The Human Consciousness Now...Our World in the Midst of Becoming...to What? Observe, contemplate Now.
- Beauty Manake moves around these days with a âmillion dollarâ smile on her face. The 31-year old woman from Botswana now runs a thriving vegetable and livestock farm, as well as an agribusiness consultancy group.
But she hadnât planned on being a farmer. In 2007, she graduated from the University of Botswana with a degree in Business Information Systems, landing what she describes as âa well-paying job in a company of choice as a systems technologist.â Two years later she resigned when she decided to take the jump and go into farming.
âI discovered that my mother was making four times what I was earning â¦.so I thought I have been reading (studying) a lot and this woman hasnât been in school â¦ not even one day and she is making a lot of money. Is this how I am going to continue in this corporate world? While my mother is out there, being her own boss, making a lot of money? Basically thatâs how I entered into farming. I entered into farming not because I was passionate about it, I didnât know anything about farming, I entered into farming because I wanted money and I wanted it quick,â she said.
In 2009, Beauty started Kungo Farms, a 35-hectare farm situated 8km from her home village of Bobonong in central Botswana. âI grow vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet peppers and cabbages all year round on a rotational basis,â she told IPS.
She has since extended the estate to include over 250 fruit trees such as mangoes, citrus, plums and litchis. Some 550 km from Kungo Farms, Beauty opened up a beef production cattle ranch of 3,600 hectares called Pii Jena, which means âmilk borehole,â in the local Khoisan language.
The ranch now has about 500 cattle and Beauty practices what she calls winner production. âIn winner production, we take the calves from their mothers when they are about eight months, then we take them off the veld, and sell them to the Botswana Meat Commission which is our biggest and most lucrative market, and then they continue in the whole value chain of slaughtering and finishing the beef,â she explained.
But Beauty, like many other farmers in dry Botswana, faces significant challenges, with climate change frequently denting her resolve.
âEach and every year, I am hit by something. If it is not heat, itâs frostâ¦this year there was no frost but heat has just hit us right nowâ¦It wipes off the whole thingâ¦ there is no insurance… Everything dies there and thatâs the rest of you. You have to start reinvesting again. Buying new plants, buying new fertilizers, buying everythingâ¦.Itâs amazing and we still go back to it, and the reason why I am still in this business is because I believe there is potential for growth. If people are eating every second, what stops us from making money from it?â
âNow, Iâm passionate about it, I live it, I eat it, I do everything to do with farmingâ¦for me, walking into a field every day and seeing how green it is, smelling the smell of orangesâ¦itâs therapeutic,â she said.
Beauty Manake wonât reveal her earnings, but admits that she does not regret resigning from her white-collar job. âThere is money in agriculture,â she told IPS, simply.
Beautyâs involvement in agribusiness falls in line with persistent campaigns by the New Partnership for Africaâs Development, NEPAD, that sees increased agricultural yields and the development of value chains as the way to go for Africa to achieve sustainable development.
âAgribusiness and agro-industries account for more than 30% of national incomes as well as the bulk of export revenues,â says Estherine Fotabong, the Director of Programs for NEPAD.
With women producing a large portion of the food in Africa, Fotabong believes it is necessary for women to be sufficiently empowered to take advantage of the opportunities agribusiness offers. This, she said should include training, access to finding as well as the provision of inputs.
Fotabong also weighs in on how post-harvest losses, amounting to 40 per cent of the food produced in the continent, can be addressed.
She calls for the construction of roads, storage facilities as well as processing units. âWe must seriously address the problem of post-harvest losses if we hope to achieve the targets of Malabo and the Agenda â63,â she emphasized.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, the agricultural sector will be key to maintaining Africaâs growth momentum that averaged 5 per cent over the past decade. The Commission projects that if that growth is maintained, âAfricaâs GDP should increase approximately threefold by 2030 and sevenfold by 2050, outstripping Asiaâs.â
It makes a strong case for transformation in the continent, especially for agricultural products, arguing that this could make for âimmediate value addition through commodity-based industrialization that exploits forward and backward linkages with the rest of the economy. Such industrialization could lift many rural dwellers out of poverty while creating jobs across the economy.â
For farmers like Beauty Manake, farming should be a love affair. âIf we donât advocate for ourselves as farmers, as women, nothing is going to change,â she told IPS.
Prone to annual droughts and floods which impact greatly on agricultural production, Malawi is focusing on preventative measures to address malnutrition. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS
- In the last few years, Malawi has successfully managed to reduce infant and under five mortality. But reducing malnutrition, which affects an estimated 1.4 million children, continues to be a costly challenge for the country.
