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Editorial (November 2012)

Urgent appeals for US$4 million of emergency aid have been made for Haiti (© UN Photo/Logan Abassi)
Urgent appeals for US$4 million of emergency aid have been made for Haiti
© UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Natural disaster has once again hit the impoverished country of Haiti. Three days of hurricane winds and intense rain have destroyed homes, farms and infrastructure. Already affected by severe storms in August and extreme drought at the start of the cropping season earlier in the year, it is estimated that a total of 1.5 million people have been affected with 600,000 at risk from food insecurity as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Urgent appeals for US$4 million of emergency aid have been made to assist over 200,000 families through the imminent winter cropping season.

The hurricane also marks a record weather event, having the largest storm strength ever recorded. According to the Worldwatch Institute, a number of climate change-related factors contributed to the weather systems that made Sandy so powerful, including a warmer than average Atlantic Ocean, Arctic sea ice diminishing to record low levels and an oddly behaving jet stream. Whilst much of the media focused on the impact in the US, it is the smallholders in the Caribbean that have suffered the greatest impact and will take the longest to recover.

In the densely populated island state of Mauritius, ranked third highest in Africa by the UN's Human Development Index, severe poverty is rare. However, as a net food importer, price hikes and slumps in global food supply are significant challenges for the island, as reported in Country profile. Climate change is also putting the ecosystem and economy in Mauritius under increasing pressure, problems widely shared in the developing world. Other climate change related issues reported in Developments include responses to water shortage in urban Zimbabwe, Rwanda's policy for climate resilience and projects in Ghana to convert waste into energy.

By working together, smallscale producers are able to attract buyers, access financial services and buy inputs at better prices (© IFAD/Susan Beccio)
By working together, smallscale producers are able to attract buyers, access financial services and buy inputs at better prices
© IFAD/Susan Beccio

In Focus on cooperatives, we examine how smallscale producers are able to attract buyers, access financial services and buy inputs at better prices by working together. Other benefits of cooperation discussed in this series of articles include developing efficient and reliable production systems and tackling deep rooted problems, such as aflatoxin contamination. Community cooperation has also been a key component of rat control programmes in Vietnam, as reported in Developments. Meanwhile, in Research and innovation, GFAR highlights how farms in Bangladesh, Honduras and Kenya have overcome marketing obstacles to transform their engagement with local, national and international markets.

How research needs to be reshaped to better answer the needs of smallholder farmers will be the focus of the first New Agriculturist edition of 2013, as we highlight the outcomes of discussions from the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2), held recently in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Foresight in research, partnership for innovation, and capacity building to generate greater investment will be key themes included in this next special issue.

If you have ideas for future coverage or comments on articles published, then please do get in touch.

Date published: November 2012

 

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