Africa in Social Media Age: Looking in to the Prospect and Challenges

This post would like to forward in recognizing the power of social Medias compared with the conventional Medias for public participations in good governance and democratic systems as well as bring ti the light on possible threats on the platform including ever grown provoking and ethnic engagement of users. And to bring attentions to all stakeholders on how virtual community at grass root level work at the community to fully exploit the potential of social media as well as collaborate with users towards making social media more Abuse Free, People Centered and Constructive.

The applications and effects of social media have grown with the expansion of communication infrastructure and youth preference. Recently social Medias are widely used by public officials, political parties and activist to interact with the community. Before the coming of social media, space in newspaper and airtime on radio and television were limited and expensive; thus youth, specifically cannot express their opinion nor participate in political affairs.  Online social networking sites such as Facebook have brought new hopes and opportunities by connecting youth with politicians and common interest groups to share information and opinions.

Studies have suggested that youth are now using social media to seek for political information, mobilize common interest groups, create user-generated content and share political views. The new platforms provides a great opportunity to politicians to reach out to their citizens and voters. The technology also link and facilitates interaction between community and elected parliamentarian representatives by providing a public online ‘Wall’, a space where community members can easily write comments in favor or against their political leaders’ decisions. More youth are showcasing stronger reliance on it as their online platform for securing political information they need to make an informed political decision. Hence, targeting and tailoring political messages online to the youth through social media and what motivate youth to develop an interest in politics became an important factor in future campaign strategies for Political parties in their day to day activities as well as during election seasons.

Researchers also argue that social media has a great potential to increase government outreach, enhance problem solving capacities and improve decision-making processes. Citizens´ demand for a transparent government is fermenting a new age of opportunities through social media, web-enabled technologies, mobile technologies and e-government. With the emergence of social media, citizens became able to be journalists themselves avoiding unnecessary mediation of traditional media. As scholars put it: ‘The powerful have been spying on their subjects since the beginning of history, but the subjects can now watch the powerful, at least to a greater extent than in the past’. Any one could become potential citizen journalists, if equipped with a mobile phone that can record and instantly upload to the global networks regarding any wrongdoing by anyone and anywhere. Social media is seen as technologically and financially accessible to youths. Citizens no longer have to be passive consumers of political party propaganda, government spin or mass media news, but are instead actually enabled to challenge discourses, share alternative perspectives and publish their own opinions.

In this age of widespread communication and political consciousness, social media allows citizens not only to influence public debate, public opinion and public policy, but, on a more direct level, also to get the chance to tackle matters of consequences, for example to address deficiencies in infrastructure projects, improve project planning and uncover cases of corruption.

The rapidly advancing world of information technology affects all spheres of life but none more so than politics and the replacement of authoritarian governance with democratic governance. Easy access to information from around the world promotes liberty, competition and choice.  It can also be used to advance respect for the rule of law and human rights and other indices of good governance such as equality and free and credible elections.  Use of the new social media enables group thinking to promote concepts such as the independence of the judiciary, the development of civil society, multiparty systems and democratic institutions which are participatory, transparent and accountable.

Political leaders can rise social and political issues and outline public opinion, and the media can give a voice to those who previously did not have one. It will also provide members of parliaments with the information they need to hold their representatives accountable in a more transparent system of governance. While the public can use the social media to influence political debate, can also be used by political parties to mobilize voters.

Challenges of social Media and way forward

But the ever growing threat that hinders for harvesting the advantage of social media in different parts of the region needs great attentions and further research and strategies shall be raised from the virtual communities for avoiding polarized and extremist generated contents perpetuated among us. If anyone done research, Content generated by polarized that are highly incite usually done with posts came from fake profile including with names of celebrities and public officials. And Fake profiles lack regular posts in the timeline and with limited number of friends in their own circle while they are actively comments on posts came from anyone in the virtual space.

Whatever the importance of the post; the comments from these intruders (the one with the fake ID) came up with provocative and insane comments based on once ethnic and religion lines. While this remarks at the comments of public posts usually controlling enough to hijacked/diverted the main discussion of the group and leads most of the users’ time with making angry response.

If it is not systematically approaches, came with awareness campaign and useful strategy,  Social Medias will have its own threats in fuelling the virtual problem towards the real on the ground conflicts. In response to this calamities social media companies and regional organization have to initiate to work with social media users to come up with user friendly reporting systems for inappropriate content as well as filtering server for provocative contents in local language in an effort of making the platforms remain benefiting its users at large for social interaction and common cause.

