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Addressing Food Security in Côte D'IvoireThe Côte d’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, region of Africa is mainly known for being one of the world’s largest cocoa producers. The population of Côte d’Ivoire is roughly 22.7 million people, with the majority of those living below the poverty line. Recently, food security in Côte d’Ivoire and other countries in Africa has been worsened by conflict, violence and increasing poverty throughout the continent.

Since July 2016, there has been a rise in conflict in 17 countries in the world, including the Côte d’Ivoire region. In a statement from the World Food Programme executive director Ertharin Cousin and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva, they classify violence and conflict as one of the leading causes of famine within Africa. The issue of conflict and violence in places like Africa increases the risk of famine, as it “undermines food security in multiple ways: destroying crops, livestock and agricultural infrastructure, disrupting markets, causing displacement, creating fear and uncertainty over fulfilling future needs, damaging human capital and contributing to the spread of disease among others.”

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called for action at the African Revolution Forum, stating that while Africa missed the first Green Revolution, they must now “seize the moment and tackle food urgency” and food security in Côte d’Ivoire and other African countries. Since the rise of famine in Africa, Cote d’Ivoire has made great progress in the Green Revolution, yet they still have a long road ahead of them. Transforming the agriculture of conflicted areas and improving food security in Côte d’Ivoire and other countries in Africa can also be achieved with The Feed Africa Strategy, which will “create wealth, improve ties and secure the environment.”

Along with the Green Revolution working toward alleviating poverty and aiding food security in Côte d’Ivoire and other countries in Africa, the U.N. states that “addressing hunger can be a meaningful contribution to peacebuilding” and can be achieved with the 2030 Agenda, as it is a “vital threshold condition for development.” Other organizations like Action Against Hunger are addressing food security in Côte d’Ivoire by providing people with nutritional support, access to safe water and sanitation and the means for economic self-sufficiency. The Borgen Project is helping by advocating for support of the International Affairs Budget and the Economic Growth and Development Act directly to Congress.

Jennifer Lightle

Photo: Flickr

Green Revolution in AfricaAs climate change threatens to alter weather patterns around the world, farmers face the challenges of increased frequency and intensity of droughts. Reliant on rainwater for crop production, these communities often struggle to produce food levels sufficient for even a subsistence farming lifestyle. However, drought-resistant crops may be the solution to negating the effects of these issues and ushering in the new green revolution in Africa.

In 2006, the DTMA (Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa) Initiative was launched with the aim of increasing crop output and negating the effects of drought in several countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The project has brought together all types of communities, from local agricultural groups and seed producers to research institutions and NGOs.

Of course, this ultimately raises the most the most important question of all: has the new green revolution in Africa succeeded?

“Green Revolution” is a term defined as the increased production of crop yields through the use of improved technological application, the use of pesticides and better management. There are a few areas where this definition applies more to the successes of the DTMA Initiative. In 2015, the drought-resistant maize improved crop output in 13 countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and others. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has reported that hybrid seeds will benefit an estimated 2.5 million people in the region.

“I was truly amazed. I harvested 110 kilograms of maize from the tiny demonstration plot,” 61-year-old farmer Jotham Apamo, whose farm previously yielded a mere 10 kilograms, told WIPO Magazine. “[Before] there was hardly any gain for me. I was pushed into debt. I couldn’t feed my family or pay for my children’s school fees.”

In the meantime, Kenyan scientists at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) have been studying and perfecting the creation and application of this crop (as well as studying disease-resisting properties) since 2013. Researchers have stated that the hybrid seed responsible for Africa’s next green revolution will be available later this year.

Brad Tait

Photo: Flickr

Green Revolution in Africa
Agriculture is the key industry in developing countries. It grants a generous number of employment opportunities to the local population and therefore, is an important source of income for poor households. Farmers are responsible for harvesting fresh produce and contribute significantly to the health of the local community.

The Green Revolution, with its roots predominantly in Africa, proposes specific targeted measures to increase yields from farming. It advocates the use of scientific research to complement traditional farming techniques. By doing this, farmers can be advised on the optimum conditions to grow their crop, the comparative effectiveness of fertilizers and even the best technology that can aid farming.

Approximately a decade ago, Africa substantially increased its core investments in agriculture. The investment not only involved increasing support for farmers but also directing more resources towards research and development to discover more effective farming strategies.

One important objective of the Green Revolution in Africa is to transition from a highly human labor dependent farming system to a mechanized system, whereby machines perform repetitive tasks with greater efficiency.

