Showing posts with label innovation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label innovation. 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''. 


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''.



Tuesday 11 February 2020

WHY AFRICA NEEDS TO EMBRACE DIGITAL MARKETING FOR AGRIBUSINESS


The world is experiencing major dynamics with rapid urbanization and rising human population in the midst of stressed environmental and natural resources, thus, emphasizing the need to evaluate our approach towards achieving food and nutrition security. Some of these approaches include:
  • ·   Strengthening systems for research and innovations and dissemination of findings on improved and sustainable agricultural practices;
  • ·      Protection of environmental and natural resources;
  • ·      Adopting efficient methods for distributing and redistributing food;
  • · Creating opportunities across the agricultural value-chain in the form of agribusiness ventures that never existed or were taken for granted before now;
  • ·    Taking advantage of the digital space (digital marketing) and so much more.

Narrowing the lens to digital marketing, the internet has over time become an effective and efficient marketing tool that gives marketers the opportunity to generate leads and sales by reaching out to millions of customers from across different parts of the globe per time. Digital marketing is an efficient approach to distributing and re-distributing agricultural produce especially amongst smart modern-day farmers and small-holder farmers with the help of computer literate intermediaries.

Although not fully harnessed in Nigeria and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, an overview of agribusiness activities on the internet reveals a clear deviation from what was in the recent past (say 3 to 4 years ago). This is because quite a number of agribusiness companies now have an online presence, providing different forms of agricultural services to interested persons, and I must confess that this is quite encouraging. Whether these companies were established by Nigerian youths who were arm-twisted to start up something for themselves considering the looming unemployment rate in the country or young adults who are passionate and committed to the growth of agriculture, agribusiness activities on social media sure create a feel like there is a shift in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. More like a movement that seeks to ensure relevance for a sector that has been neglected for too long.

Services advertised and marketed by these companies range from production and supply of locally produced agricultural commodities such as palm oil, yams, vegetables, poultry and dairy products, fruits (in dried, powdered and fresh forms); linking farmers with investors; supply of agricultural equipment, recycling/upcycling of agricultural wastes; import and export of a wide range of agricultural commodities, consultancy services; extension services (depending on the demographics of farmers involved), packaging, branding and so much more.
We have come to see that the benefits from taking advantage of the digital space are endless as it gives fast-rising service providers the platform to reach out to millions of people around the globe through quality and fascinating pictures, videos and short captions. It also gives people the opportunity to support farmers in rural areas through companies who stand in the gap for them on the digital space; it gives modern-day (smart) farmers and consumers the opportunity to buy and sell agricultural produces without stepping into traditional markets (interesting times are here I must confess) etc. In a nutshell, the digital space provides agribusinesses with the opportunity to offer business to business, business to government and business to consumer services all in one click.

Digital marketing is the way to go seeing as it ensures relevance in the midst of shifting industry trends (agriculture really cannot be left behind though); by taking advantage of and creating useful marketable contents on social media channels, establishing business websites as well as taking advantage of paid advertising with the goal of making profit and achieving zero hunger on a wider scale through well-thought-out, meaningful posts that meet the needs of different persons in different parts of the world.






Author:
Ogbole Esther 
''My strategy is to bring to the fore various challenges faced by the Nigeria agricultural sector vis-a-vis efforts made the Federal Government so far and how these similar scenarios were managed in other countries''.


Monday 27 January 2020

AGRICULTURE IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA.



Written by Lilian Umeakunne


Youths growing Africa's agriculture.
Agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa has been a source of livelihoods for centuries, from cocoa, tea, spices and known staples to other cash crops and vegetables sold locally and internationally. For a population that depends mostly on farming, the impacts of climate change will be hard-hitting on food production and the environment throughout the region.

Most of the farming models used in parts of sub-Saharan Africa are designed with less attention to soil health, sustainable farm practices, heavy or zero reliance on fertilizers and pesticides which makes the region even more susceptible to climate impacts in the coming years. The continuous production of food in Africa is vital to feeding the ever-growing population which according to the 2019 revision of the World Population Prospects, was 1,038,627,178 in 2018. The current growth rate is 2.3% with most of its population, young people.


How the change in climate is affecting crop and animal agriculture
There has been a record of decrease in rainfall amount over the past few years with visible on-set of droughts in certain areas within the region. The change in precipitation patterns will likely intensify over the next few years with periods of heavy rains and periods of drought. This changing circumstance is affecting agriculture as it becomes even more difficult for farmers to predict the onset of the rains and seasons.

Change in temperature patterns
Maize farm showing weeds resistant to sprays.
Recently, there have been records of more extreme heat during the raining season and the dry season, crops and animals suffer heat stress which can be a major setback in overall growth and development.

