Certified Organic Farming Generates $60 Billion US Dollars

Something that you may not know….

The UN reports that the world now has an estimated 2 million certified organic farmers, 80% of whom are in developing countries. Of these,  34% are in Africa, 29% in Asia, and 17% are in Latin America.

“Developing countries account for 73% of land certified for organic wild collection and beekeeping…other countless developing country farmers practice organic agriculture without being formally certified,” the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) noted. Organic agriculture relies on healthy soils and active agroecological management rather than on the use of inputs with adverse effects such as artificial pesticides and fertilizers.

It combines tradition, innovation, and science. According to the UNCTAD, benefits of organic farming include higher incomes, more stable and nutritious diets, higher soil fertility, reduced soil erosion, better resilience to climate extremes such as drought and heavy rainfall, greater resource efficiency, lower carbon footprints, less dependence on purchased external inputs, and reduced rural/urban migration.

The UN agencies that cater for trade and development pointed out that organic products are increasingly fetching higher prices globally, averaging 15-150% more than conventional products.

An encouraging and promising statement when we know the pressure to do research on and use genetically engineered organisms.

For more information go to: http://allafrica.com/stories/201202140184.html

~~Stay tuned for updates about the wonderful things happening around the world~~

Advertisements

Tackling childhood malnutrition. A status report from Save the Children report.

Save the Children, an NGO that works towards improving children’s rights, has released a report that clearly presents the effect of the global food crisis. The report A Life Free From Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition estimates that one in four children are already stunted because of malnutritionMalnutrition is the root cause of 2.6 million children deaths annually.  “If no concerted action is taken,” warns Justin Forsyth, the charity’s chief executive, “half a billion children will be physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years”.

The increase of global food prices appears to be the main cause of malnutrition.  Where factors such as extreme weather conditions, diverting farmland to grow biofuels, speculative trading of food commodities and the global financial crisis are driving up the price of goods.  These factors are what are forcing parents of malnourished children to cut back on food and pull children out of school to work.

Stunting is not necessarily the direct result of  having not enough to eat. It occurs because families cannot grow or afford nutritious food such as vegetables, milk or meat.  The report found that over 50% of children in poorer countries only eat three food items – staples such as cassava, which has no nutritional value at all, a pulse such as peas, and a vegetable, usually green leaves.   This lack of nutritional intake is causing individuals bodies that are starving for required minerals, vitamins, proteins and fat to be compromised because their brains and bodies can not develop properly.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of a third of all child deaths, the report says, but it does not receives the high-profile campaigning and investment.  The issue is that malnutrition is a silent killer because it is not recorded as a cause of death and thereby leads to a lack of action across the developing world.   With early intervention, the life-long physical and mental stunting from hunger can be eased, enabling individuals to reach their developmental potential.  Just imagine how different the world would be and what the world is missing from losing citizens of the world to this crisis.  The reports indicates that there is hope and that this damaging trend could be halted and reversed if public awareness was raised and political will existed.

Save the Children is pressing for international leaders to take action of accelerating efforts to improve children nutritional status.  The organization would like to see UK Prime Minister David Cameron host a “world hunger summit” and launch an international campaign to increase aid for malnutrition victims when the world leaders are in London for the Olympic games this spring.

The  price tag has been estimated at  $10 billion a year and could help protect 90% of the world’s most vulnerable children from hunger.  What increased funding would be able to provide is more food supplements, improved hygiene and increased awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.  Funding can provide trained health workers, social protection schemes providing a food safety net, improved global food distribution networks, and stronger, more committed political leadership.

It’s hard to know the best way to respond to something so multi faceted as this.   CKi is working at the grassroots level to help improve food security within a community setting in order to work towards decreasing the prevalence of childhood malnutrition.

More in-depth information about the report released from Save the Children please see the following articles:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/special-report-the-hungry-generation-6917533.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/feb/15/life-free-from-hunger-save-the-children

Early Childhood Programs Help Children Thrive and Learn More in Rural Africa

Universal education has long been regarded as the cornerstone for development. However, not many people are aware that early childhood programs are perhaps most important for children in low-income countries across Africa to give them the tools to improve their future. (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/education.shtml)

Many children in developing countries are not able to develop to their full potential because of serious deficits in health, nutrition, and proper cognitive and non-cognitive stimulation. The effects of the delayed development in the early years can be deleterious and long lasting, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.

Over the past decade, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have made progress in expanding primary education. In Mozambique, net primary school enrollment rates increased from 45% in 1998 to 95.5% by 2010 (The World Bank, 2011). Despite these gains, children frequently experience delayed entry to school and present severe developmental delays, especially in poor rural communities. According to Grantham-McGregor et al (2007), 61% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa fail to meet their development potential because of poverty. Inadequate health and nutrition, cultural practices that limit communication between parents and children, and home environments with few books, toys, and other learning opportunities may all contribute towards inadequate physical and cognitive growth. This particularly important in the early periods of physical and mental development. As a result, children arrive at school ill-prepared for a new learning and social environment.

Moreover, low levels of child development are associated with lower levels of school participation and performance, higher rates of criminality, increased reliance on the health care system, and lower future attainment. To address this situation, a number of Early Childhood Development (ECD) interventions have been proposed, including nutrition programs, parenting programs, and pre-school.

The World Bank study is the first such evaluation of ECD programs in Africa, where entrenched poverty means that 61 % of children under the age of five years do not grow and learn to their full potential.  This randomized study shows that children going to preschool are much more likely to show interest in mathematics and writing, recognize shapes, and show respect for other children. Preschool can benefit the whole family: parents of enrolled children are 26% more likely to work, while some older siblings are able to go to school themselves. Small investments ($2.50 a month per child) have a very powerful long term impact!

To see the full evaluation go to:

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTAFRICA/Resources/The_Promise_of_Preschool_in_Africa_ECD_REPORT.pdf