Study Shows Bioenergy Benefits for Rural Poor
It is known to all, that agriculture is of crucial importance to our planet as well as our diet. Our diet pertains to our health. However, why is the diversity of voices silenced in shaping our food system? Food policies should be planned with people and not for people. According to a “Hivos people unlimited” article, it reviewed the “Food Change Lab” in Uganda that assembled a multitude of voices that works for everyone including ordinary citizens. Hivos, together with IIED and KRC, engages with a ‘change lab’ approach in the rapidly changing Kabarole region of Western Uganda. This approach caters for sustainable innovation in local food policy and planning which allows the unheard voices to be heard. Policy runs a risk of failure when it doesn’t reflect the lives of people it targets. The people who spend most of their earnings on food and are most at stake in the food system – from the small scale farmers to the low income consumers- their voices reflect the most say. In April 2016, Uganda’s first People’s Summit on Food opened this forum to a wider group of voices from Fort Portal city, Kabarole district and national institutions. It gave rise to the Agahikaine coalition – bringing together individual farmers and small scale processors, local NGOs, municipal government, elders, SMEs and the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association. This coalition of the willing is in its early stages of formation but is pushing ahead with its goal to bring more voices into policy and planning around food safety, food availability, agro processing and balanced diets based on traditional knowledge.
Mixing more voices into food policy is important. Policy runs a serious risk of failure when it doesn’t reflect the lives of people it targets. Food policy targets those with most at stake in the food system, from small scale farmers to low income consumers who spend a high proportion of their income on food.
The food systems are changing, driven by urbanization, trade, climate change and shifts in consumption. Most of the times, policies are imposed in ways that do not consider the everyday issues facing low-income citizens ; nor the solutions that the same local communities can suggest. These are the people who are most familiar with what food insecurity looks like in their communities but are still left out of the debate.
Over the last decade, the importance of having a greater diversity of voices being brought into policy and planning are being addressed by building ‘civic labs’ or ‘social change labs’. This is a force for addressing social and public needs in Uganda. The Change Labs, is a social innovation by the partnership of two organizations – Hivos and IIED. The Change Labs are safe social spaces with facilitated interactions between various actors, where innovations emerge and interventions are tested on the ground. Hivos and IIED are convinced that if citizen-driven processes and locally formulated new approaches are being integrated in global food policies, this would radically improve inclusive and sustainable solutions. It explicitly focuses beyond policy, our service outcomes and gear interventions towards less tangible outcomes such as knowledge and skills, network building and increased trust between the actors involved, which ensures that the platform is sustainable and the solutions have strong roots. The Change Lab approach was applied to bring a much greater diversity of voices into a process of building a food system for all, driving local economic development, rural development, food security and ecological health. The Food Change Lab convened a group of diverse actors to explore the issues, review the evidence, and commit to action of the rates of malnutrition. The Lab process has already made an impact, including a move from confrontation to coexistence between local government and informal food vendors. Opening up policy making and planning is not the end of the story as the Lab continues to invest in citizen’s capacity to generate evidence, allowing their voices to shape food systems of the future.
In April 2016 Uganda’s first People’s Summit on Food, opened the process to a wide group of voices from Fort Portal city, Kabarole district and national institutions. Commitments from all stakeholder groups paved the way for a coalition of the willing that will take the process in 2017. The coalition – bringing together individual farmers and small – scale processors, local NGOs, municipal government, elders, SMEs and the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association is pushing ahead with its goal to bring more voices into policy and planning around food safety, food availability, agro processing and balanced diets based on traditional knowledge. The National Planning Authority (city government office in Uganda) Director pledge to integrate the food system as a cross cutting issue in their planning system, and urged the Change Labs to continue their work and be a leading example for other regions.
Hopefully innovations like the Change Lab will raise awareness of why it is important to mix more voices into food policy and will be considered worldwide.
Anna Lee James – 814003910
Climate Change is a global phenomenon and the effects are detrimental. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) describe it as “a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. This change can be in a region’s average annual rainfall or it could be a change in a city’s average temperature for a given month or season. It further states that Climate change is also a change in Earth’s overall climate, the change in Earth’s average temperature and Earth’s typical precipitation patterns. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the world and it is also highly dependent on climate. The impact on climate change on the agriculture sector is damaging and it is a cause for concern. These effects includes: unfavourable weather conditions contributing to low productivity, increase in pest and diseases as a result of prolong rainfall, heat stress and other negative factors.
