Foodsecurity

THOUGHT FOR FOOD CHALLENGE- An enabler for sustainable food security

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More than ever before the issue of food security is a priority for us all. Day in day out around the world researchers, scientists, policy makers and stakeholder from various sectors even outside the agriculture sphere are working hard to proffer sustainable solution to the issue of food security. They are in labs, workshops, meetings to conceptualize solution and map out way forward. Many of these ones are old and are doing these activities not just because of the 10 -30 years or less they have to live but because they are also concerned about what becomes of the future generation( young people like myself and the child unborn). They have a lingering question at heart

BY 2050 WHAT WILL THE OVER 9BILLON PEOPLE FEED ON?

Have you thought of this yourself? Have you got some ideas in your head on how things can be made better? Have you been discussing this with a group of friends a week or two back? Have you wondered about how you can contribute to this burning issue even though you are just a student? I HAVE GOODNEWS FOR YOU

For the past 2 years, young people, students from around the world have gathered to pitch ideas and solution to the issue of feeding the world in a sustainable and environmentally manner. They have met at what is known as the “Thought for Food” Summit. They meet here not to just pitch, they network, prize money is won and of course they party to their success. Watch this video that highlights last year’s event

This year will not be am exception as the THOUGHT FOR FOOD CHALLENGE is again open to student teams to sign up for this prestigious competition with over 10000 USD to be won. I personally have followed the #TFFChallenge for two years and I can tell you these three things

  • It is absolutely worth all the effort
  • I have not seen a team from West Africa or Nigeria qualified to the top ten teams that are able to pitch their ideas at the #TFFSummit.
  • This year provides an opportunity for teams of students in Nigeria and West Africa to show case their ideas and get the chance to pitch their idea

So what needs to be done?

The TFFChallenge allows for university students (Undergraduate-Phd) from all field of study to explore and generate sustainable ideas that can help feed the world. Take for example in 2014 the team FoPo Food Power from the Lund University Sweden came up with the idea to convert unsellable and almost expiring food into food powder with dozens of uses including space mission, humanitarian aids and lot more. The powder has a longer shelf life than fresh produce and preserves nutritional qualities, properties and taste. This team came out as runner up and went home with $5000.

I am absolutely certain that the teaming number of youth in universities in Nigeria can definitely come up with an idea worthwhile and the TFFChallenge gives you the place to showcase it.

Here is what is needed

  • Sign up on www.tffchallenge.com
  • Form your team of 3-5 students from different fields,
  • Begin the TFF Challenge and develop your Project.
  • All project development and submission is due by Dec 1 2015 as finalist will be announced on the 15th of December 2015.

We all have a role as young people to contribute to the kind of future we want for ourselves and the generation to come. And this competition is one avenue to do so.

Personally I encourage all Nigerian students who are innovative and have got great ideas to team up and sign up for the TFFChallenge.

For more guidance download the student info pack here

Opportunity! Masters Research Grants – Fish Trade Program in Africa

The shores of Shiroro dam in Niger State Nigeria is a fishery hub

The shores of Shiroro dam in Niger State Nigeria is a fishery hub

The WorldFish Center with the funding from the European Commission (EC) has joined efforts with AU-IBAR and NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), to implement a programme called “Improving Food Security and Reducing Poverty through Intra-regional Fish Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa” (also referred to as Fish Trade Program). The Fish Trade Program aims to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by enhancing the capacities of regional and pan-African organizations to support their member states to better integrate intra-regional fish trade into their development and food security policy agendas. The Program works within the four corridors in Africa (Western, Southern, Eastern and Central) aims to deliver on the following results:

  • Generate information on the structure, products and value of intra-regional fish trade in food security in Sub Saharan Africa and make it available to stakeholders.
  • Come up with a set of recommendations on policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations, and get them well embedded in national and regional fisheries, agricultural, trade and food security policy frameworks in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Enhance the capacities for trade amongst private sector associations, in particular of women fish processors and traders and aquaculture producers, to make better use of expanding trade opportunities through competitive small and medium scale enterprises; and
  • Facilitate adoption and implementation of appropriate policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations by key stakeholders participating in intra-regional trade in the four trade corridors.

This program focuses on four main African trade corridors, in Western, Southern, Eastern and Central Africa. It is focused in three main areas namely to:

  • Strengthen the evidence base for coherent policy development at national and regional levels,
  • Support the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies, standards and regulatory frameworks to promote intra-regional fish trade, and
  • Strengthen the capacity of private sector associations, in particular of women fish traders, to enhance the competitiveness of small- and medium-scale enterprises engaged in this trade.

The Program responds to the potential of Africa’s intra-regional fish trade in addressing the region’s food and nutrition insecurity, as well as poverty reduction through wealth creation which has been overlooked and neglected in national and regional policy. As a result, intra-regional fish trade has largely remained informal, with substantial volumes traded by artisanal and small – medium enterprises, mostly by women.

