Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Growth. Show all posts

Thursday 22 July 2021

Local Food Systems of the Current and Emerging.

Amidst emerging global challenges, the call for regional and national economies to look inwards cannot be overemphasized. Recurrently, there is the compelling need to explore new options that ensure life on earth is preserved. This may include trade-offs at different levels especially as it relates to protecting environmental resources. It would also include engaging in research for development, formulating favourable policies and engaging individuals actively. The latter is the main focus of this piece. This article explores a collection of stakeholder responsibilities required to sustain local food systems. 

Did you know? 

You and I are direct or indirect actors in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products in different forms. Whether as consumers or direct value-chain actors, every human plays a role in the achievement of food and nutrition security. And this is dependent on building, protecting and sustaining local food systems that are resilient to shocks. Moreover, unless we collectively decide to become breatharians – feeding on air rather than food – productive food systems would always be fundamental to human existence. 

What then can we do to produce more and better food (quantity and quality) amidst environmental, economic and social challenges without compromising the future of the next generation? How can we build sustainable food systems that have the ability to prepare for, adapt to and recover from different kinds of stress and shocks? How can Funke, a member of the Nigerian Parliament influence policies that protect local food systems in Nigeria? How can Chinedu the mechanic preserve his yams in an effort to protect food systems? How can Kwakwa, a herbalist in Northern Nigeria safely harvest his herbs without destroying his local food system?

Building and sustaining local food systems 

Let’s take a look at some stakeholder responsibilities that can collectively build and sustain local food systems. Some of these include;

Food Producers: These are the first and most important parts of our food systems. What is a food system without food producers? Food producers are the drivers and initial protectors of our food systems. Therefore, considering that building sustainable food systems is dependent on the optimum use of resources, willingness to adopt improved technologies and other innovations is sure to accelerate the process. These innovations may be in the form of improved seed varieties, digitalization of on-farm processes, mechanization, use of balanced fertilizer blends and other areas of precision agriculture.

The Government: There is a need to increase investment in regional and national research for development to drive country-specific innovations. This should be logical and solution-driven such that gaps are identified and actionable solutions provided. Favourable and consistent policies especially around land use, gender barriers, and a stable macro-economic environment would also enable partnerships and private sector-led investments.

Consumers: Behavioural changes are pivotal to building sustainable food systems. The consumer is the “king” and a major driver of every production and distribution process. The choices made by consumers with respect to the way, type and quantity of food consumed are important to our food systems. For example, making a decision to consume more indigenous or local varieties of food as against foreign/imported varieties and processed foods can serve as a driver for producing more local varieties. These local foods are beneficial to local food systems. Local foods are full of flavour and nutrients; they benefit the environment, promote safer supply, and support local economies.  Furthermore, consumers can protect local food systems by adjusting their diets and reducing food wastages which stress environmental resources. Consumer education is also crucial; people need to understand how their actions and inactions affect the future of food production for this generation and the next.

Investors: Investment strategies that support local food systems integration with environmental resources should be favoured over those that do not. Increasing investments by financing innovations, research and development, providing incentives to farmers for adopting new technologies etc. will contribute immensely to sustaining local food systems. For example, agricultural value-chain financing is a strategy private investors can leverage on. It is a sustainable approach to funding the production and distribution of foods. It creates value for money whilst promoting effectiveness and efficiency. 

It is important to add that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating change. A collection of productive actions from every individual is the pathway to building beneficial food systems in current and emerging times of the future. Are there other actions you consider relevant to building sustainable food systems, please leave a comment below and let’s get talking.


The Author

Ogbole Esther

''As an agriculture enthusiast, I have long had a passion for contributing my quota to the growth and development of the Nigeria agricultural sector and this birthed an interest in research to see what and how precisely agricultural strategies are implemented in developed economies of the world and how they can be adapted to suit the Nigerian scenario''. 


Tuesday 1 June 2021

Agriculture in the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) 2021 Macroeconomic-Outlook for Nigeria.

