Friday, March 23, 2012

Meeting set to discuss unending cycle of drought and food insecurity in Africa

By Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Experts and leading thinkers in agriculture, climate change and the environment will gather in Nairobi from April 10-13 at the World Agroforesty Centre.
They will review innovative ways to tackle Africa’s unending cycle of drought and food insecurity. The meeting, Beating Famine, comes in the wake of another food crisis sweeping across the Sahel region of Africa, through Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
The conference, a joint initiative by World Vision and the World Agroforestry Centre, will bring together policy-makers from across Africa, leading agriculture/food security/environment experts, international NGOs, donors, academia, practitioners and the media.
“The world watched as millions suffered from famine in the Horn of Africa last year and now that suffering is spreading to parts of West Africa,” said conference organiser Rob Francis. “These crises are calling for a long-term sustainable approach to food insecurity and famine, and we believe the answer lies with a greater emphasis on the environment and better agricultural practices.”
It will focus on practical, low cost and proven techniques to reverse land degradation and deforestation, lift incomes, adapt and mitigate against climate change, and ultimately prevent famine.
 According to Dennis Garrity, UN Drylands Ambassador and senior fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre, “The national planning segment of the conference will be particularly significant. Governments and NGOs throughout the East African region are now partnering to implement national scaling-up programmes to create an evergreen agriculture based on smallholder adoption of trees for enhanced soil fertility, and fodder, fruit and fuelwood production. Accelerating the widespread use of these practices would have an enormous impact.”
“In essence, we hope to spark a regreening movement that transforms thinking across the world,” said World Vision East Africa climate change and environment specialist Assefa Tofu. “Governments, development organisations and also the community must learn to see the power of simple, effective environmental techniques as a new way of tackling hunger.”
Various presentations will be made at the conference by high level delegates, as well field trips and demonstrations.
A demonstration of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) will be conducted by FMNR pioneer Tony Rinaudo on Friday April 13 in Kijabe, Kenya. FMNR has helped make great advances for the food security and economic sustainability of farmers in eight countries across Africa and three in Asia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Small-holder farmers in Côte d’Ivoire to receive IFAD’s US$22.5 million grant

Ochieng' Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Small-holder farmers in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, especially rural young people and women will receive US$22.5 million from The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD to help improve food security and incomes.
The grant agreement for the Support to Agricultural Production and Marketing Project was signed in Rome on 16 March 2012 by Janine Tagliante-Saracino, Ambassador of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire to Italy, and Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD.
About two-thirds of the population in Cote d’Ivoire is engaged in farming, forestry and fishing sectors. Agriculture contributes to about 24 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product with rice, maize, cassava, plantains, yams grown as staple foods, while cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber and palm oil are for export.
The country’s economy is still highly dependent on agriculture despite increasing importance of oil and gas production.  The poor rural people particularly small producers without access to appropriate technologies, services and markets have been left vulnerable by a long period of civil conflict and the new IFAD-supported project is expected to provide sustainable rural development in the context of a post-crisis environment in Savanes, Bandama Valley and Zanzan regions in the North.
To improve food security and household incomes in these regions, the project will enhance farm production by helping small producers to access improved seeds and mechanized equipment for tillage and harvesting.
The project, Cofinanced by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, will also support local processing of agricultural products through improved infrastructure and marketing, and will emphasize training and empowerment of smallholder farmer organizations. It is expected that the project will help smallholders move towards profitable, market-influenced farming, in which the market determines the investment strategy and production choices.
This new project will be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and benefit more than 25,000 poor rural households, including women and young people.