Fighting agricultural Afropessimism

first_img“I often hear it said that Africa is runningout of food per head,” says analyst SteveWiggins. “Now unless these statistics arecomplete and utter junk, that just simplyisn’t true. The index shows 16%, 17%,18% more food being produced per capitacompared to the early 1980s.”(Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com imagelibrary)MEDIA CONTACTS• Overseas Development InstituteGareth ThomasActing Media and Public Affairs Officer+44 20 7922 [email protected] HartDirector of Communications+44 (0)20 7922 [email protected]• International Food Policy ResearchInstituteMichael Rubinstein+1 202 862 [email protected] Pietrowski+1 202 862 [email protected]bid Aslam+1 [email protected]• Future Agricultures [email protected], after 20 years of relative neglect, African agriculture is a hot topic, with a substantial growth in production and a new interest among major donors in funding the sector.That is the message emerging from the African Seminars Series now taking place in London, a gathering that examines the constraints and opportunities facing Africa’s farmers.The figures being presented are impressive and, according to Steve Wiggins, who leads the agriculture programme at Britain’s Overseas Development Institute, confound the pessimists who assume the situation to be much worse than it is.“I often hear it said that Africa is running out of food per head,” he told the seminar. “Now unless these statistics are complete and utter junk, that just simply isn’t true. The index shows 16%, 17%, 18% more food being produced per capita compared to the early 1980s.”In particular, he said, two regions – West Africa and North Africa – were surging ahead, although there were signs that production in East Africa too might now be beginning to accelerate.“For those of us working on Africa, people use Asia as a stick to beat us with,” Wiggins said. “Well, as far as I can see, there are two bits of Africa there which have done every bit as well as Asia has done over the last quarter of a century.”Wiggins’s fellow speaker at the opening session was Ousman Badiane, the Africa director of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. He put his finger on the mid nineties as the point when Africa really turned a corner.With no other overall change which could account for this recovery, Badiane attributed it to the structural adjustment programmes which so many countries had been persuaded to follow.“I believe it was the result of those strong and messy reform programmes of the 1980s. I remember the pain of it, but it completely changed the environment for agriculture.”Challenges, opportunitiesBoth speakers were agreed that the food price spike in 2008 and the world economic crisis pose both challenges and opportunities for African farmers. They worried about a growing protectionism in Asia – a major potential market for African agricultural produce – and about the fact that the speed of Asian development may have closed a window of opportunity for African’s own industrialisation.As Steve Wiggens said, “The single biggest stimulus to most farmers is a thriving local city.”Above all they worried that the gains of the last 20 years might be reversed. Ousman Badiane referred to a new law passed in Kenya to restore price controls on agricultural produce.“That’s where Kenya was 25 years ago,” he said. “The danger is that the generation of leaders that went through the pains of those reforms are no longer active. So those leaders today can make the same mistakes as the leaders of 25 years ago.”He added: “It is just for me unimaginable that a farmer stands up every day, produces the food and someone claims that is a common good: – ‘It’s our rice, it’s our maize.’ It’s amazing. Nobody goes to the farm with them, but once they produce the product, everybody claims it as their own. That has to change. It’s a private product; it belongs to the farmers. And they have to be able to sell it for the price that the market offers.”Comprehensive developmentOusmane Badiane sees the African Union‘s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (Caadep), in so far as it gives a voice to farmers, as an influence against this kind of reversal of policies.The first two seminars both sparked discussion of Caadep, which obliges member governments to devote 10% of their national budgets to agriculture and encourages them to produce a coherent plan to which donors can subscribe.But there was a considerable level of scepticism about Caadep. One participant, currently working in Malawi, described the frantic rush to produce a programme to put before donors, and said he had seen no evidence of new money becoming available.This was echoed by Christie Peacock, chief executive officer of the NGO Farm Africa. “There’s so little vision,” she said. “I’m very sceptical about the Caadep process. It’s supposed to be African led, but it’s often a very top-down process.”She echoed the reservations expressed by several participants, that even if new money was now being offered for agricultural development, both through Caadep and from the US government’s Feed the Future programme, there was no well-thought-out plan about how it should be used. “I think we are visionless at the moment,” Peacock said, “and after 20 years of lack of interest, we are in danger of reinventing the wheel all over again.”But the keynote speaker at the second seminar, Professor Sir Gordon Conway, author of The Doubly Green Revolution, was more optimistic about funding: “I do think there will be money – about a billion dollars of USAid [US Agency for International Development] money this year, and a billion plus next. Not perhaps the $3.5-billion that has been talked about, but around $2.7-billion will be there.”“Twenty years ago there was a view that African didn’t need agricultural development, that the private sector would do it all, and among some donor agencies that view is still there. But as a result of the food price crisis we have things like the Feed the Future programme, which looks for countries’ own plans. It recognises that countries are different, asks what they intend to do, and acts accordingly, and I think that’s quite a good approach.”The African Seminar Series is organised by the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Overseas Development Institute. Further sessions on markets, land issues and agriculture-led development in an urbanizing world will take place between now and the beginning of September.Source: Irin Newslast_img read more

