Stories tagged: agriculture

2016 in Ag Hashtags!

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As 2016 draws to a close, Farming First asks: what have been the major milestones for sustainable agriculture this year? And how has Farming First and its supporters engaged with them? Join us for a unique round up of the year – in ag #tags!

January: #LovePulses Celebrating the International Year of Pulses

On January 1st, the International Year of Pulses officially kicked off. From “Pulse Feasts” hosted across the world, to a global competition looking for the next generation of pulse-based products, the International Year of Pulses has shed a spotlight on this nutritious and sustainable superfood.

February: #Sci4Dev Celebrating Science & Innovation in Agriculture

In February, Farming First teamed up with CGIAR to tell 28 stories of how science and innovation is lifting smallholder farmers from poverty, to prosperity. The online case study collection demonstrated how investments in science can go beyond simply meeting food security needs, but contribute to broader interlinked goals such as natural resource management, improved nutrition and resilient rural livelihoods. Click the image to explore the stories.

Explore 28 ways science is transforming rural lives, co-produced with CGIAR

Explore 28 ways science is transforming rural lives, co-produced with CGIAR

 

March: #IWD2016 Hearing Women Farmers Speak on International Women’s Day

Ever since Farming First launched its “Female Face of Farming” infographic in 2012, we have championed rural women’s role in sustainable agriculture and global food security. This year, we compiled a round up our Farming First TV interviews with female farmers, and published a guest blog by the World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress team, which has been working with female pulse producers to diversify their income. Click the image to read our #IWD2016 newsletter.

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April: #GCARD3Meeting the Young Agripreneurs at GCARD3

All through 2016, our eyes have been on the next generation of sustainable agriculture advocates. During the Third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, we profiled the young “agripreneurs” who had won a start-up grant for their innovative agriculture business ideas. From cultivating herbs for beauty products in Barbados to revolutionising dairy farming in India – the stories were both impressive and inspiring!

 

May: #WFOGA2016 Onsite at the WFO’s General Assembly

This year we joined hundreds of farmers from all over the world at the World Farmers’ Organisation’s annual General Assembly, which was held in Victoria Falls, Zambia. As well as blogging about the event, we captured interviews with the farmers on how they are coping with climate change, to feature in our “CSA in Action campaign”.

June: #FoodPrize16 Biofortification Pioneers Scoop World Food Prize

Our media partnership with the World Food Prize continued this year, and we had the pleasure of working with the Foundation to promote the 2016 winners of the World Food Prize to the press in June. Drs. Maria Andrade, Jan Low and Robert Mwanga of the International Potato Center, and Dr. Howarth Bouis of HarvestPlus were awarded the accolade for their work on biofortification, and in particular the vitamin-A rich orange flesh sweet potato. The news was covered all over the world and even featured in TIME magazine’s “25 best inventions of 2016”!

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July: #WYSDEmpowering Youth in Agriculture

July 15th was World Youth Skills Day, and Farming First supporter YPARD partnered with the CGIAR Research Program on Drylands, to obtain youth perspectives on the realities, challenges and aspirations of life in drylands and opportunities for making a living from agriculture. For a full round up of their findings, visit the YPARD blog.

 

August: #WWWeekExploring water efficiencies in agriculture for World Water Week

Agriculture is the biggest user of freshwater on the planet – using up to 70% of global supplies. Many Farming First supporters are working to make water use in agriculture more efficient. Take a look at this study from Fintrac and partners, that has studied lessons learned from groups commercialising drip irrigation in smallholder markets. And check out this blog from iDE, that tells the story of plantain farmers in Honduras that have improved their incomes and productivity through the same innovation.

September: #CSAinActionExplaining Climate Smart Agriculture during Climate Week

Back in June 2016, we partnered with the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture to explain the concept and also showcase how it is being put into action by farmers worldwide. We sourced 28 stories from Farming First supporters and GACSA members, and produced an animated video that has now been viewed more than 5,000 times!

 

October: #IamAgInspiring a New Generation in Agricultural Careers

In October, we launched a unique campaign to show young people the range of exciting careers that are available in agriculture, beyond the farm! We had a series of youth bloggers telling us about their careers from finance to TV production, as well as 17 video interviews with experts, who told the stories behind their success. Hundreds of you told your stories online using the hashtag #IamAg and used our “I am Ag” badge on your Twitter and Facebook profiles. Farming First supporter Sir Gordon Conway wrote an opinion article for The Telegraph on getting young people into agriculture too. Catch up on the whole campaign here.

