At Harvest Time, Seeing is Believing
It’s maize harvesting time in western Kenya. Tearing the husks off her corn, Jentrix Mesache can hardly believe her eyes – or her ears.
The ears of corn are thick and long, perhaps three times larger than the ears she harvested last year. As proof, she retrieves an ear of corn from the previous harvest and holds it up next to one she has just picked. It is a stark contrast, scrawny (last year) versus strong (this year).
“It’s like a miracle to me,” she says. Last year her maize harvest from her half-acre plot didn’t even fill two 90 kg bags; that, says the 30-year-old mother of three, was barely enough to feed her family for two months. This year, she’s expecting to fill at least 10 bags. That will mean the difference between feeding her family all year or struggling through the traditional “hunger season” – the period that begins when the food of the previous harvest runs out and agonizingly stretches until the next harvest comes in.
Jentrix credits the difference in yields to her membership in the One Acre Fund, a new organization that aims to bring the best available technology and the best farming and business practices to farmers who in the past have had neither. One Acre, which works with about 25,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda, provides seed and fertilizer in advance of the planting season – in the past, late delivery of those inputs, and then often in insufficient amounts, have limited harvests.
Tags: acre, Addis Ababa, agriculture, agriculture production, agriculture revolution, Asia, beans, corn, crop insurance, crop yields, Ethiopia, farm, farmers, farming, feed, fertilizer, Green Revolution, greenhouse, harvest, hunger, inputs, Kellogg School of Management, Kenya, Kenya, land, Latin America, maize, markets, milk cow, Norman Borlaug, Northwestern University, One Acre Fund, pests, planting, plot, Rwanda, seed, small-holder farmers, soil, sprouts, vegetables, yields
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On July 20th, 2010, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, and the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, held a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Feed the Future Initiative.”
In his opening remarks, Russ Carnahan (D - MO), Chairman of the International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee, noted the “need to focus on breeding,biotechnology, and agronomic practices” to feed the world’s growing population in the future. Additionally, he called on the USG to use its “smart power” to end “unfair trade restrictions on genetically modified food in Europe – a key impediment to increased use of biotechnology in Africa."
Patricia Haslach, Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy in the Office of the Coordinator for the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative at the U.S. Department of State, remarked on USG efforts to increase donor accountability and donor coordination on the at country, regional and global levels. She also briefly touched the on the interagency coordination and whole-of-government approach for the FTF initiative, citing the leadership shown by Secretaries Clinton, Geithner, and Vilsack, as well as Administrator Shah.
Tags: Africa, agricultural research, agronomic, biotechnology, breeding, Catholic Relief Services, child, country-led, development, diplomacy, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, feed, Feed the Future Initiative, genetically modified food, Gerald Steiner, global health, growing population, Hans Herren, Hillary Clinton, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Human Rights, International Organizations, Lutheran World Relief, Millennium Institute, Monsanto, Rajiv Shah, Russ Carnahan, Rwanda, smart power, Timothy Geithner, Tom Vilsack, trade, U.S. Department of State, Uganda, under-nutrition, USAID, William Garvelink, William H. Danforth
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In Niger, starvation looms for nearly seven million people in the landlocked African country. Drought, crop failure, pest infestations, and high food prices have triggered severe food shortages, forcing people to leave their homes and sell their livestock and possessions. The humanitarian crisis is far from over.
A new government survey in Niger finds the number of acutely malnourished children under age five has risen to nearly 17 percent, leading World Food Program executive director Josette Sheeran to declare Niger an emergency operation this week. Sheeran also warned that August and September were “critical” months, as children under two needed special nutritional help because their brains and bodies face permanent damage from acute malnutrition. "We risk losing a generation there," she said.
Tags: Action Against Hunger, Africa, cash-for-work, children, crop failure, drought, food crisis, food shortage, high food prices, humanitarian crisis, hygiene, Josette Sheeran, livestock, malnourished, malnutrition, Niger, nutrition, nutritional, pest infestations, sanitation, starvation, water, World Food Program, World Food Programme
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Developed countries boosted government support for agriculture in 2009, according to a report that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released in early July. The report, “Agricultural Policies in OECD Countries: At a Glance 2010,” is part of the OECD’s annual effort to quantify and assess the support that its 31 developed country members provide to their agricultural producers.
