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Traditional Food Crops Provide Community Resilience

Traditional Food Crops Provide Community Resilience in Face of Climate Change

Thanks to Dr. Soul Shava, Training Manager at the Aurecon Training Academy, in Pretoria, South Africa for sharing a recent study, by researchers from Rhodes and Cornell Universities and the Sebakwe Black Rhino Conservation Trust, on indigenous crops with the Nourishing the Planet project. We encourage everyone to continue to send in suggestions for examples of, and writing about, environmentally sustainable agriculture innovations to dnierenberg@worldwatch.org. Your input is helping to shape our research! Written by Ronit Ridberg and cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

By incorporating indigenous vegetables and increasing crop diversity, farmers in Zimbabwe improved their diets and increased agricultural resilience. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

By incorporating indigenous vegetables and increasing crop diversity, farmers in Zimbabwe improved their diets and increased agricultural resilience. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)


A recent study by researchers from Rhodes and Cornell Universities and the Sebakwe Black Rhino Conservation Trust found that traditional food crops, such as mubovora (pumpkin) and ipwa (sweet reed), are an important source of community resilience in Zimbabwe—including resilience to climate change and economic turbulence.

Unlike traditional crops, the majority of commercial crops that have been introduced to the region “are not adapted to local conditions and require high inputs of agrochemical inputs such as fertilizers, mechanization, and water supply,” according to the study. These crops tend to be more vulnerable to climatic changes, such as the drought and subsequent flooding that occurred in Zimbabwe’s Sebakwe area in 2007–08.

To avoid some of these challenges, many communities and farmers turned—and returned—to growing traditional and indigenous crops. By incorporating indigenous vegetables and increasing crop diversity, farmers improved their diets and increased agricultural resilience to pest, diseases, and changes in weather. Planting different varieties of maize and millet also enabled farmers to match specific crops to their own microclimates.

Additional benefits of growing more diverse crops include seed saving and the processing of traditional foods. With dried and other preserved traditional foods, communities have a more secure and reliable food source during the off-seasons. And seed saving and sharing enable communities to remain independent from commercial agricultural companies, helping to ensure future food security.

For more on the benefits of growing indigenous vegetables as crops, see Innovation of the Week: Homegrown Solutions to Alleviating Hunger and Poverty, Keeping Weeds for Nutrition and Taste, and Creating a Well-Rounded Food Revolution.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts-we check comments everyday and look forward to a regular ongoing discussion with you.
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Posted by BorderJump 09:23 Comments (0)

The Abooman Women’s Group: Working Together to Improve Livel

This is the fourth in a five-part series of my visit with the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development and the projects they support in southern Ghana.Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

Abooman Women's Group

Abooman Women's Group


The Abooman Women’s Group in southern Ghana, “started off as a mixed group,” of women and men, says Fatima Addy, the Group’s leader. But today the group consists mainly of women working together to help one another. And says Fatima, “the women’s group performs better than the men’s group” by getting higher incomes from their products, especially in the off season.

The Abooman women have worked with the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD) and Heifer International to learn how to raise and care for dairy cows, make yoghurt, and pasteurize for milk for sale to the local community and for sale to schools. Some of the women also raise bees.

“Change is coming gradually,” says Fatima, “and it takes time to build up where you can safely say you can earn an income.” And while the market for milk products in the community is growing, the women still have some challenges. They talked about the need for a better storage and processing facility and a freezer, as well better storage for the feed for their cows.

Fatima says that they’re “putting all our effort into making the groups sustainable” to not only find ways to improve their production and incomes, but also help them face the “challenges they face from men trying to prove us wrong.” Credit, for example, has been for men, not to women. As the women become better organize, however, they’re becoming more successful farmers and business women.

Stay tuned for more about ECASARD’s work with grasscutter and rabbit farmers.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts-we check comments everyday and look forward to a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive weekly updates-Sign up for our "Nourishing the Planet" weekly newsletter at the blog by clicking here and receive regular blog and travel updates.

Posted by BorderJump 07:18 Comments (0)

54 Things to do in South Africa

Cross posted from Border Jumpers, Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack.

Apartheid_Museum.jpgHundreds of thousands of people from across the world are headed to South Africa to watch the World Cup, descending on Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and six other cities across the country for the biggest sporting event the continent has ever seen. Yet, not everyone headed there is a sports fan. Some are being dragged by spouses, some by friends, some want to be apart of the excitement, but don't want to dish out the dough for tickets, and some are just building in some extra vacation time to see the sights.

