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Thursday, February 28, 2013

ECOWAS commissioner urges stakeholders on food sufficiency

The Principal Programme Officer for Agriculture and ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Ernest Aubee, has said that stakeholders must ensure that there is food sufficiency in the region, reports Pan Africa New Agency (PANA).
Speaking Tuesday at a two-day sub-regional council and board meeting in Banjul organised by the West African Network of Peasants and Producers Association (ROPPA) and the National Coordination Organization of Farmers Association in Gambia (NACOFAG) in collaboration with Aub-Rural, a sub-regional civil society organization, he said “stakeholders must ensure that the region moves from the region of food deficit to that of food surplus.”
The two-day meeting which opened on Monday was intended to renew commitment and reflect on the importance of policy connection on the ECOWAS Policy on Agriculture (ECOWAP) and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) programme and to hasten the implementation of actions at the regional level.
NaijaAgroNet gathered that Mr. Aubee also said that the challenges of food and nutrition security remained a top priority if countries were to achieve continental and global development commitments and targets such as the CAADP and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He further said, the complexity of the agricultural sector, compounded by issues of climate change, skewed terms of trade give rise to global economic imbalances and growing levels of inequality and poverty,.
He therefore, called for a more innovative and concerted approach to agricultural development in West Africa, stressing that “The ECOWAS Commission since 2003 has taken bold steps to put in place a holistic policy for the development of the agricultural and rural sectors of West Africa”.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

UNEP report tasks African leaders on air pollution

A new report compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released at the weekend, states that African leaders should carry out environmental and health issues at the top of their national and continent-wide policies if growing challenges such as air pollution, vector-borne diseases and chemical exposure are to be addressed in Africa.    
African Environment Outlook-3 (AEO-3) commissioned by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), places special focus on relations between environment and health, pointing to the fact that environmental risks contribute 28 per cent of Africa’s disease burden. Diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria report for 60 per cent of known environmental health impact in Africa.
The report also highlights the lack of capacity to deal with the growing effects of climate change; inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. The AEO-3 Summary for Policy Makers is planned to provide information that can assist AMCEN member countries strengthen ability for policy making and support on national, regional and global levels.
In particular, the air pollutant with great impact on human health is of great concern in poor rural areas, where little or no access to cleaner stoves and fuels causes significant health impacts through indoor pollution. Air pollution in Africa can be 10 to 30 times higher than World Health Organization limits.
UNEP Executive Director says that “Africa’s population is growing at the fastest rate in the world and its economy is expanding at a commensurate rate, yet not enough focus has been placed on the role environmental concerns play in ensuring the wellbeing of this expanding, dynamic continent’s citizens,”   
The report highlights emerging issues and assesses trends related to environmental change and the consequences for human health in the region, and proposes new policy directions for enabling transformative changes for a sustainable future. In addition, the report found that many good policies to address environmental change already exist but are hindered by weak implementation. However, the AEO-3 assessment points to a number of actions, which if adequately taken can make promising policies work effectively.


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Food security: Equatorial Guinea boosts new solidarity fund with N4, 7bn

With the donation of $30 million, about N4, 724,096,988 Equatorial Guinea has contributed to a new solidarity trust fund on the February 22, 2013 that aims to organize African financial resources in support of strengthening food security on the continent, reports India Education.

The first donation to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund was made official in a ceremony at the limits of the third Africa-South America Summit in Malabo, attended by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

Speaking at a meeting with the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Graziano da Silva said that before the signature of the donation agreement, “that the contribution was a sign of the country's commitment to eradicate hunger in Africa.”
NaijaAgroNet reports that Maria Helena Semedo (FAO Regional Representative in Africa), who signed the agreement on behalf of FAO, also said that the generous contribution by Equatorial Guinea will help transform political will to end hunger into concrete action.
She also invited other countries to follow this example and lend their financial support as well.
Further, NaijaAgroNet gathered that the goal of the new trust fund is to get resources from Africa's strongest economies and use them across the continent to support national and regional food security initiatives aimed at eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that the idea of the fund was launched during FAO's April 2012 regional conference held in the Republic of Congo, when the host President Denis Sassou Nguesso, called for greater solidarity between African nations to fight hunger.

Apart from Equatorial Guinea, other African countries like Angola have expressed their intention to contribute to the fund, as President José Eduardo dos Santos told Graziano da Silva when he visited Luanda in late January 2013.

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is intended to complement and not to replace development assistance from overseas donors.
At the onset, it will focus in particular on strengthening the flexibility of rural families and communities in the face of recurrent famine and other crises.
FAO regional representative also said that "We can end hunger in Africa if we work together under the leadership of African governments and regional institutions, learning from one another through South-South cooperation and other exchanges".
Semedo also explained that the effort should involve not only governments and international organizations like FAO, but also civil society, the private sector, academia and other partners.


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Agroforestry proffers solution to world hunger

Recently released guidelines to promote agroforestry shows the industry is proffering solution to the world hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), saying that this often neglected sector of agriculture combines forestry with agriculture is important to the food security and lives of millions of people in the world.
The FAO says agroforestry is an important source of local commodities, such as timber and fruit, and fodder for livestock, adding that with proper development, agroforestry could help solve hunger, land degradation and poverty.

Gerard Buttoud, professor of Forest policy at Tuscia University in Viterbo, Italy and also a key consultant to the FAO on developing the guidelines explained how agroforestry is a good system for improving production at the local level because it helps to arrange the agricultural production and the environmental benefits.
“It maximizes the production on the long run because it produces food under the trees. The trees are then used as means to sustain the land and the production. Also agroforestry is a very good system to adaptation to climate change because as a complex system it minimizes the risk,” he said.

Buttound said it is important to have a framework in which to promote agroforestry properly. He also provided insight into another use of agroforestry and he gave an example of a success story in Africa.
The Arabic gum in Sudan, for instance, he said, is known as the first category of parklands developed through strong demand from the market to have this kind of product. 
"This resulted into a development of agroforestry which was really productive even in terms of money in this part of Africa,” he said.

For the farmer, he said that the benefit comes from maintaining the soil so it could continuously produce crops for a long period of time.


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