Category Archives: Africa Future

Next Green Revolution

The Next Green Revolution

Science prevented the last food crisis. Can it save us again?

 

Africa’s cropland biome occupies ~38% of the photo synthetically active land area of the African continent (~19.8 M km2) and encompasses more than 90% of its rural population living in 54 countries.

Next Green RevolutionRegion of Interest

We must concentrate on the biomes of Africa that include forests and rangelands, but exclude deserts

Next Green Revolution

Overall Region of Interest

A big, risky decision for small holder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to apply to their crops. There is lot of uncertainty about how the crops will respond, with a risk that the farmers will even lose when they harvest and sell the produce. Testing the soil beforehand and knowing how plants will respond can play an important role in reducing this risk. But the high cost and lack of access to testing services have been major bottlenecks for farmers in developing countries.

Low-Cost Soil AnalysisNext Green Revolution

Similarly, planners in governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations who are working out what to supply to small holder farmers are also faced with large uncertainties on what types and combinations of inputs to supply and where, in relation to the local soils. For example, a number of agencies in Africa are designing fertilizer blending and liming programs and so need to know how strongly acid soils are and what soil micro nutrients may be limiting in different areas. Existing soil maps do not provide up-to-date information on specific soil properties that are needed to guide such decisions.

New advances in rapid, low-cost soil analytical techniques in the laboratory that simply measure light reflecting from a soil sample are reducing the cost of measuring soil properties. Soil infrared spectroscopy allows a soil sample to be scanned in just 30 seconds and the resulting fingerprint used to predict a number of soil properties based on calibration databases. And this costs just $1 compared with at least $100 using conventional soil testing methods. With the availability of satellite imagery and from space and now unmanned aerial vehicles at ever increasing spatial resolution (250 metres to sub-metre), it is becoming possible to make high resolution soil property maps at low cost.

Next Green Revolution

To successfully close the gap, we’ll need to adopt a variety of innovative strategies. We must produce more crops, while more efficiently using the food we already grow.

What are we to do?

Continue reading Next Green Revolution

MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

water dry facts

The seriousness of carbon emissions and the resulting impacts of those emissions are starting to have a strong effect on our global environment. From the melting of glacial systems around the world to the increasing intensity of storms and droughts, never has humanity faced a greater challenge than what lies before us today. One only has to observe the historic CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years and compare those numbers to where we are today at 400 ppm to get a clear picture. We need mitigation of emissions.

ONE SMALL STEP

Replacing “three stone” stoves with pyrolytic stoves provides a health dividend equal the eradication of malaria & AIDs combined. Mitigation of the emissions is the primary aim of these innovative cook stoves.

THE COOK STOVE

* About 30% biochar production
* 3 to 4 days for a batch of charcoal production
* Continuous hot water access (pot 1)
* Highly suitable for institutional cooking and as well making biochar
* Additional heat generated by flaring the pyrolysis gases, used for cooking
* Mitigation of the emissions during the pyrolysis by flaring
* Costs about Rs. 3000 (US$45)

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biochar7Mwoto TLUD Cookstove is made of sheet metal: fabricated by skilled tinsmiths. Price approx. US$20 (Kenya: $22). The primary air control permits significant turn-down of fire intensity.  (Mwoto Factories Ltd., Kampala)

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The Progress Ahead Dr TLUD estimates that only about 20% of what can be known about TLUD gasifiers has been discovered. 80% awaits our efforts. By 2020 there needs to be 30 million TLUD micro-gasifier istoves into the developing societies. Currently there are fewer than one million. www.Mwotostove.com

This is a good example of Mitigation of Emissions:

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Carbon Emission to be Solved

Continue reading MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

SUSTAINABLE BIOCHAR AND GLOBAL WARMING

SUSTAINABLE BIOCHARBIOCHAR SOLUTIONS

Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool to fight global warming. This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and discourage deforestation. Sustainable biochar is one of the few technologies that are relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable.

Farmers in Brazil have long known about the “black earth,” or terra preta, found over vast areas of the Amazon. In the last decade or two archaeologists have begun to realise that the terra preta was not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but had been cultivated over centuries, if not millennia.  They turned some of the wood into charcoal and then worked it back into the soil, creating an unusually rich and fertile ground.

