Poor water quality in Indonesia

Climate change, poor urban infrastructure and pollution resulting from rapid urban development and environmental destruction have led to poor water quality in Indonesia.

Although Indonesia enjoys 21 percent of the total freshwater available in the Asia-Pacific region, nearly one out of two Indonesians lack access to safe water, and more than 70 percent of the population rely on potentially contaminated sources.

Poor water quality in Indonesia is directly related to a life of poverty, as poor individuals are unable to afford clean drinking solutions.

To combat poverty and improve the lives of individuals, USAID has partnered with local governments and civil society organizations to weaken the agents of poor water quality in Indonesia by strengthening biodiversity and climate change resilience.

Climate Change

Climate change threatens to disrupt seasonal variations and thus water quality in Indonesia. The dry season may become more arid which would drive water demand, and the rainy season may condense higher precipitation levels into shorter periods, increasing the possibility of heavy flooding while decreasing the ability to capture and store water.

Increased flood conditions and rainfall facilitate the spread of disease in areas where the population lacks access to clean water and sanitation.

USAID works with the Indonesian government to help the most vulnerable areas of Indonesia become more resilient to climate change effects. The agency builds local government and civil society organizational capacity to understand the effects of climate change and to implement climate change solutions in agriculture, water and natural resources management.

More than 13,000 people have been trained in climate change adaptation strategies and disaster risk reduction. As a result, USAID has worked with more than 360 communities to develop action plans addressing the impacts of climate change, which in effect improves the poor water quality in Indonesia.

Environmental Destruction

Environmental destruction associated with unmanaged development and deforestation has left many parts of Indonesia extremely vulnerable to landslides, tsunamis and floods.

An environmental disaster furthers the cycle of poverty in Indonesia as individuals are left with even fewer resources than before. The country has lost around 72 percent of its forest cover over the last 50 years.

Large barren hillside areas and the underlying soils, both subject to heavy precipitation, greatly increase the likelihood and severity of floods. When flooding does occur, urban infrastructure is quickly overwhelmed which leads to sewage spillover and further contamination.

To combat environmental destruction and improve water quality in Indonesia, USAID works to conserve and strengthen biodiversity in Indonesia. The agency does so by building capacity in national and local government bodies and associated civil society actors, and by entering partnerships, to promote and strengthen sustainable land-use practices and management in four provinces.

Projects developed by USAID focus on conserving large swaths of lowland and peat forest with high concentrations of biodiversity.

Pollution

Indonesia has become a pollution hotspot due to its economic development and rapid urbanization. Waste from commercial and industrial processes is increasingly making its way into both groundwater and surface supplies affecting water quality in Indonesia. Moreover, Indonesia’s urban slums particularly lack wastewater treatment to combat the growing pollution.

The basic sanitation infrastructure necessary to prevent human excrement from contaminating water supplies is virtually nonexistent. Households simply dispose their domestic waste directly to a river body.

Since many Indonesians are poor and have no access to piped water, they use river water for drinking, bathing and washing. Around 53 percent of the population obtains water from sources contaminated by raw sewage, which greatly increases human susceptibility to water-related diseases.

To improve the poor water quality in Indonesia by combating the effects of pollution, USAID has facilitated access to clean water for more than 2 million people and basic sanitation to more than 200,000 people.

These actions have built one more step for individuals in Indonesia to walk out of poverty, as their low income does not inhibit them from enjoying clean drinking water.

Alexis Pierce

Photo: Pixabay

Popularity of Quinoa

Prior to quinoa’s surge in popularity, few Americans had heard of this South American grain. U.S. imports alone quadrupled between 2006 and 2010 as quinoa’s virtues of versatility and high protein content spread.

Negative Speculations

Unbeknownst to the public, quinoa production had a direct impact on the levels of poverty in Peru. So, soon after quinoa “took off,” a slew of inflammatory articles in 2013 reprimanded quinoa consumers for raising the demand and price of the nutritious food, which restricted access for poor Andean people.

Poverty in Peru and Bolivia affects over 50 percent of people in the Andean region. Many suffer from lack of education, food insecurity, poor health care and a life expectancy 20 years lower than people in Lima.

