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Gendered Impacts of Conservation Agriculture and Paradox of Herbicide Use among Smallholder Farmers

Progress H. Nyanga, Fred H. Johnsen, Thomson H. Kalinda

Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly taking a central stage in agricultural policies and rural development among developing countries like Zambia. The challenge of gender gaps in agriculture has persisted despite efforts of gender mainstreaming. This paper assesses gender based impacts of conservation agriculture (CA) basins among smallholder farmers under the Conservation Agriculture Programme (CAP) in Zambia. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Quantitative data was analysed mainly by descriptive statistics and qualitative data by thematic and content analysis. Results indicated that women and children experienced reduction in labour with respect to clearing of fields before tillage and during weeding where herbicides were used correctly. Improvement in household food security was also reported. Digging of CA basins was labour intensive and the chaka hoe was heavy for women. Labour requirement for women and children was more than for men during hand weeding. Herbicides have increased labour requirements for men because they are predominantly involved in spraying. Women needed to reduce their labour during weeding but feared that the use of herbicides would increase food insecurity during hunger peak period. This was because the use of herbicides is inconsistent with the practice of mixed cropping and selection of valuable wild vegetables that were important for food security. Results suggest that usage of herbicide such as atrazine could have health concerns that may affect women more than men. Use of herbicides raises questions as to what extent CA is environmentally sustainable. Interventions in CA need to be both gender sensitive and minimise tradeoffs between health concerns, socio-economic benefits and environmental sustainability.

16.05.2012
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Food Security, Conservation Agriculture and Pulses: Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Zambia

Food insecurity is common place among 44% (six million) of Zambian population. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an option being promoted to address this problem. There is little evidence showing whether CA adopters are better than non-CA adopters in terms of food security. Using a four years panel data, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, informal discussions and personal observations, this study documents the differences in household food security between CA adopters and non-CA adopters in relation to pulses. Results showed that most common pulses grown among smallholder farmers were groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans and other beans. A tendency for the percentage of households growing pulses to be significantly higher among CA-adopters than among non-CA adopters was recorded. Cash income from pulses as percentage of total pulses production was significantly higher among CA adopters than among non-CA adopter in all the four years. Similar results were obtained for crop diversity and mean number of meals with pulses eaten in a day. Cases of women increasing their cash income from pulses because of CA practices were also reported. Focus group discussants explained that CA had reduced the intensity of food shortage during the peak hunger period because of early green harvest. With reference to pulses, it is concluded from this study that, among sampled smallholder farmers, CA adopters are relatively more food secure than non-CA adopters. Factors contributing to increased food security included farmer trainings in CA, increased access to planting seed, early land preparation and planting, and revitalisation of the practice of crop rotation.

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Africa Human Development Report 2012

The 2012 Human Development Report for Africa explores why dehumanizing hunger remains pervasive in the region, despite abundant agricultural resources, a favorable growing climate, and rapid economic growth rates. It also emphasizes that food security – the ability to consistently acquire enough calories and nutrients for a healthy and productive life - is essential for human development. 

To boost food security, it argues for action in four interrelated areas: agricultural productivity, nutrition, access to food, and empowerment of the rural poor. It asserts that increasing agricultural productivity in sustainable ways can bolster food production and economic opportunities, thereby improving food availability and increasing purchasing power. Effective nutrition policies can create conditions for the proper use and absorption of calories and nutrients. Finally, empowering the rural poor - especially women - and harnessing the power of information, innovation, and markets can promote equitable allocation of food and resources within families and across communities.

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Climate-Responsive Social Protection

In the years ahead, development efforts aiming at reducing vulnerability will increasingly have to factor in climate change, and social protection is no exception. This paper sets out the case for
climate‐responsive social protection and proposes a framework with principles, design features, and functions that would help SP systems evolve in a climate‐responsive direction. The principles comprise climate‐aware planning; livelihood‐based approaches that consider the full range of assets and institutions available to households and communities; and aiming for resilient communities by planning for the long term. Four design features that can help achieve this are: scalable and flexible programs that can increase coverage in response to climate disasters; climate‐responsive targeting systems; investments in livelihoods that build community and household resilience; and promotion of better climate risk management

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Exchanging Agricultural Market Information through SMS in Cambodia

Market information is essential for agricultural development and to improve food security, particularly for small‐scale producers and traders, who typically have limited access to, and understanding of market information and analysis.
Good market information helps ensure transparency, competitiveness and the more equitable sharing of benefits between market participants. Effective market information systems reduce information asymmetries, increase competitiveness, and improve marketing system efficiencies. For small farmers, this can help strengthen their bargaining position and improve their understanding of marketing opportunities and options. For traders, market information can help identify producers and others traders, expand their business and bargain more efficiently. Good market information is also an essential ingredient for governments to take appropriate policy decisions in support of agricultural growth and enhanced food security.

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Dominica National Export Strategy

The NES is a plan of action aimed at achieving the transformation of Dominica‟s export sector. Through this programme, the sector hopes to double its contribution to national income within the medium term, that is, from 2010 to 2014.
The strategy seeks to:

  • Create a more systematic and coordinated approach to export development by establishing a central export development management and execution framework, which includes procedures for monitoring outcomes. Such a framework would allow for enhanced synergies especially in promotion planning.
  • Undertake detailed value chain analysis to identify priority sectors with maximum potential.
  • Establish a documented policy and approach for developing exports of goods and services that have been identified to have maximum growth potential.
  • Position Dominica to respond effectively to adverse changes in the international economic environment exacerbated by trade liberalization and the erosion of preferential trade regimes.

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Gender and climate change research in agriculture and food security for rural development

This guide focuses on the household and community level and provides users with resources and tools for collecting, analysing and sharing gender-sensitive information about agricultural communities, households and individual household members who are facing climatic changes.

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Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security

Continued population growth, urbanization and rising incomes are likely to continue to put pressure on food demand. International prices for most agricultural commodities are set to remain at 2010 levels or higher, at least for the next decade (OECD-FAO, 2010). Small-scale producers in many developing countries were not able to reap the benefits of high food prices during the 2007-2008 food price crises. Yet, this upward food price trend could have been an opportunity for them to increase their incomes and food security. The opportunity that high food prices could have provided as a pathway out of poverty for small producers was not realized.
Evidence from the ground shows that when strong rural organizations such as producer groups and cooperatives provide a full range of services to small producers, they are able to play a greater role in meeting a growing food demand on local, national and international markets. Indeed, a myriad of such institutional innovations from around the world are documented in this FAO case-study-based publication. Nevertheless, to be able to provide a broad array of services to their members, organizations have to develop a dense network of relationships among small producers, between small-producer organizations and with markets actors and policy-makers.

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Rural Women and the Millennium Development Goals

This fact sheet highlights the progress of rural women against key Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators, pointing to some of the advancements made and gaps that still exist. It few exceptions, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and men for every MDG indicator for which data are available. While data collection along these lines has improved in recent years – in part because of increased donor and government interest – there still remains a general lack of data not only disaggregated by sex, but also by rural and urban areas. This has an impact on our global ability to  confidently monitor progress towardthe MDGs for all people in all regions, urban and rural, and particularly where progress is needed most.

06.03.2012
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Human Rights Translated - A Business Reference Guide

The purpose of this publication by MONASH University an UNHCHR is to contribute to this process of clarification by explaining universally recognised human rights in a way that makes sense to business.

24.02.2012