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Agroforestry can be a concrete solution to climate change, particularly through integrating trees into farming

© World Agroforestry

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Integrated crop-livestock systems that provide synergies towards more resilient climate-smart agricultural production systems are possible despite the recognised competition between crops and livestock enterprises. To make this work, it is necessary to understand the trade-offs and capitalise on the opportunities provided through integration.

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The increasing buzz on blockchain technology has, in recent times, drawn attention to its application within the agriculture sector. The technology can be leveraged upon to improve agriculture efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, including intra-ACP business transactions and transactions between ACP and international business stakeholders.

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Four Senegalese start-ups have received coaching and help in drawing up business growth plans from Ernst & Young (EY), as part of the AgriHack Talent initiative. Here, we look back at a successful pilot project that bodes well for fruitful collaboration among CTA, a leading international consulting firm, and promising new businesses.

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While the history of agricultural cooperatives in Central Africa since the 1980s has been marked by many failures, mainly linked to weak institutional governance and the lack of any economic response to the needs of local operators, the last 10 years have seen the emergence of a much more positive trend. Cooperatives are gradually modernising and becoming more professional. Establishing a farmers’ cooperative and associative movement in this region is a key prerequisite for agricultural development.

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A recurring question in agricultural development is how to transition successful donor-funded initiatives into self-sustaining, smallholder-focused businesses. One of CTA’s most innovative digitalisation projects, the Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag-enabled Information Service (MUIIS), is proving it can be done.

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Agriculture accounts for 70% of employment on small farms and occupies half of all land area in Uganda, providing half of all exports and one-quarter of the country’s GDP. It is considered a leading sector for future economic growth and economic inclusion in the current National Development Plan. Coffee remains the leading agricultural export commodity in the country and is expected to greatly contribute towards the realisation of the 2040 national vision.

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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are promoted as an equaliser of opportunities – but this is not always the case for women. Several African initiatives are demonstrating the critical contribution that information and knowledge can make to increase agricultural productivity and run a profitable agribusiness.

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A major concern for smallholder farmers at the start of each season is to choose and source seeds, and with the advent of climate change, this is more critical than ever. As part of a CTA-led initiative to help farmers counter drought and other extreme weather events, seed fairs are being organised in Zambia to improve access to quality seed of stress tolerant maize varieties for smallholder farmers.

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The stage is set for the 2019 iteration of the Pitch AgriHack competition. 20 judges have completed the evaluation of semi-finalist start-ups and have selected the finalists. The judges are industry experts (ICT and agriculture), entrepreneurs and investors coming from Africa and beyond.

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There is hardly a document on African climate change issues that does not portray livestock husbandry in a negative light - responsible for emitting substantial quantities of greenhouse gases. While it is true that some livestock play a role in generating greenhouse gases, this is not the case across the entire sector. Chickens are among the few domestic animals that have a low environmental impact and carbon footprint, and research is moving forward to develop climate-smart poultry production for African smallholders.

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Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) which encompasses a bundle of production techniques and inputs that help farmers adapt to changing weather conditions, is being promoted under CTA’s climate-smart initiative in Southern Africa for increasing climate resilience and improving farmer incomes.

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To discuss the opportunities and challenges for blockchain in agriculture in the agri-food sector, over 160 participants gathered in Brussels on 15 May, 2019 at the 55th Brussels Development Briefing organised by CTA, the European Commission (DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat, Concord and BMZ.

Semi-finalists have been selected for Pitch AgriHack 2019, the annual competition that awards young entrepreneurs in ICTs for agriculture (ICT4Ag). The competition supports entrepreneurs through capacity building and funding to accelerate youth employment and agricultural transformation.

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In March 2018, AfricaRice, the Syngenta Foundation and the CTA launched the PEJERIZ project (Promouvoir l’entrepreneuriat des jeunes et la création d’emplois dans la filière du riz en Afrique de l’Ouest – Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship in West Africa’s Rice Value Chain). Following mobilisation and training workshops in 2018, the project moved on to the selection of projects and business plans in the first quarter of 2019.

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The Pacific region is facing a huge decrease in fisheries revenue – its principal source of income and employment over the last decade. Reported by Stop Illegal Fishing, the Fijian government states that, “About 306,440 t of fish were harvested illegally in the Pacific region with an estimated cost of $616.11 million from 2010 to 2015”.

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Throughout history, women have made gains in control of their selves, assets and visibility in a male dominated world, and then lost them. In those moments, like Penelope waiting for Ulysses, women unpicked and restitched the tapestry of their lives. We could be facing another of those unstitching moments right now, as women's roles and aspirations are being challenged in many arenas. It is time to recast and restitch.