Due to conditions in this region, “foreign quinoa consumption is keeping locals from a staple grain” is a serious accusation. However, the popularity of this protein-rich food has provided many economic benefits for the area. A NPR study showed how living conditions drastically improved for people in the Andes during the boom in quinoa sales.

In 2013, the Guardian published an inflammatory article called, “Can Vegans Stomach the Unpalatable Truth About Quinoa?” claiming that fame has driven the prices so high that locals can no longer afford it. The argument seemed sound as poverty in Peru is a major issue. It seemed though, that the Guardian brought up a touchy subject–droves of articles then began cropping up both defending and debunking this argument.

Positive Effects

The good news is that quinoa prices are still within reach for Peruvians. A recent article from NPR explains two different studies focusing on the super grain: one found that the people in quinoa-growing regions, farmer or otherwise, experienced an economic flourishing that favored farmers and generally overcame any additional quinoa costs; the second study focused on quinoa consumption in the Puno region where 80 percent of Peruvian quinoa is grown.

The author of the second study, a Berkeley graduate student, discovered that people in the Puno region consumed a similar amount of the grain without cutting any valuable nutrients from their diets.

While quinoa is culturally important, it is not a staple crop like rice or maize. On average, only between 0.5 and 4 percent of an average Peruvian family’s budget is spent on quinoa–thus the extra cost is not debilitating. In fact, quite the opposite of debilitation occurred: domestic quinoa consumption tripled in 2013.

While the positive economic effects continue to boost the region, there are reasonable concerns about the sustainability or longevity of quinoa production. Demand has caused farmers to decrease the amount of quinoa varieties grown, as well as reduce llama farming which used to provide fertilizer.

Degradation of soil and biodiversity are also risks of extensive quinoa production. Unfortunately, quinoa’s popularity also attracts competitors, and as other countries began to grow the super grain and supply increases, Peruvian demand falls. Prices are sinking, which is great for frugal, health conscious shoppers but very concerning for Bolivian quinoa farmers.

Sustaining Success

While unclear how long benefits will last, quinoa’s popularity proves extremely beneficial towards alleviating rural poverty in Peru and Bolivia. In order to extend the grain’s benefits, some organizations are trying to encourage the sale of more varieties of quinoa to conserve biodiversity and renew interest in South American grown grains.

On the positive side, quinoa has provided some temporary relief for those facing poverty in Peru.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Pixabay

End World Hunger GMOs
GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals whose genetic codes have been altered by the insertion of genes from a different plant or animal in order to gain advantageous traits. Plants can be modified, for example, to better resist disease, pests and drought.

GMOs undergo rigorous testing (a period ranging from five to eight years) conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to make sure the genetically modified food is safe for human consumption. Currently, there is no legislation requiring food packagers to label the genetically modified food that sits on supermarket shelves.

AgriLife Research at Texas A & M investigated the introduction of spinach proteins into citrus trees to help protect them against citrus greening, a disease responsible for millions of dollars in citrus crop losses annually. The spinach protein-infused citrus trees were less susceptible to citrus greening compared to normal citrus trees, allowing a larger crop to be harvested for consumption.

 

GMOs Tackle World Hunger

 

With the success of many GMO projects, research is being done to determine how this technology can be used to address the issue of world hunger. Modified crops that can benefit developing countries include C4 Rice, which is being funded by the Gates Foundation. Rice naturally photosynthesizes through the C3 pathway, which is less efficient than the C4 pathway utilized primarily by grass crops such as maize and sugarcane. Converting the cellular structure of rice from C3 to C4 will allow the crop to support more people than is currently possible. While a single hectare of land in Asia produces enough rice to feed 27 people, the International Rice Research Institute has estimated that by 2050, that same hectare will need to produce enough rice to feed 43 people, a problem that genetically modified C4 rice may be able to address.

Since rice provides one-fifth of the calories consumed by people worldwide, more efficient rice crops have the potential to combat world hunger related to population growth.  Other projects, such as editing and deleting genetic information in crops using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, are making headway in an effort to produce crops that are less reliant on chemical pesticides and more adaptable to inhospitable growing conditions.

GMOs have the potential to help solve food production issues in the future, making a dent in the fight against global poverty. Yet it is important to recognize the reality of and work to address the downsides, as the introduction of GMO crops (large, industrialized yields) to a country’s economy could change local farming practices (smaller, local yields), may dominate their food markets, can harm the environment through the required pesticides and can result in large-scale monocultures.

– Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Developing Economies

Social impact technology company, United Needs, works under the belief that the world is at its healthiest when interconnected. In order to disrupt cycles of poverty for rural farmers while simultaneously strengthening Earth’s food system, the organization is introducing new mobile technology to bring together advanced and developing economies.

In the next 34 years, the world will see an increase of 2.4 billion citizens. To feed this population the global food supply must increase by 69%, which means that finite agricultural resources must be used in the most effective way possible.

At the same time, the increase in population presents an exciting opportunity for smallholder farmers to play a large role in the expanding food economy. The United Needs website calls this “convergence of market forces” a chance for impoverished farmers to “grow their way out of poverty.”

In the current climate, small farmers in developing countries struggle with a variety of challenges. While small farms can be extremely productive, too few selling opportunities exist and farmers often lack access to traditional credit facilities. When market options are available, several levels of middlemen often consume most of the profit.

Research by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector showed that improving the financial state of the rural poor is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty at the bottom rung of the financial ladder.

United Needs works on projects that seek to empower rural farmers as a means of alleviating poverty and building a sustainable food economy. Their methods involve breaking down barriers to profit by connecting developing economies directly with advanced ones.

With the motto “high tech with a high purpose,” United Needs keeps technology at the heart of its strategy. In order to “cut out the middleman” preventing smallholders from accessing credit and capital, the company created a mobile app that allows farmers to directly contact microfinance institutions and buyers. Customers interested in buying in bulk can bundle crops from multiple small farmers together to build large orders.

This high tech process is creating a more connected global economy by offering opportunities for advanced and developing economies to support one another through food production and consumption.

Jen Diamond

Photo: Flickr

Gerd-Müller-Boosts-Germany’s-InvestmentBenin and Togo will see increased financial support from Germany for agriculture and development opportunities this year.

Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, traveled to Benin and Togo to promote partnership in January 2016. Müller hopes the increased funding will allow both countries to make advances in sustainable agriculture and, ultimately, help eradicate hunger.

“You need more than just water and fertilizer for agriculture,” Minister Müller said in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation’s Jan. 3 press release. “You also need knowledge and innovation!”

More than one-third of Benin’s population and over half of Togo’s population is living in poverty, according to the World Bank. For this reason, “advancing food security and providing job prospects in these two partner countries of German development cooperation are so important,” the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation’s press release also stated.

Gerd Müller announced Benin would receive €20 million to support agricultural innovation at the inauguration of the green innovation center in Cotonou, Benin. Green innovation centers are part of A World Without Hunger, an initiative of Germany and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

“The centers provide innovative technologies and extension services and thus help to increase smallholders’ incomes, create employment opportunities and improve the food situation in rural areas,” the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation said.

While in Togo, Müller inaugurated the first vocational training course for motorcycle mechanics based on the dual system, which provides an apprenticeship in a company while the student earns a vocational education.

“Togo is a young and vibrant country,” Müller said. “That is why the country needs more than modern technology and an enabling environment. More than anything else, it needs its people – qualified workers.”

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is working with Togo to establish a dual system of vocational training for five trades.

“Togo is an anchor of stability in West Africa, and must remain so,” Gerd Müller said. “That is why we want to help create better prospects for the people living there through better vocational education and training, better agricultural yields, and better conditions for investments in Togo’s economy.”

Müller also announced in the Jan. 4, 2016 press release for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation that Togo would receive €6.5 million to innovate agricultural methods and fight hunger.

Summer Jackson

Sources: BMZ 1, BMZ 2, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, Deutschland, IFPRI
Photo: Google Images

Improved Seeds
Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm is one of the most important research farms in northern Afghanistan. Nestled in the Dehdadi district of the Balkhl province, the farm produces breeder seeds. These genetically improved seeds flourish under local growing conditions, enabling farm productivity to increase.

Currently, the 16 employees of Posht-e-Bagh monitor 972 different types of wheat in order to assess their suitability for local growing conditions.

