Showing posts from November, 2012

Valuing Farmers as an Agricultural Development Priority

The challenge we are asked to address here today is the way forward in adding value when meeting future agricultural priorities. This challenge presents several issues that need to be addressed, many of which have already been addressed by our speakers yesterday and today. There is broad consensus that reducing global poverty and hunger requires accelerating growth in the agriculture sector. Recent studies suggest that every 1 percent increase in agricultural income per capita reduces the number of people living in extreme poverty by between 0.6 and 1.8 percent. There is no question that South Sudan has the potential to become food secure and raise incomes through a government-led program of agricultural development. That said, there is much space to improve coordination amongst the government, donors and private sector to ensure our efforts have maximum impact. We have heard President Kiir set the goal of food security by 2014. Now is the time for us all to come together and

The Hostess Sno-Ball and the Little Kentucky Boy

The Hostess brand declared bankruptcy a few days ago. This was, for me, a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, I cannot say I was unhappy that a manufacturer or unhealthy, industrial, artificial food chock full of chemicals and genetically-modified ingredients was going under - just another line of bad food taken out of the supply chain. However, I do feel for the 18,000+ workers who will lose their jobs, in part because their union could not or would not reach an agreement with the parent company that would stave off bankruptcy. Hopefully, they will get severance payments, their pensions will be secure, and they will otherwise weather the loss of jobs and move on to something else. Another part of me, though, has fond memories of the Hostess Sno-Ball, that delightfully round, creme-filled cupcake that was either white or pink and came two to a pack. As a boy in Bowling Green, Kentucky, going to kindergarten at the Jolly-Time Play School, my father would pick me up every day during

Organic Monks and Farmers in the Ethiopian Highlands

I am spending a week in Ethiopia to do two things: photograph the Ethiopian monasteries on Lake Tana in the north of the country, and get a close-up view of the traditional farming methods that have been employed in this country since before the time of Christ. The week is not yet over, but two very surprising things have already become apparent. First, the monks scattered through the islands of Lake Tana (and there are many hundreds of these monks!) are using the latest and best methods of organic and sustainable farming. Second, the farming practiced by these and countless other farmers across the highlands of Ethiopia, use organic, sustainable methods of farming that would make any organic farmer in America proud. And these people have been doing it this way for some three thousand years. All of which brings to mind Hiram King's classic work on Chinese farming, "Farmers of Forty Centuries," which is highly recommended for reading. Let's begin with the monks of