Kenya: High farm output in 2020 is a defining moment for smallholder farmers

Despite COVID-19, 2020 has been a very generous year with expected high farm output for smallholder farmers in Kenya.

It is estimated that cereals output for this year’s main season will increase by a whopping 20% (up to 4.2 Million tons yearly maize output-FAO) majorly due to the favourable weather conditions notably the above-average long rains.

Joseph Wambugu is a Kenyan and a passionate Agribusiness Consultant who is on a mission to improve food security in Africa. His areas of focus are: Mechanization and small-scale farming. Views expressed here are entirely his own!

Joseph looks at the output level from various smallholder farms in Kenya. He writes ….

The year 2020 has proven that a highly productive farm cannot be attended to using manual tools or human muscles. African farmers use hands tools for two main reasons: (a) Less farm productivity, hence, not labour demanding, and (b)
Extremely small sizes of land.

As I write this piece, the main harvesting season for cereals is underway in most parts of Kenya and farmers are expecting record-breaking high yields (though still far below the land potential).

In Kenya, Nov-Dec is a season for short rains, which means that farmers have a short window to harvest their grains before the onset of the short rains, which have started to drizzle already.

This is a big scare to farmers who have not yet harvested their grains, including my mum who has 1.5 Ha of ready-to-harvest wheat.

With too much to harvest, my mum has been looking for a combine harvester for the past two weeks but all in vain. Another neighbor has 5 hectares of highly productive wheat. Both are expecting around 1.5 tons per hectare this year, which is way high compared to 900 kg per hectare last year.

Read also Kenya: Get out of the office and help farmers in the field, extension officers urged

Nevertheless, our neighbor told me that she regrets planting too much wheat because now she cannot manage to harvest all of it manually. She has to rely on combine harvester which are expensive and hard to get.

Maize has also done well this year and maize farmers may also find themselves in a similar situation. Even though Kenyan farmers are used to harvesting maize manually, this year it might be business unusual because of two things:

  1. Record high productions that will demand more labor, and
  2. Schools have reopened and children who assist parents with farm labor will be in school during this harvest period. In other years, schools close from mid-November till January.

Harvesting is just one problem. How farmers will handle the produce after harvesting in another problem. Most smallholder farmers in Kenya have no safe storage facilities that are large enough to handle the increased production this year.

It is, therefore, almost obviously expected that post-harvest losses might be massive this year coupled with very low market prices.

Read also Kenya launches a one million kitchen gardens farming initiative

The year 2020 has therefore proven that increased farm productivity alone is not beneficial in any way to smallholder farmers in Kenya.

As experts, we need to think and offer a full line of solutions and equipment that allows farmers to increase productivity, harvest, and store their produce, and where possible to connect them to market opportunities.

If farmers do not reap the full benefits of the excellent year 2020, I tend to think that they will become hesitant to invest in their farms in the future. They will desire to harvest “just enough” because when they harvest more, they lose more.

Home gardening: How to make a cone Home/kitchen garden

This is an opportunity for every rural, urban and peri-urban family to make a home/kitchen garden. Just as the name indicates, a cone home/kitchen garden is a type of garden that resembles a cone, like that of an ice-cream holder.

It consists of arranging soil in a conical shape above the ground to create more space for crop growing. Cone home/kitchen garden is efficient in that it allows for mixed cropping since different species of crop are grown on different layers.

Materials and procedure of constructing a cone home/kitchen garden:

  • Polythene sheet: It should be the heavy one, commonly called the dam-liner.
  • Alternatively, you can use old circular containers that have different circumferences in a manner that they can be concentric.
  • Site identification: Chose a site that receives sufficient direct sunlight throughout the day and well drained.
  • Mark the middle point of the garden site, and arrange the containers/polythene in layers, “one inside and above the other” until you make a height of around 5 feet.
  • Use wooden pegs to mark the radius of each container/polythene – 2.3 feet radius is recommended for the outermost circle.
  • The second circle should have a smaller radius than the outer, and likewise for all inner circles.
  • Keep filling in with the soil in that process until you reach the maximum height that you can operate comfortable (depending on your height).
  • After you fill with soil, water it sufficiently and give it at least 12 hours to settle down before you transplant. If there are empty space due to the settling down, make sure you refill before transplanting.
  • Plant vegetables that are on high demand in your house or in your neighborhood.
  • Regarding the soil, mix red soil with manure in the ratio of one is to one. Use manure from any source, just ensure that your manure is well decomposed.

Read also Home gardening: How to make a simple drip irrigation home garden using plastics


We believe by following these short steps, you can make your own home/kitchen garden and produce enough food for your family using the best farming practices.

Cone home/kitchen garden

A Ghanaian maize farmer thrives on the ashes of destroyed forest

Hundreds of farmers are benefitting from a project that repurposes degraded forest land.

For years, Christiana Akwabea admired the vast fields she visited in neighboring districts to buy maize for reselling and dreamed of one day owning a plot of land where she could grow the staple crop.

But there wasn’t much land for commercial farming in Seikwa in Ghana’s Bono Region, and the local soil is more suitable for cultivating cashew and yam.

In 2017, the mother of six got her wish fulfilled through forest plantation management company Form Ghana, which received a loan from the African Development Bank for a transformative forestry project.

After registering as a farmer with the Form Ghana program, Christiana received land that had once been a forest in Berekum, about 30 km from Seikwa. She harvested around 6,800 kg of maize from the 5-hectare field through intercropping, which involves simultaneously cultivating multiple crops on a particular plot farmland.

“I had always wondered about how I would get farmland for maize and even get money to clear and spray it. But now, all I wait for at the beginning of every farming season is a call from Form Ghana to complete the registration and land will be allocated to me for farming. The memory of this alone is encouraging and gives me a sense of reliability. I’m not burdened with how I will get land and money to prepare the field,” Christiana said.

Form Ghana partnered with the African Development Bank, the Forest Investment Program of the Climate Investment Funds and the government of Ghana, to undertake an innovative public-private partnership in its forest sector. The project entails the reforestation of degraded forest areas in Ghana.

The state of Ghana’s forests has been in decline since the 1970s due to severe overpopulation. Ghana now has over 300,000 ha of highly degraded forest reserve land.

Read also Ten common honey myths

To address the issue, the African Development Bank and the Forest Investment Program of the Climate Investment Funds agreed in 2016 to fund the Restoration of Degraded Forest Reserves through the Certified Plantation project, financed through a $10 million concessional loan from the Climate Invest Funds and $14 million from the African Development Bank.

In the forests managed by Form Ghana, illegal farming was widespread in the past. The company currently offers 629 farmers the option to participate in intercropping.

