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External Food Security News

Extinction Rebellion activists launch UK Beyond Politics party by stealing food

By Diane Taylor from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 25, 2020.

Robin Hood-style shoplifting session at London supermarket ‘because poverty sucks’

A new political party was launched in London on Thursday by a group of activists from Extinction Rebellion, who marked the event by shoplifting a haul of supermarket goods to highlight the instability of global food distribution.

The stunt involved five members of the nascent Beyond Politics party walking out of Sainsbury’s in Camden with shopping trolleys filled with food but without paying.

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CGIAR Announces COVID-19 Hub

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jun 22, 2020.

Jun 23, 2020
Press Announcement

CGIAR Announces COVID-19 Hub

As the impacts of COVID-19 spread across the globe, the virus threatens more than health systems worldwide. It also poses serious risks to food security; local businesses and national economies; and hard-fought progress by stakeholders at all levels to…

New Study: Indian diets fall short of EAT-Lancet reference diet recommendations for human nutrition and environmental health

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jun 22, 2020.

Jun 23, 2020
Press Release

New Study: Indian diets fall short of EAT-Lancet reference diet recommendations for human nutrition and environmental health

New Delhi: Compared to an influential diet for promoting human and planetary health, the diets of average Indians are considered unhealthy: comprising excess consumption of cereals but not enough consumption of proteins, fruits, and vegetables, accordi…

From panic buying to food banks: how Britain fed itself in the first phase of coronavirus

By Jay Rayner from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 21, 2020.

From farmers to supermarket chiefs to frontline workers, this is the inside story of the food supply chain and Covid-19. Were we prepared for the storm – and what happens next?

For Kim McMaster the crisis began on 21 March. Each Saturday night she visits the vast Tesco Extra on Sheffield’s Savile Street to collect surplus food on behalf of the Norfolk Park Tenants and Residents Association. It’s then redistributed to about 100 people in need through a community pantry scheme run out of a local church. “Normally there will be eight to 10 trays waiting for us,” she says. “Fresh fruit, veg, eggs, bread, a full mix.” That Saturday there were no fresh vegetables at all. There really wasn’t much of anything. “There were just two trays. The manager was very upset. He said the shop had been stripped bare so there wasn’t any surplus.”

In London, at the Deptford headquarters of FareShare, the charity which redistributes food from throughout the supply chain that would otherwise go to waste, the story was becoming horribly familiar. As well as receiving deliveries direct from supermarkets and producers into their warehouses, FareShare has 7,000 affiliated charities across the country – food banks, community kitchens and the like – which, as with the Norfolk Park group , collect surplus direct from individual branches. But those supermarkets suddenly had nothing to give. “Almost overnight these charities had their supply cut off at the knees,” says the chief executive, Lindsay Boswell. “There was nothing we could do.”

We were seeing over multiple days sales we would expect to see over the one peak day in the run-up to Christmas

I’m terrified of the long-term, of the number of people who are going to need frontline charities for a while to come

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World faces worst food crisis for at least 50 years, UN warns

By Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 09, 2020.

Governments urged to act to avoid disaster from recession caused by coronavirus

The world stands on the brink of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years, the UN has warned as it urged governments to act swiftly to avoid disaster.

Better social protections for poor people are urgently needed as the looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond their reach, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday.

Related: Coronavirus world map: which countries have the most Covid-19 cases and deaths?

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‘Rolling emergency’ of locust swarms decimating Africa, Asia and Middle East

By Kaamil Ahmed from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 08, 2020.

Unseasonal rains have allowed desert pests to breed rapidly and spread across vast distances leaving devastation in their wake

Locust swarms threaten a “rolling emergency” that could endanger harvests and food security across parts of Africa and Asia for the rest of the year, experts warn.

An initial infestation of locusts in December was expected to die out during the current dry season. But unseasonal rains have allowed several generations of locust to breed, resulting in new swarms forming.

In normal times, locusts are not usually a threat. Desert locusts are a type of grasshopper that feed off vegetation but are usually solitary.

Related: ‘Make noise and don’t panic’: India tries to ward off locust invasion

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Drought forces Indonesian farmers to learn new skills – in pictures

By All photographs by Willy Kurniawan/Reuters. Selected by Natasha Rees-Bloor from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Jun 05, 2020.

As crops fail, farmers on Sumba island are weaving and fishing to make a living

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‘Make noise and don’t panic’: India tries to ward off locust invasion

By Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 28, 2020.

Delhi braces for swarm while farmers in badly-hit north play loud music and honk car horns to try to prevent decimation of fields

Residents of Delhi are bracing themselves for a possible invasion of locusts, which have been ravaging areas in the north of the country.

A change in wind direction could save the city, but Dr K L Gurjar, deputy director of the Locust Warning Organisation, has warned residents to be prepared to “make a lot of loud noise so that instead of settling, they keep flying and fly past the city. And don’t panic”.

Related: Locust crisis poses a danger to millions, forecasters warn

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Food-waste firm bags Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry as investors

By Rebecca Smithers from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 26, 2020.

US startup Apeel Sciences raises further $250m to help tackle supply chain disruption

A Californian startup that pioneered a high-tech solution to reducing food waste has secured personal investment from Oprah Winfrey and Katy Perry in its latest fundraising drive.

Perishable produce such as avocados, lemons and limes stay ripe for twice as long as usual due to an edible spray-on coating on their skin made from plant materials and devised by Apeel Sciences.

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'We can't turn them away': the family kitchen fighting lockdown hunger in Zimbabwe

By Nyasha Chingono in Harare from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 20, 2020.

Samantha Murozoki bartered her jeans and sneakers to stop the food running out, inspiring others to pitch in

It is 7am and hundreds of children have come out on this chilly morning to queue for a plate of porridge.

With makeshift masks covering their faces, the children wait for Samantha Murozoki to start dishing up the warm food into whatever plastic tub, plate, tin cup – or even ripped-off corner of a cardboard box – is presented to her.

This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering

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Kenya's pastoralists face hunger and conflict as locust plague continues

By Georgina Smith and Reuben Kayama in Isiolo from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 15, 2020.

As herds are devastated and crops destroyed across east Africa, there are fears of violence as competition for grazing increases

Tiampati Leletit had heard tales of massive desert locust swarms darkening Kenya’s horizon. But when they hit his farm the devastation was all too real. They ate everything.

“I have never seen anything like this. When the swarms of locust invaded, they consumed everything and all the vegetation was gone. The livestock had nothing to eat,” says the 32-year-old. In January, he had 80 goats. Today he has four.

Related: Food fears grow as swarms of locusts reach Uganda and Tanzania

Related: Billions of locusts swarm through Kenya - in pictures

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Malnutrition leading cause of death and ill health worldwide – report

By Karen McVeigh from Food security | The Guardian. Published on May 12, 2020.

Coronavirus highlights weakness of food and health systems, as Global Nutrition Report finds one in nine of world’s population is hungry

An overhaul of the world’s food and health systems is needed to tackle malnutrition, a “threat multiplier” that is now the leading cause of ill health and deaths globally, according to new analysis.

The Global Nutrition Report 2020 found that most people across the world cannot access or afford healthy food, due to agricultural systems that favour calories over nutrition as well as the ubiquity and low cost of highly processed foods. Inequalities exist across and within countries, it says.

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IFPRI Announces New Board Chair

By dsample from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on May 07, 2020.

May 7, 2020
Press Announcement

IFPRI Announces New Board Chair

The Board of Trustees of IFPRI announces the appointment of Emorn Udomkesmalee as the next chair of the Institute’s board.

Keeping America fed: six workers on life in the thick of the coronavirus crisis

By Susie Cagle in Oakland from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 22, 2020.

The essential workers manning grocery stores, restaurants, fields and warehouses in their own words

While millions of Americans shelter in place, either working from home or newly unemployed, essential workers are manning grocery stores, restaurants, fields and warehouses every day to keep the country fed.

