Posts Tagged ‘Food Security’
I didn’t realize it until now, but the agenda and the people who participated in the presentation from the African Continent via Nairobi Kenya this morning is not available on the agenda–only the presentations made at the New York site seem to be there. Being a haphazard notetaker, I won’t venture to say who said what nor who they were. However, most of them were Africans and I am very impressed with what they are doing. The African people are very engaged and they appear to taking over the driver’s seat. Following are my comments and observations on the Agriculture segment
AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-PRO FOCUS
Agriculture is a huge focus for the continent. Agri-Pro Focus at least for now seems to be at the heart of promoting farmer entrepreneurship in Africa, but I would not be surprised to see it replaced with a pure African version someday in the near future..
Agri-Pro Focus is a partnership that was founded in 2005 with the aim of rallying together professionals, expertise and resources around a joint interest in farmer entrepreneurship. The Agri-ProFocus network members are organizations and companies that gather, train, connect and provide inputs and credit to farmer entrepreneurs and producer organisations.
The network operates both at a Dutch(-based) level and at a developing country level, the latter in so-called Agri-Hubs. [I don't know about you, but this seems to be dangerously close to colonialism.]
By promoting entrepreneurship and connecting producers with national and international markets, Agri-ProFocus members aim to both open up market potential for business in developing countries, as well as meet with the challenge of sustainably feeding 9 billion people by 2050. [From what I gleaned by listening to the Africans today and how fast they are taking to digital technology and the Internet--particularly Mobile Applications--they may soon tell the Dutch to get lost when they no longer need these middle men. I think that day will come much sooner than the Dutch may think.] The network is supported by a team of dedicated facilitators, based in the Netherlands ["dedicated" from the Netherlands? Think about it, folks. Dedicated to taking the African's money perhaps.]. In every Agri-Hub country, a coordinator or coordination team supports the local network. [Yes, and read the condescending tone from one of the new white network facilitators to Kenya, Marjolein de Bruin in her report on the Kenyans on her first visit that appears on the Agri- Pro Focus website.]
“. . . Driving around in Nairobi, I already noticed a radio station billboard, advertising: “Call Doctor Philip, for all your matrimonial problems!” And one morning, sitting in a taxi heading for a meeting, I heard Doctor Phillip or his colleague in action. A husband complained about his wife, that she spends all the pocket money that he gives her. “How much do you give her?” “20 euro, for all the shopping.” “20 euros only, how much do you earn?” “1200 euro”, replied the husband. The taxi driver and I started to laugh out loud. “He’s earning 1200 euro and gives only 20 euro to his wife for all the household shopping. . .” And this is funny because?
The African Conservation Tillage Network (ACT) is a fast growing pan-African not-for-profit organization whose membership is voluntary and aims at bringing together stakeholders and players who are dedicated to improving agricultural productivity through sustainable utilization of natural resources of land and water in Africa’s farming systems and committed to the principal of mutual collaboration, partnership and sharing of information/knowledge on sustainable natural resources management and drawing on synergies and complementarities.
ACT’s mission is to promote and facilitate information and knowledge exchange and partnerships to enhance support for the adaptation and adoption of conservaion agriculture principles and practices in Africa. With this Mission, ACT expects to contribute to enhance up scaling of sustainable land and water management practices addressing both agricultural productivity and environmental/biodiversity resilience objectives. Ultimately, the results are expected to positively impact on food security and improved rural livelihood.
This Mission, refined during 2006 from the initial mandate streamlines and focuses the core functions of ACT into CA KNOWLEDGE and INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (i.e. the generation, processing, storage and dissemination of lessons and knowledge on CA within the broader context of sustainable land and water management). The revision has also been with a view to ensure ACT remained dynamically responsive to members and stakeholder needs and issues on conservation agriculture, specifically, and natural resource management, in general.
Africa has 1.7 million acres of untapped arable land and the lowest productivity rates in the world. It has everything it needs t overcome its dependency on food imports. Only 30% of its arable land is being farmed while 1.7 million acres remain untapped. With few exceptions, fresh water reserves are easily accessible all over the continent. Yet, only 3% of land in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated–far below the 20% world average of irrigated land. African governments invest on average only 4% of the GDP in Agricultures while most countries dedicate between 11 and 14% spending on agriculture. [Source]
Africa is going to have to step up their investment in agriculture. It seemed to me from the discussions today that many people realize this.
Food security is closely tied to a country’s agriculture program. Better education of the farmers seemed to be a key solution for increasing food production. One woman suggested agricultural parks where people could come together and learn, perhaps sharing information on the Internet in a cyber-cafe environment. It would also be here that they could learn about related applications for their mobile phones.
i cow – a Mobile Phone Application for Farmers
i cow is the world’s first mobile phone cow calendar. It sends farmers best dairy practices; collects and stores farmer ilk and breeding records; helps farmers find the nearest VET and AI providers; prompts farmers on vital days of cows gestation period.
Food Insecurity comes in all forms. There is a lot of work to be done at the local level in the 32nd U.S. Congressional District of Texas and in Dallas County in particular. One of the most pressing of these is the establishment of decent grocery stores in poor neighborhoods designated as “food deserts.”
Writing about local food and Farmers Markets reminded me of an article that I thought I had posted on the topic of food deserts, but I see now that it is one of my many post still in draft form. Sometimes I get interrupted and don’t get back to them. This Saturday I plan to go to the Farmer’s market in Richardson, Dallas and over to Cotton’s in Garland and compare their produce prices with those in Wal Mart and another chain, perhaps Kroeger. Many people seem to think that it is more expensive to purchase produce from these local market than from a chain store and I want to check that out. I have a car and I can afford the gas, but that reminded me of an issue that the poor face every day. Many of the poor don’t have transportation to the grocery store and often they do not have adequate grocery stores within walking distance from their home.