African Union and its Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have therefore prioritized strengthening of regional trade and have identified fish and fish products as key commodities for investment and policy support. This is evidenced in the African Union Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture document which clearly aims to “Promote responsible and equitable fish trade and marketing by significantly harnessing the benefits of Africa’s fisheries and aquaculture endowments through accelerated trade and marketing”.

Nature of Research Grant

This research grant forms part of the mentorship program which aims at building the capacities of the youth and young professionals in Africa through active engagement in the program implementation process. This is based on the assumption that there exists huge opportunity to generate volumes of data on fish trade in Africa, and the project offers opportunity to even generate more information which can be capitalized on to inform national and regional policies at the same time bring forth academic excellence to a number of individuals who can help in contributing to the development of Africa at large if their capacities are built.

Eligibility

It is expected that the candidates should be from AU Member states and should have completed their course work in any of the following Universities which are participating in the implementation of the Fish Trade project;

  1. University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast
  2. University of Dakar, Senegal
  3. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  4. University of Douala, Cameroun
  5. University of Ghana, Ghana
  6. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  7. Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Malawi
  8. National University of Rwanda Other Universities within the regions will also be considered but priority will be given to the Universities above

The students should be pursuing masters or have proven background in the following programs; Economics, Fisheries Economics, Agriculture Economics, International Trade and other related programs.

The candidate should be willing to undertake the study in the southern corridor and parts of eastern corridor, such as Rwanda at the minimum possible cost.

Selection Criteria

The selection of candidates shall be done through a rigorous exercise, consisting of independent reviewers. The basis of selection shall be made on academic merit obtained at Masters Coursework and evaluation of content of concept note.

How To Apply

The candidates must develop a five paged concept note together with their supervisors and must have an endorsement letter from their supervisors and should include the followingkey sections;

  • Indicate the country in which the study will be undertaken
  • indicate the university of study, degree program being undertaken and indicative courses so far studied under this program
  • Clearly indicate what they are going to do and how they are going to do it (proposed methodology)
  • Linkage of academic study to overall fish trade project
  • How their project will contribute towards achievement of their national developmental goals
  • How they are going to collect data and analyze their data to ensure that the work is publishable and have an academic tone
  • Expected Results
  • An indicative budget for the whole study and workplan

Candidates shall be requested to attach transcripts from their masters course work and a letter of consent from supervisory committee.

The applications shall be addressed to

NEPAD Regional Fish Node

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Box 219

Lilongwe

Malawi

Email: fishnode@yahoo.com with copies to: lissubby@gmail.com ; ekaunda@yahoo.com ;

Cell numbers; +265999378275 and +265 999 510 796

To reach not later than 4th September 2015

Original Post Here

The Role of Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development.

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To enhance agricultural development in Sub Sahara Africa and especially Nigeria where i come from a lot has to be put into research. Research will not only enhance productivity for farmers and processors , it will also aid in coming forth with best practices, more technologies and methodology to develop rural areas and meet their needs when it relates to their livelihood via agriculture.
Funds, infrastructure, work environment, human resource etc are all keep to producing quality research result especially through universities, NGOs, research centres and agencies. But aside theses Partnership is paramount to enhance research. This is especially true considering that we not live in a global village where we all face common problems and challenges ,besides the exchange of information among researchers is paramount in today’s world.
More often than not it has been discovered that researchers do not team up on issues. Many researchers have been found to be working on the same subject but do so at individual levels. Even institutions of learning have been found wanting in this regard where institutions in same country all work individually on the same research area instead of pooling resources and man power together.
It is however important that researchers learn the need for partnership. This is especially important for our next generation of researchers the youth. Young researchers have to come to the realization that by working with one other either at individual level or at institutional level they can achieve more than working sole. Partnership allows better and more production of result. It enables collective pursuit of individual goals or interest.
Another angle to the benefit of partnership is the fact that it helps parties derive individual benefits. For example, when researchers partner at institutional level it could result in benefit for both parties such as new equipments or even laboratories or workstation for participating institution.
Partnership also allows for pulling together a large bulk of resources that an individual researcher would have had to pay for. Partnership can lead to cooperation between governments; private businesses and the civil society making sustainable development possible as all relevant sectors have a share.
One can however say that the challenge faced is how to choose a partner. In an instance where no relationship existed between interested parties working together might be difficult. However, the sources available have lightened the task. For example, Google Scholar can be found useful in identifying potential partners and what research areas or topic they find appealing. Also professional networking website like Linkedin which is globally accepted can also be a good point to start with our search. Another method could be to look into past studies that are relevant to research topic one is working on and reach out to them. Attending conferences, workshop though sometimes expensive is a good way to meet in person. Researchers interact a lot at conferences and events thus it is a good avenue to foster relationships that will lead to collaborations in the near future.
In all an individual researcher has to show a readiness for partnership to be able to get one. Only collective efforts can get us moving and progressive in the fight against hunger, poverty and food insecurity.

Agricultural Extension Service in Africa: THE BIG PICTURE

 

A representative from DuPont Pioneer talks about the particular variety of maize that Pioneer recommends for this agro-ecological zone at a demonstration plot in Zimbabwe.

