putting family farmers first to eradicate hunger

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a youth in a rice farm

16 October  2014, Rome -Nine out of ten of the world’s 570 million farms are managed by families, making the family farm the predominant form of agriculture, and consequently a potentially crucial agent of change in achieving sustainable food security and in eradicating hunger in the future, according to a new U.N. report released today.

Family farms produce about 80 percent of the world’s food. Their prevalence and output mean they “are vital to the solution of the hunger problem” afflicting more than 800 million people, FAO Director-General wrote in the introduction to FAO’s new State of Food and Agriculture 2014 report

Family farms are also the custodians of about 75 percent of all agricultural resources in the world, and are therefore key to improved ecological and resource sustainability. They are also among the most vulnerable to the effects of resource depletion and climate change.

FAO report urges enabling the world’s half billion family farmers to be agents of change

While evidence shows impressive yields on land managed by family farmers, many smaller farms are unable to produce enough to provide decent livelihoods for the families.

Family farming is thus faced with a triple challenge: yield growth to meet the world’s need for food security and better nutrition; environmental sustainability to protect the planet and to secure their own productive capacity; and productivity growth and livelihood diversification to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. According to the SOFA report, all these challenges mean that family farmers must innovate.

“In all cases, family farmers need to be protagonists of innovation as only this way can they take ownership of the process and ensure that the solutions offered respond to their needs,” Graziano da Silva said. “Family farming is a key component of the healthy food systems we need to lead healthier lives.”

The report calls for the public sector, working with farmers, civil society organizations and the private sector, to improve innovation systems for agriculture. Agricultural innovation systems include all the institutions and actors that support farmers in developing and adopting better ways of working in today’s increasingly complex world. Innovation capacity must be promoted at various levels, with incentives for farmers, researchers, advisory service providers and integrated value chains to interact and create networks and partnerships to share information, SOFA says.

Policy makers must also consider the diversity of family farms in terms of size, technologies used, and integration into markets, as well as their ecological and socio-economic settings. This diversity means that farmers need different things from an innovation system. Still, all farms need better governance, macroeconomic stability, physical and institutional market infrastructure, education as well as basic agricultural research, according to SOFA.

Public investment in agricultural research as well as extension and advisory services – which should be designed to be more participatory – must be increased to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing the yield and labor productivity gaps characterizing farm sectors in many developing nations.

Although agricultural research by private companies is increasing, public-sector investment remains indispensable to ensure research in areas of little interest to the private sector – such as basic research, orphan crops or sustainable production practices. Such research constitutes a public good with many potential beneficiaries.

Family farms are vital

The FAO report offers a rich set of new details about family farms. Most family farms are small. Eighty-four percent of the world’s farms are less than two hectares in size. However, farm sizes vary widely. Indeed, farms larger than 50 hectares – including many family farms –  occupy two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land.

In many high-income and upper-middle-income countries, large farms, responsible for most agricultural production, account for most farm land. But in most low- and lower-middle-income countries, small and medium-sized farms occupy most farm land and produce most of the food.

Small farms produce a higher share of the world’s food relative to the share of land they use, as they tend to have higher yields than larger farms within the same countries and agro-ecological settings.

However, the higher productivity of land on family farms involves lower labor productivity, which perpetuates poverty and hinders development. Much of the world’s food production involves of unpaid labor by family members.

The report emphasizes that it is imperative to boost output per worker, especially in low-income countries, in order to lift farm incomes and expand rural economic welfare in general.
Currently, farm sizes are becoming smaller and smaller in most developing countries, where many smallholder farm households derive the bulk of their income from off-farm activities.

Policies should aim to increase access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizers as well as to markets and credit, according to SOFA.

Effective and inclusive producer organizations can support innovation by members, helping them gain access to markets, and facilitating linkages with others in the innovation system, besides ensuring that family farms have a voice in policy making, the report emphasizes.

To encourage family farmers to invest in sustainable agricultural practices, which often have high start-up costs and long pay-off periods, authorities should seek to provide an enabling environment for innovation.

