Food Waste Reduction

Better Post-harvest Processing

a solution to global hunger?

Though hunger rarely makes the headlines anymore, it is still a burning issue in many countries, with an estimated 821 million undernourished people in the world. For decades, governments and donors have been increasing investment into food production to alleviate the problem. But what if the solution lies elsewhere?

Seven years have passed since FAO estimated that about one third of the food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted. Surprisingly huge amounts of food are lost even in the poorest countries, the very same which have the highest numbers of hungry or malnourished people. Most of these countries are affected by high levels of post-harvest losses caused by inappropriate handling of the produce after harvest.
For example Rwanda: like many other sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is the leading economic activity in this densely populated nation, with more than 70 per cent of the workforce employed in the agricultural sector. Most of the produce is handled by smallholder farmers in their own homes through rudimentary post-harvest practices, often leading to low quality produce and high post-harvest losses.

Climate change is a big part of the problem. Due to shifting climatic patterns, maize harvesting currently happens during the peak of the rainy season. Most farmers do not have access to adequate drying facilities and cannot dry their produce to acceptable moisture levels before storing it, leading to pest infestation, mold and contamination. The result: large quantities of their maize is either inedible or unsalable.

The problem is a real one and there is data to prove it. According to the Africa Post-Harvest Loss Information System (APHLIS), the leading source on post-harvest wastage in Africa, losses in the Rwanda maize supply chain could be as high as 22 per cent. The figure is also alarmingly high for other crops in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average grain loss estimated at 13.5 per cent continent-wide.

Reducing such losses could constitute a more cost-effective answer to hunger than increasing productivity. If the figures published in a 2011 World Bank report paint an accurate portrait, eliminating grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa alone could provide the annual calorie requirement for around 48 million people. And this increase would not be detrimental to the environment, as it would require no extra resources (water, land and energy) to grow the food that would otherwise go wasted.

The problem is that it is difficult to isolate post-harvest losses from the issue of rural underdevelopment in general. That is because they are largely due to the lack of infrastructure and appropriate equipment that affects many developing economies. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of the rural sector and its value chains, and one that leaves no loss behind.

A growing number of projects supported by IFAD follow a holistic approach that aims to improve the overall efficiency of the value chain by upgrading the capacities of all actors involved. An internal desk review found that between 2013 and 2016 IFAD earmarked about US$433 million to post-harvest operations through such projects. The infrastructure, equipment and capacity developed thanks to this investment is essential to enable producers to reduce their losses.

More focused interventions may still be needed to reduce losses at critical loss points, as we've done for example in East Timor by subsidizing 42,000 improved storage drums for household storage. Yet the comprehensive and durable development many of our projects have brought to rural communities is arguably more effective than piecemeal interventions, which may have a more immediate and measurable impact, but a more uncertain future.
Source: https://www.ifad.org/web/latest/blog/asset/40810706

Reducing food losses is just as important as improving yields, especially in the context of shifting climatic conditions. But the most effective way to stop the loss is to take a holistic approach that carefully integrates post-harvest loss reduction into every step of the targeted supply chains, from production to retail. If adequately funded and implemented, this approach could be the key to building more sustainable food systems, ensuring that everyone is adequately fed while our environment is protected.

Sign for Climate Justice

From the Action Network ...


December (2018) government delegates from around the world will meet to decide how to implement the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The meeting’s outcomes will affect billions of people.

The New Standard for Human Rights

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

(25.10.18): The UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other People working in Rural Areas was presented in the UN headquarters to the 'Third Committee of the General Assembly'. This comes after nearly two decades of consultations and negotiations led by millions of peasants, pastoralists, artisanal fisher folk, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples’ organisations ... and with the support of CETIM and FIAN International.

UPDATE: (19.11.18)

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly has voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, through the Resolution no. A/C.3/73/L.30 - [119 for :: 7 against]


The Declaration, now finally ratification, supports the development and implementation of socioeconomic policies that improve our food and agriculture system. It will also pave the way for the creation of public policies in favour of peasants and rural workers in countries where such policies do not exist.

The vast majority of the world's citizens support the Declaration. The European Economic and Social Committee has shown its support, and the European Parliament voted a resolution asking EU states to back the project. On 2nd October in France, the National Advisory Committee on Human Rights urged the French government, in an advisory opinion, to back the text. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has also expressed its support to the Declaration and so has the former rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter as well as his successor, Hilal Elver.

