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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Gendering Brexit blog series: How will Brexit Impact on Women’s Food Security? – Equality and Diversity Forum

Gendering Brexit blog series: How will Brexit Impact on Women’s Food Security? – Equality and Diversity Forum

The upcoming visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty is a welcome opportunity for positive action by the Government to protect its citizens from the negative effects of Brexit on women’s rights and on household food security.

This is from Imogen Richmond-Bishop, coordinator of the Right to Food project at Sustain, who explores the impact of Brexit on women’s food security for the EDF Gendering Brexit Blog series.

There is much talk about what will happen post-Brexit to our food system. Who will grow our food? Who will ensure it is safe to eat? And who will be able to afford it?

Unfortunately we already live in a country where millions are suffering from household food insecurity, and 1 in 4 parents have been forced to skip meals.

Brexit creates a number of serious risks to household food security, which will disproportionately affect women.  Some of these risks are illustrated in the recent Government technical papers on a ‘no deal’ Brexit. These papers show how ’no deal’ would be an ‘unacceptable and damaging outcome for British farmers, food businesses, consumers and the environment.’ and it is of utmost urgency that the Government works to mitigate all risks posed by Brexit to our food security.

Food Poverty

Poverty and food poverty are gendered issues. In the UK there are currently 700,000 more women than men in poverty.

The Government does not measure household food insecurity nationally but reports and figures from civil society, such as Sustain, shed light on the extent of the problem for women.

While initiatives such as Healthy Start vouchers help mitigate the risk of families with young children suffering from food insecurity, recent polling by the Young Women’s Trust found that nearly half of mothers under the age of 25 skipped meals in order to feed their children .

Furthermore, the recent CPAG report on the cost of a child showed that families on benefits now have to live without 40% of the budget that they need for a social accepted minimum standard of living. Lone parents, of which an estimated 90% are women, were some of the families that faced the highest gap between income and adequate living standards.

The UK Government urgently needs to restore the link between welfare payments and the cost of living to make sure that social benefits guarantee an adequate standard of living

The predicted rise in food prices post-Brexit, linked in part to the value of the pound falling and the loss of non UK EU nationals who work in the agricultural sector, combined with an economic downturn means that those who are already barely managing will be pushed into even more difficulty. Let’s not forget as well that approximately 41% of our food either comes from the EU or through trade deals done through the EU, in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the subsequent severe disruptions to our trading system it is unclear how will we make up the shortfall.

Additionally,  if food prices go up, people are likely to be forced into buying poorer quality cheaper food, leading to a rise in negative health outcomes.


It won’t be a surprise to most that women are disproportionately represented in the bottom of the labour market. Whilst there has been some progress on reducing the gender pay gap, women are still paid £1.32 less per hour than men. And women are over-represented in low paid service sectors such as food retail and catering: women currently represent 57% of the workforce in food retail.

As has been seen time and again women are at most risk of losing their employment in a recession, and economists are suggesting that there will be an economic downturn post-Brexit,

There have been a number of legislative and policy initiatives that aim to promote gender equality and to protect women from discrimination in the workplace. But with a great deal of UK equality law deriving from the EU legal framework, Brexit poses a real risk to these hard earned gains.

Public Services

Research shows that women and people on low incomes have already borne the brunt of the cost of austerity. A cumulative impact assessment by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that women are disproportionately affected by recent tax and welfare reforms, losing on average £400 per year compared to a £30 loss by men. Universal credit, the flagship welfare reform, has been found to be discriminatory by design for women. Universal credit urgently needs to be reviewed both to ensure that payments are sufficient so as to ensure that people can maintain an adequate standard of living and also so that it is no longer discriminatory towards women.

Against the backdrop of unprecedented local authority budget cuts, changes to free school meals which mean that  a million children will no longer be eligible,  and a benefits freeze that is set to push more people into poverty than any other policy, any Brexit-related increase in poverty will spark an increase in demand for state assistance, be it for emergency financial assistance, free school meals, or welfare.