Policies meant to catalyze innovation will need to go beyond technology transfer, according to SOFA. They must also be inclusive and tailored to local contexts, so that farmers have ownership of innovation, and take gender and intergenerational issues into consideration, involving youth in the future of the agricultural sector.

source:http//fao.org/news/story/

photocredit: David Adeniyi

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kunun aya, ofio, the tigernut

tiger nuts or ofio

Tiger nuts are abundant in Nigeria and I used to eat lots of them in my younger years. when I was in the western part of the country,I imagined every time I eat them where they are from and how they are planted.To eat it as a snack, just chew and suck on the chaff then spit out the chaff. Some people swallow the chaff but it is quite difficult for me to swallow. I sometimes wonder why I have to punish myself to chew especially the dried ones after all there is no day I chew that I don’t cough. I couldn’t just fathom why people enjoy eating it.prior to my knowledge about it I felt not only did it make me cough while chewing, it seems it has no nutritional value or so I thought. In the west we call it ofio and as far as we are concern we will rather chew that than chew gum.The annoying thing about it is that if it is not properly manage it can make an environment dirty.

I came to the northern part of the country and every tom, dick and Harry is drinking kunun aya and I asked , what is this?

After so many questions I realised that the ofio I felt was a necessary evil in the west does not only have nutrional value it is also a big source of livelihood, then I remember a part of a book that says people perish for lack of knowledge. Aya as it is called in the north has a lot of benefits that we do not even realize and I’m increasingly realizing that a lot more can be done with it apart from chewing and spitting it out or swallowing it for the fiber property. I made some tiger nut milk by blending the tiger nuts and squeezing the juices out of it the same way you would do with coconut.

fig 1 flow chart showing extraction of milk from tigernut

Tigernut is an underutilized crop and it was reported to be high in dietary fibre content, which could be effective in the treatment and prevention of many diseases including colon cancer, coronary heart diseases, obesity, diabetics and gastro intestinal disorders. Tigernut flour has been demonstrated to be a rich source of quality oil and contains moderate amount of protein. It is also an excellent source of some useful minerals such as iron and calcium which are essential for body growth and development . The process of flour production is as shown in Fig. 2. Its tubers are also said to be aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, stimulant and tonic. Tigernut has also been reported to be used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, diarrhoea, dysentery and excessive thirst . In addition, tigernut has been demonstrated to contain higher essential amino acids than those proposed in the protein standard by the FAO/WHO (1985) for satisfying adult needs . Tigernut milk has been found to be good for the Arteriosclerosis which contains Arginina which is a precursor of nitric oxide which helps to the vein expanded effect. Tigernut milk without sugar can be taken for diabetics for its content in Carbohydrates which is a base of sucrose and starch (without glucose) and due to its content of Arginina which liberates the hormone that produces the insulin. Tigernut milk is also an ideal drink for people who are not able to take gluten and also for those who are  not able to take cow’s milk and derivatives. It could also be recommended for those who have heavy digestions, flatulence and diarrhea because it provides us a lot of digestive enzymes like catalase, lipase and amylase (TIGERNUTS TRADERS).

fig 2 Flow chart showing processing of tigernut into flour

Considering the nutritive and health benefits of the underutilized tigernuts, there is the need for increased utilization and awareness of its health benefits. Moreover it is suggested that products from Tigernuts should be encouraged so as to solve the problem of protein-calorie malnutrition in Africa, more so that high price of imported milk and milk products (for instance) coupled with poor milk production in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general seem to have made consumers more ready to accept milk produced from plant sources.

Sustainable agricultural intensification: Tackling food insecurity in a resource-scarce world

By Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Katy Wilson.

Reblogged from AlertNet

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ID-10029986 (2)Today, the world is searching for solutions to a series of global challenges unprecedented in their scale and complexity. Food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change, rural poverty and environmental degradation are all among them.

