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    A game changing conference attracting over 600 delegates including farmers, farmer organizations, traders, bankers, financial institutions, governments, and government agencies, from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 14 to 18 July 2014 to discuss ways of developing a modern and high-performing agricultural financing system that will enable agriculture serve the increasing demands of the urban and global markets. The President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to officially open the conference.  Several African Agriculture and Finance Ministers, as well as Central Bank Governors are also expected to attend.

    The meeting is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA), the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS). Other international organizations, including IFAD, are sponsoring the event.

    The Fin4Ag conference will provide a platform for participants to learn about the various tools and initiatives that facilitate successful smallholder-inclusive agri-value chain finance. The conference will focus on the existing working models of agri-value chain finance that enhance food security as well as job, and wealth creation, along with the policy frameworks that support these initiatives.  Central Bank governors will share on what they can do to create an enabling environment for such agricultural financing.  

    The conference will also showcase a range of new developments in ICT that aid access to secure financial transactions.  Sixteen digital platforms have confirmed participation on Plug and Play Day, or Day Zero of the conference on 14 July 2014. The event will demonstrate technologies supporting access to credit, payments, savings, and insurance and risk management for value chain actors.  For ICT innovators, this will be a unique opportunity to gain a broader perspective of finance ICTs, while users will have a chance to discover the latest ICT platforms for value chain finance available in the market.

    The Plug and Play Day is organized as a precursor to the main conference. The opening ceremony will take place on 15 July 2014.  Various sessions have been organized from the 15 – 17 July 2014, with field trips planned on the last day of the conference to different areas where examples of transformation in agricultural finance will be showcased.

    AFRACA, a grant recipient of several IFAD grants, and co-organizer of the conference, will host two sessions: one discussing the issues, and ways of enhancing financing of intra-African food trade, and the second one on strategies for financing agricultural mechanization. The Nairobi-based IFAD Regional Grant, Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP), that has also been extensively involved in the organization of the conference, will also host two sessions: Capacity building: what is missing in agri-value chain finance training and how to fill the gaps; and Information, communication and knowledge management in value chain financing: lessons learnt. In addition KMP organized the documentation of all the field visits that complement the plenary discussions for the delegates attending the conference.

    Also participating in the conference is a vibrant group of on-site social reporters drawn from across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions who will be updating social sites on the happenings in the conference. To follow conference proceedings, the website is For Twitter users, use #Fin4Ag14.

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    The Tanzanian project team with beneficiaries in Ethiopia
    The Government of Tanzania launched a knowledge sharing exchange for its rural finance team from 23rd– 27th June 2014, to view successes and lessons learned in Ethiopia’s rural financial services project. Tanzania and Ethiopia both have similar historical contexts; transitioning from a heavily socialist regime – the period of the Derg in Ethiopia and President Julius Nyerere’s African socialism based on Ujamma, a Swahili word and concept of development through the people or community – to a more open financial economy. 

    In Tanzania, the Marketing Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance support programme (MIVARF) aims to enhance the incomes and food security of the rural poor by increasing access to financial services and markets with an investment of  USD 170 million, to benefit 500,000 households by 2018 – IFAD provides USD 90.6 million of this support. The Rural Financial Intermediation Programme (RUFIP) phase II, is an IFAD USD 248 million investment that aims to improve access of financial services of 6.9 million poor rural households in Ethiopia. The project is developing management information systems and undertaking the capacity building of 31 micro-finance institutions (MFIs), 5,500 rural savings and credit cooperatives (RUSACCOs) and 55 Unions. Both RUFIP and MIVARF work with a significant number of partners in the financial sector, and the Tanzanian project team was aiming to gain experiences from the successful implantation of a similar programme. 

     Shubida Masa Adha at her home in 2007
    before she joined OCSSCO MFI
    Of particular interest to the Tanzanian project team was RUFIP's coordination with the Central bank and other policy bodies. RUFIP has designed a unique mechanism to disburse the IFAD loan. The project has intentionally disbursed the USD209 million in loans through the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) in line with NBE’s mandate to develop financial services in rural areas, among other things. Engaging the NBE and having a monthly project steering committee meeting has created platforms for feedback and exchange between financial service providers and the NBE. Financial services and products that meet the rural poor’s demands have been developed; the NBE has deregulated lending & deposit rates and MFIs and RUSSACOs have relaxed single borrower limits and loan ceilings have been eased. 

    Shubida Masa Adha talks with the MIVRAF team in front of her home 
    which was rebuilt using a loan from OCSSCO MFI. 

    Shubida Masa Adha has taken loans totaling
    Birr700 (USD704) to invest in her petty-trade business,
    rebuilding her home and two milking cows.
         The group from Tanzania traveled to Mojo to meet four women who have taken loans from the Oromia Credit and Savings Share Company  (OCSSCO) a MFI supported by the project. "At the community level, there were visible and progressive impacts; both women and men were able to demonstrate how project support has contributed towards increasing their incomes and  investments, moving them out of poverty. MFIs have totally engaged and taken ownership of the project objective because they are innovating financial products to meet rural peoples’ demands. In this case, OCSSCO is supporting individual borrowers, in the same area, to access group loans. It is a huge benefit that the rural poor are now able to access group loans with interest rates as low as 10-12percent with repayment periods up to 5-7 years. The project’s partnership with MFIs is commendable and the development of such affordable credit and loan services is something we can attempt to develop in Tanzania,” Bernard Ulaya, told us.

          Kaleh Saleh, Programme Coordinator for MIVARF in Zanzibar, was impressed at the NBE’s ownership of the programme and the strength of the Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI), an umbrella organization of 31 MFIs formed to promote information exchange and build the capacity of MFIs. “In Tanzania we are operating in a context where policies for the cooperative sector are only just being developed and implemented, hence it is difficult to ensure that cooperatives are being adequately regulated. It has been helpful to see organizations such as AEMFI, that are well-structured and managed with a leadership with clear responsibilities, and the Federal Cooperative Union that has taken on the significant responsibility of transforming the cooperative sector to take on the provision of financial services, a role that is distinguished from producer cooperatives. We can definitely learn and adopt what has worked; particularly as we are currently supporting the Government of Tanzania to strengthen a newly formed commission that will regulate and strengthen cooperatives,” said Saleh. Since a new Cooperative Act was adopted in Tanzania in 2003, MIVRAF is training cooperative development officers and guiding the development of supervision and regulatory structures.

         The Tanzania team had the opportunity to interact with the, IFAD Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, Robson Mutandi. The Tanzanian project team learned about the broader Country Programme framework and approach in Ethiopia that revolves around three pillars; rural finance, small holder irrigation development and pastoral community development. With these areas of focus, access to financial is key to the overall country programme and the financial inclusion agenda. 

    The MIVARF team speaks with Melkamu Dame, Team leader of
    operations of OSCCO at a branch office in Debrezeit
    b  Overall, the Tanzania team was impressed and the team noted that the visit provided them some practical examples of how the financial sector can take a lead role in the implementation of project objectives. The Tanzanian team also noted that there is a future opportunity for RUFIP II to address its monitoring and evaluation, and data collection challenges by learning from the Tanzania MIVARF and a similar rural finance project in Zambia. It is hoped that such exchanges will be encouraged within ESA and between projects that have similar objectives as one of the avenues towards improved project performance. The team looks forward to incorporating such best practices and lessons learned especially using the opportunity to catalyze the financial sector with a project supported credit line and strengthen capacity building activities during the upcoming mid-term review due in August this year. 

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    by  Marian Amaka Odenigbo

    Irrigated agriculture for food and nutrition security
    The vast majority of smallholder farmers in Malawi are food insecure and dependent on rain-fed agriculture. To respond to this challenge, IFAD in partnership with the World Bank is supporting the government of Malawi to rehabilitate and construct irrigation schemes to address the challenges of low productivity and increase profitability of Malawi’s agriculture sector.

    Malawi’s agriculture sector relies primarily on maize and relies on mono-cropping practices resulting in  underemployment during the dry season.  Low production and productivity and lack of diversification in farming systems has led to persistent food insecurity, poor dietary intake, poverty and undernutrition.

    IFAD funded irrigation systems in Malawi have helped farmers to adopt improved technologies such as irrigation farming, crop diversification and use of improved seeds and fertilizers. This has led to an increase in household income and improved access to different food varieties leading to a diversified diet.

    Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Programme (IRLADP)
    An independent impact assessment survey assessed that the IFAD-funded Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project (IRLADP) had positive impact on the lives of beneficiaries and reduced the proportion of poor households by 21%, increased agricultural productivity by 68% and improved household incomes by 50%.

    The survey observed that 37% of the income was spent on food thus contributing to the wellbeing of previously food insecure and poor households.

    System of Rice Intensification (SRI)  – Growing more with less
    The Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) is an innovative agricultural practice to improve food sufficiency at household level and respond to the growing demand for food and the ever increasing scarcity of natural resources such as land and water.