Traditionally, people have used biochar and ash in their fields. This practice exists all over the world. There is a need to recognize the value and create awareness on biochar. Farmers know that wherever biomass is burnt in the field’s crop grows stronger, healthier and better.

 In East Africa, sugarcane and maize waste is normally burned in the field, as it has no other value. In-field burning returns approximately 2-5% of the original carbon to the soil and a negligible amount of NPK.  It does little to improve soil, and is considered a major source of particulate and soot emissions in the region.

Burning without oxygen can also mean burning without smoke, which leads to the idea of replacing home heating and cooking stoves with pyrolizing kilns that provide the same functions but are clean-burning, inexpensive and easy to use, and instead of generating smoke and ash.

Biochar is essentially charcoal, but burnt at a lower temperature and with a more restricted flow of oxygen; it has the potential to end the slash-and-burn cycle in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to researcher Bruno Glaser at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, a hectare of meter-deep terra preta can hold 250 tons of carbon, as opposed to 100 tons of carbon in unimproved soils. 

THAT MEANS THAT THERE IS A POTENTIAL  OF 150 TONS OF CARBON CAPTURE/ HA POSSIBLE. (THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE FORESTATION ON THE SAME HECTARE)

In addition, the bio-char itself increases soil fertility, which allows farmers to grow more plants, which allows more bio-char to be added to the soil. Johannes Lehman, author of Amazonian Dark Earths, claims that combining bio-char and bio-fuels could draw down 9.5 billion tons per year, or 35 Gt CO2 per year equal to all our current fossil fuel emissions.

Biochar Trenches

This is the simplest and convenient method for farmers to convert the crop residue / biomass in the farm lands into biochar trenches. All the biochar, burnt soil remains within the field could be conveniently spread by the farmer within the whole field.

It is more convenient to make such trenches after ploughing the field. Trenches perpendicular to the slopes also benefit the steep sloppy areas as water harvesting means. The entire crop residue otherwise burnt openly can be collected and dumped into these trenches lengthwise. More biomass can be added during the process. Once the trench is filled with biomass and compact, it should be covered by grass, weeds, broad leaves, etc. After covering it up, soil should be spread on the trench, a lengthy mound is created. Some water could be used to make the soil compact and for sealing the mound of biomass. A small hole is left open for lighting the biomass at one end and at the other end a very small opening is left open. Once it is lit, white smoke starts emitting at the other end. The result is a smoking mound over the trenches.  

When it smokes too much or when it cracks, too much oxygen is getting in. You must plastered more mud and earth over that part until the leak was stopped. You must keep an eye on the smoke, in order to stop the burn when it changed color. You can stop it by covering it with more earth to entirely cut off the oxygen.biochar-soil-management8

The trenches are 2 to 3 feet depth and 1.5 to 2 feet width. Small holes are to be made in a biochar along the length of the trench at every 10 to 15 feet in a biochar trench. After 24 hours the biomass is converted into biochar. Any little smoke or embers should be quenched with water or covered with soil while removing the biochar from the trench.

The alternative is to burn the biomass openly, which causes pollution and very little carbon is formed.

Over the three year study period, t was observed that the chances of seeds germination are 20% to 30% higher in the soils with biochar compared to control soils. All soil properties except pH showed significant changes. In both biochar amended and control soils, salt, manganese, and potash content showed consistent increases while phosphate content decreased.  Additional phosphate fertilizer may be needed. Organic phosphorus fertilizers come primarily from mineral sources, like rock dust or from bone sources such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal.

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Cacao plants planted into soil rich in biochar started producing fruits half the normal time. Plants seem to be supported for longer and there is less yellowing of leaves. 

BIOCHAR COMPOSTdegraded-land24

Continue reading SUSTAINABLE BIOCHAR AND GLOBAL WARMING

Productive African Farms and Emissions

More productive African farms could help both people and emissions.

Boosting the efficiency of Africa’s productive lands is not only necessary for feeding larger populations, but also a possible means of reducing emissions.

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An article in the Economist, “World climate talks address agriculture” identifies the problem.