A recent meeting hosted by the Irish government and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ) in Dublin convened experts and practitioners from around the globe to discuss how the next iteration of development goals following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can respond to this set of challenges, as part of the so-called “post-2015” development agenda.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to these threats as both supply-side and demand-side challenges are putting additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. Indeed, current systems of production will only be able to meet 13 percent of the continent’s food needs by 2050, while three out of four people added to the planet between now and 2100 will be born in the region.

Improving agricultural yields efficiently and sustainably must be central in addressing Africa’s food insecurity challenges. This calls for “sustainable intensification”.

Sustainable intensification offers a framework for producing more food with less impact on the environment, intensifying food production while ensuring the natural resource base on which agriculture depends is sustained, and indeed improved, for future generations.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the term has taken on a highly politicised meaning, with some arguing it is synonymous with industrial agriculture reliant on a high use of fertilisers and pesticides. But this does not have to be the case.

The term’s original scientific intent was for it to be relevant to all types of agricultural systems, including smallholder farmers in Africa. It is now time that the term is re-embraced to help meet the challenges we face as a global population of 9 billion people by the year 2050.

REPORT POINTS THE WAY

A new report from the Montpellier Panel, an eminent panel of international experts led by Sir Gordon Conway of Agriculture for Impact, provides innovative thinking and examples of how sustainable intensification can be used by smallholder African farmers to address the continent’s food and nutrition crisis.

It defines sustainable intensification as “producing more outputs with more efficient use of all inputs on a durable basis, while reducing environmental damage and building resilience, natural capital and the flow of environmental services”.

Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture begins by examining the process and elements of intensification itself, before considering how we then ensure that the Intensification process is sustainable and can be scaled up by combining ecological, genetic and socio-economic approaches to intensification.

Far from radical, promising examples of sustainable intensification are already being seen throughout Africa and are the brainchild of the very people who are at the frontline of food insecurity.

For instance, some 200 million sub-Saharan Africans face serious water shortages. Among them are farmers living on the sun-baked soils of northwest Burkina Faso. They have pioneered a novel method of conserving water on their farms by digging medium-sized holes called zai (or water pockets) in rows across the fields during the dry season.

Once each zai fills up with leaves, farmers add manure, which attracts termites during the dry months. The termites in turn create an extensive network of underground tunnels beneath the holes and bring up nutrients from the deeper soils. When the rainy season finally arrives, rainwater is captured in the zais which are sown with sorghum or millet seed.

Farmers have consistently reported greatly increased yields using this technique. A key factor in the spread of zai adoption was the student-teacher system which sees those being trained in the process continuing to educate other farmers.

GAME-CHANGING TECHNOLOGIES

If sustainable intensification is to meet both current and future food and resource needs, we will need to utilise existing methods, such as zai, as well as develop new game-changing technologies.

One ongoing project, the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) partnership, aims to develop some 15 new drought-tolerant maize varieties, which will be marketed royalty-free to smallholder farmers in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania.

Developed through conventional breeding, marker-assisted selection and genetic engineering, the next phase of the project is developing maize varieties also resistant to pests such as stem borers, which may present even more of a barrier to increasing agricultural productivity in a changing climate.

And sustainable Intensification isn’t limited to crops. Livestock breeders have long used cross-breeding to increase or intensify desirable traits such as milk or meat yields and suitability to local conditions.

One such cross between the taurine cattle (Bos taurus), a high-yielding milk producer from temperate climes, and the humped zebu cattle (Bos indicus), native to the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia and highly suited to drought conditions, has combined adaptability and productivity successfully. Indeed in the Kilifi plantation near Mombasa in Kenya, a rotational crossing scheme alternating with bulls from the two breeds has resulted in Sahiwal x British Ayrshire crosses producing 3,000 kg of milk per year, mainly from pasture.

Many who have criticised sustainable intensification have done so because of its highly technological focus. But under this new paradigm, the socio-economic factors that must underpin it are equally emphasised. Sustainable intensification will not be transformative without developing innovative and sustainable institutions on the farm, in the community and across regions and nations as a whole.

