Friday, 24 May 2013


LAGOS: FARMING IN A MEGA CITY: Knowing that farming is a lucrative business in Lagos can be shocking information to many residence and visitors, who are full o...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Kid Farmers story..

an image

Fort Scott, Kan. - Waking up every morning at 5 am to feed her bucket calf before school is just a normal part of Katie Brown's day. While most 11-year-olds are still sleeping, Katie wakes up, puts on her boots and tends to her infant calf to feed it its first bottle of milk for the day.

"I love animals and I love raising them," she said. "I have been helping my parents with their cows for as long as I can remember and they are fun and fascinating to me."

Katie is part of a three-generation cattle-breeding family and hopes to continue the family legacy. She and her family operate 700 acres near Fort Scott, Kan., raising primarily limousin cattle for beef. She received her first calf from her grandfather, Shorty Brown, when she was only seven years old and has since successfully raised 12 on her own. When they are mature enough, she takes them to auction, using the profit to pay down her USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Rural Youth Loan and invests the remainder in her college savings account.

Katie was approved for her Rural Youth Loan with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Katie applied for and was approved for $2700 to purchase two cow and calf pairs. This was her second Rural Youth Loan, the first totaled $4500, which she used to purchase three cow and calf pairs, and feed. Having successfully made on-time payments, she was eligible for this second loan amount. Allocation of the funds from ARRA helped expedite her loan request and she was able to quickly purchase her animals for raising and eventual breeding.

Katie receives education and guidance on breeding and raising calves from multiple sources, including her parents and her 4-H counselor. She has been a member of the Pawnee Chapter of the 4-H Club for over five years. Katie takes her role in 4-H very seriously and invests countless hours building her experience and knowledge to hopefully one day become a veterinarian.

"I intend to keep raising cows and learning everything there is to know about this business for years to come," added Katie.

Katie's hard work and early mornings have paid off, having been awarded five different county fair prizes for her calves - three of which were "Best of" ribbons. She is also an avid sportsman, competing in air rifle competitions, and hunts doves and wild turkey with her father and stepbrother.

Monday, 13 May 2013


Within the developing agenda of Ghana, agriculture is identified as one of the economic pillars. The nexus/connection between agriculture development and Ghana’s ability to achieve its food and nutrition security goals are inextricably linked. Agriculture is important to the development of any nation, Ghana being no exception. Development must include the youth and therefore the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) seeks to encourage their participation in the agricultural sector. This effort seeks to change the negative perception the youth have of participation in agriculture, (farmers) as uneducated, unskilled, physical labourers with extremely low economic return. Modern agriculture is more than tilling the soil and animals. The sector today offers career opportunities in research, environment, financial management, engineering and other technical areas for the youth to explore.
The introduction of the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP) is necessary and vital to facilitate food and nutrition security because of the following reasons but not limited to:
A Combine Harvester on a Block Farm at Savelugu
  • There is compelling evidence of ageing farmer population in the country which must be addressed to facilitate sustainability in agriculture production. The average age of farmer in Ghana is 55 years and life expectancy averages between 55 – 60 years.
  • Ghana’s food import bill for rice, cooking oil, frozen chicken and meat (have become staple food) continues to rise. If this trend continues the availability of food in Ghana in the near future will depend on imports making the country vulnerable to catastrophic events and other exogenous shocks that have negative impact on food  production from external source. The youth is strategic to the success of any effort to boost Ghana’s food production.
  • The poor image of persons involved in agriculture, especially in the rural communities needs to be changed and the youth are the  ideal catalyst such change given their greater prosperity and wiliness to adapt new ideas, concept and technology which are all important to changing the way agriculture is practiced and perceived.
  • Increased employment particularly rural employment is required as youth unemployment is on the increase.
  • Increase productivity in agricultural sector depends on the youth who compromise about 20 – 30 of Ghana’s active population. Their energy and numbers provide tremendous opportunities for increasing agricultural productivity.
  • YIAP provides productive alternatives for the engagement of the youth to reduce crime and other social problems.
  • Diversified, modern farming practices.
  • New crop varieties and animal strains/breeds.
  • Less soil pollution since there will be regular advice and supervision from MOFA.
  • Reduction in rural-urban migration.

