Understanding well-being in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh

By Kate Bevitt


 

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Exploitative working conditions in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh are undermining the well-being of workers, while at the same time potentially contributing to the positive well-being of those who employ them. This is the finding of new research by WorldFish and partners that sheds an important light on the largely ‘invisible’ dried fish sector in Bangladesh, and enhances the concept of well-being in small-scale fisheries research.

Dried fish in Bangladesh

Dried fish is an important food in the diet in Bangladesh. It accounts for the fourth largest share of fish consumed and is the most accessible type of fish for consumers across all income levels. In some regions, dried fish is the most frequently eaten type of fish, and its consumption is particularly important for poor consumers.

Yet despite its importance, the dried fish sector in Bangladesh has largely been overlooked in fisheries research.

Mostly, research has focused on fishers and the benefits generated by small-scale fisheries, such as their contribution to food, employment and gross domestic product, as well as the meanings and social connections they provide to the people engaged in them.

This has created an assumption that small-scale fisheries have a positive impact on the well-being—linked to material, subjective and relational values—of all actors involved, including those in processing and marketing.

But the new research, undertaken at three major processing sites in Bangladesh, finds this is not the case for dried fish workers.

Exploitative practices

Most workers engaged in fish drying are employed by fish drying operators. Typically, workers are hired under unfavorable working conditions. This is exacerbated by the geographic and social conditions in fish drying locations, and the fact that most dried fish workers are poor and unskilled with no alternate job opportunities.

In Naziratek, close to Cox’s Bazar, for example, the settlement of a large group of fishing households displaced by natural disasters coincided with an influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. These groups competed with members of poor households in the fishing community for work, which in turn lowered wages.

In another example, fish drying operators on Dublar Char island often hire temporary workers on very low wages and under slave-like conditions because the island’s remoteness in the Sundarbans puts it almost beyond the reach of state governance.

Compounding these problems in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh is the common practice of in-kind payments or a cash piece rate. For instance, in Daspara village, northern Bangladesh, most of the women workers’ income is in the form of fish gut, a by-product of processing, which is boiled at home for around one hour to produce fish oil that can be sold for an income. In other places, workers sometimes receive a share of the catch as payment, which has clear disadvantages when catches are small.

Dried fish in Bangladesh. Photo by Finn Thilsted, 2012.

A key factor enabling these exploitative practices is the ‘subordinate’ positions of workers in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh, which are often linked to their gender or ethnicity.

In Daspara, women make up the majority of dried fish workers, partly due to a sense of communal identity and the obligation this entails. But this burden of self-exploitation does not extend to male fish drying workers, who are paid in cash and earn twice the daily wage of their female counterparts.

As for Rohingya workers, they are seen as ‘outsiders’ who make trouble and contaminate the local culture, meaning they are often ill-treated and more vulnerable to harassment from their ‘local’ managers.

Well-being in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh

Together, these labor arrangements provide distinct benefits to fishers and fish drying operators/producers, by ensuring the existence of a constantly available but highly flexible supply of low-cost labor. This can be used on demand to catch, transport and process the widely fluctuating volumes of fish landed.

In addition, these practices enable producers to minimize cash outlays and transfer the risks of fishing in Bangladesh, such as the variability of fish catches, to fish drying workers.

Workers in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh. Photo by Finn Thilsted, 2013.

Yet despite the exploitative nature of these practices, their impact on workers’ well-being and identity varies.

For poor and vulnerable women who voluntarily work in the fish drying sector, they find the experience to be mostly positive because it provides them with vital income and greater autonomy.

But for the Rohingya workers, who engage in this sector out of an urgent need for money, the exploitative practices have a negative impact on their well-being. This is also the case for the dhulabanga—landless, unemployed and homeless young men and adolescents—who only engage in the sector under the threat of physical violence.

Overall, the research shows that well-being can have a dark side for many workers in the dried fish sector, and at the same time can benefit other actors in the value chain. This calls for researchers to focus their attention on workers, not only on fishers, to better assess the well-being of all actors engaged in the dried fish sector in Bangladesh and beyond.


Kate Bevitt

Kate Bevitt

Kate Bevitt is a communications professional with over 10 years’ experience working for not-for-profit, government and research organizations. Kate was the Writer / Editor for WorldFish from 2015 to 2017. Before this, she spent two years in Timor-Leste as the Communication Advisor for the Seeds of Life agricultural research project. Kate holds an MBA in Marketing and a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism and Public Relations) from the University of Newcastle, Australia.