Farmers drop organic labels over certification process, access to markets, study says

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Midwestern fruit and vegetable farmers are more likely than their counterparts in other regions to give up federal organic certification, according to a Purdue University study. Access to organic markets and consumers as well as the demands of obtaining and retaining certification seem to be the most significant drivers of their decisions.Obtaining U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification can be an expensive, year-long process that requires changing management practices and working with certifiers who determine if farms meet the government’s extensive requirements. But that’s worth it for many farmers who can command higher prices for organic products since demand has been rising quickly over the last decade.In 2017, organic food sales topped $45 billion — up 6.4% from 2016, according to the Organic Trade Association. Sales have more than doubled since 2010. Fruits and vegetables are the top-selling category, making up nearly 37% of organic food sales.“Consumers are demanding more organic fruits and vegetables, so there is a push to certify more farmers,” said Ariana Torres, a Purdue assistant professor of agricultural economics and horticulture & landscape architecture and co-author of the study. “There’s been a lot of money invested from the federal and local governments to get more farmers organically certified. The decision to decertify can have an effect on those programs, organic food supply and the bottom lines of farmers who spend so much to get into the program in the first place.”Despite the boom in demand, the number of organic farms has declined from 14,540 in 2008 to 12,818 in 2015. Some of that is due to consolidation of small and medium farms into larger operations. But some operations are simply leaving the organic program.Torres and Maria Marshall, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics, published their findings in the journal HortScience. Data are based on more than 1,500 farmer surveys.Of the 234 farms that were or had been organic at some point, the authors find that 36% had dropped certification. Large- and medium-sized farms were less likely to decertify than small farms. These farms may be able to produce enough volume of fruits and vegetables to access high-value, high-volume markets.That may be because fewer of the smaller organic farms are located near markets that would purchase large quantities of organic produce. Transportation to larger population centers may be less cost-effective for small organic farms.Also, many farmers who decide to opt out are likely selling their organic produce directly to consumers through farmer’s markets or community-supported agriculture programs.The data show that 72% of farmers continued to use organic practices even after decertification. Those farmers seem to be committed to organic agriculture and might be able to obtain premium prices for continuing to use organic practices without the need for an official certification.“Your customers know how you farm in those situations,” Torres said. “The farmers don’t need that tag to say the farm is USDA certified. The farmers just need to have a good relationship with the buyers.”In California and the Northeast United States, where decertification rates are lower, access to large markets likely keeps farmers in the program because they need certification to obtain premium prices.“If you’re a larger operation or selling to supermarkets, that requires you to be certified organic,” Marshall said. “But if you’re selling close to home, directly to consumers, you’re probably more likely to decertify.”Organic farmers were also likely to opt out of certification if the process became too much of a hassle.“Farmers were more likely to decertify if they perceived that loss of freedom, paperwork, cost of certification, interaction with the certifier, and lack of information were barriers to remain certified. It seems that the requirements embedded in the certification process were detrimental to the decision to remain certified,” the authors wrote.Understanding the reasons why organic farmers decertify may help inform government decisions on certification rules and processes.“That may be something that lawmakers may want to keep in mind,” Marshall said. “We want to maintain as many organic farmers as possible. Maintaining them is a lot less costly than certifying new ones.”Torres added that improving access to markets, especially for small operations, might make a difference.“If we want to incentivize farmers to remain certified, we probably want to support the access to markets,” Torres said. “If you’re small enough and can’t reach the market, programs that group certified small farms together to get them better access to large markets could be helpful.”The USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Organic Research and Education Initiative supported the research.last_img read more

