Fall Armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (Smith)

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The fall armyworm can colonize over 80 different plant species including many grasses, and crops such as alfalfa, soybean, sorghum, and corn.  Fall armyworm is more likely to be an economic pest in corn and vegetable crops. Fall armyworms are similar in size and shape to other moths in the cutworm family.  They are grayish in color with a wingspan of about 1.5 inches.
Upon arrival to a new field, the female moth deposits egg masses on green plants including important crop hosts.  The eggs hatch about five to seven days after oviposition and the small larvae then begin to feed on plants near the ground or in protected areas such as the whorl of corn plants.  They usually go unnoticed until they are approximately an inch long.  The larva goes through six instars (about 15 to 18 days) before burrowing one to three inches into the soil to pupate.  Adults emerge about one to five weeks after pupation depending on soil temperature.

Adult stage: Adult moths are 20 to 25mm long with a wingspan of 30 to 40mm. Forewings are shaded grey to brown, often mottled with a conspicuous white spot on the extreme tip. Hindwings are silvery white with a narrow dark border. Adults are nocturnal and most active during warm, humid evenings. Females lay eggs in clusters of fifty to a few hundred and can lay up to 2000 eggs in a lifetime. The average adult lifespan is estimated to be 10 days.

Egg stage: Eggs are white, pinkish or light green in color and spherical in shape. Clusters of eggs are frequently covered in moth scales or bristles giving a fuzzy appearance. Eggs are usually laid on the underside of leaves.

Larval stage: Larvae generally emerge simultaneously 3 to 5 days following oviposition and migrate to the whorl. Mortality rate following emergence is extremely high due to climatic factors, predators, and parasites. There are six larval instar stages. In the 2nd and 3rd instar stages larvae are often cannibalistic, resulting in only one larva in the whorl. Mature larvae are 30 to 40mm in length and vary in color from light tan to green to black. Larvae are characterized by several subdorsal and lateral stripes running along the body. Dark, elevated spots (tubercles) bearing spines occur dorsally along the body. Larvae of fall armyworm can be distinguished from larvae of armyworm and corn ear worm by a distinct white inverted Y-shaped mark on the front of the head. They have four large spots on the upper surface of the last segment. Larvae mature in 14 to 21 days after which they drop to the ground to pupate.

Pupal stage: Pupation occurs a few centimeters (2 to 8cm) below the soil surface. Cocoons are generally oval and 20 to 30mm in length. Pupae are reddish brown and measure 13 to 17mm in length. Pupation usually takes 9 to 13 days, following which adults emerge.

  • In optimum conditions the entire lifecycle can be completed in 30 days. Maize crops can normally support two generations.
  • Optimum temperature for larval development is 28۫ C, although the egg stage and pupal stage require slightly lower temperatures.
  • Protracted periods of extreme cold will result in death of most growth stages. The fall armyworm has no diapause mechanism and therefore is only able to overwinter in mild climates and recolonize in cooler climates in the summeConfirmation

Host range

The fall armyworm has a wide range of hosts including maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane, cotton, alfalfa, peanuts, tobacco, and soybean, in addition to various wild grasses. However, gramineous plants are preferred.

  • Mechanism of damage:Damage is caused by loss of photosynthetic area due to foliar feeding, structural damage due to feeding in the whorl, lodging due to cut stems, and direct damage to grains due to larvae feeding.
  • When damage is important:Severe infestations are uncommon and most plants recover from partial foliar feeding. Under severe infestation complete defoliation of the maize plant is possible. Damage is most severe when worms cause direct damage to the ear. Under severe infestation larvae are frequently observed migrating in large numbers to new fields similar to the true armyworm. Late planted maize and advanced growth stages are more vulnerable to fall armyworm damage.
  • Economic damage:Under severe infestation yield loss ranging from 25 to 50% has been documented.

Monitoring

  • Regularly monitor leaves and whorls for presence of larvae and signs of crop damage.
  • Look for masses of larvae migrating between fields.
  • Pheromone traps can be used to determine incidence of adult moths and disrupt mating during the whorl stages.

Cultural control

  • Plant early to avoid periods of heavy infestation later in the season.
  • Plant early maturing varieties.
  • Rotate maize with a non-host.
  • Reduced tillage methods often result in an increase of natural predators and parasitoids. However, in areas where fall armyworm infestation is high, disking or plowing can effectively reduce the survival rate of pupae in the soil.

