Monday, August 29, 2016

‘Role of food security to conflict prevention’

The role of food security and agriculture have an essential role to play in preventing conflicts and crises on the African continent, blunting their impacts and acting as engines for post-crisis recovery, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Mr. José Graziano da Silva gave this highlight in address to African leaders and international development actors in Nairobi, Kenya, at the foremost summits on African development.

"Ending hunger and malnutrition, addressing humanitarian and protracted crises, preventing and resolving conflicts, and building peace are not separate tasks, but simply different facets of the same challenge," Graziano da Silva said at a side-event on ‘Peace and Food Security', hosted by FAO, at the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI).

Graziano da Silva was among the high-level delegations who attended in the opening ceremony of TICAD VI, led by the President of the Republic of Kenya and the Prime Minister of Japan.

NaijaAgroNet also reports that the conference which brings together policy makers, UN agencies and financial institutions, among others aimed at promoting high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners and mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives.

The link between conflict prevention and development is of particular importance in the region, which is host to nearly 60 percent of active UN Peacekeeping Missions. And whilst armed conflicts across Africa as a whole have decreased in recent years, this trend has been uneven across the continent.

"Much of FAO's work aims at promoting sustainable development and building the resilience of rural populations," Graziano da Silva said, giving concrete examples of countries where agricultural support helped secure the transition from wars to sustainable peace, including Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"By supporting agriculture and rural development, we help create jobs, provide income and boost youth employment. This can help prevent distress migration and radicalization, as well as mitigate disputes over depleted resources," he said.

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Pix; FAO D-G, Mr. José Graziano da Silva

IFNA debuts @ TICAD 2016 to boost nutrition security in Africa


The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit ended in the city of Nairobi, Kenya at the weekend, with the launch of the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) to boost nutrition in Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The event which held at Sarova Panafric Hotel "Simba" on Saturday, August 27, 2016 was part of the sideline event for the two-day TICAD VI which took place at Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi, as part of the inaugural TICAD meeting in Africa since its inception in 1993 and launched by the Japan government.

IFNA, NaijaAgroNet gathered, is cohosted by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) on the background of the Malabo Declaration and Sustainable Development Goal 2 that aspires to end hunger and improve the nutrition status in the world and particularly in Africa under the Japan JICA is pleased to propose that a new framework be established, called "Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA)" to accelerate the international efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition on the African continent.

According to Shuto Megumi of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), IFNA emphasizes the importance of several specific values which focuses on facilitating people-centered and practical activities, through empowerment of women, as well as action-oriented policy enhancement, in order to achieve inclusive nutritional improvement with an impact.

Megumi also said IFNA underscores synergistic outcomes among multi-sectorial activities such as agriculture, health, education, and private sectors, stressing the importance of an evidence-based approach to support policymakers to make decisions based on proper monitoring and evaluation.
“It also emphasizes an appropriate coordination between short-term humanitarian interventions and mid-long-term development interventions in order to enhance sustainability and resilience of communities in the African region,” JICA official said.

While the objectives include serving as a new initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), at the same time, consider how international community can accelerate efforts to alleviate hunger and malnutrition on the African continent.

NaijaAgroNet further gathered that some of the lead speakers at the inauguration of IFNA include JICA president, Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Agency Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Dr. José Graziano da Silva, President of International Fund for Agricultural Development, Dr. Nwanze F. Kanayo, Assistant Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP) Ms. Elisabeth Rasmusson, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Dr. Omar Abdi, Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, and Director of Nutrition, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Shawn Baker among others.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ekweremadu condemns fresh heldsmen attack @Akagbwe...

Ekweremadu condemns fresh heldsmen attack @Akagbwe...: ITRealms : Following the early morning fresh attack at Akagwe-Ugwu community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, on...

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

UN warns of looming La Niña

The United Nations (UN) has warned of new phase of drought and flood known as La Nina in the Ethiopia’s region of Oromia and Somali, according to meteorological notice made available to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), reports NaijaAgroNet.

As said by exprts, a La Niña event is 55 per cent likely for October to November and will have two major impacts on Ethiopia: flooding in the dominantly highland areas and additional drought in the lowland livestock-dependent areas of Oromia and Somali regions. FAO is supporting the Government to prepare a contingency plan to address the upcoming needs.

FAO said that with resources available, the organization has already provided agricultural inputs to 127 000 households (635 000 people) in drought-affected regions including Amhara, Afar, Oromia, Tigray, Somali and SNNP.

“So far, nearly 3 700 metric tons of seed and 5.8  million potato cuttings have been delivered to affected communities. Additional vegetable and late season crop seed are being purchased and will be distributed between August and September 2016,” FAO said.