SINCE the 1960s farm production has risen fourfold in Africa. But the continent still lags far behind the gains seen in South America and Asia. The extra food has appeared largely because more land has been planted or grazed, rather than because crop yields have improved. Instead, poor farming methods progressively deplete nutrients from soils; almost all arable land in Africa lacks irrigation, for example. This is a particular problem in a continent whose population is set to double by 2050 and which faces regular droughts, floods and heat waves.

The world is already 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. As it heats further, weather cycles are set to speed up, leaving wet parts of the world wetter and dry parts drier. At either end of the scale, extreme weather events will probably intensify. By 2050, even if temperature rise is successfully limited to 2°C, crop yields could slump by a fifth.

The costs of climate change already come each year to 1.5% of the continent’s GDP, according to the European Commission, and adapting to it will cost another 3% each year until 2030. This is in spite of the fact that, overall, Africa is responsible for just 4% of global emissions annually.

Soil: potential carbon sinks

Fertilizer is extremely important. We cannot feed people if soil is degraded. The production of fertilizer in a form of biochar is absolutely huge which help to absorb carbon in the soils.

Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. 

degraded land
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

Well-nourished soils are better at absorbing carbon dioxide rather than allowing it to enter the atmosphere. But the continent’s over-grazed, over-used soil currently means Africa only stores 175 gigatons of carbon each year of the 1,500 gigatons stored in the world’s soils. Smarter farming could change all that. The world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2

If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics.  Restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store in world soils an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. (Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning are roughly 32 billion tons.) 

 Soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture. Currently deforestation takes place where vast areas are cleared for new fields because too little grows in existing ones.

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Vast areas of deforested land that have been abandoned after soil degradation are excellent candidates for replanting and reforestation using biochar from the weeds now growing there. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, grasslands, which cover more than a quarter of the world’s land, hold 20 percent of the world’s soil carbon stock. Much of this land is degraded.

The biochar solution for small farms involves branches of fruit trees, which are cut every year to facilitate the harvest, weigh about 50 tons/ha. If this biomass is converted by pyrolysis to biochar, about 1/3 will revert to 16.7 tons of black carbon/ha and this can be mixed with compost. This will enhance the way biochar develops microbes.

Biochar

If one third of the degraded land, 660 million ha, are used and every year 15 tons/ha biochar is mixed in the soil, this will be together 10 billion tons of Carbon (10 Gt carbon is equivalent to 3.7 Gt CO2) taken from the air and stored in the soil. This is the amount of fossil CO2 which is just released every year.

co2-emissions

The only problem with this solution is the scale. Imagine what it means to use soil carbon sequestration techniques on 10% of all arable land: Millions of farmers must change their way of doing agriculture to make it happen. But the alternative — staying the course of ecological ruin — is not very appealing. 

Hilly Lands

Hilly Land Sustainable Agriculture (HLSA) farming systems feature the establishment of single or double hedgerows of either leguminous tree species, shrubs or grasses seeded or planted along contour lines. Hedgerows, serving as barriers, will conserve surface soil by building up organic mass, increasing plant nutrient elements and improving the water holding  capacity of the soil, thus conserving surface soil by slowing down erosion. Rocks,stubble,  branches and other farm debris are piled at the base of the hedges to further reinforce the foundation of the hedgerows. 

The densely planted hedgerows are pruned regularly to encourage the growth of a thick vegetative canopy and provide a continuous supply of green manure that is scattered on the planting strips between hedgerows.

Trees or shrubs alone used as hedges cannot control effectively soil erosion that can lead to flooding and mass destruction of hilly lands that took centuries to build.

Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) provides high biomass production for hedgerows; they have been successfully used in some parts of Thailand, Indonesia, China, and India. The grass has the potential to markedly reduce erosion and rapidly develop natural terraces on slopes with less management attention. It stays alive for 25 to 45 years without being replanted.

AFRICA AGRICULTURAL HOPESPOTS

Continue reading Productive African Farms and Emissions

TREE NURSERY WITH THE MESQUITE TREE

THE TREE NURSERY AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nursery to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture

The Tree Nursery


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Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora ) is an N-fixing legume tree, typical of arid and semi-arid regions, growing up to 10-15 m high. The crown is large and the canopy is open. Mesquite is a phreatophyte and has a deep taproot, growing downwards in search of water tables (down to 35 m depth). The value of the tree lies in its exceptional tolerance of heat, drought (8 months and possibly longer) and marginal soils. They may subsequently be inter-cropped with maize.  

