Stories tagged: IFAP

Soil Degradation in the Seychelles

The main threat the Seychelles islands face is desertification and further soil degradation during heavy rainfall. As a small and yet geographically diverse island, the Seychelles consists of many extremely vulnerable ecosystems. Climate change has led to coastal erosion, flooding and more frequent and intense tropical storms, which has resulted in a shortage of arable land – a threat to national food production and hence to national food security. The Seychelles Farmers Association run an initiative to sustain their national agricultural production against these extreme weather patterns through the adoption of three technology packages:

  1. Tropical greenhouse technology
  2. Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  3. Use of low volume irrigation water applicators.

Two main types of greenhouse are available according to the terrain; one for the coastal plains and the other for the upland slopes. An effective irrigation using a low volume water applicator combined with a fertigation system, which combines irrigation with fertilizer application, minimises water use but also allows for water and fertilizer to be applied more specifically and more efficiently.

This promotion of greenhouses has proven a viable and successful system to allow producers in the Seychelles to preserve their agricultural production in the battle against climate change.

For further information, visit http://www.env.gov.sc/ or http://www.sidsnet.org/aosis/

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

Farmer Workshops in Ghana to Fight Forest & Land Degradation

The wealth of Ghana’s natural resources plays a significant role in its economy through farming, fishing, forestry and mining. However, a history of overexploitation and mismanagement of these resources combined with lack of environmental information undermines the sustainable development of the country.

Estimates put the costs of environmental degradation in Ghana at nearly 10 per cent of the GDP. Over the past 50 years, Ghana’s primary rainforest has been reduced by 90% and currently it loses about 2% of its forest cover annually, with only 4% of the trees cut being replaced. Bushfires, fuel wood collection, logging, agriculture and mining are considered the direct causes of forest losses.

Additionally, the current weather conditions in Ghana, such as the shift of the rainy season and the variability of rainfalls, reflect the impacts of climate change and seriously undermine food production and food security if suitable measures are not taken swiftly.

The Farmers Organisation Network in Ghana (FONG) has initiated annual tree planting events for farmers, with a particular focus on women farmers who represent 80% of Ghana’s female population. In prioritising women, the campaign reflects the essential role of women farmers in natural resources conservation and food security.

The Tree Planting Campaign involves:

  • Training in the uses and relevance of agro-forestry trees
  • Workshops on seed treatment, nursery management, maintenance of sustainable trees and agro-forestry technologies, such as alley cropping and windbreaks.
  • Distribution of seedlings

The campaign has increased farmers’ awareness of the need to protect forest resources in agriculture and have provided valuable tips on sustainable farming practices such as efficient use of agrochemicals.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

IFAD Session Discusses Climate Change, Food Security and Smallholder Agriculture

Recent commitments of financial resources to boost agriculture and food security made by the international community in various forums indicate that there is scope for optimism in feeding the future population. Yet how to implement these programmes successfully is still up for debate.

Such were the discussions at a high-level panel discussion, ‘From summit resolutions to farmers’ fields: Climate change, food security and smallholder agriculture’, held in conjunction with the Governing Council of the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD).

A group of expert panellists, including Farming First spokesperson Ajay Vashee from IFAP,  discussed how to form recent summit declarations into reality, by addressing various challenges, as follows. The proceedings of the panel session are summarised in the report.

How can better market conditions be created to promote private investment in smallholder agriculture?

Lack of access to reliable and stable markets, inputs, credits and agricultural tools and services, along with price volatilities, market uncertainties and unpredictable weather patterns were identified are the main challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Yet in several countries smallholders have benefitted from increased prices but only when policy and connectivity to markets have allowed farmers to sell at higher prices.

What specific role can governments play in creating better conditions for investment in smallholder agriculture and rural development, in particular through the provision of public goods and the implementation of supportive policies?

Investments in agricultural research and extension, rural roads, education, health care, irrigation, power supply facilities and other public goods are fundamental for agricultural development and must be supported by effective support to develop value chains that benefit farmers.

Public policies can make a difference by creating the necessary conditions for the development of smallholder farming, for example in Malawi, where the “smart” subsidy investment of about US$258 million in around 2 million farm households during 2005 to 2008 contributed to a incremental maize production and subsequently reduced the proportion of people living in poverty from 50% to 40%, in just two years.

