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Land grabbing - the scramble for Africa

As foreign interests take control of farmland in Africa, can benefits be shared with local people?

The leasing or buying of farmland by foreign governments and private investors in Africa has been described as ‘land grabbing’. There are serious concerns about the threat to smallholder farmers and the environmental impact of intensive agricultural production. But could it also work to the advantage of developing countries, as a valuable source of investment? Four experts from Africa, Europe, America and the Philippines offer their views.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=270
Article: 'Land grabbing' - opportunity or threat?, 'Land grabbing' - realising the benefits

New Agriculturist podcast 2009-4

High food prices are still affecting the poor

Resourceful and full of resources: this short phrase sums up many Africans and their nations. On the shores of one of East Africa's greatest resources, the mighty Lake Victoria, Ugandan radio presenter Pius Sawa joins Susie Emmett to discuss some of the issues that feature in this edition of New Agriculturist. While rain clouds hover ahead and fishermen offload their catch, this podcast ponders the rights and wrongs of 'land grabbing' by investors from afar, hears about Pius's visit to an unusual pineapple farm on an island in the lake, and samples some exciting new forest products from Ghana and beyond.
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag09-4.mp3
Article: Editorial, 'Land grabbing' - opportunity or threat?, Agarwood - the sweet smell of success, Bittersweet: going organic for pineapple in Uganda, Novel approach for Allanblackia

Joining forces for irrigation

Chanyanya's irrigation system draws water from the nearby Kafue river (credit: Kevin Thompson)

In Kafue district, Zambia, food shortage has been the norm for eight years. Now, 126 smallholder farming families have pooled their land and leased part of it to a commercial farming company. In return for using part of the land, the company is installing irrigation equipment over the entire area, allowing the smallholders to produce maize and vegetables. This pilot project is a new way of financing small-scale farming to tackle food insecurity, but could pave the way for similar schemes elsewhere.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=265
Article: AgDevCo - a positive investment approach in difficult times

Allanblackia - high value oil from the rainforest

On-farm cultivation and propogation methods are increasing the supply of seeds (credit: Novella Development Ghana)

The seeds or nuts of the Allanblackia tree - a tall rainforest species found in West, Central and Eastern Africa - are rich in a high value oil. Superior in quality to palm oil, Allanblackia oil can be used in foods and cosmetics, and is highly sought after by businesses around the world. But uncontrolled harvesting from the wild would put the species at risk. Hence a partnership of local communities, NGOs, donors and private companies, are working so that the benefits of Allanblackia can be sustainable and offer fair rewards to local people. Domestication and propagation of fast-flowering tree seedlings are vital.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=243
Article: Novel approach for Allanblackia

New Agriculturist podcast 2009-3

Coping with change is an ongoing challenge for many poor farmers

At the very heart of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Nigeria, stands a giant rain tree, whose spreading branches provide a large area of cool shade. It’s under this tree that Nigerian and Ghanaian journalists Oluyinka Alawode and Kofi Adu Domfeh sit with Susie Emmett to introduce this podcast. They reflect on their week, during which they have looked at how to improve agricultural science reporting in Africa, and met with one hundred young African agricultural scientists, who have gathered to discuss 'Sustainability in Agriculture: the way ahead'. Towards the end of the podcast, they also offer their advice on 'Making the most of the media', using tips gathered from their team of ten African print and radio journalists, who have been covering the sustainability event on behalf of New Agriculturist.
Audio link: http://wrenmedia.jellycast.com/files/audio/new-ag09-3.mp3
Article: Editorial, Agricultural science - a promising future?, Cocoa video - Ghana's television extension

Tissue culture - cleaning up baby banana plants

Demand for tissue culture bananas has seen nurseries springing up across sub-Saharan Africa. (credit: Africa Harvest)

Bananas are typically multiplied by taking 'suckers' from a mature plant. Often farmers will exchange suckers with each other, to increase the diversity of their banana crop. However, one disadvantage with this method is that diseases can be retained in the sucker, causing loss of productivity in the new banana plant. Tissue culture is an alternative approach. Tiny pieces of banana are cleaned of disease and multiplied in a laboratory. A scientist and a farmer explain just how this works, and the benefits it offers.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=225
Article: TC bananas bear fruit

Better in a bunch - banana marketing

Improved handling of bananas after harvesting has improved returns to farmers

Banana farmers in Uganda are being trained and helped to form business groups by TechnoServe, an international development organisation. As a result, they have seen their earnings from bananas rise by 70 per cent, not least through their improved skills in the marketplace. The organisation is also promoting a dairy programme, as well as poultry and fruit farming, to ensure that diets are improved as well as incomes raised. Erastus Kibugu, in charge of TechnoServe's Uganda office, explains the work which has transformed 11,000 subsistence banana growers into successful, commercial producers.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=248
Article: Improving the banana 'value chain' in East Africa

Defending the rights of livestock keepers

Maasai lawyer Eliamani Laltaika from Tanzania, who has helped formulate legal recognition for livestock keepers (credit: Rev. Helmut Klaubert)

For the Maasai livestock herders who live in Tanzania's famous Ngorongoro conservation area, life is difficult. Banned from any kind of crop farming, they also face severe restrictions on where they can graze their animals. The restrictions are based on laws that were created during the colonial period, but now a new legal perspective is coming to the fore. Eliamani Laltaika is a Maasai from Ngorongoro who, at 31 years of age, has become a fully qualified lawyer. As revealed in Defending the rights of livestock keepers, his personal mission is to challenge the regulations that hamper livestock keepers and prevent them pursuing their pastoralist way of life. In 2008 he was one of five lawyers asked to help in drafting an international Declaration of Livestock Keepers' Rights.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=241
Article: Recognising livestock keepers' rights

Long-life milk from saltwater buffalo

Chilika buffalo in the brackish water of Chilika Lake (credit: LIFE)

Salty vegetation growing in brackish water is the preferred diet of India's Chilika buffalo. Every night, thousands of these remarkable animals graze in Chilika Lake, Asia's largest lagoon, which lies in the east Indian state of Orissa. In the morning they return to their owners to be milked, and that milk has a rare quality. Perhaps because of the high salt content in the animal's diet, the milk is not only very tasty but can keep without refrigeration for days. Not surprisingly, both the milk and other products such as yoghurt, are attracting attention in the regional marketplace. But to maintain this unique system, protecting the Chilika buffalo from cross-breeding with other breeds of buffalo is essential.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=244
Article: Saving the 'night queen' of Chilika

Farmers make films - sharing knowledge in video

Video viewing clubs (VVC) form part of a creative extension programme for cocoa farmers in Ghana (credit: Kofi Adu Domfeh)

Farmer to farmer extension is becoming an established training method across Africa. In Ghana, for example, farmers working with the IITA Sustainable Tree Crops Programme have made a series of videos, highlighting good practice in cocoa production. The videos have proved so successful that the project received the CGIAR 2008 Science Award for Outstanding Communication. In Farmers make films - sharing knowledge in video Isaac Ansah, STCP's master trainer explains the participatory process by which the films are made and the impact they are now having on Ghana's cocoa growers.
Audio link: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=239
Article: Cocoa video - Ghana's television extension

 

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