My partner Danielle and I recently had the privilege of spending nearly two months traveling across South Africa, meeting with farmers and looking at projects that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty (as part of a 15 month research trip across the continent). Along the way we met with dozens of travelers and packed every weekend with cool excursions. From our travels, here is a guide of 50 non-sport related things to do while in South Africa.

Tons of incredible activities will be missing, so please use the comments section below to create a more comprehensive list.

Johannesburg

What to Do:

1) Spend an entire day at the Apartheid Museum, it's brilliantly laid out using technology and multi-media, and the visit takes you on a journey that will forever change the way you look at race relations and racism. It was a powerful and emotional experience

2) Go on a bike tour of the city

3) Take a private walking tour or 4) group tour of Soweto where you will see Freedom Square, site of the Soweto up-risings, Desmond Tutu's home, the Mandela Museum, and a visit to a local settlement.

5) Reserve a spot on the one and a half hour guided tour organized by SAB brewing (partners with Miller-Coors in the USA) complete with a 3D adventure and an IMAX-style movie, real life machinery depicting the beer making process, and lots more.

6) Aside from the Mall of America in Minnesota, the East Gate Mall is the biggest shopping center I've ever been to. It has two movie theaters and two more huge malls within walking distance. Alternatively, (7) the mall in Rosebank is closer to the city and has everything you might need.

8) If your traveling with kids you might want to take a one hour trip to Maropeng and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as The Cradle of Humankind. The interactive journey offers a underground boat ride, fossils, and learning about how humankind was born.

9) Alternatively, you might want to take the family for a visit to the Gold Reef City Theme Park.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

10) For vegetarians, we loved the Kauai Health Food & Juice Co chain

4242007684..bfe44_m.jpg11) For drinks, sip a martini at Ratz 12) eat sushi at Tokyo Star in Melville, or 13) stop by Sundeck in Norwood. The Rosebank mall also has some lively outdoor options.

14) For live jazz, head to Kippie's and 15) to shake your booty head to Carfax.

Where to stay:

16) For backpackers, consider staying in Soweto at the Diamond Digger's Lodge or 17) Bob's Bunkhouse near the airport.

18) For budget travelers, the Sunbury Bed and Breakfast is a great option or 19) the slightly pricier Turrent Guesthouse, both in the fun and bohemian suburb of Melville in close walking distance to bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops.

How to get to and from:

19) Long-haul bus companies are a good bet, our best experiences and most reliable service was with Intercape bus company.

20) Within South Africa, discount airlines Kulula and 1time are options to consider when South Africa Airways prices are too high.

Pretoria

What to Do:

20) You might consider a tour of the Jacaranda City (named after the tree by the same name), where you can visit historical sites, including the President's Office, Melrose House, the Church Square, Kruger House, and the Voortrekker Monument as well as the Union Buildings.

21) You can escape for the afternoon to the National Zoological Gardens and head up the cable car to see a nice overview of the city.

22) For shopping, Pretoria has a decent-sized mall called Menlyn Park, and a smaller shopping center in Hatfield.

Where to Eat/Drink and enjoy the Nightlife:

23) Head to Hatfield for fun restaurants, bars, and nightlife -- with ten neat places all next to eachother on Burnett street, you don't have to go far.

24) Start your morning with a delicious cup of coffee and free wifi at News Cafe

25) For West and South African food, you can try Kariba restaurant or (26) the African Traditional Pub and Grill

Where to stay:

27) For budget travelers, stay at The Village which is in easy walking distance from all the action in Hatfield, yet clean, friendly, quiet, and includes a delicious breakfast.

4306817837..1b4dd_m.jpgDurban:

What to Do:

28) For those looking for a safari, you might head to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition to incredible birds and other species -- you might also spot all the "Big Five" - lions, buffaloes, rhinos, elephant and leopards.

29) Go for a drive through the green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

30) Visit a traditional village in Zululand. You can take lessons in traditional dance and music or visit beautiful Phobane Lake

31) For families, you might take the kids to Ushaka Marine World, Africa's largest marine and water park. The place has five "zones" that includes: Sea World (aquarium), a Phantom Ship (restaurant), Wet 'n' Wild (waterpark), and Ushaka Beach.

