Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nourish Our People – Nurture Our Planet!

Given the recent concerns about the global agricultural production systems and dwindling food supplies, there are renewed calls for developing productive as well as environmentally sustainable agroecosystems. In this regard, a High Level Roundtable on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture was held in New York from 15th to 16th March 2012 with the purpose of deriving effective actions towards the implementation of ecologically, socially and economically sustainable agricultural and Food Systems....................................

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Friday, April 20, 2012

An increase in mobile use can raise the annual GDP rate in developing countries???

Growing up in in my rural village, I remember owning a phone was reserved for a few individuals - the village elite who could maintain it 'buy airtime'. I remember my uncle warning me against buying a phone from the savings I accrued from burning and selling charcoal (Before I realized the need for conserving tree). "A mobile phone will eat all your money" he told me. To drive the point home, he told me that unlike human beings who runs on ugali served with vegetables, phones will always need money in them in form of airtime and that they devours it faster than one earns. He then advised me to wait until am "rich" before I could afford to buy and maintain one.

"An increase in mobile penetration can raise the annual GDP rate in developing countries" Was a headline in one daily. Without looking at the content, my mind went back to what my late uncle told me and what am going through as a phone owner. In the context of my late uncle, this headline does not hold true but its no basis for dismissing. So the question is, what are the necessary conditions for this headline to be true? Leave your comments please

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Google+ Hangout with the UN Secretary-General


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

African ministers reaffirm ST&I commitments - SciDev.Net

The first African Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth has concluded with ministers announcing a range of resolutions to harness ST&I for sustainable development.
Initiatives to solve societal problems in areas such as water, health, information and communication technologies (ICTs), renewable energy and agriculture were also agreed at yesterday's ministerial meeting, attended by  57 government ministers with responsibility for science, technology and innovation,finance, planning and education.
They pledged to use ST&I as a driver for inclusive growth and youth empowerment, with a focus on entrepreneurship, through strengthened support for innovation and entrepreneurship programs. Read more here...African ministers reaffirm ST&I commitments - SciDev.Net

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lest you din't know; stress significantly affects decision making

If an important decision looms but your mind is consumed with the fear that you’ve lost your wallet, better save decision making for later. Multiple studies show that stress significantly affects decision making.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Peru Passes Monumental Ten Year Ban on Genetically Engineered Foods

Peru Passes Monumental Ten Year Ban on Genetically Engineered Foods

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rural youth ditch farming for lucrative bodaboda business

Year in, year out, at the onset of every rainy season, Mr James Wanje, a Busia district resident, used to prepare his land for planting. With the help of family labour, the 34-year-old would plough their two-and-a-half-acre piece of land and thereafter sow various food crops.

“I planted maize on about one-and-a-half-acres of the land and other crops on the remaining piece. I used most of the harvest for my subsistence and would later sell some,” Mr Wanje recounted last week.

However, times have changed. Today, as rain clouds gather for another season, Mr Wanje cares less about tilling his farm or planting. He is busy all day long ferrying customers to various destinations using his bodaboda.

His drastic change of livelihood is mirrored by hundreds of young men in rural Kenya who have swapped farming for motorbike business.

The bodaboda industry is fast growing and is believed to be lucrative. It has attracted many young men all over the country, many of whom were engaging in agriculture.

Unfortunately, this has caused a worrisome trend, especially in rural areas, as it is the elderly who now till the land to feed their folk.

This pattern has raised the eyebrows of agricultural experts, who believe that motorbikes harbour a potential threat to food production in Kenya.
Like in other African countries, agriculture is the nerve centre of Kenya’s economy.

Currently, the country relies heavily on food imports from its neighbours in East and Southern Africa. Economic analysts blame sky-high prices of food for last year’s decline in value of the shilling against world currencies, where the local unit sunk to a historic low of 107 to the dollar in October.

A ministry of Agriculture report in January shows that Kenya intends to import over 600,000 bags of maize by June.

“Many youths are no longer interested in farming because there are readily available jobs and quick money in bodaboda business,” said Mr Mark Naimo, an agricultural extension officer in Western Kenya.