 

November: #CCawards Double Win for Farming First at CorpComms Awards

Our 2015 campaign “The Story of Agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals” received two accolades at the CorpComms Awards in London in November. We won “best communication for a non-profit” and came highly commended in the “best international campaign” category. “The Story of Agriculture and the SDGs” was a year-long campaign that sought to ensure agriculture and sustainable farming issues were well represented in the text of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Farming First supporters went on three missions to the United Nations in New York, to meet with and present to Post-2015 negotiators, as well as taking part in side events to demonstrate how agriculture can be considered “a common thread” throughout the SDGs. An interactive toolkit was also launched, to explain the impact that investing in agriculture can have on a range of goals beyond Goal Two to end hunger, such as health, economic growth, gender equality and combatting climate change. Visit the portal here.

December: #WorldSoilDay How improving our soils will improve food supplies

We can’t feed the world without feeding our soil first. This is the message we helped Farming First supporters convey on World Soil Day, 5th December. Leading soil scientist Patrick Heffer blogged for Farm Journal, and Chair of the International Fertilizer Association’s agriculture committee Kapil Mehan wrote for Business Fights Poverty on the latest breakthroughs that can reverse the trend of soil degradation across the world.

Did we miss an important ag #tag of 2016? Tweet us @FarmingFirst to share the important sustainable agriculture issues you’ve been promoting this year!

Julian Wolfson: The iDEal Way to Expand Drip Irrigation

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In this guest post, the Chief Executive of iDE Europe details how technical assistance through a social enterprise is ensuring that drip irrigation is successful.

Without the right knowledge or necessary tools, poor farmers in Nicaragua have been unable to undertake a second growing season during the dry season. However, with micro-irrigation equipment and techniques, these farmers have the potential of doubling their annual production and incomes. Until 2010, their needs were ignored by the commercial sector, who failed to see these farmers as a large enough market for their products. This is the market gap that can be filled by a social enterprise, which exists not simply to make a profit, but to ensure that community and societal objectives can be met. In Nicaragua, that gap is being met by iDEal Tecnologías. Continue reading

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Webinar: Climate services for smallholder farmers and pastoralists in Africa

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23rd November 2016

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Farming and pastoralist communities have survived by mastering the ability to adapt to widely varying weather and climatic conditions. Increasingly variable climate and the rapid pace of other drivers of change are, however, overwhelming local knowledge and traditional practices for coping with climate related risks. It is increasingly becoming evident that climate services—climate and weather information and advisories—can help farmers and pastoralists better manage risks and adapt to the changing climate. Continue reading

Bruce Campbell: What Does the Paris Agreement Mean for Food & Agriculture?

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The Paris Climate Agreement entered into force last week, heralding a major milestone in international action on climate change, and an ambitious target to contain global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in this century. Over 100 countries, which account for nearly 70% of global emissions, have ratified the Agreement, and are now obliged to deliver on their commitments and convert their plans into action. But unless countries act decisively and meaningfully, and increase their ambitions over time, this will not be enough to safeguard food and farming.

Figure 1. Gap between the current collective ambition of national climate plans (known as NDCs) and the global 2°C goal. Source: Adapted from Rogelj et al. 2016 in Vermeulen 2016.

Figure 1. Gap between the current collective ambition of national climate plans (known as NDCs) and the global 2°C goal. Source: Adapted from Rogelj et al. 2016 in Vermeulen 2016.

Future food security in a changing climate
The Paris Agreement is made up of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are climate action plans developed by countries, outlining their priorities and measures. The INDCs of countries overwhelmingly put agriculture the top of the list for climate action; over 60% of submitted INDCs included mitigation in agriculture. And of the countries which included adaptation, over 90% included adaptation in agriculture. African countries in particular have expressed a clear desire to tackle these issues: 98% of African countries included adaptation actions in agriculture and 68% included mitigation actions in agriculture.

Figure 2. Inclusion of agriculture in climate pledges (INDCs). Source: Richards et al 2016 in Vermeulen et al 2016.

Figure 2. Inclusion of agriculture in climate pledges (INDCs). Source: Richards et al 2016 in Vermeulen et al 2016.

However, effective implementation will depend on the availability of financial, technological and capacity support. In fact, some countries have made several commitments conditional upon the provision of support.

Mobilizing support for climate actions

Fortunately, the Paris Agreement has set out robust frameworks to provide much-needed support and the UNFCCC’s finance mechanism, particularly the Green Climate Fund, will play a key role: US$10.3 billion have been pledged to the Fund, and the Fund has committed US$ 1.2 billion to 27 projects. But this still falls short of the ambition to mobilize US$ 100 billion per year by 2020.

In addition to financial support, the Paris Agreement will put in place new frameworks for providing technological support and enhancing capacity, which are the crucial building blocks for successful implementation of climate actions.