Messi nets 3, Dembele debuts as Barcelona routs Espanyol

first_imgFire hits houses in Mandaluyong City View comments E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  After going on as a second-half substitute, Dembele didn’t take long to help his team when he passed for Luis Suarez to round off the rout in the 90th.A third win in as many rounds left Barcelona atop of the standings, with two more points than second-place Sevilla and four more points than defending champion Real Madrid in sixth.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutMessi opened the scoring at Camp Nou when he received a pass from Ivan Rakitic in what appeared to be an offside position. With no call coming from the referee, Messi dribbled around a defender and fired home.“They told me that the first goal could be offside, (…) but we did a lot to create several chances,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. He got his second by sliding to redirect Jordi Alba’s pass by goalkeeper Pau Lopez. Messi started the attack but lost the ball, only for it to take two deflections off defenders before falling to Alba in the area.After Espanyol forward Pablo Piatti hit the post, Messi made it a treble with a left-footed strike to slot in another pass from Alba.Dembele went on moments later to a round of applause from his new supporters. Barcelona paid a club-record sum to Borussia Dortmund for the 20-year-old France forward. With add-ons, his transfer could reach 147 million euros (about $173 million).Dembele showed his speed when he raced down the right side on a quick counterattack and crossed for Suarez to score.Suarez was making his league debut this season after missing the first two matches with a leg injury.ADVERTISEMENT Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)BARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi scored a hat trick and Ousmane Dembele set up a goal in his debut for Barcelona in a comfortable 5-0 win over crosstown rival Espanyol on Saturday.Messi struck twice in the first half, and leads the Spanish league with five goals. Gerard Pique headed in a fourth goal.ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. MOST READ Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Stephens wins first Grand Slam, routs Keys for US Open title LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

Scorpions want to sting again

first_imgBy BEN HARRISIt seemed New South Wales Scorpions came from the clouds last year to win the women’s Elite Eight division at National Touch League.This year they won’t be so incognito.With the targets on their back, every team will be gunning for the Scorpions.They had an unblemished record in 2014, which gives them the confidence heading into this year’s campaign.Adding to that confidence is majority of last year’s side remain, which makes them definite short-priced favourites.New South Wales Mets will be nipping around once again.The perennial finalists love the Elite Eight, having played in every final since the first competition at the 2011 NTL. This year should be no different.Louise Winchester is the major drawcard for this side; she’ll work in tandem with Ash Quinlan.Mets also picked up Shellie Davis and Tayla Clifford to add to their arsenal.Queensland Chiefs have a lot of Australian representatives – 10 in all – playing and will be a team to keep an eye on.Emily Hennessey returns and she adds that much-needed spark the Chiefs were lacking last year where they were knocked out in the semi-finals.Their matches against Mets and Scorpions will be incredible showdowns.The Stingrays could be the dark horses of the competition having made the semi-finals last year.They have some talented players but it will come down to consistency.Stability was something lacking the New South Wales Country Mavericks in 2014.The Mavericks failed to win a match last year despite making the final four in 2013.A new coach and a new-looking side means the Mavericks should go better this year.New South Wales Rebels, Queensland Country Outlaws and The Alliance are not to be discounted from the field.The Outlaws made massive improvements in 2014 and with a lot of youth-based players in their side, they could pull off a few upsets.The Rebels didn’t have the best of it last year but they only missed the finals by a win.Not having Maddie Studdon (injury) is a lost but there are other Australian representatives who are able to step up.The Alliance is building every year and will be hard opposition for teams.Leah Percy captains the side, which has brought on the best talent from around the country.You can keep up-to-date with all of the latest news and information from the 2015 National Touch League in the following ways: Websites www.ntl.mytouchfooty.com www.touchfootball.com.au Social Media Facebook – www.facebook.com/touchfootballaustralia Twitter – www.twitter.com/touchfootyaus (be sure to use the hashtag #NTL2015) Instagram – www.instagram.com/touchfootballaustralia YouTube – www.youtube.com/touchfootballaus (live streaming of select games will occur, stay tuned to www.touchfootball.com.au for all of the links)Related LinksWomen’s Elite Eight previewlast_img read more