“Form Ghana sets an example for me as a chief. Amongst my community members, I now promote the planting of trees as a long-term investment. This will give farmers additional income,” said Ɔsabarima Ofori Mensah, Chief of Oforikrom in Berekum.

The Form Ghana project offers a replicable model for larger-scale debt finance for plantation expansion.

“This project and the collaboration between African Development Bank and Form Ghana Ltd. can be a very important step towards enabling the expansion of large-scale reforestation and landscape restoration projects in Africa,” said Paul Hol, Executive Director, Form Ghana Ltd.

The possibilities are already evident for Christiana and her household. She looks forward to doubling the size of her current acreage and has great ambitions for her family.

“I have been able to put up a two-bedroom house. I also funded my son’s trip to attend school in Europe and all my children are in school,” she said.

“I aim to expand my current residence into a full compound house with the inscription ‘Form Ghana Nti’ (‘For the sake of Form Ghana’). I also look forward to continually improving the standard of living of my family and support my children to the highest levels of education.”

Christiana Akwabea and son on her farm in Berekum, Ghana

Source: African Development Bank 

Ten common honey myths

It’s common knowledge that honey is one of the healthy and accessible substitutes for sugar, but along the way to prove that it’s better than refined sugar several myths passed as truths in many people’s minds.

Today, we are going to name all the myths regarding honey. In other words, we’ll be clearing honey’s name. Therefore, with no further ado, let’s go to the subject and break down all honey myths.

  1. All Bees Produce Honey
    Many people don’t know that there are many different species of bees. As well, they consider that all the bees can produce honey for consumption but they couldn’t be more wrong. While all bees are able to make honey, it’s the quality they are able to produce that matters.

Read also Beeswax: Its uses around our homes

  1. Bees Don’t Need Honey to Survive
    There’s this theory that says bees don’t need honey to survive but it couldn’t be more wrong. Bees depend on honey to survive, that’s why they produce it in the first place, not for our consumption.

Read also Ghana: Beekeepers call for support to boost business

  1. Honey Never Spoils
    This is the most common myth out of all I think – honey doesn’t spoil. While in some condition it is true, in others is very wrong because it has the capacity to be spoiled. If you preserve it well and you never let the jar open for extended periods of time it can last forever. On the other hand, if you do let it open for extended periods of time it will spoil because it sucks the moisture.

Read also Bees for development Ghana distributes beekeeping equipment to citrus farmers in A.A.K District

  1. Crystalized Honey is Spoiled Honey
    After a long while honey might change its texture, but its composition remains the same. In fact, it’s due to its composition the change of texture, but even after crystallization, honey remains the same – the same taste and nutrients.
Crystalized Honey

Read also Bees for Development Ghana Trains Unemployed Youth in Beekeeping

  1. Honey can not be heated, because when it is heated, it releases toxins and becomes toxic
    When heated, natural honey cannot emit poisons and toxins, because they are not initially present in it. If we are talking about honey with the addition of artificial fillers that turn the product into a fake, then anything can happen to such a product. It is important to separate the concepts of “nutritional value of honey” and “bactericidal properties of honey”. Natural honey during prolonged heating, for example, in the oven as part of baking, does not lose its nutritional value, but it says goodbye to bactericidal properties instantly. So you can safely add honey to porridge or hot tea if you want to add sweets.

Read also Promoting Sustainable Beekeeping to Alleviate Deprivation and Poverty

  1. It’s Suicide for a Bee to Sting
    This is probably the first myth I ever heard about bees, it is not particularly about honey, but it’s about the ones that produce it. This myth is a half-truth – not true and not wrong either. You see, the bee dies only if it can’t manage to get its stinger out of your skin so it breaks along with its abdomen, so it dies. But the bee can still sting you and manage to get its stinger out of your skin so nothing breaks and the bee survives. Therefore, the bee doesn’t die because it stings you but because your skin is too thick to get its stinger out of your skin.

Read also Accra City Bees Project: British High Commission and BfdG organise training workshop for its grounds workers

  1. Honey on Metal is Destructive to the Metal
    It is well known that honey is a bit acid, and the same as any acid edible, if it stays long enough on metal it can destroy it a bit. But it has to stay for quite a while to see some damage, so at the end of the day honey can be destructive to the metal is some circumstances, so it’s not a fact.

Read also Disappointed citrus farmers in A. A. K. district trained to produce honey from bees

  1. “Honeymoon”
    The term “Honeymoon” came to us from ancient rites, in which honey was also directly involved. Then it was decided that in the first month the newlyweds must have eaten honey and drink honey drinks. Now, unlike past centuries, the “honeymoon” is associated primarily with a trip, during which you can plunge into a romantic atmosphere, forgetting about workdays and small things.

Read also Unemployment, Increasing demand for honey; time to invest into beekeeping industry in Ghana?

  1. Foamy Honey and Has a Different Colour than Light Brown Has Gone Bad
    Honey comes in many shades of colours and even its texture may vary. But its color has nothing to do with it being spoiled or not. Honey comes in different colors because it comes from different flowers – the colour is dependent on the flower is coming from.

Read also Protection of farms using bees as fences: Lessons from India

  1. Sweeteners and Table Sugars are more Delicious than Honey
    Those who believe this: have you ever tasted honey? Honey, it’s not only healthier but also sweeter and has fewer calories than sugar, so with less honey, you’ll obtain the same sweetness as you used to with sugar. Honey is basically the same as sugar because is composed mostly of glucose and fructose, but it also has the nutrients and vitamins, which make it healthier. So whether is more delicious or not is just a matter of taste, it’s not a fact.

Read also Plan bee: Basic rules to become a beekeeper

Conclusion
Honey is so much better for your health than sugar is, and you can ask anyone about this. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can overuse it because it can still lead to obesity, which leads to a lot of health issues.

Anyway, it’s important to know the truth about anything, and breaking the myths is the first step. Now that you know the truth about honey you can feel free to use it but you should make sure is natural or as natural as possible.

Read also Harmony in the hive: What do bees need?

Comedian-Clemento Suarez Marries Girlfriend At A Private Ceremony

The hilarious Ghanaian comedian Clement Ashiteye mostly referred to as Clemento Suarez marries his beautiful girlfriend in a traditional ceremony on Saturday 24th October, privately.

The comedian expressed his happiness and how thankful he is for God making it possible for him to finally ties the knot with his spouse.

He was seen dressed in a beautiful all-white attire whiles his spouse also wore a combination of green and white costumes.

