Africa and Beyond
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Africa and Beyond
Africa, the Middle East, Food, Agriculture, History and Culture
Curated by diana buja
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Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project

Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
By Jonathan Finnighan Helping the most vulnerable farmers adapt to climate change – lessons from a Farm Africa project The first thing that strikes me about Mwangangi’s farm is that it looks abando...

...The impact evaluation found that two-thirds of the farmers in the project are now using new micro-catchments on their farms, and about half started cultivating drought tolerant crops that they weren’t before. Crop yields from zai pits greatly improved, especially for farmers with very arid soils: many reported that their yields tripled or more. And on average, farmers estimated that their families had an additional month of food from their harvests after using the new farming methods, and that this allowed them to spend more money on things other than food – such as buying animals and farming inputs and improving their home.

diana buja's insight:

The zai pits described in this piece are indigenous to parts of the Sudanese Sahel.  They work quite well in water-stressed areas, and I'm glad to see them being introduced in Kenya.

Farm Africa has been doing some interesting work in east Africa.  More than many other NGOs, their follow-up over the longterm is generally quite good.  And that's where many of the problems of improvements or new technologies being continued are located - lack of ongoing assessment and assistance.

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Sustainable intensification: A practical approach to meet Africa’s food and natural resource needs | Global Food Security blog

Sustainable intensification: A practical approach to meet Africa’s food and natural resource needs | Global Food Security blog | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

he Montpellier Panel, a group of African and European experts in the fields of agriculture, sustainable development, trade and policy, define sustainable intensification as “the goal of producing more food with less impact on the environment, intensifying food production while ensuring the natural resource base on which agriculture depends is sustained, and indeed improved, for future generations.”

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Africa Agriculture Science Week 2013 | CGIAR Climate

Africa Agriculture Science Week 2013 | CGIAR Climate | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
Every three years, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) convenes a continental gathering of its stakeholders. The purpose of the event is to create an open space for networking and exchanging knowledge.
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Shamba Shape Up S02Ep08 (English)

SSU looks at climate change and farming in semi-arid areas, including which crops grow in dry areas, using guttering to save water and selling crops at a goo...
diana buja's insight:

Getting down to brass tacks with The Farmers!  (A 'shamba' is a homestead)  Love the snappy hatds and unbrellas.

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New report identifies 'regret-free' approaches for adapting agriculture to climate change

Whether it’s swapping coffee for cocoa in Central America or bracing for drought in Sri Lanka with a return to ancient water storage systems, findings from a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food...

"...The authors also explore how, in other parts of the world, adaptation planning must consider long-term changes that exceed historical experience and require “wholesale reconfigurations of livelihoods, diets, and the geography of farming and food systems.” For example, while various climate models offer different assessments of changes expected in Central America, they agree that over the long-term, higher temperatures are likely to render Arabica coffee production unsuitable at lower altitudes. “No regrets” strategies could involve shifting some production to higher altitudes and, at lower altitudes, switching to a different, but similarly lucrative crop, like cocoa.

diana buja's insight:

Moving from massive plans such as proposed here and elsewhere - to specific implementations in a country - is the step that's not (yet) addressed.

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nsf.gov - National Science Foundation (NSF) News - A Grassy Trend in Human Ancestors' Diets - US National Science Foundation (NSF)

nsf.gov - National Science Foundation (NSF) News - A Grassy Trend in Human Ancestors' Diets - US National Science Foundation (NSF) | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

"For a long time, primates stuck by the old restaurants--leaves and fruits--but by 3.5 million years ago, they started exploring new diet possibilities--tropical grasses and sedges--that grazing animals discovered a long time before, about 10 million years ago," Cerling says, when African savanna began expanding.

"Tropical grasses provided a new set of restaurants. We see an increasing reliance on this resource by human ancestors, one that most primates still don't use today."

Grassy savannas and grassy woodlands in East Africa were widespread by 6 million to 7 million years ago. A major question is why human ancestors didn't start exploiting savanna grasses until less than 4 million years ago.

diana buja's insight:

Sedges were an early grass species eaten in the Nile Valley, which I discuss in this blog:

Nutsedge – perhaps the oldest managed ‘weed’ in Predynastic Egypt

 

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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, June 5, 2013 11:56 PM

Human ancestors began to eat grain (or at least C4 grasses) earler than previously thought.

