emerging blog

Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition

The USAID-supported East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Syngenta and the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), launched the second edition of the agribusiness competition dubbed “Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition.”

This launch follows last year’s successful Agribusiness competition, which attracted over 800 participants from sub-Saharan Africa. Ten of the 35 youth finalists have gone on to win other prizes in the energy and agribusiness sectors, while ten other have expanded and retained their agro-related enterprises and 15 are employed or pursuing higher education.

This year’s competition is open to East African youth aged 18-35 years, who reside in the East African Community, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Mauritius or Madagascar, and have a start-up or small and medium sized enterprise (SME) involved in the agricultural value chain. The deadline for SMEs has been extended to October 30, 2015

For more information, visit the Young Innovators in Agribusiness website.

FAO Dialogue with the Private Sector Mechanism on Inclusive Finance and Investment Models in Agriculture

Jaine Chisholm Caunt, Chair of the Private Sector Mechanism and Director General of the Grain and Feed Trade Association, and I were featured in an FAO dialogue on inclusive finance and investment models in agriculture at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome. Watch the video below.



For information regarding the FAO Director-General’s meeting with Private Sector at CFS focusing on Inclusive Finance, visit the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) news page.

The Magical Portuguese Soup of Stones

sopa-da-pedraAlmeirim is a small town in Portugal famous for its good melon, wine, tomatoes, and the famous soup…of stones. Although there are many variations of the recipe, this soup is still prepared in this town in Portugal not only by the local people, but also by restaurants, who consume a total of 12,000 kilograms of beans per month.


But don’t be fooled by the name, this soup does not consist of stones nor will it leave stones in your kidneys. The name of the soup actually comes from the legend behind it.

Once upon a time in Portugal, there was a very poor friar who was embarrassed of asking for food or money. Clever he was, and with a stone in his pocket he knocked in some villager’s door saying “Hello good fellow, I have a magical stone that can make the most delicious soup ever tasted, would you like to try it?”. The skeptical villager was about to close the door in his face, but was also curious about the stone. The friar offered to cook the soup and to give him a taste of it if he had access to the kitchen. Despite thinking that the friar was a bit nuts, the villager lent him a pot, water and a ladle.

The villager stood close to the friar waiting to see some magic, while the friar began to ask for some ingredients: “My dear fellow, this soup could use some vegetables, do you happen to have a carrot, some potatoes, onion and celery?” to which the villager replied, “well of course, we grow our own vegetables here, let me get you some”. The friar added the vegetables and asked again, “well this is almost ready, we just need some meat and beans, if you have that, then the soup will be perfect”. The proud villager replied, “No worries father, of course we have that in the house!” The friar continued stirring the soup and the villager stood next to him more curious than ever. Finally the friar said “Is almost done, but we need some salt, pepper and perhaps some fresh herbs, you don’t happen to have some, do you”. The villager who was getting very impatient went to get the requested ingredients.

After the friar added the meat and beans and let it simmer for a couple of minutes, the friar tasted the soup and finally declared “The stone has done its magic! This soup is the most delicious ever tasted! Please try it!” The villager took a big spoon and was very pleased with it, so much so that he asked the friar to sell him the stone. The friar declined and continued his pilgrimage with the stone in his pocket, knocking on others people’s door, ready to prepare them the “Magic Stone” soup.

Get ready for the Portuguese International Year of Pulses 2016 signature dish! Run to the nearest garden, park, or beach and get a stone…the recipe will be coming soon on November 10, with the launch of Pulses.org.

Stats Show Women Still have a Way to Go

For years, the Emerging team has been working to highlight the particularly gaps that face women farmers and the high degree of poverty experienced by rural women. Women and children make up the majority of the population living in poverty and are most affected by transecting, systemic barriers and societal attitudes which preclude them from working their way out of poverty.

