Girls are key to food security in poor countries, says report

Adolescent girls and women are fundamental to unlocking the full potential of agricultural development and feeding the world, according to Chicago think-tank. For instance, in a dusty field in Kitui, eastern Kenya, farmers are being taught how to construct small, semi-circular barriers of earth that control the flow of water, slowing its run-off. Moreover, most of these smallholder farmers are women, which is common in Kenya and South Sudan. The report goes into some of the important cultural barriers girls and women face – marital and inheritance laws that often exclude them from inheriting or securing access to land and other assets critical to increasing productivity, despite their role in the agricultural sector. Read more here.
Guardian

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UN: Food prices likely to remain volatile, high

Prices for rice, wheat and other key foods are expected to remain volatile and possibly increase and poor farmers and consumers particularly in Africa will be hurt most, the U.N. food agencies said in its annual report. A study also predicted that prices will be 20 percent higher for cereals and up to 30 percent higher for meat in the coming decade compared with the past 10 years. There is urgency for greater long-term investment in the agriculture sectors of poor countries so farmers can bolster production to meet increasing demand and cope better when food crises hit. Read more here.
Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Ten thousand farmers in Northern Ghana to benefit from N2 Africa Project

About 10 000 farmers from six districts of the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana will benefit from a project known as the N2 Africa Project by the end of the year. The project, which would run until 2013, seeks to introduce farmers to newly improved soya bean, cowpea and groundnut seeds, rhizobuim inoculants and chemical fertilisers such as Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) and Muriate of Potash to promote legume production. The project is being financed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To achieve the targets, it is important to strengthen partnerships among farmers associations, government, research institutions and others.Read more here.
Ghana News Agency

Agriculture investment, empowering women key to food security: FAO

Leaders from the international community met in Rome on Oct 17, 2011 to celebrate World Food Day, and called for more investment in agriculture and moves to empower women to ensure global food security. “Food prices – from crisis to stability” was this year’s World Food Day theme, after five consecutive years of unstable and often rising food prices, which currently stand close to record levels, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Greater investment said to be key to mitigating food price fluctuations and building poor people and nations’ resilience. Read more here.
Xinhua

‘Fertilizer’ trees help African farmers increase yields

Extension programmes aimed at helping African farmers grow crops more efficiently are showing some good results. Many subsistence farmers are using fertilizer trees to help enrich depleted soils. In many cases, the trees, which fix nitrogen in the soil, have doubled yields of maize. Fertilizer trees enhance soil health by drawing nitrogen from the air and transferring it to the soil through their roots and leaf litter, replenishing exhausted soils with rich sources of organic nutrients. Scientists at the World Agro-forestry Centre have been working since the 1980s to identify indigenous tree species, such as a fast growing variety of acacia that can be planted alongside crops to improve soil fertility. It’s a hopeful sign for a continent battered by weather extremes, famine and record food prices. Read more here.
Summit Voice

Farming to banish famine

A programme launched by Osun State Government, Nigeria, has its focus on granting assistance in finance, materials and equipment to individual farmers and farmers’ cooperative societies with a view to boosting their scope of operation, productivity and ensuring abundance in food production and raw materials for existing and emerging industries. The Osun Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Programme (OREAP) has distinguished itself already by winning widespread acceptance by the people who view it as a step in the right direction. Read more here.
Osun Defender

Farmers, processors introduced to value-added crops

Farmers and food processors from across Ghana have been exposed to improved crop varieties to increase yield and add value to production. Researchers at the Crops Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have also been engaging the farmers in best practices to increase productivity at the farm gate. The Institute has developed new cassava, yam, sweet potato and cocoyam commodities, emanating from the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP). The objective of the programme is to generate and disseminate improved technologies in the West Africa region and achieve a 25 percent increase in the productivity of the main agricultural sectors. Read more here.
Kofi Adu Domfeh