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LGC | Laboratoire de Génétique Cellulaire

LGC | Laboratoire de Génétique Cellulaire | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

Research in the lab aims at acquiring knowledge on the structure and functioning of livestock species genomes, with particular focus on the Pig, small ruminants (sheep, goat) and various avian species (chicken, duck, quail ...). We contribute to the characterization of the genetics underlying complex traits (production, robustness ...), in particular to help improving breeding methods and managing livestock populations. Our missions are:

to provide tools to develop genetic, cytogenetic and physical maps of animal genomes.to contribute to the characterization of animal genomes in terms of structure, sequence, expression and polymorphism.to study the present structure of livestock populations and infer the history that led to this structureto localize and eventually identify causal mutations influencing complex traits.to identify individuals carrying favorable gene-forms (alleles) in livestock populations.
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Agricultural Innovation: The United States in a Changing Global Reality

Agricultural Innovation: The United States in a Changing Global Reality | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

On 24th April 2013, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released the report Agricultural Innovation: The United States in a Changing Global Reality authored by University of Minnesota researchers...

 

New measures for global spillover potential presented in the report include:

Agro-technological distances – identifying global similarities in agro ecologies and globalsimilarities in agricultural productionCumulative home-grown knowledge stocks, by region and countryPotential spill-in leverage versus world share of knowledge stock, by country

The following datasets contributed to this analysis:

Developed countries’ contributions to agricultural R&DGlobal productivity growth trends (how much of R&D is going towards productivity growth, and how much is dedicated to other areas)Public and private contributions to global R&D and productivity growthTotal spending on science-related R&D (looking beyond just agricultural R&D to other sciences, in recognition that there are spillovers from other types of R&D investments)
diana buja's insight:

How technology-driven is this report?  What are "home-grown knowledge stocks"?...

 

A lot of questions here, and have downloaded to read.  Is this 'just another desk-study'?

 

To add - pix of traditional locals with cell phones (cover of the report, above) seems the new-wave method of juxtaposing tradition with modernity. that they somehow can become comfortable bed-fellows.

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Investing in higher education, including the social sciences, would promote growth in Britain (and the U.S.?)

Investing in higher education, including the social sciences, would promote growth in Britain (and the U.S.?) | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
The chart below shows student enrolments in higher education in three subject areas in the OECD or advanced industrial countries in 2010, with Britain and the United States identified separately. The data refer to the percentage of students enrolled in higher education who study science, engineering and also social science, business and law. The latter category is rather broad but the UNESCO data does not allow a finer distinction to be made between these subjects. The data are very relevant to the debate about the importance of science and technology as opposed to the arts, humanities and social science in stimulating investment and growth in Britain.
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Dialing back on the drivers of global disease outbreaks: A look inside the ‘black box’ » ILRI news

Dialing back on the drivers of global disease outbreaks: A look inside the ‘black box’ » ILRI news | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

... the world is increasingly farming on the margins, with most of the last few remaining near-pristine ecosystems now being invaded and destabilized. Just as inexorable is the move to rapidly growing cities of poor rural people, who are bringing their livestock with them. The resulting losses of biodiversity, and the rise of genetically improved, and thus similar, animal populations, also increases the risk of a pandemic emerging. Climate and environmental changes are generally making matters worse.

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Forests and insects for food security

Forests and insects for food security | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has recently brought attention to two neglected areas of food security: forests and insects. On the 13th to 15th May 2013 the FAO hosted an Inte...
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Forest foods should be used in fight against global malnutrition - scientist

Forest foods should be used in fight against global malnutrition - scientist | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

"Already 1.6 billion people rely on forests, which cover more than 30 percent of the world’s land surface, to eke out a livelihood, according to 2010 data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The upcoming FAO International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome will explore the important role forests play in the lives of rural people and the global economy.

Such dietary sources contribute to food security as well, said Powell, pointing to a recent global study done by CIFOR. It found that forests-related income contributed about one-fifth of the total income of rural households across 24 countries — money that, if used wisely, could then used to buy nutritious foods.

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Scientists aim to pinpoint role of forests in battle against “hidden hunger”

Scientists aim to pinpoint role of forests in battle against “hidden hunger” | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

"The view that increased crop production is the strategy most likely to achieve global food security could in reality allow farmland to encroach on valuable ecosystems, have a disastrous impact on forests and might not solve food security and nutrition problems, scientists say.