According to Volker Hoffman, an agricultural economist and an expert on extension at Hohenheim University, Germany, governments should not be directly engaged in the provision of extension services, which can be more efficiently managed by private legal entities. Before now, in the 1960s and 1970s state run, state funded extension and advisory service played a key role in getting information and new technologies to farmers.

However, the structural adjustment programmes introduced by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) led to a significant reduction in the funds available for agricultural service delivery. At the same time, the portion of official development assistance devoted to agriculture declined from 17 percent in 1980 to 3 per cent by 2006, and this has a profound effect on national extension and advisory services

WHERE THE PROBLEM LIES.

Volker further stated that government extension has continued to suffer from a number of shortcomings. According to him, government tend to be bureaucratic and in efficient. Instead of consulting farmers about their needs, government extension agents generally decide what is best for them and that there is often conflict of roles , with government extension agents acting as advisors, policemen, and arbiters about whether or not farmers should receive subsidies or other assistance. This inevitably leads to a lack of trust between extension agents and farmers.

A statistical comparison in the productivity of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa with those of East Asai shows that in 1961, average cereal yields were around 1 tonne per hectare in Sub- Saharan Africa and 1.4 tonnes in East Asia. Yield in Sub-Saharan Africa has barely risen since then, whereas, in East Asia farmers now average more than 5 tonnes per hectare. This leads to associating low agricultural productivity with high level of poverty and hunger. In 1981 and 2005, the number of people living on less than 1.25USD a day in Sub- Saharan Africa grew from 212 to 388 million; in East Asia, the number fell from 1,071 million to 316 million.

The SOLUTION…

Therefore, in order to curb the inefficiency and the passive role of the extension service, Hoffmann suggest that the government should continue to determine policy, regulate how extension services operate and ensure that farmers receive good, sound and applicable advice. However, it should reduce it direct engagement in providing services or input to farmers and this should be left to other service providers such as private companies and non- governmental organisations.

Many stakeholders also broadly agreed that extension services should be provided free of charge for smallholder farmers while commercial farmers are to pay for such services. Also noteworthy is the fact that farmers require not just high-quality agricultural advice but also health services, transport, communications, credit and remunerative markets

In order to move in the direction of farmers’ needs, it is now widely accepted that the move towards more pluralistic, demand driven, innovative, cost effective systems of delivery in which advisory services are combined with better access to credit, farm inputs and the market, has the potential to improve the welfare of smallholder farmers, reduce rural poverty and increase food production.

Photo source- FEED THE FUTURE Flicker photo stream

FAMILY FARMING – a means to Promote Youth’s Involvement in Agriculture and Agribusiness

Andres Solari, his father and me, Olawale Ojo during Solari’s farm visit, during the GCARD2, Punta Del Este, Uruguay.

Among the many highlights of my participation at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2)  with the theme FORESIGHT AND PARTNERSHIP FOR INNOVATION AND IMPACT ON SMALL-HOLDER LIVELIHOODS at Punta del Este, Uruguay on 29th October to November 1, 2012, one experience that I would not forget very quickly was the visit to the Solari Family Farm in MonteVideo Rural in Uruguay.

Andres Solari a youth and one of the children of Mr. Solari gave a tour of the farm. The seventeen (17) hectares farm was been cared for and operated by the Solari family. These included Andres, his brother and sister, his parents and regular assistance from three of their cousins.

The farm grows peaches, apples, nectars and oranges. The processing section which is right there on the farm produces wines, jam and juice.

Touching was the fact that Andres and his siblings judiciously joined their parents in the daily running and operation of the farm business. “My mother started this farm in 1998” he said while giving a tour of the farm and sharing the history of the farm. The sister and mother handles the marketing and sales aspect of the  farm while Andres, his brother and father work on the farm itself with the support of their cousins and hired labour when necessary.

A showcase of one of the main themes of the conference itself which is PARTNERSHIP was dislayed by the Solari’s family farm. The farm works hand in hand with the National Agricultural Institute and the Department of Agronomy in the University of Uruguay. One aspect of the partnership is the reduction of the use of pesticide by provision of biological pest control at reduced cost. This partnership makes it possible for the products of the farm fit for export and allows for sustainability of the farm and environment. These factors : active involvement of the family members in the business, partnership with research bodies and cooperatives have made high productivity possible for the Solari family farm and these has bagged them so many awards such as the Sociedad Uruguay Dehortifruiticulun Award in 2005, LATU Sistemas in 2006 and right during the visit an Award of Recognition by INIA (the National Agricultural Institute).

The commercialization of their products through retailers, supermarket and joining other growers makes exporting possible for them. As a matter of fact, as at the time of the visit the mother was away in Italy to attend the Slow Food Fair which is one of the so many international fair the farm attends to expand their market base.

The example of Andres is one that African youths and families can learn from. So if you have parents that have farms: are you joining them to make it a sustainable business enterprise? Do you share your professional skills either as an accountant, HR manager, engineer and so on to improve the activities on the farm thus increasing profitability? Taking a clue from the example of Andres and his family can go a long way to elevate poverty in families both in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

First Published on YPARD

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