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Malawi subsidises seed and fertiliser

Good weather and government subsidies on seed and fertiliser helped produce a million tonne maize surplus in Malawi in 2007 (credit: FAO/Eddie Gerald)

Since 2004, the Malawi government has been funding a programme that provides subsidised maize seed and fertiliser to around half the smallholder farmers in the country. Despite some problems, for example with corruption, the scheme appears to be succeeding. The maize harvest in the 2006/7 season was the highest on record, with over 1 million tonnes of surplus grain produced. Ephraim Chirwa of the University of Malawi recently offered an analysis of the subsidy programme to the Salzburg Global Seminar. In Malawi subsidises seed and fertiliser he describes how the programme has been implemented so far, and the challenges it now faces.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=82
Article: Going against the grain: Malawi's fertiliser subsidy

Annan's African Green Revolution

Annan's African Green Revolution

As chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Kofi Annan believes passionately in the capacity of Africa to feed itself. But achieving his vision of a uniquely African Green Revolution will demand much greater coordination of effort, particularly among the big agencies that are currently working to boost productivity in Africa’s farmlands. It will also mean changing the ways that Africa’s farmers produce food, through technologies such as improved seed and better land and water management. In this interview, recorded in May 2008 at the Salzburg Global Seminar, he outlined his vision to Susanna Thorp.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=77
Article: Editorial

Not just popcorn

Not just popcorn

The Matayos Self-Help Youth Group from Busia in western Kenya has developed a machine to 'pop' a range of grains, including sorghum, rice and millet. These are now being marketed as healthy snacks. Group coordinator Francis Oundo explains more about this successful use of some neglected crop species to Pius Sawa.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=61
Article: More than just popcorn

From weed to cash crop: Amaranth

Edible, broad-leaved African Nightshades are growing in popularity in East Africa (credit: Bioversity International)

Amaranth is widely regarded as an unwanted and stubborn weed, food for the poor during hungry periods. It is, however, a highly nutritious and tasty plant. Recently, the Kenya Seed Company has released an improved variety of amaranth which matures in just 2-3 months, has a long harvesting period and produces nutrient-packed grain as well as leaves. In western Kenya, the plant is now being deliberately intercropped with soybean, a practice which both increases fresh leaf yields and improves the quality of the soil.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=68
Article: African leafy vegetables come out of the shade

Agriculture, poverty and the environment

Demand for food is expected to double in the developing world in the next 25-50 years (credit: World Bank)

While food production has increased at a faster rate than population growth over the last 50 years, poverty, malnutrition and environmental degradation continue to blight the lives of millions. So what can agriculture offer to the world's poor, and to its degraded lands? In April this year a report was published by the International Assessment of Agricultural, Science and Technology for Development, which offers some answers. Attending launch events for the Assessment in London and Nairobi, Neil Palmer and Winnie Onyimbo gather opinions on the significance of the report, and what it will mean for African farmers.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=74
Article: Farming revolution needed to feed the world's hungry

Neglected crops: National treasures

Many underutilised plants can be found on sale at food markets in Tanzania, where the recent AVRDC conference was held

Every country has its national treasures. In this interview, Jackie Hughes of the World Vegetable Centre highlights the value of some food plant species, which she believes are treasures, but which have been neglected. These include plants such as amaranth, which can grow in marginal areas but which is also very nutritious. If more widely grown, these neglected crops could play a role in improving diets among the resource poor, and raising their income. They could also help to maintain farm production in the face of climate change.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=62
Article: Making more of undervalued crops

Neglected crops: International viewpoints

Many underutilised plants can be found on sale at food markets in Tanzania, where the recent AVRDC conference was held

Four scientists working in Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Sri Lanka comment on why they believe many indigenous African crops became neglected and forgotten. This may have been because they were difficult to process, or because of the promotion of exotic species. With new technologies, processing problems can now be overcome. As a result, these neglected crops deserve to be looked at again, particularly as they are often more resilient than exotic crops in the face of drought or flooding.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=63
Article: Making more of undervalued crops

The New Agriculturist podcast 2008-3

Many underutilised plants can be found on sale at food markets in Tanzania, where the recent AVRDC conference was held

A worryingly large number of useful crops have become neglected in recent times. But now, with their nutritional, economic and social properties, many are making a comeback. In this edition's podcast we hear the views of several underutilised crop enthusiasts, who are keen to highlight the benefits of these previously undervalued plants. With the concern over rising food prices, we also feature comments from two of the authors of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development report, on what is needed to revolutionise farming and increase agricultural productivity.
Finally, Susie Emmett interviews William Easterly at a review of the Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative at FAO in Rome. Easterly's book The White Man's Burden shook the aid business to its foundations - so she is keen to find out what makes a good, or not so good, agriculturist for development. This edition of New Agriculturist podcast is piled high with an array of views, news and discussion, as colourful as the produce on sale at Arusha's covered vegetable market, where the podcast begins...
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag08-3.mp3
Article: Making more of undervalued crops, Searching for a new approach: pro-poor livestock policy and institutional change, Farming revolution needed to feed the world's hungry, Editorial

The New Agriculturist podcast 2008-2

World food reserves are at their lowest level for 30 years

The current political crisis in Kenya has had a negative impact on many aspects of the country's economy - from the booming tourist industry - to the blooming flower industry. Sixty-five per cent of Kenya's horticultural produce arrives in Europe on the same planes on which holidaymakers fly tourists home. Fewer tourists means fewer flights, less export capacity and ultimately lower profits. So is Kenya's flower industry is wilting, or can it survive the current political storm? Also in this edition's podcast - Susie Emmett speaks to one man with serious doubts about the biofuel crop jatropha. Can it really offer an environmentally friendly solution to our burgeoning fuel consumption? Listen in to find out.
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag08-2.mp3
Article: Editorial

Getting the balance right

Spreading the message about the importance of agriculture and good nutrition in the fight against HIV/AIDS (credit: Georgina Cranston)

December has closed recent talks in Tanzania at the 5th African Population Conference. Discussions were held to analyse problems associated with rapid urbanisation - among them, the challenges for ill people, including those with HIV. Our correspondent in Ghana, went in search of practical advice for those living with HIV or AIDS in urban areas where food is often expensive. In Getting the balance right, our reporter talks to one specialist to find solutions to one problem in particular. How to ensure a balanced diet in the city?
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=37
Article: Agriculture and HIV/AIDS

 

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