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Climate and Conflict in East Africa

Climate and Conflict in East Africa | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

A new study, “Climate Variability and Conflict Risk in East Africa, 1990-2009,” published last month found that while there is “no statistically significant relationship” between precipitation and conflict, increased heat is correlated with more conflict in East Africa.

 

Still, they also found that other factors, like population size and the space-time lag for violence, predict conflict more reliably than either of the climate-related elements. Though the relationship between the direct effects of climate change (more extreme weather, higher temperatures, etc.) and conflict is still cloudy, the impact of secondary effects (like decreased agricultural productivity) is slightly clearer.

 

Climate change is already linked to lower yields in the tropics, where many of the world’s poorest countries are located, and fluctuations in food prices have been linked to political instability in the past.

 

In addition, a new United Nations Environment Programme report, "Avoiding Future Famines: Strengthening the Ecological Foundation of Food Security through Sustainable Food Systems" [UNEP, IFAD, World Bank, WFP] looks at the possibilities of changing food production and consumption to improve food security for the nearly one billion “left behind” by the Green Revolution last century.

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Issues Affecting Food Security in East and Central Africa
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Africa's booming population needs agricultural innovation

Africa's booming population needs agricultural innovation | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

...Global hand-wringing over Africa's prospects began anew this month with news that the continent's population may double over the next 35 years -- including almost a billion children where one in eleven will die before age five. The boom threatens to overwhelm Africa's already strained capacity to feed itself, it's said, let alone build a sustainable economy. Families are too big. Farms are too small. Land is too dry. Girls marry too early.


But we've seen a shift in this storyline -- in the lives of people like Kisemei -- through agricultural innovation, education, and the resulting empowerment of women and girls that promises to make the coming boom a turning point toward truly sustainable development....

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Unlocking the potential of Africa

Unlocking the potential of Africa | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it
Unlocking the potential of Africa Banking Technology In addition, the US corporation says it has partnered with international and local organisations to help improve the education, health and livelihoods of African communities through better access...
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The case for drought-tolerant maize

The case for drought-tolerant maize | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, where maize is the most common staple crop, production is almost completely rainfed, making farmers highly susceptible to extreme weather events, such as drought.

Drought conditions damage about 40 percent of all maize crops, endangering the livelihoods and food security of millions of smallholder farmers.

Enter drought-tolerant maize....


...The U.S. Global Development Lab is bringing together more organizations than ever before to work on this issue — from traditional research centers and development programs to multinational corporations and small entrepreneurs. The team is looking to draw expertise from the private sector to provide needed logistical, supply chain, distribution and marketing expertise to help disseminate seeds to small and medium seed companies, and ultimately to smallholder farmers...



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Food of the future: what will feed 7 billion people?

Food of the future: what will feed 7 billion people? | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it


Insects, fake meat, seaweed and 3D-printed food all have the potential to address malnutrition, but could you stomach it?

Do we need to change our concepts of what people eat in order to meet the world's nutrition demands? Insects, lab-made meat, algae and 3D-printed fortied food could be affordable and practical routes to reducing malnutrition.


The challenge for the development sector is how these ideas can be put into practice. Collaborating with the private sector and start-ups, embracing new technology and understanding cultural attitudes offer some solutions....

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SOMALIA | Still time to avert famine

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says there still is time to avert a potentially catastrophic famine in Somalia - but only if donors act now to support critical humanitarian operations.

Mogadishu officials have declared drought in seven regions and warned of a possible repeat of the 2011 famine in which more than one-quarter of a million people died, half of them children, unless urgent measures are taken to head off the worst....


...Several factors have triggered the current crisis. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says drought in some areas and heavy rains and flooding in others are devastating Somalia's crop production, leading to severe food shortages. The organization also says conditions are causing a surge in food prices and a reduction in livestock production.


According to [ICRC], ongoing conflict between the government and al-Shabab rebels is forcing people to flee their homes, disrupting their daily lives and having a long-term impact on livelihoods, agriculture and livestock...