Climate change in Agriculture: embark upon the cause and effect for food security and solution to revert the warming world through Adaptation-Mitigation options

Agriculture as a cause of Climate change

According to intergovernmental panel on climate change, Agriculture is one of the world’s largest industries; agricultural land alone covers 40-50% of the world’s land surface. The sector accounts for roughly 14% of global greenhouse gas per year that makes agriculture is a major contributor to climate change (IPCC 2007).

According to the Stern Review, in 2000, about 35% of greenhouse gas emissions came from non-energy emissions: 14% were nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture. Total global greenhouse gas contribution of agriculture from both direct and indirect sources reached up to 32%; the most prominent sources includes: land conversion to agriculture, nitrous oxide released from soils, methane from cattle and enteric fermentation (flatulence-produced methane emissions), biomass burning, rice production, manure, fertilizer production, irrigation, farm machinery and pesticide production. About 74% of total agricultural related greenhouse gas emissions originate in developing countries.

Livestock sector expansion also contributed to overgrazing, land degradation, and an important driver of deforestation in addition to its methane and nitrous oxide emissions from ruminant digestion and manure management, and is the largest global source of methane emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions footprint of livestock sector varies considerably among production systems, regions, and commodities, mainly due to variations in the quality of feed, the feed conversion efficiencies of different animal species and impacts on deforestation and land degradation. Besides the livestock production, the waterlogged and warm soils of rice paddies make rice production system a large emitter of methane from agriculture.

Effect of climate change in agriculture

The cumulative impact of climate will have economic consequences and potentially large implications for the wellbeing and sustainable development of rural populations.  Fundamental to this are a wide range of cross-sectorial impacts affecting health, water and energy resources, ecosystems, and land use. The impacts of climate change to agriculture over the next 50 to 100 years may include:

  • Changing spatial and inter-temporal variability in stream flows, onset of rain days, and dry spells (Strzepek and McCluskey, 2006 ),
  • More frequent floods and droughts, with greater erosion rates from more intense rainfall events and flooding (Agoumi, 2003),
  • Increased crop water requirements from higher temperatures, reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, with likely more negative impacts on dryland than irrigated agricultural systems (Dinar et al., 2009),
  • Positive and negative production and net yield changes for key crops including maize, wheat, and rice, among others, over different time periods, resulting in changes in crop and management choices (e.g. irrigation, crop type) (Kurukulasuriya and Mendelsohn, 2006 ),
  • Potentially lengthened growing seasons and production benefits to irrigated and dryland systems under mild climate scenarios (Thornton et al., 2006 ),
  • Increased heat and water stress on livestock, with possible shifts from agriculture towards livestock management (i.e. stock increases) under increased temperatures with a different mix of more heat resistant species than today and possible benefits to small farms (Seo and Mendelsohn, 2006 ; Dinar et al., 2009).
  • Higher temperatures in arid and semi-arid regions will likely depress crop yields and shorten the growing season due to longer periods of excessive heat.

Climate change will not equally affect all countries and regions, even if Africa represents only 3.6% of emissions, the (IPPC, 2007) report highlighted that Africa will be one of the continents that will be hard hit by the impact of climate change due to an increased temperature and water scarcity. The report pointed out that there is “very high confidence” that agricultural production and food security in many African countries will be severely affect by climate change and climate variability.

Climate change will likely have the biggest impact in equatorial regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. This means that countries already struggling with food security are likely to find they struggle still harder in the future. World Bank (2009) study that focuses on developing countries estimates that without offsetting innovations, climate change will ultimately cause a decrease in annual GDP of 4% in Africa. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an increase in average global temperatures of just two to four degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15-35 percent in Africa and western Asia, and by 25-35 percent in the Middle East. While an increase of two degrees alone could potentially cause the extinction of millions of domestic and wild species that have a biodiversity and food security potentials.

Adaptation of Agriculture from climate change

The vulnerability of a system depends on its exposure and sensitivity to climate changes, and on its ability to manage these changes (IPCC, 2001). Three intuitive approaches appear to have informed the prioritization of adaptation programs of actions and strategies to climate change, namely: a) social vulnerability approach (addressing underlying social vulnerability); b) resilience approach (managing for enhanced ecosystem resilience); and c) targeted adaptation approach (targeting adaptation actions to specific climate change risks).