Policies must be put into place to support smallholder farmers’ ability to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, whilst using the knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities.

What can be done to ensure that smallholder farmers are fairly positioned in a process where competition for scarce agricultural resources – particularly land and water – is on the increase? What role could farmers’ organizations play and how can they be effectively supported?

The establishment of independent farmer- and producer-managed cooperatives and associations is enabling millions of smallholder farmers not only to acquire better skills and technology and access to credit, but also to improve water management, quality control, storage, trading and marketing. These associations also facilitate the exchange of market information and increase the participation of smallholder farmers at different levels of the food and agricultural value chain.

Supporting Farmers’ Organisations in Kenya to Empower Smallholder Farmers

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Edward Kateyia – IFAP/Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers

Empowering smallholder farmers in markets (ESFIM) is a programme covering 11 developing countries set up by IFAP, ECART, IFAD, Agricord, CTA and various local researchers in Kenya. The project’s overall objective is to generate demand-driven action research support to the policy activities undertaken by farmers’ organisations. By creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment as well as economic organisations and institutions, the initiative works to empower farmers to generate remunerative cash income from markets.

Promoting collaborative research, the study gave research support to nine national farmers’ organisations to help them produce a set of propositions that would help them voice their research requirements more effectively and help to initiate partnerships amongst research groups for executing their various activities.

A second phase of activities involved supporting farmers’ organisations with information to strengthen their research capabilities and access to knowledge. Through this, farmers’ organisations have an improved and increased capacity to collect, organise and exchange experiences, knowledge and information within an international network of researchers.

Climate Change Mitigation Strategies in Gabon Help to Preserve National Crop

Gabon is known for its forest that covers 85% of the country, or 22 million hectares. Only 5% of the land is used for agriculture, and subsistence farming dominates the sector.  The principle crop grown by the farmers is manioc, or cassava root, which is an essential source of iron and vitamins for the population. The best quality manioc is grown in deep and rich soils that are well drained. Heavy rainfalls mean, however, that the ground becomes waterlogged and disease spreads easily amongst the crops.

A case study by IFAP shows how strategies have been put into place to safeguard the manioc crops from the higher temperatures and heavy rains brought on by climate change.

In order to preserve the most beneficial varieties, both economically and ecologically, agricultural researchers identified the local varieties that were best adapted to climate changes, and then helped to promote the most effective farming techniques amongst the farmers to increase productivity.

On a national level, policies are being put in place to establish agroforestry projects in rural areas to increase soil fertility as well as to invest and improve their weather stations to observe changes in the climate. Agricultural organisations are also training farmers in the techniques needed to restore soils.

Through an integrated approach to improving agricultural practices and resources, farmers in Gabon are becoming increasingly able to cope with unpredictable weather patterns and safeguard an important source of nutrients for the Gabonese people.

Farming First’s Climate Call to Action Featured in The Guardian

Picture 3Appearing today on The Guardian’s Katine Chronicles blog is a post about Farming First’s call for better support for farmers on the frontline of climate change to world leaders meeting in Copenhagen next month.

In the post, David King, secretary general of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), a Farming First supporter organisation, is quoted:

If we don’t give farmers practical help to make their full contribution to fighting climate change, we will fail in Copenhagen. This is why Farming First wants world leaders to create a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture to help farmers get the financial support they need to deal with the threats of climate change which they, more than any other group of people, are already struggling with.

The article goes on to discuss how agriculture has been largely ignored by the international community.

For more than two decades agriculture has been largely ignored by the international community, with health and education taking centre stage in discussions on development. But, as the affects of climate change become all too obvious, with erratic weather patterns destroying crops and livelihoods … farming is slowly being drawn back into the spotlight.

The post also points to Farming First’s six principles. Nora Ourabah Haddad, senior policy officer at the IFAP, is quoted as well:

Haddad believes farmers can adapt and mitigate climate change through sustainable practices and decrease greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, such as through better water management and the production of renewable energies, such as biogas.

A Farming First video of Nora Ourabah Haddad also featured: