• Realizing the Dream: September’s Bread for the Preacher

    Did you know that each month the church relations department at Bread for the World produces a resource specifically for pastors? Whether you are searching for inspiration for a sermon you’re writing, or just a lectionary enthusiast, Bread for the Preacher is for you. After reading this introduction, explore this month’s readings on the Bread for the Preacher web page, where you can also sign up to have the resource emailed to you each month. By Rev. Gary Cook A…

  • Indian Farmers Facing Affliction

    Suicide can be defined as the act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally by an individual driven to despair out of a complex web of motivations. It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million of Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years. Even while this figure is […]

    The post Indian Farmers Facing Affliction appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Home Gardens: Alleviating Hunger in Developing Countries

    Homestead gardening in developing countries is now being viewed as a key to alleviating hunger and providing a source of nutrition for millions of people in developing countries. For low-income families, the quantity of food they consume must also be supplemented by adequate nutrition; research conducted by the Lancet earlier this year concluded that malnutrition […]

    The post Home Gardens: Alleviating Hunger in Developing Countries appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Irrigation Could End Poverty

    By now, it is a well known fact that clean water is necessary for drinking and hygiene. About 1.1 billion people go without clean water every day and must rely on polluted or infected supplies to survive. Even more than that go without basic sanitation. But, water is not just for human consumption and cleanliness. […]

    The post Irrigation Could End Poverty appeared first on The Borgen Project.

  • Essay 4: Farmers: The Key to Ending Global Hunger

    The fourth essay in the Bread for the World series, called Development Works, is all about farmers solving problems. 

  • Reality Checks for High Level Panels

    Overcoming the dehumanization produced by a system of consumption, and reinvigorating love in every human being’s heart. Union and harmonious interaction in diversity are the…

KOKO Networks’ Launch in Kenya

KOKO Networks' Launch in KenyaThe KOKO Networks’ launch in Kenya will provide multi-purpose consumer access machines to areas in need. KOKO believes that this technology will allow consumers safe access to clean fuel. Additionally, it will offer them a connection to e-commerce and video content all within a short distance from their homes. KOKO Fuel has partnered with Vivo Energy Kenya, the local Shell-branded fuel owner and distributor, in order to decrease time and money in supplying fuel.

KOKO is a tech company that distributes its innovations throughout East Africa and India. Consumers can get “KOKOpoints” to be used at local stores for goods and services offered by KOKO. In Kenya, KOKO will provide services such as a fuel ATM, an e-commerce kiosk and an in-store digital media experience.

KOKO Fuel

This innovation offers safe and affordable bioethanol cooking fuel. Not only does the fuel benefit the environment but it also gives isolated communities a more reliable food-cooking source. The cooking fuel market in Africa is worth over $20 billion. However, it is still dominated by dirty and unsafe fuels like charcoal and kerosene. KOKO’s new technology could allow the bioethanol fuel industry to grow rapidly. Furthermore, it can compete with the more prominent dirty fuels.

The government in Kenya has already set a goal of 100% clean cooking fuel in Kenyan households because of both massive deforestation and indoor air pollution caused by other fuels. Deforestation in Kenya causes changes in rainfall and harmfully impacts the agriculture industry, one of the most important industries in the country. Additionally, indoor air pollution is responsible for more than 21,000 deaths a year with most victims under the age of five. With KOKO Networks’ launch in Kenya, these negative consequences can be significantly reduced.

Improving Living Conditions in Kenya

Greg Murray, KOKO CEO and co-founder, has previously commented that Kenyans are notable for embracing technological innovations and advancements that can greatly improve their living conditions. Those who decide to use the KOKO networks fuel will use KOKOpoints to fill their smart canisters at the KOKO machines.

After they fill the canisters, the fuel can be used at home with the KOKO cooker. The cooker is an affordable, high-power ethanol stove with two burners that produce less pollution. A partnership with an astounding 700 shops is assisting in KOKO Networks’ launch in Kenya in order to serve a wide range of people.

Impact in Kenya

If bioethanol fuel can replace charcoal, the forests and rain supply that support agricultural productivity can be restored and protected. Additionally, the production of the fuel takes place in Kenya through the sugar industry. As a result, local production would contribute to employment and economic growth.

Overall, KOKO Network’s launch in Kenya hopes to have a huge impact on both Kenya’s economy and environment. If the project is successful here, it is likely they will expand the infrastructure into other areas. This technology could also help Kenya in reaching the Paris 2030 carbon emissions reductions target by more than 10 percent with minimal government investment and risk.

– Jessica Haidet
Photo: Flickr

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Reducing Nicaragua’s Poverty Rate

Nicaragua’s Poverty RateAlthough Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in Central America,  the poverty rate has been cut in half in the last 10 years. Between 2005 and 2016, Nicaragua’s poverty rate fell from 48 percent to 25 percent. One reason for this dramatic reduction is industrialization. Over time, tourism and mining have become important to Nicaragua’s economic growth and stability.

According to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the key to reducing poverty is “to mobilize private and public investments […] around a long-term inclusive and sustainable industrialization plan for export-oriented and job-creating industrial capacity.” The following are three areas that both keep the U.N.’s policy recommendation in mind and hold promise in reducing Nicaragua’s poverty rate.