    In Malawi, SRI is being championed by the IFAD-funded Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development (IRLAD) Project. The IRLAD project trained over 5,000 farmers in irrigation schemes to adopt SRI technology as a way of ensuring optimum utilization of the irrigation schemes and improve yield using less farm inputs.

    According to rice farmers who have adopted the SRI technology, there are six principles that the farmers must follow for SRI to be successful. The principles include:

    • transplanting rice seedlings at a much younger age
    • plant single seedling per hill instead of a handful of seedlings at each hill
    • space plants wide apart 
    • plant in a square pattern of (23x23) cm
    • use intermittent water application to create wet and dry soil conditions instead of the conventional continuous flood irrigation
    • use of conno-weeder -  an instrument used for weeding. Conno weeder promotes aeration in the soil as it cuts rice roots which in turn induces the development of new tillers around a particular hill. Farmers who used conoweeders during 2013/2014 rainy season counted 45 to 60 tillers from one seedling instead of 4 to 7 tillers.

    “We did not believe that one seedling could produce over 45 to 60 seedlings from a single seedling planted, our friends thought we were going back  at night  to the fields and planting some seedlings”, explained Mr  G.Njala of Likangala Complex irrigation scheme in Zomba and Mr Alhaji Chale of Lifuwu irrigation scheme.

    “My friends thought I was crazy when I planted one seedling per hill” says Mrs Chisi, “but when they saw an impressive crop a few days later, they insisted to know the secret behind all this” she explained with pride.
    “This season, because of using SRI practices, I expect to harvest  nine bags of 50 kg each on a 0.1 ha plot (4,500 kgs /ha) where previously I used to harvest four bags of 50 kgs each ( 2,500 kgs /ha)”, she said. She further said that with the proceedings from rice sales, she hopes to buy a bicycle so that she can move around more easily and save some money to build a house next year after harvesting and selling her produce.
    PRIDE: The way forward
    Considering that increase in income and access to food do not guarantee good nutrition, IRLADP’s  successes will be replicated in the IFAD-funded Programme for Rural Irrigation Development (PRIDE).

    The main thrust of PRIDE is to upgrade irrigation schemes to enable smallholder farmers move from low value to high value crops. The implementation of PRIDE aims to improve the livelihood of beneficiaries, get them out of poverty and provide them good nutritional status.

    In view of building and scaling-up the IRLADP’s positive impact, PRIDE is committed to address nutrition concerns from design through implementation and the project activities will focus on:

    • ensuring dietary diversity
    • addressing women workload
    • mounting nutrition awareness campaigns 
    • sensitizing on food processing, storage and utilisation
    • collaborating with other development partners for maximizing impact and generating synergies in agriculture for nutrition programs. 

    As a nutrition expert, I am confident that a nutrition-sensitive PRIDE will show how sound investment in  agriculture and crop diversification leads to good nutrition.

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    by Marian Amaka Odenigbo and Karima Cherif

    Photo by Karima Cherif

    On 11 June  to 5 July 2014  we participated in the supervision and implementation support mission for IFAD-funded projects and programmes in Malawi and Zambia.

    Over the last years, IFAD is focusing more on nutrition sensitive interventions and as a nutrition specialist, my role is to make sure IFAD-funded programmes are nutrition-sensitive.

    In reviewing IFAD-funded programmes and projects, we are retrofitting ongoing investment activities to make sure they are nutrition sensitive, while making sure that  newly designed and upcoming interventions are nutrition sensitive.

    To this end, we’ve made sure that the project staff and supervision team are sensitized on nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

    In the case of Rural Livelihoods and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) one of the on-going projects in Malawi, we identified activities supporting nutrition-sensitive interventions. The programme is commended for its preventive measure on aflatoxin control in groundnut. Aflatoxins are  toxic produced by fungi on crops like groundnut and maize.

    Groundnut is one of the value chain commodities of this programme and the intervention activities included the distribution of an energy and time saving hand sheller to prevent aflatoxin. This technology is helping to reduce workload of women farmers, thus allowing them more time to provide care giving and to contribute to making sure the family benefits from a sound nutritious diet.

    To further improve the nutrition of the target group, the supervision team recommendations included strengthening and extending the awareness building campaign of aflatoxin impact on markets, to health and nutrition. This recommendation helps preventing the adverse impact on beneficiaries considering that the chronic exposure and regular intake of aflatoxin contaminated food and livestock feeds bring about chronic malnutrition.

    We’re pleased to hear from beneficiaries how the integrated nutrition value chain (INVC)  training supported by USAID in partnership with the farmers Union of Malawi had helped the Nkhunguyembe Cooperative in ,Mchinji district to improve their dietary intake. This training had informed the beneficiaries on diverse food preparation and nutritious recipe formulation.

    The mission commended this complementary activity as an opportunity for RLEEP to support value added product development such as plumpy nut to address the critical state of undernutrition in project location.

    Multi-sectoral collaboration

    In view of adopting the multi-sectoral strategy in addressing the various determinant of malnutrition, IFAD’s country office in Zambia is harmonizing its operations with the government and other development partners to support the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.

    In Zambia, UN agencies have identified nutrition as a ‘signature area’ for the UN delivering as one given the government of Republic of Zambia (GRZ) commitment to SUN and its pledge to strengthen efforts to fight the critical state of undernutrition.

    IFAD is an active member of the UN Technical Working Group (TWG) on Nutrition established to improve the multi-sectoral governance and multi-stakeholder nutrition actions towards nutrition challenges.

    The UN team on the ground - FAO, IFAD, ILO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, WHO, UNAIDS, IOM, UNESCO -  have developed a letter of understanding which serves as a guide on roles and responsibilities of the various agencies vis-a-vis  nutrition interventions.

    IFAD commitment as an active player in this joint UN initiative includes:

    • support to nutrition sensitive agriculture with focus on gender equality and women empowerment in addressing under nutrition during the first 1000 most critical days of life. 
    • focusing on diverse food production to ensure sustainable and adequate food access and consumption while addressing nutrition challenges.

    • support to nutritional outcomes of the major global food producers by supporting smallholder farmers through irrigation development and integrated homestead food production (IHFP). The programs on irrigation development and IHFP facilitate diversified dietary intake and generate income for improved livelihood.
    • focus on rural poor people, indigenous and marginalized population to promote and explore the nutritional potentials of local and neglected food varieties.

    In Malawi, IFAD has engaged with the UN nutrition team for possible collaboration in its operations at various districts. For example UNICEF has a structure system for training of trainers and sensitization on nutrition. This presents an opportunity to collaborate with UNICEF to strengthen nutrition capacity of extension workers/ development agents at district levels in facilitating nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions.

    Malawi IFAD country office brings IFAD’s comparative advantages for engagement in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a participating UN Organizations supporting the implementation of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II.

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    Hakizamungu shows off one of the completed water tanks. 
    The Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP) supports community innovations and sharing of information through community competitions, called ‘Inteko y’Imihigo'. Different village committees come up with Natural Resources Management Plans and the cooperatives present business proposals that address their most pressing need for funding. The case study on these community competitions by IFADAfrica shows that they are a very good example of south-south and grass root knowledge exchange. In Kirehe District, there are amazing results of the practice.
    Cyanika village won the Inteko y’Imihigo in 2013 with their proposal for improvised water storage tanks or ‘water baskets’, called agaseke in Kinyarwanda. The tanks are made by digging a ditch in the ground, laying it with a water retention plastic sheet, and then constructing a small ‘house-like’ structure over it above the ground using locally made bricks, mud and wattle. The structure is covered with iron sheets, through which a gutter pipe linked to the main house will feed water into the tank during the rainy season, where it is kept for use during the dry season.

    A completed water tank, waiting to be filled when it rains.
    The challenge facing Cyanika village is that for people living on the hillsides and hill tops, far from the small streams, rivers and marshlands in the valleys, the soils turn hard and crusty during the dry season. And during raining seasons, the heavy down pours destroy dwellings. This makes it difficult for families to have vegetables and fruits, causing most of the children to suffer from malnutrition and other related ailments. One of the village members, Hakizamungu  Etienne, had visited the village of Gatore and found that farmers used to harvest water during the rainy season and use it to maintain their kitchen gardens during the dry season.

    Hakizamungu brought the idea to Cyanika and they put it in their ‘Inteko  y’Imihigo’. They proposed to make 30 tanks to cater for the 90 households in the village at the time, with at least 3 households sharing a tank. By May 2014, they had constructed 15 tanks.

    We hope to finish the rest of the tanks before the rains come. As you can see, we already started doing the kitchen gardens to improve our diet. We need water to keep the vegetables growing and fresh," says Hakizamungu

    During the dry season, the water will be fetched out and used to irrigate the kitchen gardens around the homestead, as well as for other domestic purposes. This is yet another ‘water for agriculture’ innovation in Kirehe, under KWAMP.  
    Our future plan is that the households hosting the water tank will work with their neighbours and support them to put up other tanks. In the end, we hope that each household will have its own water tank, says Hakizamungu Edward, the leader of the Inteko y'imihigo in Cyanika

    The main focus is to ensure that rural smallscale farmers have continuous access to proper nutrition as they are able to boost their diet with fruits and vegetables, as well as milk from the ‘one cow per household’ (Girinka) programme in Rwanda.

