development

THE ROAD TO 2030: ERADICATING POVERTY AND ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION .


adeI wrote this article for the 2016 International Youth Day and it was first published on Rural Reporter’s website

Mallam Audu works out of the agro shop smiling. He has just purchased all the input for this season’s planting and also got his 30 minutes advisory session from the agro dealer. Two thousand kilometers away, Mr Obi takes delivery of fresh tubers of yams; two bunches of plantain and a basket of tomatoes just 20 minutes after ordering from a mobile app.  The roads leading to Thai community are now well paved and the first textile factory is up and running with quality cotton supplied by farmers in the community. Aba is now home of quality textile with exports to the other regions of Africa. You might wonder, when did all these happen? The year is 2030.

Of course many will say, “These are just wishful thinking and dreams”. They are however very achievable. The role young people in Nigeria, and indeed Sub Sahara Africa, have to play to make all the above a reality cannot be over-emphasised. Little wonder then that this year’s International Youth Day focuses on three fundamental elements –eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable production and consumption by the year 2030. While a whole lot goes into achieving these, agriculture and agribusiness plays a major role. It is also one of the few sectors that can conveniently engage young people solving issues related to hunger, mal-nutrition, unemployment and ultimately food security.

THE ROAD TO 2030

Much is needed to achieve this goal it is however achievable. This article highlight 3 kick off steps needed to achieve this by 2030. It is important to note though that actions are required from now to make this reality To start with, an all inclusive stakeholder consultation is needed. This consultation will involve both public and private sector in agriculture, the farmers, youths and women, donor organizations ,research institutes, health care organization and other organizations or agency that play a role in the agriculture value chain to mention a few. The purpose of this consultation will be to have a holistic need assessment of what is needed to improve and transform agriculture. It will also be an avenue to priotize key focus areas and synergize across board on steps to take to achieve the set goal.

One of the fundamental outcomes expected from this consultation should be a clearly defined value chain transformation road map for each key commodities and agricultural services. A consultation usually ends with a long list of needs to be address and responsibilities to be shared. Due diligence needs to be done to this to ensure every one knows the role they have to play and in what areas of the sector.

It is on the basis of these that required increased investment need to be provided. The Feed Africa Report by the African Development Bank clearly stated that Africa requires US$315bn- US$400bn to realize the Sustainable Development Goals on poverty and ending hunger. It is thus imperative that consistent and purposeful effort be made to provide funding to transforming agriculture and it value chain. This should start with increased allocation of budget to agriculture and related sectors by the governments. It is also important that the government allows the private sector handle the job of running agribusiness while they focus on issues like regulation, health care, research, infrastructure to mention but a few.

Young people are dynamic and energetic. They are also not blinded to the challenges and pressures of the times we live in and as such might not be quickly drawn to engaging in agriculture as they believe that a white collar career in other sectors will provide a better life for them. Of course not every one will be in the agriculture sector. It is however important to note that more than ever before the sector needs intelligent, hardworking, smart and entrepreneurial young men and women to engage in the various aspect of the value chain. It is thus important that changing young people’s perception toward agriculture be given attention.

To succeed in this, a couple of things need to be done

  • Improving the lifestyle of existing smallholders to reflect success by helping them do agribusiness rather than just farming
  • Promoting the success of young people who are doing well in agribusiness
  • Parents and educational institutions promoting from an early age importance of growing ones food through backyard farming and school gardening
  • A joint collaboration by the public and private sector to fund scholarships to study agriculture and to provide grants and loans to young people with ideas in agriculture and agribusiness These kick off steps needs intentional efforts from all involved.

There is no folding of hands and waiting to be spoon fed. Youth, need to get involved in shaping the future they want for themselves. Join in policy discussion, partner with others in areas of interest in agriculture and agribusiness, be ready to learn and get trained if needs be. Display qualities of hard work, honesty and endurance to achieve set goals. If opportune to get funding please use wisely for intended purpose.

