Sentimentality stifling youths’ agricultural future

Photo: Steve Mbogo

I know from personal experience it’s difficult for parents to let go of things they’ve cherished for years – for my dad, it’s broken antique chairs that he insists he’ll fix when he ‘has a spare moment’… i.e. never. ‘What’s the link between clutching on to family objects and youth engagement in agriculture,’ I hear you ask?

Projecting such forms of sentimentality towards traditional crops is stifling youths’ economic prospects in agriculture.

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Plant clinics, pests and pads of paper

“We’ve arrived everyone. Off the bus”. Ten journalists, myself and five other CABI staff disembark eager to write our own stories on this, a landmark day, for one of CABI’s latest projects – the Pest Risk Information SErvice (PRISE).

PRISE, led by CABI and funded by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP), uses state-of-the-art technology to help inform farmers in sub-Saharan Africa of pest outbreaks that could devastate their crops and livelihoods. 12 July 2018 marked the launch of the project in Kenya.

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It must be Halal, right?

It must be Halal

The world Halal food market is valued at $700 billion. Pakistan only contributes $28 million, less than 0.5%, to this market despite having the second largest Islamic population in the world.

In Pakistan, although roughly 97% of the population follows Islam, there is not a single Halal certified food chain in the country.

A recent journal article published by CABI scientists, Dr Mazhar and Dr Bajwa, along with Dr Collins from the University of Queensland discusses some remarkable findings on the state of the Halal food chain in Pakistan.

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Chocolate SDGs unwrapped

Chocolate SDGs


“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”1

Should we prioritise chocolate in this universal call to action?

Threats to the cocoa industry including low productivity, marketing challenges, pests and disease, environmental concerns and access to education, pests and disease, environmental concerns and educational access, are predicted to cause a global supply shortage of 1 million tonnes by 2020.

Without understanding something of the lives and livelihoods producing this dietary indulgence you’d consider this issue a first world problem – so what? I’ll just have to skip that mid-afternoon choccy pick-me-up. No big deal.

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Family-centric cinema: a Q&A on changing the conversation for women in agriculture

IStock_000006886178XXXLargeWomen need first-hand information and knowledge about new agricultural technologies to have a say on how family farms are run, according to Dannie Romney, Global Director, Development, Communication and Extension, CABI.

Dannie is currently Project Executive for the Africa Soil Health Consortium (ASHC) and Gender and the Legume Alliance (GALA) projects working jointly in Ghana. 

Understanding that families are a unit of production directs how the GALA project supports small-scale farming households to achieve sustainable legume intensification.

The project team recognise the gender issues involved and the constraints women may face in adopting a family-centric learning approach. The first step is to improve their access to information and knowledge on farming techniques.

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Irrigation facilities to enhance all year seed supply by farmers in central Uganda

Farmers sign seed supply agreements

Lack of access to quality seed, particularly of traditional crops that are not well integrated into the formal sector, remains a key challenge for increased productivity of these crops in African farming systems.

CABI, working with national and regional partners, aims to strengthen seed systems in Africa through developing farmer seed enterprises and linkages to markets. Focus has been on traditional varieties that are farmer-preferred for their nutrition, food security, income and environmental sustainability. This is aimed at enhancing access to quality seed of farmer-preferred varieties locally, nationally and regionally.

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Stuffed and starved: is sufficiency the new efficiency?

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Attending a recent Chatham House event, one statistic seemed to encapsulate the crisis of our current food system:

795 million eat too little while 2 billion eat too much.

After the initial shock of hearing this, I couldn’t help but wonder; if there’s plenty of food to go around why are we simultaneously starving and stuffing ourselves?

The implications of this imbalance in food distribution are enormous for global health, economic productivity and the environment.

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