STILL SMALL SCALE

Markets are key to reducing poverty. Only through improved access to markets can poor farmers increase their incomes and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Yet, most poor farmers are not linked to markets. Smallholders, in particular, often have little contact with the market and hence a poor understanding of, and ability to react to, market forces.

One answer lies in creating village-level ‘grain banks’, owned and run by a farmer association, for depositing their grain. The store is usually fumigated against pests, some grain is kept in case the owner needs it later in the year, and the rest is sold when prices seem right (rather than immediately after harvest when prices are typically at their lowest).

In such a system in Kenya, the marketing depends on having a countrywide network of small and large markets. This network is supported by the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE), a private-sector firm that provides farmers with prices and other market intelligence accessible to smallholders using a mobile phone SMS system.

Despite promising results, many examples of sustainable intensification in Africa are small in scale and scope, and geographically isolated. What we need now is to link, combine and take to scale proven technologies, processes and systems, while investing in new solutions for the future.

The challenges are complex, as are the technologies and processes required to find appropriate solutions. The paradigm of sustainable intensification shows a viable way forward in advancing the progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals and ushering in a new era of growth, resilience and development in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda is chief executive of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and Katy Wilson is an associate with Agriculture for Impact (A4I).

Promoting the role of women in Agribusiness

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  By Gena Lubem

The responsibility placed on the shoulders of women in the rural areas to meet the daily food need of most families cannot be overemphasized. More often than not, they make significant contribution to food production and processing, but men seem to take more of the farm decisions and control the productive resources. For instance, in the area of land acquisition, in the rural areas, the women seems to be completely relegated to the background and made to depend entirely on the piece that the men folk may ‘graciously’ apportion to them.

In fact, it has been alleged in some quarters that as women play a dominant role in agricultural production; agriculture appears to be the occupation of 70.3 per cent of Nigeria rural women.

While presenting a paper on the topic: “Gender Issues in Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria: The Role of Women”, Yemisi I. Ogunlela and  Aisha A. Mukhtar, of departments of Public Administration, Faculty of Administration and Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, noted that, in as-much-as, such is the plight of women “yet it is known that agriculture has the largest chunk of the poor for women, the poverty is compounded by the fact that only 8 percent of women hold title to the land they work on”.

Most farmers in Nigeria operate at the subsistence, smallholder level in an extensive agricultural system; hence in their hands lies the country’s food security and agricultural development. Particularly striking, however, is the fact that rural women, more than their male counterparts, take the lead in agricultural activities, making up to 60-80 percent of labour force. It is ironical that their contributions to agriculture and rural development are seldom noticed. Furthermore, they have either no or minimal part in the decision-making process regarding agricultural development.

Gender inequality is therefore dominant in the sector and this constitutes a bottleneck. The women-in-agriculture programme in Nigeria, which was established in cognizance of this and the shortcomings  in  extension services for women farmers, saw the emergence of women groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil societies that gave rural women farmers a voice in order to effectively champion their cause. Even at that, many barriers remain and would have to be addressed to further enhance their role. Rural women farmers deserve better recognition and greater appreciation of their tangible contributions to agriculture and rural development as well as food security.

For the whole of Nigeria, economic considerations are a major determinant of the extent to which women are involved in farming and agro business related activities, as against processing and trading. Once men move out of farming into such non-farm occupations as factory work, mining and distribution of industrial goods, women take up food production for home consumption and for sale, regardless of which ethnic group they belong to, although in relative terms the restricting influence of some religion on the women in some parts of the country must be acknowledged.

The women are mainly involved in the production, processing and trading of such food crops as maize, rice, cassava, yam and palm oil. They are rarely connected with agricultural export crops such as cocoa, cotton and groundnuts.

Even though in the past, some woman farmers organizations and the civil society were established to harmonise the role of women involved in agriculture related activities with that of their men counterparts, no concrete achievement was not recorded in that regards. Such groups which confronted the issues in the 80s included Women Farmers’ Advancement Network (WOFAN) and Women-in-Agriculture in Nigeria (WAN) among others.

