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Hip-driven Pump Brings Water to Parched Fields

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Finding ways to increase agricultural productivity is key to expanding food supplies and making farming pay. With the world’s population continuing to rise and becoming more urban, there is a pressing need to improve both the quantity and quality of food supplies.

The many small-scale farmers across the global South – and their high levels of poverty – demonstrates the urgent need to change the way farming is done.

Based on Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) census data, it has been estimated that some 525 million farms exist worldwide, providing a livelihood for about 40 per cent of the world’s population. Nearly 90 per cent of these are small farms with less than 2 hectares of land (Nagayets, 2005). Average farm sizes around the world run from 1.6 hectares in Africa to 121 hectares in North America.

Small farms occupy about 60 per cent of the arable land worldwide and contribute substantially to global farm production. In Africa, 90 per cent of agricultural production is derived from small farms (Spencer, 2002).

One social enterprise is pioneering the development and selling of innovative farming tools for these small-scale farmers to increase their efficiency and make their lives better and more profitable. The MoneyMaker Hip Pump is a lightweight irrigation tool designed to be used by anyone, but aimed especially at women farmers. It helps to increase the amount of water that can be pumped into a field during the dry season. To date, the makers of the pump, Kickstart (kickstart.org), claim to have sold 190,000 pumps. It can irrigate up to 0.40 hectare of land.

Kickstart, which calls itself a non-profit promoting technology and entrepreneurism in Africa, develops and markets simple agricultural tools for Africa’s rural poor so they can improve their businesses. The company estimates it has helped 600,000 people since it was founded in 1991.

The MoneyMaker Hip Pump was launched in stores in 2006 and received a sales and marketing push in 2008. It sells for US $30 and weighs 4.5 kilograms. Kickstart says the pump’s most effective attribute is its simple pivot hinge. This pivot hinge allows the user to combine their body weight and strength from their legs with sheer momentum to power the pump rather than straining upper back and shoulder muscles – something that is very hard on farmers’ bodies and leads to repetitive strain injuries that shorten a farmer’s effective working life.

The pump can pull water from 7 metres and push water up a field for 14 metres.

Kickstart says that by early 2012, it had sold 32,037 pumps.

Reporting in a paper for the World Bank, Vincent Nnamdi Ozowa found smallscale farmers needed five things that will make a big difference to their productivity: better access to information on new methods, scientific advances and timely market updates; better education and improved literacy rates;access to credit; better marketing; and better technology that minimizes drudgery and improves efficiency.

In 2011, Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report found small-scale agriculture could be key to tackling world hunger and poverty. It urged a move away from industrial agriculture and towards small-scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa, believing it could make big gains by being more efficient and reducing waste.

Kickstart has found communities are receptive to the idea of using the pumps and building agro businesses.

“These are people who are already entrepreneurs, so it is not like we are sensitizing them; they are people who are trying to find ways to make money,” Kickstart Tanzania’s Anne Atieno Otieno told AllAfrica.com.

“When we meet them in the communities we talk to them about the value of irrigation versus relying on rainfall. Most of them are used to having to wait for the rain. At the time we were working with the Super MoneyMaker pump, which is a bigger, more expensive pump. They asked if we could make a low entry pump, which we passed on to our tech deputy and that is how we came up with the MoneyMaker Hip Pump.”

It is part of a range of products Kickstart makes to aid small farmers become more productive (kickstart.org/products).

KickStart believes that self-motivated private entrepreneurs managing smallscale enterprises can play a dynamic role in the economies of developing countries.

These entrepreneurs can raise small amounts of capital (US $100 to US $1,000) to start a new enterprise. KickStart then helps them to identify viable business opportunities and access the technologies required to launch the new enterprises.

Kickstart also uses something called a Mobile Layaway service to make it easier for farmers to afford a pump. This service lets farmers pay off the cost of the pump in small instalments by mobile phone. The farmer can choose how large or small the instalment is according to their means.

“Speaking to the women, and going out into the field and speaking with farmers, we identified a major obstacle – purchasing power, the ability to buy the pump. In Africa, in the field, the pump is a capital item,” Otieno said.

“They really have to organize themselves to be able to save for it. And so when we were speaking to the farmers, many were asking us, ‘Can you come up with a credit facility?’ or some system whereby they could purchase the pumps, because many of them wanted the pump but they were not able to afford it.

“The program works through a mobile phone service, MPesa (http://www.safaricom.co.ke/index.php?id=250) … so the farmers are able to save money, and send money through that program.”

Kickstart recently received an award from the US State Department and the Rockefeller Foundation for “transforming agriculture for women by harnessing technology and spurring entrepreneurship.”