Biological control

  • Numerous parasitic wasps, natural predators, and pathogens help to control the population of fall armyworms.
  • The egg parasitoidTelenomus remus is frequently introduced to effectively control fall armyworm and other Spodoptera 

Insecticides

  • Insecticide application should be considered when eggs are present on 5% of seedlings or when 25% of plants show signs of feeding damage. In order to be effective, insecticide application should commence before larvae burrow into the whorls or ears and insecticide spray should penetrate the crop canopy.
  • Insecticides recommended for control ofSpodoptera species include various pyrethroids, carbamates and organophosphates. However, insecticide resistance has been widely reported.

Role of Social Media for Good Governance and Democracy: Literature Review and Personal Observation in Horn of Africa

Social media refers to web-based platforms that allow users to create, share, rate and search for content and information.  These tools become ‘social’ in the sense that they are created in ways that enable users to share and communicate with one another. This includes mixture of web-based technologies and services blogs, micro-blogs, social sharing platforms and social networking services.

This blog part would like to review the role of social media platforms in nation building in the horn of Africa and to a wider region at large. Recognizing the power of this Medias compared with the conventional Medias for public participations in good governance and democratic systems as well as giving attentions to threats related to the technologies including commonly observed provoking and racial remarks/ comments. And to bring attentions to all stakeholders look forward how virtual community at grass root level and social-media giants shall collaborate towards making social media more people centered, developmental, a media for the voiceless and in an effort to build proactive democratic systems while at the same time making sure  the , zero abusive foot-print by embarrassing all basic human rights.

Trends of Internet Penetration in the Region

The applications and effects of social media have ever grown with the expansion of ICT and youth preference to engage actively in politics of respective nations in the horn of Africa and to the regions at large. Facebook, one of the biggest social networks was created in 2004, the biggest video sharing website Youtube did not exist before 2005 and the most popular micro blogging site like Twitter only traces back to 2006. Following this, it has been widely used by public officials, political parties and activist to interact with this ever growing virtual community, which was not a common one decade ago. As we can see from the figure below the trends of internet penetration in the region have been grown since its introduction, this by far shows there is an ever growing population of the virtual community in the region that could be a played a great role to shared commitment towards building a democratic systems and good governance in this fragile region.

Year Kenya Sudan Uganda South Sudan Djibouti Ethiopia Eritrea Egypt* South Africa *
2016 45% 26% 19% 17% 12% 4% 1% 33% 52%
2015 45% 26% 19% 17% 11% 4% 1% 33% 51%
2014 43% 25% 18% 16% 11% 3% 1% 32% 49%
2013 39% 23% 16% 14% 10% 2% 1% 29% 47%
2012 32% 21% 15% 12% 8% 2% 1% 26% 41%
2011 28% 17% 13% 9% 7% 1% 1% 26% 34%
2010 14% 17% 13% 7% 7% 1% 1% 22% 24%
2009 10% 14% 10% 5% 4% 1% 1% 20% 10%
2008 9% 11% 8% 3% 2% 1% 1% 18% 8%
2007 8.0% 8.7% 3.7% 2.0% 1.6% 0.4% 0.4% 16.0% 8.1%
2006 7.5% 5.0% 2.5% 1.8% 1.3% 0.3% 0.4% 13.7% 7.6%
2005 3.1% 1.3% 1.7% 1.4% 1.0% 0.2% 0.3% 12.8% 7.5%
2004 3.0% 0.8% 0.7% 1.3% 0.8% 0.2% 0.3% 11.9% 8.4%
2003 2.9% 0.5% 0.5% 1.0% 0.6% 0.1% 0.3% 4.0% 7.0%
2002 1.2% 0.4% 0.4% 0.8% 0.5% 0.1% 0.2% 2.7% 6.7%
2001 0.6% 0.1% 0.2% 0.4% 0.3% 0.0% 0.2% 0.8% 6.3%
2000 0.3% 0.0% 0.2% 0.3% 0.2% 0.0% 0.1% 0.6% 5.3%
Population

 2016

in million

47.25 41.18 40.32 12.73 0.90 101.85 5.35 93.38 54.98

* Egypt and South Africa used as a comparison, since the two African nations have high internet penetrations rate and study shows that more than 90% of peoples who have internet access have used social medias.

