Tag Archives: Agriculture

Three South American Crops that are Endangered by Climate Change

Valerie GiesenIf climate change seemed far away, here are three reasons to reconsider. From basic daily staples to our favourite morning drink, climate change is already affecting crops in South America. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of world food production, making shifts in the region’s agricultural production relevant to global, as well as regional, food security.

1. Potato: According to the International Potato Centre (CIP), the potato is the third most widely consumed food crop in the world, with annual production approaching 300 million tons. According to a 2012 report by the 8th World Potato Congress, South American potato production reached slightly over 14 million tons in 2010. However, production in South America has come under climate-change induced stress. In 2012, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reported that potato production in the Andes is increasingly threatened by late blight disease, which caused the severe Irish potato famine in the 1850s. The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University outlines the course of the disease: Late blight is particularly severe under warm, humid conditions. it is triggered by the ‘oomycete pathogen’, which is a microorganism that produces millions of spores from infected plants. These survive from one season to the next in infected potatoes and travel through the air causing new infections if the weather is sufficiently wet. Infected potatoes develop dark lesions on the surface and – in many cases – rot from the inside. Read More »

Five Indigenous Andean Crops You’ve Never Heard Of

Tracey Li

Today, INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton gave a radio interview to Real Food Empire. The program discussed climate change, sustainability, and all things food and agriculture at INESAD, in Bolivia, and beyond. To coincide with the radio interview, today Development Roast brings its readers and Real Food Empire listeners five fascinating indigenous crops and their incredible properties.

On June 27, 2013 Giulia Maria Baldinelli wrote about the effects of rural-urban migration on agriculture in the Bolivian Altiplano, revealing that the high plateau area is a surprisingly large source of biodiversity. The prominent Russian botanist Nikolai Ivaich Vavilov identified the region as being one of the world’s original centers of domesticated plants; the fact that the Altiplano people were one of the first in the world to cultivate edible plants is the reason why they today have such a huge number of crops. In spite of the incredibly harsh environment—altitudes of over 4,000 meters, poor soils, drought, and freezing temperatures for several months of the year—this beautiful region is home to an enormous variety of tubers and grains. The most well known is the potato, but even this holds some surprises – whilst Western consumers may consume a handful of different varieties, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) over 400 varieties are grown in the Altiplano, and, according to the International Potato Center (CIP), more than 4,300 across the Andean region. Read More »

INESAD on the Radio: Real Food Empire

Real food empireToday, Real Food Empire—a radio podcast on environmentally and socially sustainable farming and eating—featured an interview with INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton.

The program discusses the institute’s work on climate change and human wellbeing, reviews Ioulia’s own research interests in food and agriculture, and highlights what Bolivia has to offer to those seeking inspiration for sustainable living. It touches on two specific articles: one on the merits of agroecological farming versus industrial agriculture and another on the need for smart agricultural planning in the Andes in response to and preparation for changes in climate.

With viewers all around the world, the program’s maker Stephanie Georgieff—who is involved with Slow Food U.S.A—shares her enthusiasm for INESAD and its work. In the program, she particularly praises INESAD’s Development Roast as a ‘living library’ of accessible articles related to sustainability and development. And expresses her hope that U.S.-based policy makers would make use of initiatives such as INESAD’s SimPachamama climate change policy game—which will be officially launched in September 2013—that teaches the player the effects of different policies on an Amazonian town.

You can listen to the entire podcast for free here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/real-food-empire/2013/07/29/inesad-sustainability-research-in-bolivia Read More »

Nine Innovative Ways Food Workers are Fighting for More Justice

(This article has been republished from Foodtank. Click here to see the original post)

It is important to recognize the challenges facing workers in the food system. These challenges include issues such as fair living wages, better treatment of farm workers, and other basic human rights. According to the 2009 Global Employment Trends report of the International Labour Organization (ILO), over one billion people worldwide are employed in the agricultural sector. Here are nine innovative ways that food workers and organizations are fighting for justice:

1. Coalition of Immokalee WorkersMarch for Rights, Respect and Fair Food: In March of this year, the CIW took part in the two-week march to the headquarters of one of Florida’s largest grocery chains, Publix. The original March for Dignity, Dialogue & a Fair Wage in 2000 fought for higher, more just workers’ wages, and helped develop the Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program uses a penny-per-pound increase in the price that growers pay for picked tomatoes to enable farmers to provide crucial benefits to workers, such as a higher wage, shade tents in the field, education on farmer’s rights, and a code of conduct for growers to follow. While many Florida grocers and national restaurants have signed on to the Fair Food Program, Publix has refused to do so. Read More »

INESAD News: Guatemalan Food Security and Livelihoods – Is Strengthening Agriculture Enough?

The Spring 2013 issue of the Tropical Agriculture Association‘s (TAA) Agriculture for Development journal featured a report on food security and livelihoods of the rural populations of Guatemala by INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton. The paper summarizes the results of fieldwork research carried out by Ioulia in the province of Solola that focused on rural-urban linkages approach to development. The report makes practical recommendations for projects and policies that could begin to tackle some of Guatemala’s worst poverty and malnutrition problems. These include focusing on more sustainable farming methods, reverting to agricultural production geared for the local (rather than export) markets, and setting up knowledge transfer initiatives to teach people to conserve fresh produce by drying, salting or pickling it.

