Posts Tagged ‘Development’


Agricultural Population Growth Marginal as Nonagricultural Population Soars

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The global agricultural population—defined as individuals dependent on agriculture, hunting, fishing, and forestry for their livelihood—accounted for over 37 percent of the world’s total population in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. This is a decrease of 12 percent from 1980, when the world’s agricultural and nonagricultural populations were roughly the same size. Although the agricultural population shrunk as a share of total population between 1980 and 2011, it grew numerically from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people during this period.

The world’s agricultural population grew from 2.2 billion to 2.6 billion people between 1980 and 2011. (Photo Credit: UNDP)

Between 1980 and 2011, the nonagricultural population grew by a staggering 94 percent, from 2.2 billion to 4.4 billion people—a rate approximately five times greater than that of agricultural population growth. In both cases growth was driven by the massive increase in the world’s total population, which more than doubled between 1961 and 2011, from 3.1 billion to 7 billion people.

It should be noted that the distinction between these population groups is not the same as the rural-urban divide. Rural populations are not exclusively agricultural, nor are urban populations exclusively nonagricultural. The rural population of Africa in 2011 was 622.8 million, for instance, while the agricultural population was 520.3 million.

Although the agricultural population grew worldwide between 1980 and 2011, growth was restricted to Africa, Asia, and Oceania. During this period, this population group declined in North, Central, and South America, in the Caribbean, and in Europe.

In 2011, Africa and Asia accounted for about 95 percent of the world’s agricultural population. In contrast, the agricultural population in the Americas accounted for a little less than 4 percent. Especially in the United States, this is the result of the development and use of new and innovative technologies as well as the increased use of farm machinery, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation systems that require less manual labor.



Global Meat Production and Consumption Slow Down

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By Danielle Nierenberg and Laura Reynolds

Global meat production rose to 297 million tons in 2011, an increase of 0.8 percent over 2010 levels, and is projected to reach 302 million tons by the end of 2012, according to new research conducted for our Vital Signs Online service. By comparison, meat production rose 2.6 percent in 2010 and has risen 20 percent since 2001. Record drought in the U.S. Midwest, animal disease outbreaks, and rising prices of livestock feed all contributed to 2011’s lower rise in production.

Record drought in the U.S. Midwest, animal disease outbreaks, and rising prices of livestock feed contributed to the lower rise in meat production (Photo Credit: AZ Green Magazine)

Also bucking a decades-long trend, meat consumption decreased slightly worldwide in 2011, from 42.5 kilograms (kg) per person in 2010 to 42.3 kg. Since 1995, however, per capita meat consumption has increased 15 percent overall; in developing countries, it increased 25 percent during this time, whereas in industrialized countries it increased just 2 percent. Although the disparity between meat consumption in developing and industrialized countries is shrinking, it remains high: the average person in a developing country ate 32.3 kg of meat in 2011, whereas in industrialized countries people ate 78.9 kg on average.

Pork was the most popular meat in 2011, accounting for 37 percent of both meat production and consumption, at 109 million tons. This was followed closely by poultry meat, with 101 million tons produced. Yet pork production decreased 0.8 percent from 2010, whereas poultry meat production rose 3 percent, making it likely that poultry will become the most-produced meat in the next few years.



First Peoples Worldwide Awards Over US$1 Million in Grants to Indigenous Communities

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By Sophie Wenzlau

This past July, First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) reached a milestone of US$1.2 million in grants awarded “directly to Indigenous projects, programs, and communities” around the world. First Peoples, an international, Indigenous-led advocacy organization, seeks to promote economic determination and strengthen Indigenous communities by awarding grants directly to Indigenous Peoples. To fulfill these objectives, the organization provides “Indigenous Peoples with the tools, information and relationships they need to build community capacity to leverage assets for sustainable economic development.”

First Peoples Worldwide has surpassed $1 million in grants to Indigenous organizations. (Image credit: FPW)

According to the United Nations’ State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, “Indigenous Peoples all over the world continue to suffer from disproportionally high rates of poverty, health problems, crime, and human rights abuses.” In the United States, for example, Indigenous Peoples are 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis and 62 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Worldwide, Indigenous Peoples’ life expectancy is 20 years lower than the non-Indigenous average.