Prosopis juliflora and its close relative Prosopis pallida are two of the most economically and ecologically important tree species in arid and semi-arid zones of the world. 

It is also extremely invasive. Mesquite is considered as a noxious weed in many parts of the world. Grazing of mesquite stands is a way to control its growth: fresh leaves contain about 17-20% protein and their hay contains about 14% protein.  

 Mesquite wood is a good firewood (it is also called “wooden anthracite”) and produces high-quality charcoal.  It is also used for windows, doors and light carpentry.

Pods production begins 3 years after planting. Pods yields may be as high as 10 t/ha/year, average pods yields are 8.7 t/ha/year in the USA and 6 t/ha/year, after 4 years, in Brazil (under good fertilizer levels) where maize only yields 400 kg/ha.

 The pods can also be collected and fed to stalled livestock, whole or processed, alone or as part of a ration and fresh or after storage. Processed pods are more digestible and ground pods have a better nutritional value. Processing involves the pounding.

For goats, a diet containing 20% pods improved feed intake, feed conversion and body weight gain without compromising carcass yield or quality. Foliage of Prosopis juliflora is generally unpalatable, however, animals will browse the foliage during dry seasons. The palatability is most palatable for goats. It is possible to use mesquite pods up to 25% without problems in the diets of growing rabbits. Mesquite pod meal is a valuable feed for tilapia. 

Mesquite provides shade and shelter and is used in windbreaks and shelter belts along the border of a farm. 

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 The best time to plant NUT TREES was 20 years ago

THE SECOND BEST TIME IS NOW

  1. A tree maintained over 25 years has a Net Present Value of $0.49/tree based on its capture of carbon dioxide over this lifetime.
  2. The cost to grow and plant trees in Africa over the long run is another $1.00/tree: additional cost of maintenance: weeding, pruning, mulching, slashing, care against disease and infestations:
  3.  With the support from the Carbon Tax Fund, the Tree Farm is scaleable to produce over 1,000,000 trees in a short time.

Carbon Emission to be Solved

Continue reading TREE NURSERY WITH THE MESQUITE TREE

GLOBAL CARBON EMISSIONS

 CARBON EMISSIONS AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture. We do all this to absorb Carbon Emissions.

A NEW PARADIGMParadigm Shift Mechanization Concept Africa

It is the time for a new look at the Carbon Tax Dilemma. A paradigm shift is required:  from one of collecting carbon sin tax, which is recycled into investment for economic growth to a focus on sustainable global warming solutions. 

The rate of change in the world around us is increasing. The human mental system is failing to comprehend the modern world.  Our brain seems to understand only a small portion of the world: the portion that most affects our capacity to survive and reproduce. Our nervous system seems only to be impressed with small dramatic changes.

 Politicians being elected and rewarded on the basis of short-term decisions that are by many measures intellectually, morally, and financially corrupt, and the so-called knowledge workers–the scientists, engineers, and others who should be “blowing the whistle,” are so specialized that there is a real lack of integrative knowledge to see the Big Picture.

“We face a true planetary emergency.
The climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and 
spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest 
opportunity to lift Global Consciousness to a higher level.” 
                                                                                                     – Al Gore

The ‘climate crisis’ has already morphed from an environmental problem into a ‘moral and spiritual’ issue. The whole doctrine of sustainability and global warming has been designed to engender a sense of collective guilt, and the only solution to the perceived crisis is for humanity to develop a collective conscience.

 “Climate change makes us all global citizens; we are truly all in this together.” A crisis often has the advantage of uniting people. Climate change is the first problem on a global scale that we have faced as a species. We must hope that it has the positive side effect of stimulating our global consciousness. No country, no region, no people will escape the negative effects of the impending worldwide increase in temperature. We must all cooperate in mitigating it if we are to succeed.

CARBON DIOXIDE STORAGE

Back in Norway, Statoil also operates two projects to store carbon dioxide under water, in some of the most advanced examples of a technology seen as key to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere: carbon capture and storage (CCS). This is costly and still in its infancy, and governments have supported it only erratically. In 2015 a mere 28 million tonnes of CO2 was stored that way. To help meet the 2ºC limit, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says the world needs to store a whopping 4 billion tonnes a year by 2040.

CARBON EMISSIONS 

The much vaunted Stern Report called for a 25% reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Given the fact that the world population is expected to increase by a third which means the 9 billion people would have to generate 25% less than 6 billion, or a per capita reduction of 50%. This would devastate the global economy and make the Great Depression look like a picnic. Continue reading GLOBAL CARBON EMISSIONS

Insecure Property Rights in Africa

 PROPERTY RIGHTS AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture. We insist on Property Rights in Africa.

According to a recent article in the Economist, property rights are still miserably insecure in Africa. Legally recognizing land ownership has boosted farmers’ income and productivity in Latin America and Asia. But this is not the case yet in Africa. More than two-thirds of Africa’s land is still under customary tenure, with rights to land rooted in communities and typically neither written down nor legally recognized. In 31 of Africa’s 54 countries, less than 5% of rural land is privately owned. So giving peasants title to their land seems like an obvious first step towards easing African rural poverty.

In Rwanda, 81% of plots had been issued with titles since 2013, at relatively low cost; investment and women’s access to land have both improved. But even a relatively well-organised place like Rwanda has had problems keeping records up to date when land is sold or inherited.

Your Property Rights? Prove it!

In some African countries, less than 10% of households have any documents proving their land ownership. Being able to prove you own your land may be a necessary condition for using it as collateral.

In Kenya a large-scale titling programme was carried out in colonial times and carried over to independence. Most Kenyans cannot afford to update titles, and the government has not maintained the registry.

In Ethiopia, all land is still officially state-owned. The government has successfully registered customary rights in some regions: about 30% of Ethiopian households now have such documents. But it has also leased large tracts of land to foreign investors.

Legal property rights offer less protection in countries where big men can flout the law with impunity—a particular problem in Africa. Traditional chiefs have also sold communal land to private firms, leaving many peasants destitute. In Ghana chiefs have used their right to administer communal land to sell large tracts without their community’s permission. Property rights are even less respected in Zimbabwe. In recent years land grabs have sometimes made a mockery of customary ownership. Over the past decade and a half, Robert Mugabe’s government has seized most of the country’s commercial farms with little or no compensation.

In several places custom dictates that only men can inherit land. In Uganda stories abound of widows being ejected their marital land by in-laws. One woman was thrown out of her home a week after her husband died in an accident; she had refused to marry any of his five brothers, and her children were taken away to a sister-in-law.

A land survey in Africa among farmers revealed that it was the chief who owned all the lands. When the surveyors told the chief that he owned a lot of land, he explained them: This is not my land; we got it from our ancestors and have to duty to maintain it in a good state and hand it over to our children and grandchildren.

The ideal should be on clear transparent contracts on land use that cover a life span sufficiently long enough to harvest the benefits of investments done and in which the rights of use can be inherited.

Land today is more valuable than ever: how do you make the land equally available to all citizens?

Continue reading Insecure Property Rights in Africa

AFRICA: Future World Food Basket

AFRICA FUTURE & OUR  MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture for a Brighter Future in Africa.

ABYSMAL AFRICA

In contrast with Asia, which has seen huge increases in agricultural yields in the last 40 years, sub-Saharan Africa’s track record has been abysmal. Food production is actually 10% lower today than in 1960, yet over this time period the aggregate world food production has increased by 145%.

Climate change could push prices up by 130%. Rice tripled in price over a period of four months, wheat doubled and corn rose 46 per cent. This world food crisis of high grain import prices, on top of high fuel prices, has placed an acute economic squeeze on consumers in developing countries.

People move in search of better opportunities elsewhere and jobs!! The high rate of urban migration in Africa, particularly among young people, is largely because the rural economy – which is predominantly agrarian – has been stagnant. These young people are not fleeing from farming as an occupation. They are fleeing from poverty!!

AGRICULTURAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING

Agriculture can deliver 2-3 times the return on investment, in terms of improved economic well-being, as other sectors: it represents 32% of Africa’s GDP; and employs 65% of the working population. Most importantly, it is the sector where the poorest on the continent are most likely to be engaged in their struggle to survive. Some African countries’ improved economic performance over the last 10 to 15 years indicates that they do have the potential to become net exporters of food. If we transform the agriculture sector, we will transform the African continent!

The best part of two decades there has been a consensus on aid in Africa – namely that the state should not subsidize smallholder agriculture. Nearly 30 percent of World Bank lending once went to agricultural modernization, but now it is just 8 percent. China’s dramatic reduction of poverty has been achieved by growth primarily in the agricultural sector, not the industrial. Since the late 1970s, improvements in technology and infrastructure helped boost production in smallholder agriculture, with farmers’ incomes rising at more than 7% a year. The result is that 200 million small-scale farmers working an average of 0.6 hectare of land are now feeding a population of 1.3 billion.

The Maputo declaration of 2003 pledged African countries to 10% of government spending for agriculture. This took place at a conference of African Ministers for Agriculture, chaired a meeting at FAO headquarters. Thirteen years later, many African countries have not even reached 4%.

Malawi’s defied these teachings and put in place a series of policy measures that increased agricultural development and overall economic development at the cost of 16% of government spending.

LAND TENURE

During one of the biggest challenges is the issue of land tenure. It is difficult to negotiate adequate secure tenure and get permission from all of the relevant authorities. Living Water Microfinance Inc. has been focusing its efforts, especially for women, who generally are not allowed to own land.

The Gene Revolution: Africa Future

The Green Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s is now being overtaken by “the Gene Revolution” — the development and spread of GM crops across the world. The uptake of genetically modified (GM) crops is the fastest adoption rate of any crop technology, increasing from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 148 million hectares in 2010. The USDA says 94% of soy and 75% of all corn grown in the U.S. is genetically modified.

African countries such as South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt have adopted GM crops. Other countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are preparing to start field trials. Farming giants like China, Brazil and India have embraced biotech crops. And even the European Commission (EC) is acknowledging that existing GM crops do not carry any unique risks. In a recent study, the EC has found that GM crops are at least as safe for consumers and the environment as conventionally bred plant varieties, and sometimes safer. It also concluded that GM crops could help developing countries meet their food needs while addressing the challenges of climate change in a sustainable way.

Africa is steadily joining the biotechnology revolution. South Africa’s GM crop production stood at 2.0 million hectares (4.94 million acres) in 2010.

GMO DISADVANTAGE

Anti-GMO activists are still engaged in stopping this GM effort. The European Parliament voted that calls on the G7 countries not to support the use of genetically modified (GMO) seeds in Africa, despite the dangers of food security and poverty levels on the continent. 

As reported in a New York Times article, the ridiculously high prices of seeds and pesticides are causing farmers to make less money than ever. Additionally, as pests and weeds become increasingly immune to insecticides, farmers have to spend more and more money on chemicals. And let’s not forget, they are also legally required to buy new seeds every season unless they want to be sued or forced to burn all their plants.

Currently, just three mega companies control over half of the global seed market, which has caused prices to skyrocket. For example, the average price of planting an acre of soybeans has gone up 325 percent since 1995.

So, If GMOs Aren’t the Answer…

Continue reading AFRICA: Future World Food Basket

A WORLD WITHOUT AFRICAN POVERTY

 AFRICA POVERTY AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture. We do all this to address the problem of African Poverty.

African Poverty: the Most Serious Threat 

Do you know why poverty is the most serious threat to world peace? Poverty leads to hopelessness, which in turn provoke people to desperate acts. One thinks one has nothing to lose by turning to violence. Poverty also leads to clashes between populations over scare resources of water and arable land.  Over one billion people live on less than $1/day: this is not a formula for world peace.

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Should MicroFinance be the First Investment in Africa?

International Aid is a $5 billion business, but ironically microfinance support only receives 1% of this amount. In an underdeveloped world of scarce resources, which should be our priority? Housing? Sanitation? Health Care? Infrastructure? Education?  All of these are important. We believe that giving the poor access to credit lets them immediately apply their farming skills. They create capital to begin the long road to recovery. Right now the poor have no control over capital.

This is opposite to the view that people are poor because they lack the skills. This view takes the initiative and responsibility from poor people.

