By Caity Peterson
You're hungry for pizza. Walking around the neighborhood, you find two pizzerias not far from each other. They're both selling pretty much the same thing - crust with cheese and tomatoes on top - and at the same price. But one offers you a free delicious ice-cold 2-liter soda to go with your hawaiian. That makes your choice easy, no?
Believe it or not, something similar is happening in Uganda. Only we're not talking about pizza, and the choice is a bit more complicated.
The comestibles in question here are two of the country's most important agricultural commodities. One, coffee, makes up 20-30% of Uganda's foreign exchange earnings and creates a cash boom for smallholders once or twice a year. The other, banana, is the country's principle staple crop, providing a small, steady food harvest all year long. In fact, Uganda was the 2nd largest banana producer in the world in 2008, and the 11th largest coffee producer.
By Jeremy Cherfas
The effects of climate change on agriculture have been widely discussed. Less so, the specific impacts on conservation of plant genetic resources. Toby Hodgkin and Paul Bordoni, scientists at Bioversity International, fill that gap with a recent paper in the Journal of Crop Improvement. Hodgkin and Bordoni take it as axiomatic that intensification results in the loss of agricultural biodiversity, and that improved sustainability will require the use of more, and more diverse, plant genetic resources. Where will those resources come from?
By Denise Martínez Breto
No other accounts on the reality of growing crops, harvesting and selling food could ever be as genuine as those coming from the farmers themselves. In a two-hour dedicated Learning event on food losses and waste during the Agriculture and Rural Development Day farmers from Uganda, FAO members and private sector organizations zoomed in on food thrown out or squandered in both developed and developing countries.
One-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is either lost or thrown away, together with the natural resources used for its production. Although food losses occur at all stages of the food supply chain the causes and their impact around the world differ. In developing countries, food losses hit small farmers the hardest. Almost 65 percent of these food losses happen at the production, post harvest, and processing stages. In industrialized countries, food waste often occurs at the retail and consumer level due to a “throw-away” mindset.
Interview with gender grant recipient Gulsan Ara Parvin, made by Moushumi Chaudhury and edited by Lisen Stenberg
It is recognized that women are more vulnerable to climate change, since their lives and livelihoods are dependent on nature and agriculture. “Similar to other places in developing countries, women in my study area have little understanding about climate change and its induced impact on their lives and livelihood” explains Gulsan Parvin. She conducts research in the Horikhali village in Paikgacha, Khulna in Bangladesh, focusing on the role of microfinance institutions in enhancing food security in a climate change context. “However” Gulsan continues, “climate change is affecting coastal communities, as well as other manmade factors. This is changing women’s livelihoods, increasing hardship in their daily life and lowering food security.”
By Cecilia Schubert
As world food demand increases, so too does demand for farmland. Agricultural expansion threatens valuable forests and biodiversity, contributing to climate change and destroying precious ecosystems. Seeing as a country’s GDP growth from agriculture generates at least twice as much poverty reduction than any other sector, and 40 percent of the world’s population is engaged in farming, agriculture must be viewed as key for economic growth, food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Agriculture has huge potential in contributing to the solution, instead of only be seen as part of the problem. Is intensification the silver-bullet solution?
By Cecilia Schubert
Biofuel is hot commodity, and the private sector is looking at small-scale farms in developing countries to help produce crops to feed the industry. Understandably, this is causing controversy, with accusations of land-grabbing by private companies, and fears that farmers may swop food crops for more profitable biofuel crops, increasing their risk of hunger. But what is actually happening behind the headlines? Can farmers really benefit from the investments or will they only jeopardize food security and degrade the environment? Is it really a fair deal for everyone involved?
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)