 


Article Disclaimer

This article originally appeared on The World Fish Center and was retrieved on 02/01/2018 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.


 

 

 

 

Women are the foundation for change in rural Ethiopia

January 9, 2018 | CIMMYT Feature

The idea that “Educating women/girls is nothing but a loss,” used to be a common sentiment amongst members of rural Ethiopian communities where the Nutritious Maize for Ethiopia (NuME) project works. Now one is more likely to hear “Women are the foundation for change.”

The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)-led NuME project is reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia by increasing the country’s capacity to feed itself. The project is improving household food and nutritional security, especially for young children and women, through shifting gender norms and the adoption of Quality Protein Maize (QPM).

QPM refers to a type of maize biofortified with two essential amino acids through traditional breeding to improve the inadequacy of protein quality of the conventional maize grown widely by farmers. Consumption of QPM instead of conventional maize leads to increase in the rate of growth in infants and young children with mild to moderate undernutrition from populations in which maize is the major staple food.

According to the World Bank, women contribute 40-60 percent of the labor in agricultural production in Ethiopia and play an important role in income generation, as well as unpaid household tasks. However, many women face severely restricted access to resources and services and lack control over income, greatly hindering their participation in and benefit from new innovations.

Few programs have specifically considered gender relations when implementing new initiatives in communities, however, when NuME found lower participation of women in the community-based promotion and dissemination of QPM, adapted community conversations were launched in two selected project woredas, or districts – Shebedino and Meskan – for a nine-month pilot in an attempt to raise women’s role in the project.

Community conversation (CC) is a facilitated approach based on the principle that communities have the capacity to identify their societal, economic and political challenges; set priorities; mobilize human, physical and financial resources; plan for action and address their challenges sustainably. It focuses on people’s strengths, resources and how they relate to challenges or problems communities face.

The people benefiting from a CC-driven project set priorities and create a plan of action to mobilize resources to address their challenges sustainably. This helps communities develop a sense of ownership, use local resources and take responsibility to bring about sustainable changes.

Because this approach involves the entire community, it also includes traditionally marginalized groups like women and youth.

When NuME first started community conversations, seating was very rigid due to cultural and religious traditions, but as the sessions continue paving the way for more community awareness on issues around gender norms and stereotypes, the seating has become much more mixed.

A facilitator from Shebedino woreda said, “Participants can’t wait for the bi-monthly conversations and they never want to miss them. These exchanges have helped men and women to get together and discuss their concerns, which was not a common practice before.”

“Women have begun raising their voices during community conversation meetings, while they used to be too shy and afraid to speak and very much reserved about sharing their ideas in public,” a female participant from Meskan woreda reported.

Community conversation participants have started changing the traditional gender stereotypes.

Through debate and the sharing of opinions, and more active participation from women, community conversations have educated participants on gender inequality, its prevalence and harm and have allowed men and women community members to exchange ideas about nutrition more effectively.

The NuME project will continue into 2019. Read more about how CIMMYT is working to equally boost the livelihoods of women, youth and men here.

The NuME Project is funded by Global Affairs Canada with major implementing partners the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (MoANR), the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA)/Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG2000) and Farm Radio International (FRI).


Article Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on CIMMYT and was retrieved on 01/18/2018 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.


The Humble Banana Transforms an Entire Community in Eastern Zimbabwe

By Doreen Hove, Adam Silagyi, Emma Siamena | USAID – Zimbabwe | Dec. 18 2017


Once these farmers learned to turn their banana crops into commercial enterprises, word spread to their neighbours — and so did the economic benefits.


 

It is early morning in Murara, a small rural community in the Honde Valley. Many farmers are hustling and bustling, loading large bunches of bananas onto trucks headed for Harare, the capital city, while others are tending to their fields.

Bananas grow well in this part of Zimbabwe with fertile soil, consistent rainfall and warm average temperatures. However, prior to USAID support in this region, bananas were primarily produced by subsistence farmers using poor agricultural practices and sold to informal markets that paid a fraction of a fair price.

Jane Mukupe, a 60-year-old banana farmer, used to be among that group. Like most of the small-scale farmers USAID supported, Mukupe Started her business with an initial investment of 200 improved variety banana plants valued at $200 and some fertilizers for her 0.1 hectare (0.25 acre) lot. That was in 2012.

Over the past five years, Mukupe has transformed her business. Nowadays, her day starts at 5 a.m. when she happily attends to more than 3,000 plants on 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres). Her income has increased exponentially from roughly $70 per month in 2012 to $1,500 per month in 2017.