 

2030 is not far off from us. As a young person are you prepared to take needed steps to achieve these goals. We all should take sometime to think about this and see areas we can contribute. A little bit of effort will collectively yield good results. . – See more at: http://ruralreporters.com/the-road-to-2030-eradicating-poverty-and-achieving-sustainable-production-and-consumption/ | Rural Reporters

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ROLE OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY IN DEVELOPING ECONOMIES 2

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According to Wikipedia (2006) a developing society is one with relatively low standard of living, undeveloped industrial base and moderate to low human development index (HDI)

Chassy (2003) reported that 800 – 850 million people are malnourished, more than 200million of these are children, many of whom will never reach their full intellectual and physical potential, another 1-1.5 billion humans have only marginally better access to food and often do not consume balanced diet containing sufficient quantities of all required nutrients and majority of this nutritionally at risk population live in developing countries and this number will grow as human population growth is  ever on the increase. The question now is how will Agriculture carter for this pending problem of food shortage and the expected increase in nutritionally at risk people while maintaining a healthy environment and biodiversity? Will it be by expanding cultivated land area? Or by increasing the use of inputs? How friendly are these practices to the environment? It can only be achieved through crop and livestock improvements (Biotechnology) as stated by an international conference of experts convened World by the Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the food and agriculture organization (FAO) in 1992.

Biotechnology has prospects to remedy the problem of food shortage as research in this field aims to develop plant varieties that provide reliable high yield, at the same or lower costs by breeding in qualities such as resistance to diseases, pest and stress factors which will contribute gainfully to food production while maintaining a healthy environment by reducing the amount of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides used in farming. These shows clearly that biotechnology seeks to improve Agricultural practices by making it cost effective, increase productivity and bridging other gaps which pose serious challenges to Agriculture. These gains will lead to capacity building, create numerous jobs, and reduce poverty as well as ending malnutrition. Annon (2002) reported that the United Nations Economic and Social commission for western Asia Cooperation with International Labour Organization (ILO) sought to identify the best approach for regional capacity building in new  technology to improve employment rate, sustainable development and poverty alleviation in developing Arab Nations came to a conclusion that identifying new technologies, adopting, regulating and implementing them will serve the purpose for national economic and social development. In the report, it was emphasized that countries that adopt a better approach to the four novel technologies of biotechnology, genetic engineering, biomaterials and informatics will develop a better capacity for economic and social development than their counterparts.

It becomes very pertinent in this era of dwindling oil prices and mass unemployment that Nigeria incorporates biotechnology into its agricultural programme as the Present administration seeks to savor the economy by diversifying it to Agriculture which promises to be the best substitute. It should however be noted that for Agriculture to be worthwhile, appropriate technologies (Biotechnology) must be employed rather than relying on the very crude techniques that will not carter for the present day challenges posed to Agriculture e.g. Climate change, erosion and leaching of farm lands, arid and unfertile lands etc.

LIMITATIONS/PUBLIC PERCEPTION

It is obvious that to meet the food demand in a developing economy like ours using a novel technology like biotechnology requires meeting a number of social, political, economic and technical challenges.

We are thankful to the Nigerian Government for passing the biosafety bill into law, establishing the National Biosafety Management Agency; however we still experience a major problem of social acceptability, which I know is a misconception a majority of the Nigerian populace holds about biotechnology and GM products. In a survey carried out in my 4thyear in 2012, it showed that 85% of Nigerians don’t know what biotechnology entails but have their own personal philosophies in the best ways it appeals to their knowledge, and their knowledge is only associated with the negatives of biotechnology . It should however be stressed that biotechnology is a household name for everything  that has to do with manipulation of living things ranging from the very simple process of alcohol fermentation to cloning of plants and animals. It should also be known that genetic engineering; transgenic organisms are quite different from cloning and cloned organisms. It should also be known that they is no innovation that lacks disadvantages, just like cars, airplanes, electricity had  their advantages and disadvantages so also is biotechnology. Owing to the fact that the advantages of this innovations outweighs the disadvantages, policies, regulatory bodies are constituted to regulate this innovation within the confines of its advantages while on the other hand greatly reducing the disadvantages, this is no exception with biotechnology as the National Biotechnology Management Agency (NBMA) was constituted to regulate the activities of biotechnology, and they will deliver on this core objective. In criticizing biotechnology and its products, we should offer a hard-look rather than our personal philosophies as the problem of social acceptance is a major setback to the proliferation of this technology in Nigeria.