A food desert is the term given to neighborhoods, usually disadvantaged, where there is limited physical and financial access to a grocery store providing a wide selection of fresh food. It is estimated that 400,000 or more residents of Dallas County live in a food desert right now.
Those who are familiar with Dallas County know that if you travel just 10 minutes north of the city of Dallas that you will encounter wealth and affluence. If you travel just 10 minutes to the southern areas of the city, you will find just the opposite–extreme poverty. It is this southern area where most of the food deserts exist.
A Football Field is Turned into an Organic Garden–in the Heart of Dallas, Texas
Paul Quinn College is located in the community of Highland Hills. This area is now part of a new U.S. Congressional District in Texas–the 33rd district. It encompasses parts of Dallas and also Fort Worth. The 33rd district’s voting age population of 469,456 is 61.3 percent hispanic and 17.8 percent black.
The district is also a “food desert”. Residents in the predominantly minority area must travel some six miles to the nearest grocery store. In 2006, the football program was canceled at Paul Quinn College to save money as enrollment declined and financial troubles mounted at this private, Christian black college in Dallas.
The idle football field was converted into an organic farm in 2010. Today the college sells produce from the farm to restaurants and to Cowboys Stadium. They also offer fresh produce to residents of the South Dallas neighborhood. Michael Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn had this idea for transforming the college and the community. Sorrell even offered to donate campus land to a grocery retailer willing to hire residents and students. There were no takers. Trammel Crow who has a passion for community gardens introduced Sorrell to PepsiCo whose Food for Good program delivers nutritious meals to impoverished communities. PepsiCo agreed to fund the farm venture for an undisclosed amount.
Now residents of Highland Hills can buy organic produce at a price that stores typically charge for conventional produce. Establishing the farm is only a first step in combating the food desert. Sorrell is still committed to opening an on campus grocery store. ”We will do it ourselves,” Sorrel said.
Once again with crop failures this time, the Wall Street business model proves its inherent inadequacies
How many more times does the broken and corrupted business model of Wall Street have to fail the American people and the majority of the people on this planet before we all rise up and bury it forever?
The entire American food system is built on one crop–corn. In the U.S. alone, more than 92 million acres of corn were planted in 2011 with a raw material value of about $76 billion per year. These corn acres are primarily based on two genetic races of maize; there are more than 250 races identified globally–yet the USA relies primarily on only two of them.
“The lack of diversity within our corn production acreage makes U.S. farmers and the surrounding agricultural community vulnerable to changing environmental pressures and market needs,” said Goodman who manages the North Carolina State University Corn Breeding and Genetics Lab. “A narrow genetic base is associated with higher risk, increasing the potential for new diseases or insect species to become widespread in corn growing areas.
“There’s also risk associated with abiotic stresses such as drought, flooding, heat or soil salinity extremes.”
Because the U.S. is the world’s number-one producer, consumer and exporter of corn, global food prices are linked to America’s ability to grow corn.
This year we are going to find out what happens when the corn crop fails all over our nation and so is the rest of the world. Once again, thanks to the broken Wall Street model for business, millions of people will unnecessarily starve to death as they did in 2008.
Is is smart to bet the global food supply on a few varieties of one crop grown in one country?
You and I know that it is not, but the high-rolling gamblers on Wall Street don’t give a damn if people starve to death because of their business decisions. They proved that four years ago.
Another example of the corrupt Wall Street Business Model in action:
Now that there will be an actual shortage of corn on the market, the leaders on Wall Street can justify raising prices because of an actual shortage of the commodity on the market. (Never mind that they are the ones who orchestrated the lack of diversity in the corn seeds and played a large hand in creating this situation. Even though there has been a drought, with a diversity of seeds, there would be corn crops more tolerant to drought conditions to help offset the loss due to the drought.)
But in those years when there is no shortage of a particular commodity, the Wall Street business model goes into action and creates a false scarcity on the market by manipulating it.
In 2008, for example, we had the largest wheat production in 100 years. There was a huge surplus of wheat on the market. While this is good for the people of the world as it drives down the price of wheat on the market, it is not good for the Wall Street and its investors. Consequently, in 2008, Goldman Sachs traders bought and bought and bought wheat and didn’t sell it. this creates a bubble that inflates the value of the product or commodity. It is an intentional manipulation of the market. This creates the appearance of a shortage of wheat on the market and thus drives up the price of wheat as they horde the supply.
As a result of Goldman Sachs actions, in 2008, a year of the largest wheat production in 100 years, millions more all over the world starved to death because they could not afford their daily bread. At the end of 2008, all the huge amounts of surplus wheat left over was sold as cattle feed to corporate livestock farms. This single act of criminality on a global scale committed by leaders on Wall Street and their investors resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of human beings–more than the number of deaths resulting from all World Wars–and yet no one was punished for this evil act that was knowingly committed. Where is the justice for the millions who starved to death because of greedy Wall Street bankers? Where is their Nuremberg?
Frederick Kaufman published an article on this topic in Harpers Magazine entitled “The Food Bubble: How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away with it”. The article chronicles Kaufman’s attempt to get to the bottom of the 2008 food crisis and the real reason behind why millions of people were shoved into food insecurity and starvation in 2008.
According to the United Nations there is widespread malnourishment of children under the age of five in Laos, because of a lack of protein in their diets. But food charities are hoping that a move towards insect farming in the country could help overcome the problem.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, which is supporting efforts in Laos, says bugs have high protein and vitamin content.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports from Vientiane, the Laotian capital.