Stories tagged: agriculture

How Can African Youth Deliver Agriculture Transformation?

In this guest post, Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba, Programme Manager at FANRPAN and Farming First steering committee member, shares steps for helping African youth to realize their potential to transform the continent’s food systems. This post originally appeared on the Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog.

There are more young people in the world than ever before.

1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24, according to UN estimates. For some, this presents an unprecedented potential for economic and social progress. For Africa, however, the world’s youngest region and home to over 200 million young people, this could easily be a ticking time bomb.

According to the 2016 Africa Agriculture Status Report, the region’s rapid population growth is due to rising life expectancy, declines in death rates, particularly of children, and more recently to lower fertility rates, especially among educated urban women. While child mortality rates have declined, fertility rates have remained high, leading to the “youth bulge” that the region is now experiencing.

Youth unemployment, vulnerable employment and working poverty levels in Africa are at an all-time high, with little signs of potential recovery, according to the ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook (2016).  Youth employment has, therefore, become an important policy priority in most countries. There is great interest to identify sources of productive employment and effective strategies to promote job creation and economic growth in Africa.

The agriculture sector in Africa holds tremendous promise for catalyzing growth and creating employment opportunities for the world’s largest youth population. The importance of the agricultural sector as an employer, is likely to grow with continued transformation of food systems and growth in domestic demand for food. African leaders have committed to create job opportunities for at least 30% of the youth in agricultural value chains by 2025.

But this will not happen overnight. Young people wanting to break into the agriculture sector face several challenges that undermine their economic potential and ability to influence existing policy processes. Studies conducted by FANRPAN in 12 East and Southern African countries found that many young people are unable to fulfil their potential because they face constraints in gaining access to land, credit, training, new technologies.

African youth want to engage in policy

Policy makers generally view young people as passive recipients of support, rather than active agents capable of solving problems. As such, they are rarely included in decision-making and policy processes.  Currently very few youths understand how policies are made and how they can engage and use their experiences to contribute to evidence-based policies that address their challenges.

Young people are keen to participate in the decisions and policies that impact their lives and can give practical, valuable advice on how to make youth and employment policies and programs more impactful. A growing body of research from development experts, including the MasterCard Foundation’s 2015-2016 Youth Think Tank Report, confirms that young people want to be engaged at different levels of decision-making on issues that affect them directly. However, they lack the skills and know-how of how to engage effectively once they have access to these channels of decision making.

The MasterCard Foundation recognizes that these challenges can only be addressed if those most affected by the problems are equipped with solutions. They have partnered with FANRPAN to demystify the notion that policy development should be left to government alone. FANRPAN is documenting a policy engagement model that will help young people understand the policy cycle.

Involving the private sector

There are other initiatives focusing on youth in agriculture at regional level in Africa. Of note is the Empowering Novel Agri-Business – Led Employment (ENABLE)  youth program being championed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), with support from prominent African private sector players, Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu. The program is targeting to help young graduates establish 300,000 agribusinesses in the process create 1.5 Million Jobs for Youth ln the next 5 years. Similarly, the Young Professionals for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), an international movement that supports young professionals realize their full potential and contribute proactively towards innovative agricultural transformation.

Sindiso Ngwenya, the Secretary General of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), believes young people will indeed lead the transformation that the continent so desperately needs, for the simple reason that young people are fearless, and not afraid to try new things and even fail at them. Speaking at the  Africa 2017 Forum in December, he stressed that for Africa to be part of the 4th Industrial revolution, policy makers and governments should look to the youth of the continent as they are the ones  that are already leading the transformation.

Last year, I met three very impressive young people who are at the forefront of transforming the agriculture sector.

Salif Romano Niang put his PhD studies at Purdue University on hold in 2011 to launch Malô,  a Mali-based social enterprise that enhances food security by milling, fortifying, and selling rice grown by smallholder farmers in West Africa under the brand name Supermalô. His vision is to turn Supermalô into the Uncle Ben’s of Africa—providing everyone with access to affordable and nutritious rice.

Emma Naluyima, is a smallholder pig farmer and private veterinarian focusing on clinical medicine and herd health. She has helped improve the genetics of dairy herds in Uganda through artificial insemination. She also runs the MST Junior Academy, a school she started to educate children about innovative farming techniques.

Lilian Uwintwali is the founder and CEO of MAHWI TECH Ltd.  Her firm provides m-lima, an online and mobile-based platform that links over 10,000 farmers in Rwanda to markets, banks, insurance companies and extension services. Lilian was recently appointed Board Secretary of the Panafrican EYE (Emerging Young Entrepreneur), inspiring a generational shift in the African Agribusiness industry through improved access to technology, innovation, mentorship and finance.

