The work of CIMMYT and its many valued partners on maize and wheat farming systems is more important now than at any time in the organization’s history. Our planet’s expanding population, changing diets, limited natural resources, demand for bio-fuels and increasingly variable climate are all putting extraordinary pressure on the global food system. The evidence is all around us. In 2012, for the third time in less than six years, we faced a global food price crisis with international maize prices reaching levels double those of just two years prior. In the wake of the Arab Spring, two major wheat production and cereal importing areas, North Africa and the Middle East, remain highly stressed by rising wheat prices. In recent years average wheat imports for all of Africa have reached more than 35 million tons annually, costing the continent’s nations more than US$12 billion and threatening the supply of wheat products for resource-poor consumers.
Posts Tagged ‘Food security’
Fisher, M.; Lewin, P.A.
This study examines how socio-economic characteristics of households, local conditions, and public programmes are associated with the probability that a farm household in rural Malawi is food insecure. The statistical analysis uses nationally representative data for 8350 randomly-selected households interviewed during 2004/05 for the second Malawi Integrated Household Survey. Regressions are estimated separately for households in the north, centre, and south of Malawi to account for spatial heterogeneity. Results of a multilevel logit model reveal that households are less likely to be food insecure if they have larger cultivated land per capita, receive agricultural field assistance, reside in a community with an agricultural cooperative and relatively high annual rainfall, and are headed by an individual with a high school degree. Factors that positively correlate with household food insecurity are price of maize, price of fertiliser, number of household members, and distance to markets. Implications of these findings for policy are discussed.
Beuchelt, T.D.; Badstue, L.B.
Future food and nutrition security is threatened by climate change, overexploitation of natural resources and pervasive social inequalities. Promising solutions are often technology-focused and not necessarily developed considering gender and social disparities. This paper addresses issues of gender and human development opportunities and trade-offs related to promoting improved technologies for agricultural development. We examined these aspects for conservation agriculture (CA) as part of a cropping system with nutrition- and climate-smart potential. The paper is based on a literature review and field experiences from Zambia and Mexico. Findings point up situations where the promotion of CA for smallholders in developing countries may have undesired effects from gender and human development perspectives, specifically relating to drudgery, nutrition and food security, residue use, assets, mechanization and extension. The direction and magnitude of potential trade-offs depend on the local context and the specific intervention. The analysis is followed by a discussion of opportunities and pathways for mitigating the trade-offs, including gender transformative approaches; engagement with alternative or non-traditional partners with different but complementary perspectives and strengths; “smart” combinations of technologies and approaches; and policies for inclusive development.
Neufeldt, H.; Jahn, M.;Campbell, B.M.; Beddington, J.R.; DeClerck, F.; Pinto, A. De; Gulledge, J.; Hellin, J.; Herrero, M.; Jarvis, A.; LeZaks, D.; Meinke, H.;Rosenstock, T.; Scholes, M.; Scholes, R.; Vermeulen, S.; Wollenberg, E.; Zougmore, R.
Agriculture is considered to be “climate-smart” when it contributes to increasing food security, adaptation and mitigation in a sustainable way. This new concept now dominates current discussions in agricultural development because of its capacity to unite the agendas of the agriculture, development and climate change communities under one brand. In this opinion piece authored by scientists from a variety of international agricultural and climate research communities, we argue that the concept needs to be evaluated critically because the relationship between the three dimensions is poorly understood, such that practically any improved agricultural practice can be considered climate-smart. This lack of clarity may have contributed to the broad appeal of the concept. From the understanding that we must hold ourselves accountable to demonstrably better meet human needs in the short and long term within foreseeable local and planetary limits, we develop a conceptualization of climate-smart agriculture as agriculture that can be shown to bring us closer to safe operating spaces for agricultural and food systems across spatial and temporal scales. Improvements in the management of agricultural systems that bring us significantly closer to safe operating spaces will require transformations in governance and use of our natural resources, underpinned by enabling political, social and economic conditions beyond incremental changes. Establishing scientifically credible indicators and metrics of long-term safe operating spaces in the context of a changing climate and growing social-ecological challenges is critical to creating the societal demand and political will required to motivate deep transformations. Answering questions on how the needed transformational change can be achieved will require actively setting and testing hypotheses to refine and characterize our concepts of safer spaces for social-ecological systems across scales. This effort will demand prioritizing key areas of innovation, such as (1) improved adaptive management and governance of social-ecological systems; (2) development of meaningful and relevant integrated indicators of social-ecological systems; (3) gathering of quality integrated data, information, knowledge and analytical tools for improved models and scenarios in time frames and at scales relevant for decision-making; and (4) establishment of legitimate and empowered science policy dialogues on local to international scales to facilitate decision making informed by metrics and indicators of safe operating spaces.
