Tag: Global Food Security

FAO and OECD call for responsible investment in agriculture

16 February 2018, Paris – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched a pilot project in Paris today to kick-start the practical application of the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains with 30 leading enterprises. 

The project aims to improve the implementation of the Guidance and internationally-agreed standards on responsible production, sourcing and supply chain management in the agricultural sector.

Enterprises involved in the agricultural sector are critical for the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals – playing a key role in generating much-needed investment, decent employment, developing productivity and supply chains that benefit producers and consumers. At the same time, business activities in this sector can undermine this potential when their operations or supply chains negatively impact workers, human rights, the environment, food security/nutrition, and tenure rights.

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprisesfirst adopted in 1976, and the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems of the Committee on World Food Security,endorsed by governments and representatives of the private sector and civil society in 2014, are prominent international instruments for responsible business conduct.

Building on these instruments, the OECD-FAO Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains was developed with the support of a multi-stakeholder group representing governments, business, workers and civil society. It provides a practical tool to help enterprises observe these and other standards of responsible business conduct.

The launch of this pilot project will strengthen the ability of companies to avoid contributing to adverse impacts on people, the environment and society while meeting global sustainability challenges.

The Guidance targets domestic and international, small, medium and large enterprises across the entire agricultural supply chain, from the farm to the consumer. Since its adoption in 2016, it has been endorsed by multiple governments, including G7 Agricultural Ministers.

This work is carried out within the OECD’s sectoral work on due diligence for responsible business conduct and FAO’s Umbrella Programme which supports sustainable and responsible investment in agriculture and food systems across the globe.


Article Disclaimer


This article originally appeared on FAO 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.

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.

1_YZJ2r_doclgyzOX0LGXiRA

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.


Indigenous communities, biodiversity in focus at Global Landscapes Forum

No Comments

By Gabrielle Lipton | 20 December 2017


BONN, Germany (Landscapes News) — “We must act now,” said Robert Nasi, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), kicking off the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) conference in Bonn, Germany on Tuesday, with a call to action.

GLF Bonn 2017 is not only the seventh installation of the world’s largest multi-sectoral platform focused on landscapes, which first launched in Warsaw in 2013; but it also marks the start of a new chapter for the forum, following the recent boost of an 11 million euros ($13 million) injection by the German government. GLF is now shoring up activities in anticipation of five more years of addressing landscape issues around the world, conducted in partnership with the World Bank, CIFOR, the U.N. Environment program, and the German government.

This new phase of the movement has ensured the activity can extend beyond the two-days of intense activity at the World Conference Center venue in Bonn on Dec. 19 and 20 in a concerted effort to address and combat landscape and climate change issues.

Also in its new phase, GLF aims to engage more than 1 billion people worldwide. The conference was attended on Tuesday in Bonn by more than 1,000 participants ranging from President of Mauritius Ammenah Gurib Fakim and Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon to yogi-environmentalist and spiritual guide Sadhguru, as well as scientists, start-up entrepreneurs, leaders from non-governmental organizations, actors in the public and private sectors, and a number of students and youth. Thousands of people around the world tuned in online to watch live-stream videos of various discussions, plenaries, “TED Talk” style Landscape Talks, press conferences, and capacity-building Launchpad sessions.

The myriad items on the day’s agenda revolved around the forum’s stated five themes: landscape restoration, financing sustainable landscapes, rights and equitable development, food and livelihoods, and measuring progress toward climate change and development goals.

Stefan Schmitz, deputy director-general and commissioner of the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), stated in the opening plenary, more than 70 percent of those suffering from poverty and hunger live in rural areas, and environmental degradation is largely confined to their home fronts.

“The Global Landscapes Forum creates space for innovative ideas that can then be implemented on the ground,” said Barbara Hendricks, the Federal Minister of German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). “The overarching goal is to learn from one another and take action together.”