Mukupe is very happy about the changes that have taken place in her life.

Jane Mukupe is now a community role model for women. Today she happily attends to more than 3,000 banana plants on 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres). / Doreen Hove, USAID

“I am a widow,” she explained. “My husband died in 1980 leaving me to take care of my three children. Before I became involved with USAID, I was farming beans, maize and only a few bananas. I also had several goats and was knitting jerseys, but I didn’t make enough money to take care of my family.”

Mukupe said she thought she was too old to participate in USAID’s project, but her late husband’s brother encouraged her to sell her goats to buy banana.

“It was very difficult for me to sell my goats since they were my source of livelihood. But when I look back today, I do not regret selling them,” Mukupe says. “Joining the project was the best decision of my life. I didn’t have a chance to go to school, but look at how successful I am now.”

Now a community role model for women, banana sales have allowed Mukupe to renovate her house and build a second home in the main town of Hauna. And, she purchased more goats.

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Jane Mukupe’s renovated kitchen. Income from bananas enabled her to renovate her kitchen and make it more modern. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Mukupe is just one of 600 banana producers who received technical assistance in agriculture techniques that transformed their farming practices and increased their production and incomes. Because those farmers passed on their knowledge to others in their community, today — two years after USAID’s project ended — there are over 5,000 commercial banana farmers.

The average banana producer is earning approximately $4,200 per year from 0.4 hectares (1 acre), or 800 banana plants. Before USAID interventions farmers were paid low prices due to lack of formal markets and harvested very low yields, the average banana farmer earned less than $200 per year.

A proud female farmer stands in front of her banana farm. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Mary Maparutsa has been a community leader of Murara for more than 20 years and has seen how the project changed lives: “People were not planting bananas on as large a scale as they are today and accepted low yields and low prices because they did not have access to proper production practices, transportation or formal markets. They sold their bananas on the roadside to middlemen that purchased their bananas at a low price and sold them at much higher prices, taking advantage of the small-scale farmers.”

“These middlemen controlled the price because the small-scale farmers had poor yields and no understanding of markets.”

A New Hope

Throughout Murara, a 30-ton Brands Fresh truck is loading bananas from different pick-up points to transport them to Harare, the capital city, for distribution to supermarkets across the country. Brands Fresh is a Zimbabwean buyer active in this area and was the first to be linked to USAID beneficiaries. Now there are several more, and competition among buyers has allowed for more competitive prices that benefit both producers and consumers who have access to better quality bananas.

Throughout Murara, farmers load their bananas onto 30-ton trucks. The bananas are then transported to Harare. / Doreen Hove, USAID

“Currently, bananas are purchased from $0.26 per kilogram for smaller graded fruit and up to $0.32 per kilogram for the largest grade, which is nearly three times higher than the prices before the project,” said Fintrac’s Mark Benzon, who was the banana project’s manager.

Brands Fresh and other buyers have improved the value chain by addressing the transportation problem, which resulted in collecting the bananas at points in close proximity to the farmers’ fields. “Each month we fill up about six 30-ton trucks on average,” says Edward Madewekunze, the local Brands Fresh agronomist. He added that Brands Fresh could easily purchase eight 30-ton trucks of bananas per month, so there is definitely room to grow.

Small-scale farmers now have enough income to buy pipes to connect to water that will irrigate their bananas. / Doreen Hove, USAID

Elias Zvawanewako, another small-scale farmer, said he and others like him used to harvest dismal yields. “We used to individually produce around 30 to 50 kilograms of bananas per month, but now monthly yields over 1,000 kilograms are common. Today, even if you produce a ton of bananas, you feel it’s not enough,” he explained.

Banana production in the area has gone from roughly 2,000 tons in 2011 to more than 27,000 tons in 2017, contributing more than $7.5 million to the rural economy every year.

“Before Zim-AIED, lending institutions were not interested in working with Honde Valley farmers because of the low prospects of successful loan repayments, as income levels were still very low,” said Benzon, referring to the project by its acronym.

Farmers attend to their banana plants. / Doreen Hove, USAID

USAID introduced farmers to Virl Microfinance in 2011, and since then, the lending institution has provided $567,000 in input loans to more than 1,100 farmers. “Bananas have become the main cash crop in Honde Valley, and as a result, more than five banks and microfinance institutions have opened their doors to farmers and created loan packages that meet their needs,” Benzon says.

A Bright Future for Youth

Schools are alive with energetic children, many of whose parents are now commercial banana farmers.