The data for the above figure are collected from http://www.internetlivestats.com/internetusers

The term “Horn of Africa” is not only a geographical expression but it is rather a geopolitical concept. The Horn of Africa proper consists of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, the Sudan and South Sudan. Stretchily, it also encompasses Kenya and Uganda. Some are convinced that the nations of the Horn of Africa are endowed with a dynamic, youthful and entrepreneurial population and an abundance of natural resources. Yet, for too many years, peoples of this region have been suffering from hunger, conflicts, poverty and growing inequalities and instabilities. The twin problems of poverty and conflict have various and complex causes. sine from history so far scholars put it as most of the wars / conflict in the Horn of Africa during the past decades have been described in terms of ethnic conflict, both by the adversaries themselves and by external analysts. Sudan civil wars have been characterized as ethnic conflicts with cleavages along religious, racial, cultural, and linguistic lines. The various civil wars in Ethiopia, Somali conflicts and Djibouti have also linked to ethnic conflict.

Good governance

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) defines governance as “the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises the mechanisms, processes, and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences”. One of the fundamental principles of good governance is transparency, which ensures that the decision-making and the subsequently due process monitoring and implementation of this information is freely available and directly accessible by all stakeholders.

The United Nations Development Program views corruption as “the misuse of public power, office or authority for private benefit – through bribery, extortion, influence peddling, nepotism, fraud, speed money or embezzlement”. Corruption does not necessarily appear only in monetary terms. When an official fails to deliver the services that were paid by the government, this may be defined as “quiet corruption”. Quiet corruption thus may include deviations that can be potentially observable, such as being absent from work, but also deviations that are hard to observe, for example to bend rules for personal benefits, or to deviate from the expected conduct

Political Participation

Historically, citizen’s participation in the political processes has been considered a fundamental element of an ideal democracy. Thus, participation represents a significant component in political communication and democratic institution.  Recent reports indicate decreasing youth participation in political activities such as low turnout at elections.

two decades ago, there has been serious academic concern about the low political participation among youth in many parts of developed and developing nations, thus, some scholars have identified this as a threat to good governance particularly in developing nations. 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 politics through the old media.  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 Facebook to seek for political information, mobilize common interest groups, create user-generated content and share political views. Facebook provides a great opportunity to politicians to reach out to their constituents and voters. The technology also link and facilitates interaction between community and elected political representatives by providing a public online ‘Wall’ a space where community members can easily write comments in favor or against their political leaders.

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 Facebook and what motivate youth to develop an interest in politics should be an important factor in future campaign strategies for Political parties in their day to day activities as well as during election seasons.

Social media vis-à-vis Good governance and Democracy

Researchers 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 Web 2.0 technologies and new 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’. We have all become potential citizen journalists who, if equipped with a mobile phone, can record and instantly upload to the global networks any wrongdoing by anyone, anywhere.

Freed from the necessities of professional media and journalist skills or the centralized control and distribution of industrial mass media organizations, social media is instead seen to be technologically, financially and accessible to youths. Equipped with social media, the 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, people expect political participation and accountability much more than they did in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 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.

Social media can be empowering to its users as it gives them a platform to speak. It allows anyone with access to the Internet the ability to inexpensively publish or broadcast information, effectively democratizing media. In terms of time, Social media technologies allow users to immediately publish information in near-real time. There is a growing prospects that shows social media must be used by Parliaments, Parliamentarians, governments and political parties as they are highly effective tools to involve and inform citizens in public policymaking and in the formation of governments.

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. Such media empower and unite people.  Political leaders can rise social and political issues and shape 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, he said they can also be used by political parties to mobilize voters.  More generally, the social media can also be used to enable faster responses to crises.

The way forward

In general, there is a strong assumption in the literature that social media have a tremendous power to improve transparency, accountability, good governance and democratic system coupled with my observation in the ground. 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 contents generated ideas perpetuate among us.

The research questions for further study should include what is the motivation behind posting and commenting so provokingly and in a polarized way, how the majority of the virtual community who have worked for the common goals in politics usually to bring democratic systems and good governance by using social media  shall not be influenced / diverted by this incite posts from fake identities and how institutions responsible for these platforms ( like Facebook) shall came with better options / solutions for users in reporting towards intruders posting inappropriate contents.