Climate change adaptation enhanced by altering exposure, reducing sensitivity of the system to climate change impacts and increasing the adaptive capacity of the system while simultaneously explicitly recognizing sector specific consequences. With this respect, adaptation in the agricultural sector seen in terms of both short-term and long-term actions. The provision of crop and livestock insurance, social safety nets, new irrigation schemes and local management strategies, as well as research and development of stress resistant crop varieties form the core of short-term responses. Long-term responses include re-designing irrigation systems, developing land management systems and raising finances to sustain adoption of those systems.

Safety nets are likely to become increasingly important in the context of climate change as increased incidence of widely covariate risks will require the coverage and financing that these sources may provide. Some of the options for adapting agriculture to climate change have related cost for Agricultural research, Irrigation efficiency, Irrigation expansion and development of Roads.

Improving the use of climate science data for agricultural planning can reduce the uncertainties generated by climate change, improve early warning systems for drought, flood, pest and disease incidence and thus increase the capacity of farmers and agricultural planners to allocate resources effectively and reduce risks. Better use of assessing risks and vulnerability and then developing the safety nets and insurance products as an effective response is already being piloted in some areas with fairly positive results (Barrett et al. 2007).

Mitigation of Agriculture for climate change

Climate change mitigation refers to an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases (FAO, 2011d). In other words, mitigation means taking action to reduce the causes of climate change by limiting the amount of heat trapping gases that emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Agriculture could increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The agricultural sector: high mitigation potential with strong adaptation and sustainable development co-benefits.

Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture sector includes reduction of emissions, avoided the emissions and creating sinks that can remove emissions. Lower rates of agricultural expansion in natural habitats, agro-forestry, treating of degraded lands, reduction or using more efficient use of nitrogenous inputs, better management of manure, and use of feed that increases livestock digestive efficiency are some of the major mitigation options in agriculture.

soil carbon sequestration have nearly 90% of agriculture’s climate change mitigation potential could be realized, if carbon markets could introduce to “ provide strong incentives for public and private carbon funds in developed countries to buy agriculture-related emission reductions from developing countries. Soil carbon sequestration by improved land use and management can increase and maintain greater soil Carbon stocks (i.e., sequester C) include a variety of practices that either increase the amount of C added to soils (as plant residues and manure) and/or reduce the relative rate of CO2 released through soil respiration. Soil carbon sequestration practices include: 1) improved grazing land management, 2) improved crop rotations, 3) improved fallows, 4) residue management, 5) reduced tillage, 6) organic matter amendments, 7) restoration of degraded lands, 8) rewetting of cultivated organic soils and (9 Agroforestry. More over using improved nutrient management could increase the plant uptake efficiency of applied nitrogen, reduce N2O emissions, while contributing to soil C sequestration. Agroforestry systems tend to sequester much greater quantities of carbon than agricultural systems without trees. Planting trees in agricultural lands is relatively efficient and cost effective compared to other mitigation strategies, and provides a range of co-benefits important for improved farm family livelihoods and climate change adaptation.

Livestock improvements brought about by more research on ruminant animals, storage and capture technologies for manure and conversion of emissions into biogas are additional contributions that agriculture can make towards mitigating climate change. The anaerobic digestion of manure stored as a liquid or slurry can lower methane emissions and produce useful energy, while the composting solid manures can lower emissions and produce useful organic amendments for soils. To reach the full potential of agriculture in climate change mitigation, transformations are needed in both commercial and subsistence agricultural systems, but with significant differences in priorities and capacity.

In commercial systems, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions, as well as other negative environmental impacts, benefits by increasing carbon sinks, as well as reducing emissions per unit of agricultural product. The sustainable intensification of production, especially in developing countries, can ensure food security and contribute to mitigating climate change by reducing deforestation and the encroachment of agriculture into natural ecosystems. Mitigation of climate change through agriculture is an environmental service that smallholders can provide and is often synergistic with improvements to agricultural productivity and stability.

Climate smart agriculture as a way forward

Climate-smart agriculture is a practice that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. Efficiency, resilience, adaptive capacity and mitigation potential of the production systems can be enhanced through improving its various components. The future of agricultural production relies on both designing new ways to adapt to the likely consequences of climate change, as well as changing agricultural practices to mitigate the cli-mate damage that current practices cause, all without undermining food security, rural development and livelihoods.