...ICRC has distributed food to more than 80,000 displaced and vulnerable people in areas affected by conflict or insecurity. The group is also scaling up humanitarian operations in the country to meet increased and urgent nutritional needs of thousands of people.

"We are expanding foods and nutrition to a number of centers that we have because ... children are at risk. Elderly are at risk. The weak and sick people are definitely at risk"...


The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports more than 200,000 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished and that nearly three million people in Somalia need urgent lifesaving and livelihood support.

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Seeds of Doubt

The New Yorker | By Michael Specter


An activist’s controversial crusade against genetically modified crops.


We would have no hunger in the world if the seed was in the hands of the farmers and gardeners and the land was in the hands of the farmers -- Vandana Shiva


....The global food supply is indeed in danger. Feeding the expanding population without further harming the Earth presents one of the greatest challenges of our time, perhaps of all time. By the end of the century, the world may well have to accommodate ten billion inhabitants—roughly the equivalent of adding two new Indias. Sustaining that many people will require farmers to grow more food in the next seventy-five years than has been produced in all of human history. For most of the past ten thousand years, feeding more people simply meant farming more land. That option no longer exists; nearly every arable patch of ground has been cultivated, and irrigation for agriculture already consumes seventy per cent of the Earth’s freshwater.


The nutritional demands of the developing world’s rapidly growing middle class—more protein from pork, beef, chicken, and eggs—will add to the pressure; so will the ecological impact of climate change, particularly in India and other countries where farmers depend on monsoons. Many scientists are convinced that we can hope to meet those demands only with help from the advanced tools of plant genetics. Shiva disagrees; she looks upon any seed bred in a laboratory as an abomination....


....The need for more resilient crops has never been so great. “In Africa, the pests and diseases of agriculture are as devastating as human diseases,” Gordon Conway, who is on the board of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, told me. He added that the impact of diseases like the fungus black sigatoka, the parasitic weed striga, and the newly identified syndrome maize lethal necrosis—all of which attack Africa’s most important crops—are “in many instances every bit as deadly as H.I.V. and TB.” For years, in Tanzania, a disease called brown-streak virus has attacked cassava, a critical source of carbohydrates in the region. Researchers have developed a virus-resistant version of the starchy root vegetable, which is now being tested in field trials. But, again, the opposition, led in part by Shiva, who visited this summer, has been strong.


Maize is the most commonly grown staple crop in Africa, but it is highly susceptible to drought. Researchers are working on a strain that resists both striga and the African endemic maize-streak virus; there have also been promising advances with insect-resistant cowpea and nutritionally enriched sorghum. Other scientists are working on plants that greatly reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers, and several that produce healthful omega-3 fatty acids. None of the products have so far managed to overcome regulatory opposition....


...Genetically modified crops will not solve the problem of the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night. It would be far better if the world’s foods contained an adequate supply of vitamins. It would also help the people of many poverty-stricken countries if their governments were less corrupt. Working roads would do more to reduce nutritional deficits than any G.M.O. possibly could, and so would a more equitable distribution of the Earth’s dwindling supply of freshwater. No single crop or approach to farming can possibly feed the world. To prevent billions of people from living in hunger, we will need to use every one of them.

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Putting Fresh Food in The Hands of Women | WFP

The World Food Programme (WFP) has introduced Fresh Food Vouchers for pregnant and nursing mothers in Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya. Through this pilot project, mothers receive vouchers to buy fresh food such as meat, fruit and vegetables, which are not part of the usual WFP 'food basket'.

The Fresh Food Vouchers initiative was launched in August and is funded by UKAid and the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection directorate (ECHO). The vouchers are distributed at Dadaab's health centres when women come in for regular checkups during and after pregnancy.

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SOMALIA | Another humanitarian crisis?

Another Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia?