Native Knowledge

Following on the heels of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn in November, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s “One Planet” summit earlier this month, GLF has distinguished itself by including indigenous and marginalized communities in the discussion. Ideally, GLF will offer an opportunity for more space and attention in dialogues and decision-making processes to be applied on the local, regional and global levels.

Indigenous communities play a key role in finding holistic solutions to land degradation, reforestation, food security and the future of clean water sources.

“I think that’s one of the biggest contributions that indigenous organizers and young professionals are making, in every field addressing climate change and unsustainable development—that they look at everything as its complete picture,” said Janene Yazzie, co-founder and chief executive of Sixth World Solutions and member of the U.S.’s Navajo Tribal Nation. “We look at what’s affecting our air, our father sky, our mother earth.”

The forum has quickly made evident the importance of investing in indigenous communities—both financially and culturally, as the two are inextricably linked.

Roberto Borerro, programs and communications coordinator of the International Indian Treaty Council, said that indigenous groups should be viewed as partners in a unique position to offer solutions on environmental issues.

“We’re not looking for saviors,” he said. “We can save ourselves if we’re given the right tools and the opportunity to save ourselves.”

Africa in the spotlight

“As we modernize, we must support traditional knowledge systems, which are those linked to sustainable agriculture,” Fakim said.

In a keynote speech, Fakim reiterated the crucial role of indigenous communities in tackling landscape issues. However, she contextualized this specifically in terms of Africa where threats to biodiversity are graver than on any other continent. In Mauritius alone, almost 100 species have become extinct since the 17th century, she said.

Throughout African countries, as temperatures rise, so do costs for tackling ensuing changes to the continent’s ecosystems and landscapes. As such, changes to the landscape are a crucial focus for the conservation community.

Fakim made a call for increased investment in research. She said that basing policies and government agendas on fact-based information are paramount to positive change, not just in Mauritius but everywhere.

Karin Kemper, senior director for the environment and natural resources, global practice at the World Bank, advanced this notion, saying that in order for the World Bank to achieve its twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, a combination of information, innovation and incentives are needed.

Research, technology, and finance mechanisms must be advanced in tandem, and policymaking should be incentivized to be progressive and forward thinking.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Global Landscapes Forum 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 Inc. accordingly.


FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmail

 

 

 

Moving closer to achieving climate-smart future for Southeast Asia

No Comments

Written by Nguyen Thu Hang (Viet Nam News) on Dec 6, 2017


Fostering learning and sharing knowledge and experiences across Climate-Smart Villages and projects in Southeast Asia.

Based on the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)’ Southeast Asia’s vision, by 2025, the Southeast Asian region has achieved a stable food supply, and communities, especially those in the most vulnerable areas, have already improved their climate change resilience through the adoption of climate-smart technologies and practices.

By this time, institutional, public, and private sector’s capacities to implement measures to cope with climate change are already strong, and climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are fully integrated into both regional and national development plans. These goals guided the implementation of its flagship projects (FP) under the program.

 

On its third annual meeting, CCAFS SEA looked at the four flagship projects’ progress in terms of achieving the goals abovementioned since the second phase of the program started. The annual meeting was held on the 20th of November in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The beginnings of CCAFS

The regional agenda and research portfolio of CCAFS SEA are put into four flagships (FPs), FP1 – priorities, and policies for climate-smart agriculture, FP2-climate-smart technologies, and practices, FP3–low emission development ad FP4–climate services and safety nets.

The Climate-Smart Village (CSV) project serves as the convergence point of the flagship projects. These are implemented to improve farming communities’ resilience to challenges brought about by climate change which are expected to be worsened by the region’s rapid economic growth.

At present, the projects of CCAFS SEA are mostly located in three countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia because they are among the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the region. However, there are also other projects implemented in the Philippines and Indonesia.

CCAFS flagship leaders Dr. Phil Thornton and Dr. Andy Jarvis, together with CCAFS SEA regional program leader Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, facilitated a special session on the future projects’ focus. Photo by Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

CSV achievements

During the review conducted during the event, participants discussed the successes and challenges faced by the flagship projects and looked at how much of the desired outputs and outcomes have already been achieved. The key emerging outcomes from CSV sites in Vietnam, Philippines, and Laos, have also been highlighted in the workshop.