If everyone can make little research in this concerns Content generated by Polarized and incite contents usually done with posts came from fake profile usually including but not limited to names of celebrities and public officials. The appearances for fake profiles are lack of regular posts in their own timeline and with rare number of friends in their own circle but surprisingly they are actively comments on posts came from anyone in the virtual space.

whatever the importance of the post to bring the issues for discussions for developing good governance and democratic systems; the comments from these intruders (the one with the fake ID) came up with provocative, insane and with a very nature of sensitive like racism / ethnic/ religious based insulation  remarks that have usually controlling enough to hijacked/diverted the main posts/discussion as well as it has leads most of the users in that space busy with making angry response to this comments.

Even if the virtual communities have aware of the importance of social media in building democratic systems and good governance that would take part  a role/ bring a light for multi-party systems, inclusive development, self-determination / identify, transparency, corruption, systematic exclusion and other issues that came to be important for the prospects of each nations and toward this region ; if we are not systematically approaches and give attentions to intruders came with   ethnic and religious polarizations and extremism that usually done for the purpose of dismantling / diverting the virtual community in the social medias would have its own threats and consequences for fuelling the online drama towards the offline conflicts.

In response to this calamities social media companies and researchers in the region need to initiate to work with social media users at grass root to come up with user friendly reporting systems for inappropriate content includes contents with local language so that the platforms would maintain/remain for the advantage of the peoples at large for interaction, building of democratic systems and good governance.

India strengthens ties with CGIAR institutions in Ethiopia and Kenya

Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, Mr Krishna Byre Gowda (extreme right) visiting a farmer’s field near Holetta in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Honorable Minister of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, paid a visit to Ethiopia and Kenya to gain an understanding of the work being carried out by CGIAR centers based in Africa and to identify best practices and information that can be used to strengthen the ongoing developmental programs in the state of Karnataka in India.

Interacting with representatives of the centers at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Addis Ababa on 24 December, the Minister said, “Though the state of Karnataka made significant progress in improving the productivity of agriculture, in recent years, growth had stagnated. Intensive cultivation had led to a rapid decline in soil nutrient levels, leading to micronutrient deficiencies.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICRISAT and the State agricultural department, some of these issues were identified and corrective actions were taken. Karnataka has now returned to a positive growth rate in agriculture. This demonstrates the need for science-based interventions in identifying problems and in implementing appropriate solutions,” he added.

Mr Byre Gowda also stressed on the importance of improving agriculture in developing countries such as India and Ethiopia despite its diminishing share in GDP due to the sector’s crucial role as a source of livelihood for a majority of the poor people.

The interactions gave the Minister a clear overview of various projects and activities that the centers are pursuing in Ethiopia. Among the activities that were found to be highly relevant to the conditions in Karnataka include efforts on sustainable intensification through expansion of small-scale irrigation and strategic improvements in rainfed agricultural systems by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI); the soil health program of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF); mapping of soil nutrient status using satellite imagery by the International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) in collaboration with US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with support from the Canadian International Development Agency and efforts to improve resilience of dryland systems by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA).

Mr K Byre Gowda interacts with representatives of CGIAR centers with country offices in Ethiopia. Photo: ICRISAT
Mr Byre Gowda’s visit focused on wide ranging discussions with the representatives of eight CGIAR centers based in Ethiopia – ICRISAT, ILRI, IWMI, ICRAF, CIMMYT, ICARDA, Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The Minister also visited the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and met with its Director General Dr Fentahun Mengitsu, who briefed him about the Institute’s research network and major programs and those implemented by the Government of Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia has made significant progress in the past 10 to 15 years and is one of the few countries in Africa that is spending more than 10 per cent of the national budget on agriculture,” Dr Mengitsu explained. He went on to elucidate on his country’s historical relationship with India and its contribution to capacity building. The sustainable land management initiative, similar to the watershed programs in India, is one of the flagship programs currently being implemented by the Government of Ethiopia to support smallholder farmers.

Concluding the meeting, the Minister said: “Farmers in India and Ethiopia are facing very similar problems. Some of the problems that India is facing now could be Ethiopia’s problems in the future. There are lessons that each of us can borrow from the other’s work. A strong collaboration between the two countries will be mutually beneficial”.

