Capitalising on Africa’s agriculture to achieve ‘zero hunger’

 

 

It’s a sobering fact that, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), nearly 233 million children, women and men in Africa went to bed each night hungry in 2014-16.

CABI Board Member and 2017 Africa Food Prize winner Professor Ruth Oniang’o has devoted her career helping farmers grow nutritious and healthy crops, to not only help reduce hunger but to achieve sustainable and profitable livelihoods.

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How can we inspire young people to pursue careers in agriculture?

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Recently I had the opportunity to return to my old university – The University of Sheffield – and take part in a networking event for early career researchers in plant physiology. The event was fully booked and attended by people soon to finish their undergraduate degrees, through to those with a good few years of post-doctoral research experience under their belts. Many were carrying out research that would feed directly into improving agriculture, particularly plant breeding. Others were working on more diverse topics such as Arctic browning but accumulating numerous field skills that would be applicable to the agricultural sector.

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One Health: free online course from FutureLearn features CABI authors

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One Health is about connectedness: "the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally, and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals, plants and our environment”.

On One Health Day, November 3rd 2016, CABI's editors held a One Health (#OneHealth) Blogathon to focus attention, contributing a total of 6 blogs to Handpicked… and Carefully Sorted, each written from the viewpoint of a different sector.   Our Plantwise Blog contributed One Health: Plantwise’s ambition to improve the health of people, plants and animals.

We hope you found them informative but your learning need not be confined to our blogs!

Sign up to a free online One Health course from FutureLearn: starts November 7th 2016, runs for 6 weeks. Lecturers are the CABI authors Esther Schelling,  Jakob Zinsstag and Bassirou Bonfoh of Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute.

Esther, Jakob  and Bassirou are all authors of chapters in CABI’s  book One Health: The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches [2015].  Indeed Esther and Jakob are also co-editors.

FutureLearn  courses are easy to follow and well-paced: you get one unit per week.  I speak from experience as because of my interest in evidence-based medicine, in October 2015, I took "Informed Health Consumer: Making Sense of Evidence". 

I hope you can make use of this One Health course.

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How soil health is integral to One Health

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One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health (#OneHealth) Day on November 3rd 2016

 "It is difficult to rate the importance of the different soil functions, since all are vital to our well-being to some extent. However, the function of supporting food and agriculture worldwide is fundamental for the preservation and advancement of human life on this planet."Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).

 

The multiple roles of soil often go unnoticed. During time spent carrying out research for this blog I came across the following quote which I feel really captures the relevance of soil health for the One Health concept:

‘The health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible’.

This was actually said seven decades ago by Lady Eva Balfour, one of the first women to study agriculture at an English University, who went on to found the Soil Association in 1946. Yet it seems that on many levels we are still to realise the connectedness between health in soils, plants, animals and people.

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One Health working will improve health and well-being of us all: plant, animal, human and ecosystem!

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    Pastoralists, Mongolia. Image courtesy of Esther Schelling, Swiss TPH.

 One of a series of blogs written by CABI editors for One Health Day on November 3rd 2016
 
It's always nice to meet up with a CABI author at a conference especially when they are giving a talk around a theme dear to CABI‘s heart,  namely “One Health”: the concept of working across the interface of animal, plant, human  and environment  to achieve health  & development  which is sustainable and fair. CABI has been gathering, managing and generating research information across all these sectors since 1912.  We know “its all connected”.

The conference was the RSTMH biennial meeting [Cambridge UK, Sept 12-16th, 2016], and the author in question, Esther Schelling, co-editor  of CABI’s  book One Health: The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches [2015].    To read a  free e-chapter, use this link.

In One Health beyond early detection and control of zoonoses Esther talked about her long-time project with nomadic pastoralists in Chad and a rift valley fever (RVF) control project in Kenya.  She drew attention to the need for:

  • more interdisciplinary studies to include an evaluation of One Health working
  • involvement of social scientists
  • engagement of key stakeholders

And tellingly she provided a cost-benefit analysis to society of controlling zoonoses when the disease is in its animal host before it infects human beings. 

Those cost-benefit analyses made a deep impression on the delegates, many of whom were involved in zoonotic neglected tropical diseases. Perhaps for the first time they were appreciating the added benefits and synergies that a transdisciplinary approach between science, society, humanities and medicine could bring.

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Adapt – Amplify – Accelerate – recommends new report on rural development

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According to a new report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) economic growth is not enough to transform rural areas in developing countries; governments need to develop inclusive policies and tailor investments if they want to make a fundamental change in rural peoples’ quality of life.

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Forestry and farming can deliver food security, says new report

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A report published earlier this week by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggests that improving co-operation between the forestry and agricultural sectors could help to improve food security as well as reducing deforestation, highlighting the successful efforts of Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Ghana, Vietnam, Tunisia and the Gambia. According to the FAO, integrating land-use planning is vital to balancing land uses, supported by suitable policy instruments to promote both sustainable agriculture and forests.

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