Category: People, Places & Cultures

More cassava for less time

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Aeroponic-cassava_resized

Aeroponics involves growing the cassava with its roots suspended in air and automatically sprayed with a special solution. Photo by: Neil Palmer / CIAT


By  | Apr 5, 2018


Cassava has a relatively long growth cycle compared to other important crops. It takes an average of 10-12 months — sometimes up to 24 months! — for farmers to harvest the roots; maize, rice, and potato’s growth cycles span less than a third of that.

In other words, farmers can grow cassava at most once a year, or, in some cases, every two years. Dr. Michael Gomez Selvaraj, a CIAT crop physiologist, is working to change that.

There is very little understanding of how and why few roots in cassava turn into organs that store starch, the part of the crop most valued by rural communities and industry.

Together with his colleagues at the CIAT Phenomics Platform, Selvaraj is developing a method that will lead to identifying the genes and factors that cause early bulking of roots. This will help them establish how to shorten the growth cycle of cassava to as little as seven months.

In addition, the technique will help identify the genes and factors that can increase the number of storage roots, so farmers can sell more of these in the market.

A novel technique

The method being tested by Selvaraj and his team involves growing the cassava with its roots suspended in air and automatically sprayed with a special solution.

Known as aeroponics, it offers a controlled environment for breeders to identify the genes that trigger early bulking of roots and the conversion of fibrous roots — which are all what the cassava initially has — to storage roots.

In the past, breeders would need to dig up the root from the soil to study the genetic traits of cassava. But it was difficult to isolate genes as the plant interacted with numerous elements in and around the soil, such as insects, fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms.

With aeroponics, breeders can see how and when some roots start to swell and become starch storage organs. Root swelling is the crucial step toward cassava yield. As such, if breeders can learn to manipulate the genes that induce this swelling, they can manipulate cassava yield.

Apart from locating which gene triggers early root bulking, Selvaraj and his team want to know at which point such a gene does this and why the plant selects certain fibrous roots to become storage roots. Temperature and certain types of hormones could be factors, Selvaraj suggested.

With that, breeders will be able to trigger the process of bulking of roots at the earliest possible time and of increasing the number of storage roots the plant develops.

In the future as such, a cassava variety whose roots start bulking at the fourth month and that only has at most 10 storage roots might have roots that would begin bulking from the second month and have 20 storage roots.

“If we can double the storage roots, farmers will have an equivalent of two harvests in one growing season,” said Selvaraj.

Next steps

Selvaraj aims to follow up his experiment with trials to test how the cassava would perform in the field. And he plans to do this again without having to dig up the root from the soil.

One part of the trials will involve the use of the so-called ground-penetrating radar technology or GPR.

GPR can detect objects underneath the surface. It has numerous applications in several fields such as engineering, military, and archeology.

“But this is the first time that the technology will be used on plants,” according to Selvaraj.

GPR can validate whether the roots of cassava are bulking early as expected. A study found it to be a suitable technology to predict and estimate storage root growth of cassava.

Another part of the future trials will entail using drones to see how the crop is performing depending on the type of soil and level of nutrients. Knowledge of the proper timing for fertilizing cassava is still limited, and drones can provide valuable information on this.

For instance, if the amount of nitrogen is low, the plant will likely be short. But with the right amount of nutrients, the plant will likely grow tall.

For farmers, the taller the cassava plant, the better. This means they have more planting materials for the next growing season, as farmers only need stem cuttings to propagate the crop.

“With the combination of all these innovative technologies, we are hopeful that one day farmers can produce more cassava in less time,” Michael Selvaraj said. “More importantly, this allows them to earn more and have more to feed their families.”

***

Additional information:

The project titled “Low-cost 3D Phenotyping of Cassava Roots” is funded by the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is a partnership between CIAT and the University of Nottingham’s Computer Vision Laboratory.

The use of GPR by the Phenomics Platform is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and forms part of the partnership between CIAT, Texas A&M University, and IDS North America Ltd.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CIAT and retrieved on 04/09/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM, Inc. accordingly.


 

US-Based NGO Commit to Transforming Education in Liberia

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Source: Front Page Africa Online, 2018


By Jackson F. Kanneh | March 19, 2018|Front Page Africa Online


Klay District Bomi County – The CEO and founder of US-based educational NGO More Than ME (MTM) says her organization’s priority in Liberia is to help the government improve the education sector of the country.