 The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in February 2021 launched its 2021 Macroeconomic Outlook for Nigeria. In the report, the group revealed that only five (5) sectors experienced positive growth in 2020. These sectors include finance and insurance, information and communication, water supply, sewage and waste, human health, social services, and agriculture, which grew by 1.7%. Let’s now take a look at the recommendations of this report and the implications for the country’s agricultural sector in 2021.

The Existing Challenges

It’s no news that the growth of the Nigerian economy in 2020 was stalled by several factors including implementation of lockdowns that led to the disruption of supply chains, fall in crude oil price, and rising cases of insecurity in the country. Consequently, 16 out of 19 economic sectors contracted, leading to an overall contraction of the country’s GDP by 1.92% in the year under review.1

While it may be expected that the lifting of lockdown measures, discovery of COVID-19 vaccines, and the recovery in the price of crude oil since Q4 2020 would translate to a much anticipated economic growth, this may not be so. The NESG reports that several indicators point to the fact that many of the problems stalling the growth of the Nigerian economy existed pre COVID-19”2. These problems include a steady decline in foreign investment inflow, a decline in external reserves, increasing inflation rates as well as a decline in the balance of trade due to increased importation. Furthermore, an unfriendly investment business environment remains a major challenge, as investor feedback captured by the NESG report centered on challenges such as corruption, bureaucracy in obtaining government approvals, policy inconsistencies, smuggling, poor infrastructural development, and insecurity.

The Way Forward

Having outlined the existing challenges, the report projected a three-case scenario for the Nigerian economy going forward, that is, the best, business-as-usual, and worst case scenarios. These scenarios are hinged on the government's approach towards four priority areas, viz-a-viz;

i. Macroeconomic stability

ii. Policy and regulatory consistency

iii. Sectoral reform and 

iv. Human capital development

Deductions from this report validate the assumption that if existing gaps in economic stability are to be bridged in 2021, addressing these four priority areas that cut across different sectors of the economy remain the nation’s best strategic option. Furthermore, in addressing the need for sectoral reforms, the report identified that between 2015 and 2019, crop production made the second-highest contribution to 92.2% of the country’s GDP. The sector contributed 37.2% to the country’s GDP only after telecommunications and information services which contributed 37.7%, while crude petroleum and natural gas in third place contributed 17.3%. This affirms the potentials of the country’s agricultural sector and the role it plays in ensuring economic stability.

Therefore, in focusing on the agricultural sector, we would expect to see more of the following;

1. Consistent and robust policies;

2. Elimination of regulatory and administrative bottlenecks especially in relation to the exportation of agro commodities produced in Nigeria;

3. Enabling a business environment that encourages more private sector-led investments (improved security, infrastructural development, better foreign exchange policies, etc)

4. “Thinking and doing technology”

5. Massive investment and total overhaul of the educational sector. This will produce sound and innovative graduates who will proffer creative solutions tailored to our challenges;

6. Efficient delivery by government MDAs and so much more.

In order for Nigeria to live up to its position as the “giant of Africa,” it is imperative to note that its efforts towards driving economic stability should remain at the center of every proposition. Foreign investors and domestic private businesses will not provide the needed support when the country’s business environment is unfavorable. Succinctly, as a matter of urgency, the government would need to put in more effort at all levels including Federal, State, and Local government to create the change we all desire.

Reference

1. Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (2021): Nigeria Macroeconomic and Banking Sector Themes for 2021

2. The Nigeria Economic Group (2021): NESG Macroeconomic-Outlook 2021. Retrieved from https://www.nesgroup.org/research  

 

The Author

Ogbole Esther

 

''As an agriculture enthusiast, I have long had a passion for contributing my quota to the growth and development of the Nigeria agricultural sector and this birthed an interest in research to see what and how precisely agricultural strategies are implemented in developed economies of the world and how they can be adapted to suit the Nigerian scenario''. 



Wednesday 20 May 2020

Rebuilding for better: Policies for post-COVID-19.