Ways forward

One step the Government should take now is to create the role of dedicated minister for household food security to coordinate policy and legislative action.

The Government needs to continue to advance women’s equality in the workplace and ensure there is no regression on equality and employment rights through legislative changes.

They should also ensure that all future trade deals have no regressive impact on food standards in the UK, and on farmers both in the UK and abroad.There is clear public support for the government to take seriously our social and economic rights, such as our right to food or our right to social security.

The upcoming visit of Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, is a welcome opportunity for debate and positive action by the Government to protect its citizens from the negative effects of Brexit on women’s rights and on household food security.

Imogen Richmond-Bishop is the coordinator of the Right to Food project at Sustain. She also works on policy, advocacy, and communications for Just Fair. As a former refugee camp coordinator, she also worked with communities displaced by large scale industrial farming in South America.

Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Working Group: Crop and Livestock Situation Update, Food Security Outlook and Nutrition Update (Bulletin, July – August 2018) – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Southern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Working Group: Crop and Livestock Situation Update, Food Security Outlook and Nutrition Update (Bulletin, July – August 2018) – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Key messages

• The 2017-18 rainfall season was characterized by a late start, an extended mid-season dry spell (December-January) and heavy rains from February into April. The dry spell caused moisture stress and wilting of the early planted crops in many areas in Botswana, south-western Madagascar, southern Malawi, southern and some central parts of Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

• This has led to 13% decline in crop production vs last year’s and 3% above the 5-year average. The most significant contractions from previous harvest in comparison to the 5-year average were recorded in Lesotho (-68 and -35%), Zambia (-33% and -20%) and Botswana (-30% and -38%).

• The availability of grain in the region is expected to benefit from significant carry-over stocks in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe from above-average 2017 outputs. As a result prices for maize in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are below last year and about 20-33% below the 5-year average.
Nevertheless, due to reduced production, maize prices are expected to increase earlier, around August.
However, those stocks are often in the form of strategic grain reserves and not necessarily in the hands of ordinary households. For example, in the Tete region in Mozambique 78% of the households have no maize reserves at all.

• Nevertheless, overall the food insecurity situation is highly likely to deteriorate. The number of severely food insecure is likely rise by more than 70% to 9.6 million people [in Botswana, Eswatini,
Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe]. Sharp increases compared to last year have been recorded in Zambia [954,120, or +1139%], Malawi about [3.3 mn, +217%] and Zimbabwe [2.4 mn just in rural areas, +130%].

• No major increases of global acute malnutrition (GAM) have been observed during the 2018 peak lean season (January – March). However, acute malnutrition continues to be a problem in parts of the region. Pockets of high GAM (above 10 per cent) persist in specific areas, such as districts in southern Madagascar. Nutrition surveillance is continuing in the region, with a focus on drought-affected communities in vulnerable areas, as a key strategy to ensure early identification and treatment of children with acute malnutrition.

• Looking ahead a real concern is that the probability of El Niño has increased to about 70% during the mean 2018-19 summer cropping season. El Niño is historically associated with increased chances of (a) high rainfall in the northern part of the region and (b) depressed rainfall in the middle belt of the region and the southern half of the region. The El Niño in 2015/16 caused the worst drought in 35 years leaving 14.1 million people in need of emergency assistance across the region.


Youth in agriculture a focus at Dowerin

The Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days is not only a showcase for the latest agricultural machinery, it also highlights the depth and breadth of careers available within the industry.

With this in mind, the Field Days Committee this year has brought a new competition into the fold, the Young Farmers Challenge.

Event co-ordinator Suzanne Blay said the aim was to build the field days’ focus on youth.

“It was driven from the need to have something on site that interests the youth of today and gets them involved,” she said.

“Every year, we like to encourage people to look at the ag industry not only for a career but also as a lifestyle choice.

“We thought the Young Farmers Challenge was a good option, because it can be fun and be relevant to the industry.

“We’ll set up a course of 10 everyday farm tasks, which can range from fencing to weed and seed identification, but with a funny twist on everything.”

