In an unprecedented study, honey bees have been found to be the world’s most important single species pollinator in natural ecosystems. Working alongside wild bees, they are also said to be responsible for every one in three bites of food. For the smallholder farmer, befriending bees – both honey and wild – could mean more efficient, high quality pollination of crops, as well as pollinating wild plants for cattle and other livestock to graze on. The sale of honey could also provide a vital additional source of income. But the bees need human help in return; the global bee population is in decline due to the use of harmful pesticides, climate change and habitat loss. Finding a productive partnership between these small creatures and smallholders could benefit both sides. Continue reading →
An upgrade to a mobile phone app now offers farmers across Africa even more benefits and cutting-edge fertilizer use technology. This will help farmers to grow healthier, more productive with increasingly profitable crops, as a result of more informed use of how small amounts of fertilizer impact the crops which they grow.
Typhoon Mangkhut (local name: Ompong) recently swept across the northern island of Luzon, Philippines, severely affecting the country’s bread basket. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, approximately 171,932 farmers have suffered as a consequence of the storm.
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).
The issue of land ownership and reform is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture in Africa and other emerging economies. Land ownership is a key driver of investment in agricultural production. Without title to land or even an address, farmers’ access to credit and insurance can be limited. Land sales are prohibited in China (although land titling and consolidation is now being looked at by the government as part of its agricultural reforms), and constrained in India and many African countries.
Between May and July this year, 22 new plant clinics were established in Kenya. Nine of these clinics were launched by the Smallscale Horticulture Development Project (SHDP), which has been funded by the African Development Bank to help smallholder farmers increase the amount that they produce and earn through irrigation and enhanced marketing. The new clinics have been initiated by the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in irrigation schemes in nine districts.
This video shows how farmers in East and Southern Africa have been benefiting from increased rice yield after implementing SRI management practices. By following some simple principles in how to transplant the rice seedlings, maintain soil health, carefully irrigate, and manage weeds and nutrients, farmers can now produce a lot more rice than they used to using traditional methods. Continue reading →