Despite these sobering statistics, Indigenous Peoples are responsible for some of the most vibrant and diverse cultures on earth. Of the world’s 7,000 languages, the UN estimates that over 4,000 are spoken by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous communities are also strongholds of traditional knowledge, preserving ancient technologies, skills, and beliefs.

The grants awarded by FPW have funded innovative projects in countries like Botswana, Bolivia, Ghana, and Sri Lanka, and have focused on topics as diverse as land reclamation, water development, and traditional medicine.

In Ghana, FPW funded a project designed to prevent wild elephants from destroying farms located along the boundaries of Kakum National Park. The Association of Beekeepers in Ghana, the organization that received the grant, developed the novel idea of constructing a beehive barrier along the community’s perimeter. According to FPW, “the presence of the hives has naturally prevented elephants from crossing the grounds, and the honey production has increased income for farmers through sales, which has improved local commerce.”



What Works: Using Technology to Give Farmers Better Information

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By Jeffrey Lamoureux

For a farmer good information is time sensitive. Good information must move quickly and freely to reach those who rely on it when they make decisions. Digital technologies have revolutionized the way information travels worldwide, and the increasing availability of the mobile phone in particular is allowing better information to reach greater numbers of people than ever before. Several innovative programs are demonstrating the immense impact that simplest asset—timely and accurate information—can have on farmer’s livelihoods.

Better information allows farmers to make better decisions (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was founded in 2008 to be a clearinghouse for the country’s agricultural commodities. Comprised of a central trading floor in the capital, Addis Ababa, and regional warehouses across the country, the ECX is able to provide farmers with up-to-the-minute price information. Trades are conducted and recorded digitally, allowing instantaneous communication of prices. When a farmer delivers a harvest to the ECX’s warehouses they know they are getting the right price for it. Additionally, the ECX’s modern facilities help minimize post-harvest losses from rotting. The ECX and its founder, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, were featured in a PBS documentary following the initial days of the exchange’s life.

While the ECX is streamlining the market, in Kenya techies have been developing mobile applications to help farmers manage their land and animals. They are building on the success and popularity of the mobile banking application M-PESA, a service that allows anyone with a cell phone to transfer money domestically. The best known of these is iCow, an application that helps farmers manage their herds. The application allows farmers to register their cows, allowing them to receive individualized messages reminding them of their cow’s gestation and feeding schedules. It sends updated market prices and best practices advice, and keeps a database of experts for consultation.

In Turkey, the Agricultural Directorate is utilizing the ubiquity of cell phones to distribute critical pest and weather information to farmers. Utilizing data gleaned from meteorological stations around the country, the Directorate sends text message alerts to farmers before peak pest season and before an oncoming frost. This has allowed farmer’s to reduce the number of pesticides applied each year, and to take preventative measures to protect their crops from frost.



What Works: Aquaculture

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By Caitlin Aylward

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!

Aquaculture can be an effective means of feeding our planet and encouraging economic development. (Photo credit: Burt Lum)

As world population and incomes increase, so has the demand for fish and seafood. As of 2009, the world’s total fish production from fish caught in the wild and aquaculture reached an all time high of 145.1 million tons, a number that is only growing.

But aquaculture can be a way of procuring seafood that not only protects wild fish species and the environment, but also helps alleviate global poverty and food insecurity.

Aquaculture, in contrast with commercial fishing of wild fish, is the cultivation of fish and other aquatic life under controlled marine or freshwater environments.

According to the FAO, aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing source of animal protein, providing around half of the world’s fish supplies. From the years 2000 to 2008 alone, fish production from aquaculture has grown more than 60 percent, from 32.4 million tons to 52.5 million tons annually.



Women and Sustainability: Rio+20 Leaders and Activists Convene to Discuss the Future Women Want

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By Seyyada A Burney

Nourishing the Planet is collaborating with Women Deliver to highlight the important role of women, youth, and reproductive and sexual rights in sustainable development at the upcoming Rio+20 conference.

UN Women led a powerful forum on what is needed to boost women's rights and empowerment. (Photo credit: UN Women)

As the long-awaited ‘Future We Want’ draft was being released at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, leaders, experts, and activists were already gathering to discuss the future that women want.

Yesterday, the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women, led the first of two Women Leader’s Forums’ focused on women’s innovations and contributions to development; promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the green economy; and integrating the three pillars of sustainable development–economy, society, and the environment–into a new, inclusive development framework. Global sustainable development leaders including Mary Robinson, former President of the Republic of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Michele Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, moderated four panel discussions throughout the day. Each culminated in an interactive Q&A session that invited civil society activists from around the world to contribute their opinions and insight to the global sustainable development dialogue taking place at Rio+20, either in person or via the panel’s twitter feed (#WomenRio).