Lawyer Nti, a very good friend of Clement and a partner in their comedy skits was also present at the ceremony and was very happy for his brother for making it this far.

See photos below:

Video of Komfu) Agradaa Twerking For Fans Goes Viral

Fetish priest are well known for chanting and giving people cure for their ailments and they do this as they live in shrines.

However Nana Agradaa who is a priestess doesn’t live in a shrine neither is she seen performing magic or incantations. She lives in a beautiful house in the state like every normal beings do.

In a viral video, Nana Agradaa has been seen taking over the profession of slay queens (twerking). She was seen twerking in the video monitored while dancing happily.

Many Ghanaians after seeing the video are so shocked at what the fetish priest is gradually becoming.

Watch the video below;

EC disqualifies 30,000 persons from voting come December 7, names to be published soon

The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana has indicated that about 30,000 persons have been disqualified from voting in this year’s general elections.

Speaking to Citi FM and monitored by myaimreport.com, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Electoral Commission, Sylvia Annor said:

“The names of about 30,000 registered voters have been deleted or expunged from the provisional voters’ register because they are either on the exceptions lists or the multiple lists.

“The multiple list is made up of names of all those who engaged in double registration during the voter’s registration exercise.”

“The exceptions list is made up of registered voters who were found guilty by the district registration review committees at the various district levels.

“They were challenged probably because they were under 18 years, non-Ghanaians, or gave wrong locations. During the registration exercise, we went offline, so we did not detect immediately,” she added.

Ms Sylvia Annor also stated that the list of these persons will be published at the various polling stations across the country in the coming days.

Feature: GAWU and 60 years of promoting decent Agriculture work in Ghana

Ghana’s General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) is the nation’s biggest trade union organizing farmers and agricultural workers both in the formal and informal sectors of our country.

GAWU has been working together with smallholder farmers and other non-wage rural workers since formation on the 9th of February, 1959.

We are currently working in over 200 communities across all the regions of Ghana. The Union is non-partisan and hence not affiliated to any political party in Ghana.

The ultimate goal of GAWU is to organize Ghana’s agricultural workers in the formal and informal sectors and to champion the cause of agricultural workers through consistent empowerment, policy advocacy, and proper representation at the highest levels.

GAWU is one of the affiliates of The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), an international federation of trade unions.

The IUF is composed of 425 affiliated trade unions in 127 countries representing over 10 million workers. GAWU joined the IUF in 1994.

As GAWU, we pride ourselves in the over 60 years of advocating, promoting and negotiating for Decent Work in the Agricultural Sector of Ghana.

What is Decent Work?

Before there was a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, there was a GAWU that was fighting alongside, advocating for, and negotiating together with Ghana’s farmers for a better economic standing from their daily work.

That is where our pride comes from. It’s from the FACT that the many decades-long activities of Ghana’s General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) ties in very strongly with Goal 8 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

The 4 Pillars of Decent Work illustrate its true meaning – Dignity, Equality, Fair Income, Work Safety.


Going by the above definition, the United Nations educate us that no country is immune to a lack of Decent Work. Everyone is entitled to Decent Work. The jobs and economy of the future will be urban.

It is estimated that about 60% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030. This highlights why proper care and advocacy for our agricultural farmers, who are predominantly rural folk, should be prioritised.

Agriculture in Ghana is known to be the main source of work for those in our rural communities. A significant portion of Agricultural activities also involves the formal sector.

Access to Decent Work for those in Agriculture is directly correlated to national development because Agriculture remains the backbone of Ghana. By extension, the work of GAWU affects each and every Ghanaian.

Our work towards the Decent Work agenda is cut out for us. About 45%-90% of the world population already operate within the informal economy. Worldwide, there are over 150million children in Child Labour.

Women earn anywhere between 4%-36% less than men. All these are to be tackled if Decent Work is to be attainable for all. Many local governments all over the world have already taken measures to ensure that the solutions to these challenges are being worked at.

GAWU and the Decent Work Agenda.

GAWU has extensive experience in seeking to enhance the right to organisation and collective bargaining in Ghana. GAWU addresses the rights deficits in the world of work in the rural areas by seeking to extend and grow social protection to the benefit of rural informal economy workers, especially women.

We also enhance the participation of the rural working people in decisions that implicate their quest for decent work and life.

One of GAWU’s aims is to tackle the manifold manifestations of Decent Work deficits in the rural areas of Ghana. We do this through the further consolidation of the organisation of small-scale producers and champion their focused pursuit of furthering their Decent Work agenda.

We build on our organisations by focusing on communities in all the Districts we operate in, so as to work towards developing social dialogue between the organised district level structures and the decentralised governmental structures, even including the district Directorates of the Ministry for Food and Agriculture.

GAWU uses its recognition at the national level to leverage the processes of establishing district level social dialogue mechanisms. GAWU’s representation at various national structures and its leading role in the Food Security Policy Advocacy Network (FOODSPAN) greatly contributes to their establishment in an inclusive manner.

In relation to the Decent Work agenda, GAWU has already been promoting productivity, employment creation and income-generating activities among the rural producers through its collaborations with organisations like the FNV.

We feel that the time has come to scale-up, expand geographical coverage and consciously pursue the mutually reinforcing strategic objectives of the Decent Work Agenda, in a manner that throws up more lessons for the extension of trade union organization to the rural and informal economy.

In a move to adapt to the dynamic nature of modern economic trends and challenges, GAWU also appointed the first-ever Business Advisor to the Union. This move was to improve the understanding of and reduce the vulnerability of farmers in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

There have been a number of Forums held by the Business Advisor in conjunction with GAWU that help educate the farmers on Fair Market Practices, alongside relevant discussions on market policies, modern innovation, and learning from one another.

The Leadership

Leadership in GAWU has over the decades been vital to the creation of our successful strategies and internal cultures. It, therefore, goes without saying that a strong leader has been instrumental in GAWU’s recent strides towards materially contributing to Goal 8 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Currently, the General Secretary of GAWU is Mr Edward Kareweh, a renowned trade union leader that has risen through the ranks of GAWU, occupying the roles of Local Union Secretary, Regional Industrial Relations Officer, Head of Industrial Relations, Deputy General Secretary of the Union, and now General Secretary of GAWU.

Mr Kareweh draws on his experience as a seasoned organiser, negotiator and a farmer himself. Mr Kareweh has been involved in various policy discussions on the implications of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Africa’s development, particularly Ghana. He has been part of Ghana’s Trade Experts’ team that worked at the ECOWAS level on the EPA between the European Union (EU) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Mr Edward Kareweh is an alumnus of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, where he obtained a Master’s degree in Industrial Sociology in 2008. He had earlier on obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Sociology from the University of Cape Coast in 2006. He also studied for a Diploma in Labour Studies from the same University in 2001.