Tourism

Tourism is the second largest industry in Nicaragua and has grown significantly since the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s. For the first time in Nicaraguan history, there were more than one million visits to the country in 2010. This is an 8 percent increase from 2009. The tourism industry is currently thriving and provides revenue to small businesses. Additionally, it provides income to poor Nicaraguans in rural areas.

Tropical islands and volcanoes, such as the Mombacho volcano and the Corn Islands, are two popular destinations that attract tourists from the U.S., Europe and Central and South America. In 2010, gross income from foreign tourism was approximately $360 million. This is a $15 million increase in gross income from the previous year.

Mining

Alongside tourism, there has also been an increase in gold mining production. Between 2006 and 2016, production has gone from more than 109,000 ounces to 267,000. The results are even greater for silver mining, which increased from 94,000 ounces in 2005 to almost 682,000 in 2016. Mining is steadily growing to become one of Nicaragua’s driving economic forces.

Gold, beef and coffee are the country’s top three exports. Gold production has doubled and is emerging as an important source of income to the Nicaraguan government and their citizens. For each dollar earned from mining, $.66 cents go to taxes, remuneration and acquisition of goods and services. This revenue can aid in investing in better farming equipment for poor farmers and creating jobs through emerging industries like mining.

Agriculture

Nicaragua still remains an agriculture-dependent economy. About 50 percent of its exports come from textiles and the agriculture industry. Bananas, cotton, sugarcane, rice and tobacco are some of Nicaragua’s other exports. However, Nicaragua’s poverty rate remains high, especially in rural areas where extreme poverty is heavily concentrated.

Many in the agriculture industry are migrants who harvest crops for half the year and search for other work during the other half. By investing in farm equipment and technology, farmers of smaller plots have a chance to increase their income beyond than $2 a day.

An example of increasing crop quality and yields is shown through conservation tillage, which is transgenic insect control. This system decreases erosion, increases organic matter in soil and conserves soil moisture. Additionally, marker-assisted breeding and biotechnology traits are new developments that have been shown to increase yields and improve traits, such as grain moisture in corn.

Other traits include providing resistance to corn rootworm and borers. Lastly, diversification is another way to help those in the agriculture industry. If crop prices are unfavorable, another crop’s production would offset the negative effect of those prices.

There are several ways to reduce Nicaragua’s poverty rate. A combination of improvements in quality and quantity alongside the diversification of crops can help increase income to those in poverty.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

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Dry Pipes and Water Shortage in India

Water Shortage in IndiaIndia is one of the world’s largest consumers of water, as the country has an undeniably large population. Yet, reservoirs run dry and millions don’t have access to safe drinking water. Three note-worthy causes of water shortage in India are listed.

Droughts

Droughts are widely accredited as one of the notable causes of water shortage in India. The country relies primarily on groundwater for consumption and agricultural sustenance. Many sources of groundwater in India, such as Chennai’s Lake Puzhal, depend on heavy monsoon rains for replenishment. Late or short monsoons can cause shortages in the region’s expected water gain. Thus, the amount of water received is lower, as is the time the water lasts before being depleted.

The monsoon season in India is usually expected to start in June and end in September, bringing three months of rain before the dry season. Some regions, like Mumbai on the west coast, receive more rain. Other areas, like urban Chennai in the south, receive significantly less rain from the main monsoon.

In recent years, India has experienced weaker monsoon rains than usual. Weak monsoon rains result in a decrease in groundwater supply, which has a negative effect on crop production and can often lead to the failure of high-water-consumption crops like rice and wheat.

One promising practice to repair groundwater and increase drinking water in India is rainwater harvesting. Much of India’s rainwater dries up and is unused. National Geographic posits that Chennai could harvest 27 gallons of water per person, based on rainwater catchment alone. Moreover, Chennai could use recharge wells to channel rainwater into its natural, underground water aquifers to replenish the supply of groundwater. A group called mannu-vaddars have already initiated open well-digging in the city.

Water Pollution

With over one billion people in the country, some 163 million lack access to safe water in India. The health of many Indian rivers is depleted by severe pollution. Most of India’s water pollution can be credited to unfiltered human sewage. Water sewage is one of the major causes of water shortage in India’s drinking water.

It is estimated that some 21 percent of infectious diseases in India are linked to unsanitary drinking water. Poor hygiene practices also lead to unsafe drinking water, as the water often contains traces of human feces if unfiltered. Each day, over 500 children die from diarrhea, which can occur as a result of water-borne bacterial infections and viruses.

Delhi has seen increases in diarrheal, hepatitis and typhoid infections. These diseases have been linked to the Yamuna River, Delhi’s source of drinking water. The river’s best potential for clean water comes during the monsoons when rainwater flushes out a portion of pollution. Recently, Delhi Jal Board, the government agency that oversees Delhi’s water supply, required that rainwater harvesting systems be installed in all plots over 500 square meters in Delhi. If enforced, the systems will be used to recharge Delhi’s underground water aquifers to replenish groundwater sources.