32) Pay a visit to the Indian Market, where you can grab a bite to eat, buy spices, meet traditional healers, and try on cool fabrics.

33) Durban has a terrific Botanical Gardens, which showcases free live music on Sundays, and allows you to picnic on the property.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

34) Vegans and Vegetarians will love EarthMother restaurant which has a terrific menu of locally grown, organic foods. Also, it has the best fresh juice and smoothie bar in all of South Africa

(35) For seafood lovers, you won't go wrong with a trip to New Cafe Fish or (36) Famous Fish Co

Where to Stay:

37) For backpackers avoid the over-priced, poor value, Lonely Planet pick called Gibela Backpackers and instead head down the same street to Tekweni Backpackers Hostel in Morningside.

Cape Town

What to Do:

South_African_Flag.jpg
38) Book ahead for a visit to Robben Island, where Mandela and other prisoners were incarcerated. Afterwards 39) take walking tour to the District Six museum, where you will see the remnants of homes that were destroyed.

40) Check out the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where you can see a breathtaking view at Cape Point, go swimming, and visit a nearby penguin colony

41) You can go scuba diving and snorkel with the Great White Sharks of South Africa. This cave dive is a very popular tourist attraction, where you can literally look the ocean's toughest predator in the eyes.

42) About 90mins by car away is a great spot to head on a safari day trip called Aquila Game Reserve where you will be able to spot giraffes, lions, leopards, and zebras.

43) Tour the Stellenbosch and Paarl Valley wineries. South African wine is famous around the world and you can find several affordable tour companies that will take you between vineyards by bike, 44) bus, or 45) by foot.

46) Hike, 47) mountain bike, or take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, which offers incredible views of Cape Town City, Table Bay and Robben Island.

48) For shopping you can head to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. It's pricey, but there are tons of restaurants, shops, bars, and even a movie theater.

Where to Eat/Drink and Enjoy the Nightlife:

49) One tour company provides the opportunity to "break bread" with two local Cape Town families, including a home-cooked meal and stunning views over Cape Town, and shared conversation. Then you head to a second host family for coffee and more cultural sharing.

50) Start with homemade Italian food at 95 Keerom, then 51) head for a drink at the Nose Wine Bar, 52) before going out dancing at Snap. It's easy to have a great time in Cape Town with incredible, vibrant nightlife.

Where to Stay:

53) For backpackers you might try the fun (but very noisy) Long Street backpackers in the heart of restaurant and bar nightlife.

54) For budget travelers you will enjoy St John's Waterfront Lodge, located right in the heart of the city, it's quit, clean, well-managed, and very friendly.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts -- we check for comments everyday and want to have a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive regular updates--Join the weekly BorderJumpers newsletter by clicking here.
3. Help keep our research going—-If you know of any great projects or contacts in West Africa please connect us connect us by emailing, commenting or sending us a message on facebook.

Posted by BorderJump 11:44 Comments (0)

It’s All About the Process

Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

Esther_Mjo..Nairobi.jpg
Zambian grocery stores are filled with processed foods from around the world, from crackers made in Argentina and soy milk from China to popular U.S. breakfast cereals. In addition to these foreign foods, however, are also variety of locally made and processed products, including indigenous varieties of organic rice, all-natural peanut butter and honey from the It’s Wild brand.

It’s Wild was started by the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) over 30 years ago to preserve and protect wildlife. But the organization soon learned that in order to protect wildlife, it would need to address the lack of income sources for local communities that were sometimes forced to resort to poaching elephants or other wildlife in order to earn enough to feed their families.

To do this, COMACO organizes farmers into producer groups, encouraging them to diversify their skills by raising livestock and bees, growing organic rice, using improved irrigation and fisheries management and other practices. The organization supports the creation of regional processing centers and trading depots to make it easier for farmers to process and transport their crops. Their products are then sold under the It’s Wild brand in supermarket chains in Zambia, such as ShopRite, Checkers and Spar. And the organization tries to do as much of the product distribution as possible so that the money stays with the farmers, not middlemen, improving local livelihoods and preserving local wildlife. (See also: Peanut Butter and Progress)

And all across sub-Saharan Africa, other organizations are providing farmers with the processing skills and materials they need to improve their incomes and support their families—and that can produce unexpected benefits, including wildlife, reducing food-born health risks, and improving access to education.