The agency also said it has provided critical support to livestock-owning families, provided livestock feed, fodder seed to rejuvenate pasture, and rehabilitated water points for livestock.

FAO says it has supported the government to vaccinate and treat some 1.4 million animals, decrying that large numbers of animals has been weakened by the drought and are exposed to diseases as the result of the recent floods.

The UN organization revealed its planning to expand the vaccinations and treatment campaigns.

In order to increase the coverage of both on farmers and livestock keepers affected by the drought and current floods, FAO says it requires $10 million by the end of September 2016.  

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Monday, August 22, 2016

LDRI director, Nyumba underscores importance of file extensions in open data

The importance of file extensions in open data has been underscored by the Nairobi-based Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), reports NaijaAgroNet.

This importance was brought to the fore by the co-founding director at LDRI, Mr. Stephen Nyumba in his recent presentation in Nairobi-Kenya, during a workshop for the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Journalists Network held at the Hilton Hotel, recently.

According to TechTerms Computer Dictionary, a file extension or ‘simply extension’ is the ending of a file that helps identify the type of file in operating systems such as Microsoft Windows. In Microsoft Windows, the file extension is a period that is often followed by three characters, but may also be one, two, or four characters long. For example, the filename "myfile.txt" has an extension of ".txt", which is a file extension associated with text files.

Nyumba in his paper entitled “Open Data for Agriculture: An Overview, the Concept and Application” stressed the imperative of file extensions in exploration of the open data contents.

The LDRI director also highlighted some kinds of file formats open data content come with, such as the Comma Separated Values (CSV), the XLS file which is a spreadsheet extension file created by Microsoft Excel, and assumed the most widely-used spreadsheet programme and comes in either XLS or XLSX.

NaijaAgroNet also gathered that XLSX file formats, are the extensions of Microsoft Excel versions created in 2007 and later.

Nyumba, equally said that open data comes as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, while DOC  an abbreviation of 'document') is a filename extension for Word Processing documents, most commonly Microsoft Word Binary File Format and have since been extended to even Word Perfect file format. Even as the DOCX file extension is a Microsoft Word Open XML Format Document file.

In addition, he highlighted that the Extensible Markup Language (XML) file formats do exist, while the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a lightweight data-interchange format.

Nyumba emphasized that datasets and Application Programming Interface (API) also come in XML which stands for Extensible Markup Language, pointing out that some of the extension file formats could sound like jargons, but it is crucial to know a little of some of these formats, mostly for media practitioners who stand in-between the data content and the populace who ought to understand the gist in the story, no matter how complicated the data may be or look.

He further said that LDRI focuses on supporting African Union (AU) member states in their efforts to end hunger, poverty and reduce inequality through data, even as with good datasets, good stories 

could emerge.

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Pix: Steve Nyumba

FAO warns of likely outbreak of crop, livestock diseases in Ethiopia

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Representative to Ethiopia, Amadou Allahoury, has warned that if the current floods in the country continues, it could lead to crop and livestock diseases, reports NaijaAgroNet.

"If floods worsen later this year, there could be outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases, further reducing agricultural productivity and complicating recovery,” Allahoury declared.

The situation, Allahoury said, is critical now and urged the world make sure that farmers will be able to plant between now and September and grow enough food to feed themselves and their families thus avoiding millions of people having to rely on food assistance for another year.

“Ethiopia needs urgent global support to respond to its humanitarian needs, we have no time to procrastinate," Allahoury said.

The FAO official described the meher season as Ethiopia's main agricultural season and produces up to 85 per cent of the nation's food supplies.

Also, Allahoury warned that if the farmers do not plant enough now, Ethiopia may face significant food shortages, which may further exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity in the country.

“To ensure the last remaining planting window of the year is met, an estimated $8.8 million is needed to provide root crop planting materials, legumes, vegetable and cereal seed to 530 000 households,” the representative said.

NaijaAgroNet reports that FAO estimated that households who lost small ruminants such as sheep may need at least two years to return to pre-drought levels, while cattle-owning households may need up to four years to recover. While animals that survived the recent drought are still weak and susceptible to diseases during the rainy periods; $36.2 million is required to undertake the necessary interventions to support 2.4 million livestock-dependent households or 12 million people.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

El Niño: Ethiopia needs $45m to scale over

Following the starvation caused by the El Nino in Ethiopia with this year's main planting season winding down, the country needs $45 million in agricultural support, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This was contained in the newly released Mid-Year Review of the Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) developed jointly by the Government of Ethiopia and UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and other development partners and made available to NaijaAgroNet, indicated that 900 000 additional households need urgent agricultural support bringing the total number to 2.9 million in August.