Science-based ambitions

The Paris Agreement obliges countries to become more ambitious in their commitments over time, with follow up Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) due in 2020 and 2025. With just 4 years left to the next NDC deadline, scientific organisations like CGIAR and its partners have an important role to play in providing technical support help countries put climate adaptation and mitigation into practice in the agriculture sector, and to distill lessons from implementation. These actions include helping countries set up early warning systems; improve water management in agricultural systems; adopt lower-emissions livestock practices; apply fertilizers more efficiently; and improve soil carbon sequestration. Decades of agriculture research can support these efforts.

To help countries stay on track and inform their future commitments, the UNFCCC will take stock of progress every 5 years starting in 2023. These ‘global stocktakes’ would measure collective progress towards global targets, looking at the whole spectrum of actions including mitigation, adaptation, financing, and technology development and transfer. The stocktakes will also be informed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), thus ensuring that the latest climate science provides inputs into future commitments.

Measuring progress is a huge and underplayed challenge. Countries are required to regularly report on their emissions and implementation efforts, and the Agreement is developing an enhanced transparency and accountability framework which would harmonize reporting and verification requirements. The global science community can facilitate this. For example, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has developed a Climate-Smart Agriculture programming and indicator tool, building on the wealth of approaches used by major development agencies in monitoring projects. The tool helps measure outcomes related to increased productivity, food security, adaptation, resilience, and mitigation, and could be instrumental in helping countries measure progress towards established targets.

Reality check

While the Paris Agreement represents a huge opportunity for climate action, and the early ratification offers much promise, success should not be viewed as a given. We have already reached the crucial threshold of globally averaged concentration of carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million, according to the World Meteorological Organization. In fact, 2016 has turned out to be the warmest year since modern records began, according to NASA. Currently, country plans under the Paris Agreement fall short of keeping the world within the 2°C warming limit [see figure 1].

All this means that action is needed now in all sectors, including the agriculture sector. To meet the 2°C goal of the Paris Agreement, researchers estimate that agriculture emissions must be reduced by 1 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent per year by 2030. Current interventions can only contribute 21-40% of this goal.

We cannot afford to rest on the success of Paris. Climate negotiators in Marrakech must be alert to the urgent need for meaningful action and countries must immediately get to work on implementing the Paris Agreement. A focus on agriculture, with accompanying funds and support, will help the sector transition to support global food security in a sustainable manner. Over 550 million smallholder farmers depend on it.

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post. Featured image photo credit: Neil Palmer CCAFS/CIAT

#IamAg! Meet Jim Ruiz, Social Entrepreneur & Fairtrade Champion

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This is the final post in our series “I am Agriculture”, that showcases the many careers available to young people in agriculture. Today’s post comes from Jim Ruiz, co-founder of Fairtrasa Peru.

Agriculture is in my blood: I come from a family of farmers near Sullana, Peru, who grew corn, rice, cotton, and bananas. But unlike many of my peers in my community, I was able to afford university studies, and graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering in 2002.

My early experience taught me that the life of a small-scale farmer is extremely difficult. For generations, small-scale farmers in my region were stuck in a rigid pattern. Farming was not profitable for them, and they couldn’t afford to feed their children well and send them to school. My goal as a professional was to create opportunity for families and young people to escape this pattern. But I didn’t know how.

I experimented with some jobs; first as the coordinator of my university’s center for experimental agriculture, which gave me my first experience as a manager of a large team; then in the local mayor’s office, where I was in charge of community development projects for young people. I learned a lot from both experiences, but was frustrated by bureaucracy. I yearned for the freedom and opportunity to turn my creative ideas into reality.

That opportunity soon came from the farmers I grew up with.

The banana industry was booming in my region, and several small-scale farmer cooperatives had formed. They were selling their fruit straight from the tree to a multinational fruit company, which controlled harvesting, post-harvest, and exporting. The cooperatives wanted to earn better prices, but they were limited by only having one large buyer.

One local cooperative was interested in Fairtrade certification, but didn’t know how to obtain it or re-invest the Fairtrade Premium. They hired me to help them.

I learned as much as I could to devise a plan for the cooperative. Over the next two years, I helped them obtain not only Fairtrade certification, but Organic and GlobalGAP as well, and we began re-investing their increased income in technology and infrastructure. We used every dollar well, and gradually gained more control of the supply chain. Eventually, we were able to branch out and sell to another company at a better price—a huge achievement for the small-scale farmers in our region.

The experience was a revelation for me. I was extremely impressed by the effect of Fairtrade on small-scale farmers, and saw how re-investing income wisely could lead to real change. Farmer incomes went up, and they gained independence and a sense of dignity. They could feed their families better and provide better education to their children—the key to escaping the pattern of frustration.

