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Published on 7 June 2024

A&FS Newsletter - June 2024

The newsletter of the SDC Agriculture & Food Systems Network provides you with the latest news on projects, publications and events related to food systems and submitted by network members. It also informs about A&FS Network activities and portrays network members.

Feature

10 June 2024

Innovative mushroom cultivation preserving Manipuri cuisine

Split gill mushroom, or kanglayen in Manipuri, is a key ingredient of mouth-watering delicacies such as kanglayen paknam (flat spicy baked dish), kanglayen eromba (with fermented fish and other ingredients) or simply fried on its own as kanghou. Deforestation, climate change, and rapid urbanisation are making it hard to forage for this mushroom in the wild. Puina Sukham, a young AgriEntrepreneur based in Manipur, is addressing this scarcity by developing an innovative solution to growing the mushroom in simple controlled chambers.

Members' Articles - Focus: Sustainable soil fertility management

5 June 2024

Farming insects: an emerging technology contributing to a sustainable food system

The world needs a sustainable food cycle to feed a growing population. The farming of insects like the black soldier fly (BSF), offers a profitable solution by converting organic waste into valuable nutrients. BSF consumes various organic wastes, including food waste and farm manure, turning them into quality animal feed and organic fertilizer. Recently, SDC supported the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) to pilot BSF production with local partners in Ethiopia and to create an enabling environment for insect-based animal feed production and marketing. This article provides an overview of what the project has achieved and what the future outlook is.

5 June 2024

Combining design thinking with the market systems development  approach

In the aftermath of the Ukraine war, Myanmar, like many other countries, grappled with skyrocketing fertilizer prices. This economic strain compounded the challenges faced by the people in Shan state following the military coup in February 2021. The FOSTER project combines design thinking methods with market system development approaches to promote agroecology, generate employment opportunities, and facilitate the integration of displaced individuals.

5 June 2024

Vermicomposting – a farmer proven technology for soil health in Ethiopia

In the Ziway Shalla sub-basin of Ethiopia, farmers face significant soil fertility challenges due to erosion, soil acidity, and depletion of organic matter. To address this, the project «Improving food security and nutrition in the Sahel by safeguarding Wetlands through Ecological Sustainable Agricultural Water management» (SaWeL) introduced vermicomposting and improved seed varieties. Farmers embraced vermicomposting for its cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits, leading to increased crop productivity. Additionally, restoration efforts and capacity-building initiatives yielded positive outcomes, including enhanced biodiversity, improved soil conservation, and increased community resilience. Overall, the project showcased the potential of sustainable agricultural practices to improve livelihoods and conserve natural resources in the region.

5 June 2024

Innovative intercropping using nanobiotechnology in Egyptian farms

As climate change continues to heavily impact local Egyptian farmers, more innovative and sustainable farming techniques must be applied to adapt to these changing conditions. Additionally, the invasive Fall Armyworm (FAW) is infesting Egyptian farms. BioPyramids Biotech and Royal Green Technologies invest in organic and sustainable farming practices and implement them with local farmers. The most recent success story highlights how innovative intercropping using nanobiotechnology can control FAW, improve production, increase protein content in fodder and reduce pesticides application to ensure feed safety.

7 June 2024

Tackling soil acidity in Ethiopia and beyond

Many African countries suffer from soil acidity, which involves large yield losses for farmers. Lime application is an effective intervention to reclaim soil fertility. In Ethiopia more than 20 million hectares are moderately or severely acid. Liming these areas requires high investments, but additional benefits through yield gains will clearly exceed cost. SDC is supporting the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) as it develops a new policy framework that allows countries to scale up financial resources. While Ethiopia is the focus country, the project aims to reach out to other African countries to multiply its impact.

Members' Articles - Focus: Governance and food systems in Africa

7 June 2024

A dialogue module to resolve the pastoralism crisis

SNV, PeaceNexus, and Network Billital Maroobè (RBM) have joined forces to spearhead an innovative initiative aimed at resolving the pastoral crisis in West Africa and creating resilient food systems. A comprehensive study involving 1900 families revealed that the majority of pastoralists are victims of the current insecurity, while some are also perpetrators. In response to this, the organizations have developed and tested a dialogue module, which was showcased at the SDC International Cooperation Forum in Basel. This module is designed to foster cooperation and enhance food security.

7 June 2024

« Plus qu’un simple financement » : Le Fonds National de Développement Agricole au Bénin et la filière ananas

La Coopération suisse au Bénin soutient la mise en place de dispositifs communs et pérennes de financement agricole. Ainsi, le Fonds National de Développement Agricole (FNDA) a bénéficié d’une contribution de CHF 4 millions destinée à des exploitations agricoles et entreprises rurales. Grâce au financement à travers le FNDA, l’exportation de l’ananas bio du Bénin a augmenté significativement.

7 June 2024

Multi-sector food systems exchange leading to insights for transformation

Working with local authorities in Bungoma and Busia Counties, the Nutrition in City Ecosystems (NICE) project arranged a peer-to-peer exchange between these two multisectoral food system platforms and their counterparts in Kisumu City on 21- 22 May 2024. Profiting from the longstanding experiences of Kisumu’s Food Liaison Action Group (FLAGK), the colloquium provided an opportunity for food system stakeholders in Busia and Bungoma to comprehensively analyze their current food system challenges and opportunities, enabling them to prioritize areas to focus on in the upcoming planning cycle.