In Kenya, the Mazingira Institute is working to create awareness about climate change, human rights, and urban agriculture. And they’re also training communities to learn better skills to increase income generation and well-being—including training in how to process foods to preserve them longer and make them more appealing to consumers.

Mazingira, for example, helped Esther Mjoki Maifa, an entrepreneur in Nairobi, capitalize on a growing interest among Kenyans for natural healthy products by training her to process groundnuts without any preserves or chemicals. It takes her about one day to produce 50 kilograms of groundnuts and she sells jars from 200-300 shillings each. Eventually, Ms. Maifa is hoping to make enough money from her products to purchase her own nut grinding machine. (See also: Mazingira Institute and NESALF: Training a New Breed of Farmers)

In Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is helping livestock farmers to improve the processing and preservation of milk in order to produce better tasting and longer lasting dairy products which are also safer for the consumer. EADD encourages farmers to join cooperatives (See Innovation of the Week: Farmers Groups and Cooperatives), giving them access to group owned and run refrigerated milk collection centers, significantly reducing the financial burden of the process. The milk is then transported to a milk processing facility and sent to market where the processed milk will receive a higher price than unpasteurized milk. It also stays good longer and reduces the risk of food borne illness. (See also: Improving Incomes with Milk Processing)

In Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria, the World Cocoa Foundation is providing cocoa farmers with hands-on training on production, pest and disease management and post-harvest techniques. The region accounts for nearly 70 percent of the world’s cocoa production, 90 percent of which is grown on nearly 2 million small family farms. Almost 16 million people depend on this crop as their main source of income and being able to properly process cocoa can make a big difference in income for a family. One farmer in Côte d’Ivoire, Ekra Marceline, was able to more than quadruple her cocoa harvest after receiving training from a Farmer Field School supported by WCF. She was able to build a solar dryer to produce higher quality beans and the additional income she earns enabled her to send her children to school and build a new home for her family. (See also: Improving African Women’s Access to Agriculture Training Programs)

To read more about how training in processing techniques can improve incomes and provide other benefits, see also: Women Entrepreneurs: Adding Value, Reducing Food Waste, Investing in Better Food Storage in Africa, and Protecting Wildlife While Improving Food Security, Health, and Livelihoods.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts-we check comments everyday and look forward to a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive weekly updates-Sign up for our "Nourishing the Planet" weekly newsletter at the blog by clicking here and receive regular blog and travel updates.

Posted by BorderJump 11:05 Comments (0)

With ECASARD You Can See A Real Impact

This is two parts from a five-part series of our visit with the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development and the projects they support in southern Ghana. Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.

Part I: Something that Can’t be Quantified

Check out this video of Nancy Ayesua Outu, ECASARD financial director, explaining why her work to promote agricultural innovations that are affordable, environmentally sustainable, socially just, and culturally acceptable in Ghana is so valuable. “When have built capacity for farmers and you see their lives improving, it’s something that you can’t quantify or measure,” she says.
Part II: With ECASARD You Can See A Real Impact

Check out this video of Stephen Amoah, ECASARD programs officer explaining why he enjoys working with ECASARD. Amoah started out as a volunteer but is now a full time employee. He says, “it’s a joy to hear someone say that because of our training they’ve increased their yield.” Amoah knows that by helping farmers form cooperatives and access agriculture training, he is “really helping the family and community to reduce hunger and poverty” for themselves.

Music Without Borders: Ghana

Music Without Borders

Music Without Borders


This is a weekly series where we recommend an artist, song, or compilation of songs, from a country in Africa, brought to you by our awesome friends at Awesome Tapes From Africa. Today’s selection is from Ghana:

Listen to some funky highlife music from the good old days of Ghana’s guitar band highlife boom. If this doesn’t make you want to dance I don’t know what will.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoy our diary every day we invite you to get involved:
1. Comment on our daily posts -- we check for comments everyday and want to have a regular ongoing discussion with you.
2. Receive regular updates--Join the weekly BorderJumpers newsletter by clicking here.
3. Help keep our research going—-If you know of any great projects or contacts in West Africa please connect us connect us by emailing, commenting or sending us a message on facebook.

Posted by BorderJump 11:34 Comments (0)

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