Map to track the steps required to export soya, quantify and time and cost requirements for each step of the process, and calculate the discretion with which official rules and regulations related to the export process are applied to exporters. We then re-employ Net-Map to study the landscape for trade policy reform to determine the policy network characteristics required for successful policy reform.
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