Those workers find themselves on the frontlines of a food system straining under extra demand, with supply chains scrambled – and often without the necessary protections to keep them safe or financially secure. At least 41 grocery workers across the country have reportedly died of Covid-19 and thousands more employees of supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, meatpacking plants and distribution centers have tested positive for the virus.

Related: 'A disastrous situation': mountains of food wasted as coronavirus scrambles supply chain

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'Millions hang by a thread': extreme global hunger compounded by Covid-19

By Peter Beaumont from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 21, 2020.

Coronavirus ‘potentially catastrophic’ for nations already suffering food insecurity caused by famine, migration and unemployment

The warning from the World Food Programme (WFP) that 265 million people could be pushed into acute food insecurity by Covid-19, almost doubling last year’s total, is based on a complex combination of factors.

WFP’s latest warning underlines the increasing concern among experts in the field that for many the biggest impact will not be the disease, but the hunger hanging off its coat tails.

Related: 'Race against time' to prevent famines during coronavirus crisis

Related: UN agencies issue urgent coronavirus appeal after $2bn request falls well short

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Coronavirus crisis could double number of people suffering acute hunger - UN

By Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 21, 2020.

Report from UN World Food Programme and others warns 265m people are facing acute risk

The coronavirus crisis will push more than a quarter of a billion people to the brink of starvation unless swift action is taken to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions, the UN and other experts have warned.

About 265 million people around the world are forecast to be facing acute food insecurity by the end of this year, a doubling of the 130 million estimated to suffer severe food shortages last year.

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Research debunks claim Australia may face coronavirus food shortages

By Anne Davies from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 16, 2020.

Government agricultural body says low stocks of pasta, rice and flour are due to panic buying, not supply shortages

The federal government’s agricultural research body, Abares, has sought to debunk fears that Australia could run out of basic foodstuffs such as rice and wheat, though it says it is possible there could be temporary disruptions to supply chains due to Covid-19.

An Abares paper released overnight on Thursday says fears of feed shortages are misplaced and that dwindling stocks of rice, pasta and flour on supermarket shelves are due to consumers panic buying and not due to any fundamental shortages.

Related: Don't panic, Australia. The coronavirus doesn't mean we'll run out of food | David Littleproud

Related: 'I’ve never seen it like this': why vegetables are so expensive in Australia at the moment

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'Race against time' to prevent famines during coronavirus crisis

By Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 16, 2020.

UN calls for international solidarity to ease effects of Covid-19 on food security

Vulnerable parts of the developing world, particularly in Africa, are at risk of sliding into famine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while humanitarian relief efforts are being hindered by lockdowns and travel restrictions, according to the UN.

Experts raised the spectre of unrest similar to that seen in 2007-08 when food price rises sparked riots around the world, destabilising fragile states and fuelling conflict in ways that are still being felt. They told the Guardian that the world could still avoid such a crisis, but time was running out.

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Food rations to 1.4 million refugees cut in Uganda due to funding shortfall

By Samuel Okiror in Kampala from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 14, 2020.

World Food Programme announce 30% relief reduction, as farms and businesses shut in Covid-19 lockdown, fuelling hunger fears

Food rations have been cut to more than 1.4 million vulnerable refugees in Uganda by the World Food Programme (WFP) because of insufficient funds.

Announcing a 30% reduction to the relief food it distributes to refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from neighbouring South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, the WFP in Uganda warned that further cuts could follow.

Related: Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry

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Second wave of locusts in east Africa '20 times worse', says UN

By Samuel Okiror in Kampala from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 13, 2020.

UN warns of ‘alarming and unprecedented threat’ to food security and livelihoods in the region

A second wave of desert locusts is threatening east Africa with estimates that it will be 20 times worse then the plague that descended two months ago.

The locusts present “an extremely alarming and unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods, according to the UN. A swarm of just more than a third of a square mile can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

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Coronavirus could double number of people going hungry

By Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 09, 2020.

Exclusive: multinationals write to G7 and G20 urging leaders to keep borders open to trade and avert global food crisis

Food supplies across the world will be “massively disrupted” by the coronavirus, and unless governments act the number of people suffering chronic hunger could double, some of the world’s biggest food companies have warned.

Unilever, Nestlé and PepsiCo, along with farmers’ organisations, the UN Foundation, academics, and civil society groups, have written to world leaders, calling on them to keep borders open to trade in order to help society’s most vulnerable, and to invest in environmentally sustainable food production.

Related: Coronavirus measures could cause global food shortage, UN warns

Related: Coronavirus world map: which countries have the most cases and deaths?

Related: 'We will starve': Zimbabwe's poor full of misgiving over Covid-19 lockdown

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2020 Global Food Policy Report: Inclusive Food Systems Needed to Boost Development, Resilience

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Apr 07, 2020.

Apr 7, 2020
Press Release

2020 Global Food Policy Report: Inclusive Food Systems Needed to Boost Development, Resilience

Washington, D.C. – The rapid spread of COVID-19 and efforts to contain it are generating growing concerns that food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty may escalate, particularly among marginalized people in the developing world. To build more resili…

'We will starve': Zimbabwe's poor full of misgiving over Covid-19 lockdown

By Nyasha Chingono in Harare from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 03, 2020.

Unable to access state benefits, food and even running water as the country shuts up shop, people in Harare fear the worst

Nelson Mahunde, 70, trudges along the deserted streets of Harare’s central business district to collect his monthly pension.

In one hand, he clutches a pension letter; with the other, he hold on firmly to his walking stick.

How can we wash our hands regularly when there is no running water?

Related: Zimbabwe's president appeals for help to end country's 'financial isolation'

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Off our trolleys: what stockpiling in the coronavirus crisis reveals about us

By Bee Wilson from Food security | The Guardian. Published on Apr 03, 2020.

There is plenty of food to go round, which means there is no need for panic buying. But who said our relationship with food was fully rational? By Bee Wilson

This is a piece about panic buying in the time of coronavirus, and maybe I should stop right there. None of us needs more panic in our lives right now. If there’s one thing psychologists can agree on, it’s that panicky behaviour is contagious. Every time we read an article telling us not to be selfish and ransack the supermarkets, it triggers the thought that food is running out and we must urgently get to the nearest Tesco and buy five packets of pasta and as many tinned tomatoes and lentils as we can carry.

These are certainly unsettled times in which to feed ourselves. Over the past month, we have been exposed to an uncanny sight that has been almost unknown in Britain for decades: empty supermarket shelves. When you are not used to it, this sight does strange things to your insides.

Related: ‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?

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IFPRI Response to the Spread of COVID-19

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Mar 04, 2020.

Mar 19, 2020
Statement

IFPRI Response to the Spread of COVID-19

IFPRI response to the spread of Covid-19 for travel and public events to safeguard the health & safety of staff, their families, partners & stakeholders, and local communities.

Ato Newai Gebre-Ab

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Feb 25, 2020.

Feb 25, 2020
Press Statement

Ato Newai Gebre-Ab

IFPRI and the Ethiopia Strategy Support Program (ESSP) are saddened by the passing of Ato Newai Gebre-Ab, a champion of IFPRI's work who made many contributions to Ethiopia's development.

Securing the Harvest: A Forum on Improved Grain Storage for Smallholder Agriculture

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Feb 06, 2020.

Jan 24, 2020
Press Release

Securing the Harvest: A Forum on Improved Grain Storage for Smallholder Agriculture

According to the FAO, each year about 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption is lost after harvest and before reaching consumers. Postharvest losses not only reduce quantity but also the quality of stored grain and are amplified by cha…

NEW STUDY: Can avocado exports bring prosperity to Kenya’s smallholder farmer?

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Jan 14, 2020.

Dec 19, 2019
Press Release

NEW STUDY: Can avocado exports bring prosperity to Kenya’s smallholder farmer?

Exporting avocados to the high-value European market can raise incomes of smallholder avocado farmers in Kenya by nearly 39 percent, according to a new study.

PRESS RELEASE: National Nutrition Meeting to share evidence to tackle hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia

By pfowlkes from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Dec 13, 2019.