Every seed produced at Posht-e-Bagh passes through five initial stages: introduction (where seeds and the resulting crops are assessed for their suitability), selection, hybridization, mutation and genetic engineering. From there, a breeder seed is selected and then sent out for further processing before reaching farmers in the form of ‘improved’ seeds.

According to Abdul Wahid Wahidi, a researcher with the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL), the main goal of Posht-e-Bagh is to increase the productivity of farmers in northern Afghanistan. The eventual production and wide-scale distribution of improved seeds will help generate a long-term solution to the eradication of poverty among farmers.

Breeder seeds produced by farms like Posht-e-Bagh Research Farm are sent to one of six Improved Seed Enterprises (ISE) scattered across the country with the goal of multiplying the breeder seeds into foundation seeds. On such a farm is Khasa-Paz farm, where there are six varieties of wheat being grown on the 1.9 million square meter farm this year.

ISE farms eventually sell the seeds to one of 102 Private Seed Enterprises (PSEs) across the country. They then use these seeds to produce the certified seeds, or ‘improved’ seeds, which are distributed to local farmers.

Improved Seeds
“Improved seed is a vital input for proper crop production,” said Hesamuddin Rahimi, Afghanistan Agriculture Inputs Project (AAIP) Agronomy Manager in Balkh Province. The AAIP, launched in July 2013, is backed with $74.8 million in support from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). It is their aim to strengthen institutional capacity for the safety and reliability of agricultural inputs and sustainable production of certified seeds.

“Khasa-Paz farm has managed to help farmers to some extent,” Rahimi said. “As it is one of the farms where tons of registered seeds are being produced and sent to PSEs to produce improved seeds for distribution to the market.”

In fact, last year Khasa-Paz farm produced 87.5 tons of foundation seeds.

“The improved seeds result in good harvest. There is an almost 60 percent increase in yield of improved varieties compared to the local seeds,” Rahimi said. “The good thing about the improved seeds is they are suitable for this climate, a factor that increases both the quality and quantity of the crops.” The crops are also resistant against pests and diseases, adds Abdul Fatah, a farmer at Posht-e-Bagh farm.

Many farmers across Afghanistan still use low-quality seeds that result in poor harvests, a critical factor in perpetuating poverty among farmers. Those who have used the improved seeds now see the difference in output.

“Luckily now, farmers’ conditions are better because of the improved seeds,” Mohammad Ghani, a farmer who has been working on Khasa-Paz for eight years, said.

Farmer Lal Mohammad, a colleague of Ghani’s, echoes that sentiment: “Now that I see and understand the difference between good and poor quality seeds, I try to share the knowledge that I have gained with other farmers I know.”

Kara Buckley

Sources: ARTF, CIMMYT, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, World Bank 3
Photo: The World Bank, Agchallenge2050

end_global_hungerThe concept of poverty can be difficult to grasp, especially when it is far removed from our everyday lives.

While we may know that families go to bed hungry every night because they cannot afford to put dinner on the table, without tangible reminders that 925 million people around the world suffer from the effects of hunger, that knowledge often gets pushed to the background.

Overpopulation has been the most frequently blamed cause of starvation and global hunger, but there is more than enough food grown each year to feed the seven billion people on the planet. Then how is it that 2.5 million children die of starvation every year?

The answer to that question is complicated and has many contributing factors, but one reason is that a vast majority of the food grown today is fed to animals. The animal agriculture business has grown dramatically in the past 40 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“Global meat production is projected to more than doubt from 229 million [tons] in 2001 to 465 million [tons] in 2050,” the organization states. In order to sustain the increasing demand for animal byproducts, farmers have to grow or purchase more and more feed for their growing stock of animals.

The amount of grain produced today is enough to feed the entire world twice over, but 70 percent of that grain goes towards feeding livestock. Half of the water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow grain for cattle feed.

The water necessary for meat breeding equals about 190 gallons per animal per day, which is ten times more than the average Indian family uses in a day.

Meat in general, but specifically beef, is an incredibly inefficient food source. In order to raise a cow to the necessary size for consumption, 157 million metric tons of grain and vegetable protein is used to produce a mere 28 metric tons of animal protein.

When that is scaled to the industrial scope the cattle industry is currently at, the massive amount of calories that could be consumed by humans but are instead fed to cattle, is tremendous. If these calories were redistributed to feed humans instead of animals, it could help end global hunger.

