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We want wheat – Africa’s growing cereal demand | IRIN

FOOD: We want wheat – Africa’s growing cereal demand

Africa can produce more

ADDIS ABABA, 10 October 2012 (IRIN) – Bread, pies, pasta and pastries – changing African diets, the result of urbanization, are driving a demand for wheat that is pushing up import bills and complicating food security.

New research suggests the potential for African farmers to help meet that demand has been underestimated: local producers in east and southern Africa may be growing only 10 to 25 percent of the wheat that is both biologically possible and economically profitable, overlooking a potential money-spinner and hedge against global food price shocks.

The research, by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known as CIMMYT) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), found that with the “proper use of fertilizer and other investments”, 20 to 100 percent of farmlands in the 12 countries studied are ecologically suitable for profitable rain-fed wheat farming, at least according to advanced computer modelling.

The study, released at a five-day conference on wheat in Addis Ababa, demonstrates that three countries – Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda – have the best wheat potential, based on projections that take into account soil, production conditions and links to markets.

CIMMYT, the Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research, the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas, the African Union and other partners are expected to announce an initiative to boost wheat production at the conference.

Demand growing

One spur to domestic production is the size of the import bill: In 2012, African countries will spend roughly US$12 billion buying some 40 million tons of wheat from abroad, said CIMMYT.

“We are not advocating for growing wheat where good growing (climatic and soil) conditions do not exist, but rather focusing on improving conditions such as extension services, new improved varieties and application of fertilizers,” said Hans-Joachim Braun, the head of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Programme.

By 2025, about 700 million people – more than half the current African population – will live in urban areas, and the time to plan for that demographic change is now, warned Bekele Shiferaw, the lead author of the CIMMYT-IFPRI study.

''Becoming self-sufficient in wheat does not automatically imply greater food security, which is about everyone being able to access quality food''

Demand for wheat has been growing rapidly – by around 45 percent between 2000-2009 – said Nicole Mason from Michigan State University (MSU) and the lead author of a new joint study by MSU and CIMMYT examining wheat consumption in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The demand for wheat is growing at a faster pace than rice, and it has been filling the cereal deficit in Africa for some years,” said Mason.

Wheat is still overshadowed by maize in most countries, particularly among the poor in Southern Africa. However, the demand for wheat is growing in urban centres, where people are developing an appetite for mass-produced, convenient foods containing processed wheat flour. Consumers, on average, spend more on wheat than on other cereals in the cities of Lusaka and Kitwe in Zambia, Maputo in Mozambique and Nairobi in Kenya, Mason’s study shows.

Bolstering food security

Countries like Zambia have already boosted wheat production and become self-sufficient, driven by demand and profit, said Davies Lungu, a plant breeder with the University of Zambia. “A metric ton of wheat sells at $350, while maize is around $150 per metric ton in Zambia.”

Becoming self-sufficient in wheat does not automatically imply greater food security, which is about everyone being able to access quality food, noted Mason.

But easing high import bills would improve the ability of countries and consumers to ride out price shocks, said CIMMYT’s Hodson.

Wheat, first cultivated in Mesopotamia (southern Turkey, Iraq and Syria) before spreading to North Africa and Ethiopia, is also much more resilient to extreme temperatures than other staples, Braun pointed out. “It is a good investment to make against climate change.”

jk/oa/rz

Theme (s): Aid PolicyEconomyEnvironmentFood SecurityGender Issues,

 

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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Urban agriculture: Where suburbs and farms, pathogens and livestock, meet and mix.

ILRI Clippings

A dairy farm in Dagoretti, a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, where lines between city-life and farm-life are blurred (photo credit: Tristan McConnell).

Tristan McConnell reported in the GlobalPost yesterday that ‘In modern Africa, it can be hard to tell where the city ends and the countryside begins.

Rural Kenyans flocking to the city in ever-greater numbers bring their cows and crops, while the fast-growing cities sprawl outward, gobbling up fields and forests. . . . Driving toward the Nairobi suburb of Dagoretti, tall stalks of maize peak out between the neighboring walls of block apartments and banana trees peer over the tin-roofed shanties. Around corners appear little valleys patch-worked with smallholder plots known as shambas growing kale, spinach and carrots. . . .

‘This is all good, as the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute, points out. The benefits of urban livestock keeping are many: from improved food security, nutrition and health from livestock…

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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

“We must take advantage of natural endowment of parts of our countries to get the biggest bang for every dollar invested.

We are bringing to bear critical mass of resources, with partners in government, the private sector, civil society and farmers—to transform these areas into breadbaskets.”

AGRA Blog

The session, “Launching the Bread-Basket Imitative: Programs for Ghana and Mali,” heard from the government representatives of Ghana and Mali, AGRA, McKinsey & Company, as well as representatives of the World Bank and the African Development Bank, and numerous audience participants.

AGRA’s president Namanga Ngongi explained, “We must take advantage of natural endowment of parts of our countries to get the biggest bang for every dollar invested.

We are bringing to bear critical mass of resources, with partners in government, the private sector, civil society and farmers—to transform these areas into breadbaskets.”

Ghana’s Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Ahoi, presented a sweeping vision of the forces of change at work in the region, where the government and AGRA have joined forces.  The effort focuses on raising smallholder income, focusing on rice, maize and bean crops. Another target: the creation of 18,000 rural jobs related to value chain functions such as…

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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Author William Lambers

There is a struggle for survival ongoing for millions of people suffering from hunger in the Sahel region of Africa. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that “one child in five in the Sahel dies before the age of five – malnutrition is an associated cause of more than 30% of these deaths.”

The Sahel includes the countries of Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, the Gambia, and Senegal.

Drought and conflict have caused food shortages, and families can survive only with humanitarian aid as they await the next harvest. There have been some good rains recently to encourage the growing of food. These same rains have also produced flooding that has impacted over a million people in the Sahel.

Refugee Crisis from Mali Conflict

The Sahel food crisis is also complicated because of a massive flow of refugees from Mali. In Northern Mali there…

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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Egg Poultry

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Agricultura e Segurança alimentar

Will there be enough land for agricultural production to meet the food requirements of future populations?

The answer to this and other questions about land resources, climate, soils and water can be found at FAO’s new Global Agro-Ecological Zones Portal GAEZ: http://bit.ly/Oxe9MS

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    Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

     

    Participatory research for development in Africa RISING – an email exchange

    Africa RISING

    Over the last few days, in relation with an upcoming final workshop for the ‘farm scale research design‘ early win project, an interesting e-mail exchange took place between Prof. Ken Giller of Wageningen University and Dr. Jens Andersson on the proposed research for development (R4D) approach for the Africa RISING program in the Ethiopian Highlands.

    This conversation is an excellent starter for the workshop taking place on 13-14 December in Addis Ababa.

    This is the email exchange:

    Ken Giller

    “As you know I have been working on issues that you raise for many years and pushing for ‘systems based’ approaches. Sometimes we have tried to include active participatory methods in the projects we have run – with varying success…

    Some issues that your document stimulates immediately – you mention that “farmers are the principal end users for any R4D process” and – given that it is research I wonder if we can claim that…

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    Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

     
     
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