The headmaster for St. Peter’s Mandeya Primary School, Tendayi Musoro said, “Since banana farming started, there has been an increase in the number of children who come to school. Farmers are able to keep their children in school and provide them food and clothes.”

St. Peter’s Mandeya Primary School now has a new classroom block, thanks to the incomes from banana farmers. / Doreen Hove, USAID

After years of economic stagnation, many Zimbabweans left the country to look for work. There is no evidence of young Zimbabweans returning to Honde Valley to take up farming.

Twenty-seven-year-old Amon Zvawanewako returned home from working in South Africa after learning that his family and friends were earning good incomes from small-scale banana farming. Zvawanewako is now a successful banana farmer, earning more than he ever did abroad.

Other entrepreneurial youths are taking advantage of this new industry by starting their own farms and providing instruction to others interested in banana farming. Judah Mukupe, 26, Isaac Kambanje, 32, and Michael Mukupe, 32, are three highly motivated young men who were trained by USAID on good agricultural practices for banana farming. They are now training and assisting other farmers to harvest and load their bananas for a fee.

Amon Zwawanewako and his friend are among the youngest banana farmers in Murara. Zwawanewako returned home from working in South Africa after learning that his family and friends were earning good incomes from small-scale banana farming. / Doreen Hove, USAID

“We noticed that many more farmers wanted to commercialize banana farming and we jumped at the opportunity to train them and earn some income,” said Kambanje. “We earn up to $280 a month through all these small jobs and are slowly starting our own banana plantations. I now have 200 banana plants, and my target is to have about 1,000 banana plants by the end of the year.”

Many other small- and medium-sized businesses, such as supermarkets, farming supply stores, butcheries and hair salons have opened in this region due to the influx of. These businesses provide employment opportunities, especially for youth.

USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Stephanie Funk has observed firsthand how banana farming expanded under USAID support.

“We are excited because this project has changed the lives of an entire community long after our assistance ended,” she said. “It is a true example of how agriculture-led economic growth provides long-term resilience and sustainability. Zim-AIED’s impact can be seen not just in individual farmers but in the entire Honde Valley community.”

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development (Zim-AIED) project began in 2010 with the aim of improving food security and livelihoods for nearly 25,000 people in Honde Valley. It ended in 2015 with 600 farmers trained to grow and sell bananas. Other small farmers saw what happened and followed the lucrative trend. Today, 5,000 commercial farmers from the region are producing bananas for sale in the country.


About the Authors

Doreen Hove is a Development Outreach and Communications Specialist, Adam Silagyi is an Agricultural/Food Security Officer and Emma Siamena is a Program Specialist, all with USAID’s mission in Zimbabwe.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID Frontlines and retrieved on 01/09/2017 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 accordingly.


What’s in store for Asian smallholder farmers in the Big Data hype?

By Camille Anne Mendizabal (World Agroforestry Centre) | December 29, 2017


Exploring how Big Data’s potentials can be used to enhance Asian farmers’ climate resiliency.

 

Smart tractors, agribots, survey drones, texting cows—these may seem like agriculture buzzwords, but with Big Data accelerating agricultural digitalization, these may soon come into fruition and be seen in farms in Asia.

What caused the hype?

The information age we are in now provided four technological milestones which paved the way for the digitalization of agriculture through Big Data.

First among these milestones is the improvement of peoples’ access to smartphones and data services. This provided opportunities for them to access agriculture information that could guide them in making farm-related decisions.

Secondly, the increased availability of cheaper smart agriculture sensors also helped farmers in monitoring their farms and adapting their practices to changing climatic conditions and environmental factors.

Another milestone that hastened the digitalization of agriculture is the improvement of the quality of satellite information and satellite images which led to better and more updated climate forecasts. Lastly, in our enhanced ability to analyse and interpret data provides better for support climate-smart agriculture (CSA) research and development efforts.

What is Big Data’s niche in CSA?

If the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) succeeds in utilizing Big Data, its biggest impacts can be seen in improving the following stages in the market-value chain: planning, selecting quality inputs, on-farm production, storage, and access to markets.

In the planning stage, Big Data is deemed most useful in helping farmers decide what to plant and when to plant it. It can also be used to guide farmers in selecting high-quality inputs. During production stage, applied data can potentially improve precision and adaptability of farming interventions.

Digitally warehouse receipts and digitally-enabled harvest loans may help reduce postharvest losses while they are stored. Moreover, the improved climate forecasts can also provide farmers with timely reminders and alerts on climate-related risks which are useful in monitoring farm operations and preventing yield loss.

