Our food systems are under unprecedented pressure. With the global population expected to reach 8.6 billion by 2030, making food systems more sustainable will depend on the development and deployment of innovative tools and approaches around the world. Continue reading
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
For the past five weeks, Farming First and its supporters have been sharing stories on how agriculture is helping us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in our #SDG2countdown campaign. We explored each target of SDG2 in detail, sharing quizzes, videos, infographics and stories of success. As well as being central to achieving hunger, these stories revealed that agriculture has a key part to play in meeting many other goals, such as gender equality, combatting climate change and water management. Read some top picks from the stories submitted below in this latest “Supporter Spotlight” blog. For more stories, search #Ag4SDGs on Twitter.
SDG2.5 – Protecting Genetic Diversity
1. HarvestPlus: It’s in the Genes
HarvestPlus has championed the development of iron-rich and other biofortified crops, which have been shown to improve nutrition and public health by reducing micronutrient deficiencies. Such deficiencies affect two billion people, causing long-term physical and cognitive impairment, and even death. This agricultural intervention will not only combat hunger, but contribute to goals on improved health and wellbeing for all. In order to breed new varieties of staple crops with nutrient-rich traits, it is necessary to protect the genes that have these traits to begin with. Read more >>
2. CropLife International: Breeding Better Crops to Save on Carbon
Improved breeds of crops that make the most of diverse genetic traits have helped increase yields by 22 per cent in the last 20 years. This has also meant an estimated 132 million hectares of land have been saved from cultivation, thus drastically lowering agriculture’s carbon footprint, and contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>
SDG2.4 – Building Resilience
3. QuickFarm: An Information Exchange for Getting Climate-Smart
QuickFarm has developed the Agroecological Intensification Exchange, a free, online resource for farmers to access advice on sustainable farming practices. Meanwhile, it is also promoting climate-smart practices through a Farmers Field School in Nigeria. Given that farmers are at the forefront of climate issues, having yields affected by extreme weather, agriculture interventions such as farmer field schools can not only help them adapt to new weather patterns, but also ensure they lower their own carbon footprint, thus contributing to goals on combatting climate change. Read more >>
4. Chemonics: Greenhouses Offer Haitian Farmers Year-Round Bounty
Haiti has suffered several dramatic weather events in recent years, from deadly droughts to hurricanes. Climate-smart agriculture techniques are being implemented to lessen the negative impacts of climate-related shocks. The USAID-funded Haiti Chanje Lavi Plantè (CLP) program, implemented by Chemonics, strives to protect hillsides from erosion through terracing and by setting up greenhouses to allow farmers to produce crops all year round. Read more >>
5. DigitalGlobe: An Eye on Productivity in Mali
By using DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery to track the health of agriculture systems in Mali, ICRISAT were able to evidence adoption of good agricultural practices. Analyzing crop health at the plot level provided an important insight as to whether or not those farmers were applying the recommended amounts of fertilizer. With this imagery, farmers that are adopting practices such as optimal fertilizer use are now able to prove they follow best practice, thus making them more credit worthy. Read more >>
SDG2.3 – Doubling Smallholder Productivity & Incomes
6. Shaping Up Shambas Boosts Profits in Kenya
Shamba Shape Up: Shamba Shape Up is East Africa’s favourite farming television show, watched by 5 million viewers, aiming to not only entertain, but to educate and improve the livelihoods of farmers across the region. The TV show effectively gives farmers a source of sound agricultural information. In 2014, Reading University, estimated that the total net increase in the value of milk produced in Kenya, as a direct result of Shamba Shape Up, was US$24 million.
7. Feeding the Soil to Feed Farmer Incomes
IPNI: Indian farmers have been looking for less water-intensive crops to farms than rice, but balanced nutrient supply and improving soil health has proved to be a big challenge for those attempting to grow maize and other grains. In West Bengal, IPNI discovered that while nitrogen is the most limiting nutrient, addition of potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc were found to add US$80 – $290/ha to the income of farmers growing maize. Similar responses were also recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. By boosting productivity and incomes, goals to reduce poverty are also tackled. Read more >>
8. Farm Africa: Bumper Harvest for New Crop of Farmers
A private-public collaboration between supermarket chain Aldi and Farm Africa has established 21 demonstration plots, where young farmers have learnt practical skills for growing mangetouts, French beans, cabbages, kale and chilli peppers. Almost 400 young farmers, from Kitale in western Kenya, are now benefiting from the fundamental agricultural skills and practices learnt including: crop rotation, irrigation, planting, harvesting and pest management. The first harvests this year have seen bumper yields, with 96,500kg of cabbages and 37,200kg of French beans grown by the first group of 118 farmers to have completed a growing cycle so far. The first vegetables to have been sold achieved impressive profit margins of 62 per cent for cabbages and 50 per cent for French beans. Read more >>
SDG2.2 – Ending Malnutrition
9. IFDC: Getting Nutrition “Just Right” in Ethiopia
IFDC’s Toward Sustainable Clusters in Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship (2SCALE) project partnered with Ethiopian food processing company GUTS Agro to create a marketing strategy for Super Mom, a high-protein corn-soy food product for young children and pregnant and nursing mothers. To make this product affordable for low-income consumers, 2SCALE assisted in developing the “Likie” distribution model. The Likie model (which means “just the right size” in Amharic) engages women in micro-franchisees to deliver the product door-to-door on branded tricycles and provide education on nutrition and other topics. After an investment as low as $5, these women typically net $47 within the first few months, and some have reported sales as high as $500 per month, contributing to goals on nutrition and employment.