The UN’s goals to end poverty, end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture are intrinsically tied with their ability to meet the goal of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. Their infographic on poverty highlights the issue of gender inequality and its relation to poverty. Often, the gender disparities seen today are a result of women’s lack of access to these economic resources. One in three women have no influence over any major purchases for their household. In many developing countries laws and policies restrict women’s access to land, capital and other assets. These restrictions are regularly due to laws that inhibit their economic independence. In the developing nations where data was collected for this study, 28% had laws that did not guarantee the same inheritance rights as men, 52% had laws that give women the same rights but have customs that discriminate against women and only 20% had laws that guarantees the same rights for men and women.

Furthermore, there are less women who have their own income because there is a disparity in access to paid work versus unpaid work. This is not to say that women aren’t working. Women’s contribution to the rural economy is generally undervalued. Women perform a disproportionate amount of care work, work that often goes unrecognized because it is not seen as economically productive. Through efforts to ensure women have access to resources and economic opportunities the UN can eradicate hunger and poverty.

To read more click here: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/chapter8/chapter8.html

What's a More Important Sector: Oil or Agriculture?

There is an age old debate on whether the agricultural or oil sector is most important. Being based in Calgary, I am surrounded by the importance of both sectors. My friend, Kim McCornell, wrote me the other day with some interesting facts from a column by Brenda Schoepp in the latest issue of Alberta Farmer Express. I encourage you all to read below:

BOTH are very important --- especially in this part of the world.  But here are some neat facts that you might find of interest about Canada’s agriculture and oil sectors:

  • Agriculture in Canada directly employs more than 305,000 people and the entire agri-food industry employs 2.2 million persons … supplying one in eight Canadians with work.  Oil & gas directly employs 190,000 people and just over 400,000 persons as an industry. While the oil & gas industry is presently laying off workers, the agricultural industry is estimated to be short 74,000 workers by the year 2022.

  • Oil & gas produce 2.9 per cent of GDP while all energy, including electricity, is 7.5 percent of GDP.  Agri-food accounts for 6.7 per cent of GDP – bigger than auto manufacturing

  • The Canadian grocery cart contains 70 per cent of Canadian products grown in Canada.

  • 98 per cent of farms in Canada are family farms supporting the continuation of the rural infrastructure and the protection of rural cultures.  More than 25,000 of these farms are owned and operated by men and women under age 35

  • 40 per cent of agricultural commodities are value-added in Canada in more than 6,000 facilities, and the industry has room for growth (meat processing alone employs 79,000 persons).  A small percentage of oil has further value add within our borders in 15 refineries

  • Agriculture is estimated to contribute 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas with 26 percent coming directly from the oil & gas sector.  Changes in farming practices continue to contribute to the reduction of environmental degradation.


Kim noted that both the oil & gas industry and the agri-food industries are important to Alberta and Canada.  The benefits rewarded to Albertans and Canadians from these industries is incomparable.

What’s surprising is that we just completed a provincial election in Alberta, and a federal election, yet the growth of these industries and the many opportunities it offers or the importance our vibrant agri-food industry provides, are rarely mentioned.

As Kim stated, “The journey continues …”

Feeding the Planet, Energy for life: World Food Day at Expo Milan 2015

Since 1981, every 16th of October has been the day to remember that every woman, man or child has the right to nutritious and adequate food. According to FAO 795 million people in the world do not have enough food and live in hunger. As if that weren't bad enough, if women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.

This Year celebration took place at the Expo Milano, whose main theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for life”. The opening ceremony was attended by important leaders such as the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the UN SG Ban Ki Moon and the three heads of the UN Rome based agencies. Ban Ki Moon received a symbolic document named the Milan Charter, which called on citizens, associations, businesses and institutions to assume a responsible role towards the achievement of the right to food for future generations to come.

Everyone can sign this document. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel; the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Nobel Prize Amartya Sen, all have signed. You can sign here. But beyond signing, we need to reflect. Donate to those who live in hunger. Stop wasting food. Make better and more nutritious choices that also respect the environment. As the UN Secretary General said during the ceremony “We made our promises. Now it is time for action”.

WFP Hunger Map
View the WFP Hunger Map here: http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/communications/wfp275057.pdf

Women’s Empowerment: Solutions at the Nexus of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Enterprise



The Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) organized a roundtable discussion and high-level luncheon on women’s empowerment on Friday, October 9, 2015.  Entitled “Solutions at the nexus of agriculture, nutrition, and enterprise,” the event took place at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome, Italy, just before the annual meeting of the CFS.

A broad cross section of stakeholders from governments – including 14 Ambassadors to the Rome-Based Agencies, international organizations, academia, foundations, NGOs and delegates from the Private Sector Mechanism – addressed the barriers to women’s productive participation in food supply chains and entrepreneurship. The event focused on three key areas related to women’s empowerment in the food supply chain.

  • Women’s access to productive resources (finance, tools, technology, land)

  • Women’s contributions to health and nutrition and the impact on families and communities

  • The role of women in fostering food security


 

For more information on the event, visit the International Agri-food Network website.

My First Impressions with Emerging

One month at Emerging Ag inc. went so fast! It felt like a couple of weeks, though very intense. I don’t really have a background on agriculture and I have been learning so much about this industry since I started this new job. The team is internationally based and has such bright, intelligent, motivated women who are on top of all their subjects.

The virtual office concept is very modern and gives a lot of flexibility. It is challenging in the best way because it inspires us to always stay professional, reliable and be team players, even more with the fact that the consultants are in different time zones.

The Emerging spirit is a mix of passion and dedication, strong motivation and did I say passion again?

After few weeks with Emerging I traveled to Burkina Faso, Morocco, Italy and heading to London in couple of weeks while being based in Mauritania. I believe that it is quite amazing to be able to travel and meet individuals from other cultures, environments and to be confronted with real issues with first-hand information through events like the Committee on Food Security in Rome.

What I enjoy most is the will and dedication of Emerging Ag consultants to understand the clients, their needs, expectations and how to guide them through the challenging issues of providing food security on a global scale. I am also discovering the vast and multi sector worldwide industry agriculture is. You must consider food first. Where does it come from and how?When we are evolving outside the food and agriculture industry we rarely think about the whole value chain! When we are enjoying a pulse made dinner for instance!

This is a whole new universe I am more than delighted to be thriving in at this moment of my professional career. More than that, working at Emerging Ag is exactly what I needed since I have always wanted to contribute to the development of Africa and learn more about the worldwide agriculture industry where the real heroes are the farmers.

All Pulses Dinner

A simple pulse can make the most extraordinary meal even more extraordinary when it is a multi-course dinner served garden-side by talented hosts. Mr. Ahmad Farooq, Alternate Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN agencies in Rome and the co-chair of the International Steering Committee for the International Year of Pulses (2016) and his skilled wife hosted the members of the steering committee. They were kind enough to include me.

The menu shows the extraordinary diversity of what can be done with pulses – right down to the desserts.  My favorite dish was the Qeema, but everything I sampled was a joy.  We can’t wait to see what Pakistan supplies as the national signature dish for the year of pulses.

Menu

My Favorite Pulse Dish: Lentils Couscous

Pulse dish 2- hapsa

The Lentils Couscous is a traditional Fulani dish that I transformed. Usually it is cooked with pearl millet, but I wanted to try a different type of cereal and I liked it so much that I now cook it using barley couscous more often. For my choice of pulses, lentils are a personal favorite and any excuse is good to add them to a meal!

Ingredients

50gr Lentils
2 onions
2 tomatos
4 garlics
150gr barley
100gr barley couscous

Directions

Chop the garlic, the onions and the tomatoes, then sauté the mix in a teaspoon of vegetable oil with salt and pepper.

In the meantime boil some water with a little salt in which you will add the lentils (pour the water until it just covers the lentils) and let rest. If you'd like extra spice, add a hot pepper.

Happily mix the two preparations!

The Lentils Couscous is a side dish which can be eaten with your choice of main, I suggest ribs!