For a long time, one of the reasons deemed responsible for slow progress in the diversification efforts of economies in parts of sub-Saharan Africa was Rural-Urban Migration, which has seen large numbers of young people moving into the already crowded big cities in search of better opportunities. Informal job roles in rural communities within the agriculture value chains have been abandoned for ‘decent’ employments in cities, leaving fewer hands to produce our much-needed farm foods and resurrect our economies through the exportation of cash crops. This begs the question, ‘what happens after the coronavirus pandemic?' What will be the new normal for food production, cost of inputs and access to new markets, with jobs lost and businesses shutting their doors for good, what policies should be adopted to help us rebuild our food systems for a food-secure future.

The world found ways to move on from several plagues in the past, such as, the Black Death (1346-1353), which was said to have changed the course of Europe’s history, the Flu pandemic (1889-1890) killing over a million people, the Spanish flu (1918-1920) of over 500 million cases of which no less than one-fifth died from it, and many others. One similarity about these past incidents is that the world devised ways to re-build all that was lost and move on, but what about lessons learnt? Especially on how vulnerable and outdated our systems are.

Before the Covid-19 global pandemic, the United Nations had a global target of ending hunger and poverty (SDGs 1 and 2) among 15 other goals, by the year 2030, it was projected that the global food production will need to increase by anywhere from 25-70% between now and 2050 in order to feed our growing population. These projections from available data, informed food policies in many countries of the world and formed bases for intervention programmes in developing countries. Now, more than ever, the impact of Covid-19 on achieving sustainable development goals 1 and 2 is likely to cost us additional years than earlier planned as we have seen a rapid rise in the number of hungry children and families around the world. Local economies are halted, and countries are at the verge of falling into a recession. The affordability and accessibility to essential food items are limited in vulnerable communities, leaving many households hungry and impoverished

Post-COVID-19 will see drastic changes in many sectors around the world, for sub-Saharan Africa to build on lessons learned from this global pandemic, re-building for a better food system will require: 

  • Drawing lessons from previous events to design better policies: Policies that facilitate the transfer of food products to places where they are most needed, policies around the export of agricultural products and Fairtrade.
  • Developing standards for agriculture in emergencies: Ensuring access to food in the middle of a global pandemic was never considered by most governments of developing countries, developing a working plan for similar incidence gives us a better fighting chance against future pandemics.
  • Investing in environmental and sustainable food production research: Investing in research aimed at sustainable ways of growing our food without causing harm to our environment is vital as climate change, in a few years maybe more severe than a global pandemic.
  • Prioritizing the needs of those who grow our food: The people who grow our food are some of the poorest in our communities and the least considered for capacity building opportunities and capital incentives.
  • Appropriate budgeting for the agricultural sector: Adequate budget allocation will increase the reach of intervention programmes, capacity building and technological advancement in sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture.
  • Resume an inquiry into existing ministries of agriculture, environment and other regulatory agencies to understand the work that they do and how this has changed over the years in line with the needs of our growing population.

Our collective effort will determine how effectively we rebuild our communities, countries and economies post-COVID-19, embracing changes we have seen as effective and modifying those that are less effective. Young people in agriculture, especially, have a role to play in building a more-resilient food sector within our different countries.


 The Author

Lilian Umeakunne

Lilian Umeakunne is a food security and livelihoods specialist devoted to making a change in African Agriculture. Follow her on social media to share your thoughts and contribute your ideas to solving Africa's greatest problem - hunger and poverty.

Handles
LinkedIn: Lilian Umeakunne
Twitter: @Lily_Umeh
Facebook: Lilian Umeakunne.

Monday 20 April 2020

Global lock-down threatens food and nutrition security


The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed brought about major economic, social and political changes across the globe and life as we know has greatly changed. Markets, offices, schools and religious houses have been closed; major streets are now deserted while busy cities have been locked down in different countries. Amidst the imposition of curfews and restrictions of movement by various countries, one of the major concerns is how the pandemic impacts the food system. This is considering the frequent calls on citizens to stock up for a long haul thus increasing demand for food as well as affected food businesses that have had to close in the wake of the pandemic. It is now obvious that we require more than just technology to survive.

