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Agriculture and Rural Development

Notes from the field: getting feedback on early analyses

Markus Goldstein's picture

I just spent the last week in Ethiopia and part of what I was doing was presenting some results from an impact evaluation baseline, as well as the final results-in-progress of another impact evaluation.   In all, I ended up giving four talks of varying length to people working on these programs, but also to groups of agencies working on similar projects that started after the ones we were analyzing.  

Save the chocolate and the planet

Alan Miller's picture

With Durban climate change meetings around the corner, discussion on the long-term risks to Africa and the severity of recent extreme events has understandably increased – for example, hot, dry weather that could make farming more challenging for large parts of Africa.

These changes will almost certainly affect all of us at least indirectly, as populations are forced to migrate, disaster relief costs escalate, and increased uncertainty lowers market returns and economic growth.

But it may help to appreciate the true meaning of the expected changes from climate change to consider some of the less dramatic – but far reaching – smaller impacts that will affect all of us in a myriad of ways in our daily lives. A good example is recent predictions of climate impacts on some of our favorite foods – not necessarily life shattering, but a big part of our daily rituals and pleasure in life. Consider three in particular: coffee, chocolate, and wine. The first two are particularly important agricultural exports for Africa.

Starbucks recently announced concerns about the future of its supply chain due to the impacts of climate change. Short-term impacts are already evident due to floods in key coffee growing nations such as Columbia. The Union of Concerned Scientists observes that coffee growing is tied to specific locations such that even small changes in temperature can affect production and increase exposure to pests and disease.

Pakistan’s Most Favored Nation Status to India: A Win-Win for the Region?

Tara Beteille's picture

Trade relations between India and Pakistan appear set to improve significantly with Pakistan likely to grant India Most Favored Nation (MFN) status. The potential gains from easier trading relations are considerable for both countries. In 2009-10, official trade between the two stood at $2 billion. Studies suggest this volume could be much higher, absent formal and informal barriers. For instance, a recent SAARC report estimates trade potential to be $12 billion.

What exactly does MFN status mean?

All WTO members are bound to grant MFN treatment to member countries with respect to trade in goods. India granted Pakistan MFN status in 1996, but Pakistan held back, citing strategic considerations. Despite granting Pakistan MFN status, India continued to impose high tariffs on goods of interest to Pakistan—textiles and leather. Thus, merely according MFN status does not imply easier trade. So, does Pakistan’s offer matter? Yes, it does. It signals enthusiasm, goodwill, and a keenness to build peaceful and productive economic and political relations in the region.

Where will the gains come from?

Facts, knowledge and women, trump myth and superstition

Fionna Douglas's picture

When scientists from a broad range of disciplines get together to discuss research to feed the world, while protecting the planet in a changing climate, it’s not surprising that they would call for increased investment. More surprising is that they would agree on setting clear priorities.

The World Bank co-organized the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Wageningen, Netherlands, with Wageningen University and The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation as part of its efforts to build the store of knowledge that can help small holder farmers around the globe increase productivity – a central theme of the Bank’s Agriculture Action Plan – and build resilience to climate change. The conference will also inform the upcoming global climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

Motivated by the statement of UK Chief Scientific Officer Sir John Beddington that the world is unlikely to make the changes required to limit global warming to 2 degrees centigrade, and is heading for a “4 degree centigrade world with disastrous implications for African food security”, the scientists heeded policy makers’ pleas and delivered some clear evidence-based advice.

Haiti: sowing the seeds for better nutrition

Marie Chantal Messier's picture

Haiti: merging nutrition and agriculture innovations to progress from crisis to stability

“Haiti” and “food” and “nutrition” are words not usually seen together as part of an optimistic statement, rather the opposite. But as we commemorate World Food Day I believe there is a lot that Haiti can bring to the table to find a sustainable solution to its stubborn malnutrition problem.

This may sound like the world’s best kept secret, but it is partly the result of people, including ourselves sometimes, focusing on Haiti’s ailments rather than its progress. 

What Does More and Better Jobs in South Asia Mean?

