Robynne Anderson's Emerging Thoughts on Ag

Manyinga Working Group Sets Goals for the Next Three Years

Manyinga Working Group

The Manyinga Working Group, L to R – Richard Thiessen, Wendi Thiessen, Cam Dahl, Allan Ronald, Myrna Ronald, Jody Dundas, Robynne Anderson, Dorothy Murrell, Art Enns, Jennifer Karton (missing David Bossman)

Committee members Allan and Myrna Ronald hosting a meeting of the Manyinga Working Group on Wednesday evening, at which the goals and budgets for the next three years were the topic of conversation. The project is entering a period of transition, with ongoing negotiations with the Zambian government to assume responsibility for the funding of the schools. The purpose of the meeting was to identify areas of the project that would continue to be supported by donations and begin developing transition plans for those area that would be transferred to government responsibility.

Many members had not met in person until this event, and we are all thankful to Allan and Myrna for arranging and hosting the gathering.

The Manyinga Project supports two schools built to meet the needs of orphan and vulnerable children at Chinema and Samafunda, small villages in the Manyinga region of Zambia that has been devastated by multiple public health challenges and the grinding reality of poverty.To find out more about the Manyinga Project, please visit manyinga.org.

A Small Investment Today, Returns for a Lifetime

Emerging and myself have been blessed to be involved in the Manyinga Project, supporting two schools built to meet the needs of orphan and vulnerable children at Chinema and Samafunda, small villages in the Manyinga region of Zambia that has been devastated by multiple public health challenges and the grinding reality of poverty.

The two schools have an average annual enrollment of almost 500 students, and a teaching staff of about 12. In addition to a primary education, the students receive basic health care and participate in an agriculture/self-sufficiency program in which the students grow food and raise animals in order to learn essential agriculture skills, provide for a nutritional program for the children and earn a modest income for the schools by selling the surplus.

Now is the time that many think of making an end of year donation to a worthy cause, and I would ask that you consider supporting the Manyinga Project.

Entrance to the new two-room school house the project has funded in Samafunda.

Entrance to the new two-room school house the project has funded in Samafunda.


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Are Views on GMOs Changing?

Brooke Borel asks that very question in this post on Popular Science about a recent sold out Oxford-style debate on GMOs hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S. in New York. It is exciting to see what good debate can do and with the discussion and the movement in the audience it seems like it is possible to broker middle ground in the GM debate. The polarisation of the GM discussion is not good and it is a great time to think about framing the discussion in new, more constructive ways.

Moving Oats

Robynne Anderson and Connor Rosine of Emerging prepare to present at the Prairie Oat Growers Association annual meeting in Banff.

Robynne Anderson and Connor Rosine of Emerging prepare to present at the Prairie Oat Growers Association annual meeting in Banff.

“Cautiously optimistic” is how Jim McCarthy, President and CEO of the North American Millers Association, described the sentiments of the oat millers following the difficult year in 2013-14 when US processors were unable to get to Canadian oats. In a panel moderated by Robynne Anderson, the long term impacts on the oat business were discussed. It was acknowledged that the failure of the grain transportation system will mean that European oats will have a foothold in the market for years to come. However, the situation has seen more steady shipments that have helped catch up the shortfalls from last winter. Lorne Boundy of Paterson Grain provided a frank assessment of the challenges oats face to provide the margins for grain handlers and the need to get more access to freight services. It is clear handlers, railways and millers will need to think about capacity and efficiency gains.

Bruce McFadden of Quorum Corporation, Canada’s Grain Monitor, explained that data is starting to flow from the new initiatives to monitor shipments to southern corridors. Monthly data will soon be available, but it will lack destination specific data that allows proper assessment of rail car turnarounds. The Prairie Oat Growers Association will be calling vigorously for increased transparency on the numbers and inclusion of additional data so the Grain Monitor can do its work.

Farming First Infographic Highlights Africa’s Agricultural Potential

There is an excellent infographic up on Farming First’s website currently that showcases a lot of the issues facing African farmers – and how those problems represent the opportunity for growth. It’s an excellent resource that’s well-sourced and highly informative. You can find it here.