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.
Region of Interest
We must concentrate on the biomes of Africa that include forests and rangelands, but exclude deserts
Overall Region of Interest
A big, risky decision for small holder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to applyto 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.
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 techniquesin 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.
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.
The new UN climate report shows that crop yields already are being adversely affected by a changing climate, and how we respond globally in creating a more resilient food system is very important now. But we also recognize that food is central to our culture and is a source of great pleasure and comfort to people. We want to ensure we tackle all aspects so that we have enough food for the future.
The estimate of more than 9 billion people in less than 40 years highlights a stark challenge for the global food system.
We have enough food for the roughly 7 billion people alive today, but nearly a billion are hungry or malnourished, mostly due to poverty and unequal distribution. To feed those who are currently hungry—and the additional 2 billion-plus people who will live on the planet by 2050—our best projections are that crop production will need to increase between 60 and 100 percent. “Business as usual” could lead to a doubling of demandfor agricultural production.
If the population is growing by less than one-third, why would the overall demand double? Simply stated: more people have more money.
Meeting the problem through production alone won’t be enough, and we should explore many alternatives that focus on reducing demand for food, like changing our diets and reducing food waste and loss. Increasing crop production can be part of the solution.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here is how we begin our MECHANIZATION REVOLUTION:
An African Revolution: if agricultural mechanization equipment is sent to an African country, like Ivory Coast, it has a value of $200,000 if it was brand new. The nearly new equipment has a real value of $100,000 hypothetically. The agricultural equipment dealer or farmer working with the dealer receives a tax refund benefit at the rate of the last $1000 owed to the government; say 30%of 100,000 or $30,000 from Living Water MicroFinance Inc., a non-profit company.
The new owner,Living Water MicroFinance Inc., will sell the equipment in question in Africa and will feel indebted to the previous owner, the equipment dealer or the farmer. This indebtedness will be 50% of the net selling price. This indebtedness will be resolved in our hypothetical example, by the purchase of additional new equipment from the dealer.
If a farmer were to donate his or her used equipment there would be a largetax refund receipt and a cashcreditfrom a third party, Coop Eau Vivantein Africato a dealer of his or her choice or some other similar arrangement.
More important there will be a real contribution to poverty and famine in an underdeveloped country. We are talking about increased needed efficiency in the agricultural field, which will lead to more employment as well.
Since the need for this equipment is so high, the equipment will enter duty free and since this equipment will be sent to Africa, copies of bill of lading will be made available to the dealer or farmer. We are presently interested in exporting toCote d’Ivoire.
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 Agroforestry for 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.
Agroforestry is the deliberate use of trees on the same land management unit as arable crops in a mixed spatial arrangement at the same time. Agroforestry contributes to preserve this fragile ecosystem while providing new resources for smallholder farmers
Alley cropping: Growing annual crops in spaces between rows of trees or shrubs, often leguminous ones that tolerate heavy and regular coppicing. The leafy and woody material of the trees and shrubs is used as mulch in the crops and also often as fodder and timber.
In these harsh conditions, 60 million poor people need to live and grow food. More than 50% of the West African Sahel land is degraded and not suitable for cultivation. In most cases the degraded land is composed of crusted lateritic soils impermeable to water.
Small-scale Nurseries can receive orders for large quantities of neem, Black Thorn (Acacia mellifera) and mesquite (Prosopis julifiora), largely for live-hedging purposes by fruit garden owners, as well as the schools.
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.
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.
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.
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 THAT OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS CAN LIVE IN DIGNITYLiving Water MicroFinance Inc. has an operating micro model in order to deliver a solution for the Carbon Tax Fund.
The Marginalization of the Poor in the Tropics
WHICH MODERN SOCIETY ITSELF HAS CREATED
We envision a world that solves the carbon emission problem by creating the tree nursery concept in Africa.
In the past four years, global prices of staples such as maize and wheat have twice hit record levels, driving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people further towards hunger and poverty.
The 100-year trend of falling food prices may be over and food prices may increase by 30-50 percent within decades, severely impacting on the very poor, who spend up to 90 percent of their income on food.
Domesticate indigenous fruit trees could help provide much-needed vitamins to millions of sub-Saharan Africans. The diversity of forest, fallow and agricultural margin foods can often help provide the range of micro nutrients needed for the human diet.
The trees’ natural habitats are being lost, mainly to widespread deforestation resulting from population growth, the cutting of trees for firewood or charcoal. Due to years of unsustainable farming practices, the soil across much of Africa has been degraded. African farmers only have access to 5% of the level of fertilizer per unit area of land as compared to their East Asian counterparts.
Farmers may see little incentive to intentionally grow indigenous fruits as a crop, because the trees are perceived as taking years to mature. This may be true in the wild, but not always when trees are cultivated.
With just 37% of the land, small farms produced 73% of agricultural output. Small farms are getting smaller because, with population pressure, farmers have to share access to existing land among more people while gaining no access to new land.
Land access for women is specifically part of the Millennium Development Goals. According to FAO, fewer than 2% of landholders worldwide are women. Many men can make decisions about the land on behalf of themselves and their spouses, but women cannot. Another impediment is that in giving credit, governments and banks require women to present some form of authorization from their husbands or fathers: only 10% of agricultural loans go to women.
A fresh approach both to food production and the use of natural resources is needed if we are to avoid the food crises expected to touch every country in the world by the middle of this century. We can reverse the trend by giving small farmers, especially women, the means to feed the world: with intensive/market oriented agriculture on a 1.5 acre piece of land.
The Secret is the AgroForest
Tree Nursery & Carbon Tax Fund
An Improved seed, tree and fertilizer system:
To absorb carbon dioxide in order to solve the global warming crisis
To produce more food economically in order to deal with world famine
To produce fruit, nut and fodder trees that will be used for furniture and not for burning.
To restore land by planting nitrogen-fixing trees among the fruit, nut and foliage trees
To develop organic agriculture without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
To provide all requirements of daily vitamin needs.
3. Micro Financing for women farmers financed by the Carbon Tax Fund: Small Farm: 1.5 acre: 500 orchard and foliage trees:
Carbon Tax Fund Support: $15/tree (brought forward) over the expected lifetime of 50 years. The $15/ton is equivalent to $0.14/US gal.
The cost of a HUG Irrigation System: $7,000,000
14,000 acres to support 9,400 farms x 500 x $1.49 (NPV) = $7,000,000
NPV: Net Present Valueof a tree is its value over its 50 lifetime of absorbing CO2 emissions at the rate of 1.5 tons/tree.
Please Note: another calculation of NPV of fruit trees living for 25 years = $0.49/tree plus $1.00/tree for maintenance:$1.49/tree. (Fruit trees are productive for 25 years and then are replaced.)
The $0.49/tree is based on $15/ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Alberta will levy a $20/ton in 2017 and increase this to $30/ton in 2018. That means the new NPVwill be $0.66/tree & $0.99/treerespectively for a total of $1.66/tree and $1.99/tree.