The term ‘Right to Adequate Food’ is derived from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in 2002 defined the “right to adequate food” as follows: “Right to adequate food is a human right, inherent in all people, to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensures a physical and mental, individual and collective fulfilling and dignified life free of fear.”The pressing issue here is how we can ensure food adequacy where there is this global phenomenon like climate change and the sector that we rely on for food is highly dependent on climate and it is changing! Approximately, two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and 78% of agricultural methane emissions come from the livestock sector. It is evident that to deal with this pressing issue three things must be taken into consideration: 1.farmers must come up with new alternatives that will help limit the amount of methane emissions coming from their practices or the raring of their livestock, 2.farmers must develop and implement technologies or practices to ensure productivity and proper health of their animals and 3. Implement measures to reduce the impacts of Climate Change on food security.
According to the article “The ground exhales: reducing agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions”, there are a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms, but none is completely simple. It states that, in climates where the ground freezes, overwintering plants on the soil (that is, leaving plants intact on the soil surface after harvest instead of ploughing them in or removing them in the fall) can help reduce nitrous oxide emissions. Secondly, limiting inputs of nitrogen to just the amount likely to be usable by plants can reduce emissions. Furthermore, Farmers can also implement management practices, such as incorporating proper waste disposal systems to effectively get rid of waste. The waste can be treated and used to fertilize the soil. This treatment includes bio gas digesters in intensive farming systems to reduce methane releases.
Additionally , Climate change will affect people’s ability to access food chiefly via purchase. Climate change is also likely to affect the geography of production at large scales –shifts in areas of crop or livestock production suitability, which could have substantial impacts on prices, trade flows and food access. Not only farmers have to play a role in food adequacy but other sectors as well as the government. Initiatives must be put into place to ensure sustainability and productivity. Some iniatives can include: strategic design of land use options based on agro-ecological analysis and farmer typologies, ii) promoting climate-smart technologies and maximizing synergies amongst interventions; iii) providing value-added weather services to local farmers to manage variability; iv) promoting weather-based insurance options for climate risk management; v) facilitating community partnership for knowledge sharing; and vi) capacity development in climate change adaptation. Furthermore , water-smart practices (rainwater harvesting, laser land levelling, micro-irrigation, raised bed planting, change in crop establishment methods), weather-smart activities (ICT-based agro-advisories, index-based insurance, stress tolerant crop varieties), nutrient-smart practices (site specific nutrient management, precision fertilizers, residue management, legume catch-cropping), carbon- and energy-smart practices (agroforestry, conservation tillage, residue management, legumes, livestock management) and knowledge-smart activities (farmer-to-farmer learning, capacity development, community seed banks and cooperatives, crop diversification, market information and off-farm risk management).
Although climate Change is a pressing issue in the world today, we must take measure to reduce these risks on our food security.
Does mixing more voices into the food policy discussions increase the opportunity for each voice to be heard or does it just increase the noise as each voice clamors to be heard above the rest? With the increased commercialization and export, the rural communities in Uganda are having a harder time making a sustainable livelihood. The constraints of climate change and lack of land and water security and lack of agricultural diversity only increase the strain on rural Ugandan households.
The article raises important issues by showcasing the inequities in Governance mechanisms and Policy formation. It pinpoints the main flaws of Vision 2040 as an unsustainable model of development which mainly focuses on economic development and moving towards large scale commercial agriculture while minimizing the impact of social and environmental aspects unique to subsistence farming. The ‘soft infrastructure’ is just as important as the ‘hard infrastructure’ but the bias and negative connotations that governing bodies, the main actors in governance, have towards the other actors such as the food producers and informal distributors impedes proper communication. The municipal governing bodies’ view of the informal food system as unhygienic, nutrition poor, causing traffic and not contributing to taxes, places the vendors and traders within the food system at odds with the authorities in a combative structure.
The food safety and food nutrition concerns are valid. The ethical issues of the sale of food which is unhealthy, whether because of improper sanitation and storage or imbalanced nutritional content, are notable because the rural households are disproportionately affected. Disclosure on genetically modified organisms (G.M.O) or even the labour practices on the farms and in markets needs to be encouraged.
Open and honest communication is necessary to build trust among the actors and in this respect the Food Change Lab does a good job of ameliorating the inherent distrust. The use of the actors themselves as data collectors certainly engenders trust since collecting data in the first person means each individual contributes to the outcome of the group and feels more invested. The emphasis on proper training in the use of the technologies due to the range of education and literacy introduces a variable that could reduce the reliability of the data.
The initiative of a Food Change Lab as a way to increase the stakeholder participation and interaction is a step in the right direction. More equity in representation has already shown positive impacts. From the initial pilot in Fort Portal in Kabarole District to the formation of the Agahikaine coalition the process has served as an example of the benefits of engagement of stakeholders at all levels and has spread to Kampala, Indonesia, Zambia and Bolivia.
