Friday, September 2, 2011

Investment in pastoralists could help combat east Africa food crisis

Mark Tran in globaldevelopment, a blog at the Guardian (UK): Governments need to build a coalition of support for pastoralists to tap their potential for economic development in east Africa, a top US official said on Thursday. Jeff Hill, director for policy at USAid, the US development arm, said underinvestment in pastoralist communities in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have contributed to the extreme levels of food insecurity in the Horn's dry lands.

"It is not drought, but vulnerability to drought that is eroding food security in these areas," Hill told agricultural experts at a meeting in Nairobi, "and this vulnerability is a result of chronic under-investment. This is particularly true for the livestock-based systems which are and will be a dominant part of the arid and semi-arid lands."

His comments came at a time when the plight of pastoralists has become a key concern in a drought and famine that have left more than 12 million in need of emergency help. Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (Cgiar), agreed on the importance of livestock in the current crisis. "Livestock provides more food security than growing crops in many arid and semi-arid areas," he told the meeting. "The food crisis in the Horn is essentially a livestock crisis."

The crisis in the Horn has focused the minds of policy makers on the need to improve food security in the region, with a particular focus on small farmers and how to build up their resilience to forestall extreme hunger in the future. The G20 group of leading economies meet later this month in Montpellier, France, to discuss priorities for global food security, following a G20 agriculture summit in Paris in June....

In Ethiopia's Ghibe valley, ILRI-led Tsetse Fly control methods have allowed cattle to flourish in an area previously almost uninhabitable for them. This has encouragd more farming in the area, relieving to a degree population and soil erosion pressures in higher, Tsetse free, elevations. The ILRI control herd waiting for monthly parasitology tests. Shot by ILRI/Stevie Mann, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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