    One of the cows from the Girinka project at a household in Cyanika.

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  • 07/25/14--02:44: Women’s dietary adequacy
  • by Marian Amaka Odenigbo 

    On 15 and 16 July 2014, FAO/USAID/FANTA organized a meeting on the global dietary diversity indicator for assessing the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets in Washington DC, USA. IFAD was among the development agencies present at this meeting. Participants were challenged to reach a consensus on a global indicator for assessing women's dietary adequacy based on the Women’s Dietary Diversity Project (WDDP-II) draft report. The diets of resource-poor population are very monotonous, dominated by starchy staples which fail to meet micronutrients needs. Women of reproductive age are among the nutritionally vulnerable groups and their poor micronutrient intake  harm not only themselves, but also their children.

    WDDP is designed to respond to the need for a simple global indicator of women’s diet quality with specific focus on micronutrient adequacy. WDDP uses existing datasets from women’s dietary intake in resource-poor settings. It analyses the relationship between dietary diversity and micronutrient adequacy and serves as a proxy for the micronutrient adequacy of women’s diets.

    The first phase of WDDP-I resulted in  a candidate indicator of 9-food group which was adopted in several FAO-supported programmes. However, this 9-food group indicator was not adopted for use on a more global basis due to the preference to use a  dichotomous indicator. Dichotomous indicator relies on cut-offs for the choice of positive and negative options.  Based on this, FAO initiated the follow-on project (WDDP II) to address the need for a dichotomous women’s dietary diversity indicator. On completion of WDDPII, two candidate indicators were selected: (i) 9-food group (FGI-9R); and (ii) 10-food group (FGI-10R).
    During the course of the two-day meeting,  participants engaged in extensive discussions on the uses, merits and limitations of each candidate indicator. As a result, the participants reach an agreement to adopt  dichotomous indicator with a cut off of ≥5 food groups. Finally, a consensus was reached with a unanimous vote for FGI-10R. In regards to operationalization and communication of the selected FGI-10R indicator, FAO will be issuing recommendations and guidelines.

    IFAD is one of the potential future users of this indicator for tracking and assessing progress from agriculture interventions to dietary diversity. The FAO recommendations and guidelines on this indicator will support the operationalization of IFAD’s revised results and impact management system (RIMS) that is currently under development which includes measurement of dietary diversity. Assessing the progress in women's dietary adequacy is relevant in IFAD-supported operations for food and nutrition security because it  will enhance IFAD’s commitment to women's empowerment and particularly the nutrition contribution to smallholder female farmers in the resource-poor settings.

    Read more: Interested in finding out more on this topic, please consult Dietary Diversity as a Measure of the Micronutrient Adequacy of Women’s Diets in Resource-Poor Areas

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    By: Soma Chakrabarti

    In the International Year of Family Farming, we have been looking beyond communities and putting households at the heart of change. Last week in Malawi a workshop  showed community outreach workers from government and civil society how to use ‘household methodologies’ to improve the lives of all members of rural households, which includes improving their ability to cope with  climate change.

    The household methodologies approach is  an exciting perspective that attempts to tackle the ‘black box’ of intra-household dynamics. With support from the Government of Japan, IFAD has been pioneering this approach with impressive results. At its  heart is an effort to better understand the different roles of women and men, girls and boys in the household,and support a move beyond limiting gender stereotypes to achieve household goals.The use of drawing and images means that literacy is no obstacle to full ownership by all household members.

    Workshop participants explored the intersectionality of gender and climate change issues at the household level and got to know practical tools to support their work.   “I would like to link Household Methodologies to climate change resilience issues,” said Frieda Kayuni, Deputy Director of Agricultural Gender Roles and Support Services (AGRESS) in the Ministry of Agriculture.

    The first three days focused on sharing the benefits, experiences and key tools of household methodologies, and climate change ‘teasers’ were shared throughout. Next, a‘Climate Change and Gender Game’, originally developed by the Red Cross brought gender differences in attitudes toward risks and trade-offs into sharp contrast, and hinted at the implications of gender gaps in building household and community resilience.  After the cries, frustrations and excitement had died down, the individual household winner emerged as male and participants noted that the winning village had a very high proportion of women prompting discussions about why this was so. 

    One of the key findings from the game was that ‘women-headed households’ tended to favour community resilience strategies alongside individual household ones.  Participants also agreed that if women had equal access to resources, as well as a greater voice they would not only be less vulnerable to climate-related shocks but could also make useful contributions to improving community resilience. 

    A field visit to Chikwawa District gave participants insights into the differentiated experiences of household members living with climate change and their current coping strategies.  This experience was consolidated with a review of possible questions that frontline extension workers could use at each stage of the household approach to help households move from ‘coping strategies’ to building their longer-term ‘adaptive capacities’.  Key resources were also presented, such as an FAO/CCAFS training guide to field research with a gender and climate and CARE’s Capacities and Vulnerabilities Framework, as well as OXFAM’s recent publication on climate change and Malawi  - alongside relevant national policies. One of the participants’ main ‘take-home’ messages was the link between climate change and gender at the household level.

    What people are saying…

    "We would like to integrate Household Methodologies with a climate and gender lens in our Community Development and Social Work Programme  curricula at Magomero College. The College Trains about 150 community development workers every year, recruited from Government (80%) and NGOs (20%). Graduates work at the community level and are the Government contact persons for community initiatives to improve livelihoods through a range of approaches."Ronald Phiri, Acting Director of Community Development.

    “We can’t think of nutrition and food security without thinking about climate change.”  Prince Shaibu, Agricultural Gender Roles Extension Support Services Officer, Nsanje District.

    IFAD expects to launch a new project in Malawi, building on the Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Development Project (IRLADP) and incorporating a climate focus with the support of ASAP (Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme).

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    by Sophie Ritchie

    In the lead-up to the upcoming Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a Google+ Hangout entitled “Samoa 2014: Empowering Youth for Sustainable Islands” took place on Thursday 24th July, and allowed young people from SIDS across the globe to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing these Island-States with the Conference Secretary-General, Wu Hongbo.

    Youth representatives from the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterreanean, and South China Sea (AIMS) shared their views on what present and future actions the youth are partaking in, and planning for, to improve the social, environmental and economic outcomes for their societies; and spoke briefly of the challenges such communities face.The specific challenges that SIDS face; and the unique answers to Sustainable Development problems they offer

    The meeting opened with a statement from Mr. Wu Hongbo, who spoke to several points of pertinence for the future of Sustainable Development in SIDS. Firstly, Mr. Hongbo outlined the particularly vulnerable position in which SIDS exist, and the necessary urgency the international community must utilize in mobilizing behind their needs. Indeed, Mr. Hongbo outlined that, despite the fact that SIDs were now facing a suite of challenges and dangers relating to natural disaster and climate change, he highlighted that if Sustainable Development was not taken seriously, many other Member States would also inevitably face this eventuality. The social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and inextricably intertwined; and nowhere is this more apparent than in the SIDS. Mr. Hongbo continued in emphasizing the role and significance of the upcoming conference in Apia, Samoa, in identifying priorities, challenges, and opportunities present in SIDS within the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Hongbo’s address affirmed that, at present, SIDS face a significant amount of challenges that threaten to undermine their ability to properly enact sustainable development within their own domestic contexts.

    From an economic perspective, the majority of SIDS suffer from small, and isolated economic capacities, vulnerability to external (demand and supply-side) shocks, and a narrow resource base. Further, the continuing global and economic financial crisis, negative impacts of climate change, global food and energy crises, and uneven absorption into global trade and development processes, coupled with low rates of economic resilience, have posed a multitude of dire consequences for SIDS economies. In addition to these economic challenges, the SIDS also face a disproportionate amount of social problems; particularly insofar as the weakening of social cohesion is concerned. This breakdown in social fabric is being reinforced by external shocks and decreasing amounts of state-provided social protection mechanisms; and is leading to increasing levels of crime and violence, Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs), and widening income gulfs between the rich and the poor within SIDS.  However, notwithstanding the significant amount of social, environmental and economic challenges facing SIDS, Mr. Hongbo also noted that SIDS enjoy unique opportunities, and offer unique answers to shared global problems in the future of Sustainable Development; and may path the way in the necessary pursuit of innovative thinking, best practice, and paradigm change in the post-2015 agenda.