A Conscious Corporation: Not Charity – Not Governments

Without proper guidelines, globalization has the potential of being highly destructive.The “strongest take all” must be replaced by rules that allow the poor to take a place on the highway: the divide between the haves and the have-nots is widening.

Some corporate social companies try to do good for people and the planet as long as they can do it with profit. Some of their CEOs are sincerely interested in social change, yet ultimately they are responsible to the owners or shareholders of the company that strive to increase growth in their investment. This is capitalism – half developed without a real social conscience.

Showering grants and low interest loans into the hands of the underdeveloped countries is not the answer: otherwise the problem would have been solved a long time ago. Why? These governments tend to be inefficient, slow, prone to corruption, bureaucratic and self-perpetuating, while amassing power and wealth for themselves.

Many people who are concerned with the problem of world poverty have started non-profit corporations. Yet, these companies have significant built-in weaknesses. They rely on a steady flow of donations, but when these donations stop, so does the company. In hard times, this flow slows down. Eventually, “compassion fatigue” sets in and donors stop giving. Directors of these companies know that there is never enough money to accomplish their aims.

What about the multi-lateral corporations, such as the World Bank? Like governments, they too are slow, bureaucratic, and self-serving and worst—very conservative. They look at the problem in their wide angle lens of large-scale economic growth, while the poor people are forgotten in their spin. They are looked at as objects. Unfortunately, these corporations choose to work through underdeveloped governments. Instead, they need to tap into the creative innovations outside of governments: the Social Business.

The Conscious Corporation can play a crucial role. They are above all a business, with resources, incentives and they are market savy. A Conscious Business looks at things differently: they are a non-loss business, but also a non-dividend business. Ultimately they pay back their original investors, but the business wishes to continue its long term social goals: it is self-sustaining and in this way it continues to gain more social benefits every year.

People who invest in this Conscious Business receive the same personal satisfaction as philanthropists. The difference is that there is no need to pump in donations every year as is done with charities.

The Grameen Bank in Bangledesh is a good model for micro finance: it gives loans to 7 million poor women farmers with a promise of a 97% repayment rate in 78,000 villages. This bank claims that 64% of the borrowers have crossed over from poverty over a period of five years.

Could not these poor women farmers pull themselves up by their own plow? They borrow in groups of five women – no two can be closely related. When one of the group wishes to take out a loan, one must receive approval from the other members of the group. Payment is done over a phone application, which encourages savings. There is greater flexibility in repayment, because of other financial commitments like school tax. The group acts as a social network of encouragement and psychological support. Ten or twelve such groups come together to meet weekly. This center leadership is selected democratically.

We appeal to the multinational companies with an innovative strategy: a company needs to gain a foothold in a new market. The social business can begin this process and provide a great deal of goodwill to the new company. Damone was one of those companies that partnered with the Grameen Foundation to market a nutritious yogart for the children of the poor. Their success story is explained in Creating a World without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus, the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

We are appealing on behalf of 50% of the world that own only 1% of the world assets. We are appealing to the top 1% of the world that own 40% of the world’s assets. We are also appealing to the top10% of the world that own 85%.

We appeal to the world’s greatest billionaires: will their grandchildren be able to enjoy their wealth with this eventual threat of global warming and pollution? Without an ethic of change, we will lose what is most priceless, which has no price tag. If basic needs are not met, poor people could easily be attracted to violence, civil unrest and terrorism.

African Energy Poverty

We are in an era of scarce energy supplies at a time of global warming and soaring global populations. Generating innovative forms of electric power is not only to light up our houses – it is lighting up our future. The operative word is “innovative”. It is pay now or there will be no future!

To make things worst, coal, oil and natural gas is quickly causing global warming and pollution from their green house gases, primarily through carbon dioxide emissions, which form an invisible blanket over the earth, thereby making the globe warmer. 

By mid-century, we will be looking at a world of 9 billion people — a 40% to 50% increase. During that same period it is expected that the increase in populaton will double the demand for all forms of energy. The “golden” one billion people living the “American style” of living will evolve into 2- 3 billion – all over-consuming and polluting at a phenomenal rate. This will all cause a doubling of carbon dioxide by mid-century. Roughly 40% of the CO2 created in United States come from the production of electricity and 30% comes from transportation. We aren’t even mentioning the pollution created in China and many South Eastern Asia cities – including 20 of their most polluted cities in the world.