In his quest to further improve his capacity to champion the cause of workers, the vulnerable and the excluded in society at large, Mr Kareweh is currently pursuing the Professional Law Course at the Ghana School of Law after obtaining an LLB Degree from the Mountcrest University College. He is also a lecturer in Labour Studies with the School for Development Studies at the University of Cape Coast.

It is important to list out his merits, for this same Mr Edward Kareweh, the current GAWU General Secretary, was elected in 2016 as the Titular for the Agricultural Workers Trade Group (AWTG) of The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) in West Africa. He coordinates the work of the Group.

The 3rd National Farmers Delegates’ Conference (29th Oct.) and The 11th Quadrennial Delegate Conference (30th Oct.)

In recognition of the over six decades of immense contribution to the quality of life of Ghana’s agricultural workers, the Theme for 3rd National Farmers Delegates’ Conference and the 11th Quadrennial Delegate Conference is: “60 years of Promoting Decent work In Agriculture, the Role of Farmers”.

GAWU is one of few Unions with membership across the country that organises both formal and informal workers. International Labour Rights Forum recently conferred on GAWU the 2020 Labour Rights Defender’s Award in respect of work done by the union on Child Labour in Cocoa. This is evidence of how vital the work of GAWU has been in the lives of the agricultural workers in Ghana.

Special Guest will be the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffour Awuah. The Venue will be Noda Hotel in Kumasi, on 28th-30th October 2020. COVID Protocols will be observed. I’ll keep you updated!

Ghana: Demonstration trial of improved cowpea varieties underway in Wa

The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) is carrying out a field trial of improved cowpea varieties in Wa to allow farmers to improve their lots when released for commercial production.

The CSIR-SARI is carrying out the trial in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) under the Accelerated Varietal Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa (AVISA) project.

Dr Theophilus Kwabla Tengey, the Cowpea Breeder and Research Scientist at the CSIR-SARI, told a team of farmers at a research field in Wa that the new varieties were of high yielding, early maturing, drought-tolerant and climate-resilient.

The 40 farmers from selected communities in the Wa West District and Wa Municipality were at the research field to conduct a participatory varietal selection on 11 new cowpea varieties to enable the CSIR-SARI to arrive at the appropriate cowpea variety for farmers in the region.

Dr Tengey said there was the need for the CSIR-SARI to develop climate-smart crop varieties for farmers to produce due to the unreliable rainfall pattern in the country.

“Indeed, because of climate change, we need to develop climate-smart varieties. Climate-smart means that the variety matures early, and also fits into what consumers want. The farmers are here to help us select the materials that they want.

“The breeders have done their part by evaluating these varieties. Now, these varieties have reached a state that we want the farmers to also participate in the process,” Dr Tengey explained.

He said the participatory varietal selection was necessary to increase the adoption rate of those varieties by the farmers.

Dr Tengey noted that the farmers, who participated in the activity, selected cowpea varieties that were early maturing, have large seed size of a range of seed coat colours-white, brown and red, among other varieties.

He said that was partly because of the uniqueness of those varieties in the market and expressed the hope that farmers would adopt the new varieties when released to help improve their farming activities.

Dr George Mahama, an agronomist at the Wa Station of the CSIR-SARI, observed that cowpea was one of the crops that could improve the livelihoods of farmers if they took its cultivation seriously.

He explained that both men and women could produce cowpea and urged the farmers to follow good Agronomic Practices, such as land preparation to help maximise the potential of the improved varieties.

Dr Mahama advised the farmers to adhere to the appropriate planting distance – 60 cm between rows and 20 cm between plants in a row – to improve the crop performance.

Some of the farmers expressed content with the crop varieties on the field and gave the assurance they would adopt them when released.

“If we get the early maturing crops it will help us because the rainfall here is not reliable,” Mr Sansew Issahak, the Upper West Regional Chairman of Cowpea Farmers, said.

European Parliament endorses Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for WTO Director-General job

The European Parliament (EP) has passed former World Bank Managing Director, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala fit for the position of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The EP’s Steering Group of the Parliamentary Conference of the World Trade Organisation (PCWTO) said it was convinced by her vision for the future of multilateralism.

Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala alongside South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee made it through on October 8 as finalists for the Director-General position of the Organisation.

In a statement co-signed and released by the Co-Chair of the PCWTO Steering Group, Sven Simon on Wednesday, the EP said that Okonjo-Iweala’s assessment and vision for tackling the existing challenges bedevilling the Organisation set her out as the right candidate for the role.

Simon made the statement available on the micro-blogging platform, Twitter on Wednesday, certifying Okonjo-Iweala.

On Monday, the EP organised exchanges of views between both candidates, where they both gave extensive accounts of their plans and approaches to improving multilateral trade systems.

While lauding both candidates for their experience and vision for the future and priorities of the WTO, the Steering Group said its decision was on the back of the priorities laid out by the Nigerian.

It said, “During the discussions, we appreciated in particular the vision that Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala presented for tackling the substantial challenges the organisation is facing.

“Her assessment of the existing problems of the organisation revealed a deep understanding of the fault lines dividing the WTO’s membership.

“The priorities she set out for her first steps after being appointed for the position reveal a clear-eyed agenda, tackling head-on key topic such as special and differential treatment, industrial subsidies and dispute settlement reform, while recognising the need for positive momentum through the conclusion agreement on issues such as fisheries, e-commerce and health”

The EP further extolled Okonjo-Iweala for her keen focus on delivering Sustainable Development Goals and achieving a value-based trade that aligns with the European Union’s (EU) global priorities.

Read also A better way for countries to track their progress on sustainability

Okonjo-Iweala was also said to have impressed the Parliament with her call for opening the Organisation for more cooperation with other international institutions and parliaments.

“It appears to us that her political approach is what is needed now to resolve the key questions now at the organisation, which are not managerial but require high-level political agreement between key global decision-makers.

“Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appears to be well-equipped for being the fair broker who could bring key players together and help them find the compromises that will be needed to resolve the WTO’s complex set of challenges and the deep disagreement between its members”

“We therefore very much hope that the EU will be able to support Dr Okonjo Iweala’s candidacy during the last round,” the Parliament said.

Read also Nigeria: Binta Yahaya benefits from improved maize seed varieties and other farm inputs

Responding via a tweet on Thursday, Okonjo-Iweala restated that the impact of the Organisation and its trade priorities must be felt even at grassroots.