 

Further research is essential for understanding the full impact forests and tree-based agricultural systems have on dietary and nutritional needs for at least 1 billion people whose livelihoods are directly affected by forests, the scientists said in a discussion paper released ahead of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.

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African Agricultural Development

African Agricultural Development | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

Africa and Europe: Partnerships in Food and Farming.   

 

We are seeking increased and enhanced European government support for productive, sustainable, equitable and resilient agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing in particular on the needs of smallholder farmers.

 

We are calling for European leaders to move the debate beyond summit statements and political rhetoric, and focus on the practical implementation of their commitments to Africa.

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Twitter / BowenBBC: slightly disappointed the shotgun ...

Twitter / BowenBBC: slightly disappointed the shotgun ... | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
diana buja's insight:

"slightly disappointed the shotgun pellets gifted to me by the Egyptian army didn't set off the metal detector at the airport...

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How and When Will the World End?

How and When Will the World End? | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
Giant meteors, an expanding sun, the retirement of Barbara Walters, and more
diana buja's insight:

Cheery thoughts, folks -

 

"Gerta Keller, paleontologist, Princeton 

Four of the five mass extinctions in history were driven by volcanic eruptions that flooded entire continents. Our world could quite possibly end with the explosive eruption of Yellowstone, which is past due.

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Putting Climate Information into Farmers' Hands

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (http://ccafs.cgiar.org) is working with farmers from Kaffrine, Senegal, on how t...
diana buja's insight:

So, now we are getting to the really tricky business - how to convince farmers to change? (nice video, though)

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‘Adapt to climate shifts now’ – New research report advice to Africa’s farmers and policymakers

‘Adapt to climate shifts now’ – New research report advice to Africa’s farmers and policymakers | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
A failed maize crop in Ghana. A report by CCAFS is advising Africa's farmers and policymakers to adapt to climate shifts now to ensure communities are protected from climate change devastations (ph...
diana buja's insight:

"Kinyangi and his fellow author laud ‘Kenya’s recent move to launch a national climate change action plan’, which sets out ‘a policy roadmap for reducing the country’s vulnerability to climate change’. Kenya’s plan, they say, is an example of the actions African nations can take to protect themselves against climate change devastations."


Well and good for countries such as kenya to launch such action plans - however for many countries - such as here in Burundi, in war-torne Mali, etc. - such actions appear very far in the future.  And in the meantime...

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How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet Is Half-Baked [Interactive & Infographic]: Scientific American

How to Really Eat Like a Hunter-Gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet Is Half-Baked [Interactive & Infographic]: Scientific American | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

We are not biologically identical to our Paleolithic predecessors, nor do we have access to the foods they ate.

 Even if eating only foods available to hunter–gatherers in the Paleolithic made sense, it would be impossible. As Christina Warinner of the University of Zurich emphasizes in her 2012 TED talk, just about every single species commonly consumed today—whether a fruit, vegetable or animal—is drastically different from its Paleolithic predecessor. In most cases, we have transformed the species we eat through artificial selection:

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine | Abstract | Ethnobotanical knowledge on indigenous fruits in Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions in Northern Namibia

Indigenous communities in Namibia possess a rich indigenous knowledge expressed within many practices of these communities.  

 

56.3% of the respondents reported that indigenous fruits were declining. Only a 42.2% indicated that the indigenous fruits populations are increasing. Regarding to the management practices to improve the production of these indigenous fruit trees; 38.6% reported that there are some efforts on management practices; on the other hand 61.4% reported there are no management practices on the indigenous fruit trees in their areas. Four species were found to be the most frequently used and mentioned fruits which need to be given high preference in terms of conservation are: Berchemia discolor, Hyphaene petersiana, Sclerocarya birrea and Diospyros mespiliformis. .

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What’s Behind Bee Die-Off? U.S. and Europe Disagree : The Crux

What’s Behind Bee Die-Off? U.S. and Europe Disagree : The Crux | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it

"But scientists are finding it hard to pinpoint which factors in particular are the most responsible for the rise in pollinator mortality. That’s because a lot of different things have gone wrong lately. For one thing, wild habitats such as meadows and grasslands that the pollinators depend on for a varied diet are shrinking, as urban sprawl and the spread of monoculture agriculture encroaches upon them. The introduction of non-native species has also reduced the numbers of native pollinators in the U.S. and elsewhere. The European honey bee, which is the one that commercial beekeepers raise, is actually an invasive species which is competing with American insects for limited resources. In some areas, moreover, there is evidence that erratic weather and shifts in rainfall patterns due to climate change may already be a factor in the decline of certain species.

