Increasing the quantity and quality of food in Africa will be critical to improving the continent’s human development. And a key element in giving Africa a more secure food supply will be boosting science and knowledge on the continent and making sure it is focused on Africa’s needs and situation.
One pioneering scientist is looking to the humble chicken to tackle two big problems in Africa: food security and household incomes. By pumping up the weight and productivity of African chickens, she hopes to eradicate hunger and boost household incomes.
Her pioneering work is about trailblazing “a big chicken agenda in Africa,” she explained to TrustLaw, a global hub for free legal assistance and information on good governance and women’s rights. She grew up in an area – Mount Elgon in western Kenya – where raising chickens was the primary source of both income and food. Her family raised chickens and the income from this helped to pay for her schooling.
Raising chickens is common in rural Kenya, and many of the people doing it are women.
She works at the International Livestock Research Institute (ilri.org) based in Nairobi, Kenya. The ILRI “works at the crossroads of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality science and capacity-building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development” and conducts research in Africa, South and Southeast Asia and China.
“I’m really passionate about giving back to the community an improved chicken that will really help their lives,” she explains.
Another project she is working on is the development of a drought-tolerant chicken. This chicken could prove very helpful in parts of Africa suffering from drought and hunger, like in the Horn of Africa.
Women are considered to be the majority producers of food in Africa yet just one in four people working in agricultural research in Africa is a woman, according to TrustLaw.
Ommeh has a PhD in chicken genetics and is a staunch believer in seeking out solutions to Africa’s problems within Africa: “In my view = it’s about time Africa looked for solutions in Africa for Africa,” she told a group of British Members of Parliament.
She will continue her research by looking at native African chickens. She is worried indigenous African chickens are being wiped out by cross-breeding and the introduction into the continent of exotic breeds, which are making African chickens more susceptible to viruses.
Her goal is to produce a disease-resistant breed of chicken weighing four kilograms and laying 250 eggs a year. This would be a big increase on current average weights, and a trebling of the yield.
“Definitely the incomes of these households will increase and that will (create) a rippling effect that will trickle up … And we hope that in 10 to 15 years the poverty issue in Africa will not be so serious,” Ommeh said.
“Chicken is a small livestock but I believe it has the capacity to have a big impact.”
For female scientists working in agriculture, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) (http://awardfellowships.org/) is seeking researchers looking to boost their technical and leadership skills. It is hoped that supporting more women researchers will have the effect of turning research priorities towards the needs of smallholder farmers, who make up the majority of farmers in Africa.
Southern Innovator was initially launched in 2011 with the goal of – hopefully – inspiring others (just as we had been so inspired by the innovators we contacted and met). The magazine seeks to profile stories, trends, ideas, innovations and innovators overlooked by other media. The magazine grew from the monthly e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions published by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) since 2006. A selection of books and papers citing stories from the magazine are featured below to aid researchers, in particular those interested in health and human development and the role of innovators in international development.
“Innovation is critical to growth and development in Africa. In the context of a continent characterized by fast growing economies as well as an array of socioeconomic challenges, such as high levels of poverty and inequality, innovation in Africa must be understood in an encompassing manner. Africa needs to support the emergence of its own Silicon Valleys, but it must also foster the invention and adoption of cleaner technologies that limit respiratory illnesses, deforestation and combat climate change. This book contains a number of analytical case studies that examine the nature and origins of emerging high-end innovation hubs in Africa. These “hubs” or ecosystems are both understudied and little known inside and outside the continent. With this analysis, the book highlights and draws lessons from some of the most promising and successful innovation cases in Africa today, exploring the key factors driving their successful emergence, growth and future prospects. Relevant for scholars, policymakers, and business leaders, the book provides both inspiration and useful policy advice that can inform strategies and concrete measures to speed up the pace of innovation in Africa today.”
“Research on gated communities is moving away from the hard concept of a ‘gated community’ to the more fluid one of urban gating. The latter allows communities to be viewed through a new lens of soft boundaries, modern communication and networks of influence.
