Protected: What’s Apartheid Regime and Failed State Features Got To Do With It

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Advertisements

Leaders Commit Billions in Major New Development Initiative for the Horn of Africa

UN Secretary-General, WBG and IsDBG Presidents, and other Agency Heads Visit Region to Link Peace Efforts with Economic Progress

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, October 27, 2014—Leaders of global and regional institutions today begin an historic trip to the Horn of Africa to pledge political support and major new financial assistance for countries in the region, totaling more than $8 billion over the coming years. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the World Bank Group (WBG) President, Jim Yong Kim, as well as the President of the Islamic Development Bank Group and high level representatives of the African Union Commission, the European Union, the African Development Bank, and Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) are combining forces to promote stability and development in the Horn of Africa.

On the first day of the joint trip, the World Bank Group announced a major new financial pledge of $1.8 billion for cross-border activities in a Horn of Africa Initiative that will boost economic growth and opportunity, reduce poverty, and spur business activity.

The initiative covers the eight countries in the Horn of Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.

“This new financing represents a major new opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa to make sure they get access to clean water, nutritious food, health care, education, and jobs,”said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity, and conflict by building up regional security, generating a peace dividend, especially among young women and men, and spurring more cross-border cooperation.”

Leading the trip to the Horn of Africa, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said “The countries of the Horn of Africa are making important yet unheralded progress in economic growth and political stability. Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability. The United Nations is joining with other global and regional leaders to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach towards peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa.” 

The European Union also announced that it would support the countries in the region with a total of around $3.7 billion until 2020, of which about 10 percent would be for cross-border activities; the African Development Bank announced a pledge of $1.8 billion over the next three years for countries of the Horn of Africa region; while the Islamic Development Bank committed to deploy up to $1 billion in new financing in its four member countries in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda).

The Horn is diverse, with some of the fastest growing economies and huge untapped natural resources. However, it also has many extraordinarily poor people and populations that are now doubling every 23 years. Unemployment is widespread among growing numbers of young people. Women, in particular, face huge obstacles because of their gender, including limited land rights, limited education, and social customs that often thwart their ability to pursue economic opportunity, and improve living conditions for their families and communities.

Countries in the region are also vulnerable to corruption, piracy, arms and drug trafficking. Terrorism, and related money flows are significant and interconnected threats in the Horn of Africa. People-trafficking is also a growing problem in the region. However, there are commendable efforts being made through regional cooperation in parts of the Horn to tackle the root causes of these problems.

The new financing announcement will support those efforts and comes on the first day of the trip led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to discuss peace, security, and resilience. In addition to the UN Secretary-General, other leaders making the trip are World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim; Islamic Development Bank Group President Ahmad Mohamed Ali; African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha; Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim; African Development Bank Group Special Advisor to the President, Youssouf Ouedraogo; DeputyDirector General for Development and Cooperation, European Commission, Marcus Cornaro and European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, Alexander Rondos.

The World Bank Group said its new $1.8 billion packaging, which is in addition to its existing development programs for the eight countries, would create more economic opportunity throughout the region for some of the most vulnerable peoples, including refugees and internally displaced populations and their host communities. Wars and instability have generated more than 2.7 million refugees along with over 6 million internally displaced people. The Bank Group will also help the region build up its communicable disease surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment capacity.

Many of these diseases are associated with or exacerbated by poverty, displacement, malnutrition, illiteracy, and poor sanitation and housing. Increased cross-border trade and economic activity in the Horn of Africa will necessitate simultaneous investments in strengthening disease control efforts and outbreak preparedness.

The Bank Group will also support greater regional links between countries with regional transport routes, stronger ICT and broadband connectivity, more competitive private sector markets, increased cross-border trade, regional development of oil and gas through pipeline development, and the expansion of university and other tertiary education.

The Bank Group’s pledge includes $600 million from the IFC, its private sector arm, which will support economic development in the countries of the Horn. IFC investments under the new Horn Initiative will include a regional pipeline linking Uganda and Kenya; greater investment in agribusiness expansion in storage, processing, and seeds; possible public-private partnerships in pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and transport; and financial advice and support to government and companies to improve business confidence and investment, access to markets, and access to private finance. Another $200 million is for guarantees against political risks from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.

A new World Bank Group paper forecasts that the Horn will undergo dramatic and lasting change when oil production starts in Kenya, Uganda, and possibly Somalia and Ethiopia.