Ren Wang, Assistant Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, expresses his belief that, “mechanization in its broadest sense can contribute significantly to the sustainable development of food systems globally, as it has the potential to render post-harvest, processing and marketing activities and functions more efficient, effective and environmentally friendly.”

The Green Revolution in Africa also aims to improve farmers’ links with external supply outlets to maximize incomes and increase job prospects.

Increasing farming productivity and output is likely to contribute to better incomes for farmers and greater opportunities for entrepreneurship. Farmers are more likely to be encouraged to continue farming if equipped with good quality resources such as fertile soil, controlled climatic factors and efficient machinery.

Organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have demonstrated support for this ambitious revolution by donating millions of dollars to the cause. The reasoning for these donations lies in the fact that the agriculture industry has made considerable progress, yet poor nutrition remains an important cause of mortality and morbidity in Africa.

Malnutrition, especially in younger children, has resulted in approximately 18 percent of children under the age of five being underweight. This not only has detrimental consequences for normal physical development, but also future social capital. If children do not receive adequate nutrition, their ability to learn is impaired and they will only be able to contribute to the society in a limited number of ways.

According to the United Nations, by 2050, Africa is estimated to have approximately 2.4 billion individuals — nearly double its current population. With such a precipitous increase in population, the Green Revolution can only aspire to transform farming into a profitable and productive proposition.

Tanvi Ambulkar

 

green_revolution_in_africa
A Green Revolution is the process of renovating agricultural practices, techniques and equipment that results in more prosperous and successful agricultural production. The first Green Revolution occurred in Mexico in the 1940’s and the agricultural modifications used to spur the revolution spread worldwide in the following decades.

Green Revolutions are made possible through mechanized equipment and the use of irrigation and fertilization. Prior to many Green Revolutions countries such as Mexico and the United States were not producing enough crops to feed their citizens so they were forced to import products.

In the 1940s, the U.S. imported more than half of its wheat. However, after undergoing their Green Revolution they were able to produce a significantly greater supply and were not only able to stop importing wheat, but also became wheat exporters. Cutting the cost of importing and generating a profit from exporting.

While Green Revolutions were sprouting up across the world, Africa became one area that was largely excluded from the benefits of revolutionizing agriculture. The lack of a Green Revolution in Africa can be directly tied to the overwhelming level of poverty throughout much of the African continent and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Roughly 400 million people in Africa live in poverty and the majority of them live on farms. African farmers face poor soil, unreliable water supplies, restricted access to markets, insufficient access to finance and credit compounded by little government support.

Without a shift in the farming techniques and tools used throughout African countries, farmers will continue to struggle to grow enough crops to earn a living wage or feed their fellow countrymen.

Some countries are starting to show signs of Green Revolutions and there are many organizations, such as AGRA, that are working to assist in this process; but with so many people lacking food and an adequate income, an agricultural boost could be a major step towards decreasing the striking poverty levels throughout Africa.

AGRA is an organization that has developed and implemented several programs designed specifically to increase African agriculture. They currently work within 17 different African countries with programs to improve soil health, market access and policies and advocacy for farmers.

A Green Revolution in Africa could allow countries to gain economic stability, decrease food insecurity and empower farmers to not only feed their own countries but the world. Turning a country from an importer to an exporter can unlock potential and generate incredible economic progress.

– Brittney Dimond

Sources: AGRA, About, Huff Post,
Photo: thedailyeye

poverty_in_russia

According to a recent survey from the Moscow-based Financial University, more than half of the Russian population suffers from economic deprivation.

The study was not based on income. Rather, respondents were asked how far their earnings tend to go, on a scale from “just barely enough for food” to “enough for everything, including real estate.” Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said that they could not afford more than basic necessities.

According to the survey, which spanned 35 cities, the poorest respondents were concentrated in the central Volga region. Tolyatti, a city of 720,000 on the Volga River, was identified as the poorest of the 35 cities studied.

Tolyatti, home of Russia’s leading car maker AvtoVAZ, is a particularly interesting case because of its high proportion of ‘critically poor’ young men. The study argues that Tolyatti’s demographics puts the city at high risk for social upheavals, citing the link between unemployment in young men and uprisings in the Arab Spring.

Left reeling from nose-diving oil prices and combined U.S. and EU sanctions, Russia is heading into its biggest economic downturn since 2011, when economic contraction prompted the biggest protests of Putin’s 15-year-rule.

“The question of poverty has a major socio-political significance because of the risk of social unrest if citizens’ living standards decline,” said the report.

It is also important to note that while the survey identified cities in the central Volga region as the poorest of the 35 cities surveyed, Russia’s most impoverished people live predominately in small villages and towns that were not included in the study.

