Age of the farmer

original post entitled ‘idealistic young farmers are using small-scale organic farms to save the dying agriculture industry’ was posted at theplaidzebra

In Uganda, young people are not too thrilled about the agriculture sector, and since at some point it was /is used as punishment in schools, most young people tend to look to agriculture as a punishment. This makes it rather difficult to convince them that the future of the country lies in agriculture, and the opportunities are endless along various value chains.

There have been sighted cases where a young person inherits land either from a parent, relative, etc. The land which should be seen as an opportunity, turns into a burden for them. They lack the means and capital to make something of the land, and in some cases, the young person does not know what to  do with the land.  Some young men therefore have sold their land and moved to the city, hereby contributing to the increasing rural-urban migrations in major sub-Sahara African cities. The increased migrations by both young and old are pressing more pressure on family farms, deprived of the labor and knowledge to cultivate the land.

According to the original article by Jonathan Moss, Family farms, which are the foundation of life in North America, are faced with disinterested youth who have been accused of suffocating the industry. Today, the average age of a farmer in America is 57 years. Currently, only six percent of farmers are under the age of 35. We have a greying farming population that, “if left unchecked, could threaten our ability to produce the food we need, and also result in a loss of tens of thousands of acres of working lands that we rely on to clean our air and water” says Secretary Vilsack at The Drake Forum on America’s New Farmers.

The future of agriculture in North America lies with the youth. And it is in this same spirit that  Director Spencer MacDonald and photojournalist Eva Verbeeck travelled from Portland to Vancouver to work and live with young first generation farmers across North America who run small scale organic farms. For the film Age of the Farmer they document the dirty hands, worn boots and sun pressed skin of young farmers in an attempt to help the agriculture sector return to its former power.

Watch a section of the film here

Could this be a way forward in fixing some of the broken links in our food system and being able to make a connection to the food we eat?

Wakulima Young Uganda at the Master Card Foundation ‘Youth Africa Works 2015’

On October 29 and 30, 2015, The MasterCard Foundation hosted its first Young Africa Works Summit: Practical Solutions for Lifelong Success, in Cape Town, South Africa. And Wakulima Young Uganda was honored to be invited to the event.
This invite-only event brought together a community of 300 thought leaders from NGOs, government, funders and the private sector committed to developing sustainable youth employment strategies in Africa. It also directly involved young people to help understand and explore their journeys, including the challenges they face, in securing meaningful economic opportunities.
This year’s Summit focused on best practices and effective approaches for preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in agriculture. Sub-themes included demand-driven skills development, mixed livelihoods and youth financial services.
During the summit, The MasterCard Foundation released preliminary findings from innovative research conducted over the past six months into youth employment behavior in Africa, where 600 million people are under the age of 25 and 72 percent of its youth live on less than US$2 per day. The Youth Livelihoods Diaries research highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to as they try to achieve sustainable livelihoods.
“There is a distinct lack of research into the daily lives of African youth as they seek secure, safe and better paid work,” said Ann Miles, Director of Programs, Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at the Foundation. “The agricultural sector is set to create eight million stable jobs by 2020 and up to 14 million if the sector is accelerated. We believe it has to feature prominently in development plans for the continent if we hope to achieve a prosperous future for young Africans.”
Preliminary findings of the Youth Livelihoods Diaries research project indicate that:
1. Young people in Africa need to have multiple jobs to survive. Although many of them pursue various micro-business ideas, they often find themselves also having to work in agriculture (sometimes just for household consumption). This experience causes many not to consider agriculture as a viable profession.
2. More than 50 percent of young people are able to save money. The majority are saving cash at home rather than using a bank account.
3. Young people are increasingly using technology, particularly mobile phones. Although this provides new opportunities, it also presents costs.
4. Information about jobs and skills acquisitions is seen as the greatest need for research participants.

In the final analysis from Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, posed the question ‘What does Africa need to do differently and what do we all need to do differently?

The single most important thing, she said, is a mindset change.
Our youth are not a problem, they are the best thing that has happened to us today. And we need to nurture that .
If well invested, Agriculture, not Oil, not Gold, not Diamonds will transform the economies of Africa
The food market in Africa can not be fed or met from off shore processing, the cost is so much bigger than the current quick wins
Land is a means to economic empowerment and not a power tool whether at country or house hold level and must be reformed
Lastly, the technology we seem to be waiting for is already here, the real issue is access
What role does policy play in this? The government needs to support through policy, infrastructure, agricultural research, and extension programs that are appropriate for smallholders.
catalyzing private sector and markets: The African food market is worth almost a trillion dollars. How can ambitious African Youth tap into that opportunity?

Wageningen UR participates as keynote speaker to Entrepreneurship Innovation in Conflict Regions workshop

A workshop on “Enabling Agri-Entrepreneurship and Innovations in Conflict Regions” organized by University of Hawaii at Manoa and Mindanao’s Southern Christian College was held at Mindanao in February 2015. The workshop concluded the project UPLOAD JOBS for Mindanao funded by the USAID and established the basis for CAFE – the Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship based in Mindanao – which becomes integral part of our Global Center for Food Systems Innovation Network.

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Seeking funding for : International Conference on Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society in Rome Italy

Lazio Region will host the second International Conference on Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society in Rome, as part of the programme Lazio Expo 2015. The Conference will focus on reconnecting agriculture and food chains to societal needs. Over four days the world’s leading researchers and scholars will discuss on the most innovative aspects of multifunctionality in agriculture and on the connections and relationships between urban and rural worlds.
My paper submission entitled  “Creating enabling environments for urban and Peri –urban agriculture in a Sub Sahara African city – the case of Kampala “ was accepted and I will be delivering it at the conference.

This conference aims at advancing the scientific state of the art in research on multifunctional agriculture and urban-rural relations by bringing together scholars from a wide range of disciplines from many parts of the world. The 2015 edition will focus on reconnecting agriculture and food chains to societal needs.

Scholarships were limited and as result, I am looking for a travel grant to facilitate my attendance at the conference. If anyone has information on obtaining travel grants, please feel free to share here.

Thank You

Funding Resources for Sustainable Food Advocates

Food Tank has highlighted 30 resources available for producers who are working to create food sovereignty and sustainable farm business models, ranging from food and farm incubators to sources of grant money and microloans:

SHARE this list with your social network!

ACDI/VOCA—a private, nonprofit organization—envisions a world in which empowered people can succeed in the global economy. To achieve this vision, ACDI/VOCA promotes “economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises, and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice.” Programs specific to agriculture include Farmer-to-Farmer, the Cooperative Development Program II (CDPII), and implementation of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future.

AgDevCo is a social impact investor and agribusiness project developer that aids in the financing of sustainable agricultural business opportunities in Africa. Additionally, AgDevCo supports the development of agriculture-supporting infrastructure, such as irrigation and bulk storage. Once commercially viable, AgDevCo transfers the businesses to primarily national ownership and then reinvests funds in other early-stage agriculture development projects.

AgriBusiness Incubator (ABI) at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), founded in 2003 in India, promotes agricultural technologies developed by ICRISAT and other research and development institutions. ICRISAT focuses on five strategic areas: seeds, biofuels, ventures to develop particular innovations (products or services), farming (high-value crops), and agricultural biotechnology. Additional outreach strategy includes collaborative business incubation.

AgroEcology Fund is a “collaboration of donors working to coordinate and sustain agricultural systems that build on the existing skills and practices of local farming communities.” The Fund awards grant money to eligible projects; in 2012, the AgroEcology Fund awarded US$1 million to six partners for a two-year grant period. Supported by an advisory board of global experts, the Fund is currently working on its second round of grantmaking.

Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Incubator Farm Project understands that access to land is one of the biggest obstacles new farmers face. To address this problem, CEFS works with communities in North Carolina to repurpose land into new farm incubators. These farmers “pay” for their land with services to the community and fresh farm products. Participants also have access to training and technical assistance opportunities in farm business and production.

Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (CURAD) is one of six agribusiness innovation incubator programs in Africa aimed at generating jobs and boosting incomes within the agricultural sector. CURAD’s target clients include student startups, as well as small and medium wholesale and retail, coffee processing, and agribusiness enterprises.

Dirt Works, an incubator farm in South Carolina, provides farmers launching a new business with infrastructure and support for up to three years. For a minimal fee, participants receive acreage, access to a tractor, packing facility, walk-in cooler, tool storage, irrigation, and assistance from a mentor farmer. After farmers’ three years are up, Dirt Works helps match these farmers with prospective land on which to expand businesses.

FamilyFarmed works to increase the production, marketing, and distribution of food that is produced locally and justly. To achieve this goal, FamilyFarmed offers trainings in farming, wholesale success, and food safety; provides access to food hubs; helps expand markets for farmers and food artisans; brings together financing and innovation partners at its Good Food Conferences; and offers a Business Accelerator program that provides selected fellows with mentoring, support, and access to capital.