Harnessing Big Data’s potential also enables the combination of climate forecasts with micro-insurance systems to further enhance farmers’ resilience to climate risks.

Big Data can also be sourced from social media. Through this, we can make the most out of the farmers’ groups established through social media platforms, Facebook posts and tweets by using them to build information database.

During the Joint CCAFS SEA-SA CSA Workshop in Hanoi, a special panel discussion tackled the potential of using Big Data to increase agricultural productivity, and at the same time manage climate-related risks. Photo: Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

Can smallholder farmers benefit from Big Data?

Despite the rosy picture that Big Data presents, it cannot be denied that we still have a long way to go before we can reap the benefits from it and before these benefits trickle down to smallholder farmers. As Andrew Jarvis, one of the Flagship Leaders of CCAFS said:

Big Data provides huge promise, but a handful of success stories for smallholder farmers.”

Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, CCAFS Southeast Asia programme leader, raised concerns about how using big data can be used further widen the digital divide. As of now, only commercial farms have access to technologies which can make sense of big data.

Unfortunately, 76% of the farmers in Asia are smallholder farmers, the majority of which do not have access to these technologies. Hence, the challenge now is for CCAFS to help make it work for this 76%.

Social differentiation in access and illiteracy in using these technologies also pose a challenge in this digitalization. Thus, CCAFS should work on downscaling information from forecasts to something more comprehensible and more relevant to farmers’ context.

How can CCAFS make Big Data work for smallholder farmers?

As of now, there is an insufficient publicly available data on agriculture which can be used to build a sustainable data ecosystem that scientists, extension workers and farmers can access. Building an information ecosystem on CSA that is more accessible to people and resolving data privacy issues could help address such problems.

Moreover, building the capacity of a new generation of agricultural scientists and field agronomists to enhance their skills not only in analyzing, and interpreting data, but more importantly in providing farmers with comprehensible, personalized, and actionable information should now be prioritized.

Creating an enabling environment for establishing public-private partnerships can also help resolve privacy issues in utilizing big data and can help maximize available technologies owned by public and private sectors to further develop information services for farmers.

If these abovementioned challenges are resolved, the rosy picture of modernized, climate-smart agriculture that now seems as a hype can finally be turned into reality.

Camille Anne Mendizabal is the junior communications specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre Philippines. She is also a communication consultant with the CCAFS SEA program.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CCAFS-CGIAR and retrieved on 01/06/2018 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.


Be Inspired: 10 of USAID’s Best


Here’s how our actions, ideas, and passions helped empower people and expand opportunity around the globe this year

From responding to Hurricane Maria to announcing a unique way to fund our efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, USAID has been busy in 2017 ensuring our assistance to developing countries will have the greatest impact possible.

Check out this list of 10 stories from this year. While we can’t describe all our efforts around the world here, these examples show that aid works.

1. After the Hurricanes

On St. Martin, a member of Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (center) and DART member Anne Galegor (left) help a local resident to fill a water jug with filtered seawater made portable through a reverse osmosis process. The U.S. military produced a total of 83,020 gallons of potable water for St. Martin during its mission. / Ricardo ARDUENGO/AFP

On Sept. 7, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Caribbean — three of the six major storms to form during a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Our disaster experts never imagined they would end up riding out and responding to the devastation caused by three back-to-back hurricanes, including two Category 5 storms. But they did and quickly jumped into action to aid storm survivors. At its height, the DART comprised 54 people deployed to 11 countries. USAID also airlifted more than 185 metric tons to help nearly 84,000 people, representing the best of American generosity. Check out this infographic about the response.

2. Saving Newborns and New Moms

The BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. / BEMPU

USAID and our partners support innovators with groundbreaking ideas to ensure newborns and their mothers survive childbirth. One of these inventions — the BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device — was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. The newborn temperature-monitoring wristband intuitively alerts caregivers if their newborn is losing too much heat, enabling intervention well before complications or death can occur. With our support, the device has helped an estimated 10,000 newborns. We are looking forward to 2030 when this and other innovations could potentially save 150,000 lives.

3. Feeding the Future

Feed the Future is helping to boost food security around the globe.

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s initiative to combat global hunger, announced this year that it is launching its next phase, partnering with 12 countries to focus on promoting long-term, sustainable development. This comes after helping a combined 9 million more people live above the poverty line and 1.8 million more children avoid the devastating results of stunting. Our goal continues to be addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty and helping communities be less dependent on emergency food assistance.