The book, written by an international team of experts, builds on the research of Bagaeen and Uduku’s previous edited publication, Gated Communities (Routledge 2010) and relates recent events to trends in urban research, showing how the discussion has moved from privatised to newly collectivised spaces, which have been the focal point for events such as the Occupy London movement and the Arab Spring.
Communities are now more mobilised and connected than ever, and Beyond Gated Communities shows how neighbourhoods can become part of a global network beyond their own gates. With chapters on Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, this is a truly international resource for scholars and students of urban studies interested in this dynamic, growing area of research.”
“The economic, political and social situation in Chile shows a country in transition. Some observers anticipate a broad “reboot” of the nation. While Chile is still seen by many as an example of progress in South America and of developmental potential in the global South, it faces a complex political constellation, particularly in the aftermath of the re-election of Michelle Bachelet. Many wonder how social and institutional innovations can be incepted without interrupting the country’s remarkable success over the past decades.
This book provides an interdisciplinary analysis of Chile’s situation and perspectives. In particular, it addresses the questions:
What is Chile’s real socio-political situation behind the curtains, irrespective of simplifications?
What are the nation’s main opportunities and problems?
What future strategies will be concretely applicable to improve social balance and mitigate ideological divisions?
The result is a provocative examination of a nation in search of identity and its role on the global stage.
Roland Benedikter, Dr., is Research Scholar at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, Senior Research Scholar of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs Washington D.C., Trustee of the Toynbee Prize Foundation Boston and Full Member of the Club of Rome.
Katja Siepmann, MA, is Senior Research Fellow of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs Washington D.C., Member of the German Council on Foreign Relations, and Lecturer at the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Cultural Sciences of the European University Frankfurt/Oder.
The volume features a Foreword by Ned Strong, Executive Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, and a Preface by Larry Birns, Director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Washington D.C., and Former Senior Public Affairs Officer of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America (Santiago, Chile).”
“A Sociological Approach to Health Determinants investigates how the social works in determining health and health inequity. Taking a global perspective, the book shines a light on how experiences of health, illness and health care are shaped by a variety of complex social dynamics. Informed primarily by sociology, the book engages with the WHO’s social determinants of health approach and draws on contributions from history, political economy and policy analysis to examine issues such as class, gender, ethnicity and indigeneity, and the impact they have on health. A Sociological Approach to Health Determinants is a comprehensive resource that provides a new perspective on the influence of social structures on health, and how our understanding of the social can ensure improved health outcomes for people all over the globe. Toni Schofield is Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. She specialises in research and teaching in sociology, and public policy and administration.”
New Directions in Children’s and Adolescents’ Information Behavior Research edited by Dania Bilal and Jamshid Beheshti (Emerald Group Publishing: 2014)”This book comprises innovative research on the information behavior of various age groups. It also looks at special populations such as ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and users with disabilities. The book presents research and reflections on designing systems that help the new generation cope with a complex knowledge society.
Economy Reports for APEC Economies on demographics, policies & ICT applications for people with Special Needs (Seniors and People with Disabilities), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group, January 2013
If you would like hard copies of the magazine for distribution, then please contact the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation: Website:http://ssc.undp.org/content/ssc.html. If you would like to either sponsor an issue of Southern Innovator or place an advertisement in the magazine, then please contact email@example.com.
Southern Innovator was initially launched in 2011 with the goal of inspiring others (just as we had been so inspired by the innovators we contacted and met). The magazine seeks to profile stories, trends, ideas, innovations and innovators overlooked by other media. The magazine grew from the monthly e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions published by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) since 2006.
Issue 6’s theme has been decided on: it will focus on Science, Technology and Innovation. For this issue, Southern Innovator is seeking invitations from cutting-edge knowledge and science innovators in the global South to view their work. Time is tight, so don’t miss this opportunity to let the whole global South know about your work. In the past, Southern Innovator has visited green pioneers in Cuba, a smart city in South Korea and an eco-city in China.
