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July 14, 2021 | No. 28

The STAAARS+ Fellows program, under the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research, Capacity, and Influence (PRCI), is a collaboration between Cornell University, Michigan State University (MSU), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to advance rigorous, policy-oriented food security research on topics of inclusive agricultural- and rural transformation, development of healthy food systems, and enhanced resilience at individual, household, national and regional levels in Africa and Asia. The objective is to build and reinforce an effective policy research culture within African and Asian policy research organizations that can help build and sustain research capacity beyond the life of PRCI and the STAAARS+ program. The first cohort of STAAARS+ teams was selected in 2020 and the selection period for the second cohort will begin July 1, 2021. STAAARS+ teams are selected through a competitive process and paired with mentors at Cornell, IFPRI or MSU, with whom they will jointly author a paper on a topic of mutual interest that fits within the PRCI research priorities. STAAARS+ will support the development of research findings publishable in high quality, peer-reviewed journals; facilitate access to policy outreach networks and policy engagement materials; and support teams’ participation in scientific and policy conferences. Read more 

source: MSU
The state of food security and nutrition in the world 2021 - Report

In recent years, several major drivers have put the world off track to ending world hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. The challenges have grown with the COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures. This report presents the first global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger might look like by 2030 in a scenario further complicated by the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes new estimates of the cost and affordability of healthy diets, which provide an important link between the food security and nutrition indicators and the analysis of their trends. Altogether, the report highlights the need for a deeper reflection on how to better address the global food security and nutrition situationRead more

source: FAO
Africa's Hidden Victims: Pandemic Triggered Hunger, as Food Aid Fell Prey to Power Politics and Corruption

When government leaders across Africa began to impose lockdowns to curtail the spread of the coronavirus last year, many Africans, who were not covered by any form of social protection, began to panic. In Gulu, northern Uganda, 35-year-old Amina Yot, a widow, lost the odd jobs she relied on to feed her family. She coped by encouraging her five children to drink water to make their stomachs feel full. “Since corona started, life is really very hard,” she said. While social assistance programs in wealthier countries have helped poor and vulnerable people weather the shocks caused by the pandemic, across the African continent, the absence of government programs left a large share of the population to its own resources. Fewer than 18 percent of Africa’s people are covered by at least one form of social protection, compared to 84.1 percent in Europe and Central Asia. Read more 

Tracing the history of farming across Africa gives clues to low production outputs

Many reasons have been put forward for this state of affairs. These have ranged from the continent’s biophysical environment to the ineptitude of its farmers. Several aspects of Africa’s environment present challenges for its farmers. Rainfall patterns are extremely varied and unpredictable. African soils are geologically very old, and most are infertile and respond poorly to mineral fertilizer. Fertile soils are mainly found in the East African Rift Valley, and on the floodplains and deltas where silt is deposited, and require careful agricultural water management. But, based on extensive involvement with agriculture and Africa for many years, researchers thought it would be useful to try to identify the underlying – and real – reasons for the under-performance. This was done by digging into the historical literature. This included material on the historical development of agricultural systems in Africa and changes of the economic drivers of production, among others. Read more

Chocolate Makers Called Out for Paying Less than African Producers Deserve

A cocoa pricing agreement designed to protect farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana from destitution is being circumvented by multinationals, the main buyers of cocoa beans. The US multinational Mondelz, for instance, was recently accused of paying a negative country differential. Last year another US firm, Hershey, bought from futures exchanges to avoid paying the differential and other companies are changing their buying patterns as well. Cocoa is the plant from which chocolate is made. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana together account for 65% of global cocoa production, but farmers in these two countries earn less than 6% of the chocolate industry’s total revenue. The cocoa bean value chain has five major segments. The first is cocoa bean production, which involves local farmers. The second is sourcing and marketing, which involves local and international traders and exporters of cocoa beans and semi-processed products. The third is processing, which involves grinders and chocolate manufacturers. The fourth is distribution, which involves retailers. And finally, there are the consumers. Read more

Connecting The Dots: Policy Innovations for Food Systems Transformation in Africa

Africa’s food systems need to be redesigned. Here is how: the experience of 4 countries that are already working on it. A new report by the Malabo Montpellier Panel is calling on policymakers to rethink and reorient African food systems. Africa was making significant progress in reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty, but amid COVID19 this progress has recently stalled, and in some cases reversed. Nearly one in five Africans were undernourished in 2019. Then came the COVID19 pandemic. “COVID-19 has dramatically exposed the interlinkages and shared vulnerability of different sectors, including food and agriculture, nutrition and health, and environment. Business as usual is no longer an option, neither in how we understand the sectors nor in how we recover from this systemic shock.” said Prof. Sheryl Hendriks, member of the Malabo Montpellier Panel and Head of Department, and Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria. Read more

source: Reliefweb
Africa Accounts for only 2% of Trading in the Global Carbon Market

According to a World Bank report released last year, “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2020”, there has been significant progress in the fight against global warming, but there is much more to be done. More than 70 countries have committed to working toward net zero emissions by 2050, and to enhance their international climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. How these government and private sector pledges will be translated into action will be crucial in ensuring whether global warming can be confined to below two degrees Celsius. Carbon emissions trading, including “cap and trade” systems, are key ways of reducing emissions. Africa accounts for only two per cent of trading in the global carbon market, with South Africa and Nigeria leading the way. There are, however, moves on the continent to increase the number of carbon reduction investment opportunities. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched a two-year technical assistance programme – the African Carbon Support Programme – but startups are also beginning to play their part, which is an extremely positive, if still embryonic, development. Read more

source: Disrupt Africa
Good food is everything

The future of the world depends on good food. It’s that simple. Good food keeps us healthy. It helps us reach our potential. It strengthens our communities, powers our economies, and protects our planet. But not everyone gets good food every day – and the way we produce and market food is harming our environment. This has to change. Read more

source: UNFSS
An Overview of AI Technologies in African Agriculture

Agriculture plays a crucial role in the economic sector of Africa. Over 60% of sub-Saharan Africans are smallholder farmers and nearly a quarter of Africa’s GDP comes from agriculture. While agriculture already serves a great purpose in the region, there is vast room for improvement and modernization. One analysis suggests that Africa could be producing two to three more times cereals and grains than they are currently. This same prediction can also be made for horticulture crops and livestock production. An increase in production would naturally lead to stronger food security, greater household incomes, and more resilient farms, among other benefits. Artificial Intelligence (AI) could play an important role in this increased production goal. Read more

Funding - Africa Agri-food Development Programme

Applications are now open for the Africa Agri-Food Development Programme (AADP), a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the Department of Foreign Affairs to develop partnerships between the Irish Agri-Food Sector and African countries to support the sustainable growth of the local food industry, build markets for local produce and support mutual trade between Ireland and Africa. This will be achieved through supporting eligible Irish companies to build meaningful partnerships with African companies and use their expertise and resources to jointly work on projects which will have a strong development impact. Read more

African Association of Agricultural Economists
c/o University of Nairobi, C.A.V.S, Upper Kabete Campus
Loresho Ridge Road, Nairobi, Kenya


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