A Dam Brings Food Insecurity to Indigenous People

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By Patricia Baquero

Along its 760-kilometer course, from the Shewan highlands in southern Ethiopia, down to Lake Turkana in Kenya, the Omo River supports half a million Indigenous People from more than two dozen different tribes, including the Bodi, Karo, Muguji, Mursi, Elmolo, Gabbra, Rendille and Hamar in the Lower Omo valley and around Lake Turkana. For generations, the Indigenous People have farmed sorghum, maize and beans along the lower Omo and around Lake Turkana region, depending on the annual flooding cycle of the river. The natural ebb and flow of the Omo River provides water for agriculture, livestock, and fishing.

The Gibe III Dam, currently under construction, could exacerbate water scarcity and conflicts in the region. (Photo credit: Mark Angelo)

But since the 1970s, droughts have increased in frequency and length, bringing famine and displacing thousands of people. Water scarcity and conflicts over water resources are also likely to worsen when the Gibe III Dam project finishes in 2012. The dam is situated about 300 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa with a capacity of 1,870 MW, and can provide power to 400 million people. Ethiopia is among the countries with the lowest rates of electricity—currently, only 15 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity, and this access is mainly in cities.

But the dam potentially threatens the lives of the Indigenous farmers and fishers from the Omo-Turkana region. According to the African Resources Working Group (ARWG), the Gibe III dam will reduce the lake’s depth by about seven to ten meters in its first five years, adding to the effects of climate change, which has likely reduced the depth by about five to eight meters already. The dam will disturb the natural flooding cycle of the Omo River, eliminating the seasonal floods and the nutrients deposited along the river.



Chicago Council Evaluates U.S. Support of Agriculture Abroad

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By Laura Reynolds

The Chicago Council on Global AffairsGlobal Agricultural Development Initiative launched its 2012 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development in Washington, D.C. today.

The report assesses how successfully the United States has been in sustaining support for global agricultural development. (Image credit: The Chicago Council on Global Affairs)

The report assesses how successfully the United States has been in reinvigorating and sustaining international support for global agricultural development and food security. It details changes in funding and activity on agricultural development by U.S. departments and agencies, by the U.S. Congress, and in three focus countries—Ghana, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh—between 2009 and 2012.

Both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development receive an “outstanding” evaluation in the report, for their leadership in advancing agricultural issues amid challenging budget restrictions. The report specifically commends Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her development and support of the Feed the Future initiative, which has pledged US$3.5 billion to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture receive “good” evaluations. The report gives the Peace Corps a “satisfactory” evaluation, noting that its agriculture and environment volunteers still make up only 7 percent of the total number of volunteers in the field.

Stating that “problems of rural hunger and poverty cannot be overcome quickly,” the report urges that “the challenge in the years to come will be to maintain this strong leadership, and sustain the bipartisan support for food security and agricultural development initiatives.”



PBS reports on One Acre Fund

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This week, PBS’ Newshour featured the One Acre Fund and their work helping small farmers in East Africa. The organization supports farmers by providing them with credit, good-quality seeds and fertilizer, and insurance.

Maurice and Joyce Soita were able to send their four children to school after becoming One Acre Fund members. (Photo credit: Fred de Sam Lazaro, PBS)

The report on the One Acre Fund is part of the Food for 9 Billion project, which looks at the challenge of feeding the world in a time of social and environmental change.

Click  here to read the story and watch the full report.

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.


The Rockefeller Foundation Announces 2012 Innovation Challenge

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To mark its centennial anniversary, The Rockefeller Foundation is seeking entrants for its 2012 Innovation Challenges to solve some of our most pressing social problems, including  hunger and poverty. As many as fifteen finalists will be selected to apply for up to nine US$100,000 grants.

The Rockefeller Foundation is looking for innovations to alleviate hunger and poverty. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Challenge entrants may include individuals, organizations, or formal or informal entities, such as an association, guild, student group, or village. The deadline to enter the challenge is May 25, 2012 and finalists will be announced at The Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Forum on June 28, 2012.

Click here for more information.

Image credit: The Rockefeller Foundation




To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.