Major transformation of the agriculture sector will be necessary and this will require institutional and policy support. Better-aligned policy approaches across agricultural, environmental and financial boundaries and innovative institutional arrangements to promote their implementation is crucial. Enabling policy environment to promote climate-smart smallholder agricultural transformations is greater coherence, coordination and integration between climate change, agricultural development and food security policy processes.

In farm decision-making and practices, the adaptation and mitigation measures are often the same agricultural practices that also benefit farmers by increasing productivity and resilience. However, there may be important trade-offs too. In these situations, where climate-smart practices entail costs for the farmers and these changes are deemed to bring substantial benefits to the society, the farmers facing extra costs should be compensated through different payment mechanisms, rewarding these farmers for the environmental service they provide. With this prospect climate change creates new financing requirements both in terms of amounts and financial flows associated with needed investments, which will require innovative institutional solutions. In synthesizing potential synergies between adaptation and mitigation in smallholder agricultural transitions.

3-D Printer for Small Holder African Farmers and Agricultural Development  

A Program for labour saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

 The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway.

The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide which aims to operate as an open-innovation research platform to harness advances in rapid prototyping so that improved labour-saving technologies can be more effectively developed for and by women smallholder farmers.

 

The need for labour-saving agricultural technologies for smallholder women farmers

The overall goal of the farmer participatory 3D4AgDev Program is to link the potential of User-Led Innovation with Rapid Prototyping (via 3D printing) to enable women smallholder farmers in Africa to design and develop their own labour-saving agricultural tools, tailor-made for their culture, soils and cropping systems. The 3D4AgDev Program has been kickstarted by a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) Phase I grant to the Plant & AgriBiosciences Research Centre (PABC) in the National University of Ireland Galway. The 3D4AgDev Program is a research partnership program between the NUI Galway PABC and Concern Worldwide.

Over 1000 million smallholder farmers (predominantly women) are farming using labour intensive agricultural hand tools. Such agricultural tools include tools for tasks such as weeding, planting, harvesting and crop/food processing. Smallholder agricultural systems remain largely dependent on human labour, having minimal access to alternative energy sources for cultivation and agri-processing such as draught animals or fossil-fuel powered mechanization.

Routes out of poverty for smallholder rural communities will require a swathe of innovations that improve the labour productivity of their agricultural systems. Smallholder farmers living on less than a dollar a day face this challenge in an era when energy demand and energy costs are increasing to their disadvantage. The innovation challenge is how to enable smallholders to generate more income and agricultural produce while reducing the labour burden on women and rural children so that their livelihoods can improve.

Harnessing user-led innovation of women smallholder farmers

User-led innovation refers to incorporating the opinions, knowledge, and circumstances of end users into the designs of products that those people will be using. Sounds like common sense, but traditional manufacturing often has difficulty applying special customizations since it focuses on mass production to keep cost effective. The plan is to start in Tanzania; women farmers will be involved in the design of the tools they need and prototypes will be printed. A very few tools could be functional in plastic format, like small shovels and germination equipment. Most of farming is a bit more intensive though, so the prototypes will be taken to local blacksmiths to copy, likely with casting.

User-led innovation is increasingly used to develop consumer products  (toys, sports equipment, etc.) and rapid prototyping using 3D printers is now widely used by industrial designers.By linking user-led innovation approaches with rapid 3D prototyping the design process for agricultural tools can be turned upside down. Women smallholder farmers lacking formal education can design agricultural hand tools and household food processing equipment to meet their own needs. Local tool manufacturers (artisans, blacksmiths) can copy plastic prototypes and develop their own modifications to ensure that agricultural tools are suited to both smallholder farmer needs and purchasing power.

Facilitating rural enterprise & labour-saving impacts through 3D printing rapid-prototyping technologies

The 3D4AgDev Program aims a participatory technology development program with women smallholders farmers so that the farmers can develop their own agricultural tool and labour-saving innovations. Labour saving tools for women smallholders can have major impacts, including leading to higher yields, higher incomes, more time for other activities, and reductions in harmful child labour in rural areas. Through linking the women smallholder farmer groups to rapid-prototyping user innovation processes, there is significant potential to improve the status of rural women through fostering an enterprise-oriented “maker culture” for agri-tool innovations.