She also expressed gratitude to the Parliament for endorsing her candidacy.

A final decision is expected to be made before November 7 to appoint a new Director-General for the WTO.

A better way for countries to track their progress on sustainability

A US–Chinese team shows how sustainability metrics can be improved.

How can a country tell that it’s making progress on sustainability? How can it work out, from year to year, whether its environment is improving, along with the economy and well-being?

This is incredibly difficult. A successful measure must have at least three characteristics: it needs to be based on a comprehensive set of reliable data; it must be accessible to non-specialists; and it has to be updated regularly and presented so that progress (or lack of it) can be seen easily.

For decades, researchers and policymakers have been searching for a measure that everyone can agree on. But most efforts, from the Human Development Index to the Genuine Progress Indicator, end up lacking some aspect of those three characteristics.

Get the Sustainable Development Goals back on track
The need is becoming more urgent now that the international community is set on its 2030 deadline to meet the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty and hunger, tackle climate change and more.

The UN publishes an annual report that ranks countries on their progress towards each goal, with a score out of 100. It shows how nations are doing relative to each other and whether they’re on track to meeting the goals (most are not). But the report doesn’t record local-level data, and inter-year comparisons are hard.

For example, Denmark — the top-ranked country in the 2019 report, with an impressive aggregate score of 85.2 — still has some way to go in reaching Goal 14, which measures the health of the marine environment (‘life below water’).

But those who want to know whether Denmark’s score has improved over time are forced to comb through PDFs of the previous years’ reports, and these include nothing comparing different parts of the country.

But help could be at hand. In Nature this week, a team led by researchers from Michigan State University in East Lansing and China Agricultural University in Beijing show how it’s possible to use the SDG reporting framework to construct an index that allows progress to be compared across regions and over periods of time (Z. Xu et al. Nature 577, 74–78; 2020).

The team chose China as its case study, and the results show that the country’s overall SDG score increased from 45.5 in 2000 to 55.4 in 2015. Each of its 31 provinces also increased its score.

Nationally, the trend is in the right direction, although the rate of progress so far is not enough to meet the 2030 target. Moreover, China’s scores have fallen in four goals — life below water, responsible production and consumption, gender equality, and climate action.

Can such an approach to data gathering be scaled up? Yes, but it needs a large literature base to draw on, and public authorities must be willing to recognize the value of such an effort — and must know how to use it.

China’s government is aware of the environmental and social risks of rapid industrialization, and the country has an active community of researchers and policymakers working on sustainability measures.

The authors of the paper went to national data sources such as the National Bureau of Statistics of China, as well as specialized sources that hold data on health, energy and population — all of which are accessible for research.

But that is expensive on a global scale. In many low- and middle-income countries, especially, the infrastructure to collect such data still needs to be built.

This work is a milestone, nonetheless, because it shows how it’s possible to measure detailed progress towards the SDGs, and to reveal where countries fall short. With 17 goals and just 10 years in which to achieve them, the world needs better measures to see both how far we have come, and how far we have to go.

Source: Nature

Namibia: Government to re-employ 1,100 fishermen previously laid off

At least 1,100 Namibian fishermen who lost their means of livelihood during the 2015 illegal strike as well as those retrenched, will be reinstated into the fishing industry.

The Namibian government who revealed this said that the move would be fast-tracked before November 1, 2020.

It said it reached a consensus through the cabinet to facilitate the re-employment of the Namsov fishermen (fishing union).

Speaking to newsmen on the move, Labour Minister, Utoni Nujoma, said the process would soon be geared negotiations with the fishing union and companies were ongoing.

He also revealed that a minimum of six fishing companies have agreed to employ the fishermen while the government has made available 1,300 metric tons of Hake fish.

“We had a tripartite meeting with unions, workers representatives and companies and I am confident we crossed an important milestone to absorb the workers into the fishing sector,” Nujoma said.

He further stated that the process should have been concluded but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the distortion of the names of the fishermen on the list.

About 180 fishermen who lost their jobs after Namsov’s quota was slashed by the previous minister Bernhardt Esau, returned to the industry after they were offered employment by Tunacor Fisheries.

Nujoma added, “People replaced names of genuine fishermen with those of their friends and relatives and made the verification process challenging.

“This has not only frustrated the progress but also the workers, who have been waiting to get back to work and earn an income for their families.”

The re-employment process of the fishermen, Nujoma said, was divided into three groups.

“The first group considered for employment was the Namsov employees.

The second group consists of about 1 000 fishermen who lost their jobs after partaking in an illegal strike.

The third group is the casuals who were working on various vessels who also lost their jobs,” he said.

Ghana: Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa supports production of certified seeds

The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is supporting six local seed producers to breed 6,000 tonnes of certified seeds to support smallholder farmers in the northern part of the country.

The seed breeding project is themed: “Strengthening Ghana’s seeds system to enhance quality seed delivery” and is expected to reach 300,000 farmers in the targeted zones.

Four main crops, namely, maize, groundnut, cowpea and soya bean, which constitute the food products consumed daily by individuals in the country, are involved in the project.

The project, which was begun in October this year, is expected to end in September 2022 and will cost US$376,802 in the end. It is being implemented in partnership with the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG).

Read also Ghana and Food – Dr Albert K. Mensah

Speaking at the project inception meeting of a consortium of seed producers at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu municipality in the Ashanti Region, the Project Manager of NASTAG, Mr. Michael Dogoe, said AGRA would provide 80 per cent of the fund for the project, which translates into $301,000, while NASTAG will top up with $75,000.

He said even though there had been some interventions in the past to strengthen the seed system, “those interventions have not yielded many results, with much still left to be done”.

He attributed the system’s under-achievement to the poor storage of living tissues, technically known as ‘germplasm’, from which new plants could be grown, as well as weak institutional architecture for its implementation.

In addition, he said, the unfavourable policy and regulatory environment and the low application of technology were to blame.

Read also Smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana to benefit from Certified Seeds – AGRA

According to him, the project sought to strengthen an earlier generation of seed production, as well as enhance the institutional architecture for regulating and certifying seeds for sustainable supply.

At the end of the project tenure, Mr. Dogoe said, at least 50 seed producers would have been trained on seed quality control measures and one safety seed platform would also have been established.

Additionally, he said, the project would develop a database on the seed industry to provide forecast for at least 20 technology demonstration farms to enable them to promote varieties of maize, rice, cowpea and soya bean seeds.

The NASTAG Project Manager said the seeds would be sold to the recipient farmers at subsidised prices.

Ironically, even though the end-user farmers are in the north of the country, most of the early generation seed producers are found in the south and include the University of Ghana, Legon, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi and the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CSIR), Tamale.