Contact me if you wish to receive a copy/copies of the magazine for distribution. Follow @SouthSouth1.
“The e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions proved to be a timely and prescient resource on the fast-changing global South, tracking the rise of an innovator culture driven by the rapid adoption of mobile phones and information technology …
“In 2010, work began on the development of the world’s first magazine dedicated to the 21st-century innovator culture of the global South. My goal was to create a magazine that would reach across countries and cultures, meet the UN’s standards, and inspire action. Southern Innovator was the result. Mr. [David] South played a vital role in the magazine’s development from its early conception, through its various design prototypes, to its final global launch and distribution.
“Both the e-newsletter and magazine raised the profile of South-South cooperation and have been cited by readers for inspiring innovators, academics, policy makers and development practitioners in the United Nations and beyond.
“I highly recommend Mr. [David] South as a thoughtful, insightful, analytical, creative and very amicable person who has the unique ability to not only grasp complex problems but also to formulate a vision and strategy that gets things done. … ” Cosmas Gitta, Former Assistant Director, Policy and United Nations Affairs at United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in UNDP
“I think you [David South] and the designer [Solveig Rolfsdottir] do great work and I enjoy Southern Innovator very much!” Ines Tofalo, Programme Specialist, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation
The Caribbean country of Haiti has had to deal with the twin challenges of recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010 while also pulling itself out of the economic and social chaos that has resulted in its status as the poorest place in the Western hemisphere.
Haiti has a lot of potential when it comes to agriculture, but this would require substantial changes in the way land and agriculture are managed.
Haiti is ranked 77 out of 79 countries in the 2012 Global Hunger Index. Access to sufficient quantities of nutritious food remains an issue for millions of Haitians. An estimated 3.8 million Haitians, or 38 per cent of the population, is food insecure (WFP 2012). Despite its fertile potential, Haiti is dependent on food aid and imports to meet its food security needs.
Fifty per cent of the country’s food requirements are imported, and food prices have been rising since the end of 2010, the year of Haiti’s devastating earthquake. This increase has led to an overall loss of purchasing power for the majority of Haitians. Low agricultural productivity and urban encroachment on arable land provide additional challenges for Haiti’s rural populations. Eighty per cent of farms fail to produce enough to feed their households (http://www.foodsecurityportal.org/haiti/resources).
But some are trying to create a new market for Haiti’s agricultural products to help boost farmers and farming as an occupation and an industry.
It’s hard to imagine now, but Haiti was once the world’s largest producer of coffee in the 18th century when it was a French colony. Today Haiti produces less than 1 per cent of the world’s coffee.
The targeting of niche coffee drinkers in the United States has introduced a new market to the special taste of the Haitian brew. While the market at present is small, some are hoping, with the right measures, it could be grown significantly, boosting both the country’s revenue from agricultural exports and incomes for coffee farmers.
Several US-based companies are carving out a market for Haitian coffee and boosting awareness about the country’s unique coffee beans. La Colombe Coffee Roasters (http://lacolombe.com/), based in the city of Philadelphia, has already been able to export four shipping containers of Haitian coffee to the United States since 2010. The company supplies high-end chefs such as Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud.
In Florida, Kafe Pa Nou (kafepanou.com) – “our coffee” in Haitian Creole – is owned by Haitian-American Jean René Faustin and sells online coffee from Haitian suppliers Rebo and Cafe Selecto.
So far, Haitian coffee has not been able to gain wider distribution through mass buyers such as Starbucks because it has not been possible to supply the quantities required to fulfill such a contract.
Haiti would need to boost its current average coffee yield of 250 kilograms per hectare to double or triple that yield to gain large-scale contracts.
“Haiti was for a brief moment in time the biggest producer of coffee for export in the world,” Gilbert Gonzales, Vice President of coffee exporter Rebo (http://rebo.ht/The%20Technics.htm), told Medium for Haiti (https://medium.com/medium-for-haiti). But “right now, most people would say it’s impossible” for Haiti’s coffee sector to return to international prominence.