Agricultural Irrigation

Agriculture accounts for about 90 percent of India’s water usage, with domestic and industrial use sharing the remaining 10 percent. Agriculture is extremely important for the country’s nourishment and economy, providing jobs to half of the population and accounting for 18 percent of the country’s GDP. Because agriculture drastically drains the country’s water supply, the practice contributes significantly to water shortage in India.

India’s agricultural sector is thought to overexploit the groundwater supply. When compared to China, another highly agricultural society, India uses significantly more irrigation for less crop production. Both countries produce rice and wheat, crops that require high irrigation, with India producing 40 percent less than China.

With help from the World Bank, some communities, like those of Andhra Pradesh, have established a model of self-regulation in regards to groundwater. The model includes successful education of farmers which has caused some farmers in the communities to decrease their groundwater use to sustainable levels, without losing out on profit. It is possible for this approach to be replicated in other Indian agricultural communities that rely on groundwater for crop production.

Today, India is facing its worst water crisis. Chennai, a mega-city, has brought the country’s attention to the water crisis and researcher’s attention to the causes of water shortage in India. Understanding the causes will help shape a solution.

– Rebekah Askew
Photo: Flickr

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Successful Development: Reducing Poverty in Ethiopia

Poverty in EthiopiaEthiopia is set to become the first low-income sub-Saharan African country to achieve one of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating poverty by 2030. Tremendous efforts have been made to reduce poverty in Ethiopia. The poverty rate fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2018. An estimated four Ethiopians escape poverty every minute. Infrastructure developments and continued growth in the agriculture and service sectors helped bolster the nation’s economy and improve living conditions for its people.

Extensive Infrastructure Developments Underway

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) has been heavily involved in the development of its economy. Infrastructure projects, such as roads, national parks, power production and distribution, airports and railways have bolstered growth and created jobs. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway is a major international railway inaugurated in 2018 that runs from the capital, Addis Ababa, to the port city of Djibouti. The railway remains an important mode of transportation for passengers and freight. Aschale Tesfahun, a political science lecturer at Dire Dawa University, noted that “[his] life has become easier because of this train, but it’s also a major advantage for all Ethiopia.”

Even external investors, such as Zhang Huarong, find developing African countries like Ethiopia to be lucrative opportunities. Huarong emigrated from China to create a shoe business in Ethiopia. He employs more than 7,500 locals who produce footwear for companies such as Guess and Nine West. His goal is to create 100,000 jobs for Ethiopians. External investors providing jobs for the local population is one way of indirectly reducing poverty in Ethiopia. China has created more than three million jobs on the African continent in markets such as manufacturing, trade, real estate, services and construction.

Energy Sector

Another important contributor to Ethiopia’s real GDP increase is energy production and distribution, which has averaged about ten percent growth between 2006 and 2018. Ethiopia struggles to provide electricity as its population is more than 100 million people. The nation is creating more hydropower plants to keep up with the fast-growing economy and plans to increase power production from 4,500 MW to 5,000 MW by 2022. About 90 percent of power in Ethiopia is generated from hydropower plants.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has been under construction since 2011 and is expected to be the largest dam in Africa. The power source will generate 6,450 MW of electricity and functions as a major factor in the economic growth of Ethiopia. It is also anticipated to export 400 MW of electricity to Tanzania and 400 MW to Kenya. About 30 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity, yet the dam and several hydropower projects will provide a larger portion of the country with power.

Model for Successful Development

Ethiopia serves as an excellent model to other impoverished countries for poverty reduction and successful economic development. Poverty in Ethiopia was sliced in half within 20 years. Infrastructure developments and external investors, particularly China, have furthered its progress in improving its economy and progressing with 1.1 of the Sustainable Development Goals—reducing poverty.

Other developing African countries could learn from the failures and successes Ethiopia has endured while becoming a leader in Africa’s development and innovation. For example, Ethiopian Airlines is the fastest growing and most profitable passenger and cargo carrier in Africa. The airline expresses that infrastructure development is a main driver in developing an economy, especially when there is room for growth. Former head of the U.N. office in Ethiopia, Eugene Owusu, stated that Ethiopia’s fast development “reflects the bold ambition and the political commitment of the leadership.”

Final Challenge

The last challenge Ethiopia faces is transitioning from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial-based economy. Although the idea is simple, execution sometimes includes decades of evolving and continued external investment from investors that might be blind or wary to potential future profitability. Structural changes to the Ethiopian economy are necessary for further progress in reducing poverty in Ethiopia. With government initiatives, such as improving access to clean water and sanitation services, the economy will continue to grow and eliminate poverty in Ethiopia.

– Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

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An Update on Agricultural Development in Lesotho

Agricultural Development in LesothoLesotho is a small mountainous country in South Africa with a population of around 1,962,461. The expanding population puts pressure of settlement on many areas which results in “overgrazing, severe soil erosion and soil exhaustion; desertification; Highlands Water Project controls, stores, and redirects water to South Africa.” Agriculture used to be a major component of Lesotho’s GDP, but its contribution decreased in the 1990s due to drought.

Currently, only one-tenth of the country is fertile. Despite this fact, a large part of Lesotho’s rural population practices subsistence agriculture. The most common crops are corn (maize), sorghum, wheat and beans. Unfortunately, due to drought, it has become necessary to import foodstuffs.

