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Agriculture Food Security Regenerative Agriculture

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

“Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. It involves, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, including conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters and pasture cropping, to increase food production, farmers’ income and especially, topsoil.

Only 60 years of farming left if soil degradation continues. About a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded and causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques and deforestation. Generating three centimeters of top soil takes about a 1,000 years.

The loss of the world’s fertile soil and biodiversity, along with the loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge, pose a mortal threat to our future survival. Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our 4 billion acres of cultivated farmland, 8 billion acres of pastureland, and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world. Allan Savory gave a TED talk on fighting desertification and reversing climate change in 2013.

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The Supply Chain for Food Is Stressed

The spread of the virus through the food and grocery industry is expected to cause disruptions in production and distribution of certain products as panicked shoppers test supply networks as never before. Industry leaders acknowledge shortages could increase, but they insist it is more of an inconvenience than a major problem. People will have enough to eat; they just may not have the usual variety. The food supply remains robust, they say, with hundreds of millions of pounds of meat in cold storage. You might not get what you want when you want it. Consumers like to have a lot of different choices, and the reality is in the short term, we just don’t have the labor to make that happen.

Laborers who were once considered unskilled are now “essential employees,” even heroes to some, because they are providing the nation with food and other crucial supplies.

Read more at The New York Times

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In the wake of lockdowns, a potential food crisis looms

On March 31, the heads of three global agencies warned of a potential worldwide food shortage if countries failed to ensure food security while enacting measures to control the spread of Covid-19. “Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market,” said the joint text signed by the heads of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO). For countries like Nepal, which rely almost entirely on imports for agricultural inputs, the restrictions that many countries, including India, have imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic could quickly trigger a food crisis, say experts.

Nepal imported agricultural goods worth more than Rs220 billion last fiscal year. The country imports around 600,000 tonnes of rice, 400,000 tonnes of maize and 100,000 tonnes of wheat. Nepal currently has a food deficit of around 600,000 tonnes, which is primarily met by imports from India. In Nepal’s context, two factors will determine whether there is a food crisis. Monsoon is the obvious first factor. Second is the availability of chemical fertilisers as Nepal is a net importer of this vital farm input.

Read more at The Kathmandu Post

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How ‘future-fit’ crops can protect the environment and provide for the future

“Future-fit” crops that are nutritionally dense, climate resilient, economically viable and locally available or adaptable are key to surviving climate change and providing for the world’s larger population in the future. The current food system, with its reliance on a handful of crops, is inadequate and unsustainable in the face of climate change and population growth. The United Nations warned that the current global food system is inadequate and unsustainable. It noted that just a handful of crops, including wheat, rice and maize, now make up 60 per cent of people’s caloric intake.

Climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity and the planet. Without transforming our agriculture, we cannot reverse climate change or meet the Sustainable Development Goals. The Bambara groundnut, lupin and moringa, for example, are able to grow and produce highly nutritious food in relatively harsh conditions, making them ideal for a future where droughts and floods will be more common.

Read more at Eco-Business

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Banana production faces threat

Banana, one of the staple foods in East Africa, is under threat from a fungal disease. Kagera region in Tanzania and Luwero districts in Uganda are the most affected areas. Black Sigatoka leaf disease is caused by fungus Pseudocercospora fijiensis’ and was first reported in Tanzania in 1987 and Uganda in 1990. The survey on the severity of the problem has been sponsored by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Recommendations include the use of disease resistant banana varieties as the use of fungicides is not an option for resource constrained smallholder farmers.

As per estimates, East African Community (EAC) bloc generates annual revenue of the tune of $4.3 billion. Tanzania itself produces more than 3.5 million tonnes annually on an area of about 760,000 hectares as per 2016 data with more than 50% consumption within the country.

Read more at The Citizen