A post on the Bloomberg Opinion Instagram handle aptly read, the Corona Virus reminds us that were in our essence… creatures that cannot bite into bytes, eat algorithms or disinfect with bandwidth, as someone has to grow, harvest and deliver our food…” This emphasizes that the entire agricultural value chain is dependent on humans who must move from one place to another, thus, begging the question, how do we survive when availability due to inactivity becomes a problem?

An interaction with role-players in the agricultural sector across different countries revealed that current issues and fears in agriculture at this time include scarcity of agricultural commodities; inefficient supply chains; food-price volatility arising from the aforementioned as well as rising demands amidst a shortage of supplies; wastage/loss of agricultural commodities; shortage of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and other agro-chemicals, considering individuals have since closed down businesses and are remaining at home; rejected exports due to border closure; slow imports for countries that depend mainly on imported food items; halted extension services; poor coordination of agricultural activities; fears of delayed/lost 2020 farming season; paused research efforts and so much more.

In Nigeria, as soon as the government announced its intention to lock down the three main States affected by the pandemic viz-a-viz Lagos – the commercial hub of the country, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – the country’s administrative capital and Ogun State due to its proximity to Lagos State to stem the spread of the virus, food prices doubled as many traders took advantage of the opportunity to exploit desperate consumers. Rural farmers on the other hand have gone ahead with activities in preparation for the 2020 farming season with an uninformed notion that the Corona Virus is an infection that affects only the rich. In addition, certain projects like the PIATA funded Fertilizer Systems Strengthening Project that seeks to promote the use of crop/site-specific fertilizers across four commodity value chains in the country has since been brought to an abrupt halt.

In a joint press briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), a journalist posed a question at the Federal Government’s representative as to what its plan was to deal with the Food and Agriculture Organizations predictions on looming food crises; while various responses were given, there was none that addressed this particular question. The FG does have plans beyond opening up grain reserves to meet the current food demands of the country’s population.

Reports from other parts of Africa show that the virus has not been spread to rural areas where a bulk of the continents farming population reside and operate from. In Ethiopia, similar to the case of Nigerian farmers, plans for the forthcoming farming season is ongoing as the government makes frantic efforts to get agricultural inputs across to farmers at subsidized rates, while in Zimbabwe reports of fatality arising from the virus has forced farmers to shun farming activities. In Kenya, there were reports of destroyed fresh roses as the pandemic had crashed the commodity’s demand in Europe although the government has made efforts to provide grains to its population amidst the lock-down.  It is reported that in Sierra Leone, on the other hand, farmers continue to encounter difficulties in accessing agricultural inputs.

While it is comprehensible that at the top of our minds is the urgent need to flatten the COVID-19 curve, also of great importance is the need to strengthen our food distribution systems. It is therefore imperative for stakeholders as a matter of urgency, to strategize on ways to ensure steady food production and supply within and after this period. This we must achieve bearing in mind the strong words of the Ghanaian President – Nana Akufo-Addo – that “although we know how to recover our economies after the pandemic, what we do not know how to do is bring the dead back to life” thus emphasizing the need to stay at home and strategize on ways to co-exist even as we physically stay apart in the interim.

Thank you for reading. Please remember to avoid being emotionally isolated from family and friends. Let’s focus on strengthening bonds even with the physical distance to maintain sound mental health amid anxiety, fear, confusion and uncertainty.

The Author

''As an agricultural enthusiast, I have long had a passion for contributing my quota to the growth and development of the Nigeria agricultural sector and this birthed an interest in research to see what and how precisely agricultural strategies are implemented in developed economies of the world and how they can be adapted to suit the Nigerian scenario''.