Agricultural projects such as the World Bank’s Lesotho Smallholder Agriculture Development Project (SADP) are working to improve agricultural development in Lesotho.

Smallholder Agriculture Development Project

On November 11, 2011, the first SADP was approved in order to promote and improve agricultural development in Lesotho. The dates for the implementation of the project were from 2011 to 2018, however, it was extended to 2020. The World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) partnered to direct a support mission for the SADP. The SADP project is meant to “support smallholder farmers to exploit opportunities to increase their productivity and diversify into market-oriented agriculture.” The project area covers four out of the 10 districts in Lesotho and focuses on: “increasing agricultural market opportunities, increasing market-oriented smallholder production, identifying commercially viable activities that can be replicated and successfully scaled up and project management”

The first SADP is ongoing, however, on May 30, 2019, the World Bank approved the Lesotho Smallholder Agriculture Development Project-II. The second SADP leans toward the technological side as it was implemented to “support increased adoption of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) technologies in Lesotho’s agriculture, enhanced commercialization, and improved dietary diversity among targeted beneficiaries.”

The SADPs will improve agricultural development in Lesotho by minimizing the possible effects of climate change on produce. The project will promote and support the increase of climate-smart agricultural technologies as well as enhance commercialization and improve dietary diversity. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) defines climate-smart agriculture based on “three pillars: increasing productivity and incomes, enhancing resilience of livelihoods and ecosystems and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.”

Incentives for Farmers

Farmers and agro-processors who finance investments will receive matching grants for increasing productivity and post-harvest infrastructure and management. Paul Noumba Um, World Bank Country Director for seven South African countries, stated that the project will help the Government of Lesotho “improve the country’s food security, employment opportunities, rural livelihoods and nutrition and increased commercialization through mainstreaming climate and environment considerations into agriculture to enhance climate resilience.”

Since the 1990s, Lesotho has been experiencing droughts and population pressure that put constraints on its agricultural production. Agriculture used to play a large part in the country’s GDP, but its role has been steadily decreasing. Efforts to improve agricultural development in Lesotho have been made through projects such as the SADPs. By increasing the rate and quality of agricultural production, there are hopes that food security, employment opportunities, rural livelihoods and nutrition will increase throughout the country as well.

– Jade Thompson
Photo: Wikimedia

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Speed Breeding Technology Promises More Food

Speed Breeding Technology
While the earth’s rapidly changing climate and growing global population have caused concern about the future of the agriculture industry, there now appears to be a reason for optimism. Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia have recently developed a new speed breeding technology that allows for quicker harvesting of plants. Researchers have been developing the technology for almost a decade and NASA’s past experiments with growing food in space are an inspiration. This technology has massive implications for the agriculture industry; with it, food production should significantly increase, which will be a necessity since the global population might grow to 9.8 billion by 2050.

How it Works

To speed up the harvesting process, special red and blue LED lights are shone on the crops (which are kept in greenhouses) for up to 22 hours a day at temperatures between 62 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This near-constant lighting and precise temperature help speed up the photosynthesis process, allowing for crops such as wheat, barley and chickpeas to grow up to three times faster than with traditional practices.

Crops produced with speed breeding technology also show to be of higher quality than those harvested with more conventional methods. In addition to increases in speed and quality, crops bred in this new way can be more resistant to extreme heat and droughts. To do this, speed breeding is combined with the usage of tools like CRISPR, a family of DNA sequences that allows for the removal of unwanted portions of a crop’s DNA. Such unwanted portions are often ones that cause decreased yield for a given crop; for example, CRISPR could remove a gene that causes a crop to prematurely germinate after rainfall.

Implementation and Implications for the Global Poor

Currently, the researchers from Queensland are traveling to locations such as Mali and Zimbabwe, as well as India, to train farmers on how to use these new techniques. The researchers receive funding from organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. This funding is likely to have a massive impact on individuals in developing countries, as speed breeding has enormous potential to help the world’s poor. Part of the reason for this is that people can use this technology anywhere. For example, people can power LEDs using solar power instead of electricity in countries where electricity is lacking. This makes the technology one that people can easily implement throughout the developing world.

Global Impact

Speed breeding will help produce crops at a quicker rate so that more people around the world can receive food. In addition to this, speed breeding technology is a sustainable technique that, if growers implement in conjunction with other practices (such as the usage of tools like CRISPR) could make crops more resistant to heat and disease. All in all, speed breeding technology is, without question, an integral part of the future of the agriculture industry.

– Kiran Matthias
Photo: Flickr

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Access to Seeds and the Global Seed Industry

Global Seed Industry
Lack of access to high-quality seeds is one of the greatest obstacles to reducing hunger around the world. Smallholder farms produce as much as 80 percent of all global food production (that is, farmer who operate between one and 10 hectares of land), but only about 10 percent of these farmers have access to seeds distributed by the world’s largest companies, which have been bred to withstand drought, increase yields and improve nutrition. This is the statistic which inspired the creation of the Access to Seeds Foundation, a Netherlands-based organization funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It examines the global seed industry to improve seed access for smallscale farmers.

