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News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.fao.org

Between 2012-2014, the Emergency and Resilience Programme (ERP) has invested more than US$5 million in support of 18,500 vulnerable farming households in Lesotho. ERP provides input support and capacity development on Conservation Agriculture, home gardening and nutrition targeting communities, lead farmers and extension services. The ERP is jointly implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), and is funded by the United Kingdom Department For International Development (DFID), the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), Belgium, the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). After adopting conservation agriculture technology, ‘Me Maphoka is ready to harvest the fruits of her success. ‘Me Maphoka Thaba is an energetic woman and guides us to her field with a fast pace. She is 71 years old and she is still an active farmer who feeds the three orphans living with her. “I am taking care of my husband’s children, two 17-year old boy and girl twins and a 14-year old daughter.” The youngest attends primary school, one of the twins is in high school and the other attends a technical school of carpentry. “I have always been anxious because I cannot produce enough food to feed my family for a whole year.” ‘Me Maphoka says. “The neighbours help me when I run short of food.” Seeing the long, healthy looking maize crops next to which we are standing as she talks, this is hard to believe. ‘Me Maphoka explains that she decided for the first time in her life to change her agricultural practices and plant maize and beans following conservation agriculture (CA) principles: minimum soil disturbance, crop rotations and permanent soil cover. ‘Me Maphoka says that she saw CA being practiced in the neighbouring village of Naleli and was very impressed by the harvest coming from the fields. She enquired at Mahobong resource centre about CA and was encouraged to do it by the extension officers, who had been trained on conservation agriculture practices by the Emergency and Resilience Programme. However, it was no easy feat to convince her 17-year old son, Poello, to adopt this new agricultural technique. “I didn’t know what CA was”, he says. “I could not understand how the seeds would germinate when they were put in the basins.” Deep inside, ‘Me Maphoka also believes that her son was concerned about her health given the amount of work he thought digging basins would require. Although faced with Poello’s resistance, ‘Me Maphoka was not discouraged. She decided to give her son part of her 0.4Ha-land, letting him plant the conventional way while she would go ahead with conservation agriculture techniques. ‘Me Maphoka and other farmers that benefitted from the FAO-MAFS ERP programme worked in a team and helped each other preparing the land, strengthening the social linkages in the community. The group of farmers is guided by the MAFS extension staff and the lead farmer Ntate Motseki who advises them on CA practices when they need complementing MAFS extension efforts. And the results of ‘Me Maphoka’s determination and solomonic decision to split her land into two are more than evident now. After lines and lines of healthy maize, we get to Poello’s piece of land which looks fallow. Looking carefully, we notice that it is actually a field of scattered poor looking stalks of corn. He confirms “My crops look poor, whereas my mother’s crops look good”. He adds “Now that I know more about CA, I am willing to improve my knowledge and I want to help my mother implement this technique on 100% of the land.” The young man wants to support the family to produce more and be able to sell some of the production. ‘Me Maphoka is extremely happy with the way she managed her field this year. “My children helped me a lot, especially for applying the fertilizer during the post-planting period,” she says. ‘Me Maphoka explains that she used to harvest around 60kg of maize using conventional farming but this year she expects over 400 kg. Earlier in the season, as she was weeding – a good practice that can increase production up to 50% – people would come and watch her working her land. “Now they can see that I will harvest more and better quality crops than them.” she says proudly, hoping they will be convinced to join her in practicing CA. Sustainable and integrated agriculture practices leading to increased resilience ERP provides input support and capacity development on Conservation Agriculture, home gardening and nutrition targeting communities, lead farmers and extension services. To date, the program has invested more than US$ 5 million in support of over 18,500 households or 92,500 individuals coming from vulnerable farming households in Lesotho. The program has also trained over 530 extension staff, 600 lead farmers and local leaders and over 260 teachers from primary and secondary schools. Additional financial support has been secured by COMESA to complete the distribution of cover crops among 7,500 families by the end of 2014 while additional funding is still required to expand capacity development activities.