While writing in one of the national dailies,    Michael Aderohunmu insisted that, “the sector needs to advance and leverage on knowledge and capacity to transform ideas into marketable products that result in new business value addition. This is essential because trends and dynamic business environment require organisations to quickly sense market change and detect where the future demand may be. Redundancy from these financial institutions as a result of the reforms of the banking and financial institutions generally can be a potential human resource for the agribusiness sector, because the sector is a very dynamic and innovative one that has the capacity to absolve, train women in agribusiness knowledge and skill acquisition”.

Coming at the heels of the establishment of the ministry exclusively set aside to address the plight of women in all its ramification in Nigeria, more efforts aimed at alleviating the plight of women in the country were said to squarely placed at the doorstep of the minister in charge of the ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

The general understanding has been that, women in the rural areas need access to basic resources like revolving fund that would serve as social support initiative.  Activities of such fund would greatly contribute to the success of the Agriculture Transformation Agenda, ATA, of the present administration as well as fast track the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Nigeria.

Again, as women contribute significantly to the development of the sector in terms of what is consumed in the country, the Nigerian government should make it possible for women to massively enjoy the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Women in Agriculture in order to raise the access bar of women to agricultural land, inputs and resources, as well as make them benefit from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) programme.

There is also an urgent need to put in place systematic and comprehensive strategies to empower women in rural areas to maximize their potential which has a tendency of combating extreme poverty and hunger, and help them facilitate sustainable development in their communities.

If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline because  empowering women requires a transformation in the way governments devise budgets, make and enforce laws and policies with the aim of including trade and agricultural policies that will engender small and medium, enterprises businesses.

No wonder in the 56th Special Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, New York, United States it was stressed that, all the structural, cultural, social and economic barriers that prevent rural women from participating fully in the economic and political life of their countries must be eliminated.

Soursop (Shawachop)

There are many fruit that most people simply don’t know about, and  soursop, also known as guyabano, is just one of them. it has a white fleshy inside,with black little seeds,like water melon.on the outside,its green,with spikes all over d body.its about the size of a pawpaw fruit,or abit smaller.the first time I saw this fruit was in a friend’s house and I asked

what is this?
He said it’s called shawachop then I asked again is that even an English word?

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While the fruit is not as well known as others and is less researched, soursop health benefits are still worthy of note. If you want to expand your mind with knowledge of a fruit you probably never knew existed, continue onward to see what soursop is and what it has to offer.
The graviola tree grows in warm tropical areas such as the Philippines and South America. Known as a sedative, a nerve tonic, and used to maintain proper intestinal health, guyabano is just one medicinal tool stemming from the graviola tree. Throughout history, each part of the graviola tree, such as the bark, leaves, roots, fruit, and seeds have been used for medicinal purposes. The seeds have been used to treat nausea and vomiting, while herbal medicine practitioners recommend using the fruit and leaves to relieve stomach distress, pain, cough, asthma, and fever.
soursop is known to being rich in vitamin C and B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin
Soursop can be used for
1.Respiratory issues such as asthma or cough
2.Pain
3.Headaches or migraines
4.Intestinal upset, constipation, and stomach distress
5.Fever
6.Iron deficiency anemia
7.Urinary tract infections
8.Lack of energy
just enjoy the soursop fruit, or, try it if you never have! Am so sure I am.

Starting up a poultry business

Poultry farming has become one of the most important aspects of agriculture for some reasons.

1. It create business opportunity for Entrepreneurs

2. It provides employment for job seeking citizens

3. It is the kind of business that can never dry up

4. It brings in lot of income Poultry farming is very profitable.

A good poultry farmer earns above 10 million baits per annum depending on how big the farm is. All these benefits are open to you if you start your own poultry farm today. There are basically three types of chicken.

1. The pullets popularly known as Layers: Layers are reared for egg production and most lucrative but more stressing compare to the other once.

2. The Broiler Chicken: Broilers are reared for meat production; The Broilers grows very faster and are ready for sale at 12 weeks from hatch.