The most prominent product of the Access to Seeds Foundation is the Access to Seeds Index. The index collects data from 60 different prominent seed companies in four major regions: Latin America, Western and Central Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Eastern and Southern Africa. The companies are compared to each other according to seven criteria, ranging from Research and Development (or the development of new seed technologies) to Capacity Building (or the training of local farmers in the use of new technologies and methods).

According to Ido Verhagen, executive director of the Access to Seeds Index, “Our main goal is just to show how this industry is performing and which companies are good candidates for partnerships with NGOs and research institutes.” While Verhagen stops short of suggesting that the Access to Seeds Index has singlehandedly levied great change to the global seed industry, he does acknowledge that the index has allowed experts to make observations about the seed industry which may be very useful in the future. Here are just three of the insights which the Access to Seeds Index of 2019 has allowed researchers to make about the global seed industry.

The Global Seed Industry is Local

Although the list includes big names in the agricultural technology sector like DuPont and Monsanto, the companies which rank highest tend to be smaller and more local. For instance, the top two spots in the 2019 Access to Seeds Index for Eastern and Southern Africa are occupied by East African Seed, a state-owned Kenyan company and Seed Co., a company based in Zimbabwe.

Agricultural technology companies are all over the world, in part because local companies have a better understanding of the particular needs of local farmers. In the case of Eastern and Southern Africa, the 2019 Access to Seeds Index found 13 companies in Zambia, five in Lesotho, and three in Somalia, among other countries.

Even when it comes to multinational corporations, the biggest corporations are not necessarily the ones that top the index. The highest ranking multinational corporation in both Asia and Africa is East-West Seed, a Thailand-based multinational company which is much smaller than its peers in the United States and China.

The Global Seed Industry is Starting to Respond to Climate Change

In the past, the global seed industry has focused mainly on yields, since high yields mean more money for farmers. Farmers have also preferred to purchase seeds which they could replant year after year. As a result, local companies limited the amount they invested in new technologies. It also meant that farmers were not preparing for climate change. For instance, farmers in areas that have not always been prone to droughts need to start acquiring seeds that are especially drought-resistant.

This trend appears to be changing. Out of the 13 companies in Western and Central Africa that the 2019 Access to Seeds Index listed, 12 of those companies reported that they are beginning to count climate change resistance higher among the traits they target.

This change has come about in part because of strong public-private partnerships. In Zimbabwe, for example, eight out of 10 farmers now get their seeds from private seed companies, ensuring that they are growing crops with the latest technology, capable of responding to climate change and also with the greatest nutritional value.

Seeds are Important, but so are Methods

Although the seed industry is most interested in the distribution of seeds, these seeds are less useful if they are not accompanied by the most recent farming methods. According to Verhagen, the executive director of Access to Seeds, Ethiopian farmers who used advanced methods doubled their yields, even without buying their seeds from companies. Documentation showed that new seed varieties made an even greater difference in yields, but advanced methods proved to be an important component to the increasing yields as well. This is why the Access to Seeds Index measures the seed industry’s success at educating local farmers in new farming methods in addition to their research, distribution and marketing of seeds.

The Access to Seeds Index is still a relatively new project and it is hard to know for sure how much of an impact it is having on the industry. Certainly, the Access to Seeds Index cannot take credit for all recent changes in the global seed industry. Still, the careful monitoring of the Access to Seeds Foundation has allowed insights like the ones listed above and this information may be very useful to farmers and companies in the future.

– Eric Rosenbaum
Photo: Flickr

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10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

Agriculture in AfricaAgriculture in Africa is the cornerstone of sub-Saharan Africa, generating almost 23 percent of the continent’s GDP. Here, women are the backbone of the industry; yet, one in every four malnourished people in the world lives in Africa, and land laws are not as favorable to women as they are to men. The country-led initiative, Grow Africa, and the U.K. based charity, Farm Africa, are working to fix these disparities to help Africa reach its potential. Here are 10 facts about agriculture in Africa.