Members' Articles - Focus: Digitalization

7 June 2024

AI’s potential in enhancing rural advisory services

Join the global conversation on Artificial Intelligence in Rural Advisory Services (RAS) with GFRAS. Following up on a webinar that explored AI’s transformative potential in agriculture, GFRAS has established a task force to explore AI integration in RAS. We are now inviting stakeholders in agrifood systems to collaborate. Participate in this initiative, share experiences, and contribute to a Paper Series aimed at enhancing RAS, engaging with experts to harness AI for rural community advancement.

7 June 2024

Coffee farmers in Costa Rica mastering their cash flow

Burrus Development Group, in collaboration with the specialty coffee farmers association APROCETU and supported by the Swiss Embassy in Costa Rica, recently conducted an entrepreneurship training programme aimed at empowering smallholder coffee farmers. The training focused on teaching essential entrepreneurship skills and demonstrating how to use Fynka, a mobile app designed to help farmers master their cash flow. This initiative aims to enhance financial management capabilities, ensuring that farmers take informed decisions, manage their farms sustainably using regenerative agricultural practices and enhance their savings.

7 June 2024

Participatory research demonstrates the effects of agroecological practices in Tanzania

SWISSAID, in collaboration with Swiss and Tanzanian researchers, has conducted a five-year participatory research project to test agroecological practices in Tanzania. Utilizing participatory methods and innovative mobile technology for data collection and sharing, the research has provided valuable insights into the effectiveness of various agroecological farming practices for cassava and maize production. The findings will contribute to the advancement of agroecology in Tanzania and, amongst other things, inform the National Ecological Organic Agriculture Strategy recently launched by the Government.

News

7 June 2024

Discussion paper: the role of livestock in food system transformation

Livestock production is more than just producing meat, milk and eggs. It plays multiple roles and holds an intricate position in food systems. Pathways to address livestock issues need to be context-specific and multifaceted, trade-offs are inevitable. A recently published discussion paper by the Swiss national FAO-Committee, a multistakeholder consultative body nominated by the Swiss Federal Council, discusses the livestock sector as integral part of food systems transformation and proposed a set of recommendations at global and national level.

7 June 2024

Fostering equitable markets and policies for agroecology

How can we foster equitable policies and markets for the agroecological transition in the Global South? 150 participants explored this question during the virtual Agroecology Learning Journey, organised by the Alliance Sufosec. The resulting document outlines several promising mechanisms that foster equitable policies and markets to promote the adoption and scaling of agroecological practices and principles. Mechanisms include for example Participatory Guarantee Systems, direct marketing and Multi-stakeholder platforms.

7 June 2024

New brief on latest agroecology policy developments in Africa

Agroecology offers multiple benefits for a transition to sustainable agri-food systems. But how can we bring agroecology to scale at country-level? National Agroecology Strategies, have the potential to harness opportunities of upscaling agroecological production practices, developing markets, value chains and consumer demand that can accelerate transition.

Past Events

7 June 2024

Day of agroecology at IITA, South Kivu

The one-day conference «Day of Agroecology» was held on 7 May at IITA Kalambo/South Kivu, DRC among 5 universities and three joint Swiss-DRC projects (SNSF DELIBERATE, SDC RUNRES, and EU project CANALLS) with over 100 participants. Million Belay from AFSA (Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa) held a keynote entitled «Why social movements are necessary for agroecological transitions». The event was opened by ETH Zürich Professor Johan Six and SNSF Eccellenza Assistant Professor Johanna Jacobi.

7 June 2024

Insights from the food systems strengthening dialogue in Kenya

Jenice Achieng Audi, YPARD Kenya representative, shares the pivotal role of young agripreneurs in shaping the future of agriculture at the Food Systems Strengthening Dialogue in Kisumu. Experts discussed boosting agri-food SMEs in Western Kenya with engineering innovations, focusing on sustainability, gender inclusivity, and technology. The event highlighted the importance of mentorship, capacity building, and strategic partnerships in overcoming challenges and driving agricultural transformation.

7 June 2024

Restoring forests on degraded land at scale

On the 21st of May 2024 ETHZ hosted an event organized by World Vision Switzerland & Liechtenstein with Tony Rinaudo as main speaker and in collaboration with the Crowther Lab, an interdisciplinary team of scientists studying ecosystems at global scale to understand the relationships between biodiversity and climate change. Tony’s key statement «Re-greening mindsets in order to re-green landscapes» formed the basis of his insightful speech, which held the attention of the entire audience for over 30 minutes and was interspersed with personal anecdotes and more than 40 years of experiences.

7 June 2024

Boosting biodiversity and strengthening national plans through agroecology

«Through agroecology, we can link biodiversity conservation and restoration to people and ensure we achieve the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework’s (KMGBF) targets by working hand-in-hand with local communities.» This inspiring message emerged from the peer-to-peer exchange «Boosting National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) through Agroecology» held on 9-10 May in Kenya with 25 NBSAP focal points, food system and agroecology focal points and CSO representatives from Colombia, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

7 June 2024

Who is who: Fouzia Nasreen

1. What do you love, or what is special, about your work?