Held in the Machinery Demo Arena at 2pm on Wednesday, August 29, teams of four can register for the competition on the day via the Field Days Office.

The teams need to be of mixed gender with members between the ages of 18 and 35.

The challenges presented will remain a mystery until the start of the event, although similar competitions include tasks such as setting up a portable electric fence, rolling a hay or wool bale a set distance and classing wool, in which competitors are asked to match the fleece to the correct micron value.

Ms Blay said each task had been designed to be a light-hearted approach to the real world of farming, with the challenge to be entertaining for spectators as well.

“It will be a race against the clock to complete each task, but it will also be a bit of a laugh,” she said.

Teams will be timed on how long it takes to complete each task, with points totalled at the end of the competition. A time penalty of 15 seconds will apply to any team that does not complete a challenge to a satisfactory standard.

Ms Blay said the team with the quickest overall time would win.

She said the Dowerin Field Days’ Young Farmers Challenge had been modelled on a nation-wide competition called the Australian Young Farmer Challenge, which involves teams competing on a regional, State and then national level.

The challenges in this national competition range from animal handling, to driving tractors, putting out fires, first aid and heavy lifting.

Ms Blay said the winning team of the Dowerin Field Days’ Young Farmers Challenge would not only win the hearts of spectators, but would also be up for some great prizes.

She said each member of the winning team would receive $250, with a further $1000 being awarded to an organisation of their choice, thus continuing the Dowerin Field Days’ support of its surrounding communities.

The winning team must be present at the Sundowner on Wednesday at 5.30pm to collect their cash prize, with a trophy and sashes being awarded to members at the conclusion of the competition

All competitors must wear covered footwear and appropriate clothing for outdoor and farm-related activities.

“Elders has provided all the gear we need for the event, which we really appreciate,” Ms Blay said.

“There are so many ways to expand the Young Farmers Challenge. The potential growth of this event is unlimited.”


Central America: drought, resulting crop losses threaten food security of two million people, UN warns

Central America: drought, resulting crop losses threaten food security of two million people, UN warns

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are concerned by the fact that the months of June and July saw “lower-than-average rainfall” and “drier-than-average conditions”, which affected the first and principal crop cycle in Central America, known as the primera.

“Just when rural communities were recovering from the 2014 drought and the El Niño phenomenon of 2015 – the strongest recorded in recent history – a new drought is affecting the most vulnerable again,” said Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for America and the Caribbean.

Maize and beans, main food staples in the region, have been the crops most-affected by the drought, according to the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which reported losses of 281,000 hectares of these crops, on which the food and nutrition security of much of their populations depend.

These losses will increase the cost of these foods for the entire population.

The UN agencies warn that this may be compounded by the possible arrival of an El Niño by the end of the year, which could worsen the already “precarious” food and nutrition security situation of vulnerable rural communities in the region.

“Total or partial loss of crops means that subsistence farmers and their families will not have enough food to eat or sell in coming months,” read the joint statement released on Friday.

The Honduran Government declared the emergency this month, while the Government of El Salvador declared a red alert in July.

The second crop cycle – known as the postrera – which usually makes up for the deficiencies of the first harvest, takes place in November, but the UN agencies warned that “even if El Niño turns out to be a weak one, it will have a significant impact on the outcome of the second harvest”.

“With the support of the international community, we have worked together with the governments and rural communities… to help them become more resilient to extreme climatic variations, but we need to redouble our efforts and reach more rural communities,” explained WFP’s Miguel Barreto added.

After what happened in 2014 and 2015, humanitarian organizations provided food assistance to thousands of people in vulnerable communities in the region, to improve food security and strengthen resilience at family, community and institutional level. These activities included the conservation of soil and water, better agricultural practices and training to deal with natural disasters, as well as the strengthening of monitoring systems for food and nutrition security.

“It is urgent to improve the climate resilience of the inhabitants of Central America,” said the FAO Regional Representative, Julio Berdegué. “We are particularly concerned about the effect of this new drought on migration, in an international context that restricts the movement of thousands of people who, in their localities, will have great difficulty in securing the livelihood of their families,” he added.