The article leads with the idea that diversity in the voices of the people is just as imperative as diversity in agriculture yet neglects to showcase diversity within the actors themselves. The images show mostly women so in the process of seeking proportional representation, where is the emphasis on Gender Equity? What percentage of the voices are women and what systems are in place to ensure that these voices are heard? With increased inclusivity the advocates must be careful that the already vulnerable groups are not further disenfranchised. We must ensure that with more voices there is not a cacophony but a symphony and harmony.
Kabunga, Nassul, Shibani Ghosh, and Jeffrey K. Griffiths. “Can Smallholder Fruit And Vegetable Production Systems Improve Household Food Security And Nutritional Status Of Women? Evidence From Rural Uganda”. SSRN Electronic Journal n. pag. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Kikulwe, Enoch M. et al. “A Latent Class Approach To Investigating Demand For Genetically Modified Banana In Uganda”. Agricultural Economics 42.5 (2011): 547-560. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Seeram Ken Maharaj 8131187785
Natural resources are considered the backbone of every economy in the world. According to the perspectives presented, Latin America and the Caribbean are one of the richest regions worldwide in terms of natural resources. There is no doubt that Trinidad and Tobago is blessed with an abundance of natural resources confirming what was said in the paper. But, is that the reality of some of the smaller Caribbean Islands? The question therefore, is energy resources considered the only natural resource? Several years ago, the backbone of the Caribbean was agriculture and fed the Caribbean and most of the European Nations. Agriculture was then considered the natural resource of the Caribbean. In Trinidad there was the famous, “Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture” supporting how developed agriculture was. It is that the sustainable use of the natural resource gift of agriculture was not protected and or poor leadership allowed the rapid exploitation of this natural resource which now threatens the core foundation of food security in the Caribbean? Unfortunately, these past natural resources were not transformed into real capital stocks and neither built to add to the wealth of the present and not even for future generations. Natural disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, etc. are serious threats when vulnerable people are exposed. One form of risk management is to probably evacuate people from such areas as far as practicable to avoid future problems. These disasters and climate change pose serious problems to agriculture sustainability as confirmed by the paper. The findings of the paper recommending a paradigm shift to adopt a fully sustainable agricultural model which protects natural resources, equitable socio-economic resources, coping with climate change and natural disasters and supported by the FAO is great but appears not to touch on the overall concept of sustainable development. According to the European Commission, “Sustainable Development stands for meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the ability of futures generations to meet their own needs – in other words, a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come”. Policies alone will not help with sustainable development; the everyday challenges by the many guiding choices must also be taken up by citizens or society at large in conjunction with the political and socio-economic decisions taken. This requires profound changes in attitude, thinking and culture change, matters not mentioned in the paper.
European Commission, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/archives/eussd/index.htm
Name: Farelle Ferreira
Lifestyle changes, globalization and population increase has affected the diets of Pacific islanders as food production and consumption has been altered. Pacific island countries are banishing their old diet as they have become heavily dependent on imported food. Due to this, many persons living on these islands have replaced their healthy traditional diets of locally grown vegetables, fruit and protein with unhealthy and processed imported foods which are high in salt, saturated fats and sugar. Mortality rates are rising and serious obesity related illnesses are more prevalent than ever before. Through further research, I have found that this article is completely accurate and agreeable. If Pacific islanders consume more locally produced food and less imported food, the rates of mortality, obesity and illness will decrease.
From this article, one can see that the cost of local food production compared to importing food along with the convenience of food import are two main driving factors for this change in the Pacific diet. The subsidies for local farmers were previously granted through the income from export commodities. The increase in imported foods has left farmers and fishermen with declining competitiveness and thus has reduced their capacity to supply local and export markets. Adding to this vicious cycle is the fact that imported foods are sold at much cheaper prices than local products to farmers simply cannot compete as most people choose the lest costly option. If action is not taken, the agricultural sector will continue to decline and this is a pity as it was once the main source of income for this countries.
It would be beneficial to the Pacific islands to implement strategies to combat and overcome the problems being faced. This would involve cooperation by all sectors of society. If children are educated in schools about the importance of a healthy diet, this could lead the younger generation to make wiser choices. Documentaries can also be aired on television stations to inform the public of the negative effects of a diet high in processed foods and the importance of buying local goods to keep farmers employed. Exercise programs in workplaces, schools and universities can help to combat obesity and obesity related illness. Also, farmers who cannot afford to produce local goods can be granted financial stability from the government to help maintain their farms and grants can also be given to new farmers to encourage a boom in local production. Lastly, governments can start some sort of program whereby farmers are hired to cultivate the land and citizens can pay a small fee to enter the farms and pick their own goods. This would encourage a much healthier lifestyle and will also give farmers employment. It may also even inspire some people to grow their own herbs, fruits and vegetables locally at their own home.