Katie Meyler made the pronouncement Thursday, March 15 at a quizzing competition organized by MTM in Golodee town, Bomi County.

“More Than Me wants to transform the entire primary education of the country. We are going to work with the Ministry of Education to strengthen the educational system from the foundation so that the people and the economy will be strong,” Meyler said.

“These children that we are bringing up will be the future of Liberia. So, More Than Me in partnership with the government of Liberia is calling on our community leaders and school administrators to work together to make a stronger Liberia.”

Madam Meyler also called on parents to encourage teachers to be on campus every day, adding that the work of teachers is difficult; therefore, parents must regularly remind and encourage them about its importance.

“Because when they are coming to school every day, it means our children, the future leaders of this country, will be learning something every day which is good for this country,” she said.

Alexander Duopu, Deputy Education Minister for Instruction, lauded MTM for its impact on the school system while calling on parents to provide their children with the necessary school materials.

“Our parents need to give the children the support they need because our children are our future leaders, so we should support them with the education they need,” Duopu said.

He said the Ministry of Education under the CDC led government will seek legislation for the establishment of an academic crime court for the handling of academic issues.

“When a student leaves another school and come to your school, you as principal must go and check behind that student before admitting them in your institution,” he said.

“This is why we are going to have legislation for us to have an academic crime court in this country – a court that will hold teachers, principals and parents accountable for academic crime.”

Seo Davies, Bomi County Education Officer, praised MTM for organizing the Quizzing competition in the county.

He also called on the NGO to collaborate with local authority of the Ministry of Education in the county to improve the sector.

At the end of the program, the six participating schools were all presented with school materials by MTM while special awards were given to the first, second and third winners respectively.

The Education Time Quizzing competition, which was contested by six schools from Montserrado and Bomi counties attracted vast numbers of residents from Golodee and the surrounding towns.

In the grand final of the competition, More Than Me Academy, the parent school of the NGO located on Ashmun Street in Monrovia, defeated Moore Town public school of Bomi county 80 to 40 points.


Article Disclaimer


This article originally appeared on Front Page Africa Online and was retrieved on 03/21/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

Meeting on Liberia: Peacebuilding Commission Ambassadorial Level meeting on Liberia

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UNDP-Liberia 2018

The people of Liberia have demonstrated resilience and readiness for democratic progress and a resolve to move forward on a path of development. Credit: UNDP.

 


By Achim Steiner | UNDP Administrator | March 13, 2018 |


As prepared for delivery.

At a time of much upheaval in the world, it is a distinct pleasure to meet here today to acknowledge Liberia’s impressive progress and discuss the path forward as the country enters the next phase of its development. While the era of peacekeeping will come to a successful close at the end of this month, long-term success demands sustained focus. Liberia’s partners cannot afford not to invest in Liberia’s future. There are far too many examples of reversal of peace and development at moments such as this to ignore the risks, as we all heard last week from the Secretary-General during his remarks to the General Assembly on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace.  Our support to sustainable development going forward must focus carefully on issues that will secure the peace.

The people of Liberia have already taken the first step in sustaining peace through a successful election and a seamless transition. They have demonstrated resilience and readiness for democratic progress and a resolve to move forward on a path of development. Liberia’s endowment of national resource constitutes an important opportunity if well-managed to promote the aspirations of the people. While the recent achievements deserve to be celebrated the road ahead for Liberia is marked by challenges. The country faces significant economic constraints brought about by the global slump in commodity prices, a narrowing fiscal space and a slow recovery from the Ebola crisis.  Challenges concerning national reconciliation, human rights, rule of law, marginalization of the periphery and basic governance capacity also remains.

The outcome of the election shows that the people of Liberia stand behind a pro-poor vision founded on a decentralized, people-centered approach seeking to narrow the gap between rich and poor and fight corruption. The formulation of the National Development Agenda for 2018-2024 offers a great opportunity to build on the President’s vision and fully incorporate the SDGs with an emphasis on education, health, gender equality and an inclusive economy focusing on jobs especially for women and youth as well as address the key elements of the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan.

