How can young agricultural entrepreneurs make the most of the continent’s opportunities? Sir Gordon Conway of Agriculture for Impact reports on the Montpellier Panel’s latest report.
The time has come to debunk a common myth about agriculture. It is not a dead-end profession that requires eternal, back breaking labour on a farm. At least, it does not have to be. With the right investments to support entrepreneurs in agriculture beyond the production stage, in processing, retail, marketing and even business management, profitable careers await Africa’s young population.
Continue reading Why Africa’s youth should not shun agriculture
Politics and economics are getting in the way of better food. The Global Food Security programme’s Sarah Nicholson reports.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally and are predicted to increase by 15% between 2010 and 2020 (PDF), and the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as CVDs and diabetes are to a large extent determined by dietary factors. In Europe, our diets have changed to include higher levels of saturated fats, sugars and salt and lower levels of dietary fibres, fruits and vegetables.
Continue reading Do European agricultural policies encourage the adoption of unhealthy diets?
Food scarcity remains a fundamental cause of violent outbreaks across the world. Bryce Evans investigates the issue.
The use of food as a strategic weapon is well established. Texts as ancient as the Chinese Art of War and the Roman De Re Militari advocate denying the enemy food. The contemporary conflict in Sudan provides a case in point in the cynical application of this ancient wisdom. There, the government intensifies bombing in rebel areas at harvest time, destroying food. In turn, the country’s rebels seize humanitarian food supplies intended for refugees.
Continue reading Let them eat carbines
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.
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
We should not fear failure when looking for novel food security solutions, argues Christina Owen.
In the business world, the motto “fail early, fail often” is frequently hailed as the formula for success. It is also the key tenet behind one of the most effective learning methods in the history of humanity – trial and error.
One can imagine how many errors were made as humans learned how to make and control fire, sow and harvest plants, build sturdy shelters. And it is the systemic process of trial and error that has allowed science and invention to produce history-altering discoveries and innovations like antibiotics, incandescent light bulbs, and the cellular telephone.
Continue reading Freedom to innovate
A natural virus could control devastating pest outbreaks and improve food security for thousands of farmers. In a special video diary, Ken Wilson reports on a long weekend in Zambia.
“We have arranged for you to meet the Vice President at 10am on Sunday. Is this OK?”. That was it, my trip to Zambia was definitely on and I had just a few hours to prepare for my field visit and meet one of the country’s top politicians who was leading their efforts to manage a food security crisis.
But as you can see in the video below (which you can also watch on YouTube, or in a shorter 03:50 video feature), this visit turned out to be rather different from the rest.
Continue reading Video blog: The hunt for African armyworm
The Montpellier Panel launch their latest report at the Houses of Parliament. Ramadjita Tabo reports.
Only one country in Africa, Ghana, will meet the first Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger and poverty by 2015. New solutions to Africa’s food and resource scarcity challenges are thus being sought as the world develops the next set of global development goals post-2015.
One such solution, sustainable intensification, has proved controversial yet offers real promise, even to small-scale farmers, if it can be redefined and adapted to suit these farmers’ local contexts.
Continue reading Sustainable intensification: A practical approach to meet Africa’s food and natural resource needs
Agriculture is an eco-system, not a solo sector, says Robin Sanders.
There is a need for more public sector, private companies, organizations and donors to come together to share both resources and expertise to develop new approaches to sustainable and successful development.
Innovative thinking needs to be done particularly in agriculture to address food security since land, water, and environmental management are not separate from agriculture sector development or long-term food security.
Continue reading The 4P approach to food security
Geoff Tansey unravels the rhetoric at a food security conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House.
The meeting in London on 10-11 December 2012 was held under the Chatham House Rule, which forbids identification of speakers, so you may find this a rather frustrating blog.
One speaker asked participants the key question: why was the meeting talking about the sustainable intensification of agricultural production when the world already produces enough for everyone; when one third of all food produced ends up as waste; when an estimated 40% of corn in the US in 2013 is going to biofuel; and up to 90% of soya produced globally is used for animals not humans?
Continue reading Sustainable intensification – miracle or mirage?
Agroforestry can lead to the sustainable intensification of tropical agriculture. Roger Leakey reports.
Numerous international reports (PDF) have concluded that ‘business as usual is not an option for agriculture’, but there seems to be no clear path forwards. Indeed there is a highly polarized debate in which biotechnology (GM) and organic agriculture are the two opposing candidates for most people’s affections and attention.
Continue reading Three steps to bridging the yield gap