25 days agoPallister: Arsenal a winnable game for patched up Man Utd

first_imgAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Pallister: Arsenal a winnable game for patched up Man Utdby Paul Vegas25 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United hero Gary Pallister sees tonight’s clash with Arsenal as a winnable.United will host the Gunners with a patched up XI.But Pallister says: “I think both clubs are in a similar situation. You just don’t know what to expect of the sides. Both managers are trying to implement their styles and get the best out of the teams but it’s not happening on a consistent basis, so I think both sets of fans will feel the same. “United have got to use the negative feeling and try to make it into a positive; roll up your sleeves and show you’re not a bad side. It’s not City or Liverpool, it’s a club they’ll be competing with at the end of the season. At Old Trafford, they’ve got to be trying to win.”He also insisted: “With Arsenal, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get at the moment either – Unai Emery has been there a season and they’ve not been terrific but they can also look like the Arsene Wenger team. You don’t know which team will turn up. What better game for the United players to react than Arsenal.”Gary Pallister was speaking to BonusCodeBets last_img read more

ESPN Releases Weekly Power Rankings For Week 14

first_imgMichigan State ranked 4 in recent ESPN power rankings. ezekiel elliott michigan post-gameEzekiel Elliott and Ohio State made a jump this week.This weekend was rivalry weekend in college football, and there was plenty of riveting gridiron action for fans to enjoy.While Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Iowa all held serve, several games shook up the ranks. Ohio State’s thumping of Michigan, Florida State’s rivalry romp over Florida and Stanford’s last-second win over Notre Dame all ensured that the polls and CFP rankings would look different this week. The weekly ESPN Power Rankings also underwent some noticeable changes.The top five is virtually the same as last week, with MSU and Oklahoma flip-flopping at three and four. After that though, there is plenty of shuffling. Ohio State and Stanford each jumped up two spots, with Florida State and UNC making leaps into the top 10. Beyond that, TCU, Houston, Oregon, Northwestern, Temple and USC all made noteworthy ascensions while Baylor, Florida, Michigan and Oklahoma State fell. Mississippi State plummeted 13 spots out of the top 25 after losing the Egg Bowl. Here are the rankings, via ESPN:1. Clemson2. Alabama3. Oklahoma4. Michigan State5. Iowa6. Ohio State7. Stanford8. North Carolina9. Notre Dame 10. Florida State11. TCU12. Baylor 13. Oregon14. Ole Miss15. Northwestern16. Oklahoma State17. Michigan18. Houston19. Florida20. Temple21. USC22. Utah23. LSU24. Navy25. WisconsinYou can find last week’s rankings here. What do you think, college football fans?last_img read more

