ACWW Agriculture News
The Rush for Land
‘Land grabs’ have gained much attention in the last decade. These are purchases of big plots of land for commercial purposes, which have greatly intensified in the past few years. They are damaging because poor people in developing countries, where the bulk of foreign investment in agricultural land occurs, are being forced off their land. These deals are contributing to poverty rather than reducing it, as they focus on exporting agricultural products to wealthier countries. Most of this is for biofuels instead of food. Thus poor people are losing their homes, their livelihoods and their ability to feed their communities while governments, elites and corporations benefit.
ACWW is now a partner of the ‘Save Food – Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction’ of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Save Food involves awareness raising, collaboration, policy making and investment to reduce food waste. This is hugely important considering that 30-40% of all food produced is wasted, either because it never reaches consumers (due to transport, storage and other difficulties) or because it gets discarded before consumption. This has negative effects on food availability, the environment and farmer income.
Related Link: Global initiative on food loss and waste reduction
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Transforming lives through improved access to agricultural education in Africa
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development is a UK cross-party group that explores agriculture, nutrition and food security in developing countries. On 19th March 2013 it held a seminar titled ‘Transforming lives through improved access to agricultural education in Africa’.
Under discussion were the benefits to African farmers of open educational resources (OERs), which are teaching and learning documents that are freely available for everyone to use. The OERs developed by the Open University and Natural Resources Institute contain generic content that can be customised. The materials are designed to be flexible and accessible even to those without technology. The aim is to make them available to the traditionally disadvantaged, including women, youth and people in challenging educational settings. These OERs can cover basic business topics like accounting as well as specific agricultural matters like value chains.
Common themes that emerged from the discussion were:
- Partnerships (with academics, governments, NGOs, the private sector, etc.) are key to OERs for African agriculture.
- Content should be developed with local experts.
- Materials should be a combination of global and local, so that they can be used widely and adapted.
OERs can be used alongside or instead of a more traditional form of spreading farming information in rural areas: agricultural extension workers. A Zimbabwean researcher spoke of his childhood wonder at his village’s extension worker. This ‘man on the motorbike’, as everyone had called him, had impressed the boy with his vast knowledge and tendency to pop up at nearly every local gathering.
Extension workers are thus very valuable as they are embedded in local communities. But the speakers noted the changing roles of these workers, due largely to the possibilities presented by mobile technologies. Whether information is delivered by print, radio, mobile phone or computer, increased education increases the money farmers make as well as the food they produce. OERs can be hugely useful to rural areas in this regard.
International World Water Day 2013
The Secretary General
22 March 2013
Message on World Water Day
On the 20th anniversary of World Water Day, declared by the UN General Assembly, more than 780 million people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water and 2.5 billion people are without improved sanitation.
ACWW Launches Agriculture Campaign
About the Campaign
Resolution 114, passed at the 2010 ACWW Triennial Conference in Hot Springs, calls for the retention of arable land for food production. One of the Agriculture Committee’s objectives for the current triennium is to promote this resolution. Therefore it has initiated the campaign ‘Grow Locally, Benefit Globally’.
The campaign’s mission statement is:
In light of the loss of arable land for production to mining, building of infrastructure and biofuels, leading to a world food shortage, ACWW encourage families to utilise their own vegetable gardens.
The Benefits of Vegetable Gardens
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes the following benefits of vegetable gardens:
- Environment. Gardens can help to conserve water and reduce waste. (This is particularly true of home gardens, which are usually organically managed.)
- Food security. Gardens lessen the impact of food price increases.
- Income. Even very small-scale gardening can be profitable, especially in rural areas. Much of the income gained from home gardens is spent in the community.
- Inclusiveness. Gardens provide opportunities for disabled, elderly, poor and young people alike to participate in safe and productive activities.
- Nutrition. Gardens provide the most affordable and accessible sources of vitamins and nutrients.
- Women’s empowerment. Gardens increase women’s involvement in independent economic activity. And when women manage gardens, more produce is eaten by women and children.
|© FAO 2006 'School Gardens' http://www.fao.org/schoolgarden/
|© FAO]  ['Photo gallery: Caracas embraces city gardening' http://www.fao.org/english/newsroom/field/Caracas_photo_gallery/caracas4.htm|
|© FAO/David Boerma. http://www.flickr.com/photos/giahs/7739972938/|
Get Involved: What You Can Do
- Encourage educational authorities to incorporate gardening into school curricula. For example: Lesley Young of the Agriculture Committee has reported (January- March 2013 issue of The Countrywoman) on the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program in Australia, which is funded by national and state governments and teaches schoolchildren how to grow, harvest, prepare and share food (http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/).