Dec 12, 2019
Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: National Nutrition Meeting to share evidence to tackle hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia

A national nutrition conference to present new research for ending malnutrition through the National Food and Nutrition Policy.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Despite progress, many children in Ethiopia remain stunted, diet diversity continues to pose a chall…

NEW BOOK: Africa’s “youth bulge” presents opportunity to advance rural development

By saggarwal from IFPRI Updates: News Releases RSS Feeds. Published on Dec 02, 2019.

Dec 3, 2019
Press Release

NEW BOOK: Africa’s “youth bulge” presents opportunity to advance rural development

The share of Africa’s young population is growing rapidly, presenting an opportunity to generate inclusive development benefiting African countries, particularly in rural areas.

Fracking industry advances with phase one exploratory applications in South Africa

By SusanClark from News. Published on Oct 20, 2017.

Fracking industry advances with phase one exploratory applications in South Africa
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What the closure of a small Suffolk factory says about the future of the automotive industry

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 30, 2017.

What the closure of a small Suffolk factory says about the future of the automotive industry
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Digging yourself a hole: how Australia is keeping coal current

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 30, 2017.

Digging yourself a hole: how Australia is keeping coal current
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How a circular economy can help prevent a global water crisis

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 29, 2017.

How a circular economy can help prevent a global water crisis
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Is Hurricane Harvey a harbinger for America’s future?

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 29, 2017.

Is Hurricane Harvey a harbinger for America’s future?
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New report says electric cars will dramatically improve Britain's energy security

By SusanClark from News. Published on Aug 25, 2017.

New report says electric cars will dramatically improve Britain's energy security
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Climate change could tarnish the flavour of cava, study suggests

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 23, 2017.

Climate change could tarnish the flavour of cava, study suggests
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How to win the climate wars – talk about local ‘pollution’ not global warming

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 23, 2017.

How to win the climate wars – talk about local ‘pollution’ not global warming
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Ecologist Special Report: The Al Hima Revival

By SusanClark from News. Published on Aug 22, 2017.

Ecologist Special Report: The Al Hima Revival
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Dealing with climate migration: 'what matters are our actions'

By brendan from News. Published on Aug 21, 2017.

Dealing with climate migration: 'what matters are our actions'
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Fin del Mandato: Una mirada retrospectiva y prospectiva

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Jun 04, 2014.

[3 de junio de 2014] GINEBRA – El 30 de mayo, Olivier De Schutter finalizó su segundo mandato como Relator Especial de Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación. Olivier asumió el cargo el 1 de mayo de 2008 y su mandato fue renovado por otros tres años en 2011.

Unhealthy diets greater threat to health than tobacco; UN expert calls for global regulation

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on May 19, 2014.

[19 May 2014] GENEVA – The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, called today for a new global agreement to regulate unhealthy diets.

Governments should use public purse to ‘buy justice’ in food systems – UN right to food expert

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on May 15, 2014.

[15 May 2014] GENEVA – Governments must exploit the full potential of public food purchasing in order to make food systems fairer and more sustainable, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, urged Thursday.

La democracia y la diversidad pueden subsanar sistemas alimentarios rotos

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Mar 09, 2014.

[10 de marzo de 2014] GINEBRA – El Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el derecho a la alimentación, Olivier De Schutter, hizo hoy un llamamiento para que se rediseñen de forma radical y democrática los sistemas alimentarios mundiales de forma que garanticen el derecho humano a una alimentación adecuada y el derecho fundamental de toda persona a no padecer hambre.

Registration opens for landmark conference on the transition to sustainable societies: EU5P

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Jan 28, 2014.

[29 January 2014] BRUSSELS – Olivier De Schutter is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Francqui International Conference on "Europe's Fifth Project" (EU5P), taking place on 8-9 May 2014 at the Palais des Académies in Brussels. Those interested in attending are invited to consult the full programme, which is now available.

UN right to food expert: “As Malaysia rises to ‘high-income status’, it must focus on the most vulnerable”

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Dec 17, 2013.

[18 December 2013] KUALA LUMPUR – “As it moves towards becoming a high-income country, Malaysia must ensure that growth is not achieved at the expense of the environment and the rights of vulnerable groups in society, such as the indigenous communities and migrant workers,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, said today at the end of his first official visit to the country.

“Bali package must allow ambitious food security policies” – UN expert on WTO Summit

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Dec 02, 2013.

GENEVA (2 December 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, today called for developing countries to be granted the freedom to use food reserves to help secure the right to food, without the threat of sanctions under current World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

The EU's Fifth Project: Transitional Governance in the Service of Sustainable Societies

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Nov 19, 2013.

[19 November 2013] BRUSSELS – "We need alternatives to GDP growth as the goal of public policy, and we need alternatives to work and wealth accumulation as the driving forces in our lives. A genuine transition in the way we live is the only true path to sustainability. But it must be accompanied by a transition in the way we govern. This is Europe’s fifth project.”

UN expert praises Africa’s commitment to “the right to adequate food”

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Oct 30, 2013.

[30 October 2013] GENEVA – The African Union is sending an important signal by using this year’s Africa Day for Food and Nutrition Security (Africa Day) to buttress the concept of the “right to adequate food” as an organizing framework for policies and strategies to address food and nutrition insecurity in Africa.

"El derecho a la alimentación ya no es un derecho olvidado" – el Relator Especial de la ONU elogia una década de progreso

By nicholas.jacobs@uclouvain.be (Nick Jacobs) from Biocombustibles - Olivier De Schutter | United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Published on Oct 24, 2013.

[25 de octubre de 2013] NEW YORK / GINEBRA – En su informe final ante la Asamblea General de la ONU, el Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho a la Alimentación, Olivier De Schutter, ha acogido con satisfacción "el resurgimiento de los derechos" que ha podido seguir atentamente en todo el mundo durante la última década.

Multi-disciplinary approaches to crop improvement for faster climate change adaptation

By Sakshi Saini from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jun 29, 2020.

Ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is a global concern due to the association of high atmospheric GHG concentrations with global warming and climate change. A large and growing body of evidence predicts that this would further have a multifaceted impact on the human population, especially the poor and vulnerable groups, further exacerbating their vulnerabilities.

But what about crops? Plants use carbon dioxide (CO2)one of the most abundant GHGs, for photosynthesis. So shouldn’t an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide aid crops to flourish? A counter-argument to this would be that at the same time there would be changes in other factors such as a change in precipitation rate, frequency and intensity of rains, among others, which might negatively impact crop production. So, how exactly would climatic variations impact the yield and productivity of crops? These are some of the questions that have been a global concern. Many studies have researched this, employing varied approaches such as systems biology, physiology and crop modelling. However, unprecedented changes in climatic conditions still pose uncertainties on the impacts on crops.

Recent research by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Chanage, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)-Africa and CCAFS-Asia aspires to answer some of these questions. As part of this research, they have compiled recent progress made in the physiological and molecular attributes in plants, with special emphasis on legumes under elevated CO2 conditions in a climate change scenario. The study proposes a strategic research framework for crop improvement that integrates genomics, systems biology, physiology and crop modelling approaches to cope with the changing climate. Some of the prime results of the study are as follows:

1. Major physiological and biochemical alterations in legumes triggered by elevated CO2

A range of physiological and biochemical alterations take place in plants exposed to elevated CO2. In the case of legumes, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations also affect the nutritional quality and nodulation, causes changes in rhizosphere and Biological Nitrogen Fixation (BNF), among others. Studies have shown that elevated CO2 would stimulate plant growth under nitrogen-sufficient conditions, but under nitrogen-limited conditions, it may have the detrimental effect of reducing plant growth by altering its primary metabolism. The anatomical differences between C3 and C4 plants (plants with C3 and C4 photosynthetic pathways) and their different ways of sequestering carbon (removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), have been an area of interest for climate scientists. Elevated CO2 combined with limited nitrogen may also promote biological ageing (senescence) rates as observed in flag leaves of rice and wheat. Studies also show that a higher level of carbon dioxide increases senescence rate in legumes.