Hilton the shark heads south after long sojourn off Nova Scotia coast

first_imgHALIFAX – A well-loved great white shark has finally taken his leave from Canadian waters and is heading south for the holidays, but not before sending well wishes to his northerly fans.Hilton, a tagged shark who has his own Twitter feed and more than 18,000 followers, posted a message that he had ventured to the coast of New Hampshire following a lengthy sojourn off Nova Scotia.“Where do I find Christmas celebrations in New England?” the cheeky 600-kilogram great white said in his latest tweet, which features a map showing his latest ping Sunday night along with a Santa emoji.Just before his departure, Hilton — or more precisely the humans handling his social media — shared his fondness for the area with his followers.“#IWillNeverForgetTheTime I spent in Nova Scotia. Onward to new destinations,” he tweeted, receiving 127 likes along with responses from some saying they hope he will return to the area next summer.Hilton first appeared on Nova Scotia’s south shore in early August, charming locals with a wry Twitter feed chronicling his movements.The almost four-metre-long shark was tagged by the research group Ocearch in March in South Carolina.The group says Hilton’s stay off the province may suggest it is a breeding ground for the species, which could help unravel the mysterious mating habits of great white sharks.Ocearch founder Chris Fischer said the shark may have stuck around the area, despite a few detours, in a bid to find a potential mate, saying: “They should only have one thing on their mind and that’s making baby sharks.”Based on Ocearch’s findings, shark migration patterns in Nova Scotia’s southern waters are consistent with there being a breeding site in the area.Fischer said the U.S.-based group is hoping to get Ottawa’s permission to launch an expedition in Eastern Canada next fall to scout out potential mating sites in the area. He wants to tag between 20 and 50 sharks in the region.Hilton wasn’t the only tagged shark that has been spotted around Nova Scotia.A 300 kilogram great white shark affectionately known as Pumpkin was detected in the Minas Basin in July. A 900 kilogram great white named Lydia, who also has her own Twitter account managed by Ocearch, was spotted around Sable Island in 2013 and 2016.last_img read more

AltaCorp Capital founder oil and gas financier George Gosbee dies suddenly

first_imgCALGARY – Investment firm AltaCorp Capital Inc. says its founder and CEO, Calgary oil and gas financier George Gosbee, died suddenly on Sunday.Gosbee was a former governor of the National Hockey League and, in 2013, led a group to purchase the Arizona Coyotes and restructure the team. Current team owner Andrew Barroway tweeted he was “deeply saddened” by the news.Gosbee, 48, founded AltaCorp Capital in 2010 and struck a deal to partner it with ATB Financial, an Alberta government-owned lender.In 2000, he helped found Tristone Capital Global Inc., an energy investment firm which he and his partners sold in 2009 to Australia’s Macquarie Group for about $130 million.Gosbee served as vice-chairman of Alberta Investment Management Co., which manages $90 billion in provincial government pension funds, for eight years.AltaCorp says president Paul Sarachman will assume the role of CEO.last_img read more

Jail sentence handed down in 2016 Attempt Murder and Kidnapping Investigation

first_imgDAWSON CREEK, B.C. – On Thursday, January 10, 2019, Brandon MacDonald, 32-years-old, and Robert Clarke, 34-years-old, pleaded guilty to charges in Supreme Court in Dawson Creek in relation to a 2016 investigation.MacDonald, a resident of Chetwynd entered a guilty plea to the following charges:Attempt Murder with a firearm (Section 239(1) (a.1) CCC)Kidnapping (Section 279(1)(1) CCC)Uttering Threats (Section 264.1(1) CCC)MacDonald was sentenced to just under 8 years with a lifetime firearm prohibition. Clarke, a resident of P.E.I. entered a guilty plea to Aggravated Assault (Sec 268(2) CCC) and was sentenced to 1.5 years in jail with a lifetime firearm prohibition.Clarke was arrested on February 23, 2017, in Nova Scotia.last_img read more