USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Agriculture

Earth Week Series: USAID-Funded Boma National Park Headquarters Inaugurated in South Sudan

Officials from the Republic of South Sudan and United States Government on March 8 inaugurated the Boma National Park Headquarters and Boma Payam Headquarters in Jonglei State, drawing attention to the important role that the establishment of protected area management and local governance infrastructure and capacity can play in contributing to security, stability, eco-tourism development and economic growth, especially in the more isolated regions of South Sudan. This critical infrastructure was built with funding from the U.S. Government through USAID under the auspices of its partnership with the Republic of South Sudan.

Wildlife in Boma National Park includes several varieties of antelope, such as white-eared kob. Photo Credit: Michelle Barrett/USAID

Boma National Park covers 20,000 square kilometers of woodland savanna and grassland in Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states. The park protects one of the largest intact savanna ecosystems in East Africa, hosting significant wildlife populations, including elephants, giraffe, buffalo, numerous antelopes (including white-eared kob, common eland, lesser kudu, Bohor reedbuck, gazelles, tiang, Lelwel hartebeest, Beisa oryx, and roan), and an impressive diversity of migratory birds. Boma was established as a national park in 1986, when South Sudan was part of Sudan.

Jonglei State, particularly the isolated and remote regions around Boma National Park, has been marked by ongoing instability and insecurity through the continued presence of rebel militias and fighting between ethnic groups fueled by the prevalence of small arms, lack of government presence, and inaccessibility in the rainy season, due to absence of roads.

Protected area management has a critical role to play in strengthening and supporting local government and improving security in addition to protecting biodiversity and providing a sustainable foundation for economic growth. USAID and the Wildlife Conservation Society are supporting the South Sudan Wildlife Forces to undertake law enforcement and monitoring activities and to develop security partnerships with other armed forces and local communities.

U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan D. Page, who represented the U.S. Government at the event, said, “It is so important that we continue to work together to preserve this area and its wildlife, which are threatened by hasty and unplanned development, or by wildlife poachers, who would ruin a world treasure for their own short-term benefit.”

USAID Helps Palestinian Olive Farmers Improve Harvests of “Liquid Gold”

During my recent visit to Jenin, in the northern West Bank, I had the chance to visit the Canaan Fair Trade Company. With USAID assistance, Canaan is helping Palestinian growers increase their yields and tap into the rapidly growing global market in organic, fair trade products. The projects I saw showed how relatively modest investments can pay huge dividends for rural communities.

Assistant Administrator Mara Rudman sampling Palestinian delicacies while visiting Canaan Fair Trade. Credit: Ghassan Al 'Jamal, USAID/WestBank/Gaza

Growers in the hills and valleys around Jenin have been making healthy organic cold-pressed olive oil and other local delicacies for centuries. But frequent droughts and growing practices that did not always most effectively conserve an unreliable water supply, combined with a limited local market for their products, have made it extremely challenging for growers to realize substantial profits from their hard work.

By bringing together local growers to raise standards, improve packaging, and market their goods jointly under the Canaan Fair Trade brand, Canaan has helped growers to reap greater rewards from their products while producing more sustainable results and conserving the resources used in doing so. Word of their successes spread quickly and today Canaan sources its agricultural food products from a network of 49 cooperatives, providing incomes for more than 1,700 farming families belonging to the Palestine Fair Trade Association.

A machine in the Canaan Fair Trade facility affixes labels reading “Delicacies from the Land of Milk and Honey.” Photo Credit: Canaan Fair Trade

With USAID’s support, Canaan has been able to find new markets by preparing for and participating in the 2010 and 2011 Fancy Food Shows in the United States. These shows are the largest specialty food fairs in North America. Canaan’s management told me during my visit that their products are proving so popular in North America and Europe that the company is looking to expand further. To assist Canaan in this, we also have been able to partner with them on initiatives to help growers increase their yields.

Read the rest of this entry »

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (2/27/2012 – 3/2/2012)

February 27: Over the weekend, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah visited the campus of Bethel University, in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Administrator Shah praised Bethel for their commitment to international engagement and discussed USAID’s work in the areas of global health and food security. While in Minnesota, Administrator Shah also visited General Mills headquarters and recognized employee volunteers for their global citizenship.

February 27: Bloomberg highlighted the release of the “Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index,” the first ever report to measure the impact women play in food growth in developing countries. USAID was a key partner in the development of the report and the index will be applied to all programs in President Obama’s Feed the Future Initiative.