- Encourage local governments and community authorities to make unused land available for vegetable gardens and markets. For example: In the UK, the Space for Food Growing Guide, also known as the ‘Spot a Plot’ scheme, suggests ways for individuals and communities to request the use of vacant land for growing food. Visit: (http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/foodgrowingguide).
- Encourage community centres and libraries to add gardening tools to their collections. For example: The US has many tool lending libraries. And organisations like Share Starter provide guides for people to start their own tool lending libraries. But these “libraries” don’t have to be formal affairs; you could simply start a list of gardening resources that the people in your community are willing to share (http://sharestarter.org/).
- Start a vegetable garden in your yard, school or community. For example: Rooftop gardens in a Palestinian refugee camp and kitchen gardens in a Haitian tent camp have been valuable in improving income and employment, and show that gardens can be started anywhere. If they can do it, so can you!
Links to Gardening Manuals
Market gardens: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/011/i0526e/i0526e.pdf
Mixed vegetable gardens: http://www.permaculture.org.uk/sites/default/files/page/document/MixedVegGarden_A4_colourbooklet.pdf
School gardens: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/a0218e/a0218e.pdf
Slow Food Gardens: http://www.fondazioneslowfood.it/pagine/eng/orti/pagina.lasso?-id_pg=33
|We’d love to hear about your activities!|
Agriculture- Water & Gender
& Agriculture Committee Chairman
Water management is a worldwide concern; every human has the right to clean water. To think beyond the tap is almost impossible for those living in cities and areas in developed countries, where service providers manage water under strong policies. It is important to note that in agriculture, water is vital, especially in farming. Water and gender do not seem to have anything in common, yet it can be a major stumbling block for prosperity and development. In aid of discussing water and gender, farming should be looked at from a different angle. According to Dr Barbara van Koppen, a leading Rural Sociologist and Gender Expert from the International Water Management Institute, farming takes place in four major patterns.
The four patterns of farming are:
Male farmers – where the men are the decision makers, mainly in developed countries
Female farmers – where women farm as individuals and are the decision makers, mainly in developing countries
Separate farming system – although the farming takes place on the same land, it is two separate businesses, where the male and female each has their own production portion
Joint farming system – male and female work together, sharing decision making processes, with a joint share of the income
Water usage is one of the main decisions farmers need to make. The safety aspect of water for human consumption is a priority. The household also needs water for sanitation, cleaning and cooking of food.
On the farm, water is needed for making bricks, planting crops and for drinking water for livestock. Conflict can arise if the water needs for the household are overlooked. For example, for most women, collecting water could be just another of the many household chores. On the other hand, a female farmer might want to irrigate land and this can be seen as unnecessary by men.
Women should have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities in economic, social, cultural and political aspects of water development and management. The balance between use of water for humans on the one hand, and agricultural needs on the other, should be clearly formulated.
Keeping the mentioned, non academic patterns of farming in mind, conflict regarding gender and water in agriculture could be minimised. Women in agriculture are as valuable to food production as men.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has calculated that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, their increased yields could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by an estimated 2.5 – 4 percent, which could reduce the total number of hungry people by 12 – 17 percent and contributing to improve family nutrition and health.
2013-The International Year of Quinoa
The UN General Assembly has declared that 2013 will be the International Year of Quinoa. A variety of activities relating to this grain-like seed have been planned by the Food and Agriculture Organization and other bodies, including conferences, festivals, publications and even a cookbook. These agencies will also be examining the role of quinoa in developing the livelihoods of farming communities while ensuring that its cultivation remains sustainable, as it has been among Andean indigenous people for thousands of years.
Quinoa has many benefits:
• Economic – Quinoa doesn’t require lots of resources to grow. As it does well in extremely varied climates, its production can be expanded to many countries.
• Environmental – Production is mainly organic and quinoa has high genetic variability. Quinoa cultivation tends to have a low environmental impact, as it is very water and soil efficient.
