August 2010


Brazil has revolutionised its own farms. Can it do the same for others?

An interesting article in the Economist on the transformation of farming systems in the cerrado of Brazil. Certainly addressing food security at global level but may be not equity, the future of small scale enterprises and other social and environmental issues…  To put in parallel with technical models linked to land deals (grabs) in Africa?

A related story: the recent and ambitious development partnership plan aiming at strengthening agricultural collaboration between Africa and Brazil which was launched at the 5th FARA/ African Agriculture Science Week in Burkina Faso on 21 July.

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From Science Blog 26/08/10

Cattle grazing maize residues after harvest in Zimbabwe. Photo: Sabine Homann

As climate change intensifies drought conditions in Africa and sparks fears of a new cycle of crippling food shortages, a study released today finds widespread adoption of recently developed drought-tolerant varieties of maize could boost harvests in 13 African countries by 10 to 34 percent and generate up to US$1.5 billion in benefits for producers and consumers.

Read the full story

SLP Comments: Benefits of drought tolerant maize by-products/crop residues should also be addressed as the technology is mainly targeting mixed crop-livestock smallholders

by Place F, Roothaert R, Maina L, Franzel S, Sinja J and Wanjiku J.

Abstract
The objective of this study is twofold, to demonstrate (1) the effects of fodder shrubs on milk production and their value at the household and regional level and (2) the contribution of research by the World Agroforestry Centre toward strengthening the impact of fodder shrubs. The study is a synthesis of previous studies related to dissemination, adoption and impact combined with two new analyses, one quantitatively measuring the impact of the shrubs through econometric analysis and the other a qualitative analysis to better understand constraints on adoption and gender issues related to participation and control of benefits from fodder shrubs. Among the study findings are that fodder shrubs have been widely adopted in East Africa, by an estimated 205,000 smallholder dairy farmers by 2005. Women were active in planting shrubs, as monitoring found almost half of planters to be women. Several studies have confirmed that shrubs do have an impact on milk production. While feeding trials have found that 1 kilogram of calliandra increases milk production by 0.6–0.8 kilograms, a new survey of farmers’ perceptions in Kenya found the effect to be about half as large after controlling for the effects of breeds, season and other feeds. Whether the effect is the lower or higher estimate, the overall impact of theshrubs in terms of additional net income from milk is high, at US$19.7 million to $29.6 million in Kenya alone over the past 15 years.

Full report in pdf