The UN Country Team, of course, remains in Liberia after UNMIL’s departure and will spearhead the Secretary-General’s concept of a new generation of Country Teams tailored to national priorities and ensuring the continued availability of UN expertise to the country in critical areas. It will naturally be a reduced UN footprint compared to the peacekeeping era but the Secretary-General has requested a strengthened Resident Coordinator’s Office and the establishment of a Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Liberia to ensure our strong, coherent and coordinated support to the country’s efforts in implementing its vision and achieving the SDGs which will ultimately lead to sustained peace for the people of Liberia. While the MPTF will initially be based on the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and informed by the priorities of the peacebuilding plan, it will ultimately be one of the principle mechanisms in implementing the next national development plan and achieving the SDGs.  The MPTF will ensure that strategic seed funding for priorities is available for both government institutions and UN Agencies. that not only includes sustained financial support but also ensures a coordinated and coherent approach to achieving peace.

We cannot expect the government of Liberia to meet the broad and demanding challenges they face without our continued support. In this regard, I would like to thank the Peacebuilding Configuration for their continued support to the government of Liberia and the United Nation during the transition period.  The new Government will continue requiring the direct support from the Peacebuilding Configuration and all international partners.  The “Liberia Moment” on 23 of March presents an important opportunity for the Government, the PBC, and development partners to jointly kickstart the formulation of a Framework of Engagement, that will define the collaboration between the Government of Liberia, the UN and the international community in meeting their obligations with respect to sustaining peace agenda and meeting the SDGs.


 

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This article originally appeared on UNDP and was retrieved on 03/19/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

Innovative wood and furniture testing centre opens in Ghana

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By Juan Pablo Davila | UNIDO | 6 FEB  2018|


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UNIDO-Ghana 2018


ACCRA, 6 February – An innovative, new wood and furniture testing centre in Ghana was officially commissioned today by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with support from the Government of Switzerland through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Located at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), in Fumesua in the Ashanti Region, the Centre will ensure trade facilitation and support the Government’s efforts in promoting industrialization across all sectors.

The Wood and Furniture Testing Centre (WFTC) is the first of its kind in the West African sub-region and the third in Africa, following Egypt and South Africa, allowing Ghanaian and imported wood and furniture products to be tested to ensure they meet the required trade standards for consumer use and protection. Entrepreneurs in the wood industry will now be able to conduct tests to determine the strength of the materials used in producing wood products, including the bonding quality of plywood, and the durability, stability and strength of tables and chairs. These tests determine the lifespan of wooden products and their ability to perform the functions for which they are designed, and will help to ensure durable wood products in the Ghanaian and global market. The UNIDO Country Representative to Ghana, Fakhruddin Azizi noted that “The UNIDO-SECO partnership has given fruitful results in Ghana and the TCB Programme is truly a flagship example of confidence and trust between strategic partners.”

He encouraged CSIR – FORIG to effectively manage this wood and furniture facility to achieve sustainability and ensure that it creates positive lasting impact for the wood and furniture sector in Ghana and in the global market place.

Daniel Lauchenauer, representing the Embassy of Switzerland in Ghana, emphasized the important contribution the new centre can make towards the enhanced international competitiveness of Ghana’s wood and furniture sector and with this, to a much needed increased diversification of the economy, in line with the objectives of the government of Ghana.

“It is my hope that our support to CSIR – FORIG has a much greater impact and leverages existing government strategies such as the One District, One Factory (1D1F) to go a long way in supporting the wood and furniture industry in Ghana effectively,” added Azizi.

For further information, please contact:

Juan Pablo Davila, Project Manager

UNIDO’s Trade, Investment and Innovation Department (TII)

UNIDO Trade Capacity Building Programme for Ghana

Email

For the full image gallery, please see here



Article Disclaimer


This article originally appeared on UNIDO and was retrieved on 02/19/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

Community nursery offers means for economic empowerment of women farmers

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By SUGANDHA MUNSHI | Specialist on Gender Issues | IRRI


 

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Source: IRRI 2017

Women-focused intervention plays a pivotal role in IRRI’s work with farmers. With the climate changing, innovation that results in better management practices for farmers is essential. This becomes more crucial, though, when it comes to smallholder marginal women farmers in rice production.

Under the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project, a focused intervention has been taking place in Bihar, India, under four themes: identity, knowledge bank, leadership, and economic benefits.

