Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Chief declared me dead before selling my land to a cement company

By Isaiah Esipisu
A victim of land grabbing at the Coast

In a vast village blessed with coral limestone in Kilifi County, Charo Toya Tsofa, his wife, and their seven children have lived in absolute fear since 2010, when the area chief declared them dead, before selling their land to a foreign investor.

It was towards the end of November, during a legal proceeding that the Mombasa Cement Ltd produced evidence in court to explain the circumstance in which the company acquired land that rests on millions of tons of coral limestone used for manufacturing cement.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Women-dominated Rwandan seed cooperative wins ag prize

Sylvia Mwichuli of AGRA awarding one of the winners

By Isaiah Esipisu

ACCRA, Ghana (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A group of smallholder farmers from the south of Rwanda has won recognition for its efforts to supply the government with high-quality seeds that are improving yields of maize and legumes all over the country.

Impabaruta, a cooperative of smallholder farmers in Kamonyi district in the county’s Southern Province, has been named the 2013 African Farmer Organisation of the Year, beating over 60 contestants from all over Africa.

Agriculture, energy ministers need voice in climate decisions - experts

By Isaiah Esipisu

WARSAW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For the past 20 years, negotiations on how to combat and adapt to climate change have been led by environmental ministers. But the decisions made affect a country’s agriculture, energy and finance systems as well.

Now, experts say, it’s time for other players to be involved in the process, particularly when it comes to deciding how to most effectively spend available funds.

Africa's strategy at the climate talks needs a rethink

By Isaiah Esipisu

As the negotiations at the highest decision making authority on how to tackle climate change enters the critical political stage, the outgoing chair of the African group of negotiators has warned if African ministers do not remain vigilant, decisions will be taken without their inputs.

“We have already done our technical part in the negotiations, and we are already advising the ministers accordingly. But if they do not sit in to ensure that the African demands are adhered to, then decisions will be made, and they will be binding to their countries whether they like it or not,” said Dlamini Emmanuel from Swaziland, and the outgoing chair of the African team.

Climate-smart farming could help reduce 'emissions gap' - experts

By Isaiah Esipisu

WARSAW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Scientists at the U.N. climate talks in Poland have said that expanding the use of climate-smart farming techniques could help reduce the “emissions gap” – the difference between the amount of greenhouse gases the world can emit by 2020 if it
wants to avoid dangerous climate change and the larger quantity likely to be produced without tougher steps.

Researchers have estimated that global food systems pump between 9.5 and 14.7 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere per year, or between 19 and 29 percent of total emissions.

Kenya's smallholder farmers use grain stores to raise bank loans

By Isaiah Esipisu
A woman prepares grains at her shop in Kenya (REUTERS)

NAKURU, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An innovative Kenyan scheme enables small farmers to store their produce in certified warehouses and use it to obtain credit from banks, avoiding middlemen who paid them rock-bottom prices and enabling them to buy good seeds and fertiliser and raise their yields.

“Brokers have always been a thorn in the flesh of  poor farmers because they take advantage of the harvesting season to purchase farm produce very cheaply, then sell (inputs) to the farmers very expensively when such commodities are scarce in the market,” said Paddy Likhayo, a Kenyan-based grain storage expert.

New wheat varieties resist deadly fungus, boost yields in Kenya

By Isaiah Esipisu

NJORO, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - After counting their losses for over a decade, wheat farmers in East Africa are looking forw
ard to a brighter future now that new varieties developed by scientists have proven to be resistant to a devastating wheat disease, and are boosting yields into the bargain.

Known as Ug99, the fungal stem-rust disease thrives in warmer temperatures, and the spores can travel thousands of miles aided by wind, according to Peter Njau, a research scientist at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).