For its part, the European Union’s Horn of Africa approach is based on a strategic framework adopted in 2011. Support programs for 2014-2020 will be guided by the same analysis that underpins the World Bank’s Horn of Africa Initiative and will focus on the development challenges that must be tackled to unlock the region’s considerable potential. EU support will mostly target the three pillars of the Horn of Africa Initiative: boosting growth, reducing poverty by promoting resilience, and creating economic opportunities.

“The EU stands ready to further deepen its long-standing partnership with the Horn of Africa – helping to build robust and accountable political structures, enhancing trade and economic cooperation, financing peace keeping activities and providing humanitarian assistance and development cooperation,” said European Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgsprior to the trip.

Other leaders on the trip said that the Horn of Africa region needs new development assistance in order to secure peace and opportunity to thrive and prevent future conflicts.

The Islamic Development Bank Group said its new financing for Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda over 2015-2017 would focus on critical infrastructure development, food security, human development, and trade. A further $2 billion could be provided by the Arab Coordination Group over the same period.

Commenting on this announcement, Islamic Development Bank Group President Ahmad Mohamed Ali said “The Horn of Africa is an important gateway to Africa and a bridge to Western Asia. Bringing stability and sustainable development to the Horn of Africa will undoubtedly significantly contribute to stability across the entire African continent. The Islamic Development Bank Group salutes this renewed focus on the Horn of Africa and stands ready to work with all partners, including the Arab Coordination Group, to support regional cooperation and the economic revival of the Horn of Africa, especially in its four member countries.”

Given the complexity of the environment prevailing in the region, we must convince ourselves that it is not the financial means that will win in the Horn of Africa region, but our commitment and determination to act under the leadership of the countries in a united and coordinated manner, said African Development Bank Group Representative, Youssouf Ouedraogo, Special Advisor to the President.

African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, added, “Our efforts to create peace and stability must be reinforced by investments in the peoples and countries of the Horn.”

A new WBG regional study on the Horn of Africa released today at the start of the trip found reasons for hope for the region: “Despite the challenges the Horn of Africa faces, there are encouraging signs of political momentum for enhanced regional economic interdependence. Increasingly, Horn of Africa countries are members of the East African Community, IGAD in Eastern Africa, and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa. Some countries are showing strong political will to solve both security and development issues through increased cooperation—for example, many have sent troops to participate in peace-keeping efforts and have participated in diplomatic initiatives.”

“This mission is the apex of an ambitious partnership approach that will provide the necessary instruments to strengthen the resilience agenda in the IGAD region,” said IGADExecutive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim.

For the UN’s Ban and World Bank’s Kim, this is their third trip in 18 months together to Africa. In 2013, the two travelled to the Great Lakes and Sahel regions, drawing attention to the need to promote both peace and development. During the two previous trips, Kim pledged $2.7 billion for regional projects for programs to improve health, education, nutrition, access to energy, and job training. To see the results of these previous peace and development regional initiatives, visit: http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/afr/brief/world-bank-group-sahel-and-great-lakes-initiatives

To see the new WBG regional paper on the Horn of Africa, please visit: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2014/10/20316926/

Reblog from 

Sharing agricultural practices to enhance food and nutrition security in the Horn of Africa

All roads lead to Ethiopia, as Eastern Africa converges at the International Livestock Research Centre (ILRI) campus in Addis Ababa from 23-25 October to share knowledge, practices, technology and innovations that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved through other means, in enhancing food and nutrition security in the Horn of Africa.

This will be done through an AgriKnowledge ShareFair organized by FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC) are also collaborating in this forum that brings the multiple expertise and networks of international organizations from the region namely: Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Senior officials from Comité permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CiLIS) and the affected countries in the Sahel will also be participating at the fair.

read from the source

Dr. Eleni Madhin takes Yara award

Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre Madhin, founder and the outgoing CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) received the 2012 Yara Prize at the African Green Revolution Forum held at Arusha Tanzania on September 27.