To mitigate the risks this year, FAO and WFP, in close collaboration with governments and partners, plan to closely monitor the impact of the drought on the price of staple foods; develop analysis on the food and nutritional security of the most vulnerable; work on agreements to allow the regulated, safe and orderly temporary migration of people from the rural communities most affected by the drought; and mobilize resources to scale rainwater harvesting and storage systems and reduce the impact of future droughts.


Healthy Acadia, Area Restaurants Join Forces to Increase Food Security

Healthy Acadia, Area Restaurants Join Forces to Increase Food Security

Hancock County – On September 15, 2018, restaurants across Hancock and Washington counties will be raising funds for food security as part of Healthy Acadia’s “Hungry for Health 2018” campaign. Participating restaurants have pledged to donate a portion of the day’s earnings to support Healthy Acadia’s Healthy Food for All programs, which strive to address food insecurity and improve nutrition for individuals and families across Hancock and Washington Counties. This is the third year of Healthy Acadia’s annual “Hungry for Health” campaign, which addresses a critical community health need each year. Restaurants can participate at any time during the year and organize an event that best fits their restaurant. Many restaurants are participating in “Restaurant Day” on September 15th.

According to Good Shepherd Food Bank – Maine’s largest hunger relief organization – 16.4% of Maine’s households are considered “food insecure,” which makes our state the 7th most food insecure in the nation. Child food insecurity rates in our region are even higher: in Washington County, 23.4% – nearly 1 in 4 children – live in food insecure households. The number is only slightly lower in Hancock County, where 20%, or 1 in 5, children are food insecure. While there is plenty of food to go around, economic and political obstacles prevent food from reaching those who need it. Inexpensive, high-calorie processed foods end up being the most accessible option for some people, which puts them at greater risk for developing diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative establishes partnerships between farms and food pantries to ensure that those who are experiencing financial hardships have access to fresh and nutritious local fruits and vegetables. With the help of volunteers, students, and farmers, the Gleaning Initiative harvests and collects farm surplus that would otherwise go to waste. The program works closely with food pantries, soup kitchens, the Ellsworth WIC clinic, and recovery programs to redistribute the food throughout our communities for individuals and families in need.

Healthy Acadia also organizes the Hancock County Food Drive and the Washington County Turkey-a-Thon, two annual events that raise critical support for food pantries, meal programs, and backpack programs. The organization also plays a coordinating role in the Senior FarmShare Program by encouraging local farmers to participate in the program and recruiting seniors to sign up.

When you at one of these participating restaurants on Restaurant Day – September 15, a portion of the sales proceeds will go toward supporting Healthy Acadia’s food security initiatives:

44 Degrees North Restaurant, Milbridge

The Brooklin Inn, Brooklin

El El Frijoles, Sargentville

Galyn’s Restaurant, Bar Harbor

Midtown Burger, Bar Harbor

Morning Glory Bakery, Bar Harbor


Other Hungry for Health 2018 campaign contributors include West Street Cafe in Bar Harbor, The Colonel’s Restaurant and Bakery in Northeast Harbor, and Jo’s Diner & Pizzeria in Calais. You can learn more about participating restaurants by visiting To host an event, get involved, or make a direct donation, please contact

The post Healthy Acadia, Area Restaurants Join Forces to Increase Food Security appeared first on Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chief Editors Ole Mertz and Patrick Meyfroidt lead Land, Livelihoods and Food Security section

Chief Editors Ole Mertz and Patrick Meyfroidt lead Land, Livelihoods and Food Security section

by Carolina Feijao

Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems announces the launch of a new specialty section on Land, Livelihoods & Food Security. Chief Editors Ole Mertz of the University of Copenhagen and Patrick Meyfroidt of the Université Catholique de Louvain bring their interdisciplinary expertise on the interconnections between food and land systems, as well as on the environmental and social consequences of land use change, to shape the specialty section into a key reference for all stakeholders in food sustainability.