First, many youths are selling land inherited from their parents to buy motorbikes. And, second, others have shunned agriculture to seek jobs in the transport industry.

“Since most youths cannot afford about $1,050 (Sh87,360), which is the average price of a motorbike, they turn to land, the only resource available to them, and readily dispose it to buy the two-wheelers,” Mr Naimo said.

He noted that land sizes in most parts of rural Kenya are shrinking fast because of subdivisions. “I sold an acre of my land at $3,700 (Sh307,840) and used part of the money to buy two motorbikes at $1,070 (Sh89,000) each. I have employed someone to run one as I ferry people with the other,” said Mr Wanje. He now has just one-and-a-half-acre piece of land.

Mr Naimo says many youths lack patience — a virtue that agriculture demands. Erratic weather patterns have also weighed in, pushing young people to alternative sources of income.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA)

I thought you might be interested.......................

Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) is a program to provide free or low cost access to major scientific journals in agriculture and related biological, environmental and social sciences to public institutions in developing countries. Launched in October 2003, AGORA will provide access to 1900 journals from the world's leading academic publishers.

Led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the goal of AGORA is to improve the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research, education and training in low-income countries, and in turn, to improve food security. Through AGORA, researchers, policy-makers, educators, students, technical workers and extension specialists have access to high-quality, relevant and timely agricultural information via the Internet.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Women | Farming First

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sharing of information by farmers made easier:Google!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Paul Kagame; If all were like you.............

I have said this many times and am not gonna stop; for agriculture to be more sustainable, environmental friendly and attractive to the youth there is need for change in the way we perceive it and support from all corners given its multifaceted nature.President Paul Kagame of Rwanda understands this too well and other leaders should emulate him. Can you imagine where Africa would be with several other leaders like him? He is rallying support for smallholder farmers.   

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thought you'd like this! Analysis: Land grab or development opportunity?:

With land central to the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa, Lorenzo Cotula of the International Institute for Environment and Development examines the impact of large-scale land acquisitions on the continent's farmers.
"Land grabs" are now one of the biggest issues in Africa.
Over the past few years, companies and foreign governments have been leasing large areas of land in some of Africa's poorest countries.
BBC News - Analysis: Land grab or development opportunity?:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lest you did not know......

................you can enhance seed security through the FAO's crop calender. The Crop Calendar is a tool that provides timely information about seeds to promote local crop production. It contains information on planting, sowing and harvesting periods of locally adapted crops in specific agro-ecological zones. It also provides information on the sowing rates of seed and planting material and the main agricultural practices.

This tool supports farmers and agriculture extentionists across the world in taking appropriate decisions on crops and their sowing period, respecting the agro-ecological dimension. It also provides a solid base for emergency planning of the rehabilitation of farming systems after disasters.

The Crop Calendar provides information for more that 130 crops, located in 283 agro-ecological zones of 44 countries.

Farmer squeezes Sh2.4m a year from mango trees

Mangoes on the market
As a proponent of the idea that youths need to be involved in agriculture and take it as a form of employment I go great lengths in looking for ways to justify and convince them. One way of doing this is by sharing success stories on how farmers have made it in different agricultural practices and to this effect, I do a lot of reading and research to bring such stories to my readers.
Today, am going to share with you on how Mr Francis Kiplaga has made it from Mango tree farming - a farming venture that one won't even imagine of when planning for his/her farming. This story was featured in one of the Kenyan dailies and it can be accessed here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An illustrative 11 minutes from Tanzania to show the multiple benefits of agroforestry

Friday, February 17, 2012

Engaging African youths in agricultural development

 WorldStage Newsonline-- Despite the huge population of unemployed youths within the continent, most African countries are finding it difficult to engage them in agricultural practice which poses a lot of challenge to food production for the citizenry. KAYODE ABOYEJI writes below................
click here to read the whole article

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Agricultural biodiversity can contribute to food security and livelihood security