Wednesday 12 February 2020

CURBING FOOD WASTAGE FOR ZERO HUNGER


How can we achieve food security if one-third of the food produced globally is wasted?
The first part of this article (here) gave a brief overview of the global status of food waste and proffered smart individual waste reduction practices such as to avoid overfeeding; making a shopping list before heading to the supermarket; checking the refrigerator before shopping to avoid buying what you already have and so on. These simple yet effective practices are important as it is often said that the best means to curb waste would be to not produce it at all.
Notwithstanding, other approaches can be adopted to manage food waste. These include: reuse or recycle (or up-cycle as it is sometimes called) the waste produced.

Reuse: This involves the use of food in its original form for other purposes such as redistribution to regions of inadequacy; as animal feed and as a good source of compost for home gardening. Basically, reusing food waste involves re-purposing without technological transformation to serve as raw material for other industries as is the case with recycling.

Image source: Google
Recycle: Despite being one of the most advocated approaches in food waste management, it has been stated previously that recycling is less sustainable in comparison with reuse of food waste, seeing as recycling can also produce waste and cause pollution in the treatment process. In spite of this line of thought, recycling of food waste is a fast-rising, profitable aspect of the agricultural value chain and is known to be an effective means of food waste management. This involves the transformation of avoidable (bread, rice, vegetables) and unavoidable (yam peels, eggshells, snail shells, orange peels) food waste into reusable forms like animal feed, organic fertilizers high in Calcium such as fertilizers produced from snail and eggshells, generation of sustainable and renewable energy as is in the case of biogas plant and so much more.

The environmental, social and economic impacts of food waste as stated in the last article cannot be overemphasized, thus, in aligning with the thoughts of Jasmine Crowe in a TedTalk on “what we’re getting wrong in the fight to end hunger” that we need to waste less to feed more and reduce the number of persons who are food insecure across the globe. It is imperative for governments and private individuals to intensify efforts especially in developing regions of the world like the sub-Saharan Africa where food is not only wasted as a result of poor infrastructural development but as a result of little-to-no awareness on waste management as well.

Farmers within this region are most affected as they painstakingly produce surplus with the hope of making huge profits but are often left disappointed as large quantities of these produces are left to waste owing to the inability to store, process or access existing markets outside their communities. Therefore, a good place to start would be to intensify sensitization of rural farmers who bear the most grunt of food waste. In the absence of immediate government infrastructural intervention programmes, they can be taught local recycling methods that would not only benefit the environment but also serve as another source of income thus, improving their livelihoods and contributing to the achievement of food and nutrition security.

Need I say that the gateway to achieving food security might just be to adopt effective means of redistributing food currently produced across the globe from regions of surplus to regions of the deficit, rather than focus on intensifying food production; but we just might never know if we fail to collectively combat food waste.




Author:

Ogbole Esther.
''As an agricultural enthusiast, I have long had a passion for contributing my quota to the growth and development of the Nigeria agricultural sector and this birthed an interest in research to see what and how precisely agricultural strategies are implemented in developed economies of the world and how they can be adapted to suit the Nigerian scenario''.

Thursday 21 November 2019

Become a contributor towards actualising Food and Nutrition Security in sub-Saharan Africa

Deadline: 23rd November 2019


Apply to join the next generation of change makers who are working to actualise Food and Nutrition Security in sub-Saharan Africa through informed knowledge and information sharing. We are currently taking applications for contributors on our new food security blog, www.grow4peace.co.uk. The focus is on discussions around achieving food and nutrition security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Themes:

Nutrition
Food security
Food technology
Food safety
Agri-tech
Crop production
Soil science
WASH
Climate Change
Advancing rural livelihoods etc.

This is also a hub for global opportunities in the relevant areas.
NB. This is not a paid position
The benefits are endless.

Click for more information or to register your interest 

Win $2M Food System Vision Prize for Innovation in Food Futures 2050.


Deadline: January 31, 2020

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Join the  Food System Vision Prize, launched by the Rockefeller Foundation and powered by SecondMuse and OpenIDEO.

 Do you have an idea that could change our food future? we’re looking for Visions that answer the question: How might we envision regenerative and nourishing food futures for 2050?