The article is available for free exclusively to Development Roast readers and can be downloaded from Ioulia’s Academia.edu site:

Fenton, Ioulia (2013) Rural-urban linkages in development – is strengthening agriculture the best way forward- A case study from Guatemala.

To purchase the full issue of Agriculture for Development, please visit the TAA site here. Read More »

INESAD News: Shopping for the human connection?

Today, the popular anthropology site PopAnth published an article by INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton in which she reflects on her time living and researching in Guatemala and the shopping experience that helped her feel more connected with food and the local people who produced and sold it.

Shopping for the human connection?

By Ioulia Fenton

In Guatemala I was addicted, truly addicted, to my morning regimen. No, it wasn’t a catch up to the day’s news on my iPad with a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Nor was it my favourite bowl of cereal or brand of orange juice. It wasn’t even a luxurious shower or a sleep-in. It was something much more sacred: a daily experience that allowed me to indulge in what makes us human — connections with others. Read More »

Biofuels – A Good Way to Fight Climate Change?

The Earth’s climate is changing and the vast majority of the scientific community as well as the public is now convinced that human activity is contributing significantly to this phenomenon. The underlying cause is an increase in the concentration of ‘greenhouse gases’ in the Earth’s atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, which is released when fossil fuels are burnt; nitrous oxide from chemical fertilizers; and methane which is produced from activities like rice farming and livestock production. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to the ‘greenhouse effect’ – a rise in the average global temperature which leads to melting ice-caps and therefore rising sea-levels. Additionally, the change in the atmosphere makes the climate more unpredictable, increasing the incidence of ‘freak’ weather events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts (‘global weirding’). Regardless of what is causing the climate to change, preparations need to be made to cope with the consequences as they will impact on many aspects of life. One of these will be the world’s food supplies and food prices, since agricultural growing conditions will change in certain places, affecting the type and quantity of crops that can be grown. This in turn will affect people’s ability to buy and otherwise access food.

However, right now, the biggest impact of climate change on food supplies and food access does not come directly from the changes in climate. Instead, it comes from one of the ways in which we are trying to stop climate change: biofuels. ‘Undercovering Undernutrition Part II‘ showed that the growing demand for biofuels (mainly from western countries) means that in some areas biofuel crops are being grown preferentially over food crops due to their profitability. A 2010 report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) reported that European countries have chosen to meet the European Union (EU) legal requirement of including 10 percent of renewable energy in all transport fuels by 2020 by importing biofuels from places such as Indonesia, Brazil, and some African countries. One of the results, reported by The Guardian newspaper, is that the land acquired over the past decade for growing biofuel crops could have produced food for a billion people. This has led to increased food prices, leading to more people being unable to afford food and therefore going hungry. Read More »

Bolivia’s Best: An Interview With Oscar Saavedra Arteaga

Fifty five years ago, archaeologist, engineer and geologist Kenneth Lee discovered the ruins of an ancient civilization in the region of El Beni, in the northeast of Bolivia. The sophisticated technologies that were revealed by the excavated remains fascinated the academic community. One man in particular has spent the past several years developing an ancient agricultural system of camellones, used by this civilization, for modern use. This is a system that uses elevated fields, channels of water and aquaponics (cultivating plants and fish in the same water source) to protect crops from flooding, whilst fertilizing these in a natural way and increasing productivity compared to traditional industrial farming methods. The model has proved so successful in El Beni that the non-governmental organization (NGO) Oxfam has applied it in many African countries.

Today, to kick off Development Roast’s brand new ‘Bolivia’s Best’ interview series, we meet Oscar Saavedra, a Bolivian agroecologist and one of the founders of the Kenneth Lee Foundation who directs the camellones initiative under his own NGO, Amazonia Sostenible (Sustainable Amazonia) as well as his own business, Amazonia Services. Read More »

Uncovering Undernutrition (Part II): What are the causes of undernutrition?

Uncovering Undernutrition Part I looked at how many people are undernourished in different regions of the world, and how much food is available in those regions. These numbers were taken from the 2012 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) entitled ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World‘. The report shows that there is more than enough food available to feed everyone, therefore, there must be other reasons why several million people are going hungry each year. So, what else affects undernutrition levels around the world? Read More »

Reviving an Ancient Farming System in Bolivia: Camellones

In 1957 the remains of a civilization from 3,000 years ago were discovered in El Beni, a lowland region in the northeast of Bolivia (see map below). This civilization was found to have a highly productive agricultural system which involved the construction of camellones (ridges). These were elevated fields, built to be above the height of the floodwaters, surrounded by channels. This produced a method of irrigation that protected crops from flooding whilst increasing the fertility of the soil. In the wet season, the rainwater collected in the channels, preventing the crops from being washed away. The water could then be stored and used to water crops in times of drought. This system was designed specifically for the ecosystem of the region which is particularly prone to flooding. Read More »

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