Read also Science must stop neglecting smallholder farmers to end hunger

Source: Graphic

Smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana to benefit from Certified Seeds – AGRA

About 300,000 smallholder farmers in the northern parts of the country are to receive improved certified seeds within the next two years to help increase their crop yields and incomes.

The assistance from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is to support the National Seed Trade Association of Ghana (NASTAG) under the “Strengthening the Ghana Seed System to Enhance Quality Seed Delivery to Farmers” project.

The $376,801.76 project, which runs between October 2020 and September 2022 is aimed at improving food and nutrition security and the incomes of smallholder farmers.

It will help deliver high quality certified seeds of hybrid maize, cowpea, groundnut and soybean to the beneficiary farmers to plant to increase their yields per acre and farm incomes.

Mr Michael Dogor, Project Manager of NASTAG, announced this at the NASTAG consortium project inception meeting and the fourth Annual General Meeting of the Association at Akyawkrom in the Ejisu Municipality.

Read also Ghana: Over 11.3 million Ghanaians are in Agriculture – Ghana Agriculture Census Report

He said the project aimed to strengthen the production and supply of sustainable Early Generation Seed (EGS), scale-up quality certified seeds, and improve quality control packaging as well as developing a vibrant seed industry in Ghana.

The beneficiary farmers, he said would be equipped through field demonstrations, technology and seed fairs as well as media engagements.

Highlighting on the projected outputs, Mr Dogor said by the end of the project more than 50 seed producers and companies would have been trained on seed quality control measures.

Read also Science must stop neglecting smallholder farmers to end hunger

Again, 20 technology demonstration farms would be set up to promote seed varieties of the project’s targeted crops.

Mr Osei Akoto, Director for Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), indicated that the Directorate would continue to partner the private sector and to render relevant services to strengthen the seed industry in Ghana.

He said efforts were underway to supply some 14,000 metric tonnes of rice seeds next year to help boost rice production in the country.

Ghana: Over 11.3 million Ghanaians are in Agriculture – Ghana Agriculture Census Report

The 2017/2018 Ghana Census of Agriculture report has revealed that over 11.3 million Ghanaians are into agriculture.

Fifty-one percent of the 11.3 million are women, while 49 percent are men, all from 2.6 million households.

Agricultural activity in the country, according to the report, remains mainly rural and rudimentary, with little innovation and modernisation.

It says the level of education among agricultural holders is low; while the sector, to a large extent, is characterised by consumption of its own produce.

Agricultural activity in the country, according to the report, 75.2 percent of the sector remains mainly rural and rudimentary, with little innovation and modernisation.

Read also Ghana and Food – Dr Albert K. Mensah

The use of modern tools and equipment such as tractors, shellers, power tillers, hatchery/incubator, meat processing equipment and milking equipment is considered negligible.

Tractors are the most used, yet the least owned equipment whilst fertilizer is not used by most holders.

The use of pesticides is highly prevalent among holders and crop cultivation is predominantly dependent on rain.

Additionally, the Report indicated that the sector remains unfriendly to special interest groups, including persons with difficulty in performing activities and women; the level of education among agricultural holders is low; and the sector, to a large extent, is characterised by consumption of its own produce.

Read also GHana: Prez Akuffo Addo launches the 2017/2018 Agric Census Report

The majority of parcels of land used for the cultivation of crops are smaller than two acres, with the youth, generally, finding agribusiness unattractive.

The purpose of the Census is to help provide a basis to monitor the progress of Government’s interventions, offer insights on the transformation of the sector, and, more importantly, ensure the integration of the agriculture, industry and services sectors.

It was launched by President Akufo-Addo. The launch marked the release of the first report of its kind for over three decades.

Read also GHANA: Meet a 39-year-old man who is first indigenous commercial farmer with 425 hectare farmland

Ghana: Prez Akuffo Addo launches the 2017/2018 Agric Census Report

The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has launched the 2017/2018 National Report of the Ghana Census of Agriculture, the first time in some thirty-three (33) years.

At the event held at Jubilee House, the seat of the nation’s presidency, on Monday, 19th October 2020, President Akufo-Addo noted that the importance of agriculture to Ghana’s growth and development demands that the data on the sector, which informs the formulation of strategies and policies, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of such policies, must be accurate and up-to-date.

“In any well-governed state, both the population census and the census of agriculture are taken every ten years. In the early decades of our nationhood, the census of agriculture was conducted every ten years – the first in 1963, the second in 1975, and the third in 1985,” he said.

The President continued, “Shamefully, since then, for the last thirty-three years, no such census had been undertaken. Policy, prior to my assumption of office, had consequently been based largely on guesswork. It is no wonder that this period witnessed the systematic decline of our agriculture. We cannot afford such neglect again.”

President Akufo-Addo recalled how, on Friday, 8th June 2018, at Sefwi Wiawso, as part of his working visit to the Western Region, he launched the Ghana Census of Agriculture, the first time in thirty-three (33) years that such a census was to be conducted.

The purpose of the Census is to help provide a basis to monitor the progress of Government’s interventions, offer insights on the transformation of the sector, and, more importantly, ensure the integration of the agriculture, industry and services sectors.

Findings
The findings reveal from the Report show that there are 2,585,531 agricultural households in the country, with a population of 11,340,947, with women making up 50.5% of the population, with males making up 49.5%.

Agricultural activity in the country, according to the Report, remains mainly rural (75.2%) and rudimentary, with little innovation and modernisation.

The use of modern tools and equipment such as tractors, shellers, power tillers, hatchery/incubator, meat processing equipment and milking equipment is negligible.

Tractors are the most used, yet the least owned equipment; fertilizer is not used by most holders; the use of pesticides is highly prevalent among holders, and crop cultivation is predominantly dependent on rain.

Additionally, the Report indicated that the sector remains unfriendly to special interest groups, including persons with difficulty in performing activities and women; the level of education among agricultural holders is low; and the sector, to a large extent, is characterised by consumption of its own produce.

The majority of parcels of land used for the cultivation of crops is smaller than two (2) acres, with the youth, generally, finding agribusiness unattractive.

“From these results, it is clear that agriculture continues to be the anchor of the country’s economy. The data also points to the fact that production methods are not modern, and income levels of farmers and fisher-folk remain low, making the sector unattractive to the youth as a viable means of livelihood,” he said.

That is why, over the last three (3) years and ten months, through the programme for Planting for Food and jobs, the President stressed that “we have begun to change the narrative by modernising agriculture, improving production efficiency, achieving food security, and guaranteeing profitability for our farmers, all aimed at significantly increasing agricultural productivity.”

