Stockholm media seminar papers online
The media has a valuable role to play in educating the public on the plight of the 815 million hungry people in the world. As part of a larger effort to educate journalists and the public on global food security, FAO recently hosted a European Media Seminar in Stockholm, organized jointly with the Swedish Government. The event brought together participants from academia, industry, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to brief dozens of journalists from Europe and from developing countries around the world on crucial food security issues.
To bring this information to a wider audience, FAO has now made the seminar presentations available on the FAO Web site, along with relevant background information and links. The seminar presentations are available only in English.
To visit the European Media Seminar on Food Security Web site, click here.
22 November 2001
A powerful tool for land planning uses new technologies in data management
FAO's Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has just released a new CD-ROM based on the Land Resource Information System (LRIS) that will help decision-makers in the region plan land use. It contains an explanation of the LRIS methodology, case studies and a toolkit with all the necessary software and tools.
During the past five years, FAO, through its regional project "Agricultural Land and Water Information for Sustainable Agricultural Development", has been implementing the use of the LRIS in Latin America and the Caribbean. The methodology, based on the agroecological zoning concepts proposed by FAO, has been successfully used in countries such as Bangladesh, China, Lithuania and Zimbabwe, where needs and land uses are very different.
"The main objective is to simulate sustainable land use scenarios in the region in order to help agricultural planners develop environmentally and economically sound procedures and policies," says Enrique Castillo, coordinator of the project.
Using maps of the analysed region and combining biophysical and socio-economic variables, users of LRIS can generate various land use scenarios and choose those best suited to needs of their region or country. Optimum land use scenarios are defined as being economically, socially, technologically and environmentally viable. Once possible scenarios have been generated, inputs from planners, farmers and other stakeholders are crucial in determining which scenario should be used.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay are participating in the project. Each country, through its participating institution - usually the Ministry of Agriculture - is responsible for disseminating and promoting its results.
In Bolivia, results from the LRIS have been taken into consideration in the 2001-2002 municipal land management plan and in the municipal development plan of Arbieto.
To make sure the project continues, FAO emphasized training as an important component. "Every institution now has trained staff that know how to use and develop these systems," says Mr. Castillo.
The CD-ROM is available to all institutions participating in the project and can be obtained by contacting Mr. Enrique Castillo at the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.
More information can also be obtained on the Web (in Spanish) at http://www.rlc.fao.org/proyecto/gcp/rla/126/jpn/
19 November 2001
Sen Award honours FAO field officers
The FAO Sen Award, created in 1967, is conferred to a field officer who has made an outstanding contribution in their country of assignment. It is named after former FAO Director-General Binay Ranjan Sen from India and is presented every two years during the FAO Conference.
The field experts honoured this year are Jean Prosper Koyo in Burundi for 2000 and Menachem Lourie in the Philippines for 2001. Mr Koyo was selected for his achievements in sustainable environmental management in Burundi, and Mr Lourie was recognized for his work to improve the livelihoods of nearly 3 million small farmers under the Philippines' comprehensive agrarian reform programme.
Jean Prosper Koyo
As Chief Technical Officer of the project, Mr Koyo promoted innovative 'people-friendly' techniques aimed at ensuring that all members of the community, especially women, learned how to care for the forest. Charcoal production and agroforestry were also taught so people could earn income.
The project succeeded in planting 36 million trees, training 60 extension workers in watershed management, and developing a centre of environmental information. A public awareness campaign brought forestry issues to the general public. Under Mr Koyo's guidance the project also pioneered the use of computerized mapping technology (GIS), which provided easy access to information on important issues ranging from resources conservation, refugee camp monitoring and health centre planning.
Mr Lourie has been working in support of the reform law as chief technical adviser to successive FAO projects in the Philippines since 1995. The projects, focusing on small farmers who have gained access to land for the first time in their lives, aim to improve incomes by encouraging farmers to grow crops which have markets identified by local agribusiness concerns. This means growing new crops using new technology, and to aid this effort Mr Lourie organized a network of field staff, local government officials and the private sector.
Farmers are supported with agricultural extension services and access to institutional credit, irrigation and post-harvest facilities. They are organized in cooperative groups to take advantage of economies of scale. Then 'market-mixing' activities bring farmers' groups and representatives of processing enterprises and other buyers together. In addition to the improvements in the lives of the farming families, the project has led to the development of new and improved roads and bridges that reduce the cost of transporting products to markets. Other support facilities, such as irrigation, have enabled production of a second crop and better access to credit, improved farm technologies and better seeds.
9 November 2001
Viet Nam's Goat and Rabbit Research Centre wins FAO's Saouma Award
The Goat and Rabbit Research Centre in Viet Nam's Hatay Province has won this year's Edouard Saouma Award for its contribution to improving the well-being of poor farmers by improving milk production. The Award was established in 1993 to recognize a national or regional institution that has implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme. Named after Dr Edouard Saouma, FAO Director-General from 1976 to 1993, the award carries an honorarium of $25 000.
The Goat and Rabbit Research Centre, a subdivision of the National Institute for Animal Husbandry, was founded in 1978 as a rabbit research centre. In 1993 its breeding programme was expanded to include goats.
Difficulties in Viet Nam's dairy industry, including reliance on imported livestock and the threat of competition from low-cost imports, has made goat's milk products a logical alternative to cow's milk to enhance rural nutrition and generate cash. But although the potential for goat milk production in Viet Nam is very large, farmers, especially in poor, rural areas, lack the technical know-how to develop and introduce milk processing.
The FAO assistance to the Goat and Rabbit Research Centre was initiated to increase goat milk production using available local resources. FAO provided short-term assistance in the form of practical training in improved production methods. Focussed market research revealed that the best returns would be gained from targeting high income consumers in Hanoi, and strict controls were imposed to ensure that the goats' cheese produced at the Centre met the standards of this small, but lucrative, segment.
The Centre won the award by demonstrating its ability to motivate its staff as well as farmers and to maintain excellent relations with trainers. The Centre was particularly successful in transferring its simple technologies to farmers in the area, based on efficient extension work. The result was targeted marketing of high-quality goat cheese which raised incomes up to 50 percent for households in the project area and beyond.
The project has triggered considerable positive ripple effects. Several institutions involved in poverty alleviation in Asia, such as the German development agency GTZ in Viet Nam and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development in India, have replicated the project approach in their activities.
9 November 2001
New database on organic fertilizers and other products
FAO has just released a new database on commercially available organic fertilizers and water-retaining products.
Continued depletion of plant nutrients and organic matter in the soil and inadequate availability of soil moisture for crop growth, especially under dryland conditions, are major problems affecting sustainable crop production in many countries. The use of organic fertilizers and water-retaining products, where economically viable, may help overcome these constraints and improve land productivity.
The database, available via the FAO Web site, lists the following information: type of product, product name, manufacturer's contact information, country of production, product description, statement of uses and benefits, product assessment, price and package size. The data, provided by the product manufacturers, have been organized into four product types: organic fertilizers, organo-mineral fertilizers, organic amendments and water-retaining products. Users may search the database by product type or by country of production. A brief introduction to the database and definitions of the various types of products are also included.
The aim of the database, produced by FAO's Land and Plant Nutrition Management Service, is to make available to farmers, extension services, agricultural research centres, education institutes, decision makers and others a list of commercially available products. The items included in the database are not comprehensive and the choice of items does not constitute an endorsement by FAO of the products or their manufacturers. The database will be updated with additional information from producers as it is received.
Click here to access the database.
2 November 2001