Dr. Eleni was recognized for her visionary leadership in managing the process to establish a market for agricultural produce as the founder and chief Executive of the ECX.
The modern market that became a benchmark for other agriculture trading in other African countries has created a sustainable market system for small-scale farms that were affected by traditional trading systems in the past years.
The Yara Prize is not new for Eleni. The exchange and its founder received several international recognitions and awards in the past years for the achievement since the formation of ECX in 2008.
ECX fosters trading of several agricultural commodities. Coffee, the major export item of the country, sesame, haricot bean, maize and wheat are some of the products trading on exchange, while the facility is still expanding its capacity to include others.
Now that the government of Ethiopia has seen the effectiveness of the electronic market, it is considering undertaking an exchange for other industrial commodities like sugar and leather. The new trading that solves the market risk not only for farmers but buyers and exporters and has registered rapid growth in transaction and trading capacity.
Under Eleni’s leadership, ECX’s growth has seen a strong increase in volumes every year, from trading 138,000 tons in the starting year 2008/2009 to 601,000 tons in 2011/2012. The value of ECX trading reached USD 1.2 billion in 2011/2012, representing almost USD 20 million per day.
With a transparent and efficient market, the share of the final export price for coffee has risen from 38 percent to 65 percent, having a positive impact for 15 million coffee farmers in Ethiopia. At present, 12 percent of ECX membership is made up of farmer cooperatives, representing 2.4 million smallholder farmers.
According to Yara International’s statement, the Yara Prize Committee selected Dr. Eleni and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Rwandese Minister for Agriculture and Animal resources for their work on ground breaking sectors in the African Green Revolution and contributing to effective public policies to support agricultural development and for profound innovation in agricultural markets.
“Both women leaders have shown that transformation can be achieved in a highly complex and challenging environment, applying innovative approaches and partnering with other stakeholders in new ways,” noted the committee on the statement released in early September.
The Yara prize is based on nominations of candidates, carefully evaluated by the prize committee. The prize consists of a trophy, a certificate and USD 60 thousand which will be shared by the laureates.

read from the source

India ‘Food security bill’ can be global example

New Delhi : The proposed National Food Security Bill has the potential to be a global example, experts from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and Oxfam said here Tuesday.

India stands at the threshold of potentially the largest step towards food justice the world has ever seen, as the National Food Security Bill works its way through parliament,” Lawrence Haddad, director of the Britain-based IDS, said.

“Although the bill alone won’t fix India’s food system, the world will be watching to see if it can provide a template for other countries to follow,” Haddad said ahead of the launch of a bulletin by IDS and voluntary organisation Oxfam in the national capital.

The bill aims to give legal right to cheaper foodgrain to 63.5 per cent of the population. Around 180 million households — 65 million below poverty line (BPL) and 115 million above poverty line (APL) category families — get subsidised rations under the PDS through the fair price shops.

The bulletin examines food justice in the country and addresses questions on empowering the marginalised and women.

 

“Due to India’s large population, the country is home to 42 percent of the world’s underweight children and 31 per cent of its stunted children. India has alarming levels of hunger on the global hunger index,” said Nisha Agrawal, chief executive officer of Oxfam India.

read from the source 

 

Neglecting Prominent Role of Women in Agriculture Hindering Ability to Resolve Threats to Food Security

ura kebeleNew Delhi — As developing countries battle multiple threats to food security—soaring prices, crop-crushing weather extremes and dramatic population growth—agriculture experts gathering in New Delhi this week warn that efforts to boost food production and reduce malnutrition risk failure if they continue to ignore the important role of women farmers around the world.

“The global sidelining of women farmers puts our food security at great risk,” said Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary for the Global Forum on Agricultural Research(GFAR), one of the sponsors of the first-ever Global Conference on Women in Agriculture, which is part of GFAR’s Gender in Agriculture Partnership program. “In holding this meeting, we are spurring collective action from all quarters of the agriculture field, whether from farmers’ groups or national agricultural research systems, universities or NGOs, to empower women farmers.”

Relevant Links

Other organizing partners include the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI). They have assembled a wide range of agriculture experts including World Food Prize laureates, government ministers, farmers, agricultural researchers, gender specialists and community development organizations who will meet March 13 through 15 to focus on the importance of women to food security.

They are driven by the fact that women represent on average 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries but must contend daily with policies and practices that severely restrain their food production potential. Women face widespread restrictions on their ability to buy, sell or inherit land, open a savings account, borrow money or sell their crops at market. They also are more likely than men to lack access to rudimentary basics of farming such as fertilizers, water, tillers, transportation, improved crop and animal varieties, and extension services.

As a result, female farmers produce a lower yield on their crops than male farmers by an average of 25 percent. A recent report commissioned by GFAR and recently published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) even shows differences in yield in the same household. A study in Burkina Faso, for example, links gender-based restrictions on access to labor and basic farm inputs with a 30 percent reduction in yields on plots farmed by women versus those maintained by men.

Meanwhile, as of 2010, there were some 925 million undernourished people, mostly in the developing world. And experts say that number could easily grow as record-setting food prices, a series of weather extremes induced by climate change, and a world population that is on track to reach 9 billion by 2050, collude to create unprecedented challenges for global food security.