4. Wildlife Trafficking

An elephant is killed every 15 minutes; an average of 96 per day. USAID is committed to stopping environmental crime and protecting the wildlife and human communities that depend on them. / Lara Zanarini, Shutterstock

Protecting endangered species benefit more than the often majestic animals themselves. USAID’s work combating wildlife trafficking, environmental crime and mismanagement of natural resources strengthens the U.S. and international security, rule of law and global economic prosperity. This year we put together the video below to help strengthen law enforcement from parks to ports, reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, facilitate international cooperation and build partnerships.

5. Fighting Hunger

Workers in Ethiopia offload a USAID food donation. The Agency is at the forefront of helping the United States respond to, counter and prevent complex threats and crises around the globe. / Petterik Wiggers, WFP

In four countries — South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen — more than 20 million people are at risk of severe hunger or starvation. In February, officials declared famine in parts of South Sudan, making 2017 the most food-insecure in the country’s history. But a massive humanitarian response by the U.S. Government and the rest of the international community helped roll back that designation just four months later. USAID is continuing to leverage its resources to help the people of South Sudan, and those living in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen respond to natural and man-made disasters.

 

6. Women in Charge

Nanda Pok (left) is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia but keeps busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. She participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. She has shared with she learned with other women entrepreneurs in her country, helping them to start their own businesses. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

USAID supports women entrepreneurs worldwide as catalysts for economic growth and inclusive development. Nanda Pok is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia, but she also keeps herself busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. Nanda participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. Pok believes that when women are economically-empowered, money flows back into businesses and towards the health, education, and well-being of families. And we couldn’t agree more. In Cambodia and across the globe, USAID helps women entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

7. When a Latrine Brings a New Lease on Life

A family works together to install their new Digni-Loo. The entire installation process only takes about 10 minutes. Photo credit: Melissa Burnes, USAID WASH for Health

We live in a water-stressed world. USAID is tackling this issue on a number of fronts, including in Ghana where we piloted installation and use of the Digni-Loo, a latrine that is simple to install, affordable, comfortable and easy to clean. More than 800 million people worldwide still defecate in the open. This results in billions of lost dollars from the global economy due to diarrheal illness and widespread threats to public health, including a heightened risk of global epidemics. This November the Agency and the U.S. State Department launched the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, which outlines ways we can reach 15 million people with clean drinking water and 8 million people with sanitation services.

8. Smart Ways to End World Hunger

Baby Shikari is a rural rice farmer in Bangladesh. After receiving agricultural training, her family eats more nutritious food, shares some with their relatives, and sells the rest at the local market. / Morgana Wingard for USAID

Today, nearly one in 10 people around the world suffer from hunger, and that figure is rising. As we’ve learned over decades, there are no simple solutions. Supporting food security requires much more than filling people’s bellies. We can combat global hunger and malnutrition, but it takes a holistic approach to ensure long-lasting impact. Here are five ways USAID is investing in agriculture and food security to end hunger.

9. Investing in Change

USAID’s new development impact bond could save up to 10,000 moms and newborns. / Project Ujjwal

At the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the launch of the Agency’s first health development impact bond, dubbed the Utkrisht Impact Bond after the Hindi word for “excellence.” Impact bonds are focused on outcomes and can leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. This impact bond — the largest and most ambitious of its kind — aims to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving the quality of maternal care in Rajasthan, India’s health facilities. It is expected to improve access to care for up to 600,000 pregnant women and save up to 10,000 maternal and newborn lives.

10. Meeting Nature’s Wrath with Resilience

Elsie Nambri is a teacher and community activist on Vanuatu. / USAID

When Mt. Yasur Volcano on Vanuatu emits ash, it sometimes damages the community’s crops. And widespread hunger follows. USAID is working with island residents to strengthen resilience so they can bounce back faster from natural disasters. Our work is also helping to elevate women to decision-making roles that are normally reserved for men in these communities. During a recent tropical cyclone, residents broadcasted early warnings on loudspeakers and mobilized disaster committees. This was the first time that the island prepared with concerted and inclusive measures. “This is our land, our ancestors’ land,” said Elsie Nambri, a teacher and community activist here. “Just as we have learned to live with Mount Yasur, I feel we are now ready for anything.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID and retrieved on 12/30/2017 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 accordingly.


Is digital agriculture the key to revolutionize future farming in Africa?


By Emebet Tita and Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)|Dec 8, 2017|Low Emissions Development


Stakeholders discuss opportunities and challenges of digital agriculture in Africa.