Farm Aid helps build a family-farm-focused agricultural system through a variety of resources. The online Farmer Resource Network allows farmers to “access new markets, transition to more sustainable and profitable farming practices, and survive natural disasters.” The Grant for Family Farm Agriculture program provides family farm organizations from across the country with grants ranging from US$500–US$20,000 annually.

Food and Farm Communications Fund (FFCF) facilitates the strategic communication needed to create robust and resilient regional food systems. FFCF offers grants to a variety of programs, which the organization assesses for viability in market strategy and communications. Funding ranges from US$10,000–US$100,000.

Food+Tech Connect is an online platform for good food innovators that uses technology and data to improve the food system. Through resources like its weekly newsletters, Food+Tech Connect helps to launch, grow, and transform companies committed to revolutionizing the food system. Additionally, Food+Tech Meetups and Hackathons discuss and undertake “some of the food industry’s greatest challenges.”

Food-X helps companies tackling major challenges that affect the food sector through mentorship and education. During three-and-a-half-month programs, as many as 12 businesses meet in Food-X’s New York City office and receive intensive business mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs. Additionally, Food-X provides companies with US$50,000 to support them during this training and beyond.

Grameen Bank has developed a new type of banking. Instead of traditional monetary deposits and other forms of collateral, the bank relies on accountability, mutual trust, creativity, and participation to provide credit to the poorest Bangladeshis. Grameen Bank uses a small-scale microcredit lending program (usually providing a few hundred U.S. dollars) to small enterprises in a variety of industries, including agriculture. Loans are only available to the poor, with a focus on women.

GlobalGiving is a charity fundraising site that provides a fundraising platform for social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations from all over the world. Donors can search for different projects—focusing on causes such as education, feeding the hungry, building houses, training women with job skills, and many more meaningful objectives—to make contributions. Since its creation in 2002, GlobalGiving has over USD$184 million to help support close to 13,000 projects.

Global Greengrants Fund has provided over USD$45 million in grants to people, foundations, and businesses supporting community-based projects that aim to make the world safer, healthier, and more just. These grants have addressed pressing issues—including biodiversity, climate change, energy and mining, food and agriculture, fresh water, sustainable livelihoods, marine and coastal conservation, and youth leadership—in 163 countries.

Headwaters Farm Incubator Program leases out sections of Oregon’s East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District’s (EMSWCD) land to individuals looking to launch a new farming endeavor. Headwaters Farm hopes to develop qualified, experienced young farmers to reverse the trend of the aging farming population while also keeping good farmland in production and adding to the diversity of the “farmscape.”

Hot Bread Kitchen, located in New York City, offers two culinary workforces and business incubation programs, Project Launch and HBK Incubates. These initiatives give low-income men and women access to the food industry. Hot Bread Kitchen encourages immigrants in the incubation programs to provide recipes for “multi-ethnic” bread. The organization uses the recipes for training and sells the unique bread at retail and farmers market locations.

Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) promotes ecological agriculture based on local inputs and improved natural resources management in Ethiopia. The organization works to raise crop yields for local food security and improve ecosystem services for farmers, their families, and local communities. Initiatives include soil fertility enhancement (compost), push-pull technology, agroforestry, supporting innovative farmers, and adapting to the effects of climate change.

La Cocina is an incubator kitchen based in San Francisco, CA. Focusing mainly on women from immigrant and minority communities, La Cocina aids in breaking down barriers—such as high cost of entry, fees for licensing and insurance, and availability of kitchen space—by providing commercial kitchen space and technical assistance to low-income women launching, growing, and formalizing food businesses.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) is the only federally funded program dedicated exclusively to training the next generation of farmers and ranchers. BFRDP awards grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers across the United States.

National Young Farmers Coalition works to secure the success of young farmers by supporting practices and policies that enable new farmers to create thriving businesses. The Coalition offers a variety of resources that help farmers overcome barriers and create strong, prosperous farming operations, including connecting farmers with land and jobs, training opportunities, a guide to finding credit and capital, and information on the organic certification.

Navdanya Farmers Network has trained farmers across 17 Indian states in food sovereignty, seed sovereignty, and sustainable agriculture for two decades. Navdanya has set up over 100 community seed banks across India and taught food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture to over 500,000 farmers. The organization continues to promote nonviolent farming that protects biodiversity, small farmers, and the Earth.

