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

‘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

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

Connected agriculture: a new wave of opportunity for farmers

It has long been known that mobile phones can transform lives in Africa. But as a surge in demand for food in emerging economies puts intense pressure on vulnerable smallholder farmers, it is clear that wireless communications must be used more effectively to tackle a potential crisis of productivity and sustainability in remote rural regions. The question is why such a ubiquitous and simple tool has not been applied more creatively. As land becomes scarce, intensive farming practices need to be combined with approaches that protect natural resources from unsustainable exploitation. In many emerging countries, well over half of people have mobile phone access and many already benefit from wireless money transfer and other services. But as the world calls on smallholder farmers to improve the efficiency of food production while safeguarding the environment, it is time to exploit this affordable and easily deployed technology to its full potential. Read more here.
Guardian

Network to Increase Credit to Agriculture

Agriculture is set for increased funding, following the establishment of a network by the East African Community. The East Africa Agriculture Finance Network, which is sponsored by USAID, will constitute banks, insurance firms, co-operatives, venture capitalists, private equity funds and investors, government representatives and regulators, regional economic communities and small-and-medium enterprises. Across Africa, many bank officials had little knowledge on agriculture and could, therefore, not make decisions fast enough on funding projects. Read more here.
Mwaniki Wahome