Source 

 

IFAD president spells out what is needed to get African agriculture back on track

“Africa can feed Africa. Africa should feed Africa. And I believe that Africa will feed Africa.” With these words, IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) President Dr. Kanayo Nwanze opened his keynote address to the triennial Forum for Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly on July 18, 2013.

These words will undoubtedly surprise many farmers—and policymakers—in major agricultural exporting nations who have repeatedly been told that they and their use of GMOs are essential to feeding a world population of 9 billion people in 2050, many of whom will be born in Africa. Interestingly, he didn’t mention GMOs..

What he did do was remind his audience that “in the sixties and seventies, many African countries were net exporters of major food and cash crops, not importers as they are today.” During that period, African nations directed some 20 percent of their national budgets to agriculture and some of their universities were home to top-notch research stations.

“These were the years when India was described as a hopeless case; when people in China died of famine; Brazil was dependent on food aid and massive food imports and South Korea received assistance from some African countries,” he said.

He laid the blame for the decline of African agriculture on under-investment in agriculture as a result of structural adjustment programs forced on many of the continent’s nations by the World Bank. The result was a loss of good people as the quality of agricultural research and education declined. He also noted that public investment in agriculture also declined elsewhere in the world—a fact that is not lost on researchers at Land Grant Universities in the US.

Nwanze told his audience that he saw signs that the investment in agricultural research in Africa was turning around. “But,” he declared, “it will only translate into stronger nations and better lives for the people of Africa if it is supported by coherent investment in agriculture for development.”

At the same time, he identified the challenges facing African agriculture today: “climate change, higher temperatures, prolonged droughts, extensive flooding…. [and] conflict.”

Taking a wider view of the challenges and opportunities, Nwanze said, “if we set our sights only on improving productivity, there is a very real danger that we will grow more food in Africa without feeding more people.” To counter that possibility he declared the necessity of linking research not only to agricultural development but to social and economic development as well.

In this vein, he argued, “we must reposition research and development so that it is research for development. This means measuring our results NOT by higher yields alone but by reduced poverty, improved nutrition, cohesive societies and healthy ecosystems. In short, it must be inclusive.”

“For agriculture to yield the greatest returns for Africa, development efforts must focus on the smallholder farming sector. Small farms account for 80 per cent of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, they contribute up to 90 per cent of production. They have the potential to be key suppliers to Africa’s burgeoning urban markets, as well as supplying rural markets,” he told his audience. “And growth in agriculture equates to a reduction in poverty. It has been estimated that for sub-Saharan Africa, growth generated by agriculture is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors.”

Among the opportunities are the potential for increased irrigation, small increases in fertilizer use, and 2 billion acres of “of uncultivated land with rain-fed crop potential in sub-Saharan Africa.” He urged nations not to blindly sell off this land.

“Simply providing smallholders with fertilizers, improved seed and access to irrigation is half of the equation. The other half of the equation for food and nutrition security includes the right policies, investment in rural infrastructure and access to land and local, national regional markets.”

He pointed out that agricultural development must involve women who are “too often…the most disadvantaged members of rural societies.

“To farm successfully, women need agricultural resources and inputs, as well as access to rural finance, education, and knowledge. They also need rights to the land they farm and a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.”

After discussing the importance of paying attention to nutrition as an element of agricultural development, Nwanze said, “and in the years ahead, more research will need to be directed towards agricultural growth that is ecologically sustainable and that provides a diverse range of options, genetic variation and ecosystems so that the land can provide for future generations of farmers.”

He concluded his remarks saying, “Agriculture holds the key to Africa’s development, and development holds the key to a future where Africa is not only feeding itself, but feeding the world.”

Daryll E. Ray holds the Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy, Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, and is the Director of UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center (APAC). Harwood D. Schaffer is a Research Assistant Professor at APAC. (865) 974-7407; Fax: (865) 974-7298; dray@utk.edu and hdschaffer@utk.edu; http://www.agpolicy.org.

Regional conference on capacity development for integrating disaster risk reduction in urban settings in Africa

ADDIS ABABA – Urban Development and Construction State Minister, Dessalegn Ambaw said his ministry is undertaking activities eyed at reducing disaster vulnerability in towns.

