Oct 162014
 

ROME, Italy, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — After her visit to Tripoli on Saturday 11 October, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini spoke on the phone today with the United Nations Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon. In the…

Oct 162014
 

ROME, Italy, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — “Today in Khartoum we have achieved a hugely important advance in relations with the African countries for stronger and more effective cooperation in combating the trade in and trafficking of human beings in the Mediterranean, and irregular migration”.

The Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lapo Pistelli, has returned to Sudan to take part in the Regional Conference on Human Trafficking and Smuggling in the Horn of Africa. The Conference was organised by the African Union (AU) with support from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Deputy Minister Pistelli was attending in his dual role as Head of the Italian Delegation and Representative of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This was his second visit to Sudan this year, following his mission a few months ago to bring Meriam Ibrahim, the young woman condemned to death for apostasy, to Italy.

The Conference marked the opening of an enhanced dialogue between the countries of Africa and the European Union, at the initiative of the Italian Presidency, which has made migration a priority issue. The “Khartoum Process”, as it is now informally called, echoing the Rabat Process, will be launched in Rome on 28 November 2014 during a ministerial conference. The conference will be attended by representatives of the countries of origin and transit on the main route for migrants heading for Europe: the “Horn of Africa Migratory Route”.

Pistelli underscored that the Khartoum Process will provide a framework of reference – which so far has been lacking – with a view to developing a structured policy and operational dialogue on how best to manage migration between the European Union and the countries of the Horn of Africa.

In his speech, the Deputy Minister also recalled – to the applause of all participants – Italy’s commitment to search and rescue (SAR) activities, most notably the Mare Nostrum operation. Since it was launched in the wake of the Lampedusa tragedy, Mare Nostrum has saved over 100,000 people and arrested over 500 traffickers. At Italy’s initiative, it will soon be supplemented by “Triton”, an operation launched by the European Union’s Frontex agency.

“Let’s be brave, let’s go together”. With these words, addressed as much to the EU member states as to the African countries, Deputy minister Pistelli concluded by reiterating the importance of continuing along the pathway opened up by Italy. A pathway that at last sees the countries of origin, destination and transit of migratory flows working together.

Addressing the countries of origin, he underscored that combating people trafficking and smuggling is just the first step in a more ambitious course that aims to tackle the deeper causes of unregulated migration. In this respect, he underlined the close link between migration and development. “Italy and the European Union view development cooperation as the best route to limit migration flows. Working to provide better living conditions also gives Africans the right to stay in their own land”, concluded Pistelli.

Oct 162014
 

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Government has decided to contribute an additional SEK 100 million in humanitarian support to efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The new funds are to be channelled through the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency for planning and implementing medical care efforts and coordinating voluntary Swedish health workers. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency will also contribute in other relevant ways, such as with logistical assistance.

“Sweden is now responding to the UN request for more personnel and other resources. The number of people infected in West Africa is doubling every two to three weeks. Sweden has many competent people who want and are able to contribute effectively the fight against Ebola. It is essential that all actors do their utmost. Ebola is now a global security issue,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Isabella Lövin.

In addition to health workers, other personnel, materials (for example trucks) and logistical assistance have also been requested for the construction of accommodation for international relief workers and personnel involved in the UN-led efforts.

Swedish humanitarian support to combat the Ebola outbreak now amounts to SEK 239.3 million.

“Many people want to help, and the Government has now approved a number of decisions to step up Sweden’s efforts. A key issue is that Swedish personnel who want to go are granted leave from work, and here I think the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions has sent positive signals that people are to be granted leave,” says Minister for Public Health Gabriel Wikström.

Oct 162014
 

ROME, Italy, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Nine out of ten of the world’s 570 million farms are managed by families, making the family farm the predominant of agriculture, and consequently a potentially crucial agent of change in achieving sustainable food security and in eradicating hunger in the future, according to a new U.N. report released today.

Family farms produce about 80 percent of the world’s food. Their prevalence and output mean they “are vital to the solution of the hunger problem” afflicting more than 800 million people, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva wrote in the introduction to FAO’s new State of Food and Agriculture 2014 report.

Family farms are also the custodians of about 75 percent of all agricultural resources in the world, and are therefore key to improved ecological and resource sustainability. They are also among the most vulnerable to the effects of resource depletion and climate change.

While evidence shows impressive yields on land managed by family farmers, many smaller farms are unable to produce enough to provide decent livelihoods for the families.