It is estimated that of out of 820 million people suffering from hunger (2018 UN figure), 80% live in rural areas. These people are particularly vulnerable and discriminated against,. They suffer forced expulsions and lack access to essential resources: land, seeds, loans, education, justice and basic services. Yet, on average, small food producers contribute 70% of the world’s food, with this figure rising to more than 80% in so-called developing countries.

Source: Time to Mobilise   #peasantsrightsnow

The current draft of the declaration was finalised in April 2018. A process that began over 10 years ago. Thereafter, the text was tabled for final voting and adoption at the UN General Assembly in September 2018. Ratification is expected by mid next year.


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New Zealand didn't bother turning up for this one.

16th October, 2018

International Day of Action for the Food Sovereignty of Peoples and Against Multinationals

Peasants' seeds are a heritage of peoples in the service of humanity. They are the basis of global food production and they enable peasants to produce and a healthy and diversified food supply.

The world's seeds are threatened by the seed policies of rich countries, free trade agreements and agribusiness. Under the pretext of "improving" seed productivity, agribusiness has created a neo-liberal seed system that has homogenised, impoverished and monopolised seeds, causing the loss of three-quarters of seed diversity and annihilating a diversity that it took people – thanks to the work of peasants – 10000 years to generate.
Three companies, Monsanto-Bayer, Syngenta-ChemChina and Dupont-Dow, control more than 50% of the world's commercial seeds – usually GM seeds claimed to resist herbicides and deter insects. Under the impetus of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, and through free trade agreements and laws protecting seed and breeders' rights, such as UPOV standards, this seed system only allows the circulation of its own seeds, criminalising the saving, exchange, donation and sale of local farmer seeds.

The situation is such that farmers have lost a lot of their heritage seeds, are put in prison for the defense and exchange of their seed heritage, and risk raids and seizure of their seeds. Biodiversity is destroyed by the use of chemical fertilisers, hybrid seeds and genetically modified organisms developed by multinational companies. \Everywhere citizens have difficulty accessing healthy, diversified and healthy food.

All over the world, La Via Campesina and its member organisations are stepping up their efforts in training, education, mutual support and seed exchange. We fight for national laws and international treaties to guarantee the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange, sell and protect their seeds against biopiracy and genetic contamination, we write books on the history of seeds, carry out studies and mapping. We also found agro-ecology schools and organize peasant' seed exchange fairs. We exercise our right of self-determination to select the seed varieties we want to plant and reject economically, ecologically and culturally dangerous varieties. These are rights affirmed by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and by the United Nations Declaration on Peasants' Rights which has just been adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It is also the only way to ensure healthy food for citizens, the preservation of biodiversity and the achievement of food sovereignty.

No government measure can limit the collective rights of farmers to use, exchange and sell their OWN seeds.
Free seed exchange between farmers should NOT be subject to restriction.

“Adopt a Seed”

We call on every peasant, peasant family or community to engage in the adoption of a variety of plant or animal seeds, to become the guardian of this seed, ensuring its propagation, reproduction and distribution and to engage in the collective defense of their rights to use, exchange, sell and protect them. In this way, we will create a large network of peasant seeds to save those that have become rare and extend production towards the food sovereignty of peoples.
By adopting a seed, peasant families preserve their identity and territory and affirm their peasant way of life. They claim the historical memory and ancestral culture of seed management, promoting an urban and rural ecological agriculture that reproduces the miracle of more seeds and food of better quality, taste and nutritional value.

Global Food Movement Rejects 'Gene drive' Technology

World Food Day (Oct/18) ...

Over 200 global food movement leaders and organisations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers set out their clear opposition to “gene drives” – a controversial new genetic forcing technology.

Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm: How Gene Drive Organisms Could Entrench Industrial Agriculture and Threaten Food Sovereignty, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading "auto-extinction" genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries; and GMWatch. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, activist and food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers’ rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties,” said Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. “Gene drives would undermine the realisation of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition

Land Rights Regulations

Land Deals

Indigenous land rights are increasingly under threat

The soaring demand for food, fuel and other commodities is cranking up pressure on land, but the sector remains largely unregulated internationally.

Increasingly, secret deals are struck between governments and investors, and communities robbed of land that’s rightfully theirs.

Imagine waking up one day to be told that the land that your family has lived on for generations has been leased to developers. You have to be out by the time the bulldozers arrive next week. You can’t see the documents behind the deal, and you won’t be getting compensation. And if you don’t go quietly, soldiers will make you wish you had.