Digital technology has significantly transformed all sectors of economic development. It has changed our way of living to the extent that it is difficult to imagine life without it. In developed countries, digital technologies and analytics are already transforming agriculture, making farm operations more insight-driven and efficient. However, agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially on the African continent, remains very low and the application of digital technologies still very limited.

Source: Digital Agriculture: Pathway to Prosperity | ICRISAT

In October 2017, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in East Africa (CCAFS EA) in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Ethiopia, and Ethiopian Agricultural Research Center’s (EIAR) Climate and Geospatial Research Program brought together stakeholders from the private sector, government organizations and universities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to explore digital agriculture and its potential to transform farming on the continent.

Stakeholders discussed the opportunities that digital agriculture presents and the existing challenges on the ground that need to be taken into consideration in order to successfully embrace and implement digital agriculture in Africa.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Dawit Solomon (CCAFS’s East Africa Regional Program Leader) highlighted that precision agriculture, internet-of-things, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, crop and soil sensing, weed sensing, disease sensing, new breeding technologies, biologicals, biochips, and new breeding technologies are all innovations that once seemed farfetched but are now becoming an accessible and affordable reality, already in use in some corners of our world.  So how can African countries adopt and deploy these technologies? Can Africa learn from the developed world? Or as Dr. Campbell, Director of CCAFS, puts it, “can Africa leapfrog into a new world in agriculture similar to mobile banking?”

Dr. Svend Christensen, Professor, and Head of Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, emphasized that at the center of it all is data, and how we obtain and use it.

However, most participants highlighted, gathering data, standardizing the collection process and data storage are major challenges. Data collection is scattered and stored in different data silos, in different formats, by different organizations. It is difficult to determine how such data can be integrated and used to make reliable comparisons. Thus, it is evident that collaboration between different stakeholders involved in agriculture is key to obtain and use data efficiently, as well as to reduce the cost of obtaining data.

Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, Senior Advisor with Digital Green, also added the starting point should be establishing a clear understanding of the existing framework of digital agriculture in the different countries, which include the policies, data infrastructure and the stakeholders in play. This can serve as a basis to identify the gaps and leveraging points, in order to commission initiatives that can drive targeted solutions.

Finally, participants also noted that while the potential for digital agriculture in Africa is real, any successful solution should involve the farmer in the design process, focus on the farmer’s real-world needs and devise a two-way flow of information to and from the farmer. It is also necessary that governments create and implement policies conducive to the changing needs of the digital age we live in.

On the following day, selected participants attended the Global Green Growth Week Public-Private Sector roundtable discussion on Transforming African Agriculture organized by CCAFS in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). As a result of the discussions, CCAFS East Africa is now leading the formation of a Public Private Partnership project that is aimed at tackling the challenges related to agriculture data infrastructure. The project is expected to create a digital platform and application, expected to reach over 50,000 smallholder farmers, which will serve as a tool to gather data, communicate and receive intelligence specific to climate, agro-metrology, and market information.

Following the meeting, CCAFS, UCPH, CIMMYT and the EIAR organized site visits for selected participants to the wheat research site at Kulumsa Agricultural Research Centre (KARC) and the Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Oromia region located over 175 km outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

At KARC, participants observed the wheat nursery, test fields, and pilot farmers’ fields. KARC is working on breeding high yield, stem and yellow rust resistant wheat varieties to be distributed to farmers. Farmers are also trained on farm management good practices and provided with mechanization tools for rent.

Test fields from Eteya-Huruta wheat belt in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Photo: Dawit Solomon (CCAFS)

Driving back to Addis Ababa, away from the fields, much like the one pictured above, one cannot help but imagine that soon the farmer on the field will be using his mobile phone to switch on and off a harvester, a drone is flying over-head conducting soil and field analysis and a satellite somewhere in space is connected to both, storing and exchanging the data in a cloud database, and connecting the different users in the ecosystem.

 

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR-CCAFS and retrieved on 12/20/2017 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 accordingly.


 

 

 

Smart fertilizer management and the quest for sustainable rice production


Pauline Chivenge and Sheetal Sharma   |  « PREVIOUS


Specific fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems could increase crop production while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Rice production relies on the use of synthetic fertilizers, especially nitrogen, in order to meet the challenge of rising demand for the commodity driven by population growth. However, the nutrient needs of rice crops are not constant and can vary with fields, seasons, and years because of differences in crop-growing conditions and management. Consequently, the proper management of nutrients for rice production needs to be adjusted to suit field and crop requirements.