The emergence of new pests, weeds and pathogens


Just as farmers are advised to adopt new practices, new viable seeds and prolific animal breeds, they will also need to worry about new pests and diseases, emerging weeds and problems associated with the adoption of new farming methods.

Changes in crop viability
As crops are suited for a specific location as a result of the prevailing climatic conditions and other demographic factors, as these conditions change, there may be a need for farmers to find new crop varieties to adapt to the new conditions.

Changes in animal viability
Like crops, animals are found in areas where they have been domesticated for thousands of years, suited for the climate, they have thrived. Farmers may need to find new livestock breeds in other to adapt to the change in the climate.

Flooding of farm and grazing lands
One of the impacts of climate change is flooding which drastically washes off nutrients from the soil, pollutes water bodies, and causes erosion. The recorded rise in Sea levels is fuelling flooding of farmlands within the coast and riverbanks across the region.

What we can do.
Ignoring the existence of climate change and denying the visible impacts of the changing climate will not solve the problem it poses to agriculture and our planet. Collaborative efforts to devise sustainable adaptation strategies for our communities is pivotal as a problem does not go away by a simple denial of its existence.

Re-thinking our agroecosystems
An example of agroforestry. Source: Montpellier.inra.fr.
Reports from previous researches show several benefits of agroforestry as against monocropping. The combination of trees, shrubs and food crops on the same land area is beneficial to both our environment and the crops as it maintains soil health and reduces reliance on fertilizers.

Appropriate use of Ecology Funds
It is very likely that climate impacts will strike, but when it does, timely support to affected areas/farms is necessary to limit further losses as this is the idea behind the establishment of the Ecology Funds in most of the countries within the region.

Development of new crop varieties and animal breeds
The Agriculture Ministries in countries within the region should invest in research and development to develop new crop varieties and breeds of animal that will be resistant to climate impacts.

Soil Health
Practices that preserve soil health should be adopted through practices such as planting deep-rooted perennial crops and cover crops. The impact of climate change on food production in sub-Saharan Africa will most probably not end in a day but cumulated efforts towards building a more sustainable food future will save our tomorrow.


References

Climate Change and Agriculture | Union of Concerned Scientists [WWW Document], n.d. URL https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/climate-change-and-agriculture (accessed 1.25.20).


US EPA, O., n.d. Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply [WWW Document]. URL /climate-impacts/climate-impacts-agriculture-and-food-supply (accessed 1.25.20).



Author details:


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.



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. 



Monday 18 November 2019

Global Giving - Crowdfunding Training Opportunity

Deadline: 24 January 2020.

FLIGHT by 12 PLUS


GlobalGiving is an online platform to raise funds for grassroots projects worldwide across many sectors and themes – including in agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources. GlobalGiving announces a new Accelerator program that will offer virtual training in online fundraising and participation in a two-week crowdfunding campaign. The program is open to nonprofit organizations anywhere in the world. Organizations that successfully complete the GlobalGiving Accelerator by raising at least US$5 thousand total from a minimum 40 different donors will earn permanent membership with GlobalGiving, in addition to $30 thousand in matching funding and bonus prizes. 



Swedish International Development Agency - Training on Healthy Livestock and Safe Food

Deadline: 15 January 2020.



Sida funds short-term training in selected development topics for participants from developing countries. Organizations in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are invited to nominate candidates for the 12-months Training Program ‘Healthy Livestock – Safe Food.’ The overall objective of this program is to reduce poverty and vulnerability among smallholder farmers. Candidates representing government organisations, private companies or NGOs at national, regional or local level are encouraged to apply. The training will take place in Sweden. Sida will cover costs related to all program phases, except personal expenses, visa fees or any local airport taxes and departure fees. 


Click to apply.

Sunday 17 November 2019

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: Agri-tech catalyst Round 9: Agriculture and Food Systems Innovation (mid stage).

Deadline: 8 January 2020




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UK organisations can apply for a share of up to £5 million from the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) for projects with partners in eligible African countries. The aim of this competition is to increase the pace of innovation in the development of agricultural and food systems in Africa. Applicants project must result in more use of innovations by farmers and food systems organisations such as manufacturers, processors, retailers, distributors and wholesalers. Applicants proposal must show the potential to have a positive impact on poverty through the uptake of agricultural and food systems technology and innovation. 






Apply: Institute of International Education - Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowships

Deadline: 09 December 2019.


Image result for carnegie african diaspora fellowship program


The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program offers short-term fellowships to African-born academics at universities in the USA and Canada to collaborate with African universities in research, curriculum co-development, and/or graduate student training. Project requests to host scholars are submitted by universities and other higher education institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Past scholars in the program have included several in agriculture, environment, and related disciplines. 



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).



Image result for daad scholarship in germany


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


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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.