The next big boom in technology will be clean energy. This opportunity will help stabilize our planet and it will provide an opportunity for some countries who embrace this innovation to renew and regenerate itself. Those countries that are prosperous and innovative will have an edge.

We are in an “energy climate” era. Unfortunately, the total investment in research and development for electric utilities in the United States is 0.15 % compared to 8 -10% for most competitive industries. The last big breakthrough in this industry was in 1957 with tha advent of the nuclear reactor. Contrast this with 8 – 9 generations in medical technology from x-Ray to the CAT Scan.

In the meantime, we are all living on the Titanic and we all have hit the iceburg. Others are still dancing in the ballroom. Nature will take its course unless we all come to grips with the problem. We need to act!
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Continue reading A WORLD WITHOUT AFRICAN POVERTY

AFRICAN POVERTY TRAP

AFRICAN POVERTY AND OUR MISSION:  

Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture. We do this to address the problem of African Poverty.

AFRICAN POVERTY

There are many U.N. Agencies concerned with developing countries: World Bank (grants), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) leading the fight on hunger, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  increasing food production, United Nation Development Program (UNDP) fighting poverty, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) caring for the environment and biodiversity, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) improving children’s lives, World Food Program (WFP) fighting against global hunger.Untitled-4

The Millennium Development Goals includes eradication of poverty and hunger, the empowering of gender equality of women, sustainable development, safe drinking water, productive work for youth, addressing the landlocked problems of 15 African countries and islands, and the benefiting of new technology.

Over half of Africa’s population is deemed to live in extreme poverty. Over the last two centuries these poorest of poor have not been able to improve their lot. In fact, the gap between the richest economies and Africa had widened from one to twenty. The main reason for this increase has been technological advancement — not exploitation of the poor. The fight of terrorism is really a fight of poverty and deprivation.

The innovation gap has become one of the most important reasons for the divergence of wealth. It started with the advent of the steam engine and continued with electrification followed by massive investments in research and development.  

The poor nations of Africa faced obstacles related to climate (drought), depleted soils, food production, disease (malaria and AIDS), energy resources, over-population, inept and corrupt governments, a high debt load, denial of women’s rights and proximity to world markets (rural isolation).

African countries can break out of the poverty trap and put one foot on the first rung of the economic ladder. Some African countries avoided falling into this poverty trap because of their food production: fertilizer and proper seed selection. Many of these obstacles can be overcome with new technologies: irrigation and conservation measures.

African farmers have never experienced the Green Revolution which came about with high-yield varieties of food crops, irrigation and fertilizer. In India, wheat production climbed in 1960 from 11 million metric tons to 55 million metric tons in 1990 as a result of the Green Revolution.Untitled-5

The poverty itself causes economic stagnation: trees are cut down for firewood and soil becomes utterly destitute. These poor Africans have the lowest saving rate (10%) because they use their income merely to stay alive. They have little cash available for fertilizer, medicines or school fees and other basic needs. The minimum saving rate should be in excess of 15%.

Too little has been done to identify the specific, low-cost intervention that will make a difference in economic growth. We have been trained to deal with throwing millions of dollars at these problems, which remain after centuries of welfare. In Uganda, only 1.4% of the annual budget of $1.8 billion is devoted to water supply and sanitation, while only 4.8% was allocated to energy.

Crop yields can be sharply increased and electricity can be extended to the villages. What is required is investment for sustained economic development on a large scale. This is not a relentless drive for one magic bullet that will turn the tide. It is an integrated solution involving available land, women farmers and their families, tree nursery supported by a Carbon Tax Fund, fertilizing from the fish rabbit farm, and irrigation and electricity from the HUG Energy System.0000Today's-Tall-Tree2


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 will take place near a water source and beside a school with added agricultural training and monitored by village field officers. The first stage is the Living Water MicroFinance Inc. support for women farmers, which is not a welfare handout, but a rotating system of micro loans, which is payable at the end of a harvest.  The second phase is the introduction of a tree nursery, which is supported by the Carbon Tax Fund. Continue reading AFRICAN POVERTY TRAP