“We see this conference as a way to unlock the potential of women from Africa to South Asia to Latin America to address the world’s food needs,” said Uma Lele, an independent scholar and a former Economic and Policy Advisor at the World Bank who will be presenting at the conference.

Increased Food Production Not Leading to Improved Nutrition

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that opening up access to women farmers could increase total agriculture output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent—or approximately 100 to 150 million people. Yet research to be discussed at the conference shows that improving output alone is not sufficient to resolve gender inequalities that aggravate hunger.

For example, despite a dramatic increase in both food production and income over the last few decades, there are 350 million people in India today who are malnourished, and 46 percent of India’s children still experience stunted growth, a prime indication of malnutrition. The World Bank cites inattention to the importance of women as both producers and providers of food in their households as a key reason agriculture production increases in South Asia have not generated the expected nutritional improvements.

A similar disconnect can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, the IFPRI report cites an example in Kenya, where a push to boost milk yields by replacing locally-bred cattle with new hybrid breeds had the effect of transferring dairy production from women to men. And while overall milk production increased, in many households, nutrition levels declined. Researchers found that when women were in charge of dairy production, they saved the morning milk for their families and the evening milk for market, something the new policy had failed to consider.

“It’s clear that by failing to invest in women farmers we are handicapping ourselves in the quest for sustainable and more productive agriculture systems and more food-secure societies,” said S. Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR. “Any serious effort to reduce hunger and poverty in the developing world has to confront the fact that, today, almost half of the people in our agriculture sector—which is the foundation for all economic growth–are operating from a distinct disadvantage.”

“This is not a question of ideology,” said Raj Paroda, Executive Secretary of APAARI. “It’s a question of smart development policy. And it’s a change in attitude that has to happen throughout society, from the family field to the offices of decision makers, whether they are in Ouagadougou or Rome.”

Well-meaning Initiatives Undermined Women, Didn’t Reduce Drudgery

Experts note that one pervasive problem is that well-intentioned agriculture research and development efforts sponsored by wealthy countries often assume that Western notions of male-dominated farm operations hold true for the rest of the world. Thus they fail to include women in their planning or consider how their work might exacerbate existing gender inequities.

“Agriculture development initiatives can end up doing harm by importing western ideas of who is the farmer and how food production occurs,” said Ruth Meinzen-Dick, a Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI and lead author of the IFPRI report, Engendering Agricultural Research, Development and Extension. “We need to reorient the thinking of donors, researchers and aid groups to recognize women as farmers,” she added, “and to see women’s activities—whether they are gardening, storing, processing, packaging, transporting or marketing their crops—as central to agriculture and food security.”

For example, women in many countries typically take the lead in post-harvest processing activities, but this area has been a low priority for agricultural researchers even though the lack of post-harvesting tools and storage leads to significant food losses. A report last year from FAO and the World Bank estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, post-harvest grain losses from 2005 to 2007 were worth US $4 billion a year, about the same as the value of annual cereal imports in the region over the same period. The WorldFish Center estimates that more than one-quarter of the fish caught in Africa is lost to spoilage and to poor processing and shipping conditions.

In addition, the IFPRI report notes that reducing the enormous amount of time women spend processing crops can leave more time for other food producing and preparing activities that ultimately address hunger or provide new opportunities for income.

“Considering how many billions of hours are spent husking, milling and grinding grain at home, relatively little research has been devoted to improving the efficiency of these activities,” the report said.

Research to be discussed at the conference also shows that the benefits of agricultural technologies targeted to women in developing countries can be significant. Labor-saving technologies have reduced the time it takes to parboil rice—which makes it easier to process by hand—from two days to six hours, according to research by ICAR’s National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture (NRCWA). Women also have welcomed technologies that allow them to extract seeds from groundnuts while sitting versus standing and to use machines to plant maize and dehusk finger millets.

The IFPRI study finds that agricultural researchers need to broaden their objectives beyond simply boosting production to consider what women look for in a crop variety that might differ from a man’s preferences, such as taste, nutritional value and ease of harvesting and processing. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, men prefer short-stature, high-yielding rice varieties, but surveys reveal women are reluctant to grow them because they are hard to harvest while carrying infants on their backs. The West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) has responded with a focus on developing medium- to tall-stature varieties.

There are also a growing number of studies showing that women can be vital research partners in the push to improve agriculture production in poor countries. For example, when a program in Rwanda asked women to evaluate new bean varieties, the beans they selected increased production by up to 38 percent more than the varieties selected by the breeders themselves.