Top 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

  1. Agriculture is one of the most beneficial assets a country can have. It creates more jobs and helps eliminate poverty and hunger, which are immediate problems Africa is facing. Africa’s population will nearly double by 2050 and quadruple by 2100, making it harder to feed communities and generate wealth, but agriculture in Africa has the potential to flourish. In fact, Africa can add 20 percent more grain to the 2.6 billion tons of worldwide production, and nearly the same amount of fruits and vegetables. Agriculture also has the greatest potential to bring about gender and class equality by providing a source of income for women and the poor.
  2. Women in Africa represent nearly 70 percent of the workforce in agriculture and contribute up to 90 percent of the labor, but many women lose land after losing a husband. In fact, in Zambia, nearly 33 percent of widows lose access to family land. Unlike women, men have greater access to productive resources and therefore produce more per acre. By giving women access to resources, agriculture in Africa can produce up to 30 percent more and reduce hunger by 12 to 17 percent. In other words, women in Africa have the potential to feed as much as 150 million people.
  3. Changing the law is not the only answer to closing the gender gap in land ownership, it also requires social change and awareness. In Mozambique, a country in southeastern Africa, women have access to land and property (land law of 1997). However, implementation of the law took time due to traditional courts abiding by customary rules. This follows men being the head of their house and land. In Ghana, there are two laws from 1985 with goals of ensuring widows consent and benefit from selling family land, but not enough women are aware of the laws. Currently, several U.N. agencies are working to strengthen laws in African countries, re-shape social norms and raise awareness of women’s rights. This includes a Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women. They aid more than 40 thousand women with training and enhancing their access to financial services and markets.
  4. Smallholder farms are family farms that are less than seven acres and form 80 percent of Africa’s farmland. There are 33 million family farms that are under four acres in Africa. Research shows that job creation is better capitalized, and investors receive more for their money on smallholder farms than industrial farms. Many farmers in Zambia,  have over 24 acres of land and direct access to markets and inputs such as fertilizer. On the other hand, larger family farms with good soil and access to markets are considered low risk due to receiving aid. Included are welfare, cheaper food and crop insurance. This allows farmers to take risks and increase productivity, such as growing crops for profit. Low risk means access to credit and therefore valuable inputs that will increase yield. The success of many farms depends on financing and resources.
  5. A crucial resource to increasing Africa’s production and growth is giving farmers access to more inputs. Many farmers use traditional farming methods, such as animal waste or cover crops for fertilizer. Despite these efforts, they are still unable to replenish their soil. Many do not have access to synthetic fertilizers or pesticides if they need them and cannot afford irrigation pumps. In fact, only six percent of arable land in Africa is irrigated. Producing more food, such as grain in Africa requires investment.  In order for maximum output of crops, there should be approximately eight times more fertilizer, six times better seeds and funding of $8 billion for storage and $65 billion for irrigation.
  6. According to the U.N., foreign investment contracts in Africa have seized nearly 50 million acres of land. However, these acts were not always conducted diligently or openly. Although some sources suggest that there is ample land for the taking, local indigenous people are often overlooked as viable owners. Additionally, much of the land in Africa is unattainable. About 50 to 70 million acres in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa are arable, while the rest is lost to poor infrastructure, conflict zones, or under forest cover and conservation.
  7. Grow Africa’s mission is to increase private sector investments in agriculture in Africa, which addresses obstacles beyond the number of inputs. Rising urbanization and transportation reduce costs in transporting goods to markets. Investing in infrastructure would not only improve transportation but also intensify local competition. Additionally, it would allow access to arable land and create an efficient and profitable market. After stakeholders invested in agriculture in 11 African countries, poverty and hunger rates dropped and production rates increased.
  8. Farm Africa’s initiative is to improve smallholder farm practices and alleviate poverty starts with the stakeholders. The farmers along with agribusinesses, private investors, national research centers and the government are all vital resources which help farmers. They all aid in implementing technologies that increase resilient and productive outputs. In addition, Growing Futures encourage farms to work together to aggregate high-quality crops. It also promotes creating business plans and selling in bulk at higher prices. Farmers taking part in the project have are experiencing income increases. On average, average income has increased by 49.5 percent. In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kenya, there are 446 farmers across 23 farms whose income accumulate as high as $210 thousand.
  9. Climate is a deciding factor in the success or failure of a farm. Most of the continent’s irrigation resides in only five of the 54 countries, making farmers more vulnerable to weather fluctuations. Farm Africa provides forecasts, insurance and small-scale irrigation systems to protect farmers against unexpected weather events.
  10. Farm Africa gives farmers access to important inputs. For example, fertilizers, drought-tolerant or disease-resistant seeds, and storage for their crops. Kenyan native, Lucy Marani, is a smallholder farmer who grew garden-variety peas to sell locally before finding financial security by diversifying her crops and switching to a more profitable seed that appeals to domestic and international markets. In 2018, Farm Africa fundraised raised $522 thousand. These funds aided Marani and two thousand other farmers in achieving security and success.

Improving agriculture in Africa not only addresses food instability. In fact, it is likely to bring about political rights, a steady economy and lower rates of poverty.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

The post 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa appeared first on The Borgen Project.

10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

Agriculture in AfricaAgriculture in Africa is the cornerstone of sub-Saharan Africa, generating almost 23 percent of the continent’s GDP. Here, women are the backbone of the industry; yet, one in every four malnourished people in the world lives in Africa, and land laws are not as favorable to women as they are to men. The country-led initiative, Grow Africa, and the U.K. based charity, Farm Africa, are working to fix these disparities to help Africa reach its potential. Here are 10 facts about agriculture in Africa.

