Wednesday's weekly online meeting between the UK and rural Nigeria came up against a familiar enemy - connectivity problems. Initially things looked bleak as we faced a long time delay with receiving and sending Skype messages. However, following a quick exchange of SMS messages the meeting was finally able to start, allowing John Dada to appear online for half an hour to bring us up to date with the latest news.
We were pleased to hear that the ESSPIN programme is now well underway and are looking forward to seeing the photos.
John also informed us that preparations for the Sickle Cell Awareness Day Celebrations had entered the final phase.
However we were especially excited to learn that over the last two months a series of training courses has been under way at Fantsuam Foundation. John said that virtually every family in their village had now attended one or more of these sessions. He has asked a member of his team to send me photos and a short summary of the training taking place.
Sorry you could not make it to February First Thursday, but I know you are very busy at present. You would have met some interesting people including members of the Dadamac team in Nigeria. It would have been interesting to compare some of the eco-developments there, such as growing Jatrohpa, with what is happening in India
I mention Jatropha because at our UK-Nigeria meeting yesterday we were told that "we are raising a nursery of 2000 jathropha palnts we intend to transplant when the rains begin"
I am glad that you chose the article on "Pushing up Farm Productivity" to share with us. It looks as if several group interests are overlapping around the topic of food production, and eco-friendly solutions.
Until recently my experience with fish had been limited, to say the least. In all honesty, it had consisted of watching my children win goldfish at a fair - and the occasional cod and chips supper!
However over the last 18 months the subject of fish farming has captured my attention and I have been lucky enough to have my eyes opened to the many and varied challenges involved. (Although I'll be the first to admit I still have a great deal more to learn!)
Here is an interesting piece on the role that pulses and oilseeds play in nutritional security. Though the article talks about the state of Indian agriculture, it has some interesting points on increasing agricultural productivity.
In order to progress, the mindset with regard to the following two factors needs to change, says Dr Lux Lakshmanan, Director, California Agriculture Consulting Service. Factor no 1: It is not the farmer who makes the food: he is only a facilitator. Food is actually made by plants. Since plants do not talk, their needs are understood through research and experimentation. Factor no 2: The mindset that assumes that breeding is the solution to all maladies has to change. Nurturing of plants is several times more important in crop productivity improvement than hybrid seeds per se.
Given your interest in food security and wider issues surrounding it you may like to see this video about Climate Food and Developing-Country Livestock Farmers ILRI film:
In my mind it connects with John's vision for a model farm development at Attachab Eco-village and why it is important to develop models of good practice and effective ways to share them.
Of course at Fantusam Foudation many initiatives are inter-related, so this is also relevant to the idea Cicely was promoting for helping farmers through the Internet services provided by Zittnet. (You may remember this idea and our excitement around trying to win some serious prize money which I covered in my blog.)
When I began discussing about a learning group on food security, I was only thinking of agriculture and farmers. But over this week, I began to realise that food security is a far bigger area than that: it also encompasses issues like availability and access, and most importantly, nutrition.
Now, I don't how many people will agree with me that nutrition also forms a part of food security. But to me, the circle of food security is incomplete if a huge chunk of a country's population continues to wallow in hunger, despite high agricultural productivity and foodgrain output.
A case in point is India. Despite being a booming economy and one of the food baskets of the world, nutrition deprivation is widespread among India's children.
According to India’s third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) of 2005-06, 20 per cent of Indian children under five-years-old are wasted due to acute undernutrition and 48 per cent are stunted due to chronic undernutrition.