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Africa needs young scientists

Young science graduates are asking for more opportunities and support, in order to make their contribution to solving Africa's problems.

Science, particularly agricultural science, is seldom seen as a glamorous career by young African graduates. Many studying agriculture have simply failed to get onto a more desirable course - such as medicine or law. One such person was Christian Daberechukwu Ani, a young Nigerian graduate. But having completed his studies in agriculture, Christian became convinced of its importance for the future of the continent. So much so, he founded the Big Brains of Agriculture multipurpose cooperative society for fellow agricultural graduates. He shares his enthusiasm for agricultural science, reflecting on the brain drain and the lack of support for students and graduates.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=250
Article: Agricultural science - a promising future?

New Agriculturist podcast 2009-2

Good news: rice production has increased, especially in Africa (credit: World Bank)

Scrutinised by a flock of Soay sheep - a traditional breed with self-shedding wool and rot-resistant feet - Susie Emmett introduces some of the people that feature in this edition of New Agriculturist. Meet Kiza James, who collects banana peels and other fruit and vegetable waste, to make into animal feed and fuel briquettes. We also hear from Eliamani Laltaika, born in a Maasai village in Ngorongoro, Tanzania just 31 years ago, who is now a fully qualified lawyer. He explains why he was recently asked to advise on the drafting of an international Declaration of Livestock Keepers' Rights. And two soil and crop scientists from Ghana - Lawrence Narteh and Francis Tetteh - offer their views on how to restore Africa's depleted soils, the subject of this edition's Points of View.
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag09-2.mp3
Article: Editorial, Saving African soils: grounds for hope?, The appeal of peel, Recognising livestock keepers' rights

Fuel, feed and fertiliser from vegetable waste

Rubbish and food waste dumped on the roadside is not only a health hazard for those living nearby, but also a wasted resource. Vegetable peel, fruit skins and other waste can be turned into animal feed, or even a source of fuel. (credit: Pius Sawa)

In Kasubi and Kawaala, two densely populated areas of Kampala, some enterprising residents are exploiting a little-recognised resource – vegetable peels. By collecting and drying the peels, Kiza James is able to make highly nutritious feeds for poultry and other livestock, which are much cheaper than standard feeds based on maize bran. Damaris Namusoke is growing vegetables for sale and home consumption, using fertiliser and liquid manure derived from the vegetable waste. Meanwhile Samuel Mawanda, who runs a restaurant and bakery, has cut his fuel costs by using briquettes made from banana peels. Pius Sawa went to meet them to find out more.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=238
Article: The appeal of peel

Chemical fertilisers - food, not poison

On small-scale farm plots, organic fertiliser may be sufficient to provide nutrients and maintain soil health. On large areas, chemical inputs are likely to be needed. (credit: World bank)

Africa has some of the world’s most degraded soils. It is now widely recognised that only by a concerted campaign to rebuild soil fertility can African agriculture be turned around. But what kind of fertiliser should African farmers be using? Chemical fertilisers, such as NPK, or organic fertilisers – manure and compost? The answer is probably both. Soils need organic matter to stay healthy, to hold water and resist erosion. But to improve yields sufficiently to feed Africa’s growing population, most soil scientists agree that mineral fertilisers are needed as well. Two researchers from Ghana’s institutes for crop and soil research give their views on the value of chemical fertilisers to African agriculture.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=237
Article: Saving African soils: grounds for hope?

Baobab - African superfruit heads for Europe

The baobab tree has long been symbolic of the African landscape (credit: PhytoTrade Africa)

In July 2008, the EU gave baobab fruit Novel Foods approval, legalising its use as a food ingredient for European manufacturers. Baobab fruit pulp is rich in vitamin C, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and is pro-biotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. As such, it has enormous potential as an ingredient in healthy foods and snacks, and dozens of companies are now conducting product development. So does this mean that baobab harvesters can expect to earn an income from their fruit, and what about risks to sustainability? Dr Nonto Nemarundwe of PhytoTrade Africa offers some answers.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=231
Article: Baobab - trading the once-forbidden fruit

New Agriculturist podcast 2009-1

There may be tough times ahead for farmers worldwide (credit: World Bank)

New Year, new optimism and new opportunities: these are the themes of the podcast in this edition of New Agriculturist. While headlines are preoccupied with economic gloom, we have unearthed some positive news and views. Susie Emmett reports from Rajasthan on why prices for camels in India are on the rise. Talking with Ilse Köhler Rollefson and Hanwant Singh Rathore of the camel NGO Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, she also gets a taste of the new camel product - a desert dessert - which could bring better returns to the camel keepers. In Paris, at the latest African finance forum, Neil Palmer finds plenty of reasons for optimism about investing in African agriculture and shares a sample of the reasons why bankers, entrepreneurs and farmer organisations feel the time is right.
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag09-1.mp3
Article: Editorial, African agriculture - prime time to invest?, Desert dessert - camel milk ice cream

Adding value - banana flour

'Matooke' banana is a much-valued staple in Uganda (credit: IITA)

For farmers growing matooke - Uganda's plantain banana - effective marketing of their crop can be difficult. Prices paid by traders are highly variable and it is common to see bananas rotting on the tree as farmers fail to find a buyer. Recently, however, the government has launched an initiative to support banana processing. Farmers are being taught how to dry their fruit, so that they can be made into flour, and this is now beginning to replace wheat flour in local diets. Pius Sawa talks to the director of the initiative, to a food processor, a chef, and to people on the street in Kampala, about this exciting development for banana growers, and tries some matooke-flour soup.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=178
Article: A new take on 'matooke'

Investment opportunity - smallholder farming

Despite fears of a world recession, African agriculture could be a wise investment (credit: IRIN)

In times of food crisis, people may be forced to ask for handouts. But begging for food damages our self-respect - it is not what anyone wants. The Africa Invest project has a different approach: it arranges finance for smallscale commercial farming as a profitable investment for lenders. The project is currently working with farmers in Malawi, who are now growing a number of high value crops, such as herbs and spices, and the benefits to the farming communities have been very impressive. Jon Maguire, who founded the project, and Jones Kampezeni who manages the Malawi outgrowers, explain why this new approach has been so successful.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=200
Article: African agriculture - prime time to invest?

Fighting hunger - unlocking Africa's potential

Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, Food and Nutrition Security Advisor, NEPAD secretariat.

Rising food prices are putting families in Africa under pressure, with a resulting fall in the quality of food being bought and eaten. To promote better nutrition, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is supporting aquaculture and livestock projects, and the cultivation of nutrient-rich crops like orange-fleshed sweet potato. In Tanzania, NEPAD has distributed seed packs to help families grow a diverse range of vegetables, including indigenous species. Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, food and nutrition security advisor to NEPAD, explains how she believes that with the right support, African farmers could be growing enough food to feed the continent, and be a breadbasket for the world.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=211
Article: Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, NEPAD

Subsidies and credit for African farmers

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

Across the world, some 3 billion people face either acute hunger or malnutrition on a daily basis. But what strategies for tackling hunger deserve serious support from the international community? Dr Akin Adesina, vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), believes that there are two types of support that are particularly valuable for African farmers. For the very poor, 'smart subsidies' on seed and fertiliser have proved successful in Malawi, and are now being implemented more widely. And for more prosperous farmers, easier access to credit, through donor-backed loan guarantees, could unlock enormous productivity and potential.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=216
Article: Going against the grain: Malawi's fertiliser subsidy

 

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The New Agriculturist is a WRENmedia production.

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