Soon, another life-changing opportunity came my way. Patrick Struebi, a social entrepreneur who founded the company Fairtrasa in Mexico in 2005, wanted to bring his innovative model to Peru. Fairtrasa had worked with Mexican farmers in much the same way I had with Peruvian banana farmers: helping them use certifications and re-investment to increase incomes and gain more independence. Fairtrasa does not seek profit at the expense of fairness and sustainability. Instead, farmer development and sustainability were the primary goals—and business was the means for accomplishing them.

Patrick asked me to co-found a new company, Fairtrasa Peru, and to lead a team of locals in implementing my expertise. We founded Fairtrasa Peru in 2010, and have had great success in our first 6 years. We now work with 14 farmer cooperatives, providing each with training and resources tailored to their specific needs. Many have transformed themselves from struggling subsistence farmers to certified Organic and Fairtrade exporters in only a few years.

I’ve found my calling as the leader of an exciting social enterprise. I work closely with farmers and visit the fields I love every day, but I also use my skills as an agronomist and development specialist to change communities. I lead an amazing team of young, passionate entrepreneurs like myself, dedicated to changing the way our food is produced and sold.

Our work has impacted the younger generations of people in our region. The idea of the life of a small-scale farmer has been fundamentally altered. It’s now possible to earn a living as a grower, and to support a family by farming a small plot of land.

Meanwhile, for young people with university degrees, there are much greater opportunities in the agricultural sector than before, up and down the supply chain. We need talented people for a variety of roles: quality control, logistics, community development, and running the new businesses that are changing our society.

In other words, the meaning of agriculture is changing for the younger generation. It was always fundamental to our lives and survival. But now it’s fundamental to our development and success. It used to be our only option. Now it’s a source of new opportunity.

I believe that what we’ve accomplished in my region in northern Peru is an example of what young people can accomplish everywhere in the world. Through leadership, innovation, and strong moral values—a commitment to each other and to the earth—we can use agriculture not only to survive, but to thrive.

Monica Maigari: My Message on the International Day of Rural Women

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To celebrate the International Day of Rural Women, we interviewed Monica Maigari, a Nigerian farmer who has been named a “Female Food Hero” by Oxfam. Monica spoke at the session “Food Security in Crisis” at the Borlaug Dialogue in Iowa.

FF: How did you begin your career as a farmer?

MM: I was first introduced to farming as an elementary student. The teachers would take us to the countryside in the evening where we would work in the gardens and learn about farming. I took an interest and learned much. After marriage, my husband and I as teachers made little money. So I began farming to supplement our income.

FF: What are the challenges farmers face in your region?

MM: In our region, one of the main difficulties is access to the equipment that can make our agriculture less labour intensive. In addition, reliable access to improved seeds and inputs can be a real challenge. Finally, for women, the right to inherit and have title to land is difficult.

FF: Is climate change affecting your region?

MM: Yes. The main difference is in the timing and duration of the annual rainy season. One year the rains may come late; the next year they may be very early. For example, farmers in my region of Kaduna state usually plant rice in July to coincide with the annual rains. However, this year the rains came early and our rice harvest will be very small.

FF: How have you overcome these challenges?

MM: I have sought out education and worked to develop test plots that not only help me to try new techniques and seeds, but also help other women to learn more modern practices of farming – in seed spacing, rotation with legumes, and moisture retention.

FF: Do you think women face more difficulties than male farmers? 

MM: Yes. Women especially have difficulty in have secure access to land. Men are most often the landowners in the family, so if a woman is widowed she often cannot inherit the land. And yet, women are the majority of those that work the land and produce the crops, but often have the least ability to obtain credit. In addition, many extension programs are directed to men, and women are not as accepted.

FF: How have you overcome these difficulties?

MM: Like other Female Food Heroes, I have worked to form women’s groups where we share knowledge, and create opportunities for work and added value in our crops. Women mentoring and working with other women is a powerful tool.

FF: How did you get involved in the Female Food Hero Competition?

MM: A local organization came to my community with an application for the Nigeria Ogbonge Woman completion sponsored in part by Oxfam. I applied and out of over 1,200 women, I was one of twelve finalists. I then went on to take a 2nd position. Using the proceeds from that initiative, I was able to purchase the land I farmed, work as an advocate for small-scale women farmers in my region and also in other countries like Ethiopia and the U.S.

FF: How did it feel to win the competition?

MM: At first I had no words. I was the only woman winner from my state of Kaduna. I am happy that my winning is allowing me to help other women farmers, and advocate for the rights to land and the need to address climate change.

FF: What are your hopes for the future of your farm?

MM: I hope that I can continue to improve and add value to my farm, so that as I get older I will be able to sell it to another farmer and be able to use that money to benefit other women, my community, and the world.

FF: What is your message to other female farmers on International Day of Rural Women?

MM: My message is that women must join together to build a better food system, and to advocate for our rights to land, tools, and education.