The visit was organized by ICRISAT on behalf of the Consortium of CGIAR centers that is working closely with the Government of Karnataka, Ministry of Agriculture in implementing the “Bhoochetana Plus” program.

Mr Byre Gowda also visited farmers’ fields and a commercial flower farm near Holetta, in Ethiopia.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Minister interacted with representatives of CGIAR centers located in the country. He toured the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) campus and interacted with the local farmers.

The visit was facilitated by Drs Moses Siambi, ICRISAT’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA); KPC Rao, Principal Scientist, ICRISAT; and NVPR Ganga Rao, Senior Scientist – Breeding, ICRISAT.

REBLOG FROM

CLIMATE CHANGE: African Farmers too hungry to Adapt

JOHANNESBURG, 14 September 2012 (IRIN) – Small farmers in the developing world who are going hungry for long periods of time – in some cases for up to half the year in Ethiopia’s Borana region – are failing to find ways to adapt to an increasingly erratic climate, a new survey has found.

The survey, which was conducted just ahead of the severe drought in East Africa in 2011, interviewed 700 households in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It was designed to develop simple, comparable, cross-site household-level indicators to assess if small farmers were able to diversify, adapt and adopt new farming practices in the face of climate change.

The team of researchers involved in the survey found that households that were food secure for longer periods of time were able to experiment with new farming approaches and techniques, such as planting drought- or flood-tolerant varieties of seeds.

“When you are without food, you cannot really innovate,” said Patti Kristjanson, agricultural economist for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which led the study.” It stands to reason that households struggling to feed their families throughout the year are not in a good position to invest in new practices that include higher costs and risks.”

Not being able to adapt is contributing to food insecurity, she added. “So it is critical that we learn more about both the factors that enable and facilitate innovation, and how to lower the often hidden costs and barriers associated with changing agricultural practices.”

The survey attempted to find out what farmers had been doing for the past 10 years to cope with the changing climate. “We hope to go back for more – this is just a snapshot of what is happening on the ground,” said Kristjanson. Not enough research has been done to find out whether small producers, including pastoralists and fishing communities, were able to incorporate messages and programmes on adapting.

Niger study

The few studies completed reveal that small farmers could be facing a number of simultaneous challenges, driving them into food insecurity. Researchers from the Senegal-based Cheik Anta Diop University have been conducting surveys in Niger’s food insecure Maradi District, where small farmers depend on increasingly erratic rains for their crops.

In 2007, the researchers found that 50 percent of farmers said they were forced to consume their entire produce within three months. In previous years as a back-up they had grown vegetables with the help of water drawn from the Goulbi river. But as rain became scarce and with the construction of an upstream dam in Nigeria, the river, which used to flow for at least six months after the rainy season, was now dry for most of the year.

CCAFS study – mixed results

The CCAFS study of average small farmers in the Horn and East Africa showed relatively poor results in terms of the take up of a more sustainable form of agriculture better able to cope with erratic weather patterns:

 

– Only 25 percent of households have begun using local manure or compost (good for the soil) rather than expensive chemical fertilizers which can have negative environmental impacts; 23 percent are now mulching;
– Only 16 percent of the surveyed households introduced improved soil management techniques such as terracing which reduce water and soil losses;
– Only 10 percent have begun trying to store or manage agricultural water;
– Only 34 percent have reduced livestock herd sizes but 48 percent are managing their resources better, for example by growing crops for animal feed.

More positively, the study indicated that:

– 55 percent of households have taken up at least one shorter-cycle crop variety, and 56 percent adopted at least one drought-tolerant variety;
– 50 percent of households are planting trees on their farms, a practice known as agroforestry. These trees help stabilize eroding landscapes, increase water and soil quality, and provide yields of fruit, tea, coffee, oil, fodder, medicinal and energy products;
-50 percent introduced intercropping – alternating different plants on the same plot; – 25 percent started rotating their crops in the last decade.

“These changes can help farmers adjust to changing weather patterns; and better diets can also lower methane emissions [from animals] per kilogram of meat and milk produced,” said CCAFS in a statement.

CCAFS researchers acknowledge that climate change is only one of several key driving forces behind the changes seen and “it is very difficult to disentangle the relative importance of different driving forces.”

They noted that the changes made by households in the past 10 years “tend to be marginal, rather than transformational, and the lack of uptake of well-tested and widely-disseminated soil, water and land management practices is cause for concern.”