2. Impact of elevated carbon-dioxide interaction with other abiotic stresses

As mentioned earlier, CO2 is not the only factor that is impacting plant growth, it is dependent on other environmental factors such as water deficit stress and temperature, among others. Thus, these factors also need to be considered in combination with the atmospheric concentration. Studies have reported that elevated CO2 induced a decrease (of 10%) in evaporation rates in both C3 and C4 plants. This caused an increase in canopy temperature (0.7 °C) coupled with a 19% yield increase in C3 crops. There is evidence that an increase in CO2 has also phased down the effect of oxidative stress. Though, there is limited literature available about the impact of elevated carbon dioxide keeping into consideration the drought and heat responses of various crops.

3. Elevated carbon dioxide and its interaction with biotic stress-altered pathogen aggravation and virulence

The changing climate has affected pest-crop dynamics with more frequent outbreaks and changed the geographical distribution of pests, posing an economic threat to crops. Sometimes, other abiotic stresses like drought could increase fungal virulence as reported in drought-tolerant peanut and Aspergillus interaction. However, a combined interaction is not always additive as both unique and common responses have been observed. Increased CO2 causes greater photosynthate availability, but reduced foliage quality along with an increased concentration of plant defensive compounds after a pest infestation. This, in turn, affects insect feeding and increases disease incidence and predator parasitism interactions.

4. Molecular interventions for crop improvement under elevated carbon-dioxide

While elevated CO2 may cause greater photosynthate availability, the interaction of elevated CO2 with mentioned biotic and abiotic stresses calls for the development of climate change ready crop varieties. Thus, genomics assisted breeding along with other modern approaches can be very powerful tools to develop superior varieties, to de-risk the existing food system. This transformative approach towards the production of plants and crops would be instrumental in sustainably ensuring food security.

An integrated research framework for the future

The discussion and evidence presented illustrate that the effect of elevated CO2 under a changing climate scenario is multifaceted and aggravated by the overlapping interaction of stressors. The notion that CO2 has beneficial effects in terms of increased productivity is now being questioned since the photosynthetic fertilization effect is short term and often not time-tested for major crop species. The IPCC 2018 special report highlights several policy-level approaches that are aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emission. The scientific community needs to be prepared with suitable research outcomes to cope with the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 levels. In this regard, an integrated framework combining different biological disciplines has been proposed by the team (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: A representation of a multifaceted strategy that could be employed to harness cutting edge technologies and greater precision to cope with elevated CO2, and generally with a changing climate.

While significant advances have been made in crop genomics, systems biology and genomics-assisted breeding, the success of trait dissection and trait deployment is very much dependent on the quality and precision of phenotyping. Recent advances in plant phenotyping using high throughput phenotyping tools have revolutionized the uptake of phenotype and allelic information in a more precise and robust way and complemented high throughput genomic resources

In the opinion of the authors of the publication, an integrated research framework that includes genomics/ systems biology and phenomics together with crop modelling would result in faster data-driven advances for understanding the optimal GxExM (genotype x environment x management) scenarios for current and projected climates. Interdisciplinary approaches as has been done through the Climate-Smart Village approach, are key to graduating from a descriptive level to an improved quantitative and process-level understanding of sustainable crop productivity.

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Climate change and Africa: Connecting land, food security, and gender

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on May 27, 2020.

A large proportion of Africa’s population is vulnerable to climate change due to their dependence on climate-sensitive livelihoods—including rainfed agriculture and natural resources—to meet food, nutrition, and income needs. In the coming decades, climate change will continue to strain resources such as soil, land, water, and forests, putting undue burdens on the most vulnerable as a result.

To avoid the most dire climate change predictions and increase the adaptive capacity of vulnerable populations, climate-related policies must be data-driven and scientifically informed. An example of this includes the work done by the Africa Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES), who are committed to informing and increasing the capacity of African policy makers and leaders to make climate-related policy decisions. AGNES spearheaded the process of unpacking Climate Change and Land—an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report—from which four policy briefs have been prepared, covering desertification, land degradation, food security and gender.

Desertification

A type of land degradation, desertification is specific to drylands, and is often caused by unsustainable human activities and worsened by climate change. Desertification exacerbates reductions in crop yield and weakens the resiliency of agricultural and pastoral systems, with adverse impacts on human health, food security, economic activity, physical infrastructure, natural resources, physical security, and the environment, often disproportionately affecting women and youth. Africa is especially vulnerable to this threat as an estimated 66 percent of the continent is classified as drylands and about 319 million hectares are considered especially vulnerable. According to AGNES, combating desertification requires multi-faceted approaches and tools, including policy interventions, integrated land management practices, and the use of indigenous knowledge at local and regional levels.  

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As Africa's population continues to grow, land degradation, including desertification, threatens food and nutrition security. Photo: Dan Gold (Unsplash)


Land degradation

Agriculture and deforestation are dominant drivers of land degradation, especially the inefficient use of agricultural resources, soil loss in cultivated lands, and expansion of cultivated land. Available estimates show that 46 percent of Africa’s land is degraded, affecting at least 485 million people, translating to an annual cost of USD 9.3 billion. Continued land degradation will render more than half of all cultivated land in Africa unproductive by 2050, with the cyclical relationship between land degradation and climate change intensifying food insecurity, biodiversity loss, and economic underdevelopment. To curb degradation, AGNES calls for inclusive early warning systems and an integrated landscape approach to land management.

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Food security

Climate change directly impacts food systems, and likewise, food and nutrition security. As productive land becomes increasingly scarce, food security in Africa will require a coordinated effort across multiple sectors. Empowering women is critical to develop synergies between food security and climate change adaptation and mitigation. AGNES stresses the need for an evidence-based approach, with food production research focused on resilience to both acute and long-term climatic events. Another set of tools lies in the development and diffusion of innovations and technologies. Additionally, priority should be given to food security across climate-related adaptation and mitigation plans at local, regional, and national levels.

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Gender

While gender is colloquially used to describe the needs and issues facing women and girls, AGNES stresses the term’s broader implications, including the social norms, roles, relationships, access to and control of resources, and responsibilities afforded to men and women. Women are constrained by traditional household and care duties as well as social norms which prevent them from taking an active role in power and decision-making spaces. Applying a gendered perspective to climate change policies and projects includes gender analysis, the collection of sex-disaggregated data, and proper budgeting for gender needs. AGNES also points to the need for national Gender Action Plans (GAPs) with well-designed monitoring and evaluation tools and regular audits to track gender equity progress.   

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Social determinants prevent women from accessing capital, land, information, and extension services, making them especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Photo: Anton Eitzinger (CIAT)


Accelerated transformation across the continent must include enabling policy environments accompanied by early warning systems, support to scientific innovations, capacity building, and equitable knowledge and technology transfer systems to ensure widespread uptake. Building inclusivity into integrated landscape approaches is critical to address the needs of distinct agro-ecological and climatic zones across Africa. Inclusive actions and policies must be participatory, with tracked gender outcomes, the creation of learning platforms, and training and capacity building for policymakers. Development strategies should contribute to low-emissions and climate-resilient agricultural pathways that center food security, are bolstered by data-rich analysis, and include climate modelling.  

Climate change is a profound threat the African continent is currently facing and is especially devastating for vulnerable populations. The themes explored in these briefs are important not only for understanding the current and ongoing impacts of climate change in Africa, but also for charting the way forward, towards a more resilient and equitable Africa.


The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), along with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Aga Khan University’s East Africa Institute, African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), International Development Research Council (IDRC), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the African Union Commision (AUC), provided financial and technical support to the production of the briefs.

Integrating gender and nutrition in Ugandan policy: An assessment

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Apr 24, 2020.

Most of Uganda’s population relies on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change: decreasing soil fertility, rainfall variability, extreme weather events, as well as pests and diseases, are only some of the challenges farmers are facing. Rural women in Uganda are especially vulnerable to these challenges, given their cultural responsibility to provide their families with nutritious food, fuel and safe water–resources that are becoming scarce following weather extremes.

The challenges notwithstanding, Uganda is still considered the “regional food basket” due to its high agricultural production. However, undernourishment has been on the rise, despite recent improvements in child nutrition. Adult obesity has also somewhat increased in the last few years, adding to the issue of malnutrition in the country.