These are just but a few young Africans who are doing their bit to transform the African agriculture landscape.  It is time that policy discussions move from how governments should engage youth in agriculture to how youth can be supported to be drivers of agricultural transformation.

Farming First is proud to be a media partner for the Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium 2018. For more information on the conference, click here.

Featured image credit: G. Smith / CIAT

 

Will Brazilian Millennials Look to a Future in the Fields?

The rural workforce in Brazil is getting younger, according to recent research. Meet the Gen-Y agripreneurs changing the face of farming in Brazil. By Raphael Marques da Silva, on behalf of HarvestPlus.

The economic crisis in Brazil has chosen millennials–the most apt generation for building the future of the country–as its main victim. According to a survey on Millennials and the Nem Nem Generation, conducted by the Standard Intelligence Center in partnership with MindMiners, about 25% of young people between 18 and 32 years old are unemployed.

At the same time, the average age of Brazilian farmers has fallen from 48 (2013) to 46 years old (2017), while the presence of women in the field increased by 7% according to another recent study. These farmers are also showing higher levels of education and tech savviness.

The study, managed by the Brazilian Rural Marketing and Agribusiness Association, highlighted that 21% of the interviewed farmers had an advanced degree, with an emphasis on agronomy (42%), veterinary medicine (9%) and corporate administration (7%).

And unlike farmers from previous generations, the majority are online and regularly use social media as a means of communication, with nearly all of them using Whatsapp (96%), while 67% interact with Facebook and 24% with YouTube.

These studies reflect the fact that Brazil is in the midst of a socio-economic change in which the rural communities, long seen as lagging behind, are catching up to the city.

Priorities among farmers are shifting too, with producers turning towards suppliers who are dedicated to environmentally sustainable practices. With a more engaged, connected and familiar rural environment, farmers in the countryside are increasingly foregoing large urban centers that are plagued by a cruel recession.

Data and trends gathered from these studies point to a Generation Y that is more sustainability-focused, ideological and even scientific. 

Breeding more vitamins and minerals in the semi-arid

Valdileia Silva, 21, is an agricultural technician and an example of the new female farmer. The daughter of rural producers from the city of Oeiras-PI, Valdileia works with her father, Luís Costa e Silva, on the family farm. She is enthusiastic about the innovative measures being implemented in their field, such as solar energy irrigation and cultivation of biofortified crop varieties. Solar irrigation has helped save energy and water, and biofortified crops – made available to family famers like Valdileia through the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the HarvestPlus research program – have provided more minerals and vitamins.

Valdileia with one of her 11 brothers. (Photo: Tarcila Viana)

“Biofortified products have helped us generate income, since they are widely accepted in Oeiras and neighboring cities. By growing them, I can meet the demands of the Food Acquisition Program (PAA), created by the State to encourage family farming, and earn more money. I deliver to eight schools in Piauí and 14 in the municipality, not counting requests from other cities,” she says, proud of her role in contributing to the regional economy. She is also creating jobs: “I employ two young people on my property, both of whom came from agricultural school and were unemployed.”

Values from the field

For Joni Knapp, 20, a technician in agriculture and the environment, his experience in the city lacked “contact with the earth” and he never felt quite at home.

“The values ​​from the countryside, including the importance of health and knowing what you produce, encouraged me to return to the field,” says Joni, who lives in the municipality ​​of Campina das Missões, in Rio Grande do Sul.

His family business involves producing milk through a cooperative to then pasteurize the product. Combining sustainability and innovation comes naturally to the young farmer. His hunger for knowledge has kept him in touch with a cheese producer in the region who is experienced in enriching the product with micronutrients. According to Joni, dialogue with elders is fundamental, but it’s something that often does not exist in the field, leading young people to leave.

“Young people are hesitant to take over the family business because many believe in the myth that the city is a perfect place. Parents often do not interact with their children, and conflict with their parents, even more so than low wages, motivates many to move to urban centers.”

Sugar cane: National wealth

“Youth today do not have “jeitinho brasileiro” – a Brazilian expression for improvising solutions but also for avoiding or shaping rules – says Mauricio Palazzo, 32. “Today, we study the rules and we comply with them.”

An administrator and farmer, Mauricio is critical of the old “jeitinho” and believes the new generation who work in the fields has shown an increasing commitment to environmental and occupational safety concerns.

Mauricio is the secretary of Socicana – Guariba Sugar Suppliers Association in São Paulo, where 60% of the country’s sugarcane is cultivated.

“Sugarcane gives me a stable income compared to other crops, but I still plant soybeans and peanuts as a form of crop rotation.”

