February 2010 Newsflashes

Protect food security with irrigation in Malawi
The green belt program seeks to make Malawi independent of rain-fed agriculture. The plan is to protect the gains in food security, reduce vulnerability to drought, diversify crops and to boost production by irrigation, using the Lake Malawi-Shire River stretch. The land holding is through the creation of ownership of the irrigations schemes by local farmer organizations, subsidized by the government. Read this story here.

One Million Casualties of Land Reform
About a million farm workers have been evicted from farms in Zimbabwe since the land reform program started in the year 2000. The reform might work if the lands are handed to the government, and if the government distributes to landless people by promoting better smallholder agriculture. Read this story here.

Keeping Wetlands from Becoming Wastelands
Wetlands are useful in tourism, development, food security and biodiversity. In Seychelles, they provide economic and conservation benefits through fisheries and agricultural production, flood control, shoreline stabilization. But climate change is the major threat to wetlands and sensitive planning is required to balance benefits for both humans and nature. Read more here.

Herders to get insurance
In northern Kenya herders will be able to purchase insurance policies for their livestock, based on a project launched by ILRI. The program will use satellite images of grass and other vegetation to assess the state of grazing land. The insurance is valuable even without the deaths of livestock because it can be used to obtain credit to buy feed or drugs for animals. Read this story here.

Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI)
The convergence of global crises in food, energy, finance and the environment has driven a dramatic revaluation of land ownership. LDPI focuses on a broad framework encompassing the economy, ecology and sociology of land deals centered on food, biofuels, minerals and conservation. Read this story here.

Strengthening agricultural policy in Africa
AGRA launched an initiative to empower African governments to shape home-grown agricultural policies that provide comprehensive support to smallholder farmers. An initial focus is in five countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique and Tanzania). The aim is to strengthen African agricultural policy-making capacity through training agricultural policy analysts; bolstering policy think tanks; establishing data banks to support evidence-based policy development; and coordinating national policy hubs. Read more here.

Farmer-to-Farmer (FTF) Program
FTF places emphasis on economic impact and measurable results, building institutions and transferring technology and management expertise that link small farmers with markets. Read this story here.

Small farmers break into new markets
High commodity prices, growing demand for biofuels, booming consumer demand in the cities, and growing markets for organic and Fair-trade products could all work in favor of small farmers, who can break into these growing markets through organizing and upgrading their production. Read this story here.

Fadama helps to market and deliver crops
In much of Nigeria the Fadama project, which is funded by the government and the World Bank, focuses on the marketing, delivering and selling of crops, and provides storage facilities and machinery. The project relies on the government and local communities to contribute either in cash, labor, or land. Read this story here.

Nigeria’s Task Before Yar’Adua in 2010
Nigeria’s government needs to create policies and programs aimed at restoring the agricultural sector to its pride of place in the nation’s economy. But to attract investment in to agriculture, the conditions of low productivity, poor response to technology, and poor returns to investment in agriculture need to be improved. Read more here.

Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural Africa Plan Products (ASNAPP)
ASNAPP provides supply chain services to accelerate poverty reduction as specified in the AU/NEPAD action plan. The program will be implemented Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, and Zambia. It drives its services directly towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, focusing on capacity building, advocacy, farmer mobilisation and rural enterprise development and others. Read this story here.

The Backpack Farm Program contains all the necessary materials to get started in farming, including seeds of drought resistant and local crop varieties, a drip Irrigation Kit, a 500 litre collapsible water tank, plant nutrition, pesticides, and tools. The program aims to help Kenyans feed themselves through eco-friendly farming. Read the story here.

Africans can fight warming climate
A new study shows that most farmers in Africa should be able to surpass current yields despite predicted rises in temperature. Scientists found that basic techniques such as fertilizer use, rainfall management, and crop rotations would compensate for adverse climate trends in the semi-arid tropics. Read the story here.

GM crops not a panacea for poor farmers
Genetically modified (GM) crops have been used by small-scale farmers and widely commercialised in developing countries including South Africa. They have recently been approved in Burkina Faso. Some GM products can help farmers control pests and avoid crop losses. Read this story here.

Beans climb to new heights in Rwanda
Climbing beans suited to rainy high-altitude areas are being distributed in Rwanda after a decade of research. The beans are resistant to legume diseases, high yield and take only 4 month to mature. Read this story here.

Plan to double banana yields
Over 70 million people in the East African highlands depend on banana as their primary source of food and income. This study in Uganda found that many banana growers in the region don’t use fertilisers, and may be missing the opportunity to maximize crop food security and economic potentials. Read this story here.

Support for land administration
This project responds to a real demand for tools to develop and maintain land registration processes. The project will help FAO member countries to test and adopt low-cost open source technology for land records maintenance. The project will first be piloted in Ghana. Read more here.

New database on gender and land
A new database launched by FAO puts the spotlight on one of the major set backs to rural development – widespread inequalities between men and women in their access to land. See more about the database here (currently hosts information about 78 countries).

New solution for Congo food crisis
A South American research group may have found another way to fill hungry bellies: with guinea pigs. Guinea pigs (cute pets) could provide war-battered villages with a needed source of protein and micro-nutrients in a country with some of the highest incidences of malnutrition the world. Read more here.

Framework for food security
A conference, with theme ‘A 21st Century Framework for Food Security in Africa’, discussed best practices aimed at increasing crop yields in the face of declining production and rising populations. Recommend policy changes will enable small-holder farmers to produce more food and get it to the market. Red more here.


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