Newsletter week of Jan 19th 2015
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 pertinent to Uganda.
In news this week, we report on Uganda to host Africa’s first gene bank. In addition, there is more news such as How will climate change transform agriculture?, Can agricultural households farm their way out of poverty? And among others, Ugandan scientists to develop ‘sweet’ maize variety. Under agricultural and food policy related research, we provide links to papers on:
- Agricultural marketing cooperatives with direct selling: A cooperative–non-cooperative game
- Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition Impact through the Feed the Future Initiative
African development and economic growth are being strangled by climate change, which poses major challenges to already fragile situations at the household, national and regional levels. In recognizing resource limitations and capacity constraints in adequately responding to the multiple challenges facing vulnerable communities, it is important that targeting particular climate risks includes climate change adaptation actions that go beyond the targeted and non-targeted sectors and communities to improve income, social welfare, eradicate poverty, create jobs, protect or restore ecosystems and provide cross-cutting solutions that serve other sectors as well are especially desirable.
The potential of African agriculture is undoubtedly bright, but food security depends on the four As - the essential combination of availability (is there enough), accessibility (in the right place), affordability (for the whole population) and adequacy (for a nutritious, balanced diet).
With populations booming and urbanising at an unprecedented rate without the supporting national infrastructure, fulfilment of the four As becomes an ever steeper uphill struggle. Both large-scale agriculture and unlocking the potential of smallholders will play a crucial part in feeding the World Bank’s estimate of over 9 billion people by 2050.
To achieve this, there are eight key areas I believe policymakers and development NGOs can focus on as we work together to pursue the four As of food security.
Food Security Portal-IFPRI
Climate change will require major transformations in agricultural systems, including increased irrigation and moving production from one region to another, according to a new study. Without careful planning for uncertain climate impacts, however, the chances of getting adaptation wrong are high, the study shows.
This World Bank paper examines agricultural productivity's determinants and its link to poverty by using nationally representative data from the Nigeria General Household Survey Panel, 2010/11. Findings indicate an elasticity of poverty reduction with respect to agricultural productivity of between 0.25 to 0.3 percent, implying that a 10 percent increase in agricultural productivity will decrease the likelihood of being poor by between 2.5 and 3 percent. The most important factors in increasing agricultural productivity are land, labor, fertilizer, agricultural advice, and diversification within agriculture.
Professor Lord Krebs, Principal of Jesus College, told the Oxford Farming Conference that organic farming does not necessarily equate to environmentally friendly farming. He explained that organic farming is generally less productive per hectare meaning more land is needed to produce a certain amount of food.
"Converting land to agriculture, especially arable farming, results in the release of large amounts of carbon, so from the point of view of reducing greenhouse gases, organic farming might actually be a worse option than conventional farming," he added. Thus, he suggested that other forms of agriculture could also be harnessed to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Dr Pascal Musoli, a coffee breeder at NaCORI, explained that there have been a number of stakeholders each of them developing their own coffee extension manuals. But, in 2013, the National Coffee Platform chaired by UCDA reached a decision to develop a unified manual that should be used by extension service providers in the coffee sector.
The manual contains information on agronomic practices such as mulching, stumping, pruning and de-suckering, and post-harvest handling. Farmers are also advised on proper processing of coffee beans, as well as soil and water conservation.
A banana germplasm gene-bank, the first of the kind in Africa, is now operational in Uganda. It is to collect and conserve banana species in eastern and central Africa, especially those threatened with extinction.
The field gene bank for ex-situ (in the garden) conservation, is a joint initiative of Agro-Genetic Technologies, a private company, and the Entebbe-based Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa.
The East African
Ugandan scientists are planning to develop a conventionally bred maize variety that preserves sweetness for a longer period. Lead scientist, Dr Andrew Kigundu said that the new research to be carried out at the National Agriculture Research Laboratories, Kawanda, in collaboration with Makerere University, starting 2015, is aimed at ensuring that the green maize retains its fresh sweet taste for a bit longer after harvest for consumers.
Africa south of the Sahara is going through a major agricultural transformation. Low crop productivity, hunger and pessimism are being replaced by a rapid rise in food production, an increasingly vibrant agricultural value chain and convergence towards a common goal. There are many reasons to be pessimistic about the prospects of plentiful food production in sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1961, when records began, and 2005 average cereal grain yields in the region hovered below one metric tonne per hectare (t ha−1), rendering the average smallholder farming household food and nutrient insecure.
A report published last month by the Montpellier Panel – an eminent group of agriculture, ecology and trade experts from Africa and Europe – says about 65 percent of Africa’s arable land is too damaged to sustain viable food production. The report, “No Ordinary Matter: conserving, restoring and enhancing Africa’s soil“, notes that Africa suffers from the triple threat of land degradation, poor yields and a growing population.
Soil expert and professor of agriculture at the Makerere University, Moses Tenywa says that African governments should do more to promote soil and water conservation, which is costly for farmers in terms of resources, labour, finances and inputs.
Maxime Agbo, Damien Rousselière, Julien Salanié – Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, 2015
We build a theoretical model to study a market structure with a marketing cooperative and direct selling, in which many farmers are members of an agricultural marketing cooperative. They can sell their production either to the cooperative or on an oligopolistic local market. We show that the decision to sell to the cooperative induces an anti-competitive effect on the direct selling market. The cooperative facilitates collusion on the local market by making farmers softer competitors on that market. Conversely, direct selling may create a “healthy emulation” among farmers, leading to more production benefiting the cooperative.
Lidan Du, Victor Pinga, Alyssa Klein, Heather Danton – Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 2014
Nutrition is a multisectoral problem; current state of empirical evidence for agricultural interventions’ impacts on nutrition is weak. In the past 10 years, both agriculture and nutrition have risen on the global policy agenda. Several recent international movements have created great momentum for nutrition among global political leaders and policymakers. The 2008 world food price crisis prompted larger investment pledges to agricultural development.
The U.S. Government launched the Feed the Future initiative in 2009 to address global hunger and food security, with a primary goal to reduce poverty and undernutrition by simultaneously promoting inclusive agriculture sector growth and improved nutritional status for women and children. With operations in 19 focus countries, Feed the Future provides an important laboratory of learning where efforts can be effective and, once proven, taken to scale to make agriculture work for nutrition.
The Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project has been conducting a series of research on the Feed the Future initiative. This chapter will first provide a review of the nutrition narrative in relation to food and nutrition, introduce the current understanding of linkages between agriculture and nutrition and the Feed the Future initiative's efforts to strengthen the nutritional impact of agricultural and economic growth activities, and describe an extensive review of how the design and early implementation of Feed the Future activities linked agriculture and nutrition. Finally, the chapter presents an updated framework that incorporates ways to improve nutrition outcomes of agricultural programming in the broader context of food system.
from → Kampala Newsletter