    Youth priorities for SIDS within the post-2015 agenda

    Following this, presentations from different youth representatives within SIDS regions allowed SIDS focal-points from differing regional perspectives to voice their thoughts on priorities for their respective regional contexts. In opening, youth activist Ms. Karuna Raya urged youth participants in the conference to inform themselves as to the political processes underpinning negotiations, including: the outcome document of the SIDS Preparatory Committee, the Barbados Declaration and Programme of Action, the steering and drafting committees of SIDS negotiations, along with the lobbying interests and political stances of certain Member States to the United Nations General Assembly. The Pacific representative articulated several cross-cutting issues of importance for the region, namely: the critical importance of capacity-building within SIDS, access to all levels of education, job creation for the youth (in both the formal and informal sectors), addressing climate change concerns, biodiversity preservation, social inclusion and mobilization at a grassroots level, along with increased provision of sexual reproductive health information and services. The representative from the Caribbean region echoed aforementioned sentiments, but also added that entrepreneurship, good governance, and social protection (due to climbing crime levels) should additionally be prioritized. The AIMS perspective reinforced previously mentioned priorities, and further added that private sector and civil society engagement, access to food, water and energy security, access to quality education, and IT connectivity should be issues that garner significant amounts of focus and political buy-in.  

    After having taken the floor and presented the audience with their own thoughts on priorities for their respective regions, the panel of youth representatives in turn asked Mr. Hongbo his thoughts on the political priorities of the SIDS youth within the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda. Many of Mr. Hongbo’s statements seemed to echo those of the youth delegates; with the conference Secretary-General emphasizing quality education, issues relating to health, strengthening active citizenship, increasing respect for cultural diversity, entrepreneurship, and innovation as key priorities within the youth constituency. Further, Mr. Hongbo urged the youth to send delegations to the Pre-Conference Youth Forum in the lead up to Samoa 2014, to make suggestions regarding the conference through the UN DESA website, and to register youth partnership projects with the Conference Secretariat.

    Deliberations regarding the way forward, and action plans for youth engagement in Apia 2014

    In closing statements, youth representatives articulated a support for the youth involvement in the SIDS conference, but also emphasized that the youth should be further prioritized; being the principal “guardians” of the future of Sustainable Development, and having such a large stake in (but minimal agency in deciding) the outcomes of current Sustainable Development negotiations. On the whole, the interactive forum between the youth constituency, and the UN SIDS Conference Secretariat for the upcoming global conference served as an effective platform for communication, best-practice sharing, and forward-thinking in preparations for future negotiations. Indeed, growing consensus seems to be shared across the UN system that partnerships, inclusive decision-making, and multi-stakeholder engagement will be needed in the successful formulation and implementation of a truly transformative Sustainable Development agenda for the next fifteen years. Engaging the youth perspective, and empowering their voice within these political processes, will be key to the success of such aspirations.

    Check out IFAD's engagement in Small Island Developing States

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    by Gretchen Robleto

    El Presidente del FIDA explica la
    importancia de un almacenamiento y elaboración
     adecuados para aumentar el valor de mercado
     de la producción en Nicaragua.

    Kanayo F. Nwanze, Presidente del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), viajó  a la República de Nicaragua,  entre el 13 y 16 de julio para visitar emprendimientos rurales basados en cultivo y comercialización de hortalizas, cooperativas de granja porcina, café y aceite de coco, este último en Laguna de Perlas, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur de Nicaragua (RAAS). 

    En Nicaragua, Nwanze  constató los progresos realizados en la esfera del desarrollo rural y reducción de la pobreza. Durante su visita  a la zona norte y la Costa Caribe, el Presidente del FIDA se reunió con emprendedores rurales, la mayoría mujeres, a quienes el FIDA ha apoyado mediante proyectos de desarrollo productivo, como estrategia para luchar contra la pobreza. En la visita también participó Josefina Stubbs, Directora del FIDA para  América Latina y el Caribe.

    El Presidente del FIDA fue acompañado por el Vicecanciller de Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke; la Ministra de Economía Familiar, Comunitaria, Cooperativa y Asociativa, María Antonieta Machado y el  Ministro Agropecuario, Edward Centeno.

     “Lo he visto en distintas comunidades rurales de todo el mundo, tanto de  América Latina como de África y Asia:  si queremos  comunidades que prosperen, debemos invertir en las mujeres rurales, porque una vez que la mujer rural está empoderada económica y financieramente, hay una inversión en la comunidad y la comunidad se transforma. Las mujeres rurales son mejores administradoras de recursos, tanto financieros  como ambientales;  ellas reinvierten en sus familias, en la educación de sus hijos y la nutrición. Sus hijos pueden ir  a la escuela y su desempeño mejora y la comunidad se desarrolla”, destacó el Presidente del FIDA durante una reunión con mujeres miembros de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, compuesta  por 116 mujeres de Terrabona y Ciudad Darío y la Cooperativa Leila López, formada por 158 mujeres de Sébaco y San Isidro (norte de Nicaragua).

    Consuelo Velásquez, Presidenta de la cooperativa “Amor y Esperanza”, dijo a Nwanze: “Antes éramos productoras, ahora decimos que somos empresarias”. Durante un recorrido por la granja porcina de la cooperativa, Velásquez explicó a los medios de comunicación que “el principio de la cooperativa es ser solidarias  entre las mujeres, nadie quiere hacerse rico, pero sí salir de la pobreza y ayudar al crecimiento del país”.

    Velásquez es madre de 3 hijos. “Mi hija no podía estudiar porque no había  posibilidades, los ingresos (los  que le generan la granja porcina) me ayudan a que mi hija pueda seguir sus estudios, me beneficia porque estos ingresos ayudan a ser libres,  son  parte del enfoque de género porque me ayudan a liberarme, no es sólo estar en la casa. Muchas mujeres dicen que no trabajan pero en realidad hacen un montón de trabajo en la casa”, explicó la Presidenta de la cooperativa Amor y Esperanza. 
    Por su parte, el Presidente del FIDA manifestó: “Estoy muy complacido de ver que el FIDA participa en este proyecto de desarrollo rural, porque creemos que el desarrollo rural es central para el desarrollo  y la seguridad nacionales. Queremos que los jóvenes vuelvan al espacio rural y no solamente que emigren a Managua, sino que puedan contribuir al desarrollo de su espacio rural. Pero para que esto suceda el Gobierno debe invertir en infraestructuras, caminos, electricidad, escuelas, servicios de salud, servicios sociales y  agua (de modo que ustedes encuentren las condiciones adecuadas para invertir en sus empresas).  Eso es lo que la población rural quiere”.

    Durante su viaje por el norte de Nicaragua, el Presidente del FIDA visitó una planta procesadora de hortalizas en Sébaco, Matagalpa, donde miembros de la cooperativa COOPRAHORT compartieron sus experiencias. Años atrás sufrían pérdidas económicas debido a  la  falta de infraestructura adecuada por lo que, al tener urgencia de vender su producción,  el intermediario les compraba su producción a precio muy bajo y se quedaba con la mayor parte de la ganancia de la venta.  Ahora, en cambio, mediante el equipamiento con el que cuentan los productores, la producción de cebolla tiene 4 meses más de vida útil, y por lo tanto no hay urgencia por vender. Sus ganancias se han incrementado en más del 100%.  La cooperativa integra a productores de Terrabona, Ciudad Darío y Sébaco, 251 mujeres y 90 hombres.

    “Nada da más satisfacción, señor alcalde,  que poder observar experiencias exitosas que están siendo apoyadas por el FIDA”, manifestó el Presidente del FIDA al alcalde de Matagalpa, Sadrach Zeledón.

    La misión del FIDA y la delegación gubernamental también visitaron la Cooperativa Solidaridad R.L, en Matagalpa, donde se acopia el café de los socios, quienes cultivan el grano a 1,300 de metros de altura sobre el nivel del mar.  Dicha cooperativa produce café gourmet para exportación.

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    Statement by Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (@knwanze)

    When President Obama and African heads of state and government convene in Washington, DC next week for the first-ever U.S.-African Leaders Summit, they will focus on "investing in the next generation". No theme could be more relevant to the future of sustainable development across the continent.

    Today's generation of young people – not only in Africa but worldwide – is the largest in history. Sheer force of numbers means that we urgently need to harness the power and creativity of youth on every continent, from the Americas to the Middle East and Asia. In Africa, that need arises with particular urgency.

    As I wrote in my open letter to African Union leaders before their summit in June, there sometimes seem to be two Africas: one is a new land of opportunities, the other a poor, hungry and hopeless place. But in fact, Africa is rich in resources, and its people are the greatest resource of all – especially the 200 million Africans between the ages of 15 and 24. Each year at least 10 million young people, more than ever before, enter the labour force on the continent. Yet tens of millions of young Africans remain unemployed. Many who have jobs are trapped in poorly paid or part-time work, leaving their vast potential underutilized and untapped.

    At IFAD, we know from experience that young people are the most precious resource a rural community can have. Today, however, many rural areas in Africa are losing their young people, because there are often so few incentives for them to stay. When young rural women and men cannot get an adequate education, make a living or create a secure home, they move to sprawling cities or to foreign countries that, they believe, offer more hope. Some make good and contribute to their communities by sending money home. Too many others become mired in urban poverty. This is a tremendous loss for their families and their nations.