10. Technoserve: Growing Gardens for Gender Goals
Encouraging women in Rajasthan, India, to start kitchen gardens has improved their families’ nutrition by adding fresh produce that was previously out of reach because of a lack of refrigeration. It has also help redefine women’s role in their households, thereby not only contributing to goals on nutrition, but gender equality too. Read more >>
11. One Acre Fund: Helping Achieve Double Win of Beating Drought and Malnutrition
One Acre Fund is working with farmers to enable them to feed their families, despite the onslaught of climate change. OAF trainings stress the importance of crop diversity and soil health. They advise farmers to rotate crops, compost, and use intercropping planting techniques that benefit soils. If farmers plant many different types of crops, they’re better protected in extreme weather if one crop fails, meaning they and their families won’t face a hunger season. Read more >>
SDG2.1 – Ending Hunger
12. Fintrac / CropLife International: Sweet Success for Strawberry Farmers
The USAID/ACCESO project in Honduras has helped farmers learn sustainable agricultural practices, give them access to inputs, such as seeds and crop protection, and link them to secure markets. Between 2011 and 2015 more than 6,000 smallholder farmers were lifted out of poverty and the prevalence of underweight children under two-years-old decreased by 50 percent as their diet improved. Read more >>
13. Self Help Africa: Two Village Project Transforms Lives
In Zambia, SHA’s three year project based in two remote villages in the Northern Province, saw a rise in access to sufficient food – from 57% at the start of the project, to 67% currently. Furthermore, 28% of children in the area are now receiving at least the minimum food diversity in their diets, compared to 17% before. The key foundations of the project were access to saving and credit groups, access to training as well as equal support for women. Read more >>
14. CNFA: One Stop Shops for Ending Hunger
In Ethiopia, six privately-owned input supply stores created under the USAID-funded Commercial Farm Service Center Program and supported by CNFA have now served more than 24,800 farmer customers, generated $1.3 million in private sector investment, and sold more than $2.7 million worth of seeds, feed, fertilizer, farm implements, veterinary medicines, and plant protection products. These “one stop shops” are equipping farmers with all they need to boost their productivity and incomes, and thereby helping to lift communities out of poverty. Read more >>
Featured image: One Acre Fund
Welcome to our new series “Supporter Spotlight”, where we showcase the fantastic work our supporters are doing to further sustainable agriculture worldwide. To celebrate International Women’s Day, we take a look at the programs levelling the planting field for female farmers.
1. We Farm: How single parent Clara increased her income
Clara discovered that her cow had a mineral deficiency that was making her bones weak. Through the mobile peer-to-peer advice network We Farm, Clara was advised that she should feed the cow with feeds rich with calcium and phosphorus. Another farmer also sent Clara an SMS with advice on how to grow hydroponic fodder which could help to substitute minerals in her cow feed, at a cheaper cost. Not only did she solve her problem but also learned a new skill in the process. Read more. Continue reading
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.
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.
April: #GCARD3 – Meeting 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”!
July: #WYSD – Empowering 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: #WWWeek – Exploring 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: #CSAinAction – Explaining 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: #IamAg – Inspiring 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!
Farming First scooped the award for “Best Communications by a Not for Profit Organisation” at the Corporate Communications award ceremony in London last night. Our 2015 campaign “The Story of Agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals” triumphed over stiff competition from ZSL London Zoo, Age UK and Scope. It also came highly commended in the “Best International Campaign” category, making it a double win for Farming First.
“The Story of Agriculture and Development Goals” 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.
When the SDGs came into force in September 2015, Farming First was delighted to see many of the key issues it has been advocating for during this process, such as food security, rural development, and innovation well represented in the final text. These topics now feature six, two and 13 times respectively throughout the document. The Farming First supporter delegation also encouraged inclusion of improved access for farmers to extension services and training, access to inputs and investment in research and in infrastructure which are now specifically mentioned under Goal 2.
Farming First’s call to recognise agriculture as a common thread thought the SDGs has been well heeded. Equal access to resources for women farmers is mentioned in goal five on gender equality, and post-harvest losses are mentioned as target 12.3 in the goal relating to sustainable consumption and production.
To celebrate the adoption of the SDGs, Farming First supporters submitted stories from farmers around the world that they work with, who shared their hopes for what the SDGs would achieve, and how they intended to implement them. You can read the full stories on our “SDGs and Me” page.
Farming First would like to thank all its supporters that contributed to this award-winning campaign!