This type of “land grab” is happening more and more often across the developing world, as investors scramble to acquire cheap land for everything from food to biofuel plantations to mining. As much as 54 million hectares has already changed hands in land deals over the last decade, or is under negotiation. And this figure is set to grow as population growth, consumption and financial speculation drive demand upwards.

With strong rules to protect communities and environment, these investments could stimulate development in some of the poorest parts of the world. But the market is moving much faster than regulators can, leaving behind a murky trade controlled by powerful and often corrupt elites.

Land deals are often done in secret, without consulting those most affected. Environmental damage and human rights are paid lip service at best, and more often completely ignored. Communities can’t find out who has been given their land or see the contracts, so they don’t know what it is worth or who to blame for taking it.

Global Witness is investigating the impact of large-scale land concessions on rural communities and the environment, and is pushing for solutions to fix the system at the national and international levels. Our Dealing with Disclosure report, for example, sets out practical steps for governments and companies to make land deals fair and open. We also work with rural communities in a number of countries to help stand up for and strengthen their rights to their land.

Land grabs are closer than you think. Holes in international law mean we have very little way of ensuring that our supply chains and savings don’t link us to land that has been illegally or violently taken.

Source: Global Witness campaign (May, 2018)
Report: Dealing with Disclosure – setting out in detail what governments, companies and citizens can do to ensure against the negative impacts of secretive land deals.

And how to reduce your profile

Nearly everything we do online leaves a trail of data

Like many people who have taken a sudden interest in their digital privacy, you may be quite startled by what they know about you.

Google

Let's start by listing all the Alphabet-owned services you might use: Google Docs, YouTube, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Photos, Contacts, Translate, Chrome, Maps, Wallet, and, of course, the Google  search-engine.

Depending on your settings a visit to myactivity.google.com can bring the company’s background tracking into the foreground: every search query you've ever run, most of the websites you've visited, and almost every literal step you've taken.

Also do the Google Privacy Checkup to view (and change) your default settings for logging and sharing. For example: “Let people with your phone number find and connect with you on Google services, such as video chats.” Having my phone number means you get to interrupt me with your face whenever you want: disable.

YouTube is default set to automatically show videos you have liked and channels I subscribed to: disable. Google is default set to share your photos and likes and restaurant reviews: disable.

There is also a section for advertising settings, the list of topics Google thinks you're interested in— there’s no way for me to know why Google thinks what it thinks. Then, what about information-sharing with the “2 million websites and apps that partner with Google to show ads.”

To its credit, Google offers a centralised and relatively user-friendly page to view and control your account. The breadth of the data collection is unnerving, whatever the control you may have over it.

That was a practice-run: now it's time to get heavy ...

Facebook

Thanks to a Google Chrome browser extension called What Facebook Thinks You Like you can decide whether to Obscure the Real Me with misleading signals. Like Google, Facebook has a settings page from where you can view and adjust your security and privacy settings. Also look at the “Apps and Websites” and “Ads” settings, which are not listed in a way that suggests they are related to security and privacy, even though they obviously are.

You may want to go through all the apps you have authorised for Facebook to give your events, uploaded or tagged in photos, religious and political views, hometown, current city, videos, website URL, and the content and member list of the Facebook groups you manage, and your relationship status -- and  removed the hundreds of them that have accrued there.

Facebook files patent to force your phone to record your private life at home.

You may want to download your data from an easy-to-miss link on the settings page [ here];

  • delete your search history;
  • turn the sharing defaults from “public” to “friends” or “just me” on just about everything;
  • and all the contact details for the people you have unwittingly uploaded [ here ].

Knowing all this, it’s hard to take seriously the man who in March 2018 testified before the U.S. Congress and then posted this on, yes, Facebook: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

5G Wireless Towers

Health Concerns Regarding 5G Small Cell Tower Installations

On May 29, 2018, CBS News aired a segment about the many Americans who are fighting small cell towers being installed in residential yards and everywhere else in their communities.

The wireless industry is in a race to roll out 5G service. The network is supposed to be up to 100 times faster than current data speeds, but it requires cellphone tower equipment to be closer to users than before.

Wireless companies in the U.S. say they will have to install about 300,000 new antennas – roughly equal to the total number of cell towers built over the past three decades. That’s causing outrage and alarm in some neighborhoods, as antennas go up around homes.

Decades of research – including research on millimeter waves like 5G – says there are plenty of reasons to worry about harm from exposure to all sources of cell phone and wireless WiFi radiation.

Countless doctorsenvironmental organisationsscientists, concerned citizens, and some elected officials have been fighting the installation of small cell towers in their communities because of health concerns and more.