Addressing a Regional Conference on Capacity Development for Integrating Disaster Risk Management in to Urban Settings in Africa on Thursday, the State Minister Dessalegn said the government has commenced Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and vulnerability reduction activities in urban areas.

He said the Growth and Transformation Plan has targeted modern urban land management and spatial planning system that could strengthen resilience and reduce poverty.

Ministry of Agriculture Disaster Reduction Management and Food Security Sector State Minister, Mitiku Kassa for his part said DRM activities include risk reduction, preparedness, responsiveness and rehabilitation.

He said Ethiopia has established efficient institutional setup, formulated policies and strategic frameworks, and organized national and sub-national DRM platforms backed by comprehensive risk information system.

According to him, Ethiopia has emerged as a leading nation in the application of DRM in the developing world.

The State Minister said DRM enables to strengthen preparedness and provide quick response to emergency cases.

DRM is supported by a serious of task forces including agriculture, nutrition, education and WASH activities.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Construction organized the conference in collaboration with World Food Program (WFP) and European Union (EU).

Source:ERTA

African Green Revolution Forum Commences in Arusha, Tanzania

African heads of state, ministers, private sector representatives, the international community and farmers gathered today at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Arusha to identify concrete actions for transforming Africa’s agricultural sector.

AGRF 2012 is the global platform for the promotion of the significant private sector investment and policy support needed to increase agricultural productivity and income growth for the African agricultural sector. As host of the forum, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania commented to forum attendees on Africa’s promising future.

“We are poised to succeed in our quest for eradicating hunger and poverty in Africa through transforming agriculture,” said President Kikwete. “With the right policy mix, appropriate interventions being taken by African Governments, the continued support of donors, and robust participation of private sector both local and foreign, transformation of agriculture in Africa is an achievable undertaking.”

Opening the forum, Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) underscored the progress that has been achieved since the inaugural AGRF in 2010. Mr. Annan also stressed the importance of empowering smallholder farmers to help them advance towards business-oriented agriculture.

“Our focus on improving the productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers – most of whom are women – cannot waver. They are the ones who put food on our tables. They are the ones who care for our land and water resources,” said Mr. Annan. “In the end, they will be the ones to propel the economic growth and development of Africa in the 21st century.”

Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who was in Arusha to address forum attendees, noted the significant progress that has been made in African agriculture over the past decade, and appealed for continued support from African leaders.

“I urge Africa’s leaders to re-commit to your pledge to help farm families increase their productivity. I urge you to set an agenda for the next decade that is even more ambitious,” said Ms. Gates. “I hope you take great care that your pledges and plans are geared to help farm families achieve their goals.”

OLYMPICS 2012: Food security event -Charities welcome plans for food security conference during London Olympics

for a major event exploring solutions to global hunger…

Prime Minister David Cameron made an announcement in the British Parliament that a food security event during the Olympics will take place this summer.

The Prime Minister was speaking following the G8 and NATO Summit on May 23, 2012.

Referring to the twin priorities right now amongst world leaders of economic stability and international security, Prime Minister Cameron detailed poverty reduction and international development as part of that mix.

Cameron referred to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in his speech, a new pledge by G8 nations, African nations and their private sector partners to rescue 50 million people from poverty over the next decade through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth…

Sustainable investment in agriculture on a massive scale is seen as a key part of successful development aid strategy.

Improving agriculture production is vital if inroads into Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be met and inequality driven down in the poorest countries of the world, including across Africa…

The investment comprising aid and private sector investment in African agriculture programmes is planned to launch in Tanzania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso initially.

Other African nations are expected to participate in what is being called the Grow Africa partnership that will be open to all African nations.

Over 45 multinational and African companies have already committed to agricultural investments that total more than $3 billion…

G8 members are also supporting the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), with a pledge target of $1.2 billion over three years from existing and new donors via the public and private sector.

Announcements include plans for a range of sustainable development strategies based around improving excellence in agriculture, supporting smallholder farmers, including drought prevention and nutrition awareness…

David Cameron, referring to the plans in his Parliament address, said:

“On development the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is an important initiative that aims to help 50 million people lift themselves out of poverty over ten years.

“For countries to receive help they need to show a real commitment to transparency and good governance. And in return they get substantial support to generate private sector investment in food production.

“This is a great combination of promoting good governance and helping Africa to feed its people. And I’ll be building on this with a major event on food security during the Olympics.”