Published: April 2012

Resources

1) Information Needs of Small Scale Farmers in Africa: The Nigerian Example by Vincent Nnamdi Ozowa. Website: http://www.worldbank.org/html/cgiar/newsletter/june97/9nigeria.html

2) The New Harvest, Agricultural Innovation in Africa by Calestous Juma. The book outlines strategies for making Africa self-sufficient and argues Africa is

capable of feeding itself in one generation. Website: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/20504/new_harvest.html

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Urban Farming to Tackle Global Food Crisis

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The world’s population is becoming more urban by the day. By 2030, some five billion people around the world will live in cities. This year is the tipping point: urban dwellers (3.3 billion people) now outnumber rural residents for the first time (UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2007 Report). 

But with rising food prices across the globe, many city-dwellers are experiencing hunger and real hardship. On international commodity markets, food prices have gone up 54 percent over the last year, with cereal prices soaring 92 percent (FAO – World Food Situation). While living in an urban environment means living cheek-by-jowl with other people, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to grow food and supplement urban dwellers’ tight budgets and boost diets.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for food production to increase 50 percent by 2030 just to meet rising demand – and right now there are 862 million people undernourished (FAO). But one solution, urban farming, can make a huge difference, as the Caribbean island of Cuba has shown.

Today, Cuba imports about 50 percent of its minimum fuel and food requirements – a cost that reached US $1.6 billion last year for food. (Reuters). The island has been buffeted by one food crisis after another in the past two decades, first by the collapse of its aid from the Soviet Union, and then by a fuel crisis. But now, urban farming in Cuba provides most of the country’s vegetables, thanks to urban gardens that have sprung up on abandoned land in the country’s cities and towns. And the food is pesticide-free: 70 percent of the vegetables and herbs on the island are organic (http://www.soilassociation.org/web/sa/saweb.nsf/Living/ whatisorganic.html).

These urban farms mean fresh food is just a short walk away from the people who eat it. And in a world of rising fuel prices, Cuba has reduced the use of fossil fuels in the production and transportation of food.

The urban farms have created 350,000 jobs that pay better than most government jobs. It has also improved Cuban’s health: many have moved from diets dominated by rice and beans and imported canned goods from Eastern Europe, to fresh vegetables and fruits.

While Cubans receive at least a basic state ration of rice, beans and cooking oil, the rations do not include fresh fruit and vegetables. After the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies, the average Cuban’s daily calorie intake fell sharply. Between 1989 and 1993, daily calorie intake dropped from 3,004 to 2,323 (UN). But with the growth of urban farms, this has moved up to 3,547 calories a day – even higher than the amount recommended for Americans by the US government.

The secret to this success has been the rise of entrepreneurs like Miladis Bouza, a 48-year-old former research biologist who had to abandon a comfortable middle class life after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Her government salary dropped to US $3 a month. Unable to make ends meet and provide food for her family, she quit her job.

The Cuban government allowed people to turn unused urban land into mini farms. The cities have many vacant lots because the state owns most land and there isn’t competition from private developers, as in many other countries. Unusually for communist Cuba, 80 percent of the profits are kept by the farmers. This can be an average wage of US $71 per month.

“Those salaries are higher than doctors, than lawyers,” Roberto Perez, an agronomist who runs the country’s first urban farm, told The Associated Press. “The more they produce, the more they make. That’s fundamental to get high productivity.”

Miladis grabbed this opportunity to farm a half-acre plot near her home in Havana. Along with her husband, she grows tomatoes, sweet potatoes and spinach, and sells the vegetables at a stall on nearby busy street. This has enabled her monthly income to rise to between US $100 per month and US $250 per month, far more than the average government salary of US $19 per month.

Cuba was inspired by greenbelt farms in Shanghai (http://en.shac.gov.cn/hjgl/jqgk/t20030805_82028.htm): but Cuba has gone even further to make urban farming a key part of the national food supply.

All this urban farming is also all-natural farming. Farms have had to turn to natural compost as fertilizer, and natural pesticides like strong-smelling celery to ward off insects.

So-called organoponicos (http://academicos.cualtos.udg.mx/Pecuarios/ PagWebEP/Lecturas/ORGANOPONICOS.htm ) gather together a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well as ornamental plants. Customers are offered mangos, plantains, basil, parsley, lettuce, garlic, celery, scallions, collard greens, black beans, watermelon, tomatoes, malanga, spinach and sweet potatoes.

“Nobody used to eat vegetables,” said David Leon, 50, buying two pounds of Swiss chard at a Havana organoponico. “People’s nutrition has improved a lot. It’s a lot healthier. And it tastes good.”