Environmental conservation is never conservation minus enhancement of Biodiversity. This basically refers to the richness of life and it can be looked at different levels – genetic, species, niche, habitat all the way to the ecosystem level.
As young farmers we can as well contribute to this by enhancing Agricultural diversity in our agro systems. In this case we consider Agricultural biodiversity as a sub-set of general biodiversity and look at all forms of life directly relevant to agriculture: rare seed varieties and animal breeds (farm biodiversity), and also many other organisms such as soil fauna, weeds, pests, predators, and all of the native plants and animals (wild biodiversity) existing on and flowing through the farm.
Together, these varieties represent high levels of genetic diversity and are therefore the focus of most crop genetic resources conservation efforts. Agricultural biodiversity is the basis of our agricultural food chain, developed and safeguarded by farmers, livestock breeders, forest workers, fishermen and indigenous peoples throughout the world. The use of agricultural biodiversity (as opposed to non diverse production methods) can contribute to food security and livelihood security.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Embracing technology can make a difference but.....

As listened to this presidential aspirant and marvel at his mastery of the languages and all the things he's going to do for the Kenyan youth (Who he said the old forks have conspired to lock out of the job market) and the ailing agricultural economy if elected, one thing got my attention.
He categorically reiterated that we are not going to rejuvenate the agricultural economy by clinging onto the traditional farming methods and equipments. We need to embrace the use of technology and mechanization of the same in order move ahead. As a sign of walking the talk, this particular aspirant has a mobile phone as his party's symbol and goes ahead to argue that is by embracing such technologies that we are going to develop our country. 
Drawing the Contrast
I think this one has my vote, kindly let me know what you think by leaving a comment on this post.. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Attracting Youth to Agriculture

As we talk and talk about getting more youth involved in agriculture, there is need for concerted efforts from the training institutions to come up with attractive training packages to lure the youth. A strong commitment to youth development as a priority area by Colleges of Agriculture would be a significant step toward redirecting needed attention and commitment of resources required to meet significant goals of the colleges and the agricultural industry.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Promoting Local Innovations - Key to success

PROLINNOVA South Africa: Sparks on the Rainbow from CTA on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Huge potential in agricultural productivity but ...........

Post-harvest management and food processing key to food security and have in the recent past increasingly gained prominence in the wake of food insecurity prevalent which is largely attributed to their absence. In agriculture, postharvest handling is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest, including cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing. The instant a crop is removed from the ground, or separated from its parent plant, it begins to deteriorate. Post-harvest treatment largely determines final quality, whether a crop is sold for fresh consumption, or used as an ingredient in a processed food product. Effective handling decreases postharvest losses and thus enhancing food security. This link will lead you to a whole lot of opportunities / publications in this regard .

The CTA Catalogue

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why Agriculture is important and worth pursuing as a career

Agriculture is important for many reasons, the most important of which is that we all need to eat and agriculture is the source of all food. Any country’s leader worth his salt should make feeding his people his priority number one just as it is paramount for any family’s head. Not only does the practice of agriculture allow us to find quicker and faster ways to grow food but also is a source of employment.
Why not pursue a career in agriculture? A glimpse at this will give you an idea on how important agriculture is and why a career in it is worthwhile. Click here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Embracing irrigation for enhanced food security in Turkana

An irrigation system for food production
Irrigation is the application of water to farmland by means other than rainfall. It is usually required for growing crops in regions that receive less than 10 inches of precipitation per year and highly advisable in regions that receive only slightly more precipitation or have long dry seasons or droughts during the growing season. More than half of all the farmers in the world practice some form of irrigation.
Through this technology, it is possible for the people of Turkana to be self-reliant by producing their own food if the state as well as non-state actors changed tact and embraced it.
 The food situation in Turkana is ‘grave’ - people are dying of hunger and as much as humanitarian aid is important in saving them, let us think of allocating a portion of the millions we perennially sink into emergency relief to irrigate Turkana for enhanced food security. This could be advanced through the young people who have energy for cattle rustling. The youth can be engaged in meaningful agricultural projects to feed their communities as well as the country.
 The Turkana have been dependent on relief food for the last five decades and “nothing seems to change”. The situation even seems to be worsening every year as the drought cycles become more recurrent and severe owing to climate change.
It is regrettable that irrigation has not been fully exploited and that some schemes that started were allowed to collapse. It is also unfortunate that during the rainy season, volumes of surface water are not harvested for irrigation but left to flow to waste. Israel, which is drier than Turkana, is food sufficient and feeds the world because food security is central to its development agenda. We can do better given our natural resource base endowment.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reaping big from farming butterflies