President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that Government, through the Ministry for Food and Agriculture, is pursuing a value-addition strategy, aimed at rapidly ramping up agro-processing, and developing new and stable markets for our products.

“PFJ has not only increased substantially the production of maize, rice, soybean and sorghum, and transformed our nation into a net exporter of food, but has also created some two million jobs direct and indirect jobs,” he added.

Asamoah Gyan joins Legon Cities on a four-year deal

The General Captain of Ghana Black Stars, Asamoah Gyan, has joined the Ghanaian Premier League side Legon Cities FC on a four-year deal and expected to be announced in the coming hours.

Gyan, who has been without a club since January, has agreed on a deal with the Accra-based club after Asante Kotoko failed to meet his demands.

According to sources, the four-year deal is worth US$250,000 a year, meaning the former Sunderland strike will earn about $1 million dollars in salary in the period – this is a record in the local transfer.

Gyan also pocketed $150k as an appearance fee at the meeting.

The 34-year-old has signed a contract with the Royals after reaching successful negotiations with Board Chairman of Legon Cities and Lemla Group Mr. Richard Kings Atikpo.

As part of the deal, Gyan has asked the Ghana Premier League side to sign teenage sensation Mathew Cudjoe.

Cudjoe played on loan last season at Kotoko but the Porcupine Warriors could not sign him on a permanent deal.

The 34-year-old is returned to the local league, 17 years after leaving Liberty Professionals.

He has gone on to play in the Premier League with Sunderland and dominated United Arab Emirates league. The Al Ain striker won the league’s golden boot three times.

Gyan has scored 51 goals for the Black Stars since his debut in 2003.

Gyan who was heavily linked with a move to giants Kumasi Asante Kotoko has rather swerved and accepted a juicy deal from Accra-based Legon Cities FC.

A move to his childhood dream club, Asante Kotoko never went through after both parties failed to agree on terms.

Gyan has been without a club since 2019 after ending his stay at Indian club NorthEast United.

Gyan began his career in 2003 with Ghanaian Premier League club Liberty Professionals scoring ten goals in sixteen matches then spent three seasons with Serie A club Udinese.

Though there has not been an official announcement, Legon Cities tweeted a while ago that something big is coming up.

Here is their tweet

Ghana and Food – Dr Albert K. Mensah

Food is anything in the form of liquid or solid usually taken in for growth, development, function of vital life processes and healthy performance of essential metabolic activities.

In Ghana, we are very hospitable people, who accommodate foreign people and are so nice to them!

And one thing, very characteristic of the Ghanaian society is great food, not only great in terms of quantity and quality, but sumptuously tantalising!

In Ghana, every meal preparation is a celebration as we expend so much time and energy in preparing only one meal! Our meals take so much time to cook!

But that in itself isn’t bad because we want our food to taste awesome at the end! Our foods taste great, and Ghana, arguably, has the best meals in the world!

Examples among these include, cooking and preparing fufu – the processes involved are lengthy, cumbersome, needs attention and energy consuming!

The process of preparing fufu needs a whole ‘society’ at place to be able to finish on time.

Pounding fufu

These are the processes: there’s usually a girl/woman who sits and does the driving/turning, there is a muscular-built boy/man (not always the case though) who stands and does the pounding, there’s a mortar, a pestle mostly carved from wood, there’s water beside to soften the fufu and the texture, there are boys/girls helping to clean the chores and helping in the kitchen!

Lady preparing fufu

Then comes the soup making stage- the time spent on this depends on the type of soup (light/pepper soup, palm soup, peanut/groundnut soup, cocoyam leaves soup, mixture of palm and groundnut soup, among others).

Palmnut soup
Groundnut soup

Light/pepper soup is relatively simpler and faster compared to groundnut/peanut/palm soup!

Growing up in a peri-urban Ghana, your role in the food/meal preparation will determine your portion and whether you will be given food or not, because they want everyone to participate and contribute his/her quota!

For instance, you will not be served your part of the meal of fufu if you did not contribute in pounding!

I remember I used to go play football, come home very hungry and your cooked cassava are left for you to come pound!

I most often ended up eating the cooked cassava with the soup – very painful thing!

But there are some few interesting things worth mentioning about fufu in Ghana:

  1. We eat with our hands. You can choose to eat with a spoon but who does this!
  2. We eat together at times in a very big bowl, surrounded by group of two, three, four, five, or more depending on the gathering and what they choose.
  3. We eat with our one hands – solely the right
  4. We do not touch meat/food with the left hand. Well, I have observed in other cultures outside Ghana, where meal is eaten or touched with both hands.
  5. When we touch or cut the meat, we do so carefully with our hands because we get afraid of the spills unto our shirts.
  6. We eat everything and chew our bones, we don’t care! I have observed other cultures outside Ghana don’t eat the bones.
  7. There are eateries, often referred to as Chop Bars, where fufu is made and sold commercially. They help a lot, both married and the unmarried!
  8. Fufu is best served and eaten in earthenware bowl called ‘Asanka’.
  9. Fufu made at home is mostly done on Saturday/Sunday with the family!
  10. We eat fufu so early on the Saturday/Sunday, sometimes by 3/4 pm as supper!
  11. On top of all these, Ghanaian men cook great meals and in the whole world, we make great husbands!

If you read this post, know that it was written by AK Mensah, at the time when the clock changed back to one-hour late in Central European Winter Time, when he was so hungry upon seeing the picture below!

Cheers to a better society, where food is found on everyone’s table and no one goes to bed hungry!

Science must stop neglecting smallholder farmers to end hunger

Policymakers urgently need ideas on ways to end hunger. But a global review of the literature finds that most researchers have had the wrong priorities.

How can research help to end hunger? One way to answer this question is to assess published research on hunger, and determine which interventions can make a difference to the lives of the over 690 million people across the globe who go hungry every day.

That’s what an international research consortium called Ceres2030 has been doing. And the results of its 3-year effort to review more than 100,000 articles. The consortium’s findings — coming just days after this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme — are both revealing and concerning.

The team was able to identify ten practical interventions that can help donors to tackle hunger, but these were drawn from only a tiny fraction of the literature.

The Ceres2030 team members found that the overwhelming majority of the agricultural-research publications they assessed were unable to provide solutions, particularly to the challenges faced by smallholder farmers and their families.

Read also Nigeria: Binta Yahaya benefits from improved maize seed varieties and other farm inputs

The World Food Programme is the United Nations’ primary agency in the effort to eliminate hunger, which includes the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end hunger by 2030. These goals represented an enormous challenge even before the current pandemic.