News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.fao.org

Climate change programming and natural resource management are of crucial importance for increasing the productivity and general well-being of the broader agriculture sector in Lesotho. FAO has been developing a number of complementary projects with a focus on the environment, natural resource management and climate change adaptation. One of these initiatives has been instrumental in bringing users and generators of spatial data on one platform and facilitating the land cover assessment work including the accompanying interpretation processes under the technical guidance of FAO experts. As a result, major progress has been achieved in developing Lesotho’s land cover maps. This information will provide an important baseline for planning sustainable land management interventions and broader natural resource management activities. Severe land degradation, including excessive soil erosion caused by water run-off, inappropriate agronomic practices and overgrazing, is one the main contributors to declining food security in Lesotho. This situation is exacerbated by the impact of climate change and compounded by socioeconomic challenges to sustainable production, nutrition and food security. Up to date information on the status of national natural resources is scarce and fragmented, yet the need for evidence base decision making is critical in the protection and sustainable exploitation of Lesotho’s natural resources. Since 2012, FAO, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) and the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation (MFRSC) are implementing the Resilience Strategy, promoting adaptation to climate change, promotion of sustainable farming systems with emphasis on sustainable land management. The FAO Resilience Strategy is implemented at national level and involves an increasing range of stakeholders with expansion in schools and inclusion of local leaders. As part of this work, the National Land Cover database has been implemented in partnership with the Government of Lesotho through Committee for Environment Data Management (CEDAMA) chaired by the Bureau of Statistics. This new database, created with financial assistance from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), is an important element of the resilience strategy for Lesotho. The database covering the entire territory of Lesotho is developed through multi-spectral image fusion (or pan sharpening) technique using satellite imagery and aerial photography. This newly enriched Lesotho dataset will strengthen organizational capacities in the generation and utilization of spatial information for Natural Resources, Agriculture Management and agro-environmental studies. Furthermore, it will build and support the dialogue and technical information flow among Government institutions, national and local authorities, farmers, stakeholders in natural resources management and will provide information for evidence-based decision making. Next steps Apart from providing a robust baseline of the current state of land cover in the country as of 2014, the Lesotho Land Cover datasets open the development of diverse range of applications, such as:

News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.fao.org

Agriculture is Mozambique’s primary economic activity and around 3.2 million smallholder farmers account for 95% of this sector's production. The percentage of smallholder farmers with access to credit facilities in Mozambique has steadily decreased over the past 10 years, while inefficiencies in production and distribution have weakened the competitiveness of domestic products. Funded by the European Commission and the Government of Mozambique, FAO launched an electronic voucher scheme at the start of the agricultural season 2015/2016 to enable market access to agricultural inputs and to improve distribution of quality agricultural products through the involvement of agro-dealers. The programme supports two groups of beneficiaries: small emerging farmers and subsistence farmers with special attention being given to rural women and women heads of families. At the beginning of the agricultural season 2015/2016, FAO launched in Mozambique an electronic voucher scheme aimed at enabling market access to agricultural inputs (mainly seeds and fertilizers) and improving the distribution of quality agricultural inputs through the involvement of various agro-dealers. The programme targets two groups of beneficiaries: small emerging farmers and subsistence farmers, with special attention given to rural women and women heads of families. The voucher serves as a financial credit for the purchase of inputs, e.g. seeds and fertilizers, from quality-monitored agro-dealers and is co-financed by the beneficiary. Facilitation of farmers’ access to improved agricultural inputs can increase production, know-how, food security, revenue, as well as the development of marketing and distribution sectors. The financial inclusion tool was successfully tested in the Province of Manica during the agricultural campaign of 2015/2016 and will be extended to the Provinces of Sofala, Zambezia and Nampula in the agricultural campaign of 2016/2017. It will gradually replace the paper voucher scheme run since 2013. Increasing crop yields and capital gains Due to limited agro-industrial development capacities, smallholder and emerging family farmers are in need of secure market prospects and risk-covering facilities, and are currently lacking sufficient capital to invest in and expand their farms. Eduardo Lino, a local farmer attending the launch of the electronic voucher in Sussundenga, Manica Province in November 2015, is excited about the new scheme. Already a beneficiary of the paper voucher, he understands the structure in which the beneficiary pays part of the total worth of the voucher, while FAO puts forward the rest. Once the voucher has been activated, the beneficiary has access to a wide range of inputs from any of the agro-dealers involved in the scheme. FAO carefully monitors the quality of the seeds available for purchase within this scheme, which Lino remarks was a significant advantage for him. “I had a much better crop yield after using inputs bought with the paper voucher last year”, he comments, and is hopeful that “the increase in input choices with the electronic voucher will again improve my production this season”. Another beneficiary of the paper voucher scheme preparing to transfer to the electronic scheme, Augusto Janota, attended a workshop on the electronic voucher FAO held in his home district of Chimoio, Manica Province. “I have discovered there is a much greater chance of my crops growing when I use the treated seeds of the FAO voucher programme, as well as the post-harvest pesticides that come with the package,” he noted during the workshop. “I like this because outside the scheme I sometimes pay more money for really poor quality products”. Improving electronic knowledge Walter de Oliveira, coordinator of FAO’s Millennium Development Goal 1c Sub Programme in Mozambique – which specifically targets to halve the proportion of the chronically undernourished - explains that "the electronic voucher will not only make farmer’s production decisions more flexible, but it will also improve their knowledge of electronic money systems. Furthermore, it helps to reduce smallholder’s lack of familiarity with technology, particularly with e-money services, as indicated by the Bank of Mozambique in its "National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020". Next Steps The programme runs until 2018, after which the Government of Mozambique will take over the helm. Marcelo Chaquisse, speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, noted that the Ministry is “very positive about the electronic voucher scheme. It is in line with the strategic plan of the Ministry, which is dedicated to increasing the productivity and production of our farmers.”