"Whenever I meet people and tell them that I am a butterfly farmer, they look at me with a sense of disbelief. They ask me: what does a butterfly farmer do, and what does it involve? Do you want to tell us that you grow butterflies?" These are the words from the host's mouth Clivon Mwachola a butterfly farmer in relation to people's bewilderment over his agricultural venture.
This 26 year old young man is a true example that as young farmers we can succeed by thinking out of the ordinary maize/beans farming. The full article can be accessed below. 
The Standard | Reaping big from farming butterflies
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The hidden gem in goat and sheep farming

Who said livestock farming is synonymous to keeping cows? Unfortunately this holds true for many of us youths and when livestock farming is broached, cattle rearing is the first thing that comes to mind. This has in turn blinded us from the fact that the areas of sheep and goat farming is full of potential and with more focus and development it could contribute more to the economy and our general well-being.

This article may change your perspective; here

Monday, January 23, 2012

IRIN Africa | AFRICA: Bullish about the agricultural future | Angola | Aid Policy | Food Security | Governance

IRIN Africa | AFRICA: Bullish about the agricultural future | Angola | Aid Policy | Food Security | Governance

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Changes in society's roles adversely affecting men

: : West FM : :

Seeds of suicide: lest you've forgotten or don’t know.

I have always tried to underscore the importance of agriculture and I fully concur with whoever said that is in the agricultural sector that the battle for long-term economic development will be won or lost. Agriculture plays a paramount role in the developing countries' economies.
A battle of supremacy is being wedged in the sector over control of seeds between the corporates and the peasant farmers resulting in fatal consequences for the defenseless farmers. Going by the happenings in India where lives were lost due to the effects of giving seed companies a free hand through privatization and deregulation that lead to increasing cost of seeds and agrichemicals for farmers, increasing farm debts and crop failure, the magnitude of this statement is evident.
One such victim is the 68 year Karnail Singh in 1998. His inability to repay his loan demeaned his being driving him – proud, stoic, and immersed in traditional values of trust and honesty to desperately consume poison.
These companies that drove people to their graves are there with us and we need to be careful as we deal with them lest we become on other statistic on the many farmers who’ve committed suicide as a consequence of their dealings. More can be found here

CTA - Brussels Office Weblog - Promoting sustainable farming practices

CTA - Brussels Office Weblog - Promoting sustainable farming practices

Monday, January 16, 2012

FAO Media Centre: FAO-EU project to promote climate-smart farming

FAO Media Centre: FAO-EU project to promote climate-smart farming

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mushrooms, the lesser known forest treasure.

Where I come from- the western parts of Kenya, mushrooms are a resource whose importance has been under-estimated. Mushroom harvesting has been regarded as a children playing activity and I vividly remember those days on Saturdays or during the April/August holidays (Mushroom season) when this used to be my favorite game. (Partly because it earned me a chance to walk with Sharon – the girl in the neighborhood) I could spend the whole day harvesting mushroom as long as I was with her even when we were not talking to each other.
Of all the lot we harvested, only a portion could end up into our kitchen and the rest went bad and was thrown as nobody took it seriously.
With my biology in school, I have known mushroom species such as boletus,cantharellus and morchella grow naturally in symbiosis with the local woodland. And with my interactions, I have known these mushrooms are highly demanded in developed countries and in big hotels within the country. Their careful and well-managed exploitation could not only lead to the forest preservation but also the local economy. As the youth full of energy for running up and down, we can tap into this invaluable resource - obwoba and emmancipate ourselves from the shackles of poverty and unemployment.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Accelerating agribusiness; MFarm

When we talk of agribusiness;
• gets real time price information and doesn't have to deal with brokers
• sells his/her produce to the ready local and international market via mobile phone.
• gets farm inputs offer updates at reach
• reaches and track down the progress of his clients via click of a button
• does campaign management and support subsidized and increase his sales and customer loyalty
AND A BUYER that gets farm produce information from various markets
 For much more on how to make this happen, click here

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The path Agriculture should take

Though not the magic bullet for instant solutions, I strongly believe that improvements in Africa's food security can and should be based on ecological principles and the empowerment of local rural communities to keep and develop their own rich wealth in technologies, practices and innovations combined with sound modern scientific research.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why farmers have to choose between organic farming and using greenhouses.

