Working With Poor Farmers to Reduce Hunger In Africa and Other Reports
Every week, Rural Reporters collate reports on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles which have been carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues. Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:
Here’s a rundown of the top stories making headlines in rural Africa this week.
Farming policy in Rwanda argues that agriculture there should be focused towards specialisation and to manage the land and use it in an efficient, uniform manner. Yet revealing the common perspective on the ground, one farmer told us: “We have no ability to oppose decisions made by the government. They tell us to plant crops in the wrong season. They’ll say, ‘Grow beans now’ and everyone here knows it’s the wrong time to grow them.” The policies designate which crops are to be grown in which region and aim to drive widespread use of new seeds and input technologies.
We interviewed 165 individuals in eight villages, in three different parts of western Rwanda. A further 50 people took part in group discussions held in each village. Participants feel this policy is a very real risk to their control over their land. Some 10% had seen the government take land previously for conservation or reallocation to refugees. Others said they had seen non-approved crops destroyed by local officials.
The result we saw was that the long-standing knowledge of soils, ecological gradients and associated social as well as economic interactions have, in a flash, been replaced with rules and administrative boundaries.
How do African farmers, a huge constituency that comprise 70 percent of our population, get beyond subsistence? For starters, national governments and the development community can empower African farmers with more options in seeds, fertilizers and market opportunities.
The good news is that over the last decade we at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have learned a lot about the local seed and soil needs on African farms. And we have seen many organizations intensify their efforts, including plant breeders at the CGIAR centers and soil experts at the International Fertilizer Development Center. Also, new efforts, like the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), are providing fertilizer blends suited to specific soil conditions. And there are innovative ways to scale up these solutions.
In parts of Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, there are NGOs and private sector partners linking smallholder farmers with trusted local people who provide seeds, fertilizer, and other supplies—and the training in their proper use. Adoption rates are as high as 70 percent because, if given a chance to test them, farmers are willing to pay for inputs.
Protecting Land and Community Resources in Africa
Rural communities across Africa are facing immense threats to their land and natural resources. From increasing foreign investment and speculation by national elites, to rising population and climate change, land claims governed by customary rules or indigenous peoples are beset from all sides.
The introduction of external destabilizing influences often sets off a cascade of multiple and overlapping intracommunity challenges. Often the divisive tactics of investors create community divisions, or infrastructure development degrades livelihoods and creates intracommunity conflicts over scarce resources; elites may make back-room deals with leaders, undermining community trust of local leaders.
e 18th African Water Association congress and exhibition ended in Nairobi on Thursday with a call for concerted efforts to expand access to clean water and sanitation in the continent.
The four-day Pan African congress discussed new strategies to alleviate water and sanitation crises in African cities and rural towns.
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, who officially closed the meeting, urged African governments, private sector and utilities to adopt innovative approaches to hasten achievement of sustainable development goals on water and sanitation.
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has identified poor planning, policy gaps and budgetary inadequacies as the bane of urbanisation in Africa.
Osinbajo made the statement when he declared open Habitat III African Regional Meeting on New Urban Agenda in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that forced urbanisation caused by terrorist attacks had left many living in internally displaced people’s camps.
”Africa should ensure that internally displaced people’s camps do not become a way of life in the continent. Poor urban planning and shortage of housing has pushed people to live in slum areas.”
The North West province is to develop its villages, townships and small town economies by growing sustainable rural enterprises, says Premier Supra Mahumapelo.
“Our approach is to build an inclusive Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD) economy that promotes enterprise and industrial development, reduces unemployment in rural areas and utilise existing capacities within rural households to promote entrepreneurship.
“This we will achieve through the development of VTSD economies by growing sustainable rural enterprises and industries characterised by strong rural-urban linkages, increased investment in agro-processing, trade development and access to local markets and financial services,” said Premier Mahumapelo.
Land reform is in chaos and that makes a lot of work for land activists. Just ask the new team at the helm of the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA), the venerable land rights organisation founded which was founded in 1979 but still finds itself at odds with the state. It’s been six months since they took over, and it’s been “full-pelt, non-stop – and that’s an understatement,” says director Laurel Oettlé. “And she’s still here,” quips her deputy, Glenn Farred.
They’re certainly up against it. Land is littered with more moribund policies and obscure acronyms than there are acres of success. “We haven’t done well on land,” says Oettlé.