Why is this new specialty section so important?

Ole Mertz

“Land is central to food production, yet as the world is urbanizing, many of us are far removed from where food is produced,” states Ole Mertz.

“Scientific focus on how we can ensure food security while at the same time maintain sustainable livelihoods for producers of food and their land resources is therefore particularly important, especially given the increasing social and environmental pressures on land.”

Patrick Meyfroidt

Patrick Meyfroidt adds “Food is a fundamental aspect of human life, not only in the physical sense but also in the cultural, psychological, relational and emotional sense. In the same way, physically engaging with land and the environment for productive activities such as land use for food production is also a fundamental aspect of the human experience.”

How can we tackle the challenge of food security for all?

Patrick Meyfroidt explains “Any solutions to address the challenges of food systems need to consider the relations between land and people who live off the land, beyond the broad sustainability aspects and the issues of food demand, security and consumption.”

Ole Mertz adds “Studying land systems and sustainable food production requires a high degree of interdisciplinarity. This has been on the agenda for decades, but there are still strong epistemological barriers to achieving true interdisciplinary science. A better understanding of how to improve the sustainability of food systems cannot be solved by the social sciences or natural sciences alone or in parallel — collaboration is needed to ask the right questions and find the right solutions.”

With the advent of globalization, food supply chains have overcome geographic borders and food security needs the full engagement of an international community of stakeholders, especially scientists, researchers and policy makers. Land remains a primary source of global food production, as well as a key socio-economic platform for local livelihoods. In a global change scenario with increased pressure on land resources, the future of land use requires a holistic assessment of the trade-offs between human wellbeing and ecosystem services.

The Land, Livelihoods & Food Security section, led by  Ole Mertz and Patrick Meyfroidt, aims to tackle this challenge by publishing high-quality and interdisciplinary research on the relationships between land use change, livelihoods and food security.

The Land, Livelihoods & Food Security section is now open for high-quality article submissions and welcomes Research Topic proposals.

Follow Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems on Twitter and sign up for our article alerts to be the first to receive new research and updates!

Frontiers journals have some of the highest citation rates. Among the world’s 20 largest publishers in 2017, Frontiers ranks 4th most-cited with an average of 3.65 citations per article.  In total, Frontiers articles have received more than 700,000 citations to date.

Fiscal consolidation: Time to dilute the Food Security Act

Fiscal consolidation: Time to dilute the Food Security Act

FOOD SUBSIDI, FOOD SECURITY ACT Laying out a roadmap to downsize current expenses such as food subsidies should be the top priority for the new government in May 2019. (PTI)

The government is already in election mode, a time when analysts expect giveaways. But, these constrain public capex. It is a difficult time to rein in revenue expenditure; it just doesn’t work. But if one expects rainy days to arrive soon, the least one can do is prepare for them. Elections are a good eight months away, but the clouds are thickening fast. Macroeconomic headwinds are gaining momentum as murky external developments become unpredictable. The rupee and yields are already under pressure; fiscal restraint is the need of the hour!

With external vulnerability at the edge, policy levers need to be realigned, sharpened and kept ready. While monetary policy can still respond in the short-term, it is fiscal policy that is the major lever available to restore macroeconomic balance. To find additional space in these changed circumstances, policymakers must now rework a tighter fiscal consolidation path. It is well known that the medium-term fiscal consolidation path that the Kelkar panel outlined did not materialise as planned—deficit targets were deferred in two of the past four years as the government opted to scale-up capital spending to offset the private investment shortfall. It also aimed to reorient the spending mix towards better quality expenditure by switching expenditures from current to capital. Hence, subsidy reductions over time were to release space for sustained, productive capital expenditure without overstepping committed deficits.