Learning from the 2011 Famine

 

By Daniel Maxwell and Nisar Majid

 

After two reasonably good years of recovery, 2014 appears to be shaping up as a difficult year for Somalia. Donors and agencies are ringing alarm bells about deteriorating conditions.  There is some discussion in humanitarian circles in Nairobi of “another 2011”—only this time competing for attention and funding with higher-profile crises in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Syria. Early Warning agencies suggest that the number of people in crisis (IPC Phase 3 or higher) is likely to reach 1 million before the end of the year.  The war between Al-Shabaab and the internationally backed government of Somalia continues to dominate security worries.  Compounded by deep divisions among humanitarian actors and a currently underfunded response, the current time is one of concern. Although the comparison with 2011 is over-stated, now is perhaps the time for an honest re-assessment of both the 2010–11 period and the present.


This paper quickly summarizes several of the key areas of learning from the 2011-12 famine, growing out of the research of a group at the Feinstein International Center over the past 18 months.  The final report will be out by the end of the year; this brief paper highlights just a few of the findings in four areas: causes of the famine, early warning and response, addressing divisions within the humanitarian community, and the on-going role of Al-Shabaab. The paper suggests four policy considerations: First, now is the time to scale up mitigation efforts aimed at protecting the progress made during several years of fragile recovery. Second, humanitarian actors need to build a stronger socio-political analysis related to programs. Third, going forward, means must be found for having an honest discussion about risk and risk-sharing mechanisms. And fourth, preparedness measures need to reconsider means of negotiated access.

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REPORT | 'Sowing the Seeds of Success'

This report reviews the literature on public investment in agriculture and argues that there is substantial evidence in favor of increasing public resources to support smallholder farming in Africa. The successful projects described here illustrate how smallholder farmers can benefit from additional investment from their own governments and from donor governments. The report also recommends specific reforms and changes to improve the quality of public investment to more successfully reach smallholder farmers.

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WFP, COMESA partner to fight poverty [ZAMBIA]

By Cynthia Mwale


The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost food security to eradicate hunger in the regional economic bloc’s selected member states.


The MoU is aimed at developing, promoting and strengthening the cooperation between the two organisations through development of technical cooperation which in the long term will make a significant contribution to the eradication of hunger and improve food security.
WFP country director Simon Cammelbeeck said this in a statement recently after signing the MoU in Lusaka.


Mr Cammelbeeck said WFP recognises that the cooperation with COMESA through its specialised agency, the Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), is central to the goal of fighting hunger, food security and malnutrition in east and southern Africa.


“The WFP strategy to shift from Food Aid to Food Assistance focusses on developing and implementing sustainable hunger solutions in partnership with governments.


“ACTESA being the specialised agency to integrate smallholder farmers into national, regional and international markets is a key partner to WFP through WFP Purchase for Progress programme that aims at connecting farmers to structured markets,” he said.


Through collaborative efforts, COMESA and WFP will address eight core areas of cooperation, namely capacity development, harmonisation and standardisation of policies, strategies and programmes, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and logistics.


Other areas include regional and local food procurement and access to markets, improvement of food security and disaster risk management, promotion of information and experience sharing, emergency preparedness and response, as well as information communication technology.


“In this regard, WFP supported and still supports the operational costs of the senior policy advisor seconded to ACTESA …The validation of the COMESA Regional Food Balance Sheet (RFBS) template in four countries [Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia],” he said.


For Zambia, Mr Cammelbeeck said, WFP is funding  both organisations. Its objective is to support smallholder farmers’ access to market with contracts currently valued at US$778,330 for beans and cowpeas. The contratcs will be awarded to farmers’ organisations in Luapula, Northern, Eastern and Southern provinces.


WFP has also equipped the supported countries with IT equipment and servers that will be used for data management in the four countries. Three  of the servers are housed in WFP offices while one is in ACTESA in Zambia.


It also supports ACTESA monitoring activities at 30 borders to provide the region’s policy-makers and food agencies with the food security status in the region, information dealing with maize standards, aflatoxin, imports and exports bans, storage management and warehouse receipting system.