Something else that has been getting a lot of attention, especially in Europe, is the impact of agro-chemicals on both wild and domesticated bees. In a landmark move late last month,

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Invisible Animals: Incredible Examples of Animals Camouflage | The Wondrous Design Magazine

Invisible Animals: Incredible Examples of Animals Camouflage | The Wondrous Design Magazine | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
There are a lot of reasons that make animals hide. Some animals are trying to protect themselves from attacks of predators, while some are hiding
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Ten principles for a landscape approach to reconciling agriculture, conservation, and other competing land uses

“Landscape approaches” seek to provide tools and concepts for allocating and managing land to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, mining, and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals. Here we synthesize the current consensus on landscape approaches. This is based on published literature and a consensus-building process to define good practice and is validated by a survey of practitioners. We find the landscape approach has been refined in response to increasing societal concerns about environment and development tradeoffs. Notably, there has been a shift from conservation-orientated perspectives toward increasing integration of poverty alleviation goals. We provide 10 summary principles to support implementation of a landscape approach as it is currently interpreted. These principles emphasize adaptive management, stakeholder involvement, and multiple objectives. Various constraints are recognized, with institutional and governance concerns identified as the most severe obstacles to implementation. We discuss how these principles differ from more traditional sectoral and project-based approaches. Although no panacea, we see few alternatives that are likely to address landscape challenges more effectively than an approach circumscribed by the principles outlined here.

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DFID - Research for Development > LDPI Working Paper 19. Land Grabbing along Livestock Migration Routes in Gadarif State, Sudan: Impacts on Pastoralism and the Environment

"Grabbing of pastoralists’ traditional land to put it under the commercial farming system, which has widely been adopted as a development and investment strategy in Sudan, is creating a cruel dilemma of increasing both resource conflict and environmental degradation. This is one of the fundamental reasons that the country has earned the reputation as a home of bloody civil wars and the country is unlikely to see lasting peace until such issues have been addressed. My aim in this research is to provide evidence-based information by mapping out the encroachment of large-scale agriculture into transhumance migration routes in Gadarif State (eastern Sudan), with a two-fold approach. First, I tracked the land-use/land-cover (LULC) change using satellite imagery. Second, I interviewed transhumant pastoralists to obtain information about their perspectives on major problems facing them along the routes in their seasonal journey. It is clear that state policy has failed to provide support to pastoralists. Animal mobility in space and time are severely constrained. The average of the annual encroachment of mechanized farming along the routes is 3 percent. The most substantial LULC change occurred after 1999. Other challenges facing the routes are: lack of water resources, design of the routes and degradation of rest places. Due to the abolition of their native administrative system and lack of education, pastoralists have no way of influencing any decisions that impacted their system."
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Forests and food security: back on the global agenda

Forests and food security: back on the global agenda | Africa and Beyond | Scoop.it
Recent news headlines, a plethora of scientific publications and the creation of new academic think tanks all reflect growing concerns over how to achieve global food security --

Food production need not be solely based on intensive agriculture focused on a few, high-yielding crops.

Estimates show that 40 percent of the food in the developing world is produced by smallholder farmers, often in complex multi-functional landscapes, which depend on integrated crop management.

In addition, recent estimates from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggest that around 1.6 billion people rely on forests and other natural systems in some way for their diets, health and wider livelihoods.

Forests, and the wider landscapes in which they occur, potentially have a considerable role to play in the emerging strategies to achieve global food security.

Forests not only contribute to diverse and nutritious diets, particularly for the poorest members of society, but also sustain agriculture through the provision of critical ecosystem services such as pollination, soil stabilization and watershed protection.

However, recognition of the role of forests in food security is not new: 1985 was designated the year of Forests and Food Security and a special issue of the FAO journal, Unasylva was subsequently published.

The forests and food security agenda was gradually replaced by other pressing development concerns. Until recently, it was off the agenda altogether.

However, with “mainstream” food security issues coming to the fore, the role of forests in securing nutritional and food security is back in the frame.

This week, the FAO International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutritionin Rome will feature discussion on how we can ensure that sustainable food production can take place without compromising the wider environment.

We seem to have come full circle. Given the evidence, we should not be surprised that the issue of forests and food security is once again at the forefront of the international development agenda: the challenge will be to keep it there.

 

 

 

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