“We’re not saying that it’s possible in the next two years, maybe not even in the next 12 years,” he said. “But it is possible.”
The coffee cherries used to make the popular beverage are processed in one of two ways: a dry process and a wet process. In Haiti, the dry process is more commonly used to form a hard cocoon on the outside of the coffee cherries to help preserve them for a year or more.
This enables farmers to preserve the coffee cherries so they can keep a portion of the crop back as a safety reserve.
The wet processed beans are first immersed in water and then the pulp is washed away before the beans are dried (http://coffee.wikia.com/wiki/Wet_process). The superior flavor this creates has attracted fans in the United States, especially in the trendy neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, New York and San Francisco, California. By bucking the traditional Haitian dry processing method for the beans, it is possible to earn three times the market price by selling wet-processed beans.
Haiti’s history of coffee growing goes back to the 1700s. At the time, the country grew half the world’s coffee. This helped to make the French colony highly profitable.
This long heritage has left the country with a unique asset: original Arabica typica coffee trees first imported by Europeans to Haiti. These coffee trees are considered to be heirloom because they are so old and untainted by modern breeding methods. According to Douglas Weiner in Medium for Haiti, “when you drink coffee from Haiti, it’s like drinking coffee from 200 years ago.”
Weiner is part of a family business, Geo Weiner (http://selectohaiti.com/home/), which has been selling Haitian coffee for four generations and is one of the few surviving coffee exporters in the country.
The country has an estimated 200,000 coffee farmers. Because their methods have not changed much, they are effectively organic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food). Most farmers can not afford chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The coffee farms are located in mountain areas with a rich biodiversity of plants and trees. This stands in stark contrast with much of the rest of the country, where deforestation has left the country with just 2 per cent of virgin forest left. Coffee-producing areas are lush and green because coffee is one of the few cash crops that makes enough money to keep it worthwhile to preserve the trees and foliage. In other parts of the country, many are making money from turning trees into charcoal for cooking fuel, the most common fuel for most of the country’s population.
Haiti’s coffee growers have had a hard time coping with the rise and fall of world coffee prices. The world market price for coffee dropped in the early 2000s as the markets were flooded with coffee from Brazil and Vietnam. In response, farmers then cut down the coffee trees and replaced them with subsistence crops such as corn and beans.
With the amount of coffee grown in Haiti dropping quickly, the number of exporters in the country plummeted from 20 companies to two companies today, Geo Weiner and Rebo.
Jobert Angrand, Executive Coordinator of the National Institute of Coffee (http://www.icefda.org/), believes coffee production declined in Haiti because of a wide range of problems, from diseases and pests to aging trees, too-small plots and inefficient production methods. Per-hectare coffee yields are as low as one-tenth of production in Latin America.
The Vice President of coffee exporter Rebo says these problems are holding things back. “I don’t think today we’re looking into going mainstream,” said Gilbert Gonzales. “We can’t. There is not enough volume for that.”
Because production will be small, Gonzales believes Haiti would be wise to target the higher end of the marketplace with American grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods: “It’s looking into the higher-end gourmet shops, things like that,” he said, “so that we could really share with the rest of that world the quality available from Haiti.”
Significant purchases of Haitian coffee have been made by various overseas companies, which does give hope that this plan could work. Irish coffee company Java Republic bought 97 tonnes of Haitian coffee from the Rebo exporter in 2010.
2) International Coffee Organization: The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. Its member governments represent 97 per cent of world coffee production and over 80 per cent of world consumption. Website: http://www.ico.org/
4) Puro Fairtrade Coffee: Puro is a leading brand of Fairtrade and Fair Trade Organic coffee that works in partnership with the World Land Trust to purchase and protect areas of precious rainforest in South America. Website: http://www.purocoffee.com/