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Editorial (September 2008)

More needs to be done to make development aid more effective (World Bank)
More needs to be done to make development aid more effective
World Bank

As this edition goes online, more than 100 donor and recipient states have gathered in Accra, Ghana, to discuss use development aid more effectively. World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Obiageli Ezekwesili, said it was not the amount of money that was significant but the impact on people's lives. She added that countries had a responsibility to improve their capacity to use development aid effectively and transparently.

Improving the livelihoods of some of the world's poorest people is behind the United Nations' decision to designate 2008 the International Year of the Potato. In Focus on we review a variety of initiatives from around the world to improve conservation, production, marketing and distribution of this remarkable crop, which has been consumed for more than 8,000 years.

Although potato is grown in Afghanistan, wheat is still the major crop. The changing fortunes of the country's long-suffering farmers, who have been encouraged to grow higher-yielding, disease tolerant varieties of wheat are reaping the rewards, as highlighted In pictures.

Another country once severely affected by conflict but making significant agricultural progress is Rwanda. Renowned for producing poor quality beans, we report in Developments on the reinvention of the country's coffee industry and efforts to supply gourmet markets around the world. In this section, we also feature the pervasive issue of land rights in Tanzania, concern over biosafety regulations in Africa and an initiative which is evaluating the value of storytelling for improving communication between farmers and researchers.

Access to natural resources is the theme of My perspective, by Bakary Kante of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in which he makes a personal plea for the protection of common lands around the world. Kante fondly remembers his upbringing in Senegal, which also features in this edition's Country profile.

Could potato change the world? Find out in Focus on (© FAO)
Could potato change the world? Find out in Focus on
© FAO

The success of trade lobbyists to introduce African baobab fruit to European markets and efforts to help millions living with the threat of famine in the Horn of Africa are featured in News brief. We also report on fears of African Swine Fever spreading beyond the Caucusus following the recent conflict in South Ossetia, and the international community's emergency response to high food prices in Haiti.

Food prices continue to dominate media reports but there are concerns that not enough attention is being paid to the issue of global water use. At the recent World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, we had an opportunity to ask experts for their Points of view on how to use water - in particular wastewater - more efficiently.

Also raised in Stockholm was the issue of the food we eat and the 'water footprint' it leaves. Further food for thought on our weekly shopping basket is provided by Felicity Lawrence in her damning account of the modern food processing industry, in Book reviews. As the lead title, "Eat your heart out" is a powerful and comprehensive condemnation of industrial food production that may leave a bad taste in your mouth.

As you sample these and other articles in this edition of New Agriculturist, we hope we have provided you with ideas, information and inspiration on agricultural development from around the world.

Date published: September 2008

 

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