Greenpop: Update

If you recall, back in December we introduced you to a wonderful organization called Greenpop whose main mission is to plant trees in Africa. Here is an update from them on what they have been up to since then:

Trees for Zambia Update
We’re in full Zambia-mode and making good progress on different levels! On our recent planning trip to Livingstone, we met with the Prime Minister of Mukuni Village and he endorsed the project, which we’re very happy about. We also met with the Town Clerk, the African Wildlife Foundation, the Zambian Wildlife Authority, National Heritage, and so many more. We’re swamped with enquiries from people around the world who’d like to join us as volunteers, which is very exciting! Join us – email  zambia@greenpop.org.  From a fundraising point of view there have been some exciting developments too; we are talking to several companies about corporate sponsorship (video proposal here), we are selling tree rings, and we’ve just launched a campaign onIndieGoGo, a crowdfunding website. Have a look, help us spread the message, and gift a tree – or two or three! 

How to raise trees?
How do you raise funds for 5000 trees in less than 6 months? You get creative! We’ve started all sorts of tree raising campaigns, and one of the most exciting is our Ambassador Program. Because not everyone can come with us to volunteer, the opportunities to support the project needed to be varied, hence the Trees For Zambia Ambassador Program. It’s a competition which will see the person who sells the most trees come with us to Zambia for free, alongside 8 other fantastic prizes sponsored by awesome companies. Huge thanks to everyone who has sponsored prizes… and if anyone feels like adding to the list, please email charlotte@greenpop.org! Our first 25 ambassadors from all over the world have already surprised us with their creativity and motivation, not to mention their success: in just 4 weeks they have already sold 224 trees which is ZAR26,880 altogether!

Healthy Trees from 2010
The Greenpop monitoring team visited Ithemba preschool in Capricorn Park on last weeks monitoring trip. We planted at Ithemba on 1 September 2010 – one of our first planting days ever! Jeremy from Greenpop who was out monitoring last week said: “It was absolutely the highlight of my day! Every tree that we have planted at this beneficiary is alive and well. I spent time chatting with Colin (their groundsman who at the end of last year received environmental training through our partnership with Kirstenbosch Education) about watering, pruning and just how on earth their trees are growing so well!”. Our monitoring team doesn’t always have days like this – planting trees in the Cape Flats is not an easy business. We have good relationships with all of our beneficiaries and are continuously working on improving conditions and on best practice methods. This however, is not fool proof and our team has to work hard with the ground staff to continuously educate and come up with solutions. At the moment our tree survival rate is above 80% and we’re working hard to keep it high.

SOA 2012
This coming May in Cape Town a group of dynamic and inspirational African business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and artists, who are driving change across the continent, will be joined at Sustain Our Africa by an outstanding group of their international peers. Read more here

 

We at CKi would like to congratulate Greenpop on all their success and look forward to hearing more about what they are doing to benefit Africa. Keep up the great work!

 

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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

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Who is USAID Really Helping?

As hearings begin for the 2012 Farm Bill, Washington is being urged to re-think its foreign food aid policies, procedures, and spending.

Currently, food aid coming from the USA makes up about 1/2 of the world wide total. Of this large amount of cereals, pulses, and vegetable oil 40% comes from just three large firms. As it stands today, the Farm Bill (with its $2 billion budget) is set to benefit these three companies more than the world’s hungary.

At the moment, food is purchased by USAID (US Aid for International Development) in the USA and shipped to where it is needed. This transportation accounts for 60% of the total cost of aid and takes 3-6 months to arrive at its destination. Once it has been delivered, a portion of the food is sold by aid agencies at local markets to fund their development projects in the area–this is called “monetisation”. This has cyclical consequences: not all the food goes to the hungry–> local markets are flooded with American products, which are preferred by consumers–> local growers can’t sell their produce at a fair price–> local growers become impoverished and become part of the hungry. In this way, more than 1/3 of every dollar spent on foreign food aid is wasted and benefits large corporations instead of the world’s hungry.

If the world’s hunger is to be reduced, it is essential that there is a re-evaluation of budgeting and goals. Analysis of a pilot project to buy US food aid in the country it is needed showed that purchasing some grains and pulses locally would result in a +50% cost savings and would allow the products to get to their destinations 60% (14 weeks) faster than if they were shipped from the USA. This is particularly imperative with the soon expected food emergencies, such as in Sudan where the traditional model of food aid would not be able to bring enough supplies quickly enough for the 400,000+ people already displaced by clashes. Furthermore, this would create positive cyclical consequences: locally purchased foods–> local farmers benefit by selling to US aid and being able to sell their products at a fair price at local markets–> local farmers don’t go hungry–> less food aid is needed–> greater savings in USAID dollars over time. As well, this would help decrease the USA’s giant biological footprint.

