By Lorina Sthapit, Gender and M&E
Junior Consultant, Nepal and PTA Gender Desk
The event concluded with a statement by the Vice President about the relevance of ending violence against women for food security, poverty reduction and rural development.
the winning projects
By Lorina Sthapit, Gender and M&E
Junior Consultant, Nepal and PTA Gender Desk
Written by Francesco Farnè
If you don’t know about AgTalks, you are missing a riveting new series of events organised by IFAD with the aim of presenting the human face of family farming by sharing the latest policy and innovation research findings, as well as different viewpoints on smallholder farming.
Through the series we are putting forward the latest thinking, trends and research on policies and innovations in small-scale family farming.
As you may know, the UN has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. And earlier in the month, on the eve of the World Soil Day, we at IFAD had the honour and pleasure to host the launch of the Montpellier Panel report "No Ordinary Matter: conserving, restoring and enhancing Africa’s soils".
As the International Year of Family Farming comes to an end and we embark to celebrate the International Years of Soils, on 11 December, we hosted the second session of Agtalks which focused on the topic of soils, fertilisers and their relations with smallholder family farms.
Dr Mason talked about the importance of fertilisers for Africa. She painted a vivid picture of two Zambian farmers, Bernard and Matimaba–one whose farm had government funded fertiliser subsidies and the other who did not. This was how she introduced the audience to the current African policies on fertilisers, underlining their weaknesses and contradictions and supporting her thesis through many other smallholder farmers’ stories from her personal experience in Africa. She talked about the importance of putting in place efficient policies as the way to take smallholder families out of poverty and ensure food security.
Mr Tittonell focused his intervention on soil and its organic matter. Soil organic matter is only 5% of the soil, but it makes the difference between an arid sand desert and a fertile valley. To underline this, he showed the audience some soils samples, explaining the characteristics of a healthy soil. He also talked about why it is crucial to preserve organic matter through conservation practices in agriculture (e.g. avoiding soil tillage; preserving permanent soil cover; favouring crop diversification). Conservation agriculture plays an important role in preserving soil from degradation, but, even though some evidence shows that it can help, restoring soil organic matter in deteriorated lands remains an open question.
The second session of AgTalks session raised issues such as the need for a holistic and long term approach. And it made a positive contribution to the debate on such issues, presenting a unique opportunity to make the necessary linkages between smallholder farmers and soil preservation.
8 December 2014, Lima, Peru. An unusual side event at the annual Climate Conference in Lima (COP 20) provided a snapshot of what the United Nations is doing to support climate change education and training for children, youth and adults. Panellists and participants discussed how learning can actually ‘make a difference’ on the ground as well as the role of formal, non-formal and informal approaches. The audience also actively engaged in a game on climate risk management animated by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC). The event was hosted by UNEP, UNITAR, UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, and IFAD in collaboration with YOUNGO. It was moderated by Mr. Daniel Abreu, National UN CC:Learn Focal Point at the National Climate Change Council (CNCCMDL) of the Dominican Republic.
|The event was opened with a photo series featuring “Voices from the COP” on why education and training is important, collected by YOUNGO. ©UNCC:Learn|
In his welcome remarks, Mr. Angus Mackay, Manager at UNITAR’s Climate Change Programme pointed out that funding and programmes on sustainability issues is at an ‘all time high’ and that especially young people have never been so aware of sustainability issues. “However, actual behaviour change is not following automatically. We need to make sure that programmes actually lead to measurable results, including effective monitoring and evaluation,” he said, referring to a recent publication by FAO (“Making It Count: Increasing the Impact of Climate Change and Food Security Education Programmes”). The event featured three case examples illustrating UN projects and programmes for different age groups: beginning with climate change education for children; to empowering youth to take action on climate change; to professional training for adults. Ms. Mariana Alcalay, Education Project Officer at the UNESCO Office in Brazil introduced a pilot project for training teachers on climate change education for sustainable development in the State of Santa Catarina. Ms. Alcalay highlighted that as a result of the programme children are not only showing keen interest in climate change related issues, but are also taking the message out to their communities.
Mr. Brighton Kaoma from Zambia, who connected via Skype, talked about a youth movement that has been inspired by the UNICEF-supported Unite4Climate programme. Mr. Kaoma underlined that “Unite4Climate aims to inspire the leadership aspect that’s embedded in every young person.” In Zambia alone, over 1,000 youth have been trained on locally relevant solutions to address climate change and environmental problems.
Mr. Naysan Sahba, Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information, presented the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) which offers a range of training activities for professionals, including national courses and regional train-the-trainer workshops. The latest learning activity offered by PEDRR is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on ecosystem-based solutions for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Mr. Sahba announced that “our target is to reach out to 1 million people over the next five years.”