Top 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

  1. Agriculture is one of the most beneficial assets a country can have. It creates more jobs and helps eliminate poverty and hunger, which are immediate problems Africa is facing. Africa’s population will nearly double by 2050 and quadruple by 2100, making it harder to feed communities and generate wealth, but agriculture in Africa has the potential to flourish. In fact, Africa can add 20 percent more grain to the 2.6 billion tons of worldwide production, and nearly the same amount of fruits and vegetables. Agriculture also has the greatest potential to bring about gender and class equality by providing a source of income for women and the poor.
  2. Women in Africa represent nearly 70 percent of the workforce in agriculture and contribute up to 90 percent of the labor, but many women lose land after losing a husband. In fact, in Zambia, nearly 33 percent of widows lose access to family land. Unlike women, men have greater access to productive resources and therefore produce more per acre. By giving women access to resources, agriculture in Africa can produce up to 30 percent more and reduce hunger by 12 to 17 percent. In other words, women in Africa have the potential to feed as much as 150 million people.
  3. Changing the law is not the only answer to closing the gender gap in land ownership, it also requires social change and awareness. In Mozambique, a country in southeastern Africa, women have access to land and property (land law of 1997). However, implementation of the law took time due to traditional courts abiding by customary rules. This follows men being the head of their house and land. In Ghana, there are two laws from 1985 with goals of ensuring widows consent and benefit from selling family land, but not enough women are aware of the laws. Currently, several U.N. agencies are working to strengthen laws in African countries, re-shape social norms and raise awareness of women’s rights. This includes a Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women. They aid more than 40 thousand women with training and enhancing their access to financial services and markets.
  4. Smallholder farms are family farms that are less than seven acres and form 80 percent of Africa’s farmland. There are 33 million family farms that are under four acres in Africa. Research shows that job creation is better capitalized, and investors receive more for their money on smallholder farms than industrial farms. Many farmers in Zambia,  have over 24 acres of land and direct access to markets and inputs such as fertilizer. On the other hand, larger family farms with good soil and access to markets are considered low risk due to receiving aid. Included are welfare, cheaper food and crop insurance. This allows farmers to take risks and increase productivity, such as growing crops for profit. Low risk means access to credit and therefore valuable inputs that will increase yield. The success of many farms depends on financing and resources.
  5. A crucial resource to increasing Africa’s production and growth is giving farmers access to more inputs. Many farmers use traditional farming methods, such as animal waste or cover crops for fertilizer. Despite these efforts, they are still unable to replenish their soil. Many do not have access to synthetic fertilizers or pesticides if they need them and cannot afford irrigation pumps. In fact, only six percent of arable land in Africa is irrigated. Producing more food, such as grain in Africa requires investment.  In order for maximum output of crops, there should be approximately eight times more fertilizer, six times better seeds and funding of $8 billion for storage and $65 billion for irrigation.
  6. According to the U.N., foreign investment contracts in Africa have seized nearly 50 million acres of land. However, these acts were not always conducted diligently or openly. Although some sources suggest that there is ample land for the taking, local indigenous people are often overlooked as viable owners. Additionally, much of the land in Africa is unattainable. About 50 to 70 million acres in nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa are arable, while the rest is lost to poor infrastructure, conflict zones, or under forest cover and conservation.
  7. Grow Africa’s mission is to increase private sector investments in agriculture in Africa, which addresses obstacles beyond the number of inputs. Rising urbanization and transportation reduce costs in transporting goods to markets. Investing in infrastructure would not only improve transportation but also intensify local competition. Additionally, it would allow access to arable land and create an efficient and profitable market. After stakeholders invested in agriculture in 11 African countries, poverty and hunger rates dropped and production rates increased.
  8. Farm Africa’s initiative is to improve smallholder farm practices and alleviate poverty starts with the stakeholders. The farmers along with agribusinesses, private investors, national research centers and the government are all vital resources which help farmers. They all aid in implementing technologies that increase resilient and productive outputs. In addition, Growing Futures encourage farms to work together to aggregate high-quality crops. It also promotes creating business plans and selling in bulk at higher prices. Farmers taking part in the project have are experiencing income increases. On average, average income has increased by 49.5 percent. In Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kenya, there are 446 farmers across 23 farms whose income accumulate as high as $210 thousand.
  9. Climate is a deciding factor in the success or failure of a farm. Most of the continent’s irrigation resides in only five of the 54 countries, making farmers more vulnerable to weather fluctuations. Farm Africa provides forecasts, insurance and small-scale irrigation systems to protect farmers against unexpected weather events.
  10. Farm Africa gives farmers access to important inputs. For example, fertilizers, drought-tolerant or disease-resistant seeds, and storage for their crops. Kenyan native, Lucy Marani, is a smallholder farmer who grew garden-variety peas to sell locally before finding financial security by diversifying her crops and switching to a more profitable seed that appeals to domestic and international markets. In 2018, Farm Africa fundraised raised $522 thousand. These funds aided Marani and two thousand other farmers in achieving security and success.

Improving agriculture in Africa not only addresses food instability. In fact, it is likely to bring about political rights, a steady economy and lower rates of poverty.

– Emma Uk
Photo: Flickr

The post 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Bolsonaro’s Stance on Land Demarcation Rights

Land Demarcation Rights
Within hours of being sworn in as the new president of Brazil this past January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro removed land demarcation rights from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and transferred that power to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Under the 1988 Brazil Constitution, it is illegal for agricultural companies to lease land inside indigenous reservations for the growing of commercial crops. However, with the transference of land demarcation rights to the Ministry of Agriculture, the agribusiness sector of Brazil may be allowed to cultivate land inside of indigenous territory – because they will be the ones defining what constitutes “indigenous land.”