In 2010, a UN report said, “A global shift towards a vegan diet [one that does not include any animal products] is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” The report claims that the western meat and dairy rich diets have become simply unsustainable.

According to the same report, the meat and dairy industry account for 70 percent of global freshwater consumption, 38 percent of total land use and 19 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The vast amount of resources directed towards producing meat and dairy products is creating a food distribution issue. While there is enough food being grown, not enough of it is going directly towards feeding people, especially people in poverty.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Global Issues, Live58, The Guardian, Gentle World, FAO
Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Photo Credit: Taken by Sean Hayes of veganliftz.com

fao_social_protection_program
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) updated its social protection plan by adding agricultural and rural development measures.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on reducing poverty have been met by many developing countries; however, there are still high levels of extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Evidence has shown that the three elements of the FAO social protection program: social assistance, social insurance and labor market protection, are very effective in reducing poverty and hunger.

In 2013, the program helped relieve up to 150 million people out of extreme poverty.

The most common form of social protection in developing countries is social assistance, which provides conditional or unconditional cash transfers to households and individuals.

These incentives account for large income losses and lack of savings when farmers are unable to produce enough to survive.

“Most of the world’s poor and hungry continue to live in rural area. According to the World Bank, about 78 percent of the planet’s poor are found in rural areas”, stated FAO Assistant Director-General Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

Rural households depend on subsistence agriculture to survive; the cash incentives provided by the FAO have proven to encourage households to invest in the education and health of their children.

These acts help end the generational cycle of poverty and bring FAO closer to achieving the first “Zero-Hunger Generation” goal.

The FAO social protection program has also allowed impoverished rural farmers in developing countries to weather the effects of external shocks such as floods, pests, droughts and price volatility.

José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, stated that “With climate change, the shocks happen year after year; it eats away at the capacity of rural poor to cope with it.

Social protection offers poor families a kind of buffer to protect them from external shocks.”

The most recent edition of The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 explains how the addition of agricultural and rural development measures to the social protection program will sustainably move people out of poverty and hunger.

The report illustrates that agricultural input subsidies, such as fertilizer, have been well received across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

There was an increase in food and fertilizer costs in 2007-2008, so the FAO agricultural incentive was instrumental in providing food security for rural households.

The report also addresses the issue of credit and how little of it is allocated to agricultural needs.

It goes on to emphasize that “leveraging public expenditure on agriculture and social programs” is imperative in strengthening agricultural and rural development.

Agricultural incentives and credit fosters independence amongst rural farmers. They become more financially capable and are able to manage household risks.

Providing credit also allows poor rural farmers to make investments in livestock and machinery, therefore increasing their productivity and income.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: BBC, FAO
Photo: Google Images

Humanitarian_Innovation
Over the past few years, the UNHCR has experimented with the use of green energy technology in developing countries as a way to create sustainable light, heating and jobs for the poor.

In 2013, the organization funded a solar-light and fuel-efficient stoves project called Light Years Ahead for Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad.

Sudanese refugees and Chadian locals were taught how to construct fuel-efficient stoves and then employed to make them for the community. The stoves do not use firewood, preventing deforestation.

The project successfully used green technology to create a functioning economy for impoverished refugees and locals.

This method of humanitarian aid utilizes skills from locals and refugees to create a functioning local economy.

Last year the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published a paper titled “Humanitarian Innovation” emphasizing the importance of capitalizing on the innovation of impoverished people.

The paper identifies previous approaches to humanitarian aid stressing that historically the UN and other aid organizations use a “top-down” structure.

This structure tends to work in the short-term by depending solely on aid from external actors rather than empowering those in need.

Instead, humanitarian innovation uses a “bottom-up” approach by “recognizing and understanding innovation capacity within communities”, and “putting these communities and local systems at the heart of the innovation process, regardless of where ideas or resources originate.”

This “bottom-up” method has been proven successful, mainly by its high investment value. In 2014, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) announced a $41 million dollar investment in developing countries’ renewable energy projects.

The investments are meant to stimulate local economies by creating markets. The 2015 and 2016 loan qualification criteria for projects in countries is its ability to assist communities by creating jobs, generating income, helping public education and health, improving energy access, innovation, replicability and aligning with government priorities.