Mauricio Palazzo (Photo: Ewerton Alves/Neomarc)

Like any farmer, Maurício sees a lot of potential in agriculture. This optimism is crucial because volatility is part of the daily life of a farmer. Uncontrollable factors such as climate and pests can compromise an entire harvest, and it is up to the farmer to be resilient, and to return to the next season with more experience and better safety measures.

 

Lívia Gonçalves de Souza (Photo: Ewerton Alves/Neomarc)

Lívia Gonçalves de Souza, 32, is also part of the Sugar Suppliers Association. She graduated in agronomy and makes a good living planting sugarcane.

The rural entrepreneur who speaks with pride about the recognition she has already won among regional producers for having entered the market early and proven herself capable. She has also gained much credibility for her use of agricultural practices like precision agriculture.

“Today, your technical degree is of no use if you’re not a good manager of your property,” she said.

Agriculture-Livestock Integration in the Amazon

“I completed two years of study in Administration before returning to the countryside,” says João Ricardo Carvalho, who runs two farms in Pará, in the north of Brazil. “I always participate in courses and lectures, because the intention is to strengthen our Integrated Crop-Livestock systems to produce more with less space.”

The technique diminishes the impact on the environment by taking advantage of the same area at different times of the year though rotation or succession. The practice enhances the preservation of natural resources and increases the potential for greater stability and income.

Research corporations in Brazil such as Embrapa have proven that this model contributes to improving soil quality, diversifying income alternatives. Diversifying means of production also increases local food security.

Like other young farmers, João is continuously trying to recast the image of a farmer in Brazil. It is with this same sentiment that he has been rebuilding Fazenda Janaína, his property located in Pará,

Looking forward

Brazil’s cultural diversity is reflected in both the city and the countryside. Optimism is the word of the moment to characterize the agricultural sector, with the export of commodities being the main activity responsible for giving “oxygen” to the economy. The countryside is getting younger, with more women in the workforce, and a prevailing entrepreneurial spirit. Taking all business models to scale is a challenge, but the aspirations of Brazil’s millennial generation, and its commitment to seeking a livelihood through farming, is encouraging.

2017 in Review: Ten Top Moments from Farming First

2017 has been another action-packed year in the field of food security and farmer empowerment. Join Farming First as we look back on some of the most important moments throughout the year, featuring many of our supporters and partners.

1. Farming First Helps Chicago Council Highlight Food Security as Key to Peace and Prosperity

In March, Farming First travelled to Washington D.C. to act as media partner at the Chicago Council’s Global Food Security Symposium. Amid recent turbulent political shifts around the world, the central conference theme – Stability in the 21st Century – called on political leaders to make food security a pillar of national security policies. Ivo Daalder, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs commented, “a food secure world creates new economic opportunities at home and makes America and the world far safer.” Farming First filmed several supporters and stakeholders for Farming First TV while on the ground. Check out this interview with author Roger Thurow on the importance of good nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life, filmed as part of our SDG2 in 2 Minutes series: Continue reading

Chegou a Hora Para a Segunda Revolução Verde no Brasil

Neste post convidado, David Roquetti, Diretor Executivo da Associação Nacional Para Difusão de Adubos (ANDA), analisa as inovações que podem transformar a agricultura na América Latina.

Durante muito tempo, o Brasil foi “o país do futuro”. Mas pelo menos em uma área, este sonho já é realidade. Nos últimos 40 anos, o Brasil liderou uma revolução verde na América Latina, transformando a agricultura tropical e se aproveitando de todos os benefícios dos nossos incomparáveis recursos naturais.

Antigamente importador líquido, o nosso país já é o maior produtor global de açúcar, café e suco de laranja, e o segundo maior produtor de carne bovina, galinha e soja.

Além de ser um grande produtor de alimentos, fibras e energia, o Brasil também é um líder na preservação do meio ambiente, com dois terços do seu território de vegetação nativa preservado ou protegido. Então, com 13,5% da terra arável do mundo, e 15,2% dos recursos hídricos renováveis do planeta, o Brasil tem mostrado como maximizar o seu potencial de produtividade.

Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer (Picture: Donna Bowater)

Brasil é o maior produtor global de café (Foto: Donna Bowater)

Uma das chaves do sucesso, foi uma melhor compreensão da fertilidade do solo, principalmente no cerrado, uma região antigamente considerada marginal para agricultura intensiva.

Durante os últimos 40 anos, o uso de fertilizantes no Brasil aumentou quase 180%, gerando produtividades quase 165% mais altas. Ao mesmo tempo, no entanto, o uso da terra aumentou por menos do que 40%. Isso porque inovações, como melhores fertilizantes e outros insumos, pouparam quase 130 milhões de hectares a serem convertidos em terras agrícolas entre 1976 e 2016, e contribuíram para maiores produtividades nas terras agrícolas já cultivadas.