Adequate focus on gender and nutrition in climate change and food security policies could help tackle these challenges. A recent study carried out by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)* shows that there is evidence of government efforts to include gender and nutrition perspectives in national policies, but that these are not consistently mainstreamed across climate change and food security policy documents.


 

Read the Policy Brief: Climate change, food and nutrition policies in Uganda: Are they gender- and nutrition-sensitive?

Recognizing the importance of agriculture, nutrition and gender in national plans

Uganda’s Comprehensive National Development Planning Framework consists of the major national plans and policies, such as their Vision 2040 and five-year national development plans, as well as sectoral policies, among others.

This framework acknowledges the impacts of climate change on the environment and economy, including agricultural production, productivity and incomes. It highlights agriculture as a key sector to be supported to improve access to food, boost income and increase nutrition security. The framework also emphasizes the major role of women in agricultural production and that women should be empowered to participate as equal partners in development.

This shows that gender and nutrition are being considered relevant to national policies. While this is promising, to help the government advance on these commitments, the study looked at how well a number of policy document integrates gender and nutrition, and made specific recommendations based on the findings.

Taking a closer look at gender and nutrition sensitivity in policy documents

The study examined 26 policy documents across 10 criteria to assess gender and nutrition sensitivity. The policy documents were selected from the vital sectors of water, environment, agriculture, health and education; 10 relate to climate change and 16 documents focus on food security.  The 10 criteria were adapted from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) key recommendations for improving nutrition through agriculture and food systems and the UN Network for Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) criteria and characteristics of “good” national nutrition plans. The criteria used are described in Table 1 of the Policy Brief.

The figures below show how many of the examined documents were gender and/or nutrition sensitive, listed by the 10 criteria.

In climate change policies:

Analysis of gender- and nutrition-sensitivity of climate change policies

In food security policies:

Analysis of gender- and nutrition-sensitivity of food and nutrition policies

Signs of ambition but still room for improvement

There is evidence of efforts to mainstream gender and nutrition in national policies. However, the study finds that gender and nutrition aspects are integrated unsystematically in both climate change and food security policies.

While effective policy implementation will require a systematic and coherent development of guiding documents (policies, implementation strategies, implementation guidelines, action plans and budgets), the study reveals the absence of some important documents along the hierarchy of guiding documents in both sectors. Other key documents, such as the Uganda Nutrition Action Plan 2018-2025 and the National Nutrition Policy are still in draft form.

There is also a lack of financial frameworks in more than half of the documents, which makes it difficult to track explicit sector allocations on gender and nutrition. Lastly, gender, climate change and nutrition are cross-cutting responsibilities of multiple sectors, however, very few policy documents provide for joint sector performance reviews.

Recommendations for policy-makers

The study makes some recommendations for policy-makers to consider:

  1. Sectors should systematically develop policies and guiding documents and align their provisions for gender, climate change and nutrition with the national targets set by the Comprehensive National Development Plan Framework.
  2. Sectors should systematically mainstream gender and nutrition throughout sections of the national guiding documents by stating explicit commitments. This should be informed by sector-specific gender analyses.
  3. Joint performance reviews involving various stakeholders should be held regularly to evaluate progress snd alignment with national vision as well as reduce the duplication of efforts.

Implementing these recommendations will advance Uganda’s efforts to improve gender, climate change, food, and nutrition outcomes, and thereby contribute to a more food-secure, resilient and equal world.

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* The study was done as part of the CCAFS Policy action for nutrition-sensitive climate-smart agriculture in Uganda and Ethiopia project, led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

First satellite-based insurance trial in Bangladesh helps farmers recover from flooding

By Sakshi Saini from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Apr 22, 2020.

When Ms. Eva Begum’s house was damaged by floods during the 2019 monsoon, she didn’t have to worry. As a participant in a trial of a satellite-based flood insurance scheme, she was entitled to compensation for loss of earnings as an agricultural labourer. She was able to use the BDT 3600 (USD $43) payout she received to quickly repair her home and get back on her feet. Without the insurance, she said, she would have had to take out a loan with interest, and would have been anxious about making the repayments.  

Ms. Begum was one of 3,500 smallholders (750 households) from two upazila (sub-districts) of Gaibandha district, Bangladesh, to benefit from the scheme. In total, the farmers received compensation of BDT 2.67 million (USD $31,500). The initiative, developed as part of Oxfam Bangladesh’s Resilience through Economic Empowerment, Climate Adaptation, Leadership and Learning (REE-CALL) program, was the first in the country to use satellite data to insure low-income rural households against climate-related risks.

Under the REE-CALL program, smallholders took out capital loans from microfinance companies. Oxfam Bangladesh wanted to provide insurance so that farmers would be financially secure even if flooding damaged their crops. Therefore, it joined forces with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the CGIAR Research Programs on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), insurance firms Green Delta Insurance Company (GDIC) and Swiss Re, and microfinance company SKS Foundation, to develop an innovative Index Based Flood Insurance (IBFI).

To develop the underlying model, IWMI researchers used 250m by 250m data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA’s MODIS) satellite to map inundation on a daily basis from 2001 to 2018. This helped to highlight historic flooding patterns and show where inundation was most likely to occur in future. They validated the model using water-level data from the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-1 SAR satellite data. Insurance experts then designed payout conditions around anticipated timings and levels of flooding, potential crop damage, wages and other socioeconomic factors. They set the sum insured at BDT 12,000 (USD $140).

The model works by calculating, from the satellite images, the proportion of land that is inundated in relation to the total geographical area of the upazila in question. If flooding occurs on seven consecutive days, with at least 40% of land inundated, farmers receive 20% of the sum insured; if flooding occurs for this period across at least 50% of the area they are paid 40%. For prolonged flooding across 14 consecutive days that affects at least 40% of the area, they receive 30% of the sum insured. And they are entitled to 50% of the sum if the inundation affects at least 50% of the area for this period.

Putting the model to use

The heavy monsoon rains in July 2019 affected 7.3 million people in Bangladesh. Nine districts were severely flooded, including Gaibandha. IWMI and partners calculated that households in the two participating sub-districts of Fulchari and Sughatta should be compensated by BDT 2,617,200 (USD $30,850) and BDT 55,200 (USD $650) respectively, for damage to crops incurred during the insurance period of August to October.

 

The area of Fulchari sub-district affected by flooding on particular dates during the 2019 monsoon. Source: IWMI

The payout took just two weeks to ascertain. Shortly after, farmers received individual payouts direct to their bank accounts. “IWMI’s support in providing remote sensing data and analysis greatly assisted the insurers to develop the claim settlement part of the IBFI, and to calculate payouts for distribution among 750 destitute households in Gaibandha,” says Mr. K. N. M. N. Azam, Senior Program Officer, Oxfam, Bangladesh, who led the project. 

In January 2020, an event was organized by Oxfam and held in the Jahur Hossain Chowdhury Hall, National Press Club, in Dhaka, to publicise the insurance payout. At the meeting, there were calls for larger numbers of farmers to be supported by such insurance schemes. Fazle Rabbi Miah, the incumbent Member of Parliament for Gaibandha-5 and current Deputy Speaker of the Bangladeshi Parliament, suggested that the Director General of the Department of Disaster Management should allocate money for paying premiums as part of disaster preparedness, to reduce the suffering of vulnerable people when disasters occur.

In the past, poorer farmers were excluded from insurance as they could not afford the premiums. However, IBFI’s use of satellite technology negates the need for wide-ranging checks on the ground, keeping premium rates within affordable limits and ensuring claims can be settled quickly. “IWMI’s support in preparing standard flood index insurance data products has helped GDIC to explore new opportunities in agricultural insurance,” says Ali Tareque Parvez, Senior Vice President, Agriculture Team, Green Delta Insurance, Dhaka.