News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.fao.org

Since Mozambique cancelled the registration of 79 Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in 2014 , the Government and FAO have been highly engaged in protecting the country’s people and environment. Working with the National Directorate of Agriculture and Silviculture in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, FAO has helped to promote an ecosystem-based approach to pest and pesticide management. HHPs are pesticides that present particularly high levels of acute or chronic hazards to human health and the environment due to their inherent chemical properties and that are listed in internationally accepted classification systems or relevant binding international conventions. FAO has been working to locate, collect and dispose of the banned HHPs throughout the country. Aiding to contain, store and dispose of highly hazardous pesticides It is another cloudless day in Chimoio, Manica Province, in central Mozambique. As people go about their business on the bustling streets of the city, it is hard to believe that a short drive away a warehouse stands, holding large quantities of highly toxic products. This warehouse is an FAO obsolete and HHP collection and re-packing site, one of only two such major sites in the country. Khalid Cassam, the FAO pesticides specialist in charge of coordinating these facilities, explains that this initiative is the only one of its kind in the country. “We first undertook a national inventory of banned pesticides, followed by their collection and re-packing. This second stage is taking place now in our warehouses,” he says, gesturing to the building looming in front of him. “The final step will be the transportation of the pesticides for disposal and incineration in an environmentally sustainable way.” Inside the facility, Cassam explains the set-up of the storage and re-packing site, pointing out the ‘red zone’ where the pesticides are re-packed and where people have an increased chance of exposure. “Only workers wearing orange protection suits are allowed to enter this area”, he warns. The de-contamination zone is directly to the right, marking where the red zone ends. Three basins of water are placed in the vicinity, one for washing boots and two for glove de-contamination and washing. Stacked up on all sides of the warehouse, covering every available space, are 20 litre containers, the toxic contents of which workers are emptying methodically into 200 litre vats. This is slow work, and calls for close attention. “There have been no accidents or incidents since the project started”, says Cassam. Still, some of the 20 litre containers have degraded over time and are a particular hazard to the team, as they have a higher chance of cracking and leaking their contents. “For these, an electric pump is used to re-pack the contents,” he explains. During summer, when the temperature can soar over 40 degrees centigrade, the team’s re-packing work, as they wear their thick rubber and plastic gear within the confines of the warehouse, becomes truly gruelling. Cassam’s team avoids this inhibitive heat by starting work in the cooler pre-dawn mornings, taking the afternoon off when the sun reaches its peak, and continuing again in the evening. 2015 was a busy year for Cassam and his team. They completed the collection of approximately 300 tons of obsolete pesticides in Mozambique, already re-packing most of it into larger, more secure, containers. When asked what 2016 will bring, Cassam is prompt in his reply. “We expect to complete the repackaging of pesticides and dispose of them safely. We want to restore three areas of the country that suffer from significantly contaminated soil, and we will implement the pilot phase of the empty containers management and awareness-raising campaigns.” Although the average annual volume of pesticide imports into Mozambique over the past ten years has increased by 500 percent, there is still a generally low level of understanding about the risks associated with their misuse in the country. FAO’s role in phasing out HHPs  In 2006, FAO member countries requested help to facilitate risk reduction of pesticides, including the pro-active banning of HHPs and the promotion of alternative solutions. Since then, a joint FAO and World Health Organization (WHO) expert panel has drawn up a list of criteria to help identify HHPs and FAO has assisted several countries in addressing the risks posed by these compounds.

