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Spore N. 183

The energy-agriculture challenge

In this issue

Interview

Coordinated action to address agriculture and nutrition challenges

Judith Francis, CTA Senior Programme Coordinator for Science and Technology Policy, outlines why concerted action is needed to combat malnutrition

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Scaling up farmer field school programmes in Burundi and Malawi has improved household income, climate resilience and environmental protection. A novel teaching approach is providing farmers with new skills in crop cultivation, fish farming and livestock rearing to develop productive, nutritional systems.

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A critical guide for policymakers on taking action and investing in delivering healthy and quality diets reveals that poor food currently affects half of the global population. The Foresight report takes a closer look at food systems of the 21st century and whether they are fit for the future.

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A rapid aflatoxin testing kit and airtight storage containers are helping farmers reduce contamination in their maize and other stored crops. Cost-effective and easy to use, the technologies are also useful tools for traders and public health authorities looking to identify and manage aflatoxin exposure.

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Researchers in Madagascar are pointing out the benefits of the prickly pear – an invasive yet essential species. Rich in vitamins and minerals, and an important source of water during the dry season, this fruit could be part of the solution to the country’s food insecurity and extreme droughts.

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Technology and regulatory improvements are needed to reduce fraud and unsustainable practices in seafood value chains. Commercial transparency is critical to food safety and consumer confidence, yet, complex supply chains make it difficult to identify the origin and history of many seafood products.

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Sustainable crab fishing in coastal regions of western Madagascar is helping to tackle illegal catches, improve food security and lower post-catch losses. Through cheap and innovative methods across the value chain, a SmartFish programme is working to keep the giant mud crab income stream alive and well.

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Obesity is not a foregone conclusion. In the Pacific, organisations such as CTA are supporting local farming in an effort to tackle this major health concern. With the Island nations making up eight of the top 10 countries for diabetes, governments are looking for a new approach to change individual behaviour.

Analysis

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In West Africa, agricultural productivity is improving with the provision and use of meteorological information, services and tools. A METAGRI regional initiative has increased the dissemination of climate data via local radio and ICTs to better inform farmers and assist agricultural decision-making.

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Wasix.net is a real-time trading platform for seed growers, distributors and buyers across West Africa. The first online platform to make seed quantity and location information available to smallholders, Wasix also hopes to encourage farmers to share their knowledge and experiences for increased productivity.

Analysis

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Energy transition is needed to mitigate climate change and meet the growing needs of the agriculture sector. New technologies are providing some innovative solutions.