The economic and technical issues relate to funding of biotechnology researches, infrastructure for researches and manpower to put this technology into practice, since it is novel and the practice within the country is small scale. This however have discouraged individuals from venturing into this field of study as it is assumed to have very grim opportunities for its graduates and practitioners, but we have faith owing to the importance attached to this discipline that our well-meaning, experienced and exposed leaders will tap into the potentials of this discipline providing funding which will result in the training of personnel to adequately fit into this field.

CONCLUSION

Agricultural biotechnology will be a major part of the solution to the problem of increasing food demand while at the same time conserving biodiversity. It has been shown to improve yield around the world especially in developing countries and this increased yield will spare land for natural ecosystems to co-exist with agro ecosystems, improve GDP, generate income, create employments and consequently greatly reduce poverty and malnutrition which is the bane of developing countries. We implore Nigeria to join other developing and developed nations who have resorted to biotechnology on the basis of their needs and empirical based reports on biotechnology products by open minded, well-meaning scientist rather than taking queues behind developed countries who don’t have the need we have, who don’t suffer what we suffer, who have adopted the technology with respect to their own needs and claim the entire technology is not safe. We therefore call on individuals, opinion leaders, students, policy makers, authorities in the agriculture sector, private sector, sister and supporting MDAs like the ministry of information, national orientation agency, ministry of science and technology, ministry of finance, ministry of environment to partner with the National Biotechnology development agency to achieve its objectives of promoting and implementing evidence based science and technology of which agricultural biotechnology is cardinal.

You can read the part one here

Written by Opuah Abiekwen(abeikwen@yahoo.com) Graduate of Biotechnology and Genetics, University of Calabar

IFAD grant of US$1.95million to create opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa

CORY signed

Investing in rural youth is critical if they are to stay in rural areas and contribute to their development

Rome, 26 February 2014 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide a grant of US$1.95 million to the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) to support creating opportunities for rural youth in West and Central Africa, beginning in Benin, Cameroon, Gambia and Nigeria.

Heather Spidell, President and CEO of CEED, and Michel Mordasini, Vice President of IFAD, signed the grant agreement today.

The global economic crisis has adversely impacted three key areas associated with sustainable development and affecting young people across the world: employment, enterprise and development funding. Youth constitute 70 per cent of Africa’s population and are keenly feeling the impact of the crisis. They face numerous challenges in their attempt to find decent employment, gain access to credit and create businesses. Many young people have creative ideas that could provide them with employment through enterprise development, but they lack the resources to realize their vision.

The aim of the new project is to enable young rural women and men to create sustainable farm and non-farm businesses by building their entrepreneurial capacities, through enhanced peer learning and access to complementary business development services. Young rural women and men, ages 15-35, who are involved in either agricultural production or activities associated with rural markets are the target group of this project. About 2,880 young agricultural entrepreneurs (“agripreneurs”) and 43,200 farm and non-farm rural young entrepreneurs would be trained, and 480 rural youth enterprises launched. In addition, 2,400 rural venture creation teams will be set up through which young entrepreneurs will be paired with mentors. Women will make up at least half of the participants.

From 26 to 28 February, a workshop will be organized at IFAD headquarters in Rome to review and finalize the implementation plan and key activities of this grant, including taking into account feedback on target country investment priorities. It will also be an opportunity for IFAD to learn and share experiences with the grant recipient (CEED) on rural youth operations.