Meanwhile, WFP has also donated tablets to ACTESA to enhance the real-time data collection and transmission of informal cross-border trade information, which is key to enhance the data quality and timeliness of the RFBS reports.


WFP will also support part of the operational costs to bridge phase 1-2 of the cross-border monitoring project.

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UGANDA | Why you need to buy locally grown food

UGANDA | Why you need to buy locally grown food | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Uganda currently is witnessing an unprecedented growth of supermarkets, and this can be partly attributed to the country’s favorable investment climate. Another key factor for this growth is the rise in urbanization and a growing middle-class.


However, these big supermarket chains are marginalizing many of our local farmers by importing food products from outside countries i.e. Europe, South Africa, Kenya among other others. But why should you buy local? What’s the benefit to you, your community and the environment?

  • Local food tends to taste better....
  • Local food is more nutritious....
  • Many of the local foods preserve genetic diversity...
  • Local food normally uses less packaging material...
  • Buying local food helps in supporting our local farmers....
  • By buying local food, it helps in building the community around you....
  • Local food is in most cases GMO-free....
  • Local food in a way also supports the environment and benefits wildlife...


....So let us go out there and support our local farmers by buying their produce. The government should also come out to put restrictive policies on some market outlets so that they can reduce on the importation of foreign foodstuffs into the country.


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UGANDA | Earning big from organic agriculture

UGANDA | Earning big from organic agriculture | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

....Uganda has taken an apparent liability – limited access to chemical inputs – and turned this into a comparative advantage by growing its organic agriculture base, generating revenue and income for smallholder farmers. Through organic farming, Uganda not only gains economically, it also contributes to mitigating climate change, as Green House Gas (GHG) emissions per ha are estimated to be on average 64 per cent lower than emissions from conventional farms. Various studies have shown that organic fields sequester 3–8 tonnes more carbon per hectare than conventional agriculture.

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Linking up for a food-secure world

Linking up for a food-secure world | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

...Supply chains — the networks of people, resources and activities that link food sources to 7 billion mouths on Earth today — must work better to meet growing demand, both for staple foodstuffs and, as habits evolve, for more protein, fat and sugar. And they must become more efficient. One third of total food production is wasted; while fussy consumers are the main culprits in rich countries, up to half of waste in developing nations happens right after harvesting.

But food security is not just about producing more food more efficiently: Food should be affordable and nutritious — and part of a system that’s sustainable...


...But low-tech solutions can also have a big impact. In many cases, labor is the biggest direct cost of production — so labor-saving devices such as small equipment for chopping maize stalks, or herbicides to eliminate weeding by hand, can help to increase a farm’s competitiveness, said Steve New, regional Africa director at Fintrac....


...The process of rolling out innovative ideas can be painfully slow. Promising products like solar-driven irrigation or hermetic grain storage bags are only just becoming commercially available. Scaling up or adapting successful technologies means tackling intellectual property issues. And while continued investment in developing improved variety seed is vital to better adapt to climate change, “research and development efforts will need to be much more closely linked to agricultural extension services to overcome the currently long — up to 10 year — gap between developing a great variety and putting it in farmers’ hands,” said Claudia LaLumia, senior associate for agriculture and economic growth at Tetra Tech.


...Innovation, then, needs to be combined with efforts to address broader power structures. That seems to be one takeaway from the recent entries to an innovation fund at the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation. Many of the applicants proposed mechanisms to empower farmers, according to CTA’s Judith Francis....


...New approaches or technology will only work if they meet persistent needs. Mobile banking may have transformed how people move money, but people also need access to credit. Warehouse receipt systems, under which producers get a receipt on depositing produce which they can use as collateral on a commercial loan, are one recent innovation....


....With the ever-present pressure to demonstrate results, it can be tempting to just find 5,000 vulnerable farmers and dish out new tools rather than prove the impact of more indirect, facilitative support. Some donors acknowledge this: Both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.K. Department for International Development are looking into more flexible ways of monitoring and evaluating market systems programs.