The move recognises that encouraging the private sector to create wealth creation including fresh jobs is one of the best routes to sustainable growth in developing countries, but aid is also part of the programme.

Cameron also called on the world’s government to give more in aid to developing countries…

“For the first time in a decade the amount of aid given by the world’s richest countries to the world’s poorest countries has fallen back,” he said.

The UK is leading efforts to introduce minimum aid development commitments and whilst calling on others to do more, has confirmed this year it remains on course to meet its schedule of investing 0.7 per cent of national income in aid in 2013…

Britain’s total aid spending will rise to a record £9.1 billion this year then to £12 billion in 2013…

It’s a huge commitment to development aid spending helping the poorest people in the world… especially for a government forcing down spending in other areas to combat enormous public debt incurred from a previous administration…

In fact, Cameron’s pursuit of a major redistribution of wealth to the poorest people in the world is staggering in its generosity on behalf of the British people and a powerful statement of global cooperation.

“Britain continues to honour its commitments. Other nations should do likewise and in our G8 next year we will once again produce the report which shows who has and who hasn’t,” says Cameron.

Many respected aids charities have welcomed the UK commitments to international aid and the encouragement for more investment from other major sources.

The praise has continued for the idea to capture the spirit of the Olympics and also the practical reality that many world leaders will be attending London anyway over the summer…

Charities are pressing the leaders at the forthcoming Olympics event to deliver on MDG commitments to hunger and malnutrition and place global cooperation on development aid firmly on the agenda.

Christian Aid’s Political Adviser Sol Oyuela, says: “It’s great news that the UK will be hosting a major event on food security during the Olympics, when the world’s attention will be focused on this country.

“We’re delighted that the UK has seized the Olympics opportunity to lead global efforts to tackle hunger and hope that the event will help galvanise political and public support for action to help millions.

“At a time when the number of hungry people in the world is rising for the first time in a generation it’s more urgent than ever that we make the food system work for people living in poverty. There is enough food for everyone to have what they need but more than one billion people are still hungry.

“Aid is helping to tackle hunger and we also need action to deal with its deeper causes such as climate change and inequality. The UK’s Olympics event is a major opportunity to achieve progress on that front.”

Save the Children Chief Executive Justin Forsyth says: “Save the Children is delighted that the Prime Minister has decided to hold a world hunger summit during the Olympics. He should be applauded for picking up the baton following the recent G8.

“With over a hundred heads of state visiting, the Olympics offers a unique opportunity to leave a global legacy beyond sport. By galvanising other world leaders, the private sector, charities, and the public, the Prime Minister can help save millions of children’s lives, who are currently facing a daily battle with hunger. This is a fight the world can win, and this is the time to act.”

Adrian Lovett, Europe Executive Director of anti-poverty campaign group ONE, also welcomed the Prime Minister’s G8 and Olympics commitments that follow President Barack Obama’s announcement on food development aid at the G8.

“It’s great to see that the Prime Minister will build on President Obama’s bold beginning and develop a sustained global effort to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. When the eyes of the world are on London, the Prime Minister will focus attention on the crucial issue of hunger.

“We urge him to continue this leadership during 2013, when he has a unique opportunity as head of the G8 to build on the promise made by world leaders last week to lift 50 million people out of poverty.”

The UK DFID as well as investing unprecedented amounts of public money into aid development now has a department that directly engages with the private sector to encourage more involvement in developing growth and alleviating poverty in the poorest countries of the world…

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Congo, Ethiopia and Somalia are just some of the main beneficiaries of UK aid receiving hundreds of millions of GBP a year in public money.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has also launched various schemes to encourage private donor investment supporting charities such as CAFOD, charity: water, UNICEF and others…

These include UK Aid Match that was launched in the summer of 2011 and has proven highly effective in inspiring donor action for major international campaigns.

The fund offers pound for pound donor match cash to appeals for development activities focused on poverty reduction in developing countries. Organisations can apply to have their appeals match funded based on an assessment of their value for money for the tax-payer.

Recent appeals include CAFOD’s Lent Appeal, Soccer Aid 2012 and Christian Aid Week 2012 and Trócaire Northern Ireland Lenten appeal, all of which are still currently open…

Sport Relief 2012 was also an Aid Match appeal. Britons generated £52,070,587 for this year’s Sport Relief appeal supporting charity causes overseas and in the UK… an amount that is continuing to rise.