Jill E. Cairns, Jon Hellin, Kai Sonder, José Luis Araus, John F. MacRobert, Christian Thierfelder and B. M. Prasanna
Given the accumulating evidence of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, there is an urgent need to develop more climate resilient maize systems. Adaptation strategies to climate change in maize systems in sub-Saharan Africa are likely to include improved germplasm with tolerance to drought and heat stress and improved management practices. Adapting maize systems to future climates requires the ability to accurately predict future climate scenarios in order to determine agricultural responses to climate change and set priorities for adaptation strategies. Here we review the projected climate change scenarios for Africa’s maize growing regions using the outputs of 19 global climate models. By 2050, air temperatures are expected to increase throughout maize mega- environments within sub-Saharan Africa by an average of 2.1°C. Rainfall changes during the maize growing season varied with location. Given the time lag between the development of improved cultivars until the seed is in the hands of farmers and adoption of new management practices, there is an urgent need to prioritise research strategies on climate change resilient germplasm development to offset the predicted yield declines.
Matthew Reynolds, John Foulkes, Robert Furbank, Simon Griffiths, Julie King, Erik Murchie, Martin Parry and Gustavo Slafer
Wheat provides 20% of calories and protein consumed by humans. Recent genetic gains are <1% per annum (p.a.), insufficient to meet future demand. The Wheat Yield Consortium brings expertise in photosynthesis, crop adaptation and genetics to a common breeding platform. Theory suggest radiation use efficiency (RUE) of wheat could be increased ∼50%; strategies include modifying specificity, catalytic rate and regulation of Rubisco, up-regulating Calvin cycle enzymes, introducing chloroplast CO2 concentrating mechanisms, optimizing light and N distribution of canopies while minimizing photoinhibition, and increasing spike photosynthesis. Maximum yield expression will also require dynamic optimization of source: sink so that dry matter partitioning to reproductive structures is not at the cost of the roots, stems and leaves needed to maintain physiological and structural integrity. Crop development should favour spike fertility to maximize harvest index so phenology must be tailored to different photoperiods, and sensitivity to unpredictable weather must be modulated to reduce conservative responses that reduce harvest index. Strategic crossing of complementary physiological traits will be augmented with wide crossing, while genome-wide selection and high throughput phenotyping and genotyping will increase efficiency of progeny screening. To ensure investment in breeding achieves agronomic impact, sustainable crop management must also be promoted through crop improvement networks.
Maize is the most important food staple for resource-poor smallholders in Africa, providing food and income to millions. One of the key constraints to improving food and nutritional security in Africa is the poor post-harvest management that leads to between 14 % and 36 % loss of maize grains, thereby aggravating hunger. Post-harvest losses contribute to high food prices by removing part of the supply from the market. Reducing post-harvest losses in maize is an essential component in any strategy to make more food available without increasing the burden on the natural environment. Solving the post-harvest management problems in maize will require cooperation and effective linkage among the following: research, extension, agro-industry, marketing system and favorable policy environment. Biological and socio-economic causes of post-harvest losses in maize in Africa are discussed in relation to climate change and food security, and strategies to reduce the post-harvest losses are suggested.