Embora demonstremos que podemos maximizar o potencial do Brasil para a produtividade, até nos climas mais desafiadores, chegou o momento de assegurar que as altas produtividades sejam completamente sustentáveis. Se vamos garantir a nossa segurança alimentar e a sobrevivência dos nossos preciosos recursos naturais, precisamos de uma segunda revolução verde. Isso significa que temos que encontrar maneiras inovadoras de manter o nosso alto rendimento sem comprometer os nossos recursos naturais.

Felizmente, os nossos pesquisadores já estão fazendo contribuições, tornando a agricultura ainda mais sustentável.

Um exemplo é a expansão de sistemas integrados de agricultura e pecuária que cobrem 11,5 milhões de hectares do país. Estes sistemas integrados e complementares capturam o potencial regenerativo da agricultura: o gado contribui com fertilizantes e aumenta a captura de carbono nos solos, e os resíduos da colheita fornecem alimentação aos animais. Isso nos ajuda a satisfazer a crescente demanda de carne de uma maneira sustentável.

Em outro exemplo, Dr. Heitor Cantarella, vencedor do Prêmio IFA Norman Borlaug este ano, mostrou no seu trabalho no Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC) que é possível reduzir as emissões de óxido nitroso associados com a produção de cana-de-açúcar – um dos nossos cultivos mais importantes – em 95%.

Dr. Heitor Cantarella foi o vencedor do Prêmio IFA Norman Borlaug este ano

Dr. Heitor Cantarella foi o vencedor do Prêmio IFA Norman Borlaug este ano

Dr. Cantarella demonstrou que do uso de inibidores de nitrificação, aplicados a fertilizantes nitrogenados usados em cana-de-açúcar, reduzem a taxa conversão de amônio para nitrato. Isso torna a produção de etanol mais ecológica, uma intervenção importante dado que a indústria de biocombustíveis no Brasil está crescendo.

Uma técnica parecida para fertilizantes de fósforo foi desenvolvida pela equipe do Dr. Cantarella, que resultou em colheitas 25% mais altas de cana-de-açúcar.

Outra inovação importante, defendida por Alfredo Scheid Lopes – outro vencedor brasileiro do Prêmio IFA Norman Borlaug ­– era a aplicação de calcário e fertilizantes nos solos ácidos e pobres, da região dos Cerrados no Brasil, até então considerados marginais para produção agrícola intensiva, para melhorar a produção de plantas com pouca tolerância à acidez e  deficiência generalizada dos nutrientes de plantas. Essa foi uma contribuição importante que, além de garantir a segurança alimentar, evitou o desmatamento de novas áreas sob vegetação de florestas nativas.

Estes são todos bons exemplos, mas para proteger o nosso futuro, temos que melhorar constantemente, e produzir mais com menos. Agora, o Brasil é uma força no negócio de agricultura, mas os benefícios vão ser limitados se não continuarmos focando e envidando esforços em tornar a agricultura brasileira cada vez mais sustentável.

A segunda revolução precisa de mais heróis como o Dr. Cantarella para assumir o desafio de alimentar o Brasil, os seus solos, e o mundo hoje, amanhã e no futuro.

It Is Time for Brazil’s Second Green Revolution

In this guest post, David Roquetti, Executive Director of Brazil’s national fertilizer association (ANDA in Portuguese), reviews the innovations that can transform agriculture in the Latin America powerhouse once again.

Leia a matéria em português: Chegou a Hora Para a Segunda Revolução Verde no Brasil

For so long, Brazil has been the “country of the future” but in at least one area, we have already made this dream come true. Over the last 40 years, Brazil has led a Green Revolution throughout Latin America, transforming tropical agriculture and enjoying the full benefits of our unparalleled natural resources.

From once being a net importer, our country is now the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar, coffee and orange juice, and the second largest producer of beef, broiler chicken and soybean.

Besides a major producer of food, fibres and energy, Brazil is also a leading power in environmental preservation with around two thirds of its territory with native vegetation preserved or protected. Continue reading

NOV272017
World Engineering Forum 2017

27- 29 November 2017

Rome, Italy

From 26 November to 2 December 2017, in Rome, the National Council of Italian Engineers (CNI) will host the WFEO General Assembly meetings and the World Engineering Forum (WEF2017).

WEF2017 is an international event that will aim to analyze recent developments in different engineering sectors and the best practices of the most relevant mainstream technological applications linked to the general topic: “Safeguarding the heritage of mankind: a great challenge for engineers”.

The Forum will be focused on the engineering support offered to the social and economic development, with special reference to the decisive role of engineering in sustainable development and technological innovation.

During the WEF2017, innovative developments, technological applications and the best engineering practices related to the general topic of the forum, will be explored and analyzed.

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