Youth on a Block Farm at Savelugu
The Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP) is a Government of Ghana (GOG) agricultural sector initiative with an objective of motivating the youth to accept and appreciate farming/food production as a commercial venture, thereby taking up farming as a life time vocation.
The YIAP has the task and responsibility of mobilizing the youth to take up farming and its other related activities as life time vocation. By so doing the following benefits will be derived from the employment for the youth, through the provision of tractor services and agro – inputs;
The youth in Agriculture Programme has the objective of
  • Making youth accept farming as a commercial business venture;
  • Generate appreciable income to meet farmers domestic and personal needs;
  • Youth will improve their standard of living-through improved income.
  • Youth will be motivated to stay in rural areas, as inputs will be delivered at their farm gate, on credit basis and interest free,
  • Produce enough food crops, meat and fish using modem methods.
Components of the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP)
The Youth in Agriculture has four (4) components namely:
i. Crops / Block Farm
ii. Livestock and Poultry
iii. Fisheries/Aquaculture and
iv. Agribusiness
Crops/Block Farm
This System has two sub-components, general crops and the block farm Block Farm, under this Scheme, state land or land acquired from chiefs or private individuals is ploughed and shared in
Block Farm Rice and Combine Harvester
blocks among ; young farmer under supervision of MOFA staff. For now, the crops under YIAP include maize (seed and grain), sorghum, soybean, tomato and onion.
Other enterprises will be included as the programme expands. Under the block farm, YIAP provides farmers with tractor services, inputs at subsidized prices all on credit and at interest free. The land is ploughed and shared amongst young farmers in blocks. In the long run, big commercial farmers are to be made from Block Farm and the other component of the Youth in Agric Programme.
With regard to the general system, farmers clustered in an area may be considered under the programme. At the end of the season, farmers are expected to repay the facility in kind. This system takes care of their marketing responsibilities and post harvest loses. Farmers may sell their produce to the Buffer Stock Company established by MOFA or’ any customer of their choice.
Livestock and Poultry
This component targets young unemployed men and women to take to production of livestock and poultry (broilers layers, guinea fowls and piggery to begin with. Beneficiary youth will be assisted with day old chicks in the case of broilers, layers and guinea fowls, They will be provided with housing, feeding, drugs and vaccine, utility until they are weaned off the programme in about a year.
Similarly breeding sows and pigs together with the other inputs will be provided. There is a programme for other animals such as cattle, sheep and goats and other stocks such as rabbit and grasscutter will be added. Since animal production is a specialized area, participating farmers will be trained.
The Youth in Aquaculture Programme is first of all being driven by the demand for healthy fish and inadequate domestic fish production. Traditional harvest fisheries are cither fully exploited or near full exploitation and cannot meet the increasing demand for seafood.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Africa needs innovation in agriculture to develop

Agriculture and economic development
Much of our understanding of the link between agriculture and economic development tends to use a linear approach. It is seen as a source of inputs into the other sectors. Resources, skills and capital are presumed to flow from agriculture to industry.
But this linear view is being replaced by a more sophisticated outlook, which suggests continuing interactions between it and other sectors in ways that are mutually reinforcing. Indeed, the relationship is interactive and associated with uncertainties that defy causal association.
Over the last 30 years, yields and poverty have remained stagnant, so prioritising agricultural development could return significant, interconnected benefits. It is widely acknowledged that institutions play an important role in shaping the pace and direction of technological innovation, in particular, and economic development, in general.
Emerging evidence supports the importance of entrepreneurial leadership in promoting agricultural innovation as a matter of urgency and not waiting until the requisite institutions are in place. This is not to argue that institutions and policies do not matter. To the contrary, they do and should be the focus of leadership. What is important is that the focus should be on innovation.
Science, technology and engineering
Though faced with enormous technological challenges, African countries have access to a larger pool of scientific and technical knowledge. They can utilise the knowledge and know-how that has been amassed globally in their efforts to improve their access to and use of technology.
Advocates of scientific and technical research in developing countries have found champions in the innovation platforms of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technology (ICT), and geographic information systems (GIS). Through these four platform technologies, Africa has the opportunity to promote its agenda concurrent with advances made in the industrialised world.
Agricultural innovation systems
Agriculture is treated like other sectors, each with their own distinctive institutions and with little regard for their relationship with the rest of the economy. But these approaches conceal important linkages.
A more realistic view is to treat economies as “systems of innovation.” The process of technological innovation involves interactions among a wide range of actors in society.
Government, private sector, universities and research institutions are important parts of a larger system of knowledge and interactions that allows pursuit of common goals in agricultural innovation.
In many countries, the state still plays a key role in directing productive activities but the private sector is an increasingly important player in adapting existing knowledge and applying it to new areas.
Enabling infrastructure
Unlike other regions, Africa’s poor infrastructure represents a unique opportunity to adopt new approaches in the design and implementation of infrastructure facilities. One most neglected aspect of infrastructure investments is their role in stimulating technological innovation.
Roads, water facilities, airports, seaports, railways, telecommunications networks, and energy systems represent just a portion of the web of national and regional infrastructure necessary for food security, agricultural innovation, and agriculture-based economic development.
Countries and regions must create strategies that recognise how each area is linked to the next, and investments must, in many cases, pool regional resources and cross international borders.
Transport infrastructure is critical to move inputs to farms and products to market; irrigation is essential for increasing yields and crop quality; energy is a vital input, particularly for value-added food processing; and telecoms are critical for farming, market, and weather information.
Alone, however, none of these investments will produce sustainable innovation or growth in agriculture. National and regional investment strategies will be needed to pool resources, share risks, and attract the private actors to substantial investments in such ventures.
Human capacity
Education and human capacity building in Africa have many well-publicised problems. Many school systems focus little on teaching students to maximise the opportunities available to them in their own communities; and rather, tend to prioritise skills less applicable to village life and encourage children to aspire to join the waves of young people moving to urban areas.
For some, this leads to success, but for many more, it leads to unfulfilled aspirations. There are missed opportunities to learn crucial skills that will allow them to be more productive and have a better standard of living in their villages. It also results in nations passing over a chance to increase agricultural productivity, self-sufficiency, and human resources among their populations.
The creation of agricultural enterprises represents one of the most effective ways to stimulate rural development. Economic change entails the transformation of knowledge into goods and services through business enterprises. In this respect, creating links between knowledge and business development is the most important challenge facing agricultural renewal in African countries.
The development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been an integral part of the development of all industrialised economies. This holds true in Africa.
Building these enterprises requires development of pools of capital for investment; of local operational, repair, and maintenance expertise; and of a regulatory environment that allows small businesses to flourish. Africa must review its incentive structures to promote these objectives.
A range of government policy structures is suitable for creating and sustaining enterprises. Policy makers also need to ensure that educational systems provide adequate technical training. They need to support agribusiness and technology incubators, export processing zones, and production networks as well as sharpen the associated skills through agribusiness education.
Governing innovation
Regional integration is a key component of enabling agricultural innovation because it dismantles three barriers to development: weak national economies; a dependence on importing high-value or finished goods; and a reliance on a small range of low-value primary exports, mainly agriculture and natural resources.
These difficulties become more extreme when farmers have to get their crops across international borders to reach markets where sales are profitable.The inability to sell crops, or being forced to sell them at a loss because of high transport costs, prevents farmers from making investments that would increase the quantity and quality of their production.
Since any increase will not add to their own well-being, and the excess crops may go to waste. This is a problem where national governments and regional cooperation offer the best solution.
Looking ahead
A new vision for Africa’s agricultural transformation should be guided by new concepts that define the continent as a learning society. This shift will entail placing policy emphasis on emerging opportunities such as renewing infrastructure, building human capabilities, stimulating agribusiness development, and increasing participation in the global economy.
The author is a professor at Harvard University who delivered a public lecture in Kampala recently. This article is derived from his book from which he based his lecture.
The women factor
About 36 per cent of all African labour potential is used in subsistence agriculture. If they could have access to methods of improving techniques, increasing production, and ability to transform agriculture into an income earning endeavour.
Decision makers should also look for ways to foster human capacity to make agricultural innovations outside of a traditional classroom. Governments and schools should treat agriculture as a skill to be learned, valued, and improved upon from early childhood through adult careers instead of as a last resort for people who cannot find the resources to move to a city and get an industrial job.
UNESCO estimates that only 45% of women in Africa are literate compared to 70% of men; 70% of African women do not complete primary school, and only about 1.5% of women achieve higher education. The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa

Africa’s food policy needs sharper teeth

To boost African agriculture, governments need to invest 10 per cent or more of their budgets in the sector

To boost African agriculture, governments need to invest 10 per cent or more of their budgets in the sector. 
Photo: Africa Media Online/Eimage Agency/Brandon Fisher
Amid raving economic forecasts that Africa will be the next big emerging market, chronic food shortages remain stubbornly immune to solutions. The African Union is aware of this weak link and is working to convince its members to boost investments in agriculture. 
It's a tall order. But there are signs of progress, thanks in part to an innovative plan by the AU’s development agency, NEPAD, called the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). 
CAADP’s message is simple but powerful: More investments in agriculture will end hunger and lift millions out of poverty. The programme has several elements, but the best-known requires signatories to spend at least 10 per cent of their budgets on agriculture. To date, 30 countries have signed up. 
CAADP’s scorecard so far is mixed. Some countries are still grappling with the teething troubles of translating its plans into action. But those that have faithfully followed the programme are seeing positive changes. 
CAADP is a noble idea. Yet it suffers from two major weaknesses: It doesn’t have enough money to back its plan and it has no power to compel members to adopt its recommendations. 
Take the European Union’s farm subsidy programme, the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), for instance, which was created in response to severe food shortages in Europe back in the 1950s. CAP has money — in 2010 it was gobbling up about 40 per cent of the EU’s budget — and the power to impose conditions on members that get subsidies. True, EU subsidies hurt farmers in poor nations, but they have raised the incomes of EU farmers and produced more quality food for consumers. 
In contrast, CAADP uses moral suasion to induce members to stick to their commitments. Worse still, it relies heavily on donors for investments in countries that have signed on. Equally troubling is that a big chunk of the national budgets of most CAADP signatories comes from donors, subjecting Africa to aid cuts whenever donor economies slump or priorities shift, or when domestic African political fortunes change, as events in Malawi, Rwanda and elsewhere have clearly shown. 
CAADP can be effective, but only to the extent that signatories are committed to doing the necessary heavy lifting. To demonstrate its commitment to food security, the AU should move beyond platitudes and follow the EU’s example — make it mandatory for members to contribute to a common fund for agriculture. Each member’s contribution could be based on its ability to pay, perhaps using GDP per capita as a guide. Such a fund could then be used to reduce CAADP’s dependence on donors. 
True, setting aside a tenth of the budget for agriculture is a big deal for poor countries often faced with competing priorities. But success in agriculture reduces the pressure to finance solutions to social problems caused by hunger and poverty. Putting money into agriculture is a smart investment.