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Daily Archives: January 26, 2019

Qatar: Schools grow fruit and vegetables to boost food security

Qatar: Schools grow fruit and vegetables to boost food security

Food security and sustainability in Qatar was boosted with tons of fruit and vegetables that were grown in school greenhouses run by the Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First’s Khayr Qatarna program.

The produce was all grown in just three greenhouses sited at secondary schools in Qatar. Under the Khayr Qatarna initiative, Sahtak Awalan runs the greenhouses and the produce is then sold at local supermarkets. The program also teaches students about agriculture, logistics, economics and healthy food. All profits are reinvested in the scheme.

The fruit and vegetables were grown and harvested in the last 10 months, and comprised tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and beans.

The greenhouses are large-scale and climate-controlled.

With a further greenhouse now built at each of seven more schools, this year’s crop is set to increase. The strategic plan is for the scheme to expand across Qatar as the profits are ploughed back into the initiative. This will see more and more schools being included in the program as time goes on, helping to fulfil Qatar National Vision 2030’s goals of sustainability and healthy future generations.

Nesreen Al-Rifai, chief communications officer at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, which runs Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First, said it was a wonderful first year.

Mrs Al-Rifai said: “The success of the Khayr Qatarna greenhouses has been beyond our expectations.

“With the invaluable contribution of all our strategic partners, we have helped support national sustainability and provided high school students with lessons about healthy eating, agriculture, economics and logistics.

“I would particularly like to thank the Ministry of Education and Higher Education for working with Your Health First, schools and teachers and offering us access to schools.

“The expansion to seven new schools will allow us to build upon this success and introduce new fruits and vegetables into the initiative. In the future, I hope that all secondary schools in Qatar will have one of our greenhouses and that together we can help create a healthy generation able to meet the challenges of Qatar National Vision 2030.”

The produce is sold in supermarkets under the Khayr Qaatarna brand name.

Hassan Al-Mohamedi, director of the Public Relations and Communications Department at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, said: “We are very happy to see growing health awareness among the community, which is related to the greenhouses in our schools. The collaboration between all of Your Health First’s strategic partners is an indication of the success of Sahtak Awalan – Your Health First. This success manifests itself in the way our students are taking care of their health and following good habits in order to improve the health of themselves and Qatar.

“The idea of the greenhouses in our schools is really beneficial because it allows our students to learn to love agriculture and the cultivation of plants, and also to benefit from the produce they grow, which is great to see. The students learn through planting and harvesting the produce and it teaches them awareness of how to live healthy lives. This is hugely beneficial to the nation; farming and planting fruit and vegetables will help Qatar to achieve self-sufficiency and it will, of course, allow people to purchase local produce and make our agricultural economy stronger.”

A greenhouse has been installed at the Audio Complex for Boys.

Greenhouses are currently sited at Amna Bint Wahab School, Osama Bin Zaid, and Zainab Preparatory School for Girls. The seven new schools to have received an installation are Audio Complex for Girls, Audio Complex for Boys, Roqaya Preparatory for Girls, Khalid Bin Ahmed for Boys, Al Wajba for Girls, Al Razi for Boys, and Moza Bint Mohammed for Girls. All the greenhouses apart from one have now been planted with new crops – including strawberries for the first time – and the first harvests of 2019 are expected from the end of this month until mid-March, depending on the crop. Further crops will then be sown.

Because the greenhouses are climate-controlled, fruits and vegetables can continue to be grown throughout the year, even during the summer months.

Khayr Qatarna was officially launched last February, with the first harvest in March of last year. Since then there have been two further harvests which have supplied fresh fruit and vegetables to local supermarkets to help improve food security, increase sustainability, and encourage healthy eating.

The initiative is an extension of Project Greenhouse which has seen 130 greenhouses built at local elementary schools to teach children the importance of eating healthy food and how to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The Khayr Qatarna project and the wider Sahtak Awalan campaign has been supported by Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Environment and Municipality, Occidental Petroleum and ExxonMobil.


International Conference on Climate Change, Water & Food Security held

International Conference on Climate Change, Water & Food Security held


Bhubaneswar: An international conference was held
recently at a hotel in Bhubaneswar to discuss about climate change, water
issues and food security. Titled “International Conference on Climate Change, Water & Food
Security” the conference
was organised by Organisation
for Removing Regional Imbalances & Social Injustice in Society (ORRISIS), a non-governmental

Noted water conservationist and environmentalist from Rajasthan, Dr.
Rajendra Singh, who is best known as the ‘Water Man of India’, graced the occasion
as the chief guest. In his speech Dr. Singh said, “It is very important to look
at Odisha as it is the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change owing
to its geographical and ecological diversity.” He also talked about inculcating
Green Good Behaviour in ourselves.