    So if we are serious about investing in the next generation in this, the AU Year of Agriculture and Food Security, we must recognize that increased support for agricultural and rural development is essential. How could it be otherwise when some 60 per cent of Africa's people depend wholly or partly on agriculture for their livelihoods? As I noted in my letter to the AU, a thriving small-farm sector helps rural areas retain the young people who would otherwise be driven away.

    Targeted investments can make a difference. To start with, support for basic education is critical in rural areas where schools are underfunded and poor children are often taken out of school early and put to work. Young rural people also need vocational training, apprenticeships and further education to give them relevant knowledge and skills.

    An IFAD-funded project in Madagascar, for example, provides apprenticeships and job opportunities for thousands of young rural workers, building a stable, skilled workforce for Malagasy small businesses. In Tanzania, IFAD supports farmer field schools that use experiential learning to help farmers of all ages solve problems and acquire new techniques. Those who apply what they learn are reaping the benefits of higher yields, productivity and profits.

    Meanwhile, in several West and Central African nations, a regional IFAD grant is providing training and business development services for young women and men involved in farming and other rural enterprises. With help from their mentors, these agricultural entrepreneurs – or “agripreneurs” – are starting up new ventures across the value chain. They are demonstrating that agriculture is an exciting, modern profession through which young people can contribute financially to their communities as both producers and consumers.

    But education and training alone are not enough to guarantee sustainable livelihoods. Young adults’ access to finance in rural areas is also vital. In Benin, IFAD supports the establishment and growth of financial service associations − owned by rural people − that offer credit and savings products in more than 190 village banks. Nearly half of all the credit extended by these associations has gone to young women and men.

    When basic education, training and credit are widely available to Africa's young rural people, they seize the opportunity to invest in their own farms and businesses. They are empowered to build their skills and confidence. They participate in community decision-making and assume leadership roles in local organizations.

    On an even more basic level, investing in Africa's next generation means making nutrition-sensitive agriculture a top priority. You can't de-link agriculture and nutrition, since up to 80 per cent of the food consumed in Africa is produced locally. Yet more than 4 in 10 children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. Failure to expand, sharpen and accelerate our efforts on nutrition will impose a heavy cost in opportunities missed and potential unmet.

    One study found that undernutrition in Africa causes economic losses that vary by country from 1.9 to 16.5 per cent of GDP. In addition, governments end up spending billions of dollars on programmes in order to deal with poor nutrition and its effects. Investing in nutrition through agriculture, therefore, is more than a social good. It is sound development policy and good economics. It encompasses partnerships with other sectors, including health, water and sanitation, and education. And it demands careful attention to the social context – notably the status of women – as well as farming practices that protect the environment and foster biodiversity.

    As African leaders gather for the summit in Washington in a spirit of partnership, it is important to remember that they, in particular, must take the initiative in fulfilling the promise of the continent's next generation. More than a decade ago, their governments pledged to allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture, yet only a handful of countries in Africa have consistently reached that threshold.

    Even as they seek responsible, transparent foreign investment to alleviate poverty and boost food security, it is time for African leaders to deliver on their commitments. The next generation deserves nothing less.

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    By: Marie Clarisse Chanoine

    From July 6th to 14th I took part in the Learning Route on Natural Resources Management and Climate Change Adaptation organised in Kenya by PROCASUR. Through peer to peer learning and exchange of experiences, PROCASUR wishes to scale up home-grown innovative solutions to end rural poverty.

    The Learning Route’s participants. Procasur ©

    Developed in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), CARE- Kenya, CGIAR- Research Programme on Climate Change and Food Security (CCAFS), this route was a great opportunity to gather together seventeen professionals involved in IFAD-funded projects from four different countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho and Rwanda. We all work with smallholder farmers in different projects and different areas, from dairy commercialization to forestry, climate adaptation in value chains, small scale irrigation, and protection and conservation of natural resources. However, we share the same concern for rural communities  impacted by  climate change and we were excited to learn more about Kenyan strategies to increase beneficiaries’ adaptive capacities and resilience.

    On a seven day road trip, we visited three projects that were illustrated to us by the project team and the members of beneficiary communities. We first visited  the Upper Tana Natural resources management project(UTANRMP) - IFAD funded project which employs  an integrated approach that includes: school greening, small scale irrigation , water resources users association, plantation establishment and a livelihoods improvement scheme. Then we saw an intervention of CARE Kenya called the Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP)and the last stop was  the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Programme (CCAFS) pilot project on provision of localized climate information for climate change adaptation strategies.

    The Upper Tana project promotes an integrated approach that aims to improve livelihoods through  effective natural resource management. The project demonstrates that small investments in livelihoods improvement have a significant impact on natural resource management. With the school greening component, for example, we learnt that the establishment of environmental awareness is crucial for Natural Resource Management (NRM), especially during  early  childhood development when it is easier to influence attitudes and mind-set. Indeed, these pupils were ambassadors of natural resource management initiatives at community and household levels.          

    Our journeys on the bus. Procasur ©

    It’s important to note that climate change  does not always t affect farmers with the same intensity and duration. In fact, different impacts can be observed within a radius of 5 kilometres. For centuries the population has been coping with local climate variability and have elaborated strategies based on their own traditional weather forecast systems. However, climate change is now worsening  historical climate conditions. This helped me to understand the difference between climate variability, which has always existed, and climate change, which is persistent disruptions in climate characteristics.

    The CARE and  CCAFS projects are interventions that aim at understanding intersections , synergies and trade-offs between climate change, agriculture and pastoralism. By meeting and visiting communities involved in these projects, I understood the need to blend traditional climate knowledge with meteorological weather forecasts. These different forecasts are complementary: While the former gives localized and short term predictions,  the latter  provides long term forecasts that  are based on more complex factors. However, it is important that climate/weather information are shared in formats that smallholders farmers and rural dwellers can understand (in local language and using different media).

    One of the approaches that I found most interesting when dealing with climate change is the use of  “participatory scenario planning”. Climate and weather information have to be localized and data has to be collected regularly at local level (i.e. through rain gauges), then information is exchanged between local weather keepers and meteorological services. While meteorological services receive feedback to improve weather forecast, communities learn to translate scientific weather forecast into practical daily agricultural or livestock management strategies. Thus, the participatory scenario planning is an opportunity for both meteorological service staff and local population to collect precise information and make it useful for the local population through seasonal activities planning.

    Every project visit carried vibrant discussions with beneficiaries’ communities not to mention within our group. Our journey on  the bus from one  project to another was not  restful, but devoted to stimulating question and answer sessions in which everyone was excited to share their own experience and feedback on the projects.

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    The 6th China-Mozambique-IFAD South-South Cooperation workshop has started in earnest with over 100 participants from 28 countries, at VIP, Hotel Maputo Mozambique. The theme of this workshop is “rural development and poverty reduction”.

    At the opening ceremony of the workshop on 4thAugust 2014, Mr Wang Bao’an, Vice Chairman of the Ministry of Finance, China emphasised the importance of south-south cooperation in reducing poverty and speeding the development process.  He said south-south cooperation is a good approach in solving problems faced by developing countries especially those relying on subsistence farming. In 2010-13, China has achieved 10 times growth of food production, achieved universal education, health care and social system and this had reduced poverty significantly. As such China has achieved the MDG 1 goal of reducing poverty. China has also significantly contributed in reducing poverty for 20% of the world population through its cooperation. The field visits will give participants an opportunity to see how south-south can be implemented in Africa. He reiterated that China was willing to share south-south experiences with other countries and explore various cooperation arrangements. Mr Bao’an also highlighted the need to explore China’s investment opportunities and good models for development. He acknowledged IFAD’s implementation capacity of rural development and an added advantage in the IFAD-China cooperation.

    In his opening remarks, Mr John McIntire, Associate Vice President, IFAD said of the 850 million of poor people globally, 25% are in Africa and live in chronic hunger. He said IFAD promotes partnerships to leverage its funding, and emphasized the need to share technological transfers to combat poverty.  Mr McIntire noted China’s success in the development of smallholder farming technologies, adding that in Africa, small-scale farmers are synonymous with poor farmers but experience from other economies such as in Asia had shown that this is not the case. He closed by saying “we need to work together to have a world with reduced poverty and hunger.”

    Mr Aiuba Cuereneia, Minister of Planning and Development in Mozambique, informed the gathering that Mozambique had embarked on a rural development strategy to be achieved by 2025. He said Agriculture presented the biggest opportunity to reduce poverty in Mozambique. The government was supportive with budgets and infrastructure support to improve the business environment, and thus increase production. It is expected that agricultural development would grow significantly by 7%. He said small-scale farmers dominated the rural areas and there was need to invest in science and technology to catalyse development. The government has also adopted experience sharing as the fastest way to learn and develop. He shared that China had supported a cooperation centre for the development of technologies and research that participants will visit.