Published: June 2008

Resources

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Building an Interactive Radio Network for Farmers in Nigeria

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

As solar power technology has improved, new pioneers have emerged to exploit this innovation. Several decades ago, solar power was seen as too expensive for wide-scale roll out in poor countries and communities. But today, an army of solar technology pioneers has fanned out across the world to show the new wave of innovations and how they make solar power affordable.

More than 1.7 billion people around the world have no domestic electricity supply, of whom more than 500 million live in sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank). Without access to domestic electricity, these people need to fall back on expensive, battery-powered devices or use gas generators and lamps: a cost that eats into their income.  

More than 90 percent of Nigeria’s estimated 155 million people (US Census Bureau) live on just US $2 a day. Many of them are small farmers in remote areas. Access to information is very poor, especially critical information that can improve farming methods and boost incomes.

One of the most effective ways to communicate to a large number of people over a large territory is through radio.

A clever use of solar-powered battery radios has enabled the building of a low-cost, two-way communications network for rural farmers. The Smallholders Farmers Rural Radio (http://smallholdersfoundation.org) network broadcasts to 250,000 listeners with 10 hours of daily programming. The communications network reaches 3.5 million farmers in around 5,000 villages in Imo State (www.imostate.gov.ng), southeast Nigeria. The programming tackles issues from sustainable farming practices to HIV/AIDS and how to open a bank account . The clever part is the two-way dialogue between the listeners and the radio station. This is done through mobile radios known as AIR devices. They are small, solar-powered radios that let listeners send voice messages to the radio station. The message is stored on the radio station’s computers and later broadcast during a programme, allowing farmers to share their experiences, ask questions and receive answers in their own language.

The slim, hand-held silver-coloured radios have a small antenna and dials.

The network was created by Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, who won a 2010 Rolex Laureate award (http://young.rolexawards.com/laureates/nnaemeka_ikegwuonu). The awards seek to foster innovation in the next generation. Launched in 2009, it looks for “visionary young men and women at a critical juncture in their careers, enabling them to implement inventive ideas that tackle the world’s most pressing issues in five areas: science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.”  

Ikegwuonu hopes to bring the service to other parts of Nigeria.

His radio studio is the height of simplicity and sophistication: a laptop computer, a microphone, a headset and a small control board to manage the sound levels. The radio signal is broadcast through a 30-metre-high antenna.

Solar power is being creatively used in many countries to tackle energy poverty. This ranges from lamps and lights to cookers to small power packs for electronic devices, all the way to large hardware to power homes and communities.

In India, whole villages are already using solar energy and improving their standard of living. Various companies and projects are selling inexpensive solar appliances – from cooking stoves to lanterns and power generators – across the country.

A report by the International Finance Corporation called the sub-Saharan solar market the largest in the world – a market of 65 million potential customers, who could access off-grid lighting over the next five years (IFC). The report anticipated high growth rates of 40 to 50 percent for anyone entering the market, with less than one percent of the market currently being served.

With a billion Africans using just four percent of the world’s electricity (The Economist), energy poverty is already harming further economic growth and development gains. As Africa’s population is expected to double to 2 billion by 2050, the gap between people’s needs and the power available will be stark: in Nigeria, out of 79 power stations, only 17 are working (The Economist). It will take innovators like Ikegwuonu to bring hope to this situation and transform lives despite the obstacles.

Published: December 2011

Resources

1) ToughStuff has developed a modular range of affordable solar powered energy solutions to the three main power needs of poor consumers in the developing world – lighting, mobile phones and radios. Website:www.toughstuffonline.com

2) Solar Power Answers is a one-stop-shop for everything to do with solar power. It has a design manual and guides to the complex world of solar power equipment. Website:www.solar-power-answers.co.uk/index.php

3) How We Made It Africa: A website detailing success stories on businesses investing in Africa and how people are making the most of opportunities on the continent. Website:www.howwemadeitinafrica.com

4) Solar Sister: A clever way to sell solar lamps and torches using a network of women. Website: www.solarsister.org

5) D.light Design: Their lights use LEDs (light emitting diodes) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_lamp) and are four times brighter than a kerosene lantern according to D.Light Design. Website: www.dlightdesign.com

6) Lighting Africa: Lighting Africa, a joint IFC and World Bank program, is helping develop commercial off-grid lighting markets in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the World Bank Group’s wider efforts to improve access to energy. Lighting Africa is mobilizing the private sector to build sustainable markets to provide safe, affordable, and modern off-grid lighting to 2.5 million people in Africaby 2012 and to 250 million people by 2030. Website: www.lightingafrica.org

7) A list of Nigerian companies selling solar-powered equipment and devices. Website: http://posharp.com/solar-energy-service-companies-in-nigeria-in-alphabetic-order_renewable.aspx?ptype=solar&btype=service&gtype=country_NG&xtype=ntype

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

Categories
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Indonesian Food Company Helps Itself by Making Farmers More Efficient

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

The current global economic crisis is taking place at the same time as a global food crisis. Food inflation took off at the beginning of 2011. This is having a devastating affect on countries dependent on food imports and experiencing decreasing domestic production capabilities. The least developed countries (LDCs) saw food imports rise from US $9 billion in 2002, to US $23 billion by 2008 (UNCTAD), prompting Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, to say “the import dependence has become quite devastating.”

