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Is high yield possible with biological approaches ?

Biological approaches such as crop residues and biomass as surface mulch; growing Gliricidia sepium on field bunds as source of nitrogen for crops; compost, vermicompost and microbial biofertilizers as soil-building elements; and sources of crop nutrients, and microbial and herbal biopesticides to protect crops have been widely reported as valuable for crop production. Scope of these approaches to meet crop nutrients and crop-protection needs in place of chemical fertilizers and pesticides was examined. Published literature and websites were scanned to look for logically sound comparisons, particularly at on-farm scale. Because farmers using organic farming practices were the major users of some (not all) of the biological approaches, we ended up comparing organic and conventional farms. Experiments with treatments of biological versus conventional inputs (e.g. chemical fertilizers) within a given experiment were the other source of relevant data for comparative performance. Discussion in this paper is restricted to marginal and small farmers in rain fed areas. From the limited evidence, it was apparent that yields comparable to conventional agriculture were harvested by using biological approaches. In addition, a substantial improvement in soil quality due to the biological approach was reported suggesting that these yields would also be sustainable.

31.05.2012
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The Economic Effects of Land Reform in Tajikistan

The purpose of this study is to analyze the economic effects of land reform policies in Tajikistan on the country’s agricultural sector and rural households. There is a conspicuous lack of evidence-based policy dialogue with the government on the effectiveness of land and agricultural policies in Tajikistan. Though the majority of rural inhabitants live in poverty and many are food insecure, a scientifically proper evaluation of the effects of land and farm policy reforms has yet to be done. The present study is an attempt to fill this void by offering a description of land reform and an analysis of its economic consequences in Tajikistan.

30.05.2012
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Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security

The purpose of these Voluntary Guidelines is to serve as a reference and to provide
guidance to improve the governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests with the
overarching goal of achieving food security for all and to support the progressive
realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security.

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A new index to assess soil quality and sustainability of wheat-based cropping systems

Sustainability index was calculated to assess soil quality under the influence of different fertilizer management practices. It is based on the area of the triangle in which nutrient index, microbial index and crop index of soil represented the three vertices of a triangle. Nutrient index reflected the nutrient status of soil and was calculated from the measurements of various soil chemical parameters. Microbial index was calculated by determining various soil microbial and biochemical activities and crop index by measuring of crop yield parameters. Eighteen soil indicators were determined to assess nutrient index, microbial index and crop index in order to compare the effect of different sources of nutrients such as green manure, farmyard manure and chemical fertilizer in a rice/corn– wheat rotation. The indices were applied to assess the sustainability of five field experiments with respect to the different fertilizer treatments. The long-term application of organic manures in rice/corn–wheat cropping system increased the index value because it increased the nutrient index, microbial index and crop index of soils. The use of only chemical fertilizers in the rice–wheat cropping system resulted in poor soil microbial index and crop index. In corn–wheat system, additional application of FYM at 10 t ha−1 before sowing corn made the system more sustainable than application of 100%NPK; the sustainability index values were 2.43 (the highest for this system) and 0.93, respectively.

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Evaluation of Crop Production Systems Based on Locally Available Biological Inputs

Crop production systems that require chemical fertilizers, pesticides, machinery for
tillage, and irrigation water are expensive. In countries such as India, they have started
to undermine the water security of future generations, contributing to soil and water
pollution particularly when synthetic pesticides are not used properly. It is true that
agriculture as practiced 100 years ago without modern inputs had lower productivity
than present systems of production. However, many premodern practices, such as the
use of organic manures to enhance soil fertility and of herbal extracts to protect crops,
can be made more efficient by the scientific knowledge that has been gained over
the past century, making crop production more sustainable while still achieving high
productivity.

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Analysis of Household Food Security in Dodoma Municipality: Planned and Unplanned Settlements Comparison

This paper analyses food security status in planned and unplanned settlements using Dodoma municipality in Tanzania as case study. Data for the study were collected from a total of 97 households through interviews using structured questionnaire. Both purposive and simple random sampling procedures were used as criteria for sample selection. Ordinary Least Regression Model was used to ascertain social and economic factors significantly influencing food security among households living in planned and unplanned settlements. Estimation was carried out using LIMDEP soft ware. The findings of the study revealed that households living in unplanned settlement are food insecure compared to their counterparts living in planned settlements. The authors concludes that this were partly due to the fact that food availability, food accessibility and nutritional aspects were relatively better in planned settlement than their counterparts in unplanned settlement; and that the situation was partly due to low purchasing power, lack of employment and lack of credits. They finally recommend that there should be improvement of purchasing power; provision of credits; provision of food assistance to vulnerable households; and promotion of diversification of economic activities.

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A food security perspective to livestock and the environment

By C. Peter Timmer, FAO, 1997. The main premise of this essay is that an early escape from hunger is not primarily the result of private decisions in response to free-market forces. Improved food security stems directly from a set of government policies that integrate the food economy into a development strategy that seeks rapid economic growth with improved income distribution. With such policies, countries in East and Southeast Asia offer evidence that poor countries can escape from hunger in two decades or less, that is, in the space of a single generation.

30.05.2012
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Food Security Strategies. The Asian Experience. FAO Agricultural Policy and Economic Development Series 3

By C. Peter Timmer, FAO, 1997. The main premise of this essay is that an early escape from hunger is not primarily the result of private decisions in response to free-market forces. Improved food security stems directly from a set of government policies that integrate the food economy into a development strategy that seeks rapid economic growth with improved income distribution. With such policies, countries in East and Southeast Asia offer evidence that poor countries can escape from hunger in two decades or less, that is, in the space of a single generation.

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Rapid Appraisal methods for the assessments, design, and evaluation of food security programs

Project managers in charge of implementing activities that address food security problems need tools to (1) identify the populations that are food insecure, (2) design interventions that address the causes of food insecurity, and (3) evaluate the impact of their interventions on the food security status of project beneficiaries. This guide illustrates how Rapid Appraisal (RA) methods can provide useful insights to the research and design of food security interventions, as well as their limitations. The degree of precision required, the characteristics of the population being investigated, the ability of fieldworkers, all of these and other aspects determine whether RA methods are appropriate in any given case. The first section of this paper presents general considerations on the advantages and disadvantages of RA methods over survey-based methods. The second section presents a set of RA tools that were tested in the field to fulfill the objectives stated above. The tools developed include community mapping, household food security ranking, conceptual mapping of food sources, seasonal food security time lines, and evaluation of intervention’s impact on food security. Each instrument is presented in a similar sequence: first, a brief introduction presents the instrument and its relevance to the study of food security; second, the tool is described in terms of its specific objectives, format, methods, and products expected. Third, examples from fieldwork experimentations are provided to illustrate its use. Additional information and key references on the procedure are added in appendixes to the