Robynne has extensive experience in the agriculture and food sector, working throughout the value chain – from basic inputs to farmers in the field to the grocery store shelf. She works internationally in the sector, including speaking at the United Nations on agriculture and food issues, and representing the International Agri-Food Network at the UN.Throughout her career she has worked with farm organisations like the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi and the Himalayan Farmers Association, as well as global groups, to further the voice of agriculture in the food debate. She has also worked with Fortune 500 companies growing worldwide businesses to assist them with issues management and strategy decisions.

Farming First Resources highlighting Youth in Agriculture

Farming First is producing a great series of resources, including multiple factsheets. We love the facts on youth:

  • The world’s population is young, with nearly 2.2 billion people under the age of 18. 85% of these youth are living in developing countries, with the majority in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa, South-Central and South-East Asia, and Oceania. Source: FAO IFAD

  • Children are particularly sensitive to the impact of climate change, which directly affects their health. In Ethiopia and Kenya, two of the world’s most drought-prone countries, children aged five or under are respectively 36% and 50% more likely to be malnourished if they were born during a drought. Source: UNICEF

  • Undernutrition is a major risk co-factor for disease and contributes to a large burden of illness, especially amongst children. For every 10% increase in stunting, the proportion of children reaching the final grade of school dropped by almost 8%. At the same time, each year of schooling increases wages earned by almost 10%. Children who have been severely undernourished in early childhood suffer a later reduction in IQ by as many as 15 points, significantly affecting their schooling achievement. Source: UNSCN

  • Rural youth continue to suffer from disproportionately high levels of unemployment, underemployment and poverty. In 2012, close to 75 million young people worldwide were out of work. This resulted in a global youth unemployment rate almost three times the corresponding rate for adults. Furthermore, among those young people who were working, over 200 million were earning less than $2 USD per day. In Africa, the proportion of working youth earning less than $2USD per day is over 70%, many of whom were living in the continent’s economically stagnant rural areas. Source: CTA

  • Global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, with youth (aged 15–24) accounting for about 14% of this total. While the world’s youth cohort is expected to grow, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth – particularly those living in developing countries’ economically stagnant rural areas – remain limited, poorly remunerated and of poor quality. Source: FAO

  • Up to 70% of the youth in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia live in rural areas. Over half of the youth in the labour force engage in agriculture. Source: ILO


Learn more on the Farming First website.

CCAFS at COP21: Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security

With the CGIAR system facing ridiculous cutbacks, and climate change looming large, there couldn’t be a more important time to focus on the great work of the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security Research Program led by Bruce Campbell.
What will the Paris climate talks deliver for food and farming? It's a critical question, as the climate change agreement in Paris is not likely to address agriculture explicitly. Yet a new agreement can open the door to action on food security and agriculture. We are optimistic and see several ways forward beyond Paris. Read more in our brief analysis of Progress on Agriculture under the UN Climate Talks.

The good news is that countries are leading the way by including action on agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs). Our new analysis finds a vast majority of country-level climate plans prioritise agriculture, despite sector’s slow progress at UN negotiations. Read the press release and download the brief.

We're also optimistic about some of the initiatives that will be launched under the Lima-Paris Action Agenda on 1 December (Agriculture Action Day) including the 4/1000 initiative to restore soils and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Other key events at COP21 include Farmers Day  (2 December) and the Global Landscapes Forum (5-6 December). See the full list below. If you're not in Paris you can follow our blogTwitterLinkedIn or Facebook for updates. We look forward to good discussions so we can work together on implementing sustainable solutions.

Regards,

Bruce Campbell
CCAFS Program Director

COP21: It's Time to Eat for the Planet

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post Green.

With the world's leaders gathering in Paris to discuss how collective efforts can ensure that global warming does not rise above two degrees, farmers face the double challenge of how to feed a booming global population set to reach 9bn, while delivering a more sustainable agricultural system.

Though it may not always be prominent in the COP21 discussions, the critical role played by agriculture in many economies -- in terms of food security, economic opportunity and poverty reduction -- means agriculture is a key component of many national strategies for adaptation and mitigation.

The importance of COP21 to sustainable agriculture will be huge. Not least, because in developing countries, it will be small-scale farmers and farming families, who will be on the frontline battling rising temperatures, frequent droughts and food supply shortages across the globe triggered by climate change.

Faced with the complexities of climate change, science and politics, it is all too easy to turn away and carry on regardless -- especially, if you are lucky enough to live in the richer, developed world.

So, how can each of us tackle climate change?

My suggestion is review your diet. It's time to eat for the planet. What we eat sends a signal to the supply chain and helps create a more sustainable and healthier future for the world's people and the planet.

One food source which bridges being both healthy for people and the planet arepulses. These are likely to come to the fore with Government, policy makers and consumers next year.

The UN has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (IYP) because 'Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer'.

The UN also notes pulses, such as chickpeas, peas, beans and lentils, have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment'.

Pulses have a number of other environmental positives: they use less water than other protein sources, less fertilizer and have a low carbon footprint. New more resilient strains of pulse seed, like the white gold bean, which has been so successful in Ethiopia, have been developed to help farmers fight the impact of climate change.

Strategically, they are important to food security and nutrition agenda. Professor Mywish Maredia of Michigan State University has argued that pulses are "uniquely positioned" as a commodity group to tackle the many competing challenges facing the developing world, including adequate nutrition and health and also addressing environmental resource constraints and access issues.

In a world where 800m people are malnourished, pulses are nutrition dense and affordable foods, which are already part of many governments' food nutrition and security policies.

Unfortunately, despite their many widely acknowledged nutritional and environmental benefits of pulses, global consumption and production is not as high as it might be. Solving one of these things part is in the gift of each of us. So, if you want to play a (small) part in the Paris Convention, try eating your pulses, starting perhaps with the typically French Puy lentils in solidarity with France.

More recipes: http://www.pulses.org/recipes/

An Englishman in New York for the International Year of Pulses 2016

Milan Shah, Huseyin Arslan, Cindy Brown, Gordon Bacon, Andrew Jacobs, Tim McGreevy, Katia Sambin and I had the opportunity to represent the Global Pulse Confederation, along with a great contingent of pulse farmers during a week of exciting events to launch the International Year of Pulses in North America.

Please read Milan’s excellent post on the experiences of an Englishman in New York.

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.

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 …”

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

The Pope and the SDGs at the UN today!

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17 Heads of State, 1 Pope, 17 goals for a new global partnership makes for a lot of security and a lot of media.

Thrill for one farm girl.