However, economic geographer and Moscow State University Professor Natalia Zubarevich believes that rural-dwelling Russians will be among the most resilient in the face of economic recession.

“People from villages and small towns survive on the land, so they will plant more potatoes and tomatoes,” Zubarevich said. “They will not have to change their way of life [as much].”

Conversely, Zubarevich believes that the rugged individualism of urban life will be conducive to social unrest in Russia’s major metropolises. “As a rule, people there [in big cities] always look individually for an exit strategy from their problems. They don’t tend to find cohesion the way that residents of smaller cities do,” explained Zubarevich.

– Parker Carroll

Sources: The Moscow Times,  Russia and India Report,  Toronto Star

Photo: Flickr

food security
The green revolution was a period of agricultural revolution that increased food production in the mid-twentieth century. It showed that a global effort can enlarge and develop food systems with new techniques and technology transfers. Lately, with rapid population growth, increasing food prices and climate change, there have been calls for a second green revolution. Here are a few ways that this revolution can be jump-started.

1. Land is at the center of these food security problems. 
While the relationship between people and the Earth has changed immensely, land remains an essential piece to the puzzle. Nate Kline, of the Enabling Agriculture Trade project at Fintrac, said he cannot think of another sector that is more tied to the land. “Land is the chief, primary input in all agricultural production,” he said.

2. More people live in urban areas than rural areas now.
Consequently, cities have to be connected to food distribution cycles that are reliable and can supply food to numbers of people at a dependable rate.

3. The method of organizing land will determine the answers to questions about future food security.
The way international organizations, communities, nations and families decide on organizing land, which will secure land rights and land ownership claims, will be important in answering questions about a food-secure future.

4. Food security is also about how the agricultural sector can become a more dependable way of income for people in rural areas.
The income of the poor is closely related to growth in the agricultural sector. Food security programs usually pursue raising incomes of those in poverty. When land users feel secure that their land will be in their possession however long they want to keep it, then they are more likely to finance the long-term development of their resources and land.

5. Food security often come with better land-use choices.
Conserving water and soil nutrients instead of exhausting resources will make food more secure for the future. It can also mean landholders are keener on paying the costs of equipment and fertilizers which can lead to higher incomes and more profitable crops.

6. When families sell more and better food, those yields generate income to spend for household food needs.
There is a direct connection between the access to land and willingness to make investments that may eventually pay off. With more money from profitable and nutritious crops, families have the option to invest in their nutrition as well as use the money from the crops to buy better equipment and use better management techniques. Food should be nutritious, affordable and part of a sustainable system.

In order to ensure food security, the world will need to engage with a comprehensive set of actors and work with numerous sectors.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Devex 1, Devex 2
Photo: Eco Tope

Irrigation_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. Access to good water can be the difference between eating and starving for rural farmers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In order to grow sufficient crops, farmers need water and frequently must rely on sparse rains and transporting water on their own to provide for the plants they are attempting to grow.

Only four percent of rural farmland is irrigated, even though up to 40 million hectares are proven to be appropriate for irrigation. Farming in Africa has proven to be a difficult endeavor at the best of times. Rainfall has become unpredictable and crop yield is often too low to feed a family, let alone to sell in a market. The frustrating part is that there is plenty of water available underground, but the farmers lack an affordable way to actually obtain it.

Large, centralized irrigation schemes are usually built around a major dam and were very successful, especially during the so-called Green Revolution. Millions of people were brought out of hunger as a result. But they often proved to be environmentally destructive and tend to be very expensive to build and use, especially for those living in Africa.

The answer to providing access to crop irrigation for poor rural farmers in Africa could be much smaller, like the treadle pump. The pump is used by stepping up and down with the long poles, or treadles, that activate the suction and pump water out of the ground. One family told Sandra Postel, who of the National Geographic Freshwater Initiative, that their $35 investment brought them $100 in revenue the first year they used it.

The downfall of a pump like this is that it requires a lot of physical work to use and ends up taking time away from other important activities like schooling and harvesting. Nonetheless, several companies such as KickStart have created variations of the treadle pump to help spread the use of irrigation. With their affordable irrigation pumps, KickStart has been able to help 750,000 Africans pull themselves out of poverty. Groups like FarmAfrica have gone in and taught the farmers how to use the pumps and what crops to grow to get the best yield. Until small motorized pumps are more universally available and affordable, the benefits of being able to grow enough food to eat and sell seriously outweigh the issue of having to operate to pump manually.

– Chelsea Evans

Sources: Global Issues, National Geographic, FarmAfrica, KickStart
Photo: Indiegogo