Authored by Ms. Anannya Naik, the book titled “My Journey to Hirakud Dam”
was also released on this occasion. About the book Dr. Singh said that such a
book is an important reference for the climate change experts. “Organising such
conclave that brings experts and practitioners from the scientific community
will not just help Odisha but the country at large,” he added.

“Impacts of climate change are
most felt in Odisha even though it is the least contributor to this issue. The state faces frequent occurrence of
both floods and droughts” said
Ms. Anannya
Naik, President, ORRISIS. She also highlighted
the issue of silt deposition at Hirakud dam, prospective of Mahanadi river basin
management towards sustainability.

The one-day conference brought together international urban water
management experts, Water distillation process experts, Agriculture & food
processing experts, Engineers, social activists and representative from NGOs,
students to deliberate and exchange lessons
on building a climate-resilient Odisha. Retd. Justice, Odisha, Dr. D. P. Chowduhry, Urban water Management Head and Mr. Hovov Lerner
from Israel as well as experts from Israel, Sri
Lanka and India graced the occasion.

Key points emerging from this one-day long conference included the need
to stick to commitments, collaborate and take collective action on building a
climate resilient Odisha. Scholars came up with many policy
recommendations such as cohesive working of departments to make projects
climate proof, push CSR funding into climate resilience projects, better plans
on water management and more aggressive action.

The conference has successfully deliberated on ways to build adaptive capacity across Odisha and identify potential opportunities on climate change mainstreaming into planning and policy formulation process. The conference saw participation of over 200 experts, leaders and practitioners from not just Odisha but also from across India and other important international delegates.

Also read: Waterkeeper Suggests Solutions To Mahanadi Issue

The post International Conference on Climate Change, Water & Food Security held appeared first on KalingaTV.

The Importance of Community Participatory Approach: Water and Food Security Programmes – Impakter

The Importance of Community Participatory Approach: Water and Food Security Programmes – Impakter

The Importance of Community Participatory Approach: Water and Food Security Programmes

In an agrarian country like India, agriculture is often projected as an occupation or livelihood for approximately 60% of the population, neglecting the fact agriculture supports the life of the entire population. Agriculture and allied sectors have tremendous potential for providing more employment opportunities and consequently mitigating the levels of rural poverty; this could ensure nutrition and food security on a long-term basis.

However, this is not possible without support-based services for the farmers, in terms of technology transfer, improving input use efficiency, promoting investments in agriculture, and creating a favorable and enabling economic environment. Moreover, value addition and supply chain management, collective bargaining capacity, and direct linkages of the producers with the consumers (etc.) will certainly help farmers derive a better benefit from their produce. Therefore, in order to be able to meet the emerging needs of the agriculture sector, adoption of locale specific interventions is essential.

In The Photo: Technology adoption in paddy cultivation. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.

Community Participatory Initiatives:

Lack of water, monsoon failures, unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, non-availability of farm labour, inadequate and inappropriate know-how and do-how of technology, exorbitant cost of inputs, undependable credit and insurance facility, lack of storage capacity, unreliable marketing linkage, and price volatility for produce are the critical issues which emerged from the participatory consultative process with farmers undertaken by ISD. This plays a part in its efforts to facilitate the farmers to find solutions for the challenges they face.

Evidently, there may not be anything new about the issues which emerged, however the novelty was in the process; importantly, the process involved not only the identification of the problems in farming, but also the farmers’ vow to work collectively to find solutions.

The process started with one Village Panchayat during 2009-10, and has reached 30 Village Panchayat’s in the year 2018, in the Thiruvallur district of the Tamil Nadu State, Southern India. The programme now known as the Water and Food Security (WaFoS) Programme provides training in sustainable agriculture practices, but also especially focuses on introducing dynamic farmers-collectives, group management, conflict resolution, group finance management and attitudes to addressing the social and health issues. Family farms with small land holdings get priority in the programmes and nearly 80% of the beneficiaries belong to this category.

In The Photo: The interior of a groundwater recharge shaft while in function. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.

With a multidisciplinary approach and the development oriented with holistic interventions, which were implemented in a participatory mode on a multi-stakeholder platform, a number of local institutions were formed, such as Ellapuram Block Paddy Producer Company, Farmers Clubs (40),  Dairy  Cooperatives (4), and Joint Liability Groups (16). The field experience suggests that such institutionalisation has a better chance to sustain the impacts of the local initiatives.

