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Editorial (May 2009)

Coping with change is an ongoing challenge for many poor farmers (WRENmedia)
Coping with change is an ongoing challenge for many poor farmers

Coping with change is the main theme of this edition. Whether it is farmers coping with changes in climate or markets, or scientists grappling with the challenges for research, we provide some updates in global agriculture; including the task of monitoring and dealing with the global spread of swine flu.

Coping with climatic changes, or variability, is reported by two West African journalists, who recently attended training on 'Better science reporting' in Ibadan, Nigeria. Another journalist from the group investigates a change in technique for providing extension to cocoa farmers in Ghana. And you can hear more from two of these journalists, Yinka Alawode and Kofi Adu Domfeh as they share some of their experiences in Ibadan - and their tips for agricultural researchers who want to rise to the challenge of making the most of the media - in this edition's podcast.

Too challenging for comfort, has a career in agricultural research lost its appeal? In the podcast, and also in Points of view, we feature the views of young scientists, as well as the director-general of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), with insights into their motivation and trials in pursuing a career in agricultural research.

The challenge for agricultural research is also the subject for reflection by Dr Monty Jones, who heads the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) as he shares his thoughts on the progress of reform within the CGIAR - Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research. His vision for doing things differently includes taking an innovation systems approach, which is outlined in more detail in an article focusing on the issue of fodder scarcity.

Scarcity is not just an issue with fodder but also, increasingly with our fish and seafood stocks, which is convincingly highlighted in our lead book review: "Bottomfeeder - how to eat sustainably in a world of vanishing seafood". Climate change, sustainable agriculture and guidelines for livestock interventions in emergencies are the topics of titles also reviewed. Similar issues, amongst others, are highlighted in our latest News briefs and In pictures.

For many developing countries natural fibres are of major economic importance. (WRENmedia)
For many developing countries natural fibres are of major economic importance.

With 2009 designated as the International Year of Natural Fibres, this provides the focus for seven articles that feature crop and animal fibres that are important to rural people in developing countries. For many of these farmers and processors, coping with changes in market requirements is an ongoing concern, particularly in remote regions such as the Andes, Kyrgyzstan, and in Mongolia - as reported in our Country profile.

Finally, for those of you who have limited access to the internet, a new version of the New Agriculturist CD is now available: it contains over 40 archive editions to the end of 2008. Please click here to order your free copy.

Date published: May 2009


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