Dow, Allan. “FAO – News Article: Pacific Island Countries Urged To Produce More Healthy Local Foods At Competitive Prices”. Fao.org. N.p., 2017.
Okihiro, M., and R. Harrigan. “An overview of obesity and diabetes in the diverse populations of the Pacific.” Ethnicity & disease 15.4 Suppl 5 (2004): S5-71.
Pacific Islands Report on Evans et al (2001) – Globalisation, Diet & Health: An Example from Tonga, Bulletin of the WHO, 79 (9): 856-62.
NAME: SAMANTHA PERSAD
I am in 100% agreement with this statement. The current state of the health sector in the Pacific Island countries is plagued with widespread obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases to name a few as well as a high mortality rate. The fact that the markets/retail outlets continuously restock imported processed foods, the locally healthy fresh produce are being ‘priced out’. They replaced the diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish with a diet loaded with flour, meats and a range of processed foods high in sugar and fat. Traditionally, the island of Crete, food security was largely guaranteed by freshly grown local produce; such as fruits and vegetables and freshly caught fish, and was supplemented by income from export of produce to Greece and other parts of the Pacific. However, there was a boom in Globalization and the adaptation to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, which negatively impacted the locally grown produce.
While these same foods and incomes remain a mainstay of food security today, farmers and fishers from the island of Crete and by extension the Pacific, are having difficulty remaining competitive, both in export and domestic markets. This is largely due to semi-subsistence producers being too poor to buy the modern farm inputs as they need to transition into commercial production and distribution. Pacific island countries also generally lack the capacity to process local foods into the “convenience packaged” products that have become increasingly popular in urban markets. This has been red flagged by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as they had various meetings and discussion papers on this particular topic. They stressed the need to restore a viable market for local food producers and reduce demand on imported products to bare minimum; and one of the ways in which this can be done to take a policy-driven, multi-sector approach. They further went on to emphasize that the job is too small for one organization to tackle, the only way to combat the problem and increase the availability and consumption of locally produced island foods strongly requires action by both public and private sectors, and support from other concerned groups outside the agriculture sector.
If there is maximum cooperation by all sectors of society and the implementation of new guidelines/ policies the health issues that invaded these islands with the increase in processed foods would decrease significantly, which would consequently cause the mortality rate to decrease. By providing farmers with a grant or some sort of financial stability in the form off a loan etc. can help maintain existing farms and encourage new farmers to get into the trade. Lowering the taxations on certain amenities can also help the struggling farmer continue the trade. Lastly by incorporating the agricultural sector into another sector would also ensure that the production of locally grown produce is kept available period. One such situation occurred in the island of Crete as the tourism sector overtook the agricultural sector as the major source of income and employment on the island. However by meshing the two sectors together it ensured the agricultural sector is alive and running to date, which in turn means a constant growth in locally grown produce.
This problem cannot only be fixed by a change in diet or consumption of healthy locally grown foods, but actually performing some form of physical activity. Therefore, by having regular schedule activities set up by the government or private sector that is open to the public would encourage the Pacific Islanders to participate in such activities, by constructing exercise machinery at local parks and have documentaries aired on local television stations would make the public more aware of their eating habits and persuade them to make the switch from processed foods to the locally grown produce and to engage in regular physical activity.
This is only the beginning, there is much more work to be done, but if the Pacific Islanders continue along the path entailed above they would definitely yield great benefits in terms of health and well being etc.
Pacific Islands Report on Evans et al (2001) – Globalisation, Diet & Health: An Example from Tonga, Bulletin of the WHO, 79 (9): 856-62.
Dow, Allan. “FAO – News Article: Pacific Island Countries Urged To Produce More Healthy Local Foods At Competitive Prices”. Fao.org. N.p., 2017.
“UN News – Pacific Island Countries Urged To Produce More Healthy, Competitive Foods – UN”. UN News Service Section. N.p., 2017. Web.
