ERL: half of world's calories is produced by small farms

Women smallholder farmers in KenyaA study published in Environmental Research Letter (ERL) estimates that more than 50 per cent of the world's food calories are produced in regions where the average farm size is less than five hectares, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa 

The featured article entitled, 'Subnational distribution of average farm size and smallholder contributions to global food production' written by Leah H Samberg, James S Gerber, Navin Ramankutty, Mario Herrero and Paul C West, looked into the smallholder farms and farming. The authors are from the University of Minnesota, USA, University of British Columbia, Canada, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), based in Austrailia.

 The articles is designed is designed to provide a subnational estimate of the number, average size and contribution of farms across the developing world. It is estimated in the article that there are 918 subnational units in 83 countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and East Asia that are on average, less than five hectares of agricultural land per farming household. 

To evaluate the prevalence of smaller or larger farms, the scientists use a metric dubbed "mean agricultural area" (MAA), which is defined as hectares of agricultural land divided by the number of farming households.

Units with a MAA of less than five hectares play a dominant role in Asia, the researchers found. In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion drops slightly with smallholder units producing half of the food calories in the region, supported by places with a medium-density of farm households, which account for another 26 per cent. The situation changes again in Latin America, with 70 per cent of food calories produced in regions with large and very large MAAs.

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Wheat rust continues, new races found in Central Asia, Europe and Africa

Wheat leaf rust on wheatWheat rust, a family of fungal diseases that can cause crop losses of up to 100 percent in untreated susceptible wheat, is making further advances in Europe, Africa, and Asia, according to two new studies produced by scientists in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

The reports that feature in the journal Nature following their publication by Aarhus University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, show the emergence of new races of both yellow rust and stem rust in various regions of the world in 2016.

At the same time, well-known existing rust races have spread to new countries, the studies confirm, underlining the need for early detection and action to limit major damage to wheat production, particularly in the Mediterranean basin. 

Wheat is a source of food and livelihoods for over 1bn people in developing countries. Northern and Eastern Africa, the Near East, and West, Central and South Asia – which are all vulnerable to rust diseases − alone account for some 37 per cent of global wheat production.

"These new, aggressive rust races have emerged at the same time that we're working with international partners to help countries combat the existing ones, so we have to be swift and thorough in the way we approach this," said FAO Plant Pathologist Fazil Dusunceli. "It's more important than ever that specialists from international institutions and wheat producing countries work together to stop these diseases in their tracks − that involves continuous surveillance, sharing data and building emergency response plans to protect their farmers and those in neighboring countries."

Wheat rusts spread rapidly over long distances by the wind. If not detected and treated on time, they can turn a healthy looking crop, only weeks away from harvest, into a tangle of yellow leaves, black stems, and shriveled grains.

Fungicides can help to limit the damage, but early detection and rapid action are crucial. So are integrated management strategies in the long run.

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Biobest acquires Real IPM Kenya to give a foothold in previously untapped market

RealIPM 1 1

Biobest and Real IPM Kenya recently announced on 2 February the acquisition of Real IPM, a leading company in biological control in East Africa 

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Mauritania to gain US$21mn IFAD grant to boost food security, nutrition and reduce rural poverty

Ministru prezidents4074538651285,600 Mauritanian farmers will benefit from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) agreement that was signed on 12 January 

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Chinese firm invests US$1bn in Tanzanian cassava

cassava 285033 640 1Tanzania has signed a US$1bn partnership agreement with a Chinese firm to commercialise cassava farming and processing

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