Disasters on the rise

Across South Asia, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters, displacing populations, exacerbating conflicts and hindering efforts to reduce poverty and inequality. Such events particularly affect poor and vulnerable people who depend on agriculture for livelihoods and subsistence. At the present time, the risks are even greater than usual because South Asian nations face the prospect of the current coronavirus pandemic coinciding with extreme weather. With the monsoon season advancing as lockdown measures are being put in place, it is possible that flooding could displace thousands of people already made vulnerable by pandemic-disrupted supply chains.

IWMI is now working with Oxfam Bangladesh, UN World Food Programme (WFP) and partners to expand the IBFI to another district in the northern part of the country. Scaling up such insurance schemes has the potential to benefit not only farmers but also governments and the private sector. Building farmers’ resilience to both climate shocks – and other risks – in developing countries, will mean governments have a greater chance of reducing the costs of post-disaster recovery.

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Formulating long-term, climate-resilient development strategies for agriculture

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Apr 17, 2020.

Agriculture is a key sector for most African economies but it is highly sensitive to weather and climate variability. Climate change poses major risks, threatens development and will exacerbate food and nutrition insecurity.

Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia are among the most vulnerable countries to adverse climate change impacts. This implies a need to shift from business-as-usual (BAU) to low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathways. These will not only address future climate risks, particularly in the agriculture sector, but will also enable countries to prosper under a changing climate while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their pursuit of economic development.

Global commitments

The Paris Agreement requires countries to communicate to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, by 2020, their respective “mid-century long-term low emissions, climate resilient development strategies”. These long-term strategies should establish a visionary agenda for bold, concrete actions that will inform near- and long-term investments for enhanced low emissions and climate-resilient development while helping to limit global warming. Additionally, these strategies will provide key guidance and pathways for countries in updating their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These pathways should include long-term development planning in the context of climate risks and uncertainties. Furthermore, they should foster coherence and coordination across the entire economy, and define choices and trade-offs necessary for achieving the country’s low carbon, climate-resilient development pathway.

Countries have an opportunity to develop a farsighted approach to development and climate–one that builds medium and long-term development plans and will help bring about transformation in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Long-term strategy formulation

In 2015, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia submitted ambitious NDC targets for emissions reduction from a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario by 2030: 45%, 30%, 22% and 47% for Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, respectively. 

Emissions reduction in business-as-usual scenario by 2030 in the current NDCs in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia

These countries are updating their NDCs for submission to the UNFCCC before the end of 2020. However, a long-term approach is necessary to define the development aspirations in a changing climate. Thus, it is imperative to develop long-term, low-carbon, climate-resilient development strategies into which the NDCs and other short-term development goals will feed.

The Africa Group of Negotiators Experts Support (AGNES) has partnered with several organizations*, including the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), to support the formulation of such long-term strategies and to update the agriculture component of the NDCs for the four countries. In addition, the partners will work to build national capacity to support the continued transformation to green growth pathways.

A six-step road map for engagement

In collaboration with each country’s agriculture ministry, a situation analysis (step 1) of relevant policy frameworks and development plans is underway to establish the status of the agriculture sector (baseline). This will identify needed actions for these countries to shift from the BAU scenario and create agricultural transformation. Next, a national multi-stakeholder consultation (step 2) will bring together key stakeholders who will interrogate and validate the situation analysis and help define the scope of the long-term strategies.

The team consisting of partner organizations will then create future climate scenarios/pathways (step 3) by downscaling climate projections and presenting plausible scenarios to inform the choices of the most appropriate options to be pursued. A national expert working session (step 4) will then be held to co-design pathways. This will bring together technical experts from ministries of agriculture, planning, environment, meteorological services and others to develop long-term scenarios and agree on priority mitigation and adaptation actions.

A national stakeholder validation workshop (step 5) will then allow stakeholders to consider the draft agriculture long-term strategies/NDCs for final inputs. Finally, the revised agriculture strategies and updated NDCs (step 6) will be finalized with the technical expert teams to incorporate the comments from the national stakeholder validation meeting.

Lesson sharing and replicability

This approach to using a long-term, low emission strategy and pathway to guide the setting of shorter-term targets is not limited to the agricultural sector or to these four pioneering countries. Lessons learned from the processes in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia will be documented as a guideline to be shared with other countries and sectors interested in adopting a similar process.

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* Additional partners: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS); Alliance of Bioversity International – CIAT; International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI); East African Institute of the Aga Khan University (EAI-AKU); and World Wide Fund for Nature Kenya (WWF-Kenya

How do we establish a Climate-Smart Village?

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Apr 10, 2020.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) published a guide for agricultural development workers and policymakers that wish to apply the Climate-Smart Village (CSV) approach. The guide, titled “Eight Guide Steps for Setting Up a Climate-Smart Village: A Trainer’s Guide,” aims to improve their understanding of the approach. It provides practical insights for those trying to implement the approach, and hopes to support policymakers in fostering the enabling policy and institutional environment that will help CSVs thrive.

CSVs, the guide clarifies, are not new communities that are built from the ground up; they are set up in existing communities that are selected based on certain criteria. The guide explains this selection of suitable communities along with the process of gathering information such as climate risks, community needs, and pathways for scaling.

What makes the guide useful for a wide range of stakeholders is its flexibility, practicality, and simplicity. The training program, session guides, and suggested itineraries can be adjusted based on the target community. Since it is published digitally, it has relevant links that users can readily access. The major contents of the guide are summarized in eight key steps, which were drawn from the years-worth of CSV implementation in select Southeast Asian countries.  

The CSV approach: participatory and process-oriented

The participation of relevant stakeholders is at the heart of CSV implementation. Following the guide, the residents at the potential CSV, local government units, non-government organizations, and other relevant stakeholders are included in the evaluation of each step, ensuring that their insights, comments, and suggestions are considered in the entire process.

The process of CSV implementation is conducted with emphasis on both theory and practice. The theoretical component answers the five “W”s: who, what, when, where, and why. The practical component resolves the one “H”: the how-to.

The guide instructs CSV implementers to pinpoint the key players they need to engage. The climate-smart options that will be implemented are identified too. The potential CSV is selected based on how it represents its larger agro-ecological system. Draft itineraries are provided to conduct the activities smoothly. Most importantly, the key players are given time and space to learn why the CSV will be implemented in the first place.

Towards scaling 

In each step, implementers are provided with tools—participatory action research approaches that will help them accomplish their goals. Not only are these tools useful for CSV implementation, they are also applicable for scaling. The scaling is an entirely separate step aimed to generate outcomes from the climate-smart options and the CSV approach itself. It can be horizontal (adoption of climate-smart options among farmers) or vertical (mainstreaming of options or the CSV approach in policies and institutions).

With this format, the guide equips the implementers with the necessary knowledge, attitude, skills, and practices they need to implement the CSV approach. Although it highlights the importance of following a step-by-step process, it allows implementers to make adjustments as long as the specific and general objectives are achieved.

Download the publication: Gonsalves J, Baguilat I, Bantayan R, Bernardo EB, Sebastian L. 2020. Eight guide steps for setting up a Climate-Smart Village: A trainer's guide. Cavite, Philipppines: International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR).

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Scaling climate-resilient agribusinesses in East Africa

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Mar 05, 2020.

There are growing private-sector driven efforts to scale up climate-smart agriculture (CSA) interventions in East Africa. These measures are aimed at building resilient farming systems through sustainable intensification across different agroecological zones. The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project is one such initiative. It supports a market-driven scaling agenda through inclusive business models along selected oilseed, pulse and potato agricultural value chains in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is one of the partners in the CRAFT project that is implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organization.

Crops that are included in the initiative are potatoes, green grams, common beans and sorghum in Kenya; soybeans, sesame, sunflower and potato in Uganda; and common beans, sunflower, sorghum and potato in Tanzania. These crops were selected based on: 

  • Sufficient private sector interest and capacity for co-investment; 
  • Adequate domestic consumption to drive market development opportunities; 
  • Ample evidence of climate change risks projected to impact their value chains.

SNV has co-partnered with several high-potential small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across these value chains. CCAFS is working with SNV to enhance the capacity of SMEs to increase the availability of improved farm inputs, train farmers in CSA production practices and post-harvest management, and deliver climate information services.