3. The third is the cockerel: This is also reared for meat production. . Cockerels grow slower and can take up to twenty four weeks before they are matured for marketing. Cockerels are reliable in terms of survival and withstanding bad weathers. They are more resilient, and can absorb shocks far better than Layers and Broilers.

Poultry farming  requires having the right knowledge to be able to the right things to get the right result. It requires hard work and prompt attention to details. Poultry Farming is little capital intensive but if you are starting on a micro scale (Home back yard) where you have a small space at your back yard, it is not. Starting small is the best way to enter and learn the business. Before you venture into poultry farming business , you need to seat back and do proper planning; make sure you have an idea of all the costs involved. Currently they seem to be no high poultry farms in nigeria like the ones in Europe, USA and other counties. Any investor who has the needed capital to venture into it will have reasons to smile within a short period of time. If you are ready to get started in poultry farming  these are the basic requirements you need to set up your farm.

LAND: The no 1 thing you need to get is land. a plot of land of 120 x 60 square meters is okay for setting up medium scale poultry farm at least for a start. Once you have land that is big enough for your farm set up, almost half of your needs have been taken care of. Land is the hardest and the most expensive part of poultry business . Look for land in a rural area or in farms. There you will get lands cheaper, stays out of trouble and do your production there, while your products will be transported to the urban area for sell. It will be good if you can get your own poultry farm land and build a permanent farm rather than to rent. When you rent, the owner might decide to send you packing and relocating always comes with huge cost.

CAGE: This is the second most important part of your poultry farm set up and it is not as expensive as buying or acquiring land. There are so many ways you can build the birds house but make sure that the sizes of the building is spacious enough for the chicken to run around. The house should be constructed in a way that you will be able to control the ventilation and air movement. When planning out your chicken house, always remember that space is very important. Don’t compromise on this to avoid frequent loss of your birds through suffocation and contamination.

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Day Chicks Old  This is where the business starts. Buy chicks from chicken hatchery that mainly deals with the supplying of different species of day-old chickens. It’s better to buy from the hatchery, Chicken hatchery usually produce good quantity of day old chicks through the use of incubators. Raising hens from baby chicks requires you to check on them often during the first few weeks (Seven to nine weeks). It’s really fun to watch them turn from downy, fluffy little balls into feathered-out, gawky adolescent pullets. A chick does not have the ability to maintain its own body temperature without an external source of heat. Below are my outlines of taking care of chicks after you have gotten your chick, once those baby balls of fluff arrive home, you’ll want to have everything ready for them to settle into their brooder and stay warm and happy. Plan to check on them at least five times a day during the first couple of weeks of life, and less after that. You’ll need to monitor their temperature, keep them safe from pets, predators and over handling by children, keep their feed and water clean. Make sure your baby chicks have everything they’ll need on the first day home. As they get older, you will use different feeders, but for the first week or two, plastic chick feeders like the ones you see above will make life a lot easier for you. Light must be available at all time in your poultry farm to keep the chickens warm, especially during raining season when the humidity is always very low. Look for reliable source of power to supply your hen’s house with heat and light. Chicks love to stomp in their feed, tip it over, and generally make a mess. They’re also not terribly smart and can eat quite a lot of shavings or bedding while they pick spilled feed off the floor. These feeders are perfect. They’re at the right height when placed on the brooder floor.

Caring for Your Growing Chickens; after the baby chick stage passes, you’ll have young pullets and cockerels and, once they turn one year old, hens and roosters. Some basic daily chores involving keeping their food and water fresh and collecting eggs is the basis of ongoing chicken care, but you’ll want to make sure they’re protected from predators and staying healthy as well.

NOTE: Most layers will start laying eggs the moment they are 18 weeks old but some wait till they are about 22 weeks old. Whichever way, Layer farming is considered the most lucrativei of all poultry farming because two things are achieved from layers, they lay eggs which fetch good money in the market, and are equally sold for the meat. What are you then waiting for? Go ahead and give it a try – am very sure you’ll have reason to smile soonest!!!

The journey of an executive farm girl