    The workshop brings together agricultural/rural development and triangular cooperation stakeholders, as well as researchers, and business entrepreneurs to share experiences - technical know-how and policy related - in rural development and poverty reduction.  The main aim is to identify pro-poor agribusiness ideas and joint ventures that can be undertaken between China and Africa.

    IFAD recognizes the various forms of south-south cooperation including knowledge sharing, trade and investment as an effective means to achieve poverty alleviation, and agricultural and rural development. The Chinese government has also been giving increasing emphasis to south-south cooperation with other developing countries. To facilitate the enhanced south-south cooperation between China and other developing countries, IFAD supported the Chinese Ministry of Finance (MoF) with a grant project “Supporting South-South Cooperation with China in Poverty Alleviation through Knowledge Sharing.” The International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) was assigned by MoF to execute this project.

    One of the project activities is to organize south-south cooperation workshops to facilitate knowledge exchange and consultation on such cooperation. In the past years, five workshops were held in China, and participants have attended from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

    A peak into the workshop programme

    Day One – 4 August 2014

    Session 1: Progress of Chinese Agricultural Policy and Impacts and Mozambican Agricultural Development Experience

    Progress of Chinese Agricultural Policy and Impacts by Prof Zhang Xiaoshan– Lifetime academician of Chinese academy of social sciences and councillor of Agricultural Committee, Chinese National people’s Congress

    Mozambican Agricultural Cooperation with China and IFAD

    ·       Mr Adriano Ubisse National Director of Investment and cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Development

    ·       Ms Carla Honwana Project Coordinator, PROMER - Promotion of Rural Markets

    ·       Mr Armando Ussivane, President of Limpopo Irrigation Company

    Session 2: Contributions of Agricultural Scientific Research & development & Technical Extension to Agricultural Modernization

    Mr Chen Qianheng Associate professor of China Agricultural University

    Day Two – 5 August 2014

    Session 3: China-Africa Agricultural Cooperation

    China-Africa Agriculture Cooperation: experience challenges and Best Practices by Mr Chen Qianheng, Associate Professor of China Agricultural University

    Empirical studies on the investment of CAD Fund by Mr Liu Jianguo, CAD Fund

    Session 4: Agribusiness Reforms & Agricultural Modernization in China  

    Prof Zhang Xiaoshan - Lifetime academician of Chinese academy of social sciences and councillor of Agricultural Committee, Chinese National people’s Congress

    Day Three: 6 August 2014

    Session 5: South-South and Triangular Cooperation on Family Farming for Impact at Scale: Concepts, Issues and Partnership Opportunities

    Mr Cheik Sourang, Senior Program Manager Strategy and Knowledge Management Department IFAD

    Field Visit to China-Mozambique Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre

    Day Four: 7 August 2014

              A. Field Visit to China Wanbao Grain and Oil Farm 
         B. Field visit to Experimental Land and Storage Facilities of China Wanbao Grain and Oil Farm
    Day Five: 8 august 2014

    Closing Ceremony

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    Leigh Winowiecki (Soil Scientist CGIAR)

    Integrative approach in data collection for climate smart agriculture

    CIAT led a Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), an integrative approach to data collection, in Northern Uganda to guide further research in a bid to improve food security and climate change resilience of small holder farmers; part of a new IFAD funded project*.  

    An interdisciplinary team included CIAT, IITA, IFAD, Gulu University, and NARO members conducted the research in Adjumani, Gulu, Kitgum and Nwoya districts, to begin the process of building a representative picture characterising the physical and socio-economic dimensions shaping the local environment.  As per RRA principles, the nature of the team bolstered differing conceptual perspectives, skill-sets and institutional inputs, resulting in broad-based knowledge outcomes. The essential background gained from the appraisal will enable contextualized thought to support subsequent project objectives.

    Local agricultural conditions were assessed utilizing a combination of communication and learning tools, whilst facilitating local knowledge gathering on priorities and constraints faced by farmers.  Key-informant interviews, participatory workshops, transect walks, resource mapping exercises, village and farm visits, as well as gender-disaggregated methods proved effective in gaining a comprehensive insight.

    Households surveyed averaged ten people each, of which seventy percent were male headed, twenty-five percent female headed and five percent child headed.  Across these households in the four districts, it was found that agricultural labour is largely supplied by the family members, yet farmers felt that this was not adequate for purpose with regards to the amount of labour required.  Gender-disaggregated data revealed further details, showing that the labour itself, regarding both crops and livestock, was pre-determined by gender.  ‘Male crops’ and ‘female crops’ were a generic concept amongst the farming communities with men
    cultivating rice, cassava and maize, primarily grown to sell, whilst women tended to be responsible for vegetables - crops for home-consumption.  Similarly the rearing of livestock had clear gender associations and divisions; in all districts at least 60% of livestock was associated with men only and in one of the districts it was over 85%; generally chickens and ducks were looked after by women where as cattle, goats, fish and bees were reared by men.  Commercial value of livestock, particularly for cattle, and related marketing duties were stated as a reason for male responsibility by some farmers, concurring with the cash based gender divisions seen in cropping.

    Crop association by gender; blue papers indicated men and pink papers indicated women

    Land management practices in the study districts were also explored with reference to Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). It materialized that the most common ways to prepare fields was through a non-CSA-compliant practice, slash and burn, however the CSA practice of intercropping was commonly used for land management; often intercropping cassava with groundnut, maize or foxtail millet.  Socio-economic determinants were found to influence land-use practices, with for example population increase resulting in the decline of fallowing, where as the longer term limited use of inorganic and organic fertilizer was attributed to financial cost and a perception that the soil is fertile.  Constraints to agricultural productivity in the district prompted numerous ideas including the need to improve seed quality and accessibility; soil and water conservation; crop, land and soil management; road networks; provision of climate information; grain storage; market development and promoting value addition of produce.

    Detailed analysis of the RRA data will now support project objectives of conducting an informed, locally specific, assessment of the current use of agricultural practices in the area that satisfy CSA criteria of sustainably increasing productivity, resilience to climate change and reduction of green house gas emissions.  Subsequent objectives include clarification of on-the-ground potential impacts of these CSA practices, considering scientific data on land health and suitability, and assessment of any associated trade-offs.


    Knowledge acquired will guide selection of locally appropriate CSA practices for implementation at the local level followed by further appraisal supported by local perceptions on benefits and barriers to adoption, with full consideration given to variations between socially differentiated groups.  Integrated data from the participatory research, intra-household gender surveys and biophysical baseline assessments aims to ultimately produce a model set of locally appropriate approaches to CSA to out-scale in East Africa, via work with development institutions such as ‘CSA; Agricultural Research For Development’ (CSA AR4D) and through strategic policy partnerships.Detailed analysis of the RRA data will now support project objectives of conducting an informed, locally specific, assessment of the current use of agricultural practices in the area that satisfy CSA criteria of sustainably increasing productivity, resilience to climate change and reduction of green house gas emissions.  Subsequent objectives include clarification of on-the-ground potential impacts of these CSA practices, considering scientific data on land health and suitability, and assessment of any associated trade-offs.

    *Project title, “Increasing food security and farming system resilience in East Africa through wide-scale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices” led by CIAT (Soil Research Area and Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA)) in collaboration with IITA, ICRAF as well as local and national NGOs and institutions.

    Dr. Leigh Winowiecki is a Soil Scientist with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in the Soils Research Area. Her research includes soil and landscape health monitoring, employing the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework (LDSF) globally.  Dr. Winowiecki maps and analyzes soil conditions to help provide options for improved soil management and adaptation to climate change.

    Dr. Winowiecki holds a PhD in Soil Science and Tropical Agroforestry. A joint Program between the University of Idaho, Moscow, ID and CATIE.

    Click here for a link to the Report

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    by Kanayo F. Nwanze and M.S. Swaminathan

    At the Global Gathering of Women Pastoralists, women pastoralists from
    India participate in a discussion. 
    ©IFAD/Michael Benanav
    In India and around the world, poverty is predominantly rural. Development agencies often note that 75 per cent of the world’s extremely poor people — those who earn less than $1.25 a day — live in rural areas. New figures from the 2014 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which measures overlapping dimensions of deprivation, show that rural poverty rates are even higher in some regions. In South Asia, the MPI in rural areas is 86 per cent — the highest for any region in the world.

    These figures underscore the fact that sustainable, inclusive rural transformation is essential to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people. The importance of rural livelihoods is also the focus of the International Year of Family Farming in 2014. The year-long UN observance puts a spotlight on the 2 billion people who live on more than 500 million family farms worldwide, working to ensure food and nutrition security for a growing global population. It reminds us of the cruel irony that the people who produce up to 80 per cent of food in some areas are also the ones who often go hungry.

    The post-2015 development agenda must factor in a further reality: over 70 per cent of poor people now live in middle-income countries. India, for example, is still one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world. Yet according to MPI 2014, it is also home to more than 340 million destitute people — 28.5 per cent of the population — who suffer multiple extreme deprivations. More than half the country’s population is classified as poor.