Among these SMEs is Equator Seeds Limited (ESL) in Uganda. ESL handles the production, processing and distribution of improved seeds; provides extension support to out-grower farmers; and operates agricultural equipment hire services. The company will work with SNV to scale up the supply of improved sesame seeds from its current levels of production of about 190 tons per year to 1,000 tons per year. Such seeds will be marketed through agro-dealers to a target population of about 30,000 sesame producers.

Finding the scaling sweet spot

Reaching large numbers of beneficiaries or clients with a specific technology or practice as described above is how scaling is commonly understood. In the scaling literature, this approach is referred to as horizontal scaling. This type of scaling entails the replication, roll-out or expansion of proven innovations to more people in existing or new markets and contexts. In the vast majority of agricultural development contexts, however, the adoption and continued use of new innovations by small-scale farmers do not happen in isolation. It requires engaging with various complementary non-technological mechanisms (rules, policies, institutions, etc.) to create an enabling environment for innovations to go to scale. This process is usually referred to as vertical scaling and focuses on changing or strengthening existing policies and practices by governments, the public and private institutions.

Successful strategies to scaling tend to combine elements from both horizontal and vertical approaches. This ensures that relevant key actors and multiple levels of governance come together to facilitate the uptake of proven innovations. An innovation may be “ready” in a technical sense, in that its core components have been successfully tested to meet specific objectives in a specific environment. However, if existing systemic barriers (institutional, structural, policy, etc.) in the intervention context or landscape are not sufficiently understood and adequately addressed, the innovation may fail to go to scale.

Indeed, CRAFT recognizes the important role that public institutions play in facilitating and implementing climate-resilient farming and adaptation to climate change at the national and local levels. Among the project’s core objectives is to support policy efforts to address the most significant institutional and socio-economic barriers for large-scale CSA interventions. Given this, the project’s scaling activities are guided by a private-sector driven agenda that supports business champions to horizontally scale their innovations. To complement this, CRAFT will engage and collaborate with relevant institutions and actors to harness additional support and resources through vertical approaches.

In each implementing context, CRAFT will need to understand well and engage the system dynamics that determine the ‘scalability’ of innovations. These include incentives, required services, conducive policies and regulations and other relevant characteristics of the sector. For instance, a widespread sale of counterfeit seeds in Uganda’s agricultural sector stifles not only yield potential but farmers’ trust to invest in improved CSA farm inputs. Addressing this problem requires collaborative institutional action to effectively enforce quality standards and regulations in the production, multiplication and distribution of sesame seeds. Overall, developing effective and realistic scaling strategies demands flexibility in project design and implementation. This allows for the delivery of innovations that answer to local conditions and work within the confines of the wider agricultural systems of a particular context.

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Des initiatives prometteuses pour des politiques agricoles plus adaptées au climat en Afrique de l'Ouest

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Feb 26, 2020.

Le potentiel agricole de l'Afrique subsaharienne est énorme. Sur le continent, l'agriculture représente au moins 30% du produit intérieur brut. Nonobstant, la faim et la malnutrition persistent en partie à cause des effets négatifs du changement climatique sur le secteur agricole. Selon des scenarii futurs, ces effets pourraient aller crescendo à moins que des efforts pour améliorer durablement la productivité du secteur soient fournis.

Les initiatives les plus prometteuses concernant le futur état de l'agriculture visent à assurer durablement une agriculture plus résiliente au changement climatique. En 2019, le programme CCAFS en Afrique de l'Ouest a lancé un projet qui contribue aux initiatives politiques émergentes dans la région, tels que les plans nationaux de développement agricole ainsi que les Contributions Déterminées au Niveau national (CDN), dans le cadre de l'action climatique entreprises par certains pays en vue de la réalisation de l'Accord de Paris sur le Climat.

Des avancées majeures pour des futures actions plus percutantes

Le CCAFS œuvre à produire et partager des évidences scientifiques dans l’optique de sensibiliser aux impacts du changement climatique sur l'agriculture. Aussi nourrit-il l’ambition de plaider pour l'intégration de l'agriculture intelligente face au climat dans les plans de développement aux niveaux nationaux en Afrique de l’Ouest.

Dans le cadre de ce projet, plusieurs plateformes de partage de connaissance appelées «platesformes de dialogue science-politique» ont été lancées aux niveaux national et au niveau des districts. Ces plates-formes constituent des voies permettant aux parties prenantes issus de divers horizons avec différentes expertises de partager sur le sujet du changement climatique, de l'agriculture et autres questions connexes aux niveaux national et des districts. Les participants à ces plateformes comprennent les autorités publiques, les scientifiques, les organisations d’agriculteurs, la société civile et les médias. Les plateformes constituent une approche innovante pour mieux impliquer les décideurs et intégrer durablement le changement climatique dans les plans nationaux de développement agricole ou rural.

Il y a de cela cinq ans, CCAFS, en collaboration avec les parties prenantes nationales, a commencé à travailler en étroite collaboration dans le cadre d'un projet de dialogue science-politique visant à faire de la réponse au changement climatique un enjeu clé des politiques et plans de sécurité alimentaire au niveau national et au niveau des districts. Le projet propose également des solutions possibles et des pistes; pour des pays tels que le Ghana et le Niger; pour les pratiques et technologies de l’agriculture  intelligente face au climat.

Les plateformes du Ghana et du Niger ouvrent la voie 

Au fil des ans, et en particulier en 2019, les plateformes du Ghana et du Niger ont été plus actives dans les interfaces science-politique sur le changement climatique, l'agriculture intelligente face au climat et les questions connexes.
Au Ghana, par exemple, la plateforme nationale a entrepris de nombreuses activités réussies et prometteuses, telles que:
 

Grâce à un soutien stratégique et technique émanant du CCAFS, la plateforme du Niger a, à son tour, pu promouvoir une agriculture intelligente face au climat dans le pays. Depuis 2012, le CCAFS en Afrique de l'Ouest a organisé des rencontres avec des partenaires stratégiques dans le but de développer des synergies d'actions à plusieurs niveaux, la mobilisation des ressources ainsi que le partage d'expériences. En 2019, par exemple, une série de rencontres du genre de la plateforme du Niger a abouti à un plan d'action budgétisé et un décret signé par le Premier ministre nigérien. 

Le meilleur reste à venir

Le projet science-politique du CCAFS prévoit d'importantes activités au cours des prochains mois, Parmi lesquelles:

  • Une réflexion sur les priorités nationales liées au changement climatique, à l'agriculture et à la sécurité alimentaire au Burkina Faso, au Ghana, au Mali, au Niger et au Sénégal,

  • L'indentification d'un processus participatif et interactif de collaboration avec les acteurs nationaux de l'agriculture et du changement climatique,

  • L'accompagnement de pays tels que le Ghana, le Niger et le Mali dans le développement de projets bancables éligibles aux initiatives de financement climatique telles que le Fonds Verts pour le Climat,

  • Rapprochement des plateformes nationales avec des entités régionales similaires telles que l'Alliance ouest-africaine pour une agriculture intelligente face au climat dirigée par la Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (CEDEAO).

Grâce à de telles initiatives, CCAFS, avec d'autres acteurs agricoles et politiques, participe de manière substantielle aux efforts visant à élaborer des plans et des politiques agricoles fondés sur la science. Tous ces efforts visent le développement durable du secteur agricole dans le contexte du changement climatique en Afrique de l'Ouest

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Promising agricultural development initiatives to rapidly impact policy change in West Africa

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Feb 26, 2020.

The agricultural potential of sub-Saharan Africa is enormous. Across the continent, agriculture constitutes at least 30% of the gross domestic product. At the same time, hunger and malnutrition persist on the continent partly because of the negative effects of climate change on the agricultural sector. According to projections, these effects might worsen if efforts to sustainably enhance productivity in the sector are not made.