However, a lack of gender balance among scientists and leadership in most agricultural institutions and among policymakers and extension workers drives gender inequality for farm women overall. In sub-Saharan Africa, only one in four of the agricultural researchers is female, and in Latin America, only one in three agricultural researchers is a woman. In 64 developing countries, only an average of 23 percent of agricultural researchers were female. Most extension workers are male and women have far less access to these extension services, according to the IFPRI report.

New Delhi — As developing countries battle multiple threats to food security—soaring prices, crop-crushing weather extremes and dramatic population growth—agriculture experts gathering in New Delhi this week warn that efforts to boost food production and reduce malnutrition risk failure if they continue to ignore the important role of women farmers around the world.

“The global sidelining of women farmers puts our food security at great risk,” said Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary for the Global Forum on Agricultural Research(GFAR), one of the sponsors of the first-ever Global Conference on Women in Agriculture, which is part of GFAR’s Gender in Agriculture Partnership program. “In holding this meeting, we are spurring collective action from all quarters of the agriculture field, whether from farmers’ groups or national agricultural research systems, universities or NGOs, to empower women farmers.”

  •  

Other organizing partners include the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI). They have assembled a wide range of agriculture experts including World Food Prize laureates, government ministers, farmers, agricultural researchers, gender specialists and community development organizations who will meet March 13 through 15 to focus on the importance of women to food security.

They are driven by the fact that women represent on average 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries but must contend daily with policies and practices that severely restrain their food production potential. Women face widespread restrictions on their ability to buy, sell or inherit land, open a savings account, borrow money or sell their crops at market. They also are more likely than men to lack access to rudimentary basics of farming such as fertilizers, water, tillers, transportation, improved crop and animal varieties, and extension services.

As a result, female farmers produce a lower yield on their crops than male farmers by an average of 25 percent. A recent report commissioned by GFAR and recently published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) even shows differences in yield in the same household. A study in Burkina Faso, for example, links gender-based restrictions on access to labor and basic farm inputs with a 30 percent reduction in yields on plots farmed by women versus those maintained by men.

Meanwhile, as of 2010, there were some 925 million undernourished people, mostly in the developing world. And experts say that number could easily grow as record-setting food prices, a series of weather extremes induced by climate change, and a world population that is on track to reach 9 billion by 2050, collude to create unprecedented challenges for global food security.

“We see this conference as a way to unlock the potential of women from Africa to South Asia to Latin America to address the world’s food needs,” said Uma Lele, an independent scholar and a former Economic and Policy Advisor at the World Bank who will be presenting at the conference.

Increased Food Production Not Leading to Improved Nutrition

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that opening up access to women farmers could increase total agriculture output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 percent—or approximately 100 to 150 million people. Yet research to be discussed at the conference shows that improving output alone is not sufficient to resolve gender inequalities that aggravate hunger.

For example, despite a dramatic increase in both food production and income over the last few decades, there are 350 million people in India today who are malnourished, and 46 percent of India’s children still experience stunted growth, a prime indication of malnutrition. The World Bank cites inattention to the importance of women as both producers and providers of food in their households as a key reason agriculture production increases in South Asia have not generated the expected nutritional improvements.

A similar disconnect can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, the IFPRI report cites an example in Kenya, where a push to boost milk yields by replacing locally-bred cattle with new hybrid breeds had the effect of transferring dairy production from women to men. And while overall milk production increased, in many households, nutrition levels declined. Researchers found that when women were in charge of dairy production, they saved the morning milk for their families and the evening milk for market, something the new policy had failed to consider.

“It’s clear that by failing to invest in women farmers we are handicapping ourselves in the quest for sustainable and more productive agriculture systems and more food-secure societies,” said S. Ayyappan, Director General of ICAR. “Any serious effort to reduce hunger and poverty in the developing world has to confront the fact that, today, almost half of the people in our agriculture sector—which is the foundation for all economic growth–are operating from a distinct disadvantage.”

“This is not a question of ideology,” said Raj Paroda, Executive Secretary of APAARI. “It’s a question of smart development policy. And it’s a change in attitude that has to happen throughout society, from the family field to the offices of decision makers, whether they are in Ouagadougou or Rome.”

Well-meaning Initiatives Undermined Women, Didn’t Reduce Drudgery

Experts note that one pervasive problem is that well-intentioned agriculture research and development efforts sponsored by wealthy countries often assume that Western notions of male-dominated farm operations hold true for the rest of the world. Thus they fail to include women in their planning or consider how their work might exacerbate existing gender inequities.