The grant will be implemented by CEED with technical support of the Columbia Business School (CBS) and Susterra, Inc., as subrecipients. Key national implementing partners in each country and three major regional institutions (Songhai Center, Ecobank and the Africa Women’s Development Fund) will also be involved in the implementation.

IFAD PRESS RELEASE

Farming in Africa: Time to Debunk Some Myths

New technologies and ideas – from mobile phone information systems to new crop varieties – are rapidly transforming agriculture across Africa. Yet the sector continues to be stereotyped as one synonymous with poverty and subsistence.

Simply put, people don’t believe it will pay a proper wage, let alone their children’s school fees or health bills. Farming is seen as a dead-end job, something definitely of no interest to aspiring youth.Following the theme of this year’s Annual Letter by Bill and Melinda Gates, I would like to debunk the myth that Africa’s farmers will always be poor.

In fact, there are huge opportunities for farmers. Yields of staple crops have steadily increased over the past decade and there is potential for them to increase by two or even three times more.

This would have a tremendous impact on farmers, their families, communities and economies. Research from around the world shows that every one percent growth in crop yields leads to a 0.8 percent fall in the number of people living in absolute poverty.

Nor is agricultural and income growth small picture stuff. There are strong links between growth in agriculture and growth in the wider economy. Every U.S. $1 generated in income in agriculture created U.S.$1.88 in the wider economy in Burkina Faso, and U.S. $1.50 in Zambia. Agricultural growth is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in any other sector.

It is youth and women who have critical roles in delivering this progress. There are many examples of young Africans launching exciting new projects in agriculture – from radio programs that give advice to farmers, to new mobile phone platforms that provide them with the latest market prices.

A great deal has been documented about the obstacles faced by women farmers but not enough about the economic gains that could come from removing these obstacles. A 20 to 30 percent increase in yields and hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty globally could be delivered.

Of course, for this myth to be truly debunked, the right conditions need to be in place for farmers to seize opportunities and make a good living.

That is why civil society across Africa – supported by NGOs like ONE and ActionAid, and individuals like Nigerian singer D’Banj – have come together as part of the #DoAgric campaign to ask governments to provide the support necessary to enable farmers to make a good living.

We are now ten years down the road from the Maputo Declaration, in which African governments committed themselves to allocate ten percent of their national budgets to agricultural development. But while there have been really impressive results, some countries aren’t on track.

A decade on from that historic declaration, it is time for African governments to renew their commitments to develop agriculture.

Increasing funding is vital.  We also need to address areas previously overlooked, such as removing barriers to intra-regional trade and establishing mechanisms to minimize the loss of revenue caused by poor post-harvest management.

African civil society is also pressing governments for much more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of what’s happening in agriculture on the ground. After all, it is only when we know where progress is taking place that we can allocate greater resources to areas where there are shortfalls.

Addressing these challenges, and others, is the key to unlocking the rich potential of African farmers, lifting millions out of poverty and driving wider prosperity.

This July’s African Union summit provides the opportunity to commit that support and kill off once and for all the myth that Africa’s farmers will always be poor.

Mercy Karanja is a Senior Program Officer and Senior Regional Advisor to East Africa for Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  she  grew up on a farm in Kenya. She and her nine siblings went to school on account of their parents farming activities.

Read Original piece here

Women, Water and Security

Water Work

By Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi

Growing up in Nigeria, I had access to basic amenities such as running tap water, but for most rural women and girls in some parts of Nigeria and Africa, access to clean water was a gift. Women there still shoulder the burden of collecting water daily for both domestic and agricultural use; bathing is a luxury.