Furthermore, NGOs are pushing for more “untied” USAID dollars for more sustainable and creative ways of fighting world hunger than just providing handouts. However, strong agriculture lobbying groups will prove this to be a challenge as they have in the past. For example, a push by the Bush administration in 2005 for Congress to let USAID purchase 1/4 of the food donated locally failed.

Luckily, there has been a recent international trend which is shifting towards cash-based aid and buying from producers in developing countries. Perhaps now the times will be more favourable for a long needed paradigm shift when it comes to foreign aid.

MALNUTRITION

Asma Lateef, director of the Bread for the World Institute, says USAID should also aim to meet key nutritional goals, especially for pregnant women and children under the age of two. This comes as the negative and permanent ramifications of inadequate nutrition within the first 1,000 days of a child’s existence are becoming widely recognized.

“At a minimum, we should begin to include goals on nutrition as a measure of the impact of U.S. food aid,” says Lateef. “It’s really important to have a discussion on how food aid can be better aligned with broader development goals.”

Information derived from:
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/alertnet-news-blog/washington-urged-to-stop-wasting-food-aid-dollars

To Create Food Security in Africa, Focus on the Value Chain

Over the past few months, there was a lot of discussion around the problem of food insecurity in the horn of Africa and why nothing was done to prevent the current food insecurity through appropriate agriculture development projects.

Questions That Arise
How can we create long-term food security in Sub-Saharan Africa? What important aspects in agriculture projects were missing in the previous decades to really give long-term dividends and impact the life of small farmers?

There are many facets to this issue, and many solutions. None are easy.

Meanwhile in Africa
In a recent article, C.M Dlamini the Swaziland’s Minister for Agriculture takes his country and the agriculture sector as an example of what can be done to create long-term change:

Swaziland, a country about the size of New Jersey located in Southern Africa, has not been immune to food insecurity. It is an economy with a large agricultural sector, and thus highly dependent upon both natural forces and human innovation to sustain and increase their income and wealth.

With the assistance of US and other investors, and well-developed trade links with South Africa and other neighboring countries, Swaziland has embarked on a systematic effort to add more value to their agricultural output through the development of additional manufacturing and service sectors.

The ministry believes this “value chain” approach holds much promise for the entire African continent, as well as agriculturally based economies in other areas of the world.

An example of a successful project is a commercial community garden initiative funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by International Relief & Development (IRD – http://www.ird.org/), a private global development organization. Working with Swaziland’s Ministry of Agriculture, National Agricultural Marketing Board, farming associations and other stakeholders, IRD has helped establish 39 commercial community gardens.   The produce grown and harvested in these gardens—in the US, they would be called small farms—is sold in local and foreign markets.  The key to the gardens’ success is data gathering and analysis that enables farmers to tailor output to specific markets.

It’s not enough to simply “grow enough food.”  The goal is to grow enough food and sell it in a way that increases the incomes of farmers and their communities.   This means understanding the varying levels of demand in local and foreign markets, learning about alternative methods to control pests and unwanted plants, establishing relationships with distributors, marketing firms, processors and other market participants.

To read more about this interesting point of view, go to:  http://www.newstimeafrica.com /archives/23849

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Kenya: Orange-fleshed sweet potato

The Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust and the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru are finalizing a US$1 million five-year renewable grant to support, maintain, conserve, and make available sweet potato varieties.

WHY?
Sweet potatoes grow in marginal conditions, requiring little labor and chemical fertilizers. It is a cheap, nutritious solution for developing countries needing to grow more food on less area for rapidly multiplying populations.

“Conserving available farmers’ varieties is urgent for exploitation for traits such as drought tolerance in the face of climate change,” Dr. Robert Mwanga a sweet potato breeder for sub-Saharan Africa at CIP.

A SUPER FOOD
The orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are a particularly important source of beta-carotene, carbohydrates, fiber, and an inexpensive source of vitamin A. Research shows that just 250 grams of the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes can provide the recommended daily requirement for vitamin A. This is particularly important in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, where Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness and premature death among pregnant women and children under five. With its cocktail of benefits – especially for women and children, who are most vulnerable to malnutrition, disease and hunger – it is important to initiate projects to enhance farmers’ uptake and adoption of orange fleshed sweet potato technologies.

DIFFERENT COLOURS=DIFFERENT HEALTH BENEFITS
Varieties exist with a wide range of skin and flesh color, from white to yellow-orange to deep purple-fleshed roots. The various colours are a rich source of Anthocyanins, which are compounds that have medicinal value as Anti-oxidants and Cancer Preventing Agents.