“Agriculture development initiatives can end up doing harm by importing western ideas of who is the farmer and how food production occurs,” said Ruth Meinzen-Dick, a Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI and lead author of the IFPRI report, Engendering Agricultural Research, Development and Extension. “We need to reorient the thinking of donors, researchers and aid groups to recognize women as farmers,” she added, “and to see women’s activities—whether they are gardening, storing, processing, packaging, transporting or marketing their crops—as central to agriculture and food security.”

For example, women in many countries typically take the lead in post-harvest processing activities, but this area has been a low priority for agricultural researchers even though the lack of post-harvesting tools and storage leads to significant food losses. A report last year from FAO and the World Bank estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, post-harvest grain losses from 2005 to 2007 were worth US $4 billion a year, about the same as the value of annual cereal imports in the region over the same period. The WorldFish Center estimates that more than one-quarter of the fish caught in Africa is lost to spoilage and to poor processing and shipping conditions.

In addition, the IFPRI report notes that reducing the enormous amount of time women spend processing crops can leave more time for other food producing and preparing activities that ultimately address hunger or provide new opportunities for income.

“Considering how many billions of hours are spent husking, milling and grinding grain at home, relatively little research has been devoted to improving the efficiency of these activities,” the report said.

Research to be discussed at the conference also shows that the benefits of agricultural technologies targeted to women in developing countries can be significant. Labor-saving technologies have reduced the time it takes to parboil rice—which makes it easier to process by hand—from two days to six hours, according to research by ICAR’s National Research Centre for Women in Agriculture (NRCWA). Women also have welcomed technologies that allow them to extract seeds from groundnuts while sitting versus standing and to use machines to plant maize and dehusk finger millets.

The IFPRI study finds that agricultural researchers need to broaden their objectives beyond simply boosting production to consider what women look for in a crop variety that might differ from a man’s preferences, such as taste, nutritional value and ease of harvesting and processing. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, men prefer short-stature, high-yielding rice varieties, but surveys reveal women are reluctant to grow them because they are hard to harvest while carrying infants on their backs. The West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA) has responded with a focus on developing medium- to tall-stature varieties.

There are also a growing number of studies showing that women can be vital research partners in the push to improve agriculture production in poor countries. For example, when a program in Rwanda asked women to evaluate new bean varieties, the beans they selected increased production by up to 38 percent more than the varieties selected by the breeders themselves.

However, a lack of gender balance among scientists and leadership in most agricultural institutions and among policymakers and extension workers drives gender inequality for farm women overall. In sub-Saharan Africa, only one in four of the agricultural researchers is female, and in Latin America, only one in three agricultural researchers is a woman. In 64 developing countries, only an average of 23 percent of agricultural researchers were female. Most extension workers are male and women have far less access to these extension services, according to the IFPRI report.

read from the source

Africa: Developing Countries Urged to Invest in Food Security

The role of small scale farmers in ensuring food security has been highlighted as one of strategies that developing countries need to prevent famines and prevent food crises.

In a statement, David Nabarro, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition, said governments, particularly in Africa need to prioritise food security strategies and invest in their agricultural sectors to reduce poverty.

He said one of the main challenges the world faces today is ensuring that it can meet the demand for food for nine billion people by 2050.

To tackle this challenge, he said, countries should focus on making sure that they have the necessary measures in place to be able to provide food for their population. However, this has become more complex in recent years due to volatile food prices.

During 2007 and 2008, rises in food prices triggered a crisis which saw riots in more than 35 countries as prices soared by as much as 30 to 50 per cent and 700 million people suffered from hunger.

Since then, prices have remained inconsistent due to uncertainty in the world economy as well as changes in demand and shortage of supplies.

Mr. Nabarro, who coordinates the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, said one of the UN’s priorities was to continue to sustain efforts in the 22 countries that experience recurring food crises, such as Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and parts of Uganda and northern Tanzania.

He also stated that one the main lessons learned by the international community in the past years was that repeated bursts of humanitarian aid were not the answer to help these countries in the long term.

Instead, funding for programmes that increase their resilience and investing in small farmers, who produce most of the food in Africa, proved to be a better strategy.

Long-term investment in Ethiopia meant it had been successful in providing a safety net to its citizens, while in Kenya poor infrastructure had hindered the ability to move food from plentiful to drought-hit areas, he noted.

read from the source