The review, NaijaAgroNet gathered also showed there is still a small window of opportunity in September for farmers to plant the last set of crops this year and grow food for millions facing hunger, provided the necessary support arrives on time.

In order to meet additional agricultural sector needs HRD reviewed stated will require $45 million bringing the total requirement for the agriculture sector to $91.3 million for 2016.

“The overall food security situation has improved only slightly, with the number of people requiring emergency food assistance having decreased from 10.2 million to 9.7 since the beginning of the year,” part of the report read.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that the El Niño-induced drought caused a wide-scale failure of crops and loss of livestock critical to the livelihoods of farmers and agropastoralists. Even as the drought is being followed by seasonal floods, which have already led to crop damage and the inundation of pastures and may be further exacerbated by a phenomenon called La Niña, expected from October onwards.
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Prioritise rural people in post-Ebola recovery plans - IFAD

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, has tasked the government and people of Sierra Leone and Liberia to prioritise rural people in the post-Ebola recovery plans, reports NaijaAgroNet.
IFAD president who was in the two West-African countries made this call during his visit to Sierra Leone (4-6 August) and in Liberia (6-8 August), where he met with presidents of both countries.
In Sierra Leone, Nwanze met President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance and Gender and the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone. While in Liberia he met President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Minister of Agriculture and project implementation partners.
For him, Ebola has had an enormous impact on the lives of rural people – many of whom are small-scale farmers who could not grow food or earn a living during the epidemic.
“If we do not channel our investments to the rural areas now, these farmers may have to migrate in search of work. This could compromise the future food security of these countries,” he said.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that discussions were focused on how IFAD could further support the two countries post-Ebola recovery plans, particularly in rural areas.
Over 11,310 people, NaijaAgroNet recalls died from the Ebola virus between 2014 and 2016 in the three affected countries, namely Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
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Pix: Nwanze and labourers tilling the land for recovery

Open data concept, application for agriculture according to Steve Nyumba


The co-founding director at the Local Development Research Institute (LDRI), Mr. Stephen Nyumba has offered some insights on how open data concept could be leveraged through application for the agriculture sector by African media, reports NaijaAgroNet.

Nyumba, in a presentation at the recently concluded week-long training for CAADP Journalists Network in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, dwelt on “Open Data for Agriculture” said that in being open connotes a lot for different people and media practitioners must ensure whatever definition they are using is seemingly holistic.

According to him, for a data to be open means that the “Open data and content can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.”

On the concept and application overview to agriculture, Mr. Nyumba pointed out that open data and content is very often provided by the publisher with “explicit permission allowing for it’s use, re-use, re-distribution or re-purposing with little or no restriction.”

He canvassed that before reuse, it is important for the user which in this case could be a media outlet or practitioner, who wants to tell his or her story differently with infographics to check if the potential content is open or restricted.

This, Nyumba said, could be achieved by way of looking critically at the license of the publication, which very often comes as Creative Commons, otherwise, he advised that the publisher be asked for permission or clarification, so as to eschew any kind of legal bottleneck afterwards.

As said by him, taking most of these precautions would afford the user and precisely media practitioners the opportunity to make informed assumptions, citing for instance, the Gro Intelligence produces which was provided under an open license.

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Pix: Mr. Stephen Nyumba

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

UN, Japan, Belgium, EU, CERF raise $4.9m for Northeast farmers return to land

The United Nations agency known as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has drummed fiscal support worth $4.9m, about N1,569,225,000 billion for its programme in northeast Nigeria, reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as FAO informed NaijaAgroNet that the fund so far was contributed from its internal special emergency fund alongside the Japan, Belgium, the European Commission (ECHO) and the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF).

The agency also said its currently targeting an additional 85,000 people with horticulture packages to prepare for the upcoming irrigated season.

FAO's Emergency and Response Manager in Nigeria, Mr. Tim Vaessen, lamented that by growing their own healthy and nutritious food would reduce need for future external food assistance.

“Families who have access to land and are ready to farm can harvest in six to eight weeks," Vaessen said.

FAO's activities in Nigeria, he said, remained constrained by a serious lack of funding, but pointed out that till-date, FAO has received just $ 4.9 million, of which almost 20 per cent came from FAO's own Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities.

Whereas, FAO's programme in northeast Nigeria is also funded by Japan, Belgium, the European Commission (ECHO) and the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF).

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