At Muzzafarpur District in Bihar, Kisan Sakhi’, or a group of women farmers, is the identity with which hundreds of women farmers associate themselves.

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Community nursery women/

At the grassroots level, in the districts of the Muzzafarpur block, we found the women in agriculture to be smallholder and marginal farmers. Working with a women’s self-help group as well as with individual farmers, we observed a shift in their perception, attitude, and behavior, in varying degrees.

Majorly at the grassroots of India, a woman is generally recognized as the wife of a certain farmer rather than as a farmer herself. In a society deeply entrenched in social and structural barriers that decide the role of a woman in defined often ‘watertight’ compartments, women like Sumitra Devi, Guddi Devi, and other members of the farmer self-help group we worked with have planted the seeds of a paradigm shift in grassroots agriculture in India.

A community nursery set up by Sumitra and Guddi with other women farmers from the villages in Bandra created an environment where smallholder women farmers are slowly but continually moving ahead toward becoming progressive farmers. The opportunity to sell seedlings to fellow farmers in the village also upsets in a positive way a domain traditionally run by males.

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Kisan Sakhiwith her rice nursery./IRRI

“Having learned techniques for developing a good-quality nursery, I have been able to contribute to the income of my household. Being a woman able to do that makes me feel good, “said Sumitra. “In 2015, after learning and applying community nursery management practices, I made a profit of Rs 4,000 from selling healthy seedlings. It was a new initiative for me at a small scale and, in 2016, I plan to do this again in a more organized way.”

She added that she has reached this level from a point where her knowledge and awareness about community nursery farming was nil. She acknowledged CSISA for the training and knowledge that helped her become an informed farmer.

Sumitra’s case is an example of the benefits that participatory extension and research impart for women farmers, providing them opportunities for exposure to improved practices, thus increasing their confidence and opening up for them, in Sumitra’s words, “a new world to explore.”

It is important to note that it is not easy for women like Sumitra to become part of such initiatives in which she has to learn, make decisions on, and practice new technology. But with her increased knowledge on better-bet agricultural practices came development of her self-esteem and confidence—something foreign to her experience, until now.

Development of the community nursery and practices learned in nursery management reduced drudgery in her work, and improved nursery management increased opportunities for her to generate income.

Teaching a woman nursery management increases the chances of learned better practices getting passed on to the next generation. The skills they learn not only add value to their ‘knowledge bank’ in agriculture but also increase the scope for income generation, as in the case of Sumitra.

Guddi, for her part, describes how her own situation went for better: “When our group developed the community nursery in the village, my plot became the most talked about in the area. Hundreds of fellow villagers came and saw it, and many of them were surprised to see how it had shaped up! I received many praises, which made me feel happy and confident.”

For a smallholder woman farmer like Guddi, the task seemed more challenging, as she had to fight for a chance for exposure to such capacity building programs. Being part of the self-help group and of the Jyoti Mahila Samkhya federation helped her greatly in making decisions.

Woman exploring the opportunity for income generation through nursery management and quality nursery had been unheard of in the area.

Development of the nursery by the women farmers also had the effect of spreading awareness among farmers on the importance of having such a nursery, and managing it properly, said Pankaj Kumar, CSISA scientist.

Sunita Devi, a member of the federation, acknowledged how the community nursery has enabled women farmers to start new enterprises at the village level. “Women-focused intervention in agriculture is increasing their ‘knowledge bank’ and capacity, with on-field training. It is a new beginning for women farmers, learning new techniques and being able to explore an added source of income through the community nursery.”

With the experiences of these women farmers, in the kharif season of 2016, other members of the self-help group in the area are now ready to take the lead to develop the community nursery further and generate income through its sale of seedlings.

Women farmers are on the lookout for opportunities as well as better-quality seeds and training on better management practices. They are keen on exploring new opportunities for generating income, such as through community nursery as described above, and perhaps even become entrepreneurs someday. It is a difficult task, but it has begun, and in the grassroots of Bihar, India, CSISA plays catalyst in this noble goal with partner organizations and farmer groups.