February 29: The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed written by Senator John Kerry, discussing his support for foreign aid and the work being performed by USAID and the State Department. Citing former President Ronald Reagan, Kerry writes that Reagan “knew that diplomacy and development policy neutralize threats before they become crises; manage crises if threats escalate; and assure security and stability after conflicts are resolved, all at a fraction of the cost of military deployment.”

Three Questions about the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index

The new Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) will be officially launched today during the United Nations’ 56thsession of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City. The WEAI is the first-ever measure to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector.

Chairwoman Rose Peter of the Upendo Women Growers Association in Mlandize, Kibaha, Tanzania, shows off the first batch of sweet peppers the women have grown in their new greenhouse. Photo credit: USAID/Tanzania.

The index is the product of a partnership between USAID, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) of Oxford University, in support of President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative to combat global hunger and poverty.

Paul Weisenfeld, Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Food Security at USAID, Dr. Sabina Alkire who leads OPHI, and Dr. Agnes Quisumbing, Senior Research Fellow for the Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division at IFPRI answer questions about this innovative measurement tool.

Q: What is the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index and what will it mean for the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative?

Paul: The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector to identify ways to overcome obstacles and constraints that hinder women’s engagement and equality. The Index is a significant innovation in its field and aims to increase understanding of the connections between women’s empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth. It measures the roles and extent of women’s engagement in the agriculture sector in five domains: (1) decisions about agricultural production, (2) access to and decision-making power over productive resources, (3) control over use of income, (4) leadership in the community, and (5) time use. It also measures women’s empowerment relative to the men within their households.

The WEAI was developed to track the change in women’s empowerment levels that occurs as a direct or indirect result of interventions under Feed the Future.  The U.S. Government sees the inclusion of women in agricultural sector growth as a key component of the Feed the Future strategy.  We are paying close attention to gender integration at the country-, program-, and project-level, and trying to get it right at every stage of the initiative.  This is where the Index plays a critical role; we want to continue to study, assess, and monitor how our approaches impact women, men, and their engagement in overall agricultural sector growth.

Q: What makes the WEAI so innovative?

Sabina: The WEAI is the first index to directly capture women’s empowerment in agriculture and provides invaluable tools for empowering women and improving gender equality.

The WEAI reveals the areas such as time burdens, community leadership, and control over income and resources, where women are most disempowered. It also shows whether an ‘empowerment gap’ exists between women and men from the same household.

And because it gets closer in, it also transforms our understanding of who is empowered. Until now, wealth and education have been taken as signs of how empowered women are. The WEAI gives a more precise picture. Pilot results from Guatemala, for example, show that 76% of the sample region’s wealthiest women are disempowered in agricultural empowerment. The index is constructed using an adaptation of the Alkire Foster method for measuring multidimensional poverty.

Q: If we’re seeing that wealth and education don’t necessarily mean “empowerment” for women, then what does empowerment mean in the context of agricultural development?

Agnes: It means a woman is able to make decisions, access the tools she needs, obtain a loan if she needs to buy inputs to expand production, join a women’s group, and take on leadership roles to advance agricultural production and tackle shared problems in the community. It means that she can control her income, better manage her time, and make sure she remains healthy and productive in her multiple roles. These factors enable a woman to do things such as produce food for her family; identify and help raise awareness to address problems affecting output – like crop disease or drought –helping communities cope with unexpected shocks; bring her products to market; and have the opportunity to both advance and benefit from economic growth opportunities. 

All of this increases women’s bargaining power within her household and her ability to decide how she’ll spend her income. Our work at IFPRI has shown that women are more likely to spend additional income on their children’s health, nutrition, and education, as well as on other investments that ultimately result in dividends that advance the broader community. We know that empowering women is not only the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do. It helps advance families, communities, and the broader global good.

Learn more about the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index

 

Picture of the Week

This 3-day old male calf was produced through artificial insemination trainings conducted by the USAID Agriculture Technology Program in Turkmenistan. The breed is a mix between local Brown Swiss (mother) and pure bred Brown Swiss. Photo credit: Zulya Achilova

 

Photo of the Week

Climbing the apricot tree in their garden, these children are happy to be surrounded by a successful harvest. USAID's Productive Agriculture program helps farmers increase production and processing of agricultural products in Western Khatlon, around Dushanbe, and the Sughd Regions of Tajikistan. Photo: USAID Productive Agriculture program

 

What “Capacity Development” Means to Me

This week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah attended the Annual Meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in San Francisco. U.S. universities share a long history of close partnership with USAID, including collaboration on agricultural capacity development activities in the developing world. See below how some of this work is reaching women researchers in Africa.

