Stories tagged: Self Help Africa

Ray Jordan: A New Forum for Agricultural Development


In this guest post, Self Help Africa CEO Ray Jordan explains the mission of a new body, The Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development, which launched last week in Ireland.

It was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who first coined the phrase that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

The expression was one that came to mind last week, at the launch of a new forum that aims to use the knowledge and learning of farming in Ireland to help to increase food production and end extreme hunger in poor regions of the world.

The Irish Forum for International Agricultural Development (IFIAD), which was launched in Dublin, brings together government ministries, state bodies, private business, agricultural research academics, farmers groups and others, including the country’s leading development organisations to lend our experience and know-how to the wider global challenge of producing food for the world’s growing population. Continue reading

#IamAg! Meet Mengistu Alemu, a Veterinary Technician from Ethiopia


This is the tenth post in our new series “I am Agriculture”, that showcases the many careers available to young people in agriculture. Today’s post comes from Mengistu Alemu, who is Veterinary Technician.

When I was a boy, I remember government workers from the Ministry of Agriculture coming to the village where I lived in the Northern Shoa District of Oromia on motorbikes to give technical support about farming methods. Coming from a family of farmers, I was impressed. I liked the work they did and I liked their motorbikes as well! At home we produced different crops, including barley, wheat and fava beans on our three acre farm, and also kept livestock – so I understood different aspects of farming. I was around cattle and different crops from a young age. I understood the work that was involved, and I also understood the challenges that farmers in Ethiopia faced. From an early age, I thought about a career in the farm advisory service.

Continue reading

Farming First & CGIAR Side Event at EU Development Days 2016

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15th June 2016, 4pm – 5.15pm

Room D5, Tour & Taxis

Brussels, Belgium

Join Farming First and CGIAR at our interactive session “Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals with Science” at the EU Development Days!

Our distinguished panel – moderated by BBC science & environment journalist Mark Kinver – will tell stories of science changing farmers’ lives Pecha Kucha style. Discussing 20 images for just 20 seconds each, our speakers will stimulate debate on how science can be harnessed to achieve many of the interlinked Sustainable Development Goals, including ending hunger, combatting climate change and empowering women.


Our Panel

Frank Rijsberman, CEO, CGIAR ConsortiumRijsberman2colorcropped

CGIAR is the largest agri-food research partnership in the world, made-up of 15 research centers with 10,000 staff in over 70 countries. Dr. Rijsberman leads the implementation of CGIAR’s vision through a portfolio of impact focused research programs dedicated to increasing food and nutrition security, reducing rural poverty, and protecting the environment.

I.Rae photoIsabella Rae, Head of Policy & Research, Self Help Africa

Dr. Rae has been working in the NGO sector for the past eight years, prior to which she worked with FAO, Bioversity International and WFP. She has experience in the design, elaboration and management of technical assistance projects, with particular emphasis on Central and Western Africa. She has published in areas of women rights, food security and governance, and the right to food.

Sona Ebai CroppedSona Ebai, Chief of Party, World Cocoa Foundation

Sona Ebai has spent the last 25 years in integrated rural regional development. Through his role at the World Cocoa Foundation/African Cocoa Initiative (WCF/ACI), he has been instrumental in fostering effective public and private sector models to support sustainable productivity and improved food security on diversified cocoa farms in West and Central Africa.

Kampmann, Willi - 3Willi Kampmann, Head of International Affairs, German Farmers’ Association (DBV)

Willi Kampmanm has worked with the German Farmers’ Association for 35 years and has headed the Brussels office since 2000, concentrating on European and international agricultural policy. He was responsible for creating the House of German Agriculture and Food Industry, together with  seven other German agricultural associations.

Our Moderator

160420 MKV colourMark Kinver, BBC Science & Environment Reporter

Mark Kinver has been reporting on science and environment issues for BBC News for ten years. As moderator for this event, Mark will help our panelists delve deeper into the issues raised, and let you have your say on the topics.



The European Development Days (EDD) are Europe’s leading forum on development and international cooperation. Organised by the European Commission, the forum brings the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Veneless Chimpesa: Why Agricultural Extension Matters

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Bahkita Mkwingwiri from Balaka District in Malawi works with Gorta-Self Help Africa as a village-based farm adviser to lead farmers in Bisani village. She and Gorta-Self Help Africa extension agent Veneless Chimpesa were amongst the recipients of a travel bursary to attend a ten-week training course at Shuttleworth Agricultural College in the UK this summer. Farming First interviewed them about their experiences in Malawi and the UK. 

Bakhita, what are you responsibilities as a lead farmer in Balaka district?

My role is to help and encourage my fellow farmers how we can improve our families, our community and Malawi as a nation. I share knowledge with them. I grow maize, cotton and pigeon pea, as well as horticulture products. I also encourage working in clubs. This is important because we share knowledge so that we all have enough food in our household. Continue reading

David Donoghue: Why Food Security and Agriculture is at Core of SDG Agenda

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As part of our ongoing series that explores the state of the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, Ray Jordan, CEO of Irish charity Gorta-Self Help Africa sat down with Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations, Ambassador David Donoghue, who is acting as co-facilitator in the negotiations. Continue reading

Establishing a route to climate resilience in northern Malawi


Self Help Africa has partnered with a number of international organisations to help close to 900,000 people in five of Malawi’s districts to adapt and mitigate the effects of changing climate.

The project entitled ‘Developing Innovative Solutions with Communities to Overcome Vulnerability through Enhanced Resilience’ (DISCOVER) will be implemented from 2011 – 2016 in the remote northern shores of Lake Malawi, in the Karonga District.

Karonga is isolated from much of the rest of the country, which has historically resulted in poor state agricultural support to the area. The area’s remoteness has contributed to poor knowledge and understanding of climate change and its causes while the necessary actions to improve coping mechanisms have been slow to filter down to household level.

Self Help Africa and its partners are working in collaboration with the local District Council of Karonga to establish a programme of action that will enable upwards of 60,000 people in the district to develop sustainable, entrepreneurial and innovative solutions to climate change variability.


The project is helping targeted communities to increase household incomes and diversify livelihoods, whilst also building the capacity of local communities to sustainably manage their natural resources.

By developing improved community-based extension, Self Help Africa and its local partners are confident that a broad range of  ‘climate-smart’ agricultural practices, approaches and technologies that are low-cost, readily-available and well-tested, can be put into place to support Karonga’s rural poor.

Voluntary community-based extension workers and a selection of lead farmers are at the centre of the project’s effort to implement training and knowledge at community level.

Encouraging farmers to optimize what they have – using manure from livestock as a crop fertilizer, and using crop residues as animal feed; or feeding left-overs from crops to fish and the sludge from fish farming as crop fertiliser – can significantly improve production at little added cost.


  • By project end, DISCOVER aims to have increased and diversified crop and livestock production
  • DISCOVER also aims to improve family diets in up to 40,000 households in the region.
  • In addition the aim is to get 60,000 using fuel-efficient stoves, tapping into global carbon financing and supporting the planting of over 10 million trees.
  • Over 18,000 people will have access to rural microfinance services for the first time, while thousands more will have received small business training.