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?

Future of Food: A Conversation with Jim Yong Kim & David Chang

People have different ideas about what the future of food will look like, but everyone can agree on what it should deliver: a food system that can feed everyone, every day, everywhere.

The world needs a sustainable food system that will feed a projected 9 billion people by 2050 with nutritious food, provide livelihoods—and also help steward our natural resources.

To make this happen farmers, scientists, consumers, business leaders, food processors, nutritionists, distributors, policymakers and chefs must work together to build a system that feeds everyone and addresses the problems of malnutrition, obesity, hunger, extreme poverty and climate change.

What are the necessary ingredients for a food system that works for all?

Hear from a development banker, a renowned chef, an agricultural expert, a woman farmer, a culinary professional and others about the future of food, and how we can work together to feed the world.

Join the Live Stream April 16!

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET | 15:00 – 16:00 GMT or convert time
Location: World Bank Group Headquarters, Atrium & Online

Join the conversation with #Food4All and follow @worldbanklive,@momofuku, @themadfeed, @chygovera, and @Gastromotiva

What is Synthetic Biology? Engineering Life and Livelihoods

Video Animation Explores Risks of Treating Life as a Machine

 

MONTREAL, 30 Oct. 2014–On the eve of the largest annual gathering of synthetic biologists in the world, ETC Group and the Bioeconomies Media Project are launching a new animated explanation of the workings of this emerging “SynBio” industry, often dubbed extreme genetic engineering. Thousands of scientists, students and vendors will converge at the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) Jamboree in Boston to share the latest advancements in what has become a multi billion dollar industry based on the industrialization of life at the molecular level.

 

Increasingly, scientists and civil society are sounding the alarm about the risks posed by unregulated commercialization of SynBio’s untested, experimental and unprecedented manipulation of life forms. The new ten minute video, produced in collaboration with award-winning Canadian animator Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre and narrated by ETC’s Jim Thomas, is the first output from a new Bioeconomies Media Project. Featuring work of researchers from Canadian universities and funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the video provides a succinct introduction to the science and emerging industry of synthetic biology as well as some of the ethical, biosafety and economic impacts that these “genetically engineered machines” may have.

 

“The synthetic biology industry is already a multibillion dollar enterprise involving some of the worlds largest food, chemical and agribusiness companies,” said Jim Thomas, ETC’s Programme Director. “The leaders of that industry are targeting markets supplied by small farmers in the around the world; this is likely to have real negative impacts on poorer communities in the global south.”

 

SynBio companies have commercialized several products already, including a vanilla substitute grown by synthetically modified yeast, a coconut oil replacement produced by engineered algae, and engineered versions of patchouli and vetiver fragrances. Less than two weeks ago, 194 nations at the United Nations convention on Biological Diversity unanimously urged governments to establish precautionary regulations and to assess synthetic biology organisms, components and products. Many countries had called for a complete global moratorium on the release of synthetic biology organisms.

 IMPACT ON SMALL SCALE FARMERS:

“Small farmers feed over 70% of the world; if SynBio companies cut into the tiny profits they are able to make, it could have a growing negative impact on the world’s food supply,” Thomas added. “Given how little we know about the potential effects of these highly novel life forms, there are also concerns about the risk of synthetic microorganisms escaping into the air and water.”

This prospect of lab-grown food and consumer ingredients is exciting to the 22 billion dollar flavour and fragrance industry. But, especially with those ‘natural’ claims, it’s reason enough for tropical farmers to become alarmed. Every hectare of natural saffron growing in Iran provides jobs for up to 270 people per day, and replacing that with Syn bio saffron now threatens those jobs.

An estimated 200,000 people grow, tend and cure vanilla beans in Madagascar, Uganda, Mexico, and elsewhere. Those farmers already have precarious livelihoods because of chemically synthetic vanilla. But now SynBio vanillin further undermines them.

It also threatens the ecosystems they live in, because vanilla farming is closely tied to rainforest protection. The natural vines require in tact forests to thrive. But if the price of natural vanilla crashes because of SynBio vanilla, farmers may instead resort to instead hacking away the forest to plant rice to survive.

Of course, the synthetic biology industry can’t do away with farmers altogether. Vats of engineered yeast or algae require vast quantities of sugar sourced from corn or sugarcane plantations. This is why so far, all the largest SynBio companies have set up manufacturing plants in Brazil.

Cane sugar from Brazil may be sweet to eat, but it has a very bitter side too. It’s water-hungry, chemical-laden, and is often harvested by workers in slave conditions. The expansion of sugar cane is driving destruction of Brazil’s ecologically precious Cerrado region and it’s displacing other agriculture deeper into the Amazon.

The video released today features the work of Montreal-based animator Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre, who has dozens of film festival awards to her name, most recently for Best Short Documentary at the Saint Louis International Film Festival in 2012. Saint Pierre’s last animation was featured at the most recent Cannes International Film Festival.

 

“Since I started working on this video, I’ve learned that synthetic biology is quite dangerous, and without regulations it can have repercussions for workers and farmers,” said Saint-Pierre. “It was important for me to make something that’s easy to understand, so that anyone can access information about SynBio and process it.”

 

The video can be viewed at the following locations:

http://www.synbiowatch.org/2014/10/synthetic_biology_explained/

http://www.etcgroup.org/synthetic_biology_explained

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C726wUGLdL4

 

For for information, please contact:SY

Jim Thomas, jim@etcgroup.org  phone 1 514 516 5759

Dru Oja Jay, dru@etcgroup.org  phone 1 438 930 4693