But, the reality is that, besides postponing fiscal targets, the expected expenditure switch to improve spending quality did not materialise to a large extent. Public capex share of GDP has actually declined, and current spending shares have risen. This is primarily due to food subsidy payments, even as fuel and fertiliser subsidies stabilised after decreasing (thanks to lower oil prices). For now, interest payments are stable too, but one can’t be sanguine about the interest burden in a rising yields scenario. The medium-term fiscal roadmap now has a debt anchor with the fiscal deficit as the operational target. This follows recommendations of the NK Singh headed FRBM Review Committee (RC hereon) which outlined a new debt and fiscal framework last year. The government accepted the roadmap—reduction of central government debt to 40% of GDP by FY23, general government debt to 60% of GDP, and fiscal deficit-GDP ratio of 3.0% of GDP in FY18 to FY20. But the government has once again postponed these targets by two years to FY25 and FY21 respectively.

A more serious issue is that the RC’s initial debt assumption (49.4% of GDP, BE FY17) for computing its roadmap is already overturned as the actual central government debt in FY17 reached 50.3% of GDP! Fiscal deficit assumptions underlying the RC’s debt dynamics to achieve 40% debt-GDP ratio by FY23—3.5% (FY17) and 3.0% in FY18 to FY20 – are overshot too. Much rests on its other assumptions—nominal GDP growth and interest rate at 11.5% and 7.3% respectively. Debt-GDP ratio for FY18 is currently estimated at 50.1%, and is projected to decline to 48.8% this year but actual outturns remain to be seen. A worsened fiscal position of states further compounds the deterioration in the country’s fiscal profile—general government debt/GDP is once again rising from 66.7% (FY15) to 68.6% (FY16) and 68.9% and 70.4% in FY17 and FY18, respectively (IMF Staff Report, 18/254, August 2018). Thus, the RC’s projections are already toppled while delayed implementation makes it very clear that the 40% and 60% debt anchor targets will not materialise as visualised.

This debt build-up can be dangerous when external vulnerability risks have risen. Investors get jittery at such deviations as governments lose credibility, a feature the RC underlines, citing India’s 1991 and 2013 experiences. Sustaining growth is another critical argument as to why fiscal consolidation plans need re-examining: The RC flags that debt dynamics are primarily growth-driven; in addition, there is a genuine need to maintain public capex as private investment is not reviving. So, if growth lets down, all else does too. The changed macroeconomic context therefore demands relooking the planned fiscal consolidation. This holds regardless of how external adjustments come about—through the currency, administrative controls, emergency financing arrangements or even a short-term interest rate response. In the medium-term, the realignment has to come from the fiscal side.

What can the government do? Where can it cut spending and which spending? There is but one point—food subsidy—to accelerate consolidation and release space. Fiscal costs of this have steadily risen from FY08, save a 30bps decline to 0.7% of GDP in FY17; shares have again been rising to match pre-2014 levels. Food subsidy allocations reached 0.9% of GDP (Rs 1.69 trillion) in FY19 but this does not include the additional expense of the promised increase in MSPs. Moreover, accumulated subsidy payment dues to FCI have mounted—Financial Express estimates dues to shoot up to a humongous Rs 2 trillion in FY19 from Rs 1.35 trillion in FY 18!

Then, the interest burden is likely to intensify from rising yields, which makes it imminent to prune food subsidy expenses. Higher fiscal pressures—public debt is already close to thresholds that raise the probability of debt distress amongst emerging market economies according to IMF (Country Report, August 2018)—will compound the external sector stress. There is only so much that monetary policy can do. It is time then to return to the drawing board and reconsider fiscal consolidation, one that incorporates external vulnerability risks. When the NDA government came in May 2014, many analysts hoped it would dilute the National Food Security Act, 2013 along with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, both passed by the previous government. But, after failing to amend the latter, even the NFSA was rolled out across the country without any meaningful changes, with the cover that subsidy outgo would be minimised with implementation through direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. Against this backdrop, an illustrative roadmap to prune food subsidy is explored here. The government can consider three possible actions, or some combinations of these

* Reduce number of beneficiaries—not a big ask if job creation is as robust as claimed;

* Reduce quantities supplied (rice & wheat) under the food security program; and/or

* Raise the issue/subsidised prices.