The majority of those who produce, process, and market Africa’s food are women, yet only one in four agricultural researchers is female. As an agricultural scientist from Mozambique, I am part of a growing movement to increase the number of female researchers who can help respond to the global challenges of food insecurity and hunger.

I completed my MSc degree part-time so that I could stay close to my children and support their studies and development. Now that they have grown up, I am hoping to attain my PhD and am participating in some of the unique programs offered to researchers like me so that we can pursue our long-term goals. For me, that goal is empowering rural women through informal agricultural education that will enhance their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities as a whole.

African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a professional development program supported by USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science. As an AWARD Fellow, I am working to improve the livelihoods of those living in my country’s rural communities through the dissemination of agricultural technologies, using innovation platforms for technology adoption in maize and other crops – a method that involves all actors in the value chain – and at the same time testing the use of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for both humans and livestock. This sweet potato variety helps reduce vitamin A deficiency in children under 5 years old and can improve food security not just in Mozambique, but also throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Its use for livestock can reduce the cost of animal feed, providing additional benefits to smallholder farmers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Engaging Universities to Address the Global Food Security Challenge

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a national association of 217 state university systems, land-grant universities, and related organizations across all 50 states. This week, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and several Agency representatives are attending APLU’s Annual Meeting, the premier annual summit for senior leaders of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state universities.

USAID has enjoyed a long and productive history of partnerships with U.S. universities — partnerships that are critical to our success in many areas and dating back to our very founding 50 years ago. These institutions’ education, research, and engagement missions directly align with USAID’s charge to help people overseas struggling to make a better life. USAID partnerships with U.S. universities have focused on research and graduate training for promising young developing country scientists and on strengthening colleges and universities abroad to create the next generation of agricultural leaders. Together, we have made great progress. But there is still so much more to be done.

Read the rest of this entry »

From Seed to Harvest: Supporting the Next Generation of Leaders to Reduce Global Hunger

This week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is attending the Annual Meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in San Francisco. USAID shares a long history of close partnership with U.S. universities, including collaboration on agricultural capacity development activities in the developing world. See below how some of this work is reaching women researchers in Africa.

Last month, I was honored to have the opportunity to attend the 2011 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa as a fellow in the Borlaug 21st Century Leadership Program. The event saw participation from hundreds of leaders and experts in policy, industry, and research from all over the world, convened there to discuss global food security and agriculture.  Throughout the week, I encountered countless high-powered individuals who have been working tirelessly to achieve global food security by facilitating increased production among small-scale farmers.  They have made a compelling case for improving the effectiveness of U.S. investments in global food security and for addressing the troubling gap between population growth and food production.

An example of these investments to build long-term food security, my own research through the Borlaug Program has focused on an important aspect of the food supply: pre- and post-harvest losses.  From the time that seeds are planted to the time that farmers harvest and store their crops, good farming practices are essential to agricultural productivity.  Food security is compromised when farmers plant damaged seeds, leading to unviable crops; when poor farming practices result in a poor crop yield; or when improper storage and loss of crops prevent farmers from reaping the rewards of months of hard work.  Therefore, one clear way to help reduce global hunger is to reduce pre- and post-harvest losses.  My goal is to be able to find a lasting solution to the problem of postharvest grain storage faced by the farmers in my home country of Nigeria.

Read the rest of this entry »

USAID Supports South Sudan’s First Agricultural Trade Fair

Angela Stephens is a Development Outreach and Communications Officer in the Africa Bureau.

In South Sudan, farmers, researchers, and the private sector are coming together with the help of USAID to showcase the new nation’s agricultural potential.

On November 9 to 12, USAID supported the first agricultural trade fair in Juba, South Sudan. National and international entrepreneurs came to learn about opportunities in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, and forestry. Farmers from 10 different states showcased their products, including items such as cassava, bamboo, flowers, beeswax, gum arabic, fruit, vegetables, and dried fish. Among displays of tractors and farm equipment, students learned about the agricultural industry and experts demonstrated planting and irrigation techniques at interactive exhibits.

“Agriculture affects every citizen of South Sudan, a nation in which more than 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and forestry for their livelihood,” said USAID Deputy Mission Director Peter Natiello at the opening of the fair.

Republic of South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny welcomed farmers and exhibitors who came from across South Sudan and the region to attend the fair. As an example of South Sudan’s enormous potential, Vice President Machar described how rich Western Equatoria state is in its agricultural production, including mangoes and pineapple, but farmers face challenges in bringing their goods to market. “This is where we need investors to come in who can buy products and preserve them, either process it locally, can it, or dry it, and then send it to the areas that do not produce these products,” he said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Page 10 of 16:« First« 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 »Last »