The report says the producer support estimate (PSE) rose to around 252.5 billion dollars or 22 percent of total farm receipts in 2009. This compares with a 21 percent share in 2008 and 22 percent in 2007. The latest rise in support across the OECD countries was due to the easing back of agricultural commodity prices after they hit record highs in 2008. The falls triggered government programmes aimed at propping up domestic prices or farm income.
The sharpest rises in support to farmers (in relation to total receipts) last year occurred in Canada, where the PSE rose to 20% from 13% of farm receipts, in Korea (52% from 46%), Norway (66% from 60%) and Switzerland (63% from 57%). In each of these countries the main cause was increased price support for dairy products.
Tags: agricultural commodity prices, Agricultural Policies, agricultural producers, agricultural production, agriculture, Australia, Canada, dairy, distort markets, EU, European Union, export control, farm income, farm support, farmers, Korea, Norway, OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, subsidies, subsidy, Switzerland, United States, US
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TAKING IT TO (AND FROM) THE FARMERS
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Countervailing winds have been blowing across the global efforts to reduce hunger through agriculture development.
Here in the Ethiopian capital, scientists, humanitarians and politicians from across the continent and around the world gathered this week at a symposium titled “Taking it to the farmer.” They were honoring Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, by putting into action what we are told were his final words before he died last year: “Take it to the farmer.” They plotted new – and renewed – efforts to help Africa’s small farmers grow more food to feed their families and sell on the markets. Improving soil health, boosting university research, empowering women farmers, nurturing commercial seed companies, strengthening extension services to advise farmers of the latest technology, and developing markets were highlighted as some of the keys to sparking a Green Revolution in Africa.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. capital, politicians were busy taking it away from the farmers. In crafting the fiscal year 2011 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs cut President Obama’s request to fund elements of his Feed the Future program. The markup includes $1 billion for agriculture and food security programs, $300 million less than the president’s request. The cuts also included $258 million from the request to fund the brand new global agriculture fund (known as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, or GAFSP). The request was for $408 million for the fund; the markup was for just $150 million. The whittling was continuing in the Senate.
Tags: Addis Ababa, Africa, agriculture, agriculture development, agriculture production, arable land, Bangladesh, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Congress, developing countries, Ethiopia, extension, farmer, feed, Feed the Future, food, food aid, food production, food security, Foreign Operations, Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, global food insecurity, Green Revolution, Haiti, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, hunger, hunger, market, Norman Borlaug, population, research, Roger Thurow, Rwanda, Rwanda, seed, Senate, Sierra Leone, small farmer, soil health, South Korea, Spain, technology, terracing, Togo, top soil erosion, water harvesting, women, World Bank
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Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service released its annual global food security assessment.
The report finds that food security in 70 developing countries is estimated to have improved between 2009 and 2010, in part due to economic recovery in many of these countries. The number of food-insecure people in the developing countries analyzed by USDA researchers is estimated to decrease about 5 percent from 2009 to 882 million in 2010. The number of food-insecure people at the aggregate level will not improve much over the next decade, declining by only 1 percent. While there will be notable improvements in Asia and Latin America, the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to deteriorate after 2010.
The USDA defines "food-insecure people" as those consuming less than the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per day per person.
A more robust summary follows after the break:
Tags: Asia, calories, Caribbean, developing countries, donors, economic research service, food aid, food insecurity, food price crisis, food production, food security, food-insecure, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Nicaragua, nutrition, population growth, Sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Department of Agriculture, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, USDA, World Bank, World Food Programme
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The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations cut $4 billion from the president's $56.7 billion request for State Department and foreign operations money in a bill unveiled nearly two weeks ago.
A closer examination of the funding cuts with respect to appropriations toward supporting global food security indicates that the Subcommittee has allocated $1 billion for food security and agricultural development, $300 million below the president's request. The majority of the reduction in funding for global food security and agricultural development comes out of the World Bank-administered Global Food Security Fund, which the Subcommittee marked up at $150 million -- over $258 million less than the president requested for the fund.
Tags: agriculture development, David Obey, foreign aid, global food security, Global Food Security Fund, House Appropriations Committee, House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Kent Conrad, Nita Lowey, President Obama, Senate Budget Committee, State Department, World Bank
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