Furthermore, the application of external nutrients constitutes the second most expensive rice production input, after labor. As a result, nutrient management is an important component for sustainable rice production while protecting the environment.

Too much of a good thing
The Green Revolution in the mid-20th century resulted in increased crop yields, including rice, in the developing world. Much of this was due to a combination of the introduction of improved varieties and more reliance on the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. However, although the Green Revolution was undoubtedly beneficial in improving food security, it was also associated with a dramatic increase in pollution due to the high use of agricultural chemicals.

Fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems are often given as blanket recommendations, but this can lead to the overuse of fertilizers and inefficient use of nutrients. This created a need to find approaches to increase crop production while reducing pollution.

Location-specific information
Soil testing has been promoted to estimate location-specific fertilizer requirements based on the measurement of soil nutrient pools for a field or location. Soil-test methods attempt to measure the proportions of nutrients available for crops, but the amount measured may differ across soils with contrasting properties. Additionally, different tests for one nutrient often provide different results that can be expressed in a variety of ways.

Therefore, soil-test methods need to be calibrated to be used in a specific region. Soil testing requires rapid sequential sampling of soil, laboratory analysis, and timely deployment of a fertilizer recommendation with training for farmers before crop establishment. The effective implementation across hundreds of thousands of fields has been constrained by the high costs involved in sampling and analysis.

In developed countries, precision nutrient management is done using sophisticated technology to monitor variations in nutrient levels within large fields and across seasons. But, this is not applicable for small fields in Asia and Africa.

The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) approach was developed in the 1990s to enable rice farmers to apply fertilizers and efficiently meet varying nutrient requirements of plants, thereby reducing fertilizer misuse associated with fertilizer subsidy.

The approach is used to calculate field-specific requirements for fertilizer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for cereal crops based on scientific principles with the aim to increase nutrient-use efficiency. SSNM has improved rice yields compared with the farmers’ practice often based on blanket recommendations.

nmrice-smatphone
Nutrient Manager for Rice provides farmers in the Philippines with advice on best fertilizer through mobile phones. (Photo: IRRI)

Timing is everything
The SSNM approach, however, does not aim to increase or reduce the amount of fertilizer used. The increase in grain yield with lower amounts of fertilizer has been associated with the better timing of application, particularly for nitrogen. Farmers apply a greater proportion of the nitrogen fertilizer in the early stages of the crop, causing higher vigor during early growth, which does not translate into higher grain yield at maturity.

In recent years, SSNM has been identified as one of the options for sustainable intensification of rice production in Asia and as a climate-smart technology for increasing resource-use efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient runoff into water sources.

The SSNM approach relies heavily on information generated from nutrient omission plot trials that are used to estimate fertilizer requirements for major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Briefly, nutrient omission plots are small field trials in which adequate nutrients—except the nutrient of interest—are applied to a plot in order to estimate the supply of the omitted nutrient from indigenous sources such as soil, crop residues, irrigation water, biological nitrogen fixation, and atmospheric deposition. This is used to calculate the amount of fertilizer required to achieve a given yield target.

Phosphorus and potassium are generally applied at sowing or transplanting while nitrogen is applied at different crop stages. Thirty percent of the nitrogen is applied at transplanting and the rest is equally split at critical rice growth stages: active tillering and panicle initiation. Alternatively, the nitrogen splits can be determined using leaf color charts.

Rice production in Asia is largely done by smallholder farmers who often lack access to information. For sustainability, there is a need to develop tools that are accessible to farmers. Using the principles of SSNM, an information and communication technology decision support tool, Nutrient Manager, was developed to give field-specific fertilizer recommendations for smallholder farmers.

Nutrient Manager targets irrigated and rainfed lowland rice farmers with the aim to increase productivity and net income by USD 100 per hectare per season at the farm level. The tool has been widely tested and used in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, and has led to an increase in farm productivity and profitability. The tool was later developed into the Rice Crop Manager in the Philippines and India, which give climate-informed agro-advisory services to farmers, including the selection of suitable varieties. (See An app tailor-made for India’s rice farmers.)

Although the tool has effectively improved productivity in 80% of the locations where it has been tried, there is room to expand the fertilizer recommendations for a wider set of conditions. Additionally, dissemination of the tool needs to be boosted to give more rice farmers access to smarter and more sustainable fertilizer management.
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Dr. Chivenge is a soils and biogeochemistry expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Dr. Sharma leads IRRI’s research on the design, evaluation, and dissemination of soil and nutrient management technologies for the rice-based systems of South Asia.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the RICE Today and retrieved on 12/13/2017 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.