This was a controversial decision, but not a surprising one for Bolsonaro. During his campaign, the far-right president-elect of Brazil promised to open up indigenous territories – which make up 13 percent of Brazilian land – to agricultural and mining interests. The Parliamentary Agricultural Front endorsed him, a congressional lobby which represents the agribusiness sector of the Brazilian economy and whose members make up more than a quarter of the nation’s Senate.

Bolsonaro and Indigenous Rights

In addition, Bolsonaro has been a vocal opponent of indigenous rights throughout his political career. The indigenous rights organization, Survival International, created an archive of various speeches, interviews and social media posts where Bolsonaro made racist remarks or proclaimed his intent to remove the rights of indigenous peoples, especially where land demarcation was concerned.

The list extends as far back as 1998 when Bolsonaro said that it was “a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians.” (from the newspaper Correio Braziliense, April 1998). In February 2018, Bolsonaro announced his intent to remove land demarcation altogether: “If I become President, there will not be a centimeter more of indigenous land.”

For many indigenous groups, the fulfillment of these claims is all but a declaration of war against them by the government. The indigenous territories of Brazil are home to approximately 900,000 people from 305 different ethnic groups. These groups range in size from tribes of 50,000 or more to dwindling groups that consist of only a few families; at least one tribe in the Amazon region consists of a single, unnamed survivor. Some of these groups have never made contact with the outside world. If the Brazilian government is to allow their lands to be opened to industrial interests, any of these people could lose the land that they have inhabited for centuries.

Opponents of land demarcation, including President Bolsonaro and the new Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina Dias, have argued that indigenous groups would benefit from being exposed to agricultural and industrial interests.

Indigenous Rights Activists

Nevertheless, indigenous rights activists maintain that the original inhabitants of Brazil have a right to stay on their own land with their own cultures. In a letter to President Bolsonaro, representatives from three different tribes – the Aruak, the Baniwa and the Apurina – stated their opposition to the forced opening of demarcation lines: “Who is not indigenous cannot suggest or dictate rules of how we should behave or act in our territory and in our country. We have the capacity and autonomy to speak for ourselves. We have the full civilian capacity to think, discuss the paths of indigenous peoples according to our rights… Our way of life is different. We are not against those who opt for a Western, capitalist economic model. But we have our own way of living and organizing in our lands and we have our way of sustainability. Therefore, we do not accept development nor an economic model done in any way and exclusive, that only impacts our territories. Our form of sustainability is to maintain and guarantee the future of our generation.”

Bolsonaro’s new policies have sparked protest by indigenous rights activists, who refuse to give their land up without a fight. The “Red January” movement, led by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), has denounced Bolsonaro’s anti-indigenous and anti-environmental stances in Brazil and all over the world. In the words of activist Rosilene Guajajara of the Amazon Guajajara tribe, “We’ve been resisting for 519 years. We won’t stop now. We’ll put all our strength together and we’ll win.”

Environment Impact of Agriculture on the Amazon

Aside from the threat posed to indigenous groups, the environmental impact of agricultural overtaking the Amazon could be devastating for the entire planet. Sometimes referred to as “the lungs of the planet,” the Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. It is also home to nearly 10 percent of the world’s wildlife, including 427 mammal species, 1,300 bird species and nearly 40,000 different plant species – including many that no one has discovered or named yet.

Since 1970, around 700,000 square miles of land – 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest – have been cleared away for use in cattle ranching, soy plantations and other agricultural ventures. The rate of disappearing land decreased drastically between 2004 and 2012, but in recent years deforestation has seen an increase. Recent research shows that the Amazon rainforest is currently absorbing a third less oxygen than it was a decade ago.

This increase in deforestation is in part due to the prominent agricultural lobby in Brazil pushing for more control over indigenous territory – the same agricultural lobby that endorsed Bolsonaro as he promised to strip indigenous tribes of their land demarcation rights.

Whether or not the combined resistance of Brazil’s indigenous peoples can put a stop to President Bolsonaro’s attempts to industrialize their land remains to be seen. Organizations like APIB and Survival International are attempting to save land demarcation rights by spreading the word about the plight of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

– Keira Charles
Photo: Flickr

The post Bolsonaro’s Stance on Land Demarcation Rights appeared first on The Borgen Project.

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Agriculture in Africa is the cornerstone of sub-Saharan Africa, generating almost 23 percent of the continent’s GDP. Here, women are the backbone of the industry; yet, one in every four malnourished people in the world lives in Africa, and land laws are not as favorable to women as they are to men. The country-led initiative, […]

The post 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Learn More

10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa

Agriculture in Africa is the cornerstone of sub-Saharan Africa, generating almost 23 percent of the continent’s GDP. Here, women are the backbone of the industry; yet, one in every four malnourished people in the world lives in Africa, and land laws are not as favorable to women as they are to men. The country-led initiative, […]

The post 10 Facts About Agriculture in Africa appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Learn More

Bolsonaro’s Stance on Land Demarcation Rights

Within hours of being sworn in as the new president of Brazil this past January 2019, Jair Bolsonaro removed land demarcation rights from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and transferred that power to the Ministry of Agriculture. Under the 1988 Brazil Constitution, it is illegal for agricultural companies to lease land inside indigenous reservations for […]

The post Bolsonaro’s Stance on Land Demarcation Rights appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Learn More