The highlight of the event was a climate risk management game that involved the entire audience in an active exercise on decision-making under time pressure. Participants were asked to split up in groups and decide on whether to invest in flood protection or not. A die was thrown to determine whether a flood happened (number 6) or not (numbers 1-5). “To illustrate the effect of climate change, we change to a different die with higher probabilities of throwing a six, meaning a flood,” Mr. Maarten Van Aalst, Director of the RCCC, explained. “We have played this game in various settings, including the White House. For the IPCC authors we asked them to use their own report to inform their decision-making. Made them think quite a bit…”, Mr. Van Aalst jokingly said.
The game has been also used in the framework of IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture (ASAP) projects. “Traditional training approaches don’t always work at the community level. We need to break down complex concepts such as climate risk management and make them relevant to local planning contexts”, Ms. Ilaria Firmian from IFAD highlighted. “The game is not only fun, but speeds up learning, dialogue and action on climate risks.”
Mr. Daniel Abreu summarized the discussions by pointing to the importance of results-based training, the role of non-formal education in reaching out to people that are not part of the formal education system, and the need for life-long learning on climate change issues. “This is actually the approach we are taking in the Dominican Republic”, Mr. Abreu pointed out. “In our national climate change learning strategy we have set out a vision of strengthening climate change education at all levels, from schools, to universities, to professional training centers, but also working with civil society and the media,” he said. “This approach is relevant not only for developing, but also for developed countries!”
Examples of UN initiatives and resources for climate change education and training
The One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn)
Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD)
Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Ecosystem-Based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation
FAO Food Security and Climate Change Challenge Badge
IFAD e-Learning Course on Smallholder Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change
UNICEF Unite4Climate Zambia
IFRC/Red Cross Red Crescent games on climate risk management
I have had the “golden opportunity” to listen to a great keynote speech delivered by Professor M S Swaminathan, one of the world authorities in rice breeding research. He spoke at the Regional Workshop organised by IFAD’s Asia and the Pacific Division in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 2 - 4 December 2014. The theme of the workshop was “Transforming Rural Areas: Strategic Visions for Asia and the Pacific”. The workshop was opened by His Excellency the Prime Minister HE Hun Sen of the Royal Government of Cambodia.
|Professor Swaminathan delivering key note address at the Asia and Pacific Regional Workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia. ©IFAD/Kimlong Meng|
The greatest challenge as both orators eloquently presented to us is that the world will need 50% more grains by 2030. This grain will need to be produced with almost 30% less arable land. Asia and the Pacific region will take on at least 2/3 of this burden. It will effect the food security of rural poor people unless the challenge is systematically addressed and solutions are found. Food production will become more difficult with degraded soil, depleted natural resources, and demographic changes that are taking place through rural - urban migration.
|At the COP20 UN climate summit. ©IFAD|
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Article 2, clearly identifies the importance of achieving food security under a changing climate. At a Davos-style discussion at COP20 in Lima, a panel of experts presented their views on how this goal could be met.
Julie Lennox of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reminded the audience that when referring to food security, we are not just talking about agriculture, but the entire mosaic of rural land use that humans rely on for the provision of sufficient, safe and nutritious food. When working to achieve global food security, she urged the UNFCCC process to look beyond agricultural sectors and take a system-wide view – likening the scope of change needed in food production to the industrial revolution that transformed Europe in the late 19th century.
IFAD’s Gernot Laganda warned of potential tipping points that could seriously challenge food systems in developing countries without a strong commitment to climate adaptation by the international community. Similarly, Alexandre Meybeck of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that while no more than a 2 degree Celsius rise in the global average temperature is the goal set by the Convention, this also translates to a 4 degree rise on continents and upwards of a 6 degree rise in arid environments. Under these conditions, it is hard to imagine how small farms can be self-sufficient in many of the most vulnerable areas, he said.
Despite the dire forecasts, the panellists advocated for strong collaboration and partnerships involving the public and private sector actors, centred around smallholder farmers who must be the agents of change in the shift toward a more sustainable food paradigm.
Jethro Greene, Chief Coordinator of the Caribbean Farmers Network and also affiliated with the World Farmers Organization, said that although smallholders practice some of the most efficient farming methods, they are often stigmatized as unproductive or merely recipients of handouts.
“Smallholders are entrepreneurs,” said Greene, “and they need support in order to cluster into more powerful economic groups.”
This model is already working in the Caribbean, where the private sector prefers to source food products from small, local producers. But smallholders need to be seen as small businesses to be attractive to large buyers.