The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) promotes durable change at scale in South Asia’s cereal-based cropping systems. Operating in rural ‘innovation hubs’ in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, CSISA works to increase the adoption of various resource-conserving and climate-resilient technologies, and improve farmers’ access to market information and enterprise development. CSISA supports women farmers by improving their access and exposure to modern and improved technological innovations, knowledge, and entrepreneurial skills. By continuing to work in synergy with regional and national efforts, collaborating with myriad public, civil society, and private-sector partners, CSISA aims to benefit more than 8 million farmers by the end of 2020.


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This article originally appeared on IRRI and was retrieved on 02/06/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


Climate change affecting stability across West Africa and Sahel: UN security council

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By  | Published on 31/01/2018 | 8:29 AM


In a statement, the council president expanded concerns over the links between climate and violence in Africa to two regions that cover 26 countries

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French soldiers talk to locals in southern Mali. Since 2014, the French have led Operation Barkhane, a military effort to fight terror in the Sahel (Photo: TM1972/Wikipedia)

The UN Security Council has identified climate change as a driver of conflict across West Africa and the Sahel, in a statement published on Tuesday.

It expands on a 2017 resolution linking the dramatic shrinking of Lake Chad to the rise of Boko Haram and other armed groups in the region.

Water scarcity and desertification pit farming, pastoralist and fishing communities against each other for dwindling resources, analysts warn. As traditional livelihoods become harder to sustain, some people are seeking violent solutions.

The statement noted “the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes among other factors on the stability of West Africa and the Sahel”, two regions that together span 26 countries. The security council, the UN’s most powerful body, “emphasises the need for adequate risk assessments and risk management strategies”.

Janani Vivekananda, climate change and security expert at consultancy Adelphi, described it as “a significant and positive step”.

She told Climate Home News: “Now, Lake Chad can’t be seen as the standalone example of climate security recognized by the UNSC. This points to an emerging coherence in how the UNSC recognizes the root causes of threats to peace and security.”

That needs to feed into humanitarian and peacebuilding action on the ground, she added. “There could be much stronger efforts to ensure all funds and programmes implemented are both conflict-sensitive and climate-sensitive”

Creeping desertification and worsening droughts are placing strain on natural resources and communities that depend on them across the Sahel. As well as Boko Haram, the security council statement condemned attacks by Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), which operates in the area.

A meeting of climate security experts in the Hague, December 2017, identifiedthe Lake Chad basin and Sahelian country Mali as two priority areas for action.

Lake Chad remains one of the starkest examples of how climate change impacts can create fertile conditions for terrorism and organised crime. The lake’s area has reduced by 90% in four decades, due to reduced rainfall and growth in water demand as the basin’s population boomed to 17 million.

Report: Boko Haram terrorists thriving on climate crisis

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a community advocate from Chad, told the World Economic Forum last week that the rainy season used to last six months and is now only two or three.

“Everybody knows that [a lack of] rain is impacting crops and crops is food security,” she said. “The consequence is conflict between communities… Boko Haram is the famous one. How about the local and regional conflict between farmers, fishermen and pastoralists for resources? People are dying.”

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The Sahel is a region defined by its low rainfall, running through parts of 14 different countries across the southern edge of the Sahara desert (Map: T L Miles)

Water supplies are becoming more erratic, agreed Mohammed Bila, who monitors water levels for the Lake Chad Basin Commission. Two or three years of normal rainfall are typically followed by a year or two of drought.

“What we have seen is that any time there is a reduction of the size of the lake, the number of conflicts increases between the different user groups,” he told Climate Home News.

“The most recent conflicts, the Boko Haram, could be attributed to a long period of deprivation. Over 25 years, the livelihood groups don’t have stability… all the children born within this period, they grow up with deprivation, they haven’t seen anything good. These are the ones who are easily misdirected to these violent conflicts.”

Increasingly, these conflicts cross borders, he added. The Lake Chad basin straddles four countries: Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Solutions range from community-level adaptations to heavy engineering. In the first category are efforts to use water more efficiently and create jobs that are less reliant on water. In the second, an ambitious proposal to divert water from the Ubangi River along a 2,400km canal into Lake Chad, raising the water level an estimated one metre.

Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari is hosting a meeting in Abuja 26-28 February on restoring Lake Chad’s ecosystem and creating sustainable livelihoods.


Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on Climate Home News and was retrieved on 01/31/2018 and republished here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM INCORPORATED accordingly. If you have any question or concern, please send us an email at info@indeseem.org.


 

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