Family farming is thus faced with a triple challenge: yield growth to meet the world’s need for food security and better nutrition; environmental sustainability to protect the planet and to secure their own productive capacity; and productivity growth and livelihood diversification to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. According to the SOFA report, all these challenges mean that family farmers must innovate.

“In all cases, family farmers need to be protagonists of innovation as only this way can they take ownership of the process and ensure that the solutions offered respond to their needs,” Graziano da Silva said. “Family farming is a key component of the healthy food systems we need to lead healthier lives.”

The report calls for the public sector, working with farmers, civil society organizations and the private sector, to improve innovation systems for agriculture. Agricultural innovation systems include all the institutions and actors that support farmers in developing and adopting better ways of working in today’s increasingly complex world. Innovation capacity must be promoted at various levels, with incentives for farmers, researchers, advisory service providers and integrated value chains to interact and create networks and partnerships to share information, SOFA says.

Policy makers must also consider the diversity of family farms in terms of size, technologies used, and integration into markets, as well as their ecological and socio-economic settings. This diversity means that farmers need different things from an innovation system. Still, all farms need better governance, macroeconomic stability, physical and institutional market infrastructure, education as well as basic agricultural research, according to SOFA.

Public investment in agricultural research as well as extension and advisory services – which should be designed to be more participatory – must be increased to emphasize sustainable intensification and closing the yield and labor productivity gaps characterizing farm sectors in many developing nations.

Although agricultural research by private companies is increasing, public-sector investment remains indispensable to ensure research in areas of little interest to the private sector – such as basic research, orphan crops or sustainable production practices. Such research constitutes a public good with many potential beneficiaries.

Family farms are vital

The FAO report offers a rich set of new details about family farms. Most family farms are small. Eighty-four percent of the world’s farms are less than two hectares in size. However, farm sizes vary widely. Indeed, farms larger than 50 hectares – including many family farms – occupy two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land.

In many high-income and upper-middle-income countries, large farms, responsible for most agricultural production, account for most farm land. But in most low- and lower-middle-income countries, small and medium-sized farms occupy most farm land and produce most of the food.

Small farms produce a higher share of the world’s food relative to the share of land they use, as they tend to have higher yields than larger farms within the same countries and agro-ecological settings.

However, the higher productivity of land on family farms involves lower labor productivity, which perpetuates poverty and hinders development. Much of the world’s food production involves of unpaid labor by family members.

The report emphasizes that it is imperative to boost output per worker, especially in low-income countries, in order to lift farm incomes and expand rural economic welfare in general.

Currently, farm sizes are becoming smaller and smaller in most developing countries, where many smallholder farm households derive the bulk of their income from off-farm activities.

Policies should aim to increase access to inputs such as seeds and fertilizers as well as to markets and credit, according to SOFA.

Effective and inclusive producer organizations can support innovation by members, helping them gain access to markets, and facilitating linkages with others in the innovation system, besides ensuring that family farms have a voice in policy making, the report emphasizes.

To encourage family farmers to invest in sustainable agricultural practices, which often have high start-up costs and long pay-off periods, authorities should seek to provide an enabling environment for innovation.

Policies meant to catalyze innovation will need to go beyond technology transfer, according to SOFA. They must also be inclusive and tailored to local contexts, so that farmers have ownership of innovation, and take gender and intergenerational issues into consideration, involving youth in the future of the agricultural sector.

Oct 162014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, condemned last night’s bomb attack outside a popular restaurant in Mogadishu resulting in the death and injury of many people.

“I strongly condemn last night’s cowardly terrorist attack. I am appalled by the complete disregard for the lives of ordinary Somalis, including children and passers-by. Such crimes violate the most basic principles of humanity. The perpetrators need to be brought to justice swiftly.” SRSG Kay said.

“The United Nations remains determined in our support for the Somali people as they work to realise their hope for a peaceful and stable future.” he added.

SRSG Kay extends his sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those who have suffered as a result of last night’s attacks.

Oct 162014
 

MOGADISHU, Somalia, October 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia (SRSG), Nicholas Kay, condemned last night’s bomb attack outside a popular restaurant in Mogadishu resulting in the death and injury of many people.

“I strongly condemn last night’s cowardly terrorist attack. I am appalled by the complete disregard for the lives of ordinary Somalis, including children and passers-by. Such crimes violate the most basic principles of humanity. The perpetrators need to be brought to justice swiftly.” SRSG Kay said.

“The United Nations remains determined in our support for the Somali people as they work to realise their hope for a peaceful and stable future.” he added.

SRSG Kay extends his sincere condolences to the families and friends of all those who have suffered as a result of last night’s attacks.