Opportunity International Agriculture Finance Program recognizes Africa is home to 25 percent of the world’s arable land, yet generates only about 10 percent of the world’s food output. Opportunity International is looking to change that by improving African agriculture through micro-financing. By providing farmers with loans, Opportunity International can aid farmers in gaining the resources, training, and knowledge necessary to create thriving agribusinesses.

Pangea Giving for Global Change awards grants to small grassroots, community-based organizations throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Grants are given to organizations working with community members to address pertinent issues, from children’s education and women’s rights to agricultural improvements, with solutions designed to have lasting social impacts. Funding ranges from USD$1,000–US$10,000, with a maximum award of USD$5,000 for first-year grants.

Root Capital has helped grow prosperous rural economies in Latin America and Africa since 1999 by “lending capital, delivering financial training, and strengthening market connections for small and growing agricultural businesses.” Thus far, Root Capital has distributed over USD$740 million to over 530 businesses working towards building sustainable livelihoods.

RSF Social Finance Seed Fund provides grantees with small gifts, ranging from US$500–US$5,000, to provide financial support for initiatives that address specific focus areas, one being food and agriculture. RSF seeks grant proposals that are credible, feasible, and sustainable; that foster collaborative work; that provide intended results and outcomes; and that have beneficial economic, ecological, and social impacts.

Southern Oregon Farmer Incubator is a collaborative effort to train new and beginning farmers. The incubator has a three-year program with several components, including a program known as Growing Agripreneurs, which uses a one-acre teaching farm to train nine beginning farmers in designing and managing a new farm business. While working on the incubator, farmers sell their produce to the local Rogue Valley community.

Small Planet Fund supports “courageous movements bringing to life citizen-led solutions to hunger, poverty, and environmental devastation around the world.” Each year, the fund awards grants to core grantees, a select group of organizations that receive annual funding, as to organizations at a critical point of development that are dedicated to social change.

The Garden Project—based out of San Francisco and originally created to provide job training and support to former offenders—has its participants work in an intensive program learning organic horticulture and landscaping skills, preparing them for future agriculture-based jobs. The Garden Project donates all produce grown to local food pantries.

Turing Foundation offers a Nature Conservation grant, which provides money to organizations working towards marine conservation, sustainable organic agriculture, and sustainable livestock production in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Most grants are awarded to organizations proposing to work with local partners. Funds are usually over USD$33,000 (€30,000) per year, with some organizations receiving multi-million Euro grants over several years.

How to grow a kiwi plant from seed

I recently planted some kiwi , not as described but I will be putting up a mini green house next week to assist in germination
I am not sure if kiwi can grow in a tropical environment , but it won’t stop me from trying!
Will post some photos soon 🙂

Growing Wild

Kiwifruit is so tasty; it’s intoxicating.  All my life, I’ve enjoyed the unique flavour and texture of kiwis but never stopped to wonder where they come from and how they grow. It took 24 years, countless fruit salads, and the digestion of innumerous tiny black seeds before I thought about planting some.

After my first kiwi sprouts emerged from the soil, I did some research and realized that Canada, with its uncomfortably cold winters, is not an ideal environment for growing kiwi plants. While fairly hardy, kiwi cannot survive temperatures below -18 degrees celsius. This news didn’t; however, change my mind about continuing to care for my seedlings. I find watching their development fascinating and enjoy seeing them grow into beautiful little vines. Plus, judging by the way our climate has been changing in recent years, it may soon become possible for kiwi to survive a southern Ontario winter.

Whether…

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Community gardens in urban areas – critical reflection on social cohesion & alternative food provisioning – PhD thesis by Esther Veen

Congratulations Dr Esther?

Rural Sociology Wageningen University

Esther Veen - Community gardens in urban areasJune 15, 2015 at 1.30 pm Esther Veen will publicly defend her PhD-thesis ‘Community gardens in urban areas: A critical reflection on the extent to which they strengthen social cohesion and provide alternative food‘ in the Auditorium of Wageningen University. The defence ceremony will be streamed live by WURTV but can be viewed later as well. A hard copy of the thesis can be ordered by sending an email to esther.veen@wur.nl or a pdf can be downloaded from Wageningen Library (embargo untill June 15).

This thesis shows that the different organisational set-ups of community gardens reflect gardeners’ different motivations for being involved in these gardens. The gardens studied in this thesis can be defined as either place-based or interest-based; gardens in the first category are focused on the social benefits of gardening, whereas gardens in the second category are focused on gardening and vegetables. Nevertheless, social effects occur in both types…

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