    The position of women, both in home and society, is another huge challenge. Gender-based violence is endemic in South Asia — as in other parts of the world — drastically limiting women’s freedom to move, work outside home and take advantage of economic opportunities. Eradicating violence against women is fundamental to the eradication of poverty, deprivation and hunger. It is essential in the name of justice, and it allows countries to draw on the strengths and skills of their entire population to make shared prosperity a reality rather than a dream.

    Today, the official statistics show that South Asia has one of the lowest rates of women’s participation in the overall labour force. At the same time, however, International Labour Organisation data suggest the increasing feminisation of agriculture in the region, as measured by the proportion of women whose main source of employment is farming. According to the ILO, 69 per cent of working women in South Asia were employed in agriculture in 2011, compared with 44 per cent of working men.

    In addition, women in the region put in longer hours and earn significantly less than men, often working unpaid on family farms or toiling as day labourers. They typically spend a larger proportion of their meagre incomes on household nutrition, health and education. And with men migrating increasingly to urban areas, they are left behind, struggling to manage family farms and care for dependants young and old.
    In the face of such odds, there is no magic bullet for small farmers, in particular, poor rural women. Existing laws must be enforced, and a raft of new measures taken to secure their entitlements as farmers and equals. In 2011, a Women Farmer’s Entitlement Bill was tabled in the Indian Parliament, but this was not passed. Experience also shows that women themselves hold a key part of the answer if they are given the opportunity, necessary support and access to resources and markets. Among other outcomes, we have seen that women play an important role in conserving agricultural biodiversity, promoting nutrition security and enhancing household incomes.

    In Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu, for instance, women have joined together to share millet seeds and revive a hardy, highly nutritious staple crop. With assistance from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, the women have increased yields by 30 per cent and turned their millet into a marketable brand. Now their products are being distributed across the state and the women are earning income to pay for their children’s education and family expenses.

    Elsewhere in India, small self-help groups, set up primarily to allow women to save money and provide loans to members, have been shown time and again to empower women in many ways within the broader community. There have been many heartening examples of women’s groups, often working with men, campaigning on critical social issues such as domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Such achievements, however, are not a signal that women can change their lives acting alone. Both gender empowerment and rural transformation must be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

    As featured in The Asian Age

    Kanayo F. Nwanze is president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Dr M.S. Swaminathan is founder and chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. Mr Nwanze will be speaking about the changing role of women in the economic transformation of family farming at a regional conference organised by MSSRF in Chennai on Friday 8 August 2014.

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    “I thought it was just another workshop,” said Programme Manager Martin Liywalii, “but in three-and-a-half days we actually made a product, which would otherwise have taken us months!”

    IFAD staff and their partners in the field along with farmers from Ethiopia, Swaziland and Zambia have recently taken part in a series of workshops where they produced communications products in the form of articles and short films. Overseen by the Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture (ILEIA), the purpose of the workshops was to distill important lessons from IFAD’s work with poor rural farmers in the East and Southern Africa region.

    The Swaziland team  listed what was, in their opinion, the takeaway messages of the workshops:

    • Family farmers should take the lead in development initiatives on their land
    • Traditional authorities should always be involved
    • Family farmers learn more easily from each other than from outsiders
    • Women are crucial in the sustainability of any initiative
    • Regardless of the benefits, communities will always have their own reasons for participating in a project, or for not doing so
    • Unity in a community is paramount to any success
    • It is possible to learn much more from failure than success

    During the workshops participants  evaluated their own work, highlighting lessons for themselves and others to benefit from. The workshops focused on the  basic steps of the documentation process, which is critical for recording lessons gleaned from a project. These steps include deciding who needs to participate in the workshops, making resources available, setting the boundaries of the experience (what, when, where) and describing the project activities, achievements and unexpected outcomes.
    Finally they proceeded with the most difficult part – the analysis. This was a critical review of their experiences, looking at the practices employed and whether or not the objectives were met. Most importantly it looked at why, or why not objectives had certain outcomes. More often than not, institutions  focus  on what has been achieved, without analysing the factors that helped or impeded the process. There is a tendency to miss important lessons, especially what can be learnt about crucial contributing factors. As mentioned in the Swaziland outcomes, sometimes failure can teach us more than success.

    The team working out of Ethiopia created a booklet entitled “Learning for rural change: 14 stories from Ethiopia”. They described it as 'a kaleidoscopic view of a variety of agricultural initiatives taking place in Ethiopia’ and covers the four main themes of: Pastoralist Communities, Markets, Irrigation and Organisation and Knowledge Sharing.

    The Zambia team created a similar booklet to the Ethiopia team, consisting of eleven articles covering three focal areas:  Spreading Practices, Organising Farmers and Partnership and Participation.

    To see the original story on the ILEIA site please click here

    For the Ethiopia articles please click here

    For the Swaziland articles please click here

    And finally for the articles from Zambia please click here

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    The curtains came down on the Sixth South-South Cooperation Workshop in Maputo Mozambique on 8 August 2014.  

    In his closing remarks on behalf of IFAD, Mr Cheik Sourang - Strategy and Knowledge Management in IFAD, recognised the presence of his IFAD colleagues:  Sun Yinhong - China, Robson Mutandi - Ethiopia, Haingo Rakotondratsima - Madagascar, and Ahmed Subahi - Sudan. He hoped the workshop was a worthwhile experience for all the participants. He mentioned that triangular south-south cooperation involves the government, private sector, and producers in a public private producer partnership which IFAD is championing. He mentioned that the SSC intervention for IFAD is being championed at three levels: (i) at country level, SSC is being linked to the country level engagement and knowledge management; (ii) at corporate level, IFAD is exploring opportunities and additional funding instruments such as trust funds for the south-south agenda to complement the grants and loans programmes; and (iii) at the global level, IFAD has facilitated policy discussion on the scaling up agenda to meet the MDGs, etc. He thanked Mozambique and China for sharing experiences. He indicated that the best of SSC is yet to come. He mentioned that IFAD will undertake a survey to get feedback from participants on ways to improve the SSC. 

    In his closing remarks, Mr Antonio Limbāo - Vice Minister of Agriculture, Mozambique on behalf of Minister of Planning and development, expressed his appreciation by saying,  “as we come to the end of the sixth SSC workshop, it was a pleasure to host you in Mozambique to discuss the SSC experience together”. He believed that the SSC in agricultural development and especially in the rice technology transfer in Mozambique is contributing to poverty reduction and increase of revenue to the farmers. The workshop was an opportunity to share experiences on other Chinese interventions in other African countries and the linkage with IFAD.  In Mozambique the SSC initiatives is linked to the government strategies especially in rural development and poverty reduction. The technological transfer can be of value to African countries to address the challenges facing the small holder farmers. On behalf of the government of Mozambique and Gaza province that facilitated this international workshop he wished the participants safe travel to their respective countries.
    China-Moz SSC eggplant demo at technical centre
    In his closing remarks, Mr Zhang Zhengwei - Representative of China in IFAD Executive Board thanked the co-host Mozambique, IFAD and China Poverty Reduction Centre for organizing this important workshop. He indicated that China will always support SSC. He mentioned that China started SSC though bilateral channels but is now exploring multilateral channels through agencies like IFAD. He agreed with the need to address country’s real demand and therefore ownership is an important ingredient in the success of the SSC.  China will continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the SSC. The idea by IFAD to hold the 6thworkshop in Africa was a big step for China, but there is still room for further innovation, for example, combine enterprise promotion and agricultural development. He mentioned that the workshop approach of thematic discussions and field visits was a good approach and will continue to be used. China is willing to share its own experience but as a new developed country it shares similar challenges as developing countries. Therefore there is room to learn from each other. He indicated that IFAD’s uniqueness can play a profound role in promoting SSC. He wished the participants safe return to their countries and declared the Sixth South-South Cooperation workshop officially closed.
    Feedback from Participants

    • Participants were impressed with the rice technology transfer programme as demand driven given the shortfall of the domestic supply of rice. The Chinese in the SSC tried to solve  it by aligning it to  Mozambique existing agricultural policy programme
    • The rice technologies transfer focuses on  food security and inclusiveness in that it involves the young agroprenuers extension workers, and private sector partners
    • The importance of the multiservice extension centre  in training and learning as well as technology demonstration
    • Participants appreciated the SSC practical learning approach rather than theoretical approaches  and felt it   should be replicated in Africa for the benefit of farmers
    • One striking problem rural-urban migration where the young are leaving the old in the rural area to do agriculture. China  addressed these issues through policies
    • Participants highlighted the need to introduce knowledge management into the SSC to enable the documentation and a repository of the knowledge generated which is important for skills transfer for the benefit of the scientist and farmers
    • There is need for a cultural centre to address the cross cultural issues and language barriers for the smooth transfer of the technologies.

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    Simone on assignment in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, March 2014.
    By James Heer

    ROME – Many of you have probably heard or read about Simone Camilli's tragic death in Gaza on Wednesday. Simone, 35, was working for the Associated Press at the time and was killed when Gaza police engineers attempted to disable an unexploded bomb.