The advent of greenhouses has been occasioned by the hostile weather conditions and is geared towards reducing the risks associated with climate change on crop production and increase productivity but thats not just it.  
Tomatoes in a greenhousesystem

Principles upon which greenhouse systems operate promote cultivation of high economic value crops in order to make up for the systems’ high cost. To this effect, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants have monopolized the systems leaving out other useful plants that nourish the soils. These systems therefore employ intensive use of chemicals to make up for natural regeneration of soil fertility.
One of the organic farming principles - Cyclical principle encourages collaboration with nature through the establishment and build-up of a cyclical principle that ensures versatility, diversity and harmony, and the re-cycling and use of renewable resources. It is upon this principle that conflict between the two farming systems arises; Greenhouse farmers who have attempted to go organic have reverted back to the use of chemicals after two or three seasons. One has to make a choice

Are you an organic farmer? Meet other organic farmers on facebook and exchange ideas.

The organic farmer magazine and radio enthusiasts now have a platform where they can virtually meet and exchange ideas, share experiences and learn from the same.
Social media is attractive and interactive – be the next fan of TOF on facebook and get solutions to your farm related issues online through learning from others in similar situations. See more information and join here.  
While you agree with me that resources such as land and capital paramount for any agribusiness venture, it will be suicidal for any entrepreneural venture to neglect the role of information. Social media has a role to play here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

GIS for Agribusiness

For agricultural Tech-savvy this is going to be interesting; ESRI produces a newsletter on GIS for Agribusiness semi annually. The newsletter has articles on how people working in the agriculture industry gain advantages from geospatial technologies – people working in the field of agribusiness are applying GIS to improve crop management, business strategies, and communications.For the latest on GIS news, visit; www.esri.com/agriculture

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feeding global hunger - Inside Story - Al Jazeera English

Feeding global hunger - Inside Story - Al Jazeera English

The gender gap is pulling us behind in the war against hunger and poverty

In my work I have always tried to underscore the importance of gender balance in agriculture if meaningful gains have to be made in the war against hunger and poverty. Women make significant contributions to the rural economy in all developing country regions. Their roles differ across regions, yet they consistently have less access than men to the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive.
And as if they were mindreaders FAO shares the same sentiments but this time, backed by research findings in this presentation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Proper post harvest management for food security and better livelihoods

Effective post-harvest handling is paramount for maintaining the quality and freshness of fruits from when they are harvested to when they reach the consumer.

Improving efficiency and productivity of post harvest food handling and processing in the community goes along way in helping the people.

Milk processing
Processing provides for security of food supply, enhance the keeping quality of the original materials and, generally provide the basis for making a reasonable living.

This will ensure access to a more secure supply of foods and raw materials for manufacturing and provide for more employment opportunities while enhancing incomes and bringing greater prosperity to people.

Food industries are an excellent form of income for the entrepreneur and markets can be better exploited, with crops stored pending price rises and selling when the time is right.
Drying of maize to prolong the storage period

Whether handling, storing and/or processing, access to improved technologies, to materials and information is paramount. As youth we therefore need to embrace the use of technologies and use them correctly as we venture into farming, this will also help in boosting the intellectual wealth of the communities in this regard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

For my French brothers and sisters today; Aidons-les à s'aider

Bonne année à tous mes lecteurs! Aujourd'hui, je vais écrire en français et c'est sur ​​le rôle de La Fondation Biovision dans nos luttes. Elle combat la pauvreté et la famine à la racine et promeut des méthodes écologiques qui permettent une amélioration durable des conditions de vie en Afrique. L'accent est mis sur une aide à l'auto-developpement. BioVision encourage la réflexion et l'action écologique, au Nord comme au Sud. Suivez ce lien pour plus d'infos sur leur projects et comment vous pouvez être aidé.

Bonne année, bonne chance en 2012 et vous remercie beaucoup pour voter pour mon blog.