INCOME DIVERSIFICATION
Patrick Makoha, the Secretary for Siwongo Drainage and Irrigation Self-help Group, Busia, Kenya started multiplying orange fleshed sweet potato vines from less than a quarter acre, which have expanded to seven acres in three years. He earns US$ 293.5 a month from the sale of the potatoes and US$ 195.7 monthly from the sale of vines. Multiplication and distribution of clean planting materials or vines has many levels. It involves individual farmers, farmer groups that manage secondary multiplication sites, national agricultural research institutes, and supply-side partners such as extension and non-governmental organization staff that do the monitoring. So far, about 10,000 farmers across the five countries- Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda- have been reached by the project with planting materials and training on the technologies.

 A DELICIOUS SNACK
In Rwanda, the nutritional value of the orange-fleshed sweet potato has gotten non-governmental organizations working with people living with HIV/AIDS to urge their clients to grow and consume this vegetable.

To read more about this interesting story, go to: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=91228

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Nigerian Agric Researchers Develop Vitamin-A Cassava

Cassava(pictured left)–also known as yuca, mogo, or manioc–is a staple food for many African families. It is their equivalent of rice in Asia or bread in Europe. Cassava originated in South America and was brought over to Africa in the 16th century, where it quickly adapted to the soil climate and was incorporated into diet patterns. More than 200 million people in sub-saharen Africa rely on this carbohydrate for over half of their daily energy intake .

This is terrific crop for the region because it requires very little water, can grown in poor soil, and can be harvested year round. Though maize has often overshadowed cassava, the latter is increasingly making its way into the African diet. Cassava produces the largest amount of food calories per hectare among all food crops, other than sugarcane.

In Nigeria where the average consumption of cassava is 600 grams per capita per day, about 30% of children under five suffer from vitamin A deficiency. In Ghana where cassava represents 30% of daily caloric intake, and cassava and yam combined represent 46% of GNP, about 26% of children under five suffer from vitamin A deficiency. Resultant health implications include low immunity and impaired vision, which often lead to blindness and even death.[1]

An international research team, guided by  the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), has developed three new strands of Vitamin A enriched cassava. The hope is that this will help alleviate Vitamin A deficiency malnutrition experienced by millions in Africa.

The yellow cassava is already being multiplied through stem cuttings. In 2013, when sufficient certified stems will be available, HarvestPlus and its partners will then distribute these to about 25,000 farming households initially. Farmers will be able to grow these new vitamin A varieties and feed them to their families. They can also multiply and share cuttings with others in their community, amplifying the nutritional benefits. After the mid-2014 harvest, more than 150,000 household members are expected to be eating vitamin A-rich cassava.

To read more about this, go to: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/11166687-nigerian-agric-researchers-develop-vitamina-cassava

HarvestPlus is the global leader in developing biofortified crops and now works with more than 200 agricultural and nutrition scientists around the world. It is co-convened by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). HarvestPlus focuses on three critical micronutrients that are recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as most limiting in diets: iron, zinc, and vitamin A. HarvestPlus envisions that in fifteen years, millions of people suffering from micronutrient malnutrition will be eating new biofortified crop varieties.

To learn more about Harvestplus, go to: http://www.harvestplus.org/


[1] http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/

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Sowing the Seeds of Food Security

Another great initiative in South Africa, similar to what Cki is trying to achieve through its new project in the Chorkor community, Accra, Ghana:

Schools Environmental Education and Development (SEED) is a non-profit organization based in Cape Town that creates learning gardens as part of their Organic Classroom Program, in partnerships with schools in South Africa’s poorest communities.

Founded in 2002, SEED trains teachers to design, plant, and nurture a garden according to permaculture principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture), which encourage a sustainable approach to agriculture modelled after an ecosystem. Teachers are using organic vegetable gardens to help children learn about science, geography, health, and economics—and to unlearn hunger. Produce from the gardens is used in the school’s cafeteria or sent home in parcels with the students for their families.

SEED website: http://www.seed.org.za/   
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/SEED/152379438141624

 is not alone…

Greenpop is working in an environment similar to the Chorkor community, where homes are crammed next to one another, the earth is more sand than soil, and strong winds often blow. This organization is a tree-planting social enterprise that is beautifying these areas, starting with the schools. They start with hardier indigenous trees and if they survive, they come back with fruit trees that can produce 20-100 kg of fruits each in a season, helping to increase food diversity. Children are assigned a tree to look after and must each bring in 2L (1 gal) of gray water—recycled from the bath or sink—to water their tree every 2 days. It is gaining attention from media and corporate sponsors for its gung-ho attitude toward mobilizing volunteers for tree-planting days—largely from among Cape Town’s privileged youth. They also partner with larger companies that can tick their corporate social responsibility box when their employees get involved in tree-planting initiatives.

Greenpop website: http://www.greenpop.org/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GreenpopTreevolution

To learn more about these great initiatives, read this article published in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/business/global/28iht-RBOG-CAPE28.html?_r=3&pagewanted=1

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