Tag: africa

The whole package for Africa’s women farmers

It’s not enough to sing their praises: let’s work on legal rights, market access, community-based support, and more equitable households say Melinda Fones Sundell and Marion Davis.

Melinda Sundell and Marion Davis

If you know anything about agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, you know that women grow the majority of food crops. In Ghana, for example, women produce 70% of the nation’s food crops, provide 52% of the agricultural labour force, and contribute 95% of the labour for agro-processing activities. Across the region, 62.5% of women work in agriculture, compared with 36.4% globally (report p.57, A8).

Yet women farmers often work under very difficult conditions. Many don’t even control the land on which they grow their families’ food, and their access to fertilizers, tools, equipment and other inputs is also constrained. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that if women had access to the same productive resources as men, they could increase their farm yields by 20-30%.
Continue reading The whole package for Africa’s women farmers

Linking African smallholder farmers to markets

Agricultural markets in sub-Saharan Africa are fragmented for the people who need them most. Two new reports set out the solutions, says Michael Hoevel.

Michael Hoevel

Population in Africa is set to almost double to two billion by 2050, and current food production systems in Africa will only be able to meet 13% of this increased demand (PDF).

At the same time, across Africa it is estimated that 80% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods. Transforming this sector’s markets will not only help address food insecurity and undernutrition, but it can also unlock Africa’s trade and development potential more broadly, if implemented responsibly and sustainably.
Continue reading Linking African smallholder farmers to markets

Africa, climate change and food security

A focus on the link between energy and food production in Africa at the Durban Climate Change Conference is much needed, says Robin Sanders.

Robin Sanders

The recent Durban Climate Change Conference is a follow on from Cancun which did not move a lot of things forward on key environmental issues ranging from CO2 emissions, carbon sequestration and credits), to land and water resource management.

The important fact that the conference is taking place on the African continent for the first time should not just boil down to its mere presence in Durban. But just like key sub-Saharan African economies are emerging, Africa’s emerging voice on climate change policy is vital to a number of future developmental areas, not least of which is food security – including all of its pillars from food production to improving the continent’s ability to feed itself and using renewables to spur better agricultural energy use.
Continue reading Africa, climate change and food security

It’s time to rebalance the scales for African researchers in agriculture, says Jo Seed.

Jo Seed

During the launch of the Montpellier Panel Report last year I was inspired by the talk on women in agriculture presented by Vicki Wilde. She is the Director of the CGIAR’s Gender and Diversity Programme and the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project – a professional development program that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science.

After Vicki’s speech, something inside me seemed to click and I decided from this point that I really wanted to help make a difference for women in African agriculture. 
Continue reading Food, families, and women in science

The cattle plague virus is gone: what’s next?

Scientists and international organisations are well placed to eliminate another deadly animal disease, says Michael Baron.

Michael Baron

The eradication of the long-feared cattle disease rinderpest, announced by OIE and FAO June 2011, is a momentous achievement. John Anderson has already written on this blog about the lessons learned during the rinderpest eradication programme, which I’ve also described on video.

If we can do it once, we can do it again; the only question is: what should be the next target?
Continue reading The cattle plague virus is gone: what’s next?

Breaking the dependency

Sean Mayes

We are too reliant on too few crop species. Using more underutilised plants will improve global food security, says Sean Mayes.

The world depends for its basic diet of carbohydrates, fats and proteins on a very limited number of crop species.

For carbohydrates, three related species, wheat, rice and maize, dominate human consumption. Any short term improvement in food security will need to include modification (either transgenic or through conventional breeding) of these and other staple crops.
Continue reading Breaking the dependency

The continent has the chance to shape its agricultural development differently, says Dr Robin R. Sanders.

Ambassador Robin Sanders

Can sub Saharan Africa be the next bread basket for the world and help to address global food security issues?

The answer is yes; the challenge is how.

Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the developing world have a key role to play in deciding, shaping and leading food security policy for the coming decades. Why? Because of several key indicators that should not be either underestimated or overlooked: population, economic growth, water and land use in sub-Saharan Africa – what I like to call key impact indicators on food availability.

Sub-Saharan Africa has an opportunity to do things differently and earlier on its development and modernization life, something that few other world regions have today outside of Latin America.
Continue reading Raising sub-Saharan Africa’s profile on global food security issues (part one)

We need to move toward more sustainable agriculture practices that use the best of all approaches – including organic, GM and non-GM biotechnology, says David Howlett.

David Howlett

In achieving global food security, agriculture is part of the problem and part of the solution to climate change.

While we need to better understand greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture we do know they are significant. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that direct emissions are about 14% of global emissions (similar to those from transport) and emissions from deforestation are 17% of global emissions – but because farming is a major driver of deforestation the majority of these are due to agriculture.
Continue reading Combining tactics for triple wins in agriculture

We need to keep the food security situation in northern Nigeria and other affected West African states on the radar, says Robin Sanders.

Ambassador Robin Sanders

There have been few reports noting the growing food security issue that has arisen over the last few months in the West Africa Region. We all need to pay more attention to this so that it doesn’t turn into a regional crisis.

Affected countries in West Africa are doing their best to manage the ever-growing food security issues related to staple commodities, particularly grains. The US Agency for International Development has called this the “Hunger Gap” as many of the regions poor have already exhausted not only available food stores but are also not having access to affordable and adequate food (nutritional food). See the FEEEDS™ blog-itrrs page, defining the elements of food security.
Continue reading 2010 Food Security Challenges in West Africa: Let’s Pay Attention!