Damorne Allen 813005207
The Federated States of Micronesia have a lot of implications on their food system similar to the Caribbean islands. Therefore, I am in agreement with what the article speaks to in terms of the island’s implications on its food systems and their measures for adapting to the changes. Food insecurity is a huge problem faced by FSM and SIDS which have increased due climate change. The factors affecting Micronesia’s agricultural production and the adaptation strategies to treat with the issues are relevant to the Caribbean region. In some instances similar measures implemented in Micronesia have been implemented in the Caribbean geared towards achieving food security as well. The topography of Micronesia and population growth led to an increase in urbanization, reducing the availability of arable land. A similar scenario is occurring in Trinidad where its best agricultural soils (Class 1) have been used for infrastructure. The land use should be prioritized because you can build all the houses that are being demanded but how will their nutritional needs be met. Revamping the sector is of utmost importance to achieve food security and sovereignty. Investments into the FSM’s agriculture was a huge challenge. This seem to be a common occurrence on SIDS like the FSM because Trinidad and Tobago’s allocation to the agriculture sector decreased from $1.328 billion in 2015 to $831 million in 2016. Focus should be placed on local food production because in the event of a worldwide conflict many SIDS will not be able to withstand the pressure of such a scenario. There is a stigma placed upon farmers and as a result young persons refuse to join this profession. This has caused a reduction in the availability of labour and trained persons to increase productivity, improve quality and decrease loss. Climate variability has caused an increase in temperatures causing drought like conditions. New drought tolerant species that can withstand this change have to be sourced and developed as a means of adapting to the challenges. Salt water intrusion and coastal erosion are issues currently faced by FSM and SIDS throughout the world. The lateral movement of the saltwater contaminates aquifers but drip irrigation can be used to apply water at a rate that will provide the plant with water and move the excess salts away from the root ball preventing osmotic drought. With drought conditions and saltwater intrusion occurring the trial plots to determine the best possible species to produce on the island is a step in the right direction. The planting of coconut trees in coastal areas can help reduce the erosion issue. These types of trees have fibrous rooting systems which will help hold the soil in place.
All what has been stated is just a matter of planning without full fledge execution. In order for these issues to be dealt with accordingly a number of aspects must function cohesively to get the best possible result. The human, social, natural and economic resources of the FSM must focus on its interdependencies on each other to be able to get their food system to generate the result they desire given the implications in doing so. As per usual vulnerability assessments and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the adaptation measures must be determined before deciding on a way forward. In all this the use of educational programmes and extension officers in the various communities of the FSM are of importance when talking about the interdependencies of the different resources that are required. Once all these aspects are existing in a cohesive manner the sustainable development goals can be achieved. In this case these goals are zero hunger by being food secure, good health and well-being from growth of the FSM own food based on nutritional needs, quality education through extension services, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption and production and partnerships for the goals that were previously mentioned to provide the linkages between each one of them.
Harper, Annie Harper and Malcolm. 3.1 The sustainable livelihoods framework and the asset pentagon. Accessed April 11, 2017. https://www.soas.ac.uk/cedep-demos/000_P528_RF_K3736-Demo/unit1/page_22.htm.
“Sustainable Development Goals.:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations. Accessed April 11, 2017. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.
U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service National Soil
Survey Handbook, part 622.
Wayow, Sue-Ann. “No taxes for farmers in 2016.” Sunday Express. October 05, 2015. Accessed April 09, 2017. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20151005/budget/no-taxes-for-farmers-in-2016.
Mitra Rajnarinesingh ID # 814117641
Sustainable Agriculture consists of three pillars which are economy, community and environment. If any of these three pillars are missing entirely or not addressed adequately then our agriculture is not sustainable. I fully agree with the article because implementing sustainable agriculture model would be a step in the right direction in eradicating hunger and improving food security. This can be done by managing our natural resources such our land resources and water which are key inputs in the food production systems. This process would include well aerated soils, and ensuring that there is reduced land degradation and this helps in boosting agriculture lands as well as reducing pressure to clear forest lands and this is critical to meeting future food needs. Another key resource is water and through proper management of the water supply through improved irrigation systems and water storage techniques we can sustain our dry lands productivity.
Another essential topic discussed in the article is tackling climate change, natural disasters and diseases which all negatively agriculture production. The agriculture sector is affected by increase in temperatures which cause wilting of plants, rising sea levels and disasters such as hurricanes can directly destroy crops through flooding and uprooting of crops. Pests can act as carriers of allergens and they can also affect the ecology as pests prey on fauna and plants hence reducing number of native species and upsetting ecological balance.
My recommendation is the setting up of research unit that will assist in improving scientific knowledge and develop technologies to support food system through sound soil and pest management , mitigating climate change which will boost agricultural yield making agriculture systems productive and less wasteful while protecting the environment.
“Food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture .” SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENTKNOWLEDGE PLATFORM. Accessed April 10, 2017. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/foodagriculture.