    Although Simone had been working on contracts for AP since 2005, for three to five months each year between 2009 and 2013 he came to Rome and worked as a consultant in the broadcast unit of the IFAD Communications Division. He was a true team player who integrated seamlessly into the division each time he returned to us.

    Simone was a highly skilled editor and cameraman as well as an aspiring documentary filmmaker. He had been based in Jerusalem for several years. Working with IFAD gave him an opportunity to spend more time in his hometown, Rome, but also to explore more of the issues he felt passionately about – namely, telling the stories of those who were less fortunate than he was.

    During the time he worked for IFAD, Simone edited dozens of short documentaries filmed at IFAD project sites around the world. He produced his own video stories as well, travelling to both the Philippines and Sri Lanka to cover issues related to remittance flows in rural areas. Simone also worked on many internal productions, the most legendary being the first 'Men in Black' video for an Asia-Pacific Regional Division staff retreat. The comedic short was a far cry from the PowerPoints and flip charts that usually characterize such meetings, and it reflected Simone's well-honed sense of fun.

    In fact, despite all he accomplished at IFAD, what people who crossed paths with him here are most likely to remember are his smile and good humour. He was quite simply a good and decent human being, a pleasure to be around and a pleasure to work with. In January 2014, Simone, his life partner Ylva and young daughter Nour moved from Jerusalem to Beirut, where he continued to take on assignments for AP. Although he had spent the last few summers back in Rome working at IFAD, this year he decided against it. He said it was just too hard being separated for months at time from his daughter.

    Those of us at IFAD who knew Simone will miss him deeply. Our sincere condolences go to his family and his many friends around the world.

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    By Susan Beccio

     A coastline household in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. This village was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    This week I visited some of the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, India that were heavily effected by the tsunami ten years ago. Although the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is not a relief organisation, through it's work in investing in poor rural communities, the fund provides plenty of relief to poor households. The Post-Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme for the Coastal Communities of Tamil Nadu (PTSLP) is no exception. The project has been working with people living along the coast and surrounding areas to enhance their livelihoods since 2007.  

    Leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen’s group talk about the tsunami at the fishing society headquarters in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India.  ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Though the people from this area had never experienced a tsunami before they "knew something different was happening with the sea, so they ran to the mountains", said the leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen's group in unison. Many fishermen in the village lost their nets and boats and none of the fishermen in the area were able to work for the next five months.

    Fishermen repair their nets in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    The project provided loans to fishing groups to buy improved boats and fishermen received fishing nets, ice boxes and cutting knives. Boatyards, landing docks and wholesale fish markets were also built, and cement reefs were installed offshore to act as a buffer and protect the shoreline from erratic sea levels.

    The new wholesale fish market building is near completion in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. 

    ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Traditionally, fishermen arrive with their catch and sell it to retail buyers right on the beach. The fishing groups have installed a more orderly and transparent practise of auctioning fish on the landing dock. Women retailers play an active part in bidding for fish and estimating their profits for the day. 

    Auctioneer hawks fish to retail buyers in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Women, who buy fish wholesale and sell in the local market, received training on fish handling - though not all of the practises have been easily adopted.  Maria Roni, 56, secretary of the Kayakumari fish society explains that though “the women know better, they mix the fresh fish with sand because then people think it is fresh, if they put ice, people think the fish is frozen."

    Women sell fish at the Erulapapuram market, 3 kilometers from the coastline. Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Beyond fish and fishing, the project also helped the most vulnerable members of the coastal communities develop skills and start small businesses to generate household income. In the next photo blogpost, I will share some of these stories. 

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    By Vivienne Likhanga

    “Communities must be part and parcel of natural resources management (NRM) for it to succeed” Mr. Paul Njuguna, Land and Environment Coordinator.

    The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with Procasur Africa, CARE  (relief agency) in Kenya and the Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), organized a learning route titled “Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Adaptation best practices: The Experience in Kenya,” that took place between the 7th and the 13th of July 2014. Seventeen participants from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya all met together on an 8-day journey across the districts and rural communities of Kenya.

    A Learning Route is an experience that transforms its participants, leading them to become agents of change in their own organizations. It is a capacity-building procedure with a proven track record of successfully combining local knowledge and experiences. The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts. This journey gets participants to understand these changes through peer learning, discussing directly with rural communities who are the promoters of the identified best practices and successful innovations.

    Everyone was excited to hit the road on the learning route bus and visit these three cases:

    1.       Upper Tana Natural Resources Management Project (UTaNRMP): The IFAD project addresses the key link between poverty and natural resources degradation from an Integrated Participatory Approach involving local communities. The project intervention focuses on livelihood improvement activities, which result in better management of the environment.

    2.       The Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), and Dryland Agriculture in Wote, Makueni County:  This project has dedicated learning sites aimed at understanding the interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture in ASAL areas. The intervention is based on an integrated approach and shows how community resilience to climate change is greatly increased through localizing weather information and disseminating this in a timely manner to farmers so that they can make informed decisions on what to plant and when.

    3.       The Community of Balich and the Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), developed by CARE Kenya in the Garissa region: Through a community-based adaptation process, ALP has been working in partnership with the local communities in Garissa since 2011 to support the development and implementation of their own responses to climate change and adaptation strategies.

    After visiting the field, participants of the Learning Route worked on how to take home the lessons learned during the training. Top on the list was the need for the involvement of local communities in climate change adaptation strategies. This would help to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods through new income generation activities.

    Ms. Beth Mburu, a PHD Researcher on Climate Change Adaptation and food Security indirectly working with smallholders farmers previously engaged with IFAD said;“The learning route was very rich! My main take home lesson is on Community empowerment. We have to engage the community in the development and implementation of climate change adaptation solutions, so that when the project lifetime ends there’s an element that will keep the project together. Sharing information at local levels in a manner that is understandable in the local context in a timely manner is important for decision making. Linking community members who are influential in the community also leads to success in the uptake of projects. At the same time, other partners must come on board too to ensure the success and sustainability of climate smart strategies.” (For more on her interview, we invite you to please watch this short 4 minute video

    During the learning route the participants developed their ideas into a concrete Action Plan, which will outline how they intend to bring new products, services or processes into their projects and organizations. The best three Action Plans will be prized with a starting capital of USD 2,500.

    For more details on the learning route training and additional reading on the specifics of the Learning Route, we invite you to visit our website at the following link:

    Other Useful links:

    1.       Presentations (on SlideShare application)

    ·         Please click here for another blog on the learning route

    2.       YouTube Videos:

    For further information, please contact:

    Ariel Halpern:, phone: +56-02-3416367

    ValentinaSauve:, phone: +254 (0) 706046742

    Vivienne Likhanga:, phone: +254(020) 2716036

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    What is better than cash you may ask? Electronic payments of course! Easy question, easy answer, anything else you need to know?

    Actually, there is a lot more to it than that and that's why the Rural Finance Thematic Group and the Better than Cash Alliance held a seminar at IFAD on 21 August.
    "Empowering people through electronic payments" . Tidhar Wald, from BTC walked the participants through an interesting presentation on why the alliance is convincing Governments, the development community and the private sector to shift their payments from cash to electronic – paving the way to expand financial inclusion and help people in poverty grow assets. Digitizing payments can create lasting benefits for people, communities and economies such as: cost savings, transparency, security, financial inclusion and access to new markets. Today, more than half the adult population – 2.5 billion– are excluded from the formal financial sector.

    It seems that there is no question as to the efficiency that this shift would lead to, in fact,  a stimulating discussion took place on the pros and cons of this shift and how challenging it will really be to replace a cash economy  – 'cash is the way people think'…'a cash element will always remain'…'we have a long way to go to make services available to the local people ' these were just some of the comments made.

    Andean tribal people, Cusco Region, Peru, beneficiaries of a financial graduation programme by the government.
    ©IFAD/Michal Hamp


    Although there are challenges, there are benefits too... Governments can save up to 75% when making payments electronically rather than in cash, on what? Corruption, theft, insurance costs, less middlemen – all these and other factors drastically increase savings as the costs incurred with cash no longer exist.

    Mainly BTC aims to see donors committing to implement electronic payment solutions instead of cash. Another aim is for improved economic security for millions of low-income and poor people, enabling them to use bank or electronic accounts to build savings and assets via innovative payment technologies.

    IFAD has been invited to become a member of the Better than Cash Alliance and the process to reach a decision has started. Current partners of the Alliance are:  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard, Citi, The Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Visa Inc., and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) as the Secretariat of the Alliance.

    In fact, IFAD is already using electronic payments so what would our actual role be? To showcase IFAD’s leadership in its process to accelerate digitization of payments and jointly promote greater use of secure, sound electronic payments in the world.

    Did you know? Another reason not to use cash - cash is unhygenic and 94% of all paper bills are contaminated - with drugs and dangerous germs!

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