Institutionalisation also helped in furthering better public (community) – public (public sector -service providers) partnership. Consequently, there are now standing examples of community managed borewell and solar powered irrigation systems, community maintenance of water bodies within the village, community managed Village Resource Centre, community managed Farm Input Centre, and also numerous other relevant interventions; these include: health camps for general health, cancer detection, eye care, oral health, veterinary health camp etc organized by the Farmers Clubs/Cooperatives.

Few Other Significant Impacts Are:

Income from dairy doubled: Families owning milking cows managed to escape the clutches of local vendors who used to exploit armers in many ways. They were mobilised in cooperatives and linked to the State run Milk Cooperative. They began to earn more than twice their previous income through the Dairy cooperatives, besides a host of other benefits.

Reduced dependency on local money lenders: For any investment needs, the farmers generally depend on the local money lenders who charge interest at exorbitant rates. This dependency is reduced through promoting thrift and credit activities of the farmers’ collectives. The Clubs are thus offering internal lending, completing business to the tune of 3 times their savings. The decisions about the loan, amount, beneficiary, interest, repayment period, etc, are democratically taken at their regular meetings; the repayment is near 100 percent. As a result, having observed the transactions in the bank account of the Clubs, the banks are now offering finance for farmers.

Financial Inclusion: ISD has tried to allay the misconception surrounding farmers among others, especially bankers. Discussions with bankers in the locality revealed their belief farmers would not repay bank loans. So, to explore the credit worthiness of farmers ISD created a Fund with donations to provide loans to the farmers (only once), and observe their utilisation and repayment practice. Selection of farmers and enabling them to prepare their loan application with many details of activity, such as fund requirement, self-contribution, repayment plan etc, were courses carried out through the participatory process.

The loans were provided to them with clearly explained terms of reference and included the very specific purposes, through the Farmers Clubs. On the whole 110 members benefitted so far; the repayment was 99%. The performance of the Farmers Clubs were graded and referred to bank for further assistance. Many groups have received loans, utilised the amount and are successfully repaying now. A changed approach can bring more good results and reduce bank loan defaulters.

In The Photo: Village representatives taking a pledge to adopt water conservation measures, towards the end of a training programme. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.
In The Photo: Farmers Resource Team, a support team for farmers, comprising experienced farmers from the villages in a discussion. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.

Collective Action Helped Farmers Achieve Better Quality Inputs, Increase Production and Raise Income

Some of the collective actions included: using shared common water resources like irrigation borewells, application of gypsum which procured in a collective way, shift in seed procurement from middlemen to direct purchase, stopping the discharge of untreated water from a paper company in the village,  representing many common issues to the government authorities in a proper format at the common forums, placing notice boards for sharing public information, and many more initiatives were undertaken by the collectives.

The impact of technology adoption is immense in terms of sustainable farming practices, but also in terms of the cohesiveness among the collectives in engaging them in profitable and developmental activities.

In The Photo: Villagers celebrating the sanctity of water resources- Irrigation Tank Festival, promoted as a water conservation measure. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.


The experience indicates the participatory methods used are laborious and time consuming during the initial stages. Yet, with perseverance it is possible to turn illiterate and neo-literate farmers in to agri-business managers and to practice sustainable and profitable farming. However, once demonstrated with real-time cases, replication is seen to be really undemanding, and so the best practices spread easily.

In The Photo: water budget of a village painted at a prominent place within the village. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.


On behalf of ISD, I would like to acknowledge the institutions who worked with us at various points in the initial stages of the ISD-Water and Food Security Programmes and they are NABARD-Chennai, Centre of Excellence for Change Management, SWISS India Trust and Live Energies Foundation, all based in Chennai.

Featured Photo Caption: A bitter gourd farm which adopted drip irrigation. Photo Credit: Institute of Sustainable Development.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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Canan food security scholarship aids students

Canan food security scholarship aids students

The Canan Food Security Program is offering food insecure students an opportunity to get meals in Mesquite Dining Hall or Mavericks Corner.

As of January students are able to apply to the program and no longer have the burden of not knowing where their next meal will come from.

Pat Canan, Wichita Falls businessman and scholarship donor, said, “There was actually, maybe a year ago, an article about food insecurity on campus and also across the state and the nation. So I started doing some research on organizations that study food insecurity at college campuses and the more I read the more I realize that it was probably a problem at Midwestern like [it is] at other places.”

Canan was initially trying to do a scholarship for the art department on campus, however after talking to Steve Hilton, associate professor of Juanita and Ralph Harvey School of Visual Arts, the idea of a food scholarship bloomed.

“I had been doing [food insecurity] research and in the middle of the conversation I asked [Steve Hilton and Martin Camacho] what they would think about a campus wide scholarship. Not just based on scholarship as far as grades but a true need for food security. They were initially a little taken a back because they hadn’t really thought about that. But the more they research the more excited everyone got. It kind of changed from a scholarship based on merit to a scholarship based on need. We wanted to try to impact as many students as we could, not just one or two,” Canan said.