• Nutritional – Quinoa is the only plant food that contains all essential amino acids (and it’s also gluten-free). Its high protein, vitamin, mineral and fibre content make it especially beneficial in areas where malnutrition is common due to low protein intake.
Given all these advantages, NASA is even considering having quinoa grown on long-term space missions in the future. What you can do: buy fairly traded quinoa and encourage markets to stock it. Quinoa is mostly available in its grain-like packaged form, and can be cooked similarly to rice. In addition quinoa products – such as quinoa flakes, quinoa flour and quinoa bars – are becoming more and more popular outside of South America.
By consuming quinoa you’ll be supporting smallholder, typically family-based, farming; contributing to biodiversity; and doing your health a favour as well. If you’d like to share your own quinoa recipes, please contact ACWW Central Office so we can add them to the website!
FAO & Bioversity International, Celebrating the International Year of Quinoa: A Future Sown Thousands of Years Ago, 2012, http://aiq2013.org/fileadmin/templates/aiq2013/content/res/en/concept_note.pdf
FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Quinoa: An ancient crop to contribute to food security, 2011, http://www.fao.org/alc/file/media/pubs/2011/cultivo_quinua_en.pdf
Agriculture- Grow your own Veg
Please click below and follow the instructions to grow your own vegetables
World Water Day- 22 March 2012
The Secretary -General Message
Over the coming decades, feeding a growing global population and ensuring food and nutrition security for all will depend on increasing food production. This, in turn, means ensuring the sustainable use of our most critical finite resource – water.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day is water and food security. Agriculture is by far the main user of freshwater. Unless we increase our capacity to use water wisely in agriculture, we will fail to end hunger and we will open the door to a range of other ills including drought, famine and political instability.
In many parts of the world, water scarcity is increasing and rates of growth in agricultural production have been slowing. At the same time, climate change is exacerbating risk and unpredictability for farmers, especially for poor farmers in low-income countries who are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt.
These interlinked challenges are increasing competition between communities and countries for scarce water resources, aggravating old security dilemmas, creating new ones and hampering the achievement of the fundamental human rights to food, water and sanitation. With nearly 1 billion people hungry and some 800 million still lacking a safe supply of freshwater, there is much we must do to strengthen the foundations of local, national and global stability.
Guaranteeing sustainable food and water security for all will require the full engagement of all sectors and actors. It will entail transferring appropriate water technologies, empowering small food producers and conserving essential ecosystem services. It will require policies that promote water rights for all, stronger regulatory capacity and gender equality. Investments in water infrastructure, rural development and water resource management will be essential.
We should all be encouraged by the renewed political interest in food security, as evidenced by the high priority given to this issue by the agendas of the G8 and G20, the emphasis on the nexus of food, water and energy in the report of my Global Sustainability Panel, and the growing number of countries pledging to scale up Nutrition.
On this World Water Day, I urge all partners to fully use the opportunity provided by the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. In Rio, we need to connect the dots between water security and food and nutrition security in the context of a green economy. Water will play a central role in creating the future we want.
Help spread our work with an ACWW Shopping Bag
The green and white shopping bag pictured above, was beautifully designed by Cornelia Gaspar from South Africa. Cornelia, who is a member of ACWW’s Agriculture Committee, designed the shopping bag to promote ACWW’s work. Please help spread our work by making the shopping bag for yourselves and using it whenever you can.
You will need:
Cut the green material:
-2 x 8cm (3˝) x 50cm (20˝) this is the two handles. Fold lengthwise and stitch near the edge. Turn the inside out and stitch near the edge on both sides.
Fold the big piece in half with the triangles on top of each other. Stitch the two open sides. Turn around. Hem the top – and sew on the handles.
Thread a cord through the slot on both sides and a secure through a throttle fastener so that you can tighten the cord.
Widows and Orphans Welfare Society of Tanzania (WOWESOT)
Nyamirama Widows Horticulture P/N 081
The main beneficiaries of the project are 41 widows, 5 men and 13 children, who live in rural villages, surrounded by land, but had no knowledge how to cultivate it. The project has enabled the widows to train on and learn agricultural skills which they are already putting into practice; they are growing crops and vegetables in the plots of land with which they feed the family, and sell the surplus produce to generate income.