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Whistles and whips: Technologies for African Agricultural … – African Development Bank

(Korofto, Adama District, Ethiopia) If the shrill sounds of policemen’s whistles echoing across Ethiopia’s Awash River Valley do not seem out of place, the crack of whips in the air will have some visitors to these irrigated wheat fields wondering what is going on at this patch of remote farm cooperative.

A short walk through the thigh-high wheat stalks reveals farm workers blowing whistles and waving whips to scare away quelea, a destructive bird species flocking to the fields to peck away at maturing wheat grains.

Farmer Yilma Mamo says the cacophony of sound to rid fields of the birds is actually a testament to success of the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation initiative, or TAAT.

The TAAT program, launched in 2018, is an integral part of the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy 2016–2025.

Farmer and TAAT beneficiary Yilma Mama says participating in the TAAT program has made him more financially and food secure.

TAAT’s overall objective is to harness proven technologies to raise agricultural productivity in Africa, as well as mitigate risks and promote diversification and processing in 18 agricultural value chains within eight priority intervention areas. Overall, TAAT will produce 100 million metric tonnes of additional food to feed 200 million people.

In Ethiopia, TAAT is providing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers like Mamo with heat-tolerant wheat varieties that produce more profitable harvests compared to traditional crops like vegetables.

“Over the years, I grew tomatoes, onions, pepper and cabbage. The cost of production was very high and the market for produce was volatile—sometimes we lost money,” said Mamo, who has been farming here since 1969, adding that birds didn’t attack his veg. He explained that the cost of wheat production is very low and “the profits are good”—providing food and financial security for his family and community.

“Scaring the birds away takes a lot of effort. [But] I prefer producing wheat, even though the birds are here,” Mamo said.

[embedded content]

VIDEO – Watch how TAAT program farmers crack the whip and blow whistles to protect their crops.

Mamo is one of more than 28,000 Ethiopian farmers who have received TAAT-funded wheat seed since 2018 with a TAAT Wheat Compact, led by the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas, and the Ethiopian National Agricultural Research Institute.

In Ethiopia’s lowlands like Adama District, about 100 kilometers southeast of capital Addis Ababa, wheat farming is relatively new. The Ethiopian government program approached farmers and provided training on growing the heat-tolerant grains where daytime temperatures can reach 35 degrees Celsius. “Before that, we didn’t know wheat could perform well in these areas,” Mamo said.

Farmers receive loans from the government to cover 80% of costs for land preparation, seeds, fertilizer and mechanized equipment for harvesting. The loans are paid back at harvest. 

Bank Vice President Beth Dunford (r) and Director Martin Fregene (white shirt) recently visited TAAT beneficiary Yilma Mamo’s farm.

“Heat-tolerant wheat varieties are able to withstand the lowlands’ high temperatures. In essence, these plants can thrive where ordinary wheat varieties would struggle to produce as much grain,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, following a recent visit to Mamo’s farm. The farm is part of a 280-member farmers’ cooperative.

“It is critical that Africa’s farmers have the technology-enabled tools and knowhow to unleash Africa’s agricultural potential – the Bank’s TAAT initiative is working with our regional member countries to deliver those agricultural technologies to better enable the continent to feed itself,” Dunford added.

In Ethiopia, following the nationwide deployment of heat-tolerant wheat varieties, the irrigated-wheat area expanded from less than 5,000 hectares in the 2018-19 farming season to 650,000 hectares in the 2021-22 season. Wheat yields doubled and Ethiopia’s wheat production increased by an additional 1.6 million metric tonnes in 2022. The country says it achieved wheat production self-sufficiency last year and that it is poised to export wheat for the first time.

“We’re proud of what Ethiopia has achieved. We’ve seen similar TAAT success in Zambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Kenya and other countries,” said Dr. Martin Fregene, the Bank’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry. “African farmers can feed their countries and build resilience to shocks to the continent’s food systems if they adopt, at scale, improved seeds from the TAAT wheat and other agriculture compacts,” Fregene added.

In July 2022, the Bank Board approved an additional $27.41 million to implement Phase II of TAAT. TAAT aims to make proven technologies available to more than 40 million agricultural producers across Africa – the majority of whom are young people and women in low-income countries – by 2025. This financing supports expansion of the TAAT platform that has also delivered heat-tolerant wheat varieties, drought-tolerant maize varieties and high-yield rice varieties to 11 million farmers, as well as increased crop production by an estimated 25 million tons of additional food.