Sierra Leone, Samoa, Mali, the Republic of Ecuador, and the Maldives are some of the countries receiving loan investments.

More and more foreign investors are looking at funding renewable energy projects as a financially wise decision. Portfolio diversification allows investors to spread the risk of a project investment failing among less risking investments.

In other words, if a few projects succeed, a few failed projects can still be financially supported. This approach allows investors to safely invest in green energy projects in developing countries without severe risk.

Agricultural project investments, especially, show the potential to revert climate change, supply food for poor communities, and create jobs for locals, creates food security by using farming systems that are more resilient to climate change.

In addition, these investments reduce emissions and increase “agriculture’s potential to capture and sequester atmospheric carbon” which is harmful to the earth’s atmosphere. This agricultural system depends on daily maintenance from locals. Some locals are trained how to farm by green technology programs.

In 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is part of the UN, and the European Commission invested €5.3 in Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia agricultural sectors to help with the transition into climate-smart agriculture.

Leslie Lipper, Senior Environmental Economist at FAO, says that, “Climate change offers the possibility for large-scale financing that’s directly linked to the agricultural sector to recognize the possibility for this environmental benefit, as well as the traditional agricultural products and markets.”

Michael Hopek

Sources: UNHCR, RSC 1, IRENA 1, IRENA 2, FAO, RSC 2, UN
Photo: bloglet

FAO in Mozambique
In Mozambique, 95 percent of the country’s agricultural production comes from farmers owning small pieces of land. Previously these farms were for subsistence, but the recent U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization initiative has helped to improve post-harvest practices enabling farmers to sell their crops for profits.

Because the vast majority of farms in Mozambique are small-scale subsistence farms, the communities relying on them are more vulnerable to the shocks of events such as conflict and climatic change. In addition, because yields are low, these farms barely cover subsistence needs, let alone enable families to save any income for the future.

One-third of the Mozambique population is chronically food-insecure. Half a million children are reported as being undernourished and 43 percent of children under five are considered malnourished.

Issues contributing to the lack of food security in Mozambique include a lack of diet diversity, poor agricultural yields and high rates of HIV infection impacting worker productivity, thus affecting agricultural efficiency and production.

It should be no surprise then, that with the high levels of food insecurity and HIV infection in Mozambique, poverty is widespread. The country ranks 178 out of 187 on the UNDP Human Development Index. Mozambique is receiving significant amounts of aid from the U.N.; the country is also a U.N.

“Delivering as One” country, meaning that the country is part of a pilot initiative to improve the partnership between the U.N. and the national government.

As part of Mozambique’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the country along with the U.N. are working to help farmers absorb less of a loss with regards to climatic shocks and protracted natural disasters.

One way to help farmers is to increase the length of time crops are able to be kept, eaten, and sold. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is teaching farmers how to store crops for maximum post-harvest storage. With the present technology, farmers lose an average of 30 percent of their harvest.

Currently, farmers sell the bulk of their crops immediately after the harvest. This is because farms in Mozambique often lack storage facilities to keep crops for a later sale, during which they could have a later price. By being able to control when crops are sold, farmers have greater potential to earn an income.

The FAO in Mozambique is teaching farmers about various post-harvest techniques; specifically, the FAO is training artisans in the construction of Gorongosa silos, which are durable, prevent crops from pests, and utilize locally developed technology. The Gorongosa silo is made from clay and mud. With proper care, it can last for twenty years.

This silo is a more valuable option than the traditional silos used in Mozambique, which offer little to no protection from pests or the elements. The Gorongosa silo keeps crops viable for ten months post-harvest, which gives more control to the farmers over their sales and reduces the need for chemical treatments.

This FAO initiative began in 2013 and intends to be a five-year project. Since its inception, 260 artisans have been trained in Gorongosa silo making in fifteen districts throughout Mozambique. Ultimately, the project hopes to train 20,000 farmers in the usage of Gorongosa silos and build 10,000 silos.

This initiative, in conjunction with other strategies to reduce HIV/AIDS in the region and promote economic growth, offers much to improve the livelihoods of those in Mozambique. With greater crop volume post-harvest, farmers can earn more of an income and reduce food insecurity for their families.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: FAO, U.N., World Food Programme

Photo: Flickr