Greene challenged the Rome-based UN food and agriculture agencies to come out of their silos and bring smallholder solutions to large financiers (eliciting great applause from the audience).
Richard Choularton of the World Food Programme (WFP) acknowledged the tendency for project planning and financial rules to be inflexible once set. However, he said, WFP addresses this challenge by setting project design at the local level.
Meybeck of FAO also referred to fora that bring together multiple stakeholders such as the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, where the Rome-based agencies strive to respond to climate and environment problems as one entity.
The face-off between panellists made for a lively discussion, with quality interventions from the floor. When Thomson Reuters’ Alexander Doyle, who moderated the event, asked whether Greene was satisfied with the responses given by the Rome-based agencies, he simply smiled and said, “It’s a start.”
By Marian Amaka Odenigbo
Ever wondered how pastoralists earn their livelihoods and make a living?
In October 2014, while on a supervision and implementation support mission to the IFAD-funded Smallholder Agribusiness Production Programme (SAPP) in Zambia, I was told that pastoralists used to bring their animals and spend between two-four days along the highway to Lusaka waiting for potential buyers.
In these cases, typically livestock is transported for sale in pickup vehicles which have poor loading and unloading facilities. The lack of appropriate infrastructure increases the risk of animals escaping and potentially being injured. Furthermore, when the animals escapes, there is also risk of road accidents.
The IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Zambia are addressing these types of challenges and constraints faced by small-scale farmers through a value chain development approach.
A value chain development approach links all the various steps required to get the product from the farmer to the consumer. In doing so it addresses the opportunities and constraints faced by all actors in the food supply chain and attempts to improve the final product and commodity.
SAPP is a joint Government of Zambia and IFAD-supported value chain development programme which focuses on transforming subsistence farmers to business-oriented farmers.
Smallholder farmers in this programme are engaged in various commodities including; small-livestock, beef, groundnuts, common beans, cassava, aquaculture and rice.
|New marketing pen constructed in Lusaka through SAPP matching grant|
The mission visited the Munyenze livestock Service Center in Monze District. This livestock service center has a standard ramp, weighing scale, functional bore hole with a regular veterinary services and disseminates technical information to the smallholder producers.
|Input supply shop in Lusaka small-livestock market |
established through SAPP matching grant
Its operation is focused on transparent and improved market for cattle, collection and storage of milk from farmers on a daily basis with deliveries to the main depot every second day.
Esther Hatwiko, a female beneficiary rearing five cattle expressed appreciation for SAPP intervention in her business.
"The availability of veterinary services saves me time and transportation costs. Now I no longer need to travel great distances in search of such services", said Hatwiko.
During our mission, we were able to observe the routine information dissemination activity at the centre which constitutes an entry point to raise awareness on nutrition-related issues.
The beef value chain has great potentials for nutrition mainstreaming. For example, the beef Intervention Plan includes a consumer awareness campaign to educate consumers about quality and different cuts of meat. This activity helps consumers be updated on meat storage and refrigeration norms while providing advice on high-nutrition recipes.
Small Livestock Association of Zambia located in Lusaka constructed a market point that includes selling pens for pigs, goats, sheep and chicken with certified disease free and abattoir assurance. Health measures in place at this center include monthly medical check on abattoir workers and acceptance of only certified disease free animals in the market points.
|Animal pens in Lusaka small-livestock market|
"By doing business in this center I save on transportation costs, avoid the stress of being stopped at veterinary check points and have the assurance of actually selling my product", added Branda.
Mutuna Shadrech, another smallholder producer, estimated that his income from sale of pig increased from 400 to 600 kwacha. “By bringing my animals for sale to this center, I gain knowledge from the technical training sessions, get useful information and learn from other farmer experiences”, said Shadrech.
In transforming farmers from subsistence to business-oriented , IFAD-funded SAPP has proven to be a pathway for nutrition mainstreaming.
Moore Beef, a Zambian based private sector whose core business is to supply fresh meat (beef, pig, sheep and goat meat) to the Pick & Pay supermarket in Lusaka has offered to partner with SAPP and train Zambian smallholder herders on breeding high quality livestock heads.
Moore Beef’s abattoir in Choma district provides a secure market, as the private company has enough demand to regularly buy livestock. “Partnering with Moore Beef would allow the project beneficiaries to count on a secure income and save at least four days of travel per month”, says Abla Benhammouche, IFAD representative in Zambia. This demonstrates a win-win situation for the smallholder farmers and the private sector.
The MoreBeef intervention aims to reach out to over 10,000 smallholder herders and producers. This linkage is geared towards production and processing of high quality livestock and nutritious meat products.