Most promising initiatives regarding the future state of agriculture aim to sustainably ensure a more climate change resilient agriculture. In 2019, the CCAFS West Africa program started a project that contributes to emerging policy initiatives in the region like the national agricultural plans and the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs), as part of the countries’ climate action towards achieving the Paris Agreement.

Major breakthroughs for more impactful future actions

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) aims to use scientific evidence to create awareness on climate change impacts on agriculture as well as advocate for the mainstreaming of climate-smart agriculture into development plans.

Five years ago, CCAFS, in collaboration with national stakeholders, started working closely on a science-policy dialogue project aiming to make climate change response a key issue in national and district-level food security policies and plans. The project also presents possible solutions and ways forward for countries such as Ghana and Niger, through the use of climate-smart agriculture practices and technologies.

As part of that project, several knowledge sharing hubs called “science-policy dialogue platforms” were launched at both national and district levels. These platforms are avenues for stakeholders from various backgrounds to discuss issues related to climate change and agriculture at both national and district levels. Participants of these platforms include public authorities, scientists, farmers’ organizations, civil society and the media. The platforms constitute an innovative approach to better engage decision-makers and sustainably mainstream climate change into national agricultural or rural development plans.

Ghana and Niger platforms leading the way

Through the years, and especially in 2019, the platforms in Ghana and Niger have been especially active and have been leading science-policy interfaces on climate change, climate-smart agriculture and related issues.

In Ghana, for instance, the national platform has undertaken many successful and promising activities, such as:

Through strategic and technical support from CCAFS, the Niger platform has also been able to promote climate-smart agriculture in the country. Since 2012, the CCAFS West Africa program has taken the lead in organizing meetings with the aim to develop multi-levels actors’ synergies of actions, resources mobilization and experience sharing. In 2019, for example, a meeting of the Niger platform resulted in a budgeted plan of action and a decree signed by the Nigerien Prime Minister supported the Niger platform.

Exciting developments ahead

The CCAFS science-policy project is planning important activities in the coming months, including:

  • Reflecting on national priorities related to climate change, agriculture and food security in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal.  
  • Defining a participatory and interactive process to collaborate with national agriculture and climate change actors.
  • Assisting countries like Ghana, Niger and Mali in the development of eligible bankable projects to climate finance initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund.
  • Linking the national platforms with the regional similar entities such as the West African Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Through such initiatives, CCAFS, along with other agricultural and political actors, is participating substantially in efforts towards science-informed agricultural plans and policies. All of these efforts are aimed at the sustainable development of the agricultural sector in the context of climate change in West Africa.

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Midiendo climáticamente el cultivo de arroz

By from CCAFS Research highlights. Published on Jan 24, 2020.

Desde su lanzamiento por parte de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO) en 2010, el enfoque de Agricultura Sostenible Adaptada al Clima (ASAC) ha sido moldeado por la gran cantidad de evidencia que demuestra cómo la gestión agrícola adecuada puede promover una agricultura sostenible en escenarios de cambio climático.

La evidencia en torno a la ASAC tiene como objetivo evaluar objetivos claros que se aplican ampliamente a todos los sistemas agrícolas como: "aumentar de manera sostenible la productividad y los ingresos agrícolas; adaptar y construir resiliencia al cambio climático; y reducir y / o eliminar las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, cuando sea posible".

Aunque la ASAC se basa en declaraciones claras y pilares bien conocidos (mitigación, adaptación y productividad), la “inteligencia climática” entendida como un atributo de los sistemas agrícolas que logran los objetivos de CSA es más compleja de entender. Tal complejidad radica en el hecho de que la inteligencia climática variaría según las prioridades de adaptación y mitigación, las condiciones agroclimáticas, los riesgos climáticos, la idoneidad de las prácticas, entre otros.

Por ejemplo, las tecnologías de riego que ahorran agua son altamente recomendables en los campos de arroz propensos a la escasez de agua. Sin embargo, los suelos arcillosos son más adecuados para tales prácticas, ya que son propensos a generar mayores ahorros de agua sin penalizaciones de rendimiento que los suelos arenosos.

Del mismo modo, durante la estación seca, la escasez de agua podría ser un problema prioritario, pero esto podría cambiar durante la temporada de lluvias, donde el problema principal podría ser la producción de metano por el anegamiento prolongado.

Definir "cuándo" una práctica contribuye a la inteligencia climática y "cuánto" lo hace, es importante para apoyar la evaluación y el monitoreo de tecnologías climáticamente inteligentes, así como contribuir al informe sistemático de la evidencia, facilitando análisis globales y comparaciones espacio-temporales.

Diseño de un Índice de Inteligencia Climática

Para contribuir con una evaluación confiable y replicable de tecnologías climáticamente inteligentes, se propuso un marco metodológico para el diseño de Índices de Inteligencia Climática (IIC). Este trabajo se presentó en un artículo científico titulado: "Un índice de inteligencia climática (IIC) basado en la intensidad de los gases de efecto invernadero y la productividad del agua: aplicación al cultivo de arroz".

Este marco siguió la estructura del diseño genérico de un índice compuesto. Primero, se desarrolló un marco conceptual basado en la definición de inteligencia climática para el arroz; segundo, se seleccionaron indicadores para representar dicha inteligencia climática y, finalmente, se decidió la ponderación y la agregación de dichos indicadores.

El IIC resultante, agrega indicadores normalizados de productividad del agua (PA) e intensidad de gases de efecto invernadero (IGEI) igualmente ponderados, para representar la relación inversa entre PA e IGEI.

Figura 1. Diagramas de dispersión de la relación entre la intensidad de los gases de efecto invernadero (GHGI) y la productividad del agua (WP) representada en un mapa de calor que indica los valores del IIC. Fuente: Arenas-Calle et al (2019)

El IIC presenta una escala entre -1 y 1, donde los valores negativos indican una menor inteligencia climática por un alto IGEI, bajo PA o ambos. Por el contrario, los valores cercanos a 1 están asociados con una alta inteligencia climática, que puede asociarse con un bajo IGEI, un alto PA o ambos.

El IIC presentado en el artículo ofrece una contribución novedosa al creciente cuerpo de literatura sobre ASAC al proporcionar una única métrica cuantificable de inteligencia climática.

Los desarrollos futuros de este trabajo pueden centrarse en el desarrollo de métricas equivalentes para su aplicación en otros sistemas y contextos agrícolas, contribuyendo a la construcción de una base de evidencia replicable y comparable para la práctica y planificación agrícola sostenible y adaptada al clima.

Productividad del agua: comparando tecnologías

Para probar el IIC, se utilizaron datos publicados de comparaciones pareadas entre la alternancia de humectación/secado y tratamientos de inundación continua. Diversos estudios sobre las emisiones de N2O y CH4, el aporte total de agua y el rendimiento, se utilizaron para calcular el IIC.

En todos los experimentos seleccionados en este estudio, los tratamientos de alternancia de humectación/secado alcanzaron puntajes más altos que los tratamientos de inundación continua, gracias a un incremento en la productividad del agua, una reducción de las emisiones de GEI, o ambos (que lograron los puntajes IIC más altos en este estudio).

Además, el IIC permitió comparar diferentes estudios bajo una escala normalizada, lo que ayuda a dimensionar el rendimiento del tratamiento de humectación/secado entre diferentes condiciones.

Los resultados de CSI para los tratamientos de humectación/secado evidenciaron la fuerte dependencia del contexto de la inteligencia climática, que mostró ser un atributo dinámico asociado con la respuesta espacial y temporal de los cultivos a las condiciones climáticas y el manejo agrícola, y que las afirmaciones prefijadas de la inteligencia climática asociadas con una gestión / estrategia particular debe ser manejada de manera conservadora.

El contexto de inteligencia climática es un atributo dinámico como lo demuestran  de los resultados de CSI para los tratamientos de humectación/secado. Cuando se asocia con la respuesta espacial y temporal de los cultivos a las condiciones climáticas y al desarrollo agrícola, puede verse  su dinamismo.

La investigación también concluye qué las afirmaciones prefijadas de inteligencia climática asociadas con una estrategia / gestión particular deberían ser manejadas de manera conservadora.

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