A 2015 report by the Government of Malawi, the World Food Programme (WFP) together with other UN agencies, and the African Union, estimates the total annual cost associated with child malnutrition at $597 million â an indication that chronic food and nutrition insecurity are still prevalent in the southern African nation.
To change the alarming malnutrition rates, the Government of Malawi and the United Nations Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have come up with several initiatives anchored on increased agriculture production to improve nutrition.
Erica Maganga, Secretary for Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, tells IPS that the role agriculture plays to fight all forms of malnutrition is inescapable.
âPrevention is better than cure and agriculture is key to reduce malnutrition for all ages and help reduce the cost of treating malnutrition,â says Maganga.
FAO resident representative in Malawi Florence Rolle agrees.
âWe all know that nutrition is an issue in Malawi and that agriculture has a role to play in contributing to improving nutritional status of children, women and men,â Rolle says.
âIt is now time to identify which existing agricultural programmes have potential to become much more nutrition sensitive,â she adds.
In 2008, FAO and the Malawi government started implementing a project titled Improving Food Security and Nutrition Policies and Programme Outreach (IFSN). One component of the programme was to roll out a comprehensive nutritional education programme targeting families with infants between 6 to 24 months to prevent malnutrition.
In the Jesuit Refugee Service compound people, mainly women, cue to get allocations of blankets, rice and cooking oil. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS
- On a sunny November day in Addis Ababa the courtyard of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) centre is packed with peopleâsome attend a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reception clinic, others get essential supplies, while students attend classes, and many simply play volleyball, table football or dominoes to pass the time.
Benyamin told IPS he came to Ethiopia from Yemen because practising his religion freely just wasnât an option. After converting from Islam to the Jewish faith, he was put in a psychiatric hospital. âIf Iâd been sent to court I could have been put to death,â Benyamin adds phlegmatically.
Guilain, 35, from Guinea in West Africa, has lived in Ethiopia for 11 years, while two years ago his wife and daughter managed to enter the United States, where he hopes to join themâeventually.
âI miss them but I must keep my heart intact, so I canât think about it too much,â Guilain told IPS. While he remains in Ethiopia, Guilain has formed a seven-member band of fellow Guineans who practise in the JRSâs small music room. âThe music gives me hope. I am happy when I come here; you see people enjoying themselvesâit helps you to forget.â
Jomo Kwame Sundaram is the Coordinator for Economic and Social Development at the Food and Agriculture Organization and received the 2007 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.
- Climate change impacts are already upon us. Sea levels are rising, glaciers and ice are melting. People in poor countries are struggling to cope and adapt. Even developed countries are facing adverse consequences, taxing their own adaptive capacities to increased flooding, drought and fires. We cannot afford to wait.
Climate change is severely compromising development prospects. Failure to act effectively could significantly reduce the size of the world economy by mid-century despite continuing population growth.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Credit: FAO
Addressing climate change will be costly, but not as costly as inaction. We have waited too long to take serious action, and the delay — e.g. the slow pace at which carbon-based energy is being replaced by renewable energy — has been costly in terms of adverse impacts.
Flooded streets in Kenyaâs capital city Nairobi after the city being pounded by above normal rains. Credit: Justus Wanzala/IPS
- Extreme weather conditions, an impact of climate change faced by African countries despite contributing the least global emissions, is attracting the attention of many as the clock ticks towards the start of the 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21).
Severe weather events are causing significant loss of life and livelihoods among communities in Africa. The situation is a major challenge to African governments given that the probability of occurrence of events is continuously changing alongside associated risks. Extreme weather events in Africa are higher temperatures, drought, flooding and diseases.
Algaculture is Mondalâs empowering new source of revenues. Credit: Oishanee Ghosh
- In Bengal’s mangrove forests, the effects of climate change are forcing men to leave their families in search of work. But now, seaweed farming is offering the women left behind financial stability and empowerment.
At sunset, Kanchan Mondal would set off every evening to find odd jobs, leaving her children at home. Like many women in her village in Sundarbans of Bengal, her husband left to find work in the city, forced away by the ever-encroaching seawater that has left their farmlands barren.
Marianela Jarroud interviews Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet during an exlusive interview with IPS in the Blue Room in the Moneda Palace, the seat of government, in Santiago, before flying to Paris to participate in the Nov. 30 inauguration of the climate summit, to be hosted by the French capital until Dec. 11. Credit: Marianela Jarroud/IPS
- Chilean President Michelle Bachelet says the climate summit in Paris âis not the end of a process but a beginning,â and that it will produce âan agreement that, although insufficient with respect to the original goal, shows that people believe it is better to move ahead than to stand still.â