African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills through tailored fellowships. AWARD is a catalyst for innovations with high potential to contribute to the prosperity and well-being of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.
Since 2008, 325 women agricultural scientists from 11 sub-Saharan African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia) have benefited from AWARD’s successful career development fellowships. AWARD recently launched a pilot program for women in five francophone countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal). I’ve met some of the brilliant women who have come out of the programme and have been impressed by all of them.
AWARD is currently seeking a science coordinator for their office in Nairobi. For more information, please visit www.awardfellowships.org.
A dip in commodity prices due to better harvests than was been expected in light of the drought in 2012 can be partly attributed to the miracle of modern crop varieties. This stock carryover, and aggressive planting intentions for corn in the US this season, are putting downward pressure on prices. USDA reports:
With grateful thanks to the Turkish and Pakistan Governments who proposed the resolution and the representatives of 47 other country governments who form FAO Council, we are very pleased to announce that Council approved unanimously the first of 3 steps towards the declaration of 2016 as UN International Year of Pulses, to follow the Year of Soil in 2015. The process continues at the FAO conference in Rome this June and then onto New York and the General Assembly.
Congratulations to the International Pulse and Trade Confederation.
In a world where Google and Wikipedia have put a global library at everyone’s finger tips, we live in a knowledge rich world. Still for all the ability to look up facts and access information, there is still an inability to cut through the clutter and pick a way forward. Sunny Verghese, the Managing Director and CEO of Olam International calls it the “insight deficit”. He named it the context of the challenges that lie before food security and the need for better more transparent markets.
From an article written by Robynne Anderson for Gaftaworld, Issue 201, April 2013
Biofuels policy is currently under examination by the UN’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on food security. Set in the context of the FAO’s 2012 call for the suspension of biofuels targets, the primary aim of the 85-page draft text (PDF, 2410KB) () is to analyze the implications for food security of global and national biofuels markets. Read the entire article (PDF, 282KB)
A global campaign has been launched to reduce food waste. Think. Eat. Save. is designed to encourage people to reduce food waste. 900 million people could be fed with the food that is wasted – equivalent to the number of hungry globally. A recent study has revealed that about one third of all food production world-wide gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems.
Almost half of this quantity is the result of retailers and consumers in industrialized regions who discard food that is fit for consumption. The total quantity wasted is about 300 million tonnes, which is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa. Visit the campaign at: http://www.thinkeatsave.org/index.php/about
The saying that women’s work is never done has never been shown to be as true as in the case of women farmers. African women do 80% of the farm work – including collecting water and firewood, preparing and cooking meals, processing and storing food and making household purchases. A study in Africa found that over the course of year, women carried the equivalent of more than 80 tonnes of fuel, water and farm produce for a distance of 1 km – mostly on their heads and backs. Some say this is equal to 2/3rds of the rural transport in sub-Saharan Africa.
Using an analogy to Saudi Arabia’s commanding role in the oil sector, Charles Elworthy of Craigmore Research calls New Zealand a “protein superpower”. With a population of 4 million people, New Zealand produces enough food to feed 100 million people.
Specifically, New Zealand produces 35% of international wholesale trade in milk and 65% in sheep meat.
In making the case for investing in New Zealand agriculture, he notes the efficiency of production and the unlikelihood of an export bans. Another factor in New Zealand’s success in proteins is the effectiveness of transportation. For many of the markets they serve, the cost of shipping from New Zealand by sea to the destination port is a tiny portion of the cost of domestic distribution inside the importing country. Road and rail transportation is a bigger part of the cost infrastructure for protein in importing countries.
Agriculture is a knowledge based endeavour and nowhere has benefitted more greatly from new agricultural practices than India. Through use of techniques embodied in the Green Revolution, the country has gone from a food deficit to a net exporter of some grains. At the same time, India stands to benefit from a new generation of technologies to improve the sustainability of farming, improve water efficiency, and increase production in a broad range of crops to address the hunger that remains the country.
Impressively, agricultural universities have increased in number and scale recently, however, they need to address many shared challenges. At a conference in February, 2013, Mark Holderness and Ajit Maru of GFAR Secretariat provided information on the implications of the GCARD process and the role of educational institutions in transforming agricultural knowledge systems for greater development impact. The Conference participants developed a Roadmap for transformative change in Indian agricultural education including:
Canadian oats are back on top in the Mexican market. After several years as the second or third source of oats in Mexico, 2012 statistics show that Canada is now the number one supplier. This comes following the purchase of Alberta Oats by Grupo Vida, Latin America’s largest oat processor.