Special report: Millions face starvation across Africa as land rush intensifies

A report released recently by Oxfam says that poor people, particularly in Africa, are hardest hit by a new wave of land deals. In many African countries, local residents regularly lose their land to elites, domestic or foreign investors, because they lack the power to claim their rights effectively or to defend and advance their interests. According to the report, in developing countries, as many as 227 million hectares of land – an area the size of Western Europe – has been sold or leased since 2001, mostly to international investors. Thus, there is a general fear that this surge in large-scale acquisition of land for investment will do more harm than good if land grabbing is not stopped. Read more here.
The Citizen

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Ties that bind: Building climate resilient smallholder agriculture networks in Africa

As governments and regional actors around the world gear up to engage in COP17 Durban, South Africa, it is essential for all stakeholders including farmers’ organisations to have structured engagement and interaction with the ongoing climate deliberations and outcomes. The public expenditure and smallholder agricultural project of Idasa hosted a roundtable discussion on how best to develop climate-resilient smallholder agriculture communities around Africa and how best to shape stakeholder interest in the way climate-based policies and finances are shaping future development and common outcomes in the sector. In this second seminar series, stakeholders discussed the impact of climate change in Africa and mechanisms in creating integrated climate resilient strategies. Panelists, including farmers and CSO leaders from Zambia and South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal Province, shared their experiences in building climate resilient communities. Read more here.
Idasa

Africa expects deal on agriculture at COP 17

African negotiators at the upcoming COP 17 in Durban should push for a binding and responsible climate deal on agriculture. Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) CEO, Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, said African negotiators should make it their priority to secure a deal that will promote food security for climate change not to wreak havoc any further on the African continent. African political leadership should hold accountable those who will be negotiating on behalf of the continent. It is important for Africa to use COP 17 to push for a better global environment, improved agricultural productivity and land use. Read more here.
Nthambeleni Gabara

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

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

‘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