In a statement accompanying the findings, Bruce Campbell, the CCAFS programme director, said: “Farmers need more than words. They need innovative strategies that will help them adapt to the increased demand brought on by climate change and other factors. We need to redouble efforts to ensure not just their current and future food security but the rest of the world’s as well.”

Campbell highlighted Rio+20 as a prime example of this trend. “The final text for Rio+20 recognized the connections between sustainable agriculture, smallholder farmers and food security, but lacked concrete commitments or a plan of action. We urge national leaders to embrace these challenges and safeguard global food security by helping farmers face a changing climate.”

Strength in numbers

A publication released earlier this year by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) entitled Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security, used 35 case studies to show how institutions such as farmer cooperatives had innovated in groups to benefit poor farmers who lack the services and support to innovate.

“For instance, input shops in Niger have enabled small producers to develop effective local input markets by grouping input demand and supplying them in quantities and types that are adapted specifically to their needs and limited financial capacities,” said the publication.

Kenya’s African leafy vegetable farmers have in some cases organized themselves into groups to be able to enter into contractual arrangements with supermarkets and ensure food quantity, quality and timely delivery arrangements.

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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.

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Africa Union raises US$ 50 million to tackle famine in Horn of Africa region

Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) – Nearly US$ 50 million was raised by the African Union (AU) to assist the countries in the Horn of Africa, threatened by famine, the AU Commissioner for the rural economy and agriculture, Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, announced Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“This is from voluntary contributions by member countries. This should be added to the financial aids granted by several countries and which have already been disbursed to needy populations,” she declared at a news conference ahead of the AU summit, scheduled for the Ethiopian capital this weekend.

The AU Commissioner pleaded for the search for a definitive solution to food problems through the establishment of policies which would guarantee further financial resources to the agricultural sector.

“Nearly 30 countries have already put in place agriculture development programmes decided by the African Union in Maputo. This effort must be kept up as there are no other means of attaining food security goals on the continent,” Mrs. Tumusiime said.

Several million people are threatened by famine in the Horn of Africa, mainly in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya where huge refugee camps have been opened

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Africa can feed itself but lacks political will to place food first

Even as a UN report warned of a looming food crisis in the Horn of Africa due to expected dry spell in the coming months, it emerged that Africa has the capacity to become self-sufficient in food and even become a net exporter.

But African governments lack political will to put food security top in the agenda.

According to the Horn of Africa Crisis Situation Report, a new food analysis of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification in Djibouti indicates that the situation has deteriorated from “stressed” to “crisis”.

In Ethiopia, drought conditions are expected to worsen in the northern parts of Afar and parts of northern Somalia despite the short rains the region received between October and December.

“On the other hand, drought conditions in the northern, north-eastern and southern parts of Kenya have significantly eased following good rainfall received in the October-December short rains season,” says the report.

Other issues contributors to food scarcity include lack or skewed distribution and the armed conflicts in the continent.

A recent meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to celebrate the first anniversary of the African Food and Nutrition Security Day revealed that Africa has the potential to feed itself but the continent still suffers from widespread malnutrition while spending millions of US dollars annually to import food.

Food aid

 

The main concern is that Africa, after 50 years after independence, and being endowed with land and water resources, is still suffering from food insecurity and perpetually rely on food aid. The continent spends about $50 billion annually to import food from the global market.

In July, certain regions of the countries in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, experienced dire food shortages due to a combination of the most severe drought in the region in 40 years and conflict Somalia.

Over 13 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, including 700,000 Somali refugees in Kenya and nearly 1.5 million displaced people inside Somalia. The famine affected virtually the entire northern Kenya, especially Turkana.

Despite massive humanitarian response from across the world, including Kenya’s initiative dubbed “Kenyans for Kenya”, the situation is still delicate, even as attention has shifted to other issues.

In Kenya for instance, the problem was not lack of food, but lack of proper distribution mechanism by the government to move food from areas with abundant harvests to those with food-scarcity.

The African Food and Nutrition Security Day was launched in Lilongwe, Malawi in October 2010. Malawi is one of the few African countries that have achieved food-security status.

Working under the theme, “Investing in Inter-Africa Trade”, the challenge facing African countries is the struggle for individual countries to meet food security rather than use the regional economic blocs to move food from food sufficient countries to food-deficient ones.

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