A UN report on the gender dimension of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) estimates that 62 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa are responsible for collecting water. Living among northern Nigerian women, I observed how lack of access to water hurt their economic status, hygiene, and access to sanitation and irrigation. Women often walk two hours daily to collect water, carrying heavy containers on their shoulders and disregarding the effect it has on their health. As a result of the strenuous walks, some pregnant women suffer miscarriages. Most times, the water fetched is unclean, and the children who drink it are especially susceptible to waterborne diseases such as cholera, while others die immediately after drinking acidic water.

Women’s lack of access to water and land ownership are entwined, making them more susceptible to poverty. While men have access to cars and camels for transporting water to grow crops, women rarely do . Women sometimes must get approval from their husbands or male family members to own land. Without title to land, women are often denied access to technologies and resources –– such as credit extension and seed –– that enable them to expand their businesses. With men’s agricultural activities regarded as the top priority, there may be water provided through irrigation for farming, but no such prioritization for accessible and safe drinking water. Access to water can enhance women’s income generation in agricultural activities, enabling them to reinvest in their families and communities.

Resolving the clean water scarcity is not just a matter for the government. Privatization — when the government sells the rights to private companies — has also hindered women’s access to water. Although women place high importance on water, their inability to pay for water constrains them to use dirty rainwater.

Women in the rural areas lack sanitation facilities such as toilets, sewers and wastewater treatment. Sometimes they can’t afford to build these facilities, while other times it’s based on cultural beliefs. In a village where I stayed in southern Nigeria, it’s believed that it’s a waste of space to construct a toilet. Without access to latrines, many women and girls become prisoners of daylight, only daring to relieve themselves in the bush under the cover of darkness. This makes them vulnerable to sexual violence and attacks by animals. Access to sanitation facilities is especially imperative for menstruating women, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Education is another casualty of the water shortage. Girls miss school because they have to take care of their siblings while their mothers are collecting water, or sometimes they themselves have to collect water. They also leave school during their menstrual period as there are no adequate sanitary facilities in their schools.

Tackling the water shortage faced by women can lead to progress in many other areas, such as sustainable development, poverty eradication, women’s rights, reproductive and maternal health, improved education for girls and a reduction in morbidity and mortality rates.

Let’s think of a new framework for security. When people think of security they think of weapons of mass destruction, war and terrorism. When I think of it, I look at it from the human security perspective. Are you safe from chronic threats such as hunger? Are you able to attend school with your brothers? Are you able to earn a steady income through ownership and cultivation of your own land? Having access to water is not just a human need, it’s a matter of human dignity.

The writer Osowobi Ayo  is a master’s degree holder in International Relations and a gender advocate from Swansea University, Uk

Food Security in Africa, What The Future Holds

A woman with a basket on her head, with a malnourished child at her side with obvious internal bone structure displayed, due to lack of proper feeding, suffering, poverty, hunger and food insecurity. This is a typical picture of what many go through in Sub-Saharan Africa. One might say to him or herself, “I don’t look that bad, I feed well and look good.” The sad truth is that billions all over the world are hungry and we should all be concerned for our future and for that of generations to come.

WHAT THE STATS SAY

Let’s take a brief journey into what reports, researches and findings have to say about food security in Africa and the world in general. A 2012 FAO report, State of Food Insecurity in the World, revealed that about 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished from 2010 to 2012. This represents 12.5 percent of the global population or, in other words, one in eight people. Moreover, out of this 870 million, 852 million live in developing countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report, 216 million people suffer from food insecurity.

These figures are alarming and show how glooming the future is and can be, if nothing is done. It is the responsibility of every man and woman in Africa to begin to see the role they play, regardless of their capacity, to ensure food security in Africa, now and in the future.

Before we go on to examine some actions to be taken, let us consider what food security entails and why we need to give it attention. The World Bank, after much deliberation, in 1986 defines food security as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active healthy life’’. Merely reading these words in plain English shows that all of us in Africa are far from been food-secure. Africa has an ever growing population with more and more children and youth, alongside a growing aging farming population, averaging 65 years. The question is, who would grow our food in the next 10 years? The adverse effect of climate change and the danger that comes along with it, all are good reasons for us to attend to ensuring food security from all quarters.

