John has a very diverse and productive farm. On his 2 acre farm he grows potatoes, beans, peas and raises chickens and cows for milk. He noted that he does not produce enough to warrant trying to access the Nairobi markets and sells instead at the farm gate as well as locally into the Narok market.
Meet John (with some fresh potatoes
John has implemented several resilience strategies on his farm. He has stored enough silage for his animals to last an entire year. To store the silage he mixes wheat straw and husks, as well as maize cobs, with molasses and then compresses it under a plastic sheet and covers with soil. During the dry season when there is no grass for his animals he mixes it with Napier grass and corn.
John’s brother shows off their fodder bank
On top of this silage, he grows pumpkins. Fodder security is very important for the Koileken family. As John’s wife explained, the money earned from the sale of milk was used to pay school fees for their children (2 boys and a girl). They milk 5 cows twice a day and get about 30 litres a day. They can sell1 litre of milk for 50 Kenyan shillings. The milk is collected on the farm and money is paid once a month. His family is a member of a dairy farmer value chain of 64 daily farmers that are pushing for higher yields. They are looking into a milk cooling facility but noted that milk is in high demand so it may not be necessary. The biggest problem for John was buying hybrid cows. Such cows are desirable because of the higher milk production but he exampled they cost around 70,000 Kenyan shilling and also require a lot of extra feed.
The water tank
When it comes to crops, John told us he prefers short season crops which provide a more steady stream of income throughout the year. To support his horticultural activities, John has dug out a water tank under a field (5 feet wide, by 6 feet deep, by 40 feet long). The tank stores water that he harvests off his roof in the rainy season. The tank is simply a large hole lined with polyurethane, the top reinforced with wooden beams and then planted over. He told us that it cost him The water is clean: it is used for household and animal consumption. There is also another tank that takes overflow from the road and is used for irrigation. He told us that including labour, the tank cost 10,000 Kenyan Shillings to build.
I mentioned in a post last week that I would be providing short profiles of some of the people we met while doing field work in Kenya.
The first profile is that of Mary Kahwai, Chair of the Githunguri District Smallholder Farmers Association (Kiambu County)
Mary has cows, chickens, banana, avocado and maize. She has stated to grow Napier grass as fodder for her cows to supplement the hay.
Mary makes use of the manure produced by her cows for both biogas and for compost. The biogas is connected directly to her stove, meaning she spends less time and money collecting firewood or charcoal. The farm-level biogas plant was installed by a German NGO in 2003.
Mary gets ready to prepare tea with biogas from her cow’s manure
Mary explained that climate change has led to some big problems, especially around accessing enough water for her and her animals. This year, due to drought, she does not expect to harvest her maize.
Mary works to teach other farmers in her area about the value of using manure as fertilizer. She is also looking to work with dairy goats which require less food, as her access to grass lands is limited.
Sludge makes its way into this compost hole. The compost is then used as fertilizers for her food crops.
The High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has launched a consultation on the draft of the study: Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems.
The draft study can be downloaded here (English) and the HLPE would welcome submission of material, suggestions, references, examples, on measurement of food losses and waste, key policies, successful initiatives and cost-benefits of different options, systemic approaches and solutions to reduce food losses and waste. Please read the topic to know more, available in English, French and Spanish.
Your inputs will be used to further elaborate the final report and findings of the study will feed into CFS 41 Plenary session on policy convergence (October 2014).
CIDSE has just published a new brief on Agribusiness and Human Rights.
In this briefing CIDSE asks
what global business & human rights standards should be applied to agricultural investment in order to reach the ultimate objectives of achieving the right to food, alleviating poverty, enhancing sustainable food production and creating decent employment conditions for agricultural workers. Our aim is to outline the obligations of States and the responsibilities of business with regard to agricultural investment, by highlighting how these are defined within existing international mechanisms. The briefing is aimed at civil society organisations, particularly social movements that are affected by the impacts of business investment in their communities. As smallholder food producers bear the highest risks from these investments, the briefing seeks to provide tools to hold governments to account for their duty to protect these rights holders. It is intended to provide an overview of existing business & human rights standards that can be applied to a broad range of international agricultural policy initiatives.
They have a section on “The Need for Coherent Global Food Governance” which is perhaps of interest you some of you food governance folks!
More information here: http://www.cidse.org/content/publications/just-food/agricultural-investment/agribusiness-and-human-rights-briefing-for-social-movements.html
The WTO… what can we say? It’s complex. Here is an older but still very relevant guide to help you out: http://www.iatp.org/files/451_2_77538.pdf
The G-33 is a coalition of developing countries with large populations of smallholder farmers. They have recently proposed that WTO members seek to fast-track agreement on three paragraphs of the draft Doha accord, at the Organization’s Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013.
Some developing countries have argued that progress on agricultural trade issues is needed in order to ‘balance’ concessions on an eventual deal on ‘trade facilitation’. The aim would be to ease restrictions at customs. They argue that focusing food security could help to advance negotiations so as to achieve at least some outcomes in agriculture.
They are focused on the ‘aggregate measure of support’ (AMS) which countries have agreed at the global trade body.
FoodTank have compiled a list of 26 food activism films. Those who know me know that I really dislike watching movies. It’s not some sort of high-culture “I prefer books, I don’t own a TV” thing… I just can’t keep still that long. I usually get very frustrated that issues being presented are over-simplified. The process of watching is one-sided, leaving you as a passive observer. Despite educating and motiving people, very little social change results from the quick burst of anger that comes from watching “activisty” films although they tend to leave people feeling well educated and superior (I can lump Ted-Talks in this mix).
These are but a few reasons why I don’t like films… BUT… I know I am lame and in the minority…. so, for your viewing pleasure: http://foodtank.org/news/2013/09/twenty-six-films-every-food-activist-must-watch#.UkRHkTv3gXI.twitter
The Committee on World Food Security has a complex organizational structure. Kudos go out to Earth in Brackets and a talented young designer with a keen interest in food politics for developing this visual introduction. Given the complexity of the CFS, many are keen to continue to adapt and refine this image, but I think this is a pretty solid introduction.
Credit where credit is due: Mendez, K. April 2013. Bar Harbor: Earth in Brackets http://visual.ly/committee-world-food-security
Hello from the General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research, taking place in Bordeaux.
I have been pretty stretched over the last few weeks and haven’t had the time to blog but I thought I would post my presentation I am giving this afternoon to the Session on Food Governance. I hope to post the paper at some point soon.
The aim of the paper is to look at how increased participation in the Committee on World Food Security impacts policy outcomes.
•The CFS represents a forum with the potential to change the way food security policy is framed by changing who defines the topics and who participates in the debates
•Through the CSM-CFS, social movements translate their struggles into broader political processes
•The impact of civil society engagement has broadened the scope of debate within the CFS and expanded the scope of policies coming out of the CFS
•CFS is not immune to power politics
•CFS remains weak on technical and “big politics” issue; less willing to step back from a business-as-usual approach, here CSOs have less influence and legitimacy
BUT… so what if the policies are not taken up and implemented at regional and national level? (Future research)
All thoughts and comments most welcome.
Happy reading (I hope!)