Now, as the UN and others have been warning, the coronavirus — and efforts to contain it — will force a further 150 million people into extreme poverty by 2021. This makes the World Food Programme’s mission more urgent, and the Ceres2030 project more necessary.

The goal to end hunger has a number of targets, and the project team — 78 researchers from 23 countries and 53 organizations — focused on assessing research that could speak to two of these targets, which were set in 2015.

One target seeks to double the incomes and productivity of small-scale food producers; the other aims to make food production more environmentally friendly and more resilient to climate shocks and other disasters.

The researchers found many studies that conclude that smallholders are more likely to adopt new approaches — specifically, planting climate-resilient crops — when they are supported by technical advice, input and ideas, collectively known as extension services.

Read also Building back better and greener in Africa requires strong partnerships, high-level champions agree

Other studies found that these farmers’ incomes increase when they belong to cooperatives, self-help groups and other organizations that can connect them to markets, shared transport or shared spaces where produce can be stored.

Farmers also prosper when they can sell their produce informally to small- and medium-sized firms. That seems to be because such companies share information with farmers and provide sources of credit.

Research gaps
There was one finding, however, that surprised and troubled the Ceres2030 team. Two-thirds of people who are hungry live in rural areas. Of some 570 million farms in the world, more than 475 million are smaller than 2 hectares. And, in low-income countries, more than two-thirds of workers are employed on the land.

Rural poverty and food insecurity go hand in hand, and yet the Ceres2030 researchers found that the overwhelming majority of studies they assessed — more than 95% — were not relevant to the needs of smallholders and their families. Moreover, few studies included original data.

By contrast, the project team found a preponderance of studies on new technologies. Every year, food rots in the field, or later on, because of inadequate storage.

But nearly 90% of interventions aiming to reduce these losses looked at how well a particular tool, such as a pesticide or a storage container, worked in isolation. Only around 10% compared the many existing agricultural practices to evaluate what works and what does not.

Read also Dynamic food systems needed to build strong economies – World Food Programme

Smallholders need new technologies, but they also need research on the effectiveness of existing interventions — such as whether crops such as maize are best dried on the plant or after harvest on the ground.

One of the papers detailing the Ceres2030 team’s findings includes the striking statement that “most of the included studies only involved researchers without any participation from farmers”.

This finding was not exclusive to research from academic institutions. The literature the team reviewed included research from think tanks, non-governmental organizations, many UN agencies and the World Bank.

It’s clear from the review that, despite being involved in making and tracking SDG policies, such organizations are not producing nearly as much relevant research as needed.

Priority mismatch
So why aren’t more researchers answering more practical questions about ending hunger that are relevant to smallholder farmers? Many of the key reasons can be traced to the changing priorities of international agricultural-research funding.

During the past four decades, funding provision for this type of research has been shifting towards the private sector, with more than half of funding now coming from agribusinesses, according to the work of Philip Pardey, who researches science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul, and his colleagues.

At the same time, applied research involving working with smallholder farmers and their families doesn’t immediately boost an academic career. Many researchers — most notably those attached to the CGIAR network of agricultural research centres around the world — do work with smallholder farmers.

But in larger, research-intensive universities, small is becoming less desirable. Increasingly, university research-strategy teams want their academics to bid for larger grants — especially if a national research-evaluation system gives more credit to research income.

Read also Building Resilient Food System On Systemic Vulnerabilities

Publishers also bear some responsibility. Ceres2030’s co-director, Jaron Porciello, a data scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, told Nature that the subject matter for smallholder-farming research might not be considered sufficiently original, globally relevant or world-leading for journal publication.

This lack of a sympathetic landing point in journals is something that all publishers must consider in the light of the Ceres2030 team’s findings.

In fact, the Ceres2030 collaboration is to be congratulated for highlighting these issues. The group had two funders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Both have pledged extra funding to the intergovernmental Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which channels funding from international donors to smallholder farmers.

This is important, but doesn’t fully address Ceres2030’s overarching finding: that most research on hunger is of little practical use in the goal to make hunger a thing of the past.

National research agencies, too, need to listen, because they are the major funding source for researchers in universities.

There’s a place for collaborating with big businesses, but achieving the SDG to end hunger will require an order of magnitude more research engagement with smallholders and their families. Their needs — and thus the route to ending hunger — have been neglected for too long.

Credit: Nature

Beeswax: Its uses around our homes

Probably, we all know that beeswax makes great candles, but did you also know that it has many other household uses?

Well, this is especially true in the movement away from commercially-made cosmetics and cleaning products. Beeswax can be a useful ingredient to have around the home.

So, what is beeswax?
Beeswax is created in eight wax-producing glands on a honeybee’s abdomen. It is secreted in the form of scales or flakes. When the bees want to make comb they collect the wax flakes and chew them until they’re soft and malleable and then form them into the comb-like molded clay.

Wax properties
Beeswax melts at around 146 degrees, which means it keeps it’s solid form at household temperature. It is a great emulsifier in that it helps to thoroughly mix and incorporate oil and liquid ingredients, it is water-resistant and it thickens products like lotions and balms. Beeswax is also entirely natural and edible.

Uses for beeswax in our homes
Now let take a look at the common uses of beeswax around our various homes:

Food preservation
There is a reason wax was used to seal important documents long ago. Wax is a phenomenal sealant. Corked bottles can be dipped in beeswax to seal the contents for years.

Wax can also be used to create re-usable food wrap. To do this, fabric is covered in a thin layer of beeswax and used in the same way you might use plastic wrap or tin foil.

Natural cosmetics
The world of homemade cosmetics has really opened up in the past few years. People are uncomfortable with the chemical ingredients in things like deodorant, sunscreen, lotions, and lip balms. We are finding that many of these things can be made at home for a fraction of the price and with safe and natural ingredients.

Beeswax makes a great thickening agent for DIY [‘Do it yourself’] cosmetic products. Coconut oil works well, too, but it melts at a much lower temperature than beeswax. Beeswax lends a solid texture to cosmetics that need to be stored in a tube, like lip balm or deodorant.

Lubricant
If you have a sticky drawer or finicky zipper, rub a bit of beeswax on the surface to make them glide more smoothly.

Polish
Beeswax can be used as a wood sealant and polish. It protects wood surfaces from water damage, moisturizes the wood, seals fine scratches, and creates a great shine.

Rust prevention
Many artisans like blacksmith brush a coat of beeswax on their metal work to prevent rusting. Beeswax can also be used to prevent rusting on outdoor tools like shovels, hoes, axes et cetera.

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