The TAAT initiative will be one of the African-led solutions increasing the continent’s food production capacity, at the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit to be held from 25-27 January. President Macky Sall of Senegal, and Chairperson of the African Union, will host the three-day summit. The African Development Bank Group is co-hosting the summit. 

To learn more about the Dakar 2 Africa Food Summit, click here.

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agriculture

Too poor to migrate? Climate change weakens economic growth … – InfoMigrants

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Too poor to migrate? Climate change weakens economic growth, migration in Global South – InfoMigrants

From file: Afghans with their belongings cross into Pakistan on September 7, 2021 | Photo: Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters
From file: Afghans with their belongings cross into Pakistan on September 7, 2021 | Photo: Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters

Can climate change increase and hamper international migration at the same time? Yes, according to a new study from Germany. While climate change generally increases migration, this effect is greatly reduced as climate change also weakens economic growth, thereby limiting people’s means to migrate in countries of the Global South.

Given the increasing density of disasters like hurricanes, floods and droughts, it’s easy to imagine the rapidly worsening climate crisis leading to an apocalyptic mass exodus of affected people worldwide.

But while it’s true that extreme weather events, sea level rise and other consequences of man-made climate change lead to increased displacement, it doesn’t automatically lead to more international migration, a new study has found.

According to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, one reason for this is that many people in the Global South don’t have the means to migrate — because climate change itself considerably hurts their countries’ economic development.

The PIK scientists say that as a result of weakened economic growth, many people cannot afford to leave their countries in the first place.

“Overall, migration related to climate change has increased — but it has done so to a lesser extent than might have been expected,” said Jacob Schewe, head of the PIK FutureLab Security, Ethnic Conflict and Migration and one of the authors of the study, in a press release.

While climate change reduces economic growth in almost all countries of the world, “many people in need who live in poor countries lack the means to migrate. They have no choice but to stay where they are,” Schewe said.

Also read: Climate crisis increasingly driving migrants to Italy

Link between economic growth and migration

According to the findings of the study, economic growth affects migration by affecting national income levels. “Relatively few people migrate from both high- and very low-income countries. In the case of poor countries, this is partly because many people simply cannot afford to leave the country,” according to co-author Christian Otto. As a result, very poor people often stay in their home country despite being in need or wanting to emigrate for other reasons.

“Our study was not about flight caused by natural disasters,” adds Anders Levermann, another co-author and researcher at New York’s Columbia University. “Rather, it was about migration motivated by life circumstances,” Levermann is quoted as saying in the press release.

Other studies show that migration due to changed environmental conditions is also particularly pronounced in places with a dependency on agriculture. Among them are regions with many small-scale farmers like sub-Saharan Africa.

From file: Droughts and other weather-related disasters will presumably lead to a rise in the number of 'environmental migrants' | Photo: Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters
From file: Droughts and other weather-related disasters will presumably lead to a rise in the number of ‘environmental migrants’ | Photo: Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters

In their study, the PIK scientists examined how climate change affects international migration by analyzing several country’s income levels from 1990 to 2020. Income levels are considered an important factor influencing migration flows; a higher income can remove financial constraints, for instance, and a lower income can correlate with lower average education levels, among other reasons.

The scientists also compared migration flows with a scenario without the effects of climate change. Moreover, they acknowledged that the data and model of migration they used for the study “cannot predict actual migration flows at a given point in time.”

Experts have pointed out before that prognoses on global migration related to climate change should be taken with a grain of salt: Many factors are at play, and the link between climate change and migration is complex and not always clear, partly as there is little reliable data available.

‘Climate migration’ mostly internal

While climate-related displacement is a growing global phenomenon, it’s worth noting that people who migrate mostly stay within their countries or region and do not have the goal or the possibilities to go to Europe. As a matter of fact, internally displaced people (IDPs) make up more than half of all estimated 89.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In 2021, some 23.7 million people were newly displaced due to extreme weather events and natural disasters and their consequences in their country, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC). By comparison, only 14.4 million people were internally displaced by conflict or violence. In the same year, moreover, disasters accounted for more than half of all internal displacements.

