Investing in smallholder farmers for a food-secure future

Mr. Kampinga

Smallholder farmers provide the vast majority of the world’s food supply, and ‘small-scale farming’ is the largest occupation group of economically active people, 43% of which are women.

Approximately 2 billion of the world’s poorest live in households that depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods, whether this is for market or subsistence. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that growth in agriculture in developing countries is on average almost 3 times more effective in reducing poverty (relative to non-agriculture GDP growth).

Continue reading

Yellow Dragon Disease: An Increasing Threat to Global Citrus Production

oranges-1117628_1280
Citrus production accounts for over 110 million tonnes of fruit per year globally (© CC0)

Yellow dragon disease, also known as citrus greening disease is one of the greatest bacterial threats to citrus trees on a global scale, affecting crop production across Africa, Asia and North America.

Continue reading

Drought Resistance Hormone Discovered in Plants

close-up-close-up-view-dry-141489.jpg
Drought affects two-thirds of Sub-Saharan Africa and over 65% of its population (© Pexels)

Researchers at the RIKEN Centre of Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan have discovered a hormone linked to the stimulation of drought-resistant characteristics in plants.

Published in the journal Nature earlier this month, the study shows how the peptide CLE25 is synthesised in the roots of plants when under stress due to a lack of water in the soil, resulting in the closing of pores (stomata) in the leaf surfaces.

Continue reading

Five invasive pests cost African economy $1 billion every year

Five invasive pests cost African economy $1 billion every year
New research by CABI reveals that just five invasive alien species are causing US$0.9 – 1.1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers across six eastern African countries each year, equating to 1.8% – 2.2% of total agricultural GDP for the region. These losses are expected to grow to $1.0 – 1.2 billion per year over the next 5-10 years, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated responses at regional, national and international levels.

New research published in the open-access journal Global Food Security estimates the alarming level of economic losses suffered by smallholder farmers each year in eastern Africa, to a handful of species that have become damaging crop pests since their introduction to the region. These few invasive species can have devastating impacts on important staples such as maize, but also high-value crops including tomatoes, peas and green beans.

Continue reading

Plantwise shortlisted for Olam Food Security Prize

Ghana2

The CABI-led Plantwise programme has been named as a finalist for the Olam Innovation in Food Security Award! This award ‘aims to recognize an outstanding innovation for its potential impact on the availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food, as well as to support its further development.’ As a programme now working in 34 countries, this is also a recognition of the efforts of all the Plantwise supporters and partners- over 168 worldwide- who make this innovation approach a reality in policy and practice. Together we have reached over 2 million farmers with the timely plant health information they need to lose less, and feed more- and this is only the beginning. The final award winner will be announced on March 16. Read the full Plantwise story published on Farming First.

2013 Global Food Policy Report: Nutrition in the spotlight

The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)
The development community has increased its focus on improving nutrition © Steve Evans (CC BY)

Last month, the International Food Policy Research Institute released its 2013 Global Food Policy Report. This report is the third annual report in this series which aims to give an overview of the food policy developments that have affected food security that year. This includes a review of the key highlights of the previous 12 months, the challenges faced and the possible opportunities for food policy in the coming year.

In 2013, the focus of discussion on food policy moved further towards nutrition. With the Nutrition for Growth summit in June, the effort committed to tackling undernutrition gained momentum with more than US$23 billion being pledged by development partners.

Continue reading

Crop diversification finds home for ‘orphan crops’

Farmer from Teso. Knowledge of orphan crops should conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira
Farmer from Teso, Kenya. Indigenous knowledge of orphan crops should be conserved © Bioversity International/ Y.Wachira

The term ‘orphan crops’ refers to plant species and varieties that of recent decades have been ignored by governments, seed companies and scientists due to their limited importance in global markets. Instead, only a few major staples have been of interest. From fruits and vegetables to grains and nuts, many orphan crops are highly nutritious, resilient to climate extremes and are well adapted to marginal soils. They are therefore of great significance for food security and the generation of income to the world’s poorest communities.

Continue reading