As a Food System Vision Prize participant (a.k.a. Visionary) you will be tasked with developing a concrete and actionable Vision for your chosen place—town, state/province, region, bioregion, watershed, or country—through a systems approach.

A Grand Prize of $200,000 USD each will be awarded to up to 10 Top Visionary Teams. Finalists will also receive entry into an Accelerator, and gain access to advisors and resources from The Rockefeller Foundation. 



Sunday 17 November 2019

Apply: Join the Nutrition Team at Oxford Policy Management

Oxford Policy Management (OPM) is looking to hire two staff members working out of our offices in either Islamabad, Abuja or Oxford. The recruit will join a team that works internationally and will have the opportunity to work on our projects globally. 


About Oxford Policy Management: 
OPM is a an international development consultancy and our mission is to help low- and middle-income countries achieve growth and reduce poverty and disadvantage through public policy reform. We have a strong reputation for the quality of our work in supporting governments and other organisations in policy development and implementation. OPM has dedicated staff in
our international offices and in Oxford.


Click to apply.

Nestlé Foundation - Human Nutrition in Developing Countries 2020.

The deadlines for full grant applications are 10 January and 10 May 2020.


The NestlĂ© Foundation supports research in human nutrition in low-income and lower middle-income countries. In relation to agriculture, the Foundation will consider research on food policy, food production, and food technology if the intervention has high potential for improved nutritional status and public health. The Foundation offers training grants, pilot grants, and full project grants. Priority is for proposals submitted by researchers in developing countries, or jointly with partners in developed countries. A Letter of Intent (LOI) can be submitted at any time of the year. 



Click for more info or to apply.


Saturday 16 November 2019

Apply: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) photo contest.

Deadline: 16 December 2019.





The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launches a photo competition to promote youth participation in rural development in Latin American and the Caribbean. IFAD seeks images that show young people engaged in rural areas in the region. Ten selected photos will be exhibited during the official ceremony of the Rural Youth Innovation Award (June 2020). The top three winners will receive an all expenses paid trip to the ceremony. Participants should be between 18 and 35 years old. 


Apply: DAAD Scholarships to pursue a postgraduate degree at German Universities.

Deadline:  Most scholarship deadlines for the 2020-2021 intake fall between August 2019 through December 2019varying by courses (check website).



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The DAAD offers scholarships to qualified individuals from eligible developing countries for post-graduate studies at German universities in development-related subjects. The program (EPOS) is open to individuals who completed their previous academic degrees no longer than six years previously; who have at least two years of professional experience; and who are nationals of countries receiving official development assistance (DAC list of the OECD). The available courses range across water resources; renewable energy; land management and tenure; agricultural sciences; forest sciences; ecology; nature conservation; environmental governance; and many others.


Click to get more info or to apply. 



Apply: Professional Fellows Program - Advancing women Agribusiness Entrepreneurs and Innovators hosted at Michigan State University (MSU).

Deadline: 18 November 2019


Fellows_at_Hunter_Park_GardenHouse_with_manager_Egypt_Krohn.jpg


The Professional Fellows Program connects Ugandan, Tanzanian and Kenyan agribusiness professionals and entrepreneurs with their counterparts in Michigan for knowledge exchange and capacity building. The Program is recruiting young Tanzanian, Kenyan, and Ugandan professionals from diverse backgrounds in private, public, non-governmental, and education sectors who are either women agribusiness entrepreneurs or individuals working to increase women’s economic engagement in the agricultural sector.

Click to apply


Apply: GrowthAfrica Accelerator Program.


Deadline is 01 December 2019

Image result for growthafrica accelerator program


GrowthAfrica supports African businesses and entrepreneurs through an annual Accelerator program. Participants of the program receive individualized and tailored in-company support, access to potential investors, leadership training and mentorship. Entrepreneurs in the fields of Agribusiness, Renewable Energy, and Water & Sanitation are especially welcome. The program is open to entrepreneurs from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Ghana.