Rusike J.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Mahungu N.M.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Jumbo S.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Sandifolo V.S.,University of Malawi | Malindi G.,Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
Food Policy | Year: 2010

Cassava in Malawi is the second most important staple food crop after maize. This paper assesses the impact of agricultural research for development approach in Malawi on cassava yields, per capita area planted to cassava and household calorie intake from cassava and maize. Given the growing interest over the past decade in agricultural research for development as an innovation systems approach for improving the delivery of research-derived benefits to smallholder farmers and having impact in Africa, this paper provides empirical evidence as to the effects of this framework. The paper concludes that Malawi's cassava research for development has contributed to measurable gains in area planted to cassava, cassava yields and household caloric intake. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd.

Wang C.-P.,Northwest University, China | Wang C.-P.,Henan University of Science and Technology | Chen Q.,Northwest University, China | Luo K.,Northwest University, China | And 3 more authors.
African Journal of Agricultural Research | Year: 2011

Sitobion avenae is the dominant and destructive pest in wheat production regions in China. Therefore, breeders developed new and high resistant varieties to ensure stable yields. In this paper, thirteen comprehensive agronomic characteristics of twenty-two wheat germplasm resources were investigated, and the data for the resources collected in the latest two years were treated with Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS method) and cluster analysis. The priority order of alternatives ranks obtained from the TOPSIS method and aphid index analysis is the same. The order of alternatives ranks is as follows: Yumai70>Amigo>186Tm>Xiaoyan22>PI>Donghan1>98-10-35>...>Datang991>Qianjinzao. It was also found that the examined 22 wheat germplasm resources could be agglomerated into four clusters. Five good germplasm, namely 186Tm, Yumai70, AMIGO, Xiaoyan22, 98-10-35, could be used directly or as parents for breeding wheat varieties for resistance to S. avenae. Furthermore, the results showed TOPSIS analysis and cluster analysis are highly consistent with each other. But TOPSIS method is the best comprehensive method for the evaluation of resistance in wheat breeding to the aphids. © 2011 Academic Journals.

Kalanda-Joshua M.,University of Malawi | Ngongondo C.,University of Malawi | Chipeta L.,University of Malawi | Mpembeka F.,Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth | Year: 2011

Subsistence rain fed agriculture underpins rural livelihoods in the Sub Saharan Africa. The overdependence on rainfall suggests the need for more reliable climate and weather forecasts to guide farm level decision making. Traditionally, African farmers have used indigenous knowledge (IK) to understand weather and climate patterns and make decisions about crops and farming practices. However, increased rainfall variability in recent years associated with climate change has reduced their confidence in indigenous knowledge, hence reducing their adaptive capacity and increasing their vulnerability to climate change. To address this problem, researchers are advocating the integration of indigenous knowledge into scientific climate forecasts at the local level, where it can be used to enhance the resilience of communities vulnerable to climate change. A study was therefore conducted to establish commonly used IK indicators in weather and climate forecasting and people's perceptions of climate change and variability in Nessa Village, Southern Malawi. We further compared the people's perceptions on climate change and variability with empirical evidence from a nearby weather station during 1971-2003 and the major constraints that the people face to fully utilise conventional weather and climate forecasts. Our results show various forms of traditional indicators that have been used to predict weather and climate for generations. These include certain patterns and behaviour of flora and fauna as well as environmental conditions. We further established that the peoples documentation of major climatic events over the years in the area agreed with the empirical evidence from the temperature and rainfall data. Overall, rainfall in the area has reduced since 1971 with increasing temperatures. The people were however of the view that current scientific weather and climate predictions in Malawi were not that useful at village level because they do not incorporate IK. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Lipper L.,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO | Thornton P.,Kenya International Livestock Research Institute | Thornton P.,Copenhagen University | Campbell B.M.,Copenhagen University | And 23 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2014

