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.

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

SA slow to act on African agricultural initiative

South Africa’s Interministerial Team is under pressure to start implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) , which wants the endorsement of the country with the most advanced agricultural production and value chain on the continent. There is a proposal to establish a road map to fast-track CAADP implementation, and bolster agricultural policy implementation within the CAADP framework, which is vital to reduce hunger and poverty on the continent. Read more here.
Hopewell Radebe, Businessday

Growing Little by Little

Many would argue it an impossible task; changing the farmer to consumer cycle in such a way that effectively feed the poor, create employment and reduce the impact on climate change. Yet from within Cape Town’s poorest areas, a farming revolution is underway. There is no one in sight except for older women hunched over well-maintained rows of healthy looking vegetable plants at the Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The protection afforded by the food tents, which cushion plants from the harsh elements, helps farmers to reduce the impact of inclement weather on their crops. They could, in the future, in other contexts across the region, help mitigate the effects of climate change and water shortages. Read more here.
Kwanele Sosibo

Idasa responds to Land Bank announcement

The Public Expenditure and Smallholder Agriculture Project in African democracy institute, Idasa, has welcomed the Land Bank’s commitment to spend 1 billion rands on emerging farmers in the next two years as a move to unlock the long-term potential growth of agriculture as one of the pillars of South Africa’s economic development. Please read attached press release for more information. Read more here.

Keeping secrets is not the way to make friends

South Africa’s proposed Protection of Information Bill, now back with the adhoc parliamentary committee for redrafting, is chillingly similar to Zimbabwe’s Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, warns Maddy Halyard of Idasa’s States in Transition Observatory (SITO). It could turn everyday citizens who posses protected intelligence, even unknowingly, into common criminals, while exempting intelligence agencies such as the NIA and the police force from public scrutiny. Read more here and comment below.

South Africa should lease farms to black farmers: bank

South Africa should consider leasing farms to previously disadvantaged black farmers with an option to buy to speed up land reform, a financial institution which gives loans to farmers said in a report released. South Africa set a target of handing over 30 percent of commercial farmland to blacks by 2014. But so far only about seven percent of the commercial farmland has been transferred to black farmers with government saying lack of funds to purchase land has constrained the process. According to the report to treasury, farmers needed to be provided with post-settlement support and lower interest rates to help them succeed. Read more here.
Reuters Africa

SADC centre for agricultural research launched in Botswana

Centre for the Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), which was established by SADC in 2010 under a charter, launched its center in Botswana on 14 July, 2011. The center is expected to coordinate joint regional research programmes in SADC, facilitate the sharing of research information and resources, as well as strengthen partnership and collaboration. In the launch, it has been emphasized that to keep pace with population growth and other life demands, research and technology development must remain focused and ahead of time. Africa must position herself to compete with the best in the global market. Read more here.
Angela Mdlalani

The Professor Robert Shell Lunch Time Talk at IDASA

Today’s Lunchtime Soapbox talk at Idasa’s Democracy Centre, 6 Spin Street (across from Church Square) will be a special session with noted South African historian Robert Shell.

He will speak about the Old Slave Lodge in Cape Town, which housed up to 1000 slaves.Slave-lodgings, lunatic asylum, police station, prison and brothel: these were some of the functions which the building at the entrance to the Company’s Gardens at the top of Adderley Street (the old Heerengracht), unashamedly fulfilled. The Lodge fused the dramatic themes of thraldom, perpetual servitude, sex and insanity into a fortress of misery which could provide South African novelists with the raw material of a hundred novels. This complex building was a forgotten crucible of colonialism and apartheid that helped perpetuate facets of colonial life which are still recognisable in present-day South Africa.

Robert Shell is extraordinary Professor of Historical Demography in the Statistics Department at the University of the Western Cape. His research interests cover slavery, Islam and also HIV/AIDS.

Date: 7 July 2011
Time: 12:30 for 1:00pm.

Prof. Shell’s talk will start at 1pm and go through 2:30pm

This is a special presentation with an extended Question & Answer session.

As always for these talks, a delicious “brown bag” lunch for R35 is available from the restaurant, 6 Spin Street.

African countries need to shift to more drought-resistant crops

A recent report by the climate change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research group says global warming will cause famine in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. CCAFS researchers focused their observations on the tropics and identified the regions with chronically-malnourished populations who are highly dependent on local food supplies. As many African areas are expected to become drier, countries such as South Africa whose agriculture is mainly based on maize farming can shift to more drought resistant crops. Countries such as Niger, however, will not have many options because they are already supporting themselves by very drought resistant crop varieties, such as sorghum and millet. Read more here.