agriculture

FAO Says E45m Need for Swazi Farmers

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says that a total investment of E45 million is needed by farmers for tractor drawn implements that are compatible with conservation agriculture (CA) over the next three years.
 
FAO’s Khanyisile Mabuza says such a development will lead to better use of tractors with reduction in tractor hours per household up to 60 percent.
 

Smartphones and Internet Boost Farming

Wider smartphone and Internet access has allowed technology firms to reach remote African farmers with apps providing veterinary diagnoses, crop planting guidance and virtual marketplaces.
 
The growth of Africa's middle-class combined with a fall in the prices of technology has opened up opportunities for investment in farms on the world's poorest continent.
 
Africa's farms have failed to cash in because of a lack of access to infrastructure, training, capital and rapidly advancing technology.
 

Women in Agriculture: Mary Learns to Protect Her Livestock

“The real cause of hunger is the powerlessness of the poor to gain access to the resources they need to feed themselves.” - Frances Moore Lappé

Mary Choombwa is a 65 year old widow and subsistence farmer who lives in Mwonze, about 200kms from Lusaka, Zambia. Over the years, Mary lost all the 12 herds of cattle which she owned to tick-borne diseases. Mary recalls; “When the cattle died it was painful. They were my wealth. We used them for ploughing and drawing our carts. Now overnight, I was left with nothing.”

Thanda: Financial and Administration Manager

Thanda is an NPO on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal that empowers rural communities to create change. Thanda offers educational and feeding support through after-school programmes in the local schools and provides agricultural training while also developing markets for local organic produce. Thanda built the first library in the municipality and has a centre that is 100% green. In 2013 Thanda was awarded the Mail & Guardian Investing in Life Award as well as the Southern Africa Trust Drivers of Change Award.

Gates Criticised for Spending Less on Africa

According to John Vidal, African non-governmental organisations received just four percent of Bill Gates’ money for agriculture work, with 75 percent for United States organisations.

Vidal says that most of the US$3 billion that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given to benefit hungry people in the world’s poorest countries has been spent in the United States, Britain and other rich countries, with only around 10 percent spent in Africa.

Mining, Biofuels, Require Efficient Farms

Mining and biofuels are competing with agriculture for land in South Africa, putting pressure on farmers to become more efficient, particularly through the use of technology.

Head of agribusiness at Standard Bank, Nico Groenewald, notes that as a result, South Africa’s commercial farmers are consolidating into fewer and larger operations to achieve economies of scale and remain profitable.

Lack of Funding Cripples ARC

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC), which received a grant of R866-million in 2013/14, 16 percent more than the previous year, was established in 1990 to be the country’s primary agricultural scientific research institution, but has suffered from years of neglect and underfunding.

In its annual report, the ARC paints a picture of an organisation suffering from chronic underfunding and trying to do the best with the resources available.

NGOs Our Only Hope - Villagers

According to Moses Matenga, one thing Chivi villagers in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo province would want to quickly forget is the ravaging drought that ate away their livestock in 2012.

In his article titled ‘NGOs our only hope – villagers’, Matenga states that from the hunger of 2008 that forced them to compete for chakata (a wild fruit) with donkeys to the menacing dry spell of 2012-13, the villagers and their counterparts from the southern region do not want, never again, to see their livestock dying from hunger.

Small-Scale Farmers Risk Losing Farms

Scores of small scale farmers in Jozini, northern KwaZulu-Natal, are at risk of losing their farms.

According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Ayanda Mhlongo, more than 20 farmers have already lost their farms due to alleged corruption and mismanagement by Mjindi - a government appointed management entity.

Mhlongo says the farmers claim to have lease agreements on the land, adding that other farmers also allege government promised them farming implements, withheld by Mjindi, resulting in dying crops.

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