Athletic training senior Justin Thompson listens to music while eating dinner in Mesquite Dining Hall. Jan 22. Photo by Alana Earle

As a college student, Hilton also struggled with wondering where his next meal would come from.

Hilton said, “There were times where I didn’t eat as well as I should have. There were times when I wrote a check, knowing it was gonna bounce, that it was gonna cost me $10 extra for a bag of groceries. I was like much of these students, I worked 30-40 hours a week. I didn’t have any support from my family so it’s not any different than it is now. Ramen noodles. Mac and cheese. Generic mac and cheese was the food of choice because it was only a quarter for a box. If you ever bought Kraft mac and cheese you knew you were going uptown because it was always 33 cents a box.”

Hilton said he has seen food insecurity problems in his students and said he hopes that they will get the help they need through the new program.

“I see students come to class hungry. They might only have enough money for lunch for a candy bar from the snack machine. They’re not eating nutritiously but they can afford a bag of chips for a dollar. I see what they eat for breakfast for lunch and for dinner because I’m in the studio a lot. I can’t see how they’re doing their best work if they’re hungry,” Hilton said.

Students can apply at anytime to the program via MustangsLink.

Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said, “Right now since the program is so new, there are two of us and we typically review them together. It’s myself and my assistant Laura Salazar. When an application comes in through MustangsLink Laura will get the initial financial aid information for us . . . Laura and I will sit down and kinda go over everything and make an initial decision on, Does this look like we need to go ahead and extend some meals and get them to financial aid counseling? Then we just go from there.”

If it’s determined that the student is food insecure, they are given 10 additional meal swipes to use at Maverick’s Corner or the Mesquite Dining Hall. An additional appointment is set up with a financial aid counselor to determine the amount of any further assistance that the student needs. The students will receive other forms of financial aid to aid their situation.

Lamb said he hopes this will be a multi-year program and are looking for more future donors. He is humbled by the generosity of Canan and is grateful MSU can help its students in any way.

The meals provided via the program are through Chartwells food service, the company will not be profiting from the program. They have decided to offer the meals at-cost, meaning each meal granted will only be $5.

Lamb said he hopes to help as many students as possible since the meal swipes will be cheaper than Chartwells meal plans.

“This entire program is about helping people.””

— Keith Lamb

The students that receive aid from this program do not have to be students that are stricken by traumatic situations, anyone that doesn’t have enough money in their budget for food can benefit from this program.

Cynthia Cummings, special events coordinator, said, “I’m really pleased with the program and I’m proud to be an MSU employee, because we do care about our students. And you know in the long run, they are probably going to be the leaders of our community so we need to help them along the way so they can focus on schoolwork and not worry about being hungry.”

Food insecurity in Wichita Falls
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Unveils Sustainable Agricultural Program To Better Food Security in the Kingdom  | About Her

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Unveils Sustainable Agricultural Program To Better Food Security in the Kingdom | About Her

Despite a largely harsh climatic environment, Saudi Arabia has had good food and water security throughout its more recent history, a result of the country’s reliance on its strong petroleum-centric economy food imports and desalinated water production. However, over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been working to establish a number of policies and projects designed to ensure long-term food security, such as its latest initiative that was unveiled this month by HRH King Salman Bin Abdulaziz at a ceremony attended by various officials.

The Sustainable Agricultural Rural Development Program 2018-2025 has been designed to support the Kingdom’s larger food security initiative. It focuses on eight sectors such as smallholdings and traditional agriculture; production, processing and marketing of Arabic coffee; beekeeping and honey production; rose cultivation and marketing; fruit production and marketing; small-scale fisheries and fish farming; and smallholder livestock production and rain-fed crops.

According to an official press release, Abdulrahman Al-Fadli, Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, explained that the program would not only help small producers across Saudi Arabia, it would also significantly support the country’s food-security initiatives “by fulfilling 43 percent of the total food required in target areas, as well as 19 percent of the total food needs of the Saudi Arabia.”

Abdulrahman Al-Fadli

In addition, the program will ensure that Saudi Arabia is provided with sustained access to healthy food, and that Saudi women would be provided with more opportunities in the sector and the labor market at large, a key objective laid down in Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s ambitious blueprint for its future social and economic development.

The minister also took the opportunity to thank King Salman for supporting the country’s key sectors, saying that his ministry would implement this latest program through the application of best global models in agricultural and rural development. He went on to explain that implementation would be done in cooperation with more than nine governmental and private bodies, as well as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which will serve as a consultant for the implementation and follow-up phases of the program.