What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Rising fossil fuel energy costs spell trouble for global food security, Oregon State University

Horizon 2020 – first projects funded involving African researchers, PAEPARD

Sustainable Agriculture Research Falling Further Behind, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

OECD – FAO expect stronger production, lower prices over coming decade, FAO

The President of the United States of America meets Sir David, Thinking Country

New Ethiopian ‘livestock master plan’ aims to take 14 million out of poverty, ILRI

Farmgate prices may stay low for 10 more years, says report, Farmers Weekly

Web-based policy tool on small-scale farmer innovation, PAEPARD

Producer Movements in Integrated Landscape Management, Landscapes for People, Food and Nature

Benchmarking the sustainability performance of the Brazilian non-GM and GM soybean meal chains: An indicator-based approach, Gaitán-Cremaschi et al, Food Policy

World Food Prize goes to founder of anti-poverty group, The Des Moines Register

Improving rice flour to aid food poverty, EurekAlert

Animating the universal ambition of the SDGs, IIED

Study reveals mechanisms of plants’ drought response, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Big food and chemical corporations spend millions to attack organic, Friends of the Earth

Seeds, superfoods and soils for resilience, oh my!

By Emily Alpert

Smallholder farmers in Africa are no strangers to climate change. The first impacts can already be felt. Erratic rainfall, shorter growing seasons and prolonged droughts mean that crops suffer, as do the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. To meet the demands of a growing global and African population, crop productivity will have to be increased. Under climate change conditions, this will have to be achieved with fewer resources and smarter interventions. Seeds, superfoods, and soils all offer some solutions.


Farmer resilience to climate change can be strengthened in many ways: income diversification, secure land rights or better access to insurance policies are all examples. Resilience can also come in the form of a seed.

Drought-tolerant maize varieties hope to do just that. These seeds are bred with the ability to withstand periods of low and erratic rainfall. The public-private partnership Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), developed under the coordination of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), aims to develop drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize using conventional breeding, marker-assisted selection, and biotechnology, with a goal to make these varieties available royalty-free to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through African seed companies. So far, conventional drought-tolerant maize hybrids – varieties developed by crossing two inbred lines – have been released in Kenya and South Africa. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Rothamsted Research plays a part in shaping Europe’s sustainable energy future, Rothamsted Research

African innovations that can change the world, One

Agroecology can help fix our broken food system. Here’s how. Ensia

How Digital Financial Services Can Meet The Financing Demands Of Smallholder Farmers, microlinks

Millions of world’s poorest children left behind despite global progress, new UNICEF report says, Unicef

Netherlands ordered to cut greenhouse gas emissions, BBC News

Got Camel Milk? Ethiopian Dairy Processor Ramps Up Production With USAID Support, Agrilinks

Roads, railways and research can stop global food waste, The Guardian

New Study Finds that Orange Sweet Potato Reduces Diarrhea in Childrenm HarvestPlus

30 Women Under 30 Changing Food, Foodtank [Read more…]

Unlocking Senegal’s Agricultural Potential

By Katrin Glatzel

When I was in Senegal a couple of weeks ago to visit the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Dakar, I was not only stunned by the warmth and hospitality of the Senegalese people, but equally astounded by the huge untapped agricultural potential.

As you reach the outskirts of Dakar and travel north-east towards the city of Thies, one gets the impression that the country is on an upswing: streets are buzzing with people, highways to connect the city with the new airport and conference centre are being constructed, and there are hundreds of small plots of former agricultural land which people hope to convert into residential areas and larger farms.

However, the image of an ‘economic upswing’ in Senegal is somewhat misleading; there is in fact a lot of untapped potential for agricultural and economic growth.

Agriculture in Senegal

1Agriculture in Senegal constitutes the main source of income for more than three-quarters of the population, yet the rural poor have limited possibilities to take advantage of opportunities for improving subsistence farming. They largely depend on income from cash crops, non-agricultural wages, and remittances (in 2011, remittances were worth 11% of GDP). Most of the rural poor live in areas which have limited capacity for food production due to dependence on rainfall, vulnerabilities to pest infestations, and depleted soils. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Making sustainable connections, Global Food Security

How Cell Phones Can Help End World Hunger, National Geographic

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015, FAO

Let’s Help Create More Farmers, The New York Times

Agriculture will drive Africa’s rise to economic power, The Guardian

Increased carbon dioxide levels in air restrict plants’ ability to absorb nutrients, Science Daily

Leveraging Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture, The Chicago Council

Cracking the coconut: 4 ways to improve financial security for smallholder farmers, Devex

Commodity markets braced for El Niño impact, Financial Times

Exploring a missed opportunity: Microclimates, CGIAR [Read more…]

Farming for a better climate future

Katrin Glatzel

While negotiators from nearly 200 countries gather in Bonn to shape the negotiating text for a new global climate change agreement to be finalised at the 21st COP in Paris in December, more than we can imagine is at stake.

UNFCCCWe are on track to reach a world that is 3°C warmer than pre-industrial levels by mid-century – which, in itself is a daunting scenario. Yet, this is not just a problem of the future –many people across the world are already experiencing the (predominantly) negative impacts of global warming. Crops, grazing land, trees and livestock are inherently affected by climatic extremes such as heat or drought. In some African countries, reductions in yield for some crops could be as high as 50% by 2020. These impacts mostly affect the millions of smallholder farmers in developing countries who own one hectare of land or less and live on less than $1 a day. These are the people most vulnerable, yet with the least capacity and resilience to adapt to climate change.

In order to secure a livelihood for the most vulnerable people, especially under a changing climate, there is an urgent need to make food security an integral part of the climate change negotiations. It is important to understand that climate change not only affects yields, but also the quality and safety of food and its delivery to consumers in both developing and developed countries.   [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Is opposition to genetically modified food irrational?, BBC News

African bank joins in push to encourage young farmers, PAEPARD

Apollo plan on cheaper green energy seeks global backing, Thomson Reuters

IKEA pledges $1.3 billion for renewables and climate action, The Climate Group

The Importance of Understanding Urban Food Flows, The Chicago Council

A Proposal to Modify Plants Gives G.M.O. Debate New Life, New York Times

Agribusiness nervous as WHO cancer unit analyzes popular pesticide, Reuters

UNDP supports Kenyan farmers through climate change project, All Africa

Together we stand: A policy approach to reducing food loss in West Africa, Mongabay

Field study shows how a GM crop can have diminishing success at fighting off insect pest, Science Daily [Read more…]


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