Donors can leverage positive change. WFP Tanzania, a big buyer of food from both government and commercial sources, has been encouraging partners in both spheres to offer small suppliers a better price. An indirect result has been that some farmers who had viewed the U.N. program as their only fair market defaulted on WFP contracts because they had received better offers — a sign, in some ways, that they were “starting to realize they have options,” said Country Director Richard Ragan....

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KENYA | Drought threatens food security | WFP

KENYA | Drought threatens food security | WFP | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

The United Nations World Food Program says malnutrition in parts of Kenya, especially in children under five is alarming.

 
The program is also concerned about the rising levels of food insecurity and drought particularly in parts of the country's arid North.
 
A recent survey from Kenya’s health ministry says one in four children is malnourished and needs medical attention.
 
Challis McDonough, spokesperson from the World Food Program says, "There are in some areas up to 28 percent of children under five who are malnourished, and that's a rate that's significantly higher than last year, and in excess of the emergency levels, so we are talking with all of the nutrition partners about scaling up nutrition assistance." 
 
These startling figures are common in Kenya's Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera regions. 
 
Rains here are sparse and the terrain harsh.
 
Pastoralists and nomads often battle for water and land for grazing and livestock. 
 
In some of these areas, the number of malnourished has doubled from last year. 
 
And while it may not be as bad as the famine that gripped parts of East Africa in 2011, the WFP says that poor rains will likely yield a harvest less than average this year, meaning that over a million Kenyans will require food aid in the next few months.
 
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Mobile payments: How digital finance is transforming agriculture

Mobile payments: How digital finance is transforming agriculture | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

At the recent Fin4ag conference hosted by the Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation in Nairobi, GSMA, the apex organization for over 850 mobile network operators worldwide, declared its strategic business interest in transitioning cash payments to farmers by large commodity buyers to mobile payments. East Africa’s urban centers have become — or will soon be — saturated with mobile money, so mobile money providers are now beginning to pursue strategies for rural rollouts. Mobile payments to farmers can be economically viable for value chains with predictable and high volume transactional activity. Characteristic of this next generation of mobile money in rural areas will be investment by large commodity buyers as well as a “high-touch” approach to the ecosystem creation of mobile money users and cash-in/cash-out agents....



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UNHCR seeks repatriation of Somali refugees

Nairobi — The U.N. refugee agency on Wednesday called for East African countries hosting Somali refugees to make voluntary repatriation possible and sustainable...


...Last month, humanitarian agencies warned of a possible famine like one three years ago that killed a quarter of a million Somalis.

Aid workers fear a food shortage would force thousands of Somalis back to camps.

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ETHIOPIA | "Small-holder farming can generate over one trillion birr"

Small-holder farming captures the life of the majority of farmers in Africa who are confined to a tiny plot of land to subsist on.

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Productivity and profitability of organic farming systems in East Africa

Productivity and Profitability of Organic Farming Systems in East Africa

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Organic Agriculture & Food Security in Africa

Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa

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Food security alarm for east, central Africa

Food security alarm for east, central Africa | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it

Some 20 million people are facing acute food insecurity in eastern and central Africa, with most of them being at “crisis” and “emergency” levels, according to aid agencies. This figure compares unfavorably with 15.8 million people in July 2013.

The affected countries include Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

“The overall nutrition situation in the region has deteriorated precipitously and, according to survey results, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels are higher than 20 percent, exceeding the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent, especially in parts of South Sudan, CAR, Somalia and northern Kenya,” said the East and Central Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), a multi-stakeholder regional forum chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)....