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural systems to support food security under the new realities of climate change. Widespread changes in rainfall and temperature patterns threaten agricultural production and increase the vulnerability of people dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, which includes most of the world's poor. Climate change disrupts food markets, posing population-wide risks to food supply. Threats can be reduced by increasing the adaptive capacity of farmers as well as increasing resilience and resource use efficiency in agricultural production systems. CSA promotes coordinated actions by farmers, researchers, private sector, civil society and policymakers towards climate-resilient pathways through four main action areas: (1) building evidence; (2) increasing local institutional effectiveness; (3) fostering coherence between climate and agricultural policies; and (4) linking climate and agricultural financing. CSA differs from 'business-as-usual' approaches by emphasizing the capacity to implement flexible, context-specific solutions, supported by innovative policy and financing actions. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Ngwira A.R.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Aune J.B.,Norwegian University of Life Sciences | Mkwinda S.,Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
Field Crops Research | Year: 2012

Low crop yields due to continuous monocropping and deteriorating soil health in smallholder farmers' fields of sub-Saharan Africa have led to a quest for sustainable production practices with greater resource use efficiency. The aim of the study was to elucidate the short term effects of conservation agriculture (CA) systems on soil quality, crop productivity and profitability. In Balaka market and Ntonda sections of Manjawira Extension Planning Area (EPA), in Ntcheu district, central Malawi, we compared continuous monocropped maize (Zea mays) under conventional tillage practice (CP) with different CA systems in continuous monocropped maize (CAM) and intercropping with pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) (CAMP), Mucuna pruriens (CAMM), and Lablab purpureus (L.) (Sweet) (CAML). The study was conducted from 2008 to 2011 in 72 plots in 24 farmers' fields. In Balaka market section CA plots with maize+legumes produced up to 4.3Mgha -1 of vegetative biomass against 3.5Mgha -1 for maize alone in CP. In Ntonda section CA plots with maize+legumes produced up to 4.6Mgha -1 of vegetative biomass against 2.4Mgha -1 for maize alone in CP. In both sections, during the entire study period, CA did not have a negative effect on crop yields. During the drier seasons of 2009/10 and 2010/11, CA had a positive effect on maize grain yield at both sites (average yield of 4.4 and 3.3Mgha -1 in CA and CP respectively). However, associating maize with legumes reduced maize yields compared to CAM particularly in drier years of 2009-10 and 2010-11. Farmers spent at most 47daysha -1 producing maize under CA systems compared to 65daysha -1 spent under conventional tillage practices. However, total variable costs were higher in CA systems compared to conventional practice (at most US$416 versus US$344ha -1). CAMP resulted in more than double gross margin compared to CPM (US$705 versus US$344ha -1). Infiltration estimated as time to pond was highest in CA maize legume intercrops (8.1s) than CP (6.8s). Although it was not feasible to directly estimate effects on water balances of these farmer-managed experiments, it can be assumed that the yield differences between CA and CP could be attributed to tillage and crop residue cover since other farm operations were generally the same. Intercropping maize and pigeonpea under CA presents a win-win scenario due to crop yield improvement and attractive economic returns provided future prices of maize and pigeonpea grain remain favourable. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

Matekere E.C.,Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security | Lema N.M.,University of Dar es Salaam
Irrigation and Drainage Systems | Year: 2011

Application of indicator-based management tools to evaluate performance and taking measures to mitigate the negative effects on project performance contributes to improvement. This research paper presents the findings of the analysis of performance of public funded smallholder irrigation projects in Tanzania with the aim to inform improvement actions. Through opinion survey of a sample of policy or decision makers and implementers of projects, and a case study of 16 smallholder irrigation projects, conceptual and physical data were collected and analyzed. The findings show that performance assessment in irrigation sub-sector in Tanzania is ad hoc, fragmented and done mainly during the construction phase, in donor funded projects. Seventy percent of 20 highly ranking performance indicators considered suitable in Tanzania also have high potential to improve project performance in the Tanzanian irrigation industry. These indicators constitute the key performance determinants. Forty percent of performance indicators currently used in Tanzania, which include the traditional time and cost indicators, are considered not significant in improving performance. Time and cost overrun of 16 investigated projects was in the tune of 50% and 8% respectively. The factors affecting project performance are diverse but interrelated, with possible common root causes, and effects cutting across various project processes. The mitigation measures are also interrelated and cut across project processes, and therefore, require integrative approaches. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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