Mauricio R. Bellon, David Hodson and Jon Hellin
Climate change is predicted to have major impacts on small-scale farmers in Mexico whose livelihoods depend on rain-fed maize. We examined the capacity of traditional maize seed systems to provide these farmers with appropriate genetic material under predicted agro-ecological conditions associated with climate change. We studied the structure and spatial scope of seed systems of 20 communities in four transects across an altitudinal gradient from 10–2,980 m above sea level in five states of eastern Mexico. Results indicate that 90% of all of the seed lots are obtained within 10 km of a community and 87% within an altitudinal range of ±50 m but with variation across four agro-climate environments: wet lowland, dry lowland, wet upper midlatitude, and highlands. Climate models suggest a drying and warming trend for the entire study area during the main maize season, leading to substantial shifts in the spatial distribution patterns of agro-climate environments. For all communities except those in the highlands, predicted future maize environments already are represented within the 10-km radial zones, indicating that in the future farmers will have easy access to adapted planting material. Farmers in the highlands are the most vulnerable and probably will need to acquire seed from outside their traditional geographical ranges. This change in seed sources probably will entail important information costs and the development of new seed and associated social networks, including improved linkages between traditional and formal seed systems and more effective and efficient seed-supply chains. The study has implications for analogous areas elsewhere in Mexico and around the world.
Published in Food Security 3(4): 475-489, 2011
Improving market access and agricultural productivity growth in Africa: what role for producer organizations and collective action institutions?
Bekele Shiferaw, Jon Hellin and Geoffrey Muricho
The history of producer organizations in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is a mixed one. In the past, producer organizations often failed to provide desired services due to dependence on government support, which led to heavy political interference as well as internal leadership and managerial problems. However, the hasty retreat of the state following adjustment and market liberalization reforms left an institutional void that the private sector has failed to fill. This study reviews the role that producer organizations can play, and the challenges they face in improving access to markets and technologies for enhancing productivity of smallholder agriculture in SSA in the post-adjustment era. The paper critically examines the evidence for improving access to markets, information and technologies, and the conditions that facilitate the success of producer organizations in providing such services. Emphasis is on the characteristics of user groups, institutional arrangements, governance mechanisms, types of products (staples, perishables and other commodities), and the role of the public and private sector service providers. We conclude that while recent experiences are mixed, good governance, more homogeneous and optimal group size, transparency and market orientation can enhance the role of producer organizations in improving access to markets. However, ideally these organizations need to prioritise agribusiness opportunities over social welfare objectives even though this may mean that some households are unable to take advantage of them. Donors and governments have important roles to play in stimulating the emergence and development of economically viable and self-sustaining producer organizations. The private sector is also critical in terms of providing producer organizations with financial and business development services.
Edited by A.R. Khan, S.S. Singh, R.C. Bharati, T.K. Srivastava and M.A. Khan
ISBN : 81-8321-202-6
“Understanding nuances of relevant techniques is a pre-requisite to conservation. The present book Resource Conservation Technologies For Food Security and Rural Livelihood is a sincere attempt to descramble the theoretical and operational complexities of resources conservation technologies being adopted in various agro-ecological conditions. Sustainable human survival is at stake in the wake of serious erosion, pollution and at times destruction of natural resources. On the other hand the most crucial land and water resources are shrinking at an alarming rate and are prone to ever increasing diversion to non-agricultural use. Under such a scenario long term profitable and sustainable production of food, feed and fibre for meeting the human and livestock requirements can be made possible through conservation and judicious use of natural resources.
The book covers main as well as applied aspects of resource conservation techniques (RCTs). Chapters on RCTs for resource saving in cropping systems and farming systems of Indo-Gangetic plains provide in depth information on minor details about applicability of such technologies for diversification of input use and recycling while maintaining the soil health and ecological balance. Lucid information on application of modern techniques like GIS, IT and simulation modelling for crop management based on conservation agriculture principles makes it useful for precision agriculture proponents. Potential of RCTs for mitigation and adaptation to climate change has been well covered. Utility of RCTs for enhancing water productivity and maintenance of soil health for overall improvement in factor productivity of agricultural sector is discussed under various agro-climatic scenarios. Aspects like integration of resource conservation technologies with aquaculture and livestock management for internalizing the externalities and supporting the closed cycles of resource utilization in place of open ended cycles present practical ways to achieve the desired goal of sustainable agricultural growth and ensured food and livelihood security on sustainable basis. Overall the book deciphers on the practical techniques for easy adoption of reduced tillage, residue retention and crop rotation, the basic components of conservation agriculture, for enhancing land and water productivity.
The book is highly informative and useful for the people involved in the adoption, promotion and development of resource conservation technology.”