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SOMALIA | Lessons Learned from the Somalia Famine and the Greater Horn of Africa Crisis 2011-2012

On July 20, 2011, the UN declared a famine in South Central Somalia, which killed some 260,000 people (Checchi and Robinson 2013). Though Somalia was the worst affected country, the crisis was region-wide in its impact. This Desk Review covers the contents of some 180 documents on the crisis that were reviewed in detail, out of a total of over 500 documents initially screened. These include reports, evaluations, assessments, and in some cases, peer-reviewed journal articles and books. Topics covered in the Review include: the history and political economy of aid; political constraints, access and humanitarian space; early warning and response; the impact of the famine; the humanitarian response; community and diaspora responses; emerging or non-traditional humanitarian actors; the role of Al-Shabaab and the post-crisis policy agenda and resilience. The weighting of this review is generally towards Somalia, given the severity of the crisis there, and the overall level of funding for the response. The available literature is much more substantial for Somalia than for the Somali National Regional State (SNRS) in Ethiopia or for Northeastern Kenya. This Review is one output from a study entitled, “Lessons Learned from the 2011–2012 Horn Of Africa Crisis,” funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in part by the USAID Office of Foreign Assistance (OFDA).

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SOUTH SUDAN | How conflict has led to a food crisis [WFP]

South Sudan is on the brink of catastrophe. The country has fallen into a bloody civil war divided by its two largest ethnic groups, the Dinka and Nuer. Fighting and heavy rains have critically impacted access to food. AJ+ asks Challiss McDonough from the World Food Programme - East Africa, about what’s happening in the world’s youngest country.

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KENYA | Research shows that small holder farmers lack financial ability

VIDEO

Agriculture is listed as the backbone of Kenya's economy. For years however, small holder farmers who make up the bulk of players in the sector have been left to their own devices to source funds to plough back into their activities. But now the African rural and agricultural credit association in and the central bank have teamed up to create an initiate that links farmers with financiers.

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Dietary supplements could beat the world's 'hidden hunger'

Dietary supplements could beat the world's 'hidden hunger' | Food & Nutrition Security in East Africa | Scoop.it
....Hunger continues to be a huge global problem but international agencies have recently said that they are making some headway. In fact, according to the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization, the ranks of the world's hungry has dropped by more than 50 million since 1990, bringing the total number to around 842 million people worldwide.

But there is another food-related problem on the world's plate that could be even more difficult to tackle. Malnutrition - the severe lack of necessary vitamins and minerals in one's diet - still affects almost two billion people around the globe. And in many cases it can lead to serious or even fatal diseases.


A new joint-study released Tuesday (22.07.2014) is bringing renewed attention to the topic. The report, by German non-governmental aid organization Welthungerhilfe and the international child aid network Terre des Hommes, highlights malnutrition's causes, associated health risks and some possible solutions to this persistent problem.


...Health experts refer to malnutrition as "hidden hunger" because the afflicted often do get enough food to eat. But according to Wolfgang Jamann, the secretary general of Welthungerhilfe, not all calories are created equal....

"In east and southern Africa people eat corn porridge. They get full from that, but it lacks essential vitamins and minerals...At the same time, we're seeing in areas where rice is a staple food, that people often eat husked white rice which lacks vitamin A, because it gets lost in the peeling process."...


...Low cost food staples like rice and corn don't always provide enough nutrition, so Jamann believes the most practical solution is to enrich these foods. This practice is currently required by law in eighty countries around the world...


...Experiments with plants, such as sweet potatoes, beans, cassava or corn, are underway in Africa....Of course, introducing bio-engineered plants to combat malnutrition only makes sense if farmers can actually afford the better seed. But hybrid seeds are often more expensive than traditional varieties. Additionally, farmers would not be able to use seed from their previous crop, but would rather have to purchase new seed each year...


....malnutrition is primarily an issue of poverty. So any potential solutions to malnutrition will not be effective if they are more expensive than current alternatives.
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Food assistance & institutional demand: supporting smallholder farmers

Presented at The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 (SOFA) workshop held at FAO's headquarters in Rome on July 1st, 2014. The presentation explained the concept of Institutional Demand as a feature of Social Protection that links agricultural producers with local and assured local/regional markets. Institutional demand primarily consists of state purchases of produce from smallholder farmers that is then distributed through social protection networks (community kitchens, food banks, schools, etc) to fight hunger.

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