Garuda Food (www.garudafood.com), one of Indonesia’s leading snack food and drink manufacturers, has been boosting its own productivity by investing in improving the productivity of domestic small-scale farmers. This led to a doubling of crop purchases from peanut farmers between 2007 and 2009. By stabilising the market for peanuts and better guaranteeing income, it has attracted more people into becoming peanut farmers in the region.

This is crucial for the future of feeding the planet: we need more farmers.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with a population of over 238 million, spread out over a network of islands. Peanut farmers in West Nusa Tenggara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Nusa_Tenggara) (one of Indonesia’s poorest places) are a key part of the region’s wealth. Peanuts are the area’s third largest crop after rice, maize and soybeans, and the region supplies six percent of the country’s peanut production and 10 percent of Garuda Food’s needs.

Garuda Food says investing in farmers has raised its own productivity by a third. Turning past practices on its head, this large agri-food company is supporting small-scale farmers and helping them to boost their productivity and incomes. Conventional wisdom had been to view small-scale farmers as an inefficient hold-over from the past – the quicker they were driven out of business, the better.

The Indonesian peanut farmers were using traditional farming methods and local seeds. Knowledge of more sustainable farming methods and land management techniques was poor. The farmers were also beholden to the whims of local buyers and fluctuating market prices.

Then Garuda Food stepped in. The company’s field staff offer the farmers training, and through its subsidiary PT Bumi Mekar Tani, it spreads knowledge about new agricultural practices and provides the farmers with quality seeds and farming equipment.

The company buys crops directly from the farmers, rather than from middlemen, increasing the amount the farmer makes. A premium is also paid if the farmer achieves better quality for their crop.

“We receive substantial supply from peanut farmers in NTB (West Nusa Tenggara) and we hope the arrangement will continue,” Garuda Food’s managing director Hartono Atmadja told the Enchanting Lombok website.

Garuda Food’s initiative, with support from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and AusAID, through the Australia Indonesia Partnership, has raised the productivity for 8,000 small-scale farmers by 30 percent: an income boost for the farmers of 3.9 million Indonesian rupiah (US $456) per hectare annually.

Peanut farmer H. Sajidin told the IFC (International Finance Corporation): “My farm’s productivity doubled, my income improved significantly, and I can sleep peacefully at night knowing that Garuda Food will buy my crops at agreed prices.”

Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System (http://stuffedandstarved.org/drupal/frontpage), has grappled with the conundrum of how to feed a rapidly growing planet. He finds the world is not lacking in food, but distributes its bounty very poorly and wastefully, leaving a planet where some people are literally ‘stuffed’ with too much food (the well-documented global obesity crisis) and others left to starve.

He finds the solution is often local.

“It turns out that if you’re keen to make the world’s poorest people better off, it’s smarter to invest in their farms and workplaces than to send them packing to the cities,” Patel wrote recently in Foreign Policy. “In its 2008 World Development Report, the World Bank found that, indeed, investment in peasants was among the most efficient and effective ways of raising people out of poverty and hunger.”

Patel uses the example of the southern African nation of Malawi, where “according to one estimate, the marginal cost of importing a ton of food-aid maize is $400, versus $200 a ton to import it commercially, and only $50 to source it domestically using fertilizers.”

Published: May 2011

Resources

1) Emprapa: The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation’s mission is to provide feasible solutions for the sustainable development of Brazilian agribusiness through knowledge and technology generation and transfer. Website: http://www.embrapa.br/english

2) Divine Chocolate: The highly successful global chocolate brand from the Kuapa Kokoo farmers’ cooperative in Ghana, West Africa. Website: http://www.divinechocolateshop.com

3) Olam: The highly successful global food product supplier brand which got its start in Nigeria, West Africa. Website: http://www.olamonline.com

4) Insects as food: Tapping the world’s vast insect population offers many ways to supplement world food sources. Website: http://ssc.undp.org/other/e-news/newsletters/april-2008/

5) Cooperhaf: The Brazilian farmers’ cooperative Cooperhaf: Cooperativa de Habitacao dos Agricultores Familiares, has put together what it calls a “social technology”, combining housing and farm diversification to support family farmers. Website: http://www.cooperhaf.org.br

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator. 

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022