Still, migration induced by the climate crisis doesn’t stop at the border, especially when it’s exacerbated by conflict: 1.1 million Somalis, for instance, fled to Kenya and Ethiopia from the impending civil war after the 1991 collapse of the government. The political instability was compounded by drought-related famine, itself linked to armed conflict and violence.

Such cross-border movements in situations where conflict or violence has interacted with disaster or adverse effects of climate change is an area known as ‘nexus dynamics.’ In the words of a 2018 UNHCR report on the subject, Somalia can be characterized as a “situation in which preexisting conflict, and responses related to it, exacerbated the impacts of disaster and adverse effects of climate change.”

Importantly, nexus dynamics is an example of a “situation where the refugee criteria of the 1951 Refugee Convention or broader refugee criteria of regional refugee law frameworks may apply,” according to UNHCR. This matters because ‘climate migrants’ — or ‘environmental migrants’ as they are sometimes called — are not legally considered refugees according to international law. To date, there is no globally accepted or legally binding definition of a ‘climate migrant,’ and the term ‘climate refugee’ meanwhile is being discouraged from being used and somewhat regarded as a misnomer, for not everybody leaves their homes involuntarily.

Read more: Climate migrants can’t be returned home, UN committee

Climate change likely to keep increasing migration long-term

While climate-related displacement also affects industrialized countries in the Global North, which are responsible for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions, a recent Oxfam study, among others, shows how poorer countries in the Global South are disproportionately affected.

In the ten climate crisis hotspots most affected by extreme weather events, all of them in the Global South, more than twice as many people are struggling with acute hunger than six years ago, according to Oxfam. This trend potentially results in displacement and irregular migration patterns.

The climate crisis hotspots Oxfam cites in its study are the African nations of Somalia, Kenya, Niger, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Madagascar and Zimbabwe alongside Afghanistan, Guatemala and Haiti. According to the study, they have most frequently been affected by extreme weather events in the past two decades. More than twice as many people in these ten countries suffer from the acute threat of facing hunger, Oxfam said.

While climate change has been reducing migration as it keeps many in the Global South in the low-income bracket, according to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research study, it may keep increasing global migration long-term: The PIK scientists say the climate crisis could slow down countries’ transition beyond the middle-income range.

This means that more people will stay within this bracket instead of moving upward into high-income brackets. Since those in the middle-income range are generally especially likely to leave their countries, according to the study, climate change could thus have the long-term effect of also increasing migration flows, while hampering economic development at the same time.

Read more: Climate migration: No longer a distant nightmare

 

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agriculture

Zimbabwe Hopes to Boost Agriculture Sector With Help From Belarus – Voice of America – VOA News

Zimbabwe is attempting to boost its agricultural sector with support from controversial partner Belarus, which is under sanctions for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visited Zimbabwe this week on his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. Columbus Mavhunga reports from Harare, Zimbabwe. Camera: Blessing Chigwenhembe.

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Former Cottco boss ‘fanning Zanu PF factionalism’ – Bulawayo24 News

Former Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) boss Maxmore Njanji, who is currently facing graft allegations before the courts, is under fire after he was reported to First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa that he is funding candidates in every internal election thereby fanning factionalism.

Mnangagwa is also ZANU PF Politiburo member. Sources familiar with the incident told Bulawayo24.com that disgruntled officials told Mnangagwa recently when she was at her rural home in Chiweshe.

“A number of disgruntled senior party officials who attended one of First Lady’s events in Chiweshe reported Njanji that he was fanning factionalism in the province as he was sponsoring candidates in a desperate move to gain political power,” the source said.

“In the just ended Central Committee elections, Njanji caused a lot of chaos by sponsoring half of the candidates and the other half in the province felt bullied.”

It is further alleged that Njanji is eying Mazowe Central seat and hoping to become the Minister of Agriculture if ZANU PF wins.



His allies claim that he is the favourite candidate since he is financially stable.

Njanji is in court to answer to allegations that he used money from Cottco for his own personal gains.

“Our candidate is financially stable, and nothing will stop his curriculum vitae from sailing through ZEC knows him he can simply pour money and win,” one party supporter said in confidentiality.

Njanji did not pick up calls and did not respond to messages sent to him.

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