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.

New infographics portal : Everything you wanted to know about Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, CCAFS

The seeds of a new generation, New York Times

Growth soars in sustainable commodities, but poorest producers miss out, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Small is Beautiful – four aims for positive land management, Thinking Country

The danger of trusting corporations to lead the fight against world hunger, Triple Crisis

First African study on biodiversity in genetically modified maize finds insects abundant, EurekAlert

Africa’s Green Revolution Is Ready to Go – Just Add Investments, AllAfrica.com

Should African farmers be able to choose GM crops?, B4FA [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.

African agriculture needs trade not aid, SciDev.Net

World’s first global Meat Atlas – facts and figures about what we eat, Friends of the Earth

World food prices stay high, but steady, FAO

‘Sugar is the new tobacco’: Cuts to amounts hidden in food could halt obesity epidemic, claim doctors, The Independent

Women Farmers in Chile to Teach the Region Agroecology, IPS

Big Beef, Washington Monthly

The Future of Agriculture Requires Dialogue, Huffington Post

Storming the ivory towers: Time for scientists to get out, ‘get social’, to learn better, faster–Nature commentary, ILRI

Drought tolerant maize varieties ready, The East African

A new horizon for African-European research links, Sci Dev.Net

A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops, The New York Times

14 Food Resolutions to Bring in the New Year, Huffington Post

Food security: an urban issue, The Guardian

Global farm research consortium doubles funding to $1 billion, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Big Ag’s Gifts for 2013, Huffington Post

Exclusive: Make food and drink corporations ‘account for water usage’, says scientist, The Independent

 

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.

Biosafety of GM Crops in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, CSIS

New African academy to nurture nutritious “orphan” crops, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Some GMO Crops Are on the Same Side as Their Opponents, MIT Technology Review

Farm Researcher CGIAR Budget Rises to $1 Billion in Hunger Fight, Bloomberg

Food security: an urban issue, The Guardian

Lost Freshwater May Double Climate Change Effects On Agriculture, Science Daily

Why we will need genetically modified foods, MIT Technology Review [Read more…]

Agroecosystems: the future of sustainable farming

Managing-Water-and-Agroecosystems-for-Food-SecurityA new book launched last month at World Water Week in Stockholm sets out the challenges the world faces in feeding a growing population in the face of severe resource constraints and climate change. Authors of the book, the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), emphasise the importance of adopting a new way of farming, viewing farms as interfaces between achieving global food security and environmental protection or in other words as agroecosystems.

With a focus on water, the book details the importance of ecosystem services for the direct provision of food and as the ecological foundation upon which agriculture rests. In a recent UK government report ecosystem services were estimated to benefit the UK economy by as much as £1.6 billion per year with pollinators contributing some 13% of the country’s annual income from farming. Not only are these services under threat from farming systems that degrade the resource base but from such global hazards as climate and demographic change.

The book, Managing Water and Agroecosystems for Food Security, not only details the challenges we face in providing enough food to feed the population and the importance of water for agriculture and a range of other ecosystem services, it also provides practical approaches to managing water for agroecosystems. For example, increasing water productivity across a range of food producing industries as well as market mechanisms such as Payments for Ecosystems Services. As the authors acknowledge, however, an agroecosystems approach will require societal and political change at the local, landscape and global levels.

Appropriate technology to feed the planet

ID-100143278As we know the world faces the challenge of feeding a growing population in the context of a changing climate. Weather events currently impacting crop production are only expected to get more frequent and more severe. As a new report published by The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation and the London School of Economics, entitled Feeding the planet in a warming world. Building resilient agriculture through innovation, argues this challenge will require an agricultural system as well as individual crops that are more resilient to future shocks and stresses.

The report also argues that current policies to achieve a more resilient agricultural sector fail to recognise the inadequacy of relying only on existing technologies. While overcoming global socio-economic barriers to accessing and disseminating such appropriate technologies should be a priority this in itself is not enough. Authors claim that we will also require “critical, game-changing solutions for building global agricultural resilience”.  In particular new higher-yielding and more nutritious crop varieties that use less water while being more resistant to pests and diseases and more tolerant of weather extremes: heat, cold, flooding, drought. This includes the use of ‘demonstrably safe’ genetically modified (GM) crops. As the report states, “Agriculture will need every existing tool in the box, as well as the development of new ones.” [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

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

Feeding China’s pigs: Implications for the environment, China’s smallholder farmers and food security, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Global partnership launched to drive Africa’s agricultural research, SciDev.Net

New U.S. Biofuel Proposals Could Draw Heavily from Food Sources, Inter Press Service

Burkina Faso cotton output soars 57.5% due to GMOs –producers, Reuters

Community radio helps Cameroonians track climate change, AlertNet

Innovation is the future for Europe, Financial Times

FAO calls for governmental support for Agroforestry, Farming Online

Monsanto introduces another seed variety, The Daily Times

Ground water and climate change, Nature

Incentives to Mitigate Climate Change

In a new policy brief published in August 2012, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)summarizes the outcomes from a FAO–CCAFS expert workshop on Smallholder Mitigation: Mitigation Options and Incentive Mechanisms held in Rome in July 2011. The brief deals not only with ways in which smallholders can reduce greenhouse gas emissions originating from their farms but also the incentives needed if they are to adopt such practices.

74% of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions originate in low and middle income countries where much of the workforce is comprised of smallholder farmers. Yet there are few systems in place in many of these countries in which farmers can receive a direct payment for their mitigation activities. For many smallholder farmers their priorities may be to feed their family and increase their income and security rather than mitigating climate change, which mean mitigation activities, must serve multiple goals without jeopardising the farmers own needs if they are to be adopted. [Read more…]