The roadmap visualises a 20bps reduction in the first two years starting FY20, followed by 10bps annual reductions thereafter to reach 0.3% of GDP in FY23. This assumes a 7.5% real GDP growth throughout with inflation rates at 5% and 4.5% in the first two years, and 4% thereafter. Laying out a roadmap to downsize current expenses such as food subsidies should be the top priority for the new government in May 2019. It will go a long way in alleviating internal vulnerabilities, i.e. fiscal risks, will send the right message to stakeholders and release fiscal space for productive spending to raise output potential. This is the only way to go. A policy discourse and action on these lines is the need of the hour.


GiZ: Driving force for food security shall incline more on IoT

GiZ: Driving force for food security shall incline more on IoT

GiZ: Driving force for food security shall incline more on IoT

Mutembei Kariuki, Regional Co=ordinator Make IT Africa, GiZ

Farming and agricultural industry now relies on innovative ideas and technological advancements to help increase yields and better allocation resources Mutembei Kariuki, regional co-ordinator Make IT Africa, GiZ said during the recent IoT and AI Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya.

At the summit themed: Harnesseing the Power to Driver Customer Experience, Kariuki stated that the late 19th century and the 20th century brought a number of mechanical innovations, like tractors and harvesters which today’s driving force for food security inclines onincreased agricultural production at a lower cost is the Internet of Things (IoT), which leaves the door wide open for engineers looking to bring a smart farming solution or IoT agricultural sensor to market.

“The Internet of Things applications in agriculture include farm vehicle tracking, livestock monitoring, storage monitoring, and much more,” Kariuki shared the examples noting that livestock sensors can notify ranchers when animals have roamed from the herd so that ranch hands can round them up. Soil sensors can alert farmers to irregular conditions like high acidity, giving the farmer time to reconcile the issue and produce better crops while self-driving tractors can be controlled remotely, providing significant savings in labor costs.

The next several years will see increasing use of these and other smart farming technologies.

According to Kariuki, IoT devicce installations in the agriculture world are projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent. “This is an area that Kenya has every reason to tap into to uphold while embarking on the journey of Big Four Agenda.

In Kenya  a number of connected agricultural devices is expected to a million at the end of 2018.

Tell politicians to prioritise food security, agency advises voters – Punch Newspapers

Tell politicians to prioritise food security, agency advises voters – Punch Newspapers

Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme has advised Nigerians to demand politicians seeking their votes to prioritise food security.

Mr Maina Binus, the Programme Manager of the agency, gave the advice in Gombe on Thursday when he received members of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre campaigning for “Right to Food” in Nigeria.

“Let every politician coming to seek for your vote prioritize food security in his agenda.

“People are selling their birthright because of the little food that politicians give to them.

“If anybody comes to you campaigning without a manifesto that reflects food, do not vote for him.

READ ALSO: Osun Election: REC promises there will be no vote-buying

“We, GADP, have taken it as a duty to always be in support for the actualization of Right to Food in the state and the country at large.

“Because of the passion we have for Agriculture, we will do the needful to ensure we push for the Right to Food Bill to scale through at all levels,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salaudeen Hashim, the Programme Manager, CISLAC Abuja, said the delegation was in Gombe to mobilize support legislation on Right to Food in Nigeria.

“As we already know, Gombe is in the North-East close to states devastated by terrorism.

“We have discovered that one of the reasons people go into terrorism is hunger.

“It is unfortunate that governments at all levels have not taken practical steps towards ensuring the availability, accessibility and affordability of food.”

He, however, noted that the state government’s robust agricultural programmes were commendable.

“We think that we can use the goodwill of states that are currently doing well to develop positive response in other states,” he said.

Similarly, the Deputy Governor, Mr Charles Iliya, who received the team in his residence during a courtesy visit, said the campaign was a welcome development.

Iliya said that Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo was giving agriculture the needed attention and priority.