Various other media outlets have also been reporting about this including The NationDemocracy NowNPRNewsweek, and Dr. Oz.  The Telecom Industry is being referred to as Big Wireless and compared to “Big Tobacco.”

Many U.S. broadcast news stations have also been reporting concerns about radiation exposure from these towers and other sources of new technology as well.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the government agency that regulates new technology.  They are part of “The Swamp” that President Trump promised to drain.

The former FCC chairman (appointed by President Obama) started working again for the Telecom Industry immediately after leaving The FCC.  Current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has referred to American efforts to stop tower installation in their communities as “NIMBYism run amok” (Not in My Back Yard).  Last week FCC Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly, referred to those who are fighting as “bad actors”and stated the FCC is done with “being nice.”

Tech and security experts have labelled “The Race for 5G” as a bail-out” of the Telecom Industry.

Forcing communities to accept these small cell towers when they don’t want them goes against everything this country stands for – and what President Trump promised.  For those who want to use 5G, Samsung will be selling 5G home routers very soon so we don’t need no stinking small cell towers.

When you don’t say “no” to small cell towers in your neighbourhood, you say “yes” to small cell towers in your neighborhood.

Militarism 2018

World Beyond War has just released an updated 2018 mapping of militarism in the world. The map system can be explored and adjusted to display what you’re looking for, as well as display precise data and its sources at http://bit.ly/mappingmilitarism

Here are some examples of what it can show:

Where wars are present that directly and violently killed over 1,000 people in 2017:

Where wars are present and where wars come from are two different questions. If we look at where money is spent on wars and where weapons for wars are produced and exported, there is little overlap with the map above.

Here’s a map showing countries color-coded based on the dollar amount of their weapons exports to other governments from 2008-2015:

And here’s one showing the same but limited to exports to the Middle East:

Here are dictatorships that the United States sells or gives weapons to (and in most cases gives military training to):

These countries purchase U.S. weapons and report on it to the United Nations:

This next map shows countries color-coded based on how much they spend on their own militarism:

Here are countries colored based on how many nuclear weapons they have:

In the next map, every shade of orange or yellow (anything but gray) indicates the presence of some number of U.S. troops, not even counting special forces. Here’s a printable PDF.

The map system includes numerous maps illustrating steps toward peace. This one shows which nations are members of the International Criminal Court:

This one shows from which nations people have signed World BEYOND War’s pledge to help try to end all wars:

That pledge can be signed at http://worldbeyondwar.org/individual

These maps and more information about them can be found at World Beyond War (needs Flash Player to view).

 

The much-touted Bt-cotton leaves the party

India's 2018 cotton harvest was devastated by swarming armies of bollworms

In India, 90 per cent of the land under cotton uses a GM Bt-seed variety cotton supplied by Monsanto. But the main pest it was meant to safeguard against is back, as a virulent pesticide-resistant species.

The bollworm lays thousands of eggs and multiplies into millions of worms within days. Estimates based on surveys by the state revenue and the Maharashtra agriculture departments around November and then again in February-March indicate that the pink-worm infestation affected over 80 per cent of the 4.2 million hectares under cotton in the state. Each farmer reportedly lost 33 per cent to over 50 per cent of their standing crop.

Bt-cotton gets its name from bacillus thuringiensis, a soil-dwelling bacterium. The Bt seed contains cry (crystal) genes derived from the bacterium and inserted into the cotton plant genome (the genetic material of the cell) to provide protection against the bollworm.

Bt-cotton was meant to control the bollworm. But farmers will now find the worms surviving in Bt-cotton fields, Kranthi wrote in a series of essays in industry magazines and on his own CICR blog. Neither the ICAR nor the Union Agriculture Ministry seemed alert to the potential devastation at the time. The state and central government have since been aware of the extent of pink-worm devastation, but have not come up with a solution.

In 2006-7, Monsanto released BG-II hybrids, saying the new technology was more potent, more durable. These slowly replaced BG-I. And by now, BG-II hybrids occupy over 90 per cent of the around 130 million hectares under cotton across India, according to government estimates.

Where to now?

There is no new GM technology in sight now or in the near future that promises to replace BG-II. Neither is any technology available for more effective insecticides. India is in deep trouble on its fields of cotton, a crop that occupies vast stretches of land and creates millions of workdays in rural India.


The Ministry of Agriculture of the government of India acknowledges the problem, but has rejected the demand from Maharashtra and other states to de-notify Bt-cotton – a move that will change its status to regular cotton since Bt’s efficacy has gone.