For instance, in the first stage of the CSV project in Guinayangan Village in the Philippines’ Quezon Province, the implementers had successfully engaged with local governments. In addition, the incorporation of climate-smart agriculture into the local government’s agriculture extension services is expected to have benefitted from 5,000 farmers in Guinayangan Village. Guinayangan is also recognized as a learning site that influenced the implementation and rolls out of the Philippines’ Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) program.

As for the project of CSVs in the Mekong Basin, initial outcomes include eight climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies have been implemented with the engagement of 100 local households. For example, in Vietnam’s Ky Son Commune, implementers have successfully coordinated with local governments, same with Guinyangan. They have also helped 2,000 farmers in achieving stable incomes and two neighboring villages in selecting 3 CSAs as priorities for scale-out: stress-tolerant rice varieties, dry season water storage, and pest smart practices for adoption during the first year of the project’s second phase.

Meanwhile, Rohal Suong CSV in Cambodia is now poised to be selected as a demonstration site under IFAD-funded ASPIRE project (worth about USD 50 million).

A special poster session was held to showcase the significant outputs and emerging outcomes of the various CCAFS SEA’s regional projects. Photo by Duong Minh Tuan/ICRAF

Points for improvement

Despite the successes of CCAFS SEA in the first phase and the first year of its second phase, several challenges are still needed to be addressed in the remaining years in the second phase.

The biggest concern to be addressed now pertains to the mobilization of funding for the projects because the total budget left is not enough to run all the projects while most of them will end next year.

Aside from this, Dr. Andy Jarvis, one of the Flagship Leader of CCAFS stated that there is a need to re-design the projects to make it fit with the situation. To address this concern, Dr. Godefroy Grosjean, an expert from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), suggested three ways they can improve mobilization of financial resources for the projects in the region.

According to him, the first step that CCAFS should do is to recruit a joint position with the Food and Agriculture Organization for a climate finance expert. Second, it is advised to develop new agenda on climate finance, including fiscal reform, evaluation of business models, and carbon pricing. The third step is taking new methodology such as behavioral economics, he said.

Dr. Leocadio Sebastian, the Regional Program Leader at CCAFS SEA, also pointed out the gaps between discussions and the reality in the field where the projects were implemented. He called for all stakeholders to suggest solutions in order to cope with these challenges so that the projects would be smoothly run in the coming years.

Nguyen Thu Hang is a reporter for the Viet Nam News.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR and retrieved on 12/07/2017 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.


 

Agricultural scientists urge new global crop alliance to secure future food supply

No Comments
24520671422_a45ac55a90_b-672x448

Farmer Gashu Lema’s son harvests improved variety “Kubsa” wheat


EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) – At a time when weather patterns are becoming less predictable and population pressures on food supply are increasing, a group of crop scientists are laying the groundwork for an international crop network to systematically tackle threats to global food security.

Research focused on specific crops achieves progressive genetic gains, but scientists need to adopt a more internationally oriented and integrated approach to leverage technology, expertise, and infrastructure with greater efficiency and purpose, said Matthew Reynolds, a distinguished scientist and wheat breeder at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in an opinion piece published this week in the journal Science.

Already 795 million poor people do not get enough food to eat, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). By 2030, the number of people living in poverty could increase between 35 and 122 million in large measure because of the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector, the FAO reports.

“We understand how to make crops more resilient to heat and drought, but we’re at a point where we need to accelerate our work.” said Reynolds, backed by a team of co-authors from the scientific community. “Since these problems are transnational in nature, a more global network could accelerate our efforts while increasing efficiency and helping to avoid duplication.”

Scientists plan to deploy the new Global Crop Improvement Network (GCIN) to take comparative approaches across all major crops and environments to enhance such traits as root access to water using remote sensing, which often requires costly mobile, airborne or satellite technology.