Pradeep Mitra's picture

The Track Record

Imagine adding the population of Sweden—somewhat under 10 million— to your labor force year after year for a decade. Insist that the wage workers among them earn increasing real wages and that poverty among the self-employed decline over time. What you have just described is not quite South Asia's record on the quantity and quality of job creation between 2000 and 2010. The region has done better.

Poverty has fallen, not only among the self-employed, but among all types of workers—casual laborers who are the poorest, regular wage and salary earners who are the richest and the self-employed who are in between. This hierarchy of poverty rates among the three employment types has endured over decades. Thus improvements in job quality have occurred predominantly within each employment type rather than through movement across types. The composition of the labor force among the employment types shows little change over time. The self-employed, many of whom are in farming, comprise the largest share, reflecting the predominance of agriculture in much of the region. Casual laborers make up the second largest share in rural areas.

Kenya’s undisputed wheat basket

The sight of farmers around Narok drying wheat on the ground with agents haggling over price and quality is a reminder of how Kenya’s farmers take advantage of the plentiful sunshine to cut post-harvest costs. Makeshift canvas driers line both sides of the Maai Mahiu-Narok-Bomet highway, a section of the Northern Corridor transport system that creates a shorter link to western Kenya.

Narok is Kenya’s undisputed wheat basket, producing half of the national wheat output in any given year. Its lush wheat and maize (corn) farms, as well as livestock ranches dotted with thousands of cattle, sheep and goats, tell you why the over 2,000 farmers in this fertile region of the Rift Valley are so powerful. Moreover, it is gateway to the world famous Masai Mara game reserve, where wildlife riches and revenue, especially bountiful during this period of the famous wildebeest migration, are shared by the Narok and Trans-Mara county councils.

Web 2.0 for Development Professionals Part 3: How the Cloud is Relevant for Development Professionals

Tanya Gupta's picture

As I have mentioned before in Part 1 and Part 2 of this three part series, cloud computing is a particularly important topic for development professionals.  In this blog, I will look at sectors where cloud based services are particularly relevant to development professionals and others.

Although  “cloud computing” is a hot subject in development, many are still “cloudy” about exactly what it means.   Very simply it refers to Internet-based use of programs that are are not installed in your computer. Typically usage of such programs are either free or use a subscription model, thus eliminating or reducing the need for capital investment in technology infrastructure.  However much like Web 2.0, the precise definition of cloud computing is still under debate, and as a result it is an over-used term that refers to something that everybody agrees is needed, but no one is quite sure what it is. 

Cloud computing has potential development applications not just in the public sector realm but also areas such as health, finance, agriculture and education.  Here's a look at some of the development sectors that are being influenced by cloud computing.

Crying wolf? Contagion is a real threat!

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

If you accept my 5 cents of wisdom, you should rush to see the new movie “Contagion.” It is a well done, spooky public health mystery, with great acting. Why you may ask? Simply because it is a timely reminder about the public health risks but also the potential benefits of a globalized world.

Watching the movie brought back vivid memories of passionate discussions we had in the fall of 2005 when we—a Europe and Central Asia and East Asia and the Pacific agriculture and public health team—prepared in a few days what became the $500 million Global Program for Avian Influenza and Human Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

Women Visionaries Driving Vietnam's Green Future

Dr. Ivan Kennedy's picture

In Vietnam, several women with extraordinary vision have been the technological leaders in agricultural innovation. From the laboratory, to the factory, to the farm, women have been the pioneers along every link of the supply chain in this project calledSustaining nitrogen-efficient rice production.”

Under the DM in early March 2011, Agriculture Green Future (AGF), a non-profit organization devoted to promoting sustainable fertilizer, was founded on the research of the only female soil scientists in Vietnam: Phan Thi Cong (pictured).

Professor Nguyen Thanh Hien, BioGro inventor and Dr Phan Thi Cong, project leaderAGF promotes the manufacture and use of BioGro, a microbial bio-fertiliser invented in the 1990s by Professor Nguyen Thanh Hien (also pictured). AGF provides starter cultures and training in quality control to BioGro manufacturers, while promoting the BioGro brand. Phan Thi Cong, who continues to advance the BioGro technology, represents a younger generation positioned to carry this work forward.


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