He said considering the importance of the project, the governor would be fully briefed, adding that the government would mobilize stakeholders to see that the bill scaled through even at the national level.


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Mine project will transform region’s economy and improve global food security, says Sirius

Mine project will transform region’s economy and improve global food security, says Sirius

A new mine in North Yorkshire will have a transformational impact on the region’s economy and help to improve global food security, according to bosses at Sirius Minerals.

Sirius Minerals’ giant polyhalite Woodsmith Mine, near Whitby, is a £3.2bn capital investment project which is expected to generate £100bn for the UK economy over the next 50 years. Apart from creating 1,000, long term, skilled jobs, the project is also set to support 1,500 supply chain jobs.

The Sirius Minerals'  Woodsmith site near Whitby

The Sirius Minerals’ Woodsmith site near Whitby

Gareth Edmunds, the company’s external affairs director, also revealed that Sirius aims to provide a long term boost for North Yorkshire’s economy by encouraging more pupils to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at school.

However, in common with many Yorkshire employers, Sirius is concerned about the “hugely frustrating” cancellations and delays on the train system serving Scarborough. The company fears it could put people off investing in the area.

Mr Edmunds said: “At full production we estimate it (the mine) will be producing something like £2.5bn of exports a year and that’s worth about seven per cent of our trade deficit, based on 2016 figures. So for the UK as a whole, and not just North Yorkshire, it will have a major impact.”

“There’s a steady flow of new people joining the project all the time. As we ramp up the project, there will be a big push to get these opportunities available to as many local people as possible.”

The Sirius Minerals' Woodsmith site near Whitby

The Sirius Minerals’ Woodsmith site near Whitby

Mr Edmunds added: “The support for the work continues to grow. During the planning process we had a huge amount of support; 97 per cent of responses to the National Park Authority were positive.

“This is real economic stimulus for the country and we are also producing a product that the world needs.

“The deposits here of polyhalite can play a major role in helping to improve food security, mainly through providing more balanced nutrition for crops and (supporting) better farming practices.

“The majority of our team at HQ are from the local area. We have got our own skills programme to try and encourage the development of the right kinds of skills. We have a big focus on STEM and on trying to help enrich the curriculum in schools and colleges throughout the area. We do that to benefit all of the businesses in the area.”

“We aim to hit the first polyhalite in 2021 and be in full operation as quickly as possible afterwards.”

Sirius Minerals’ polyhalite project in North Yorkshire could help the UK to address the challenges and opportunities of the post-Brexit world, according to the scheme’s supporters.

A report on the economic case for the polyhalite mine, which was written by the specialist consultancy Quod, concluded that the project could permanently add up to 17 per cent to North Yorkshire’s economic output.

The report also concluded that the £316m annual running costs will stimulate local supply chains.

Mr Edmunds said the project also provided opportunities for businesses to establish a base close to the mine.

He added: “Aside from the construction roles you would have on a project like this, the jobs are very varied and wide ranging.

“We are a FTSE 250 business based in Scarborough and we have all the corporate functions that go with a business like that from finance and IT to PR (public relations), HR (human resources) , design and engineering.”

Mr Edmunds, who has been involved in the project since it was first proposed in 2011, said Sirius was trying to keep its destiny in its own hands as much as possible.

He added: “But transport infrastructure is key in places like Scarborough and there is a big push in making sure young people who are coming out of schools and colleges have the right skills. There needs to be a healthy balance between those two.

“Failures in the train system are hugely frustrating. It has a day to day operational effect on us. We have international investors and visitors coming to see us and if they can’t get the 45 miles from York to Scarborough it can be a problem for us. It puts people off potentially investing in the area. We are being let down.”

A spokesperson for TransPennine Express, said : “We continue to work closely with Network Rail and other train operators to improve the punctuality of rail services.

“In recent times, around three quarter of our delays we have faced have been caused by external factors, including the performance of rail infrastructure and issues with other operators trains. Later this year, we will be introducing the first of our brand new five carriage trains on the route between York and Scarborough which forms part of our overall £500m investment.”