Through successful wheat-specific collaboration, since the early 1960s, the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN), part of the CGIAR-affiliated group of agricultural researchers, has made economically efficient and environmentally sound impacts in crop improvement, which serve as a template for the projected success of GCIN.

Scientists within IWIN undertake breeding efforts aimed at 12 different wheat mega-environments, testing new wheat genotypes at 700 field sites in more than 90 countries. Each year they produce some 1,000 high-yielding, disease-resistant wheat lines, which are delivered as international public goods.

A recent study on wheat improvement shows that CGIAR varieties cover about half of the world’s wheat growing area, through IWIN, delivering an economic punch of from $2.2 billion to more than $3 billion a year for resource-poor farmers and consumers.

“The benefit cost ratio of the investment is 100 to 1, even without taking into account the avoided cost of disease pandemics and the land saved from cultivation due to increased yields; economic analysis indicates at least 20 million hectares of the natural ecosystem have been spared the plough,” Reynolds said.

“High transaction costs and instability of crop funding have hamstrung urgently needed research,” he added. “This is senseless in light of the extraordinary return on investment to IWIN which could be transferred to GCIN.”

Through a crop-wide collaboration, international scientists can boost benefits from practical work with national agricultural research systems, improving the value of “in kind contributions,” he said.

Aims include standardizing data and phenotyping techniques to best practices, ensuring that information can be shared and understood worldwide.

This approach will also encourage upstream researchers to venture from working exclusively in controlled facilities to realistic field environments, bringing cutting edge technologies with them, Reynolds said.

Data sharing could lead to more accurate descriptions of environments and experimental treatments. Currently, data is often only available selectively and a network would promote it through open access programs.

The benefits of integrated research through the CGIAR group of agricultural researchers and the FAO are well established, but the network under discussion could enhance and improve information sharing transnationally.

Experimental fields – or field laboratories – which are essential for translating scientific breakthroughs to improved crop yields, could at times benefit from more strategic relocation. Often they are in certain areas due to historical, financial or political reasons, not because of current practical needs, Reynolds explained.

Climate change is expected to lead to overall warmer temperatures and increase the intensity of droughts, floods, and storms, negatively affecting food security and livelihoods. Climate modeling indicates that sea levels will rise and patterns of flooding and drought will change due to glacial melt at high altitudes.

Higher temperatures will affect crop yields and erratic rainfall could affect both yields and quality. For poor people spending most of their income on food, related price hikes could make it much more difficult to cope.

“A more globally oriented, problem-solving research effort will increase the efficiency of global investment in agriculture and help ensure food security,” Reynolds said, adding that public-private partnerships could be harnessed to drive globally coordinated research.

Please read the journal article here:

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6349/359?utm_campaign=toc_sci-mag_2017-07-27&et_rid=34810037&et_cid=1462865

Authors include:

  • Matthew Reynolds, Distinguished Scientist, CIMMYT
  • Ren Wang, Assistant Director General, FAO
  • Saharah Moon Chapotin, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security, USAID
  • H. Tang, President of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
  • Catherine Feuillet, Head of Crop Research, Bayer Crop Science (who just bought Monsanto)
  • A J. Cavalieri, Senior Program Officer (Agriculture Research & Development), Gates Foundation
  • Steve. Visscher, Deputy Chief Executive, BBSRC
  • Philippe Ellul, Senior Science Officer, CGIAR
  • Mark W. Rosegrant, Director of Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI
  • Wayne Powell, former Senior Science Officer, CGIAR
  • Martin Kropff, Director General, CIMMYT, and Chair of System Management Board, CGIAR
  • Hans Braun, Director of CIMMYT Global Wheat Program and CRP Wheat
  • Bram Govaerts, Strategy Lead for Sustainable Intensification in Latin America, Latin America Regional Representative and Mexico country Representative at CIMMYT

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, REMOTE OR IN PERSON INTERVIEWS:

Julie Mollins
CIMMYT News Editor and Media Manager
j.mollins@cgiar.org
@jmollins

 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the CGIAR and retrieved on 07/27/2017 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.