WHAT DO WE DO TO ENSURE A FOOD-SECURE FUTURE?

First of all, we all need to recognise that ensuring food security is a task for not only a selected few, but everyone. We all need to put our hands on deck, be you a father, a mother, a child, a youngster, government representative, scientist, farmer or activist. We all have a role to play in ensuring that food security is achieved in the long run. Let us examine a few points:

  • Agriculture is big business: it is important that we no longer look at agriculture as a developmental aid, but as a business. Agriculture has the ability to provide not only food, but also income and materials to improve life. It is thus important that from all quarters there should be an increased investment in agriculture. The government, private sector players, NGOs, donor organisations and others, all have to increase investment in agriculture.
  • Investment in youth: Africa is blessed with an energetic and passionate youth who are beginning to understand that they all have a role in shaping a future they want for themselves and generations to come. There is, however, an image problem towards agriculture, food production and it related fields. Many youngsters see it as punishment, others as a career for the poor. For these reasons there are a need for investment in advocacy, training, capacity building, incentives and commendation. This is to enable us to have an energetic, innovative and dynamic youth who would apply whatever education or training they have, to contribute to improved food production, nutrition, storage and distribution of food. Thus ensuring they are not only employed but also generating revenue that enable them live comfortable and fulfilled lives.
  • Creating Enabling Environments: This applies mainly to government and its related agencies. Smallholders and rural dwellers need to have improved livelihood. For this to effectively take place the government has a big role in creating an enabling environment for them. It starts with proper policies such as those that would allow smallholders to have easy and convenient access to market. Social amenities, such as good roads, electricity, ICT and its services, water supply, storage facilities for farmers, etc., are all essential. Access to credit is also essential for smallholders and anyone willing to venture into the food production sector.
  • Research and Development: With the raging effect of climate change, there is a big need for the development of new and well improved product varieties with inbuilt resilience to climate change, coupled with resistance to diseases and pests. Thus, there is a need for not only financial investment in research, but also for researchers and scientists who would achieve building human capacity and in the long run contribute to food security in Africa. This obligation can be overwhelming, but its potential for the present and future generations, supersedes any investment.

By and large, we all have a role to play. Governments, now than ever, need to invest more in agriculture, encouraging the private sector to participate as they do so. Poor farmers, smallholders, rural dwellers, youth and women need to be given special attention while this is done. The youth should also be dynamic enough to see the future that lies ahead if the continent is food-secure and thus be open-minded in changing their view of agriculture and its related fields. Parents should also be active in promoting agricultural activities among the younger generation, by having a simple backyard farm for example. The future of food security in Africa is bright and has a lot of potential to create better livelihood and improved socioeconomic conditions for us now and times to come.

This article was first published as a contribution to the FORESIGHT FOR DEVELOPMENT NEWSLETTER

ICTs and Youth in Agriculture Innovative Systems

Youth have got a key role.

The FARA Social Reporters Blog

Agricultural development depends on innovation. Innovation is a major source of improved productivity, competitiveness, and economic growth throughout advanced and emerging economies, and plays an important role in creating jobs, generating income, alleviating poverty, and driving social development. If farmers, agribusinesses, and even nations are to cope, compete, and thrive in the midst of changes in agriculture and economy, they must innovate continuously.

– The World Bank on Agriculture Innovation Systems (AIS)

Agriculture Innovation Systems (AIS) aim to improve farmers’ productivity.  Besides classical approaches like training and regular/systematic visits, there are several others like Farmers Field Schools (FFS), market access or market oriented approaches…

These new approaches also use several tools. Studies have proven that, using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as rural development tools can lead to good results: How can we uses mobile phones, internet, community radio and others in AIS? Here are my experiences in Cameroon.

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