The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and Farming First have produced this interactive graphic showing how women pull their weight in agriculture around the world – and they’ve given us the entire image for you to download. Click on the link, this is just a screen grab:
The ongoing trend of foreign investors purchasing massive tracts of land in poor countries isn’t getting much media attention in the U.S., but one case in Uganda may change that.
Oxfam International reported a few weeks ago that the Ugandan government, on behalf of a British company and with financial support from the World Bank, had forcibly removed some 22,000 people in rural communities from their farms in order to transform the land into a massive tree farm.
The project is intended to provide Uganda with carbon credits in the global fight against climate change.
Voice of America, the New York Times and mostly British media have reported on it. The Guardian, which reported on it earlier as well, issued this new video report today. I think Oxfam’s video makes pretty much the same points and it’s half as long.
The Guardian video does mention the death of a child that took place when the mother claims her hut was being burned down by officials. It’s not clear if the death was related to the displacement or not.
The British company, New Forests Company, says it had believed the displacements of the farming communities were legal and voluntary. The firms says it is “puzzled” by the discrepancy between Oxfam’s claims and the official story.
The World Bank has also said it will investigate the allegations. World Bank watchdog Bill Easterly, who I recently interviewed, has started an online clock to track how much time it will take the WB to go from launching its investigation to reaching a determination. (The displacements began two years ago.)
The Guardian also published today a call by the UN’s lead expert on food security, Olivier De Schutter, calling for international action and consensus on how to deal with this trend that is displacing many poor communities, especially in Africa. Here’s Oxfam’s report on “land grabs” in poor countries.
It isn’t that tree farming is, by itself, a bad idea or has to displace locals. Here’s a story about a reforestation project in Burkina Faso that’s being done by the locals — as opposed to foreign investors.
NOTE: A Seattle organization, Landesa (formerly the Rural Development Institute) has been working for decades on improving the land rights of poor people. Read this essay by Landesa’s Zoey Chenitz on how the global land rush has effected women especially.
Oh, and the founder of Landesa, former UW law prof Roy Prosterman, has been named by Global Washington as the recipient of its inaugural Global Hero Award. Here’s an earlier post about Prosterman and his organization. He receives the award officially Nov. 1.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has done a lot to boost the science and delivery of vaccines for human health and to assist in the fight against disease.
Now, the Seattle philanthropy would like to start vaccinating crop plants to help poor farmers.
“Not many people realize it but plants have fairly sophisticated immune systems,” said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery at the Gates Foundation.
Finding new methods to immunize crops against disease and pests, Wilson said, could significantly improve yields for subsistence and smallholder farmers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world. Such an approach could also greatly reduce the need for pesticides, he added, and likely provide greater barrier to bugs developing resistance.
“This couldn’t really be the same thing as the vaccines we use on ourselves or for animals, but it would be functionally equivalent,” Wilson said. “This will require some novel thinking.”
Looking for more wacky ideas
The Gates Foundation is now accepting proposals from scientists, entrepreneurs and inventors aimed at improving health, reducing poverty and generally making the world a better place. The $100-million-endowed project, which awards $100,000 grants for first-time innovators, is called Grand Challenges Explorations program. Continue reading
The Science and Development Network has a very cool story about a project that aims to use animation sent over mobile phones to provide poor farmers in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world with valuable technical information or health advisories … or whatever.
Here’s the story at SciDev.net
There are a lot of reasons why this may never work, but it’s fun to consider. Here’s a video report:
And here’s a Q&A with Scientific Animations Without Borders by Jaclyn Schiff at Global Health Hub
One of the Gates Foundation’s primary goals is to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa by helping improve agricultural productivity.
On Tuesday, the United Nations issued a report that appeared to challenge the Seattle philanthropy’s approach.
The Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation have launched what they are calling a new Green Revolution for Africa. It is a multi-pronged strategy that tends to favor scientific and technological solutions and that some see as too heavily dependent upon Western-style, industrialized farming techniques.
This week, the UN issued a report urging “eco-farming” as the best strategy for improving farming in the developed world. In it, the author appears to challenge the wisdom of the Gates Foundation’s approach in agricultural development. Continue reading
In anticipation of an international meeting next week in South Korea that will likely focus on the global economy, currency regulation, trade and maybe climate change, it’s worth remembering:
A billion people, one out of every six on the planet, are hungry. Right now.
Today, the recently created Global Agriculture and Food Security Program announced it was awarding a second found of funding, $97 million, to fight hunger in Ethiopia, Niger and Mongolia. The primary goal is to help small farmers in these countries improve crop production as well as their own economic well-being. Continue reading