 

Biochar could clear the air in more ways than one

No Comments
170727102943_1_540x360

Biochar could reduce local air pollution from agriculture by reducing emissions of nitric oxide from the soil, according to Rice University researchers. Credit: Ghasideh Pourhashem/Rice University


Health, economic benefits of capturing agricultural nitric oxide outlined in a study.


Date: July 27, 2017, Source: Rice University


Summary: Biochar could reduce local air pollution from agriculture by reducing emissions of nitric oxide from soil. Researchers argue that a better understanding of nitric oxide response to biochar will save lives and money, especially on farms near urban areas where agricultural emissions contribute to ozone and particulate matter formation.

Biochar from recycled waste may both enhance crop growth and save health costs by helping clear the air of pollutants, according to Rice University researchers.

Rice researchers in Earth science, economics, and environmental engineering have determined that widespread use of biochar in agriculture could reduce health care costs, especially for those who live in urban areas close to farmland.

Biochar is ground charcoal produced from waste wood, manure or leaves. Added to the soil, the porous carbon has been shown to boost crop yields, lessen the need for fertilizer and reduce pollutants by storing nitrogen that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.

The study led by Ghasideh Pourhashem, a postdoctoral fellow at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, appears in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Pourhashem worked with environmental engineering graduate student Quazi Rasool and postdoc Rui Zhang, Rice Earth scientist Caroline Masiello, energy economist Ken Medlock and environmental scientist Daniel Cohan to show that urban dwellers in the American Midwest and Southwest would gain the greatest benefits in air quality and health from greater use of biochar.

They said the U.S. counties that would stand to save the most in health care costs from reduced smog are Will, La Salle and Livingston counties in Illinois; San Joaquin, San Diego, Fresno and Riverside counties in California; Weld County in Colorado; Maricopa County in Arizona; and Fort Bend County in Texas.

“Our model projections show health care cost savings could be on the order of millions of dollars per year for some urban counties next to farmland,” Pourhashem said. “These results are now ready to be tested by measuring changes in air pollutants from specific agricultural regions.”

Pourhashem noted the key measurements needed are the rate of soil emission of nitric oxide (NO), which is a smog precursor after biochar is applied to fields. Many studies have already shown that biochar reduces the emissions of a related compound, nitrous oxide, but few have measured NO.

“We know that biochar impacts the soil nitrogen cycle, and that’s how it reduces nitrous oxide,” said Masiello, a professor of Earth, environmental and planetary science. “It likely reduces NO in the same way. We think the local impact of biochar-driven NO reductions could be very important.”

NO contributes to urban smog and acid rain. NO also is produced by cars and power plants, but the Rice study focused on its emission from fertilized soils.

The Rice team used data from three studies of NO emissions from soil in Indonesia and Zambia, Europe and China. The data revealed a wide range of NO emission curtailment — from 0 percent to 67 percent — depending on soil type, meteorological conditions and the chemical properties of biochar used.

Using the higher figure in their calculations, they determined that a 67 percent reduction in NO emissions in the United States could reduce annual health impacts of agricultural air pollution by up to $660 million. Savings through the reduction of airborne particulate matter — to which NO contributes — could be 10 times larger than those from ozone reduction, they wrote.

“Agriculture rarely gets considered for air pollution control strategies,” said Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Our work shows that modest changes to farming practices can benefit the air and soil too.”


Story Source:

Materials provided by Rice UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ghasideh Pourhashem, Quazi ZIAUR Rasool, Rui Zhang, Kenneth B Medlock, Daniel S Cohan, Caroline A. Masiello. Valuing the air quality effects of biochar reductions on soil NO emissionsEnvironmental Science & Technology, 2017; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b00748

 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Science Daily and retrieved on 07/28/2017 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.


 

%d bloggers like this: