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A decade later Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) led food policies have resulted in more hunger! Radical and transformative policy shifts towards sustainable agroecological organic approaches is the solution…

January 2020 is manifesting and with it a time to reflect on lessons learned and way forward as a new year and a new decade unfolds. As we celebrate the birth of a new decade we are acutely cognizant that the current food policies have resulted in more hunger rather than less hunger: http://www.fao.org/3/ca5162en/ca5162en.pdf  The question that begs and should be in every policymakers mind is:  “where did we go wrong and how can we correct this policy mistake”?

  • What policies should be put in place to address some of the most pressing issues of our time? These issues include the worrying increase in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), soil degradation/loss of biodiversity and climate change (climate emergency!)
  • Here is evidence that the current food system has failed to achieve food and nutrition security and instead has increased hunger: http://www.fao.org/3/ca5162en/ca5162en.pdf ,
  • Finally, physicians, public health and nutrition thought leaders have made the “discovery” that unsafe and poor diets is the major risk factor for NCDs and recommend radical policy shifts to mainstream a safer alternative food system, a regenerative soil healing food system, without synthetic agrochemicals aka an agroecological organic food system as the solution to the life threatening global epidemics of obesity, cancer, diabetes and other NCDs. Here is the evidence as outlined in a recent article in the BMJ (2019) https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l296
  • While the public health and nutrition researchers and policymakers, in their “silos thinking” space are just making this “connection”, agricultural researchers and stakeholders,  in their “silos” space,  made this observation and recommended corrective policy action, more than a decade ago, in the IAASTD Report, an evidence based report, that the industry shunned.:https://www.globalagriculture.org/fileadmin/files/weltagrarbericht/IAASTDBerichte/IAASTDExecutiveSummarySynthesisReport.pdf
  • The failed food system, represented by AGRA, unfortunately, promotes the narrative of “business as usual”…with its obsession with “forced productivity and increased yield/acre” which views agricultural production as a “commodity for sale” and proceeds to celebrate this misguided “silos mentality of success” in African capitals https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/12579-opinion-africa-leapfrogging-into-the-future.. they have failed to appreciate the monumental detrimental “cost” of this food system to the ecosystem; the harm the synthetic fertilizers, the modified seeds and toxic agrochemicals are causing to the health of humans, the soil and the ecosystem.
  • To unpack this misguided and deliberate falsehood of AGRA and allies, Tim Wise and other agroecology experts have conducted a detailed analysis of the ‘achievements” of the 10 years of AGRA’s approach to increasing food production in several African countries, purportedly to reduce hunger. The report card is dismal...it portrays a failure to achieve set targets! Here are the factual statistics and related findings: https://afsafrica.org/agra-at-ten-years-searching-for-evidence-of-a-green-revolution-in-africa/
  • For those who don’t mind reading, here is the six page summary document: https://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/agrawiseprelimfindings2017.pdf
  • The above evidence, in addition to other literature shared in various articles (refer to previous blog articles, dating as far as 2015, on this blog series), provides ample justification for the need for a policy shift from the current fossil fuel, petrochemical and synthetic fertilizers/agrochemicals based foods system: The evidence points to failure!
  • The solution and way forward is simple: Mainstreaming agroecological policies and practices within UN food policy frameworks, national and local governments farming food production policies and practices. Here is evidence it works in Africa: https://afsafrica.org/case-studies-agroecology/.  More evidence: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553536/... over 139 referenced articles!
  • Agroecology, additionally, provides the “double solution” to climate change challenges and improved small scale farmer incomes and livelihoods: Here is the evidence: https://cdn.gca.org/assets/2019-09/TheContributionsOfAgroecologicalApproaches.pdf
  • What are the next pragmatic steps in promoting agroecology? These include increasing farmer and consumer knowledge and awareness of AE while building capacity along the agroecology(AE) value chains, starting with making certified (and wild produce) organic foods available, accessible, acceptable and affordable to consumers, taking into account their cultural food preferences.
  • The Rodale Institute, in the USA, has been leading the way, for over 60 years, in researching organic certification standards and producing organically certified foods: https://rodaleinstitute.org/ and more recently, among others, Dr. Zack Bush, a triple Board Certified Physician, has gone full circle from developing chemotherapy drugs, for cancer, to realizing that the real solution to cancers and other non-communicable diseases is not chemotherapy  but rather healing the soil and getting rid of toxic agrochemicals, with the glyphosate aka Roundup, as lead offender :https://www.salon.com/2019/10/14/why-dr-zach-bush-believes-herbicides-could-end-life-on-earth/ and https://www.acresusa.com/pages/tractor-time-podcast
  • What is organic certification and what does it entail? Currently the IFOAM Standards, which are FAO accredited, provide the gold standard: https://www.ifoam.bio/en/ifoam-standard
  • Finally, locally, at Organic Consumers Alliance(OCA),  we practice what we preach: We have an Organic Certification Program which certifies small scale farmers ranging from Participatory Guaranteed Systems(PGS) to 3rd Party Organic Certification: You can reach us here: https://www.organicconsumers.co.ke/organic-guarantee/certification.html
  • Thank you for walking with us, at OCA, over the last decade…the future is here…it is organic…we continue in the evidence based believe that.. “Your health is your first wealth”…

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A time of reflection, introspection and looking to the future…

Good people, the month of December is here with us; and true to nature’s predictable consistency…it is winter in some places, summer in other places,  winter throughout in some places and yet in some places, it is summer all year round…that is the seasonality and diversity of Mother Nature. What lessons does  Mother Nature continue to teach us? What did we share and learn in 2019?

Here below, in a nutshell, some evidence based lessons…

Finally, as we celebrate and make merry during this festive season, let us be mindful of what we eat (and drink!)…we need a paradigm shift from consuming food produced in “firms” for “Power, Politics and Trade(PPT) to, consuming food

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Is there evidence of local and international success stories in policy advocacy towards removing toxic pesticides from our food system?

The month of October is here with us and with it a time of reflection and introspection..a time to take stock of some key policy advocacy wins….evidence of gradual policy shifts towards agro-ecology as a sustainable food system which is the pathway to food security and nutrition.

In view of the increasing evidence on failure of the current food system, what is the way forward?

  • There is need for urgent global and local food policy shifts to remove these toxic agrochemicals, especially pesticides, out of our food systems by banning them and shifting to safer and more sustainable agro-ecological food systems as pathways to achieve food security and nutrition.
  • Need for concerted evidence based policy advocacy towards food sovereignty. https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/what-food-sovereignty

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Damning evidence; the current industrial model has failed to achieve food and nutrition security: A clarion call for a paradigm shift to an agro-ecogical approach

Good people, the month of November is here. It is a time of retrospection and introspection. ..a key question on the minds of concerned food policy makers and policy advisors, across the world  is; “how well have we done in reducing hunger, malnutrition and achieving food and nutrition security?”

  • Some of us have had the privilege of attending and participating in the just concluded 2019 Committee on Food Security(CFS) http://www.fao.org/cfs/home/plenary/cfs46/en/ in FAO, Rome, Italy. The CFS is the apex food and nutrition making policy body, globally,  comes right after Civil Society Mechanism meeting(CSM) meeting, which highlighted the challenges and proposed policy solutions to the current failing industrial model food system. Find a link to one of the critical side events that highlighted the failures of the current food system and proposed alternative food policies which embrace agro-ecological approaches, using a systems approach: http://www.fao.org/cfs/home/plenary/cfs46/cfs46se/se054/vn/
  • Do we have evidence that the current food system has failed and that there is need to shift the policy paradigm to a sustainable food system?

YES, as outlined below and the crux of this article.

  • UNICEF’s latest report;The State of the World’s Children 2019: Children, food and nutrition: Growing well in a changing world<https://unicef.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=868bc193d9fcfe837d3fb7bc3&id=460dbea345&e=a08a75f4c0>, examines the issue of children, food and nutrition and provides a fresh perspective on this rapidly evolving challenge. Read the report here: https://unicef.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=868bc193d9fcfe837d3fb7bc3&id=aa094df503&e=a08a75f4c0>
  • Summary facts from the Unicef report that should worry us(the readers) include the following: 149 million children are stunted, or too short for their age; 50 million children are wasted or too thin for their height;340 million children – or 1 in 2 – suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin A and iron; 40 million children are overweight or obese: At the centre of this profound triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, hidden hunger and overweight – is a broken food system that fails to provide children with the diets they need to grow healthily.
  • The above facts are further validated by the 2019, World Food Security and Nutrition Report: http://www.fao.org/3/ca5162en/ca5162en.pdf which provides similar factual statistics indicating increasing hunger(not reducing hunger!) and food insecurity which is an indictment of the failed current food system, propped up by deceptive misinformation rhetoric by Big Agric and Biotechnology claiming that use of more synthetic agrochemicals(including using more toxic pesticides!) and transgenic seeds, coupled with bio-fortification, as the  “solution to food security”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some worrying findings from that report include:
  • Hunger is on the rise in almost all African subregions, making Africa the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, at almost 20 percent. Hunger is also slowly rising in Latin America and the Caribbean, although its prevalence is still below 7 percent. In Asia, Western Asia shows a continuous increase since 2010, with more than 12 percent of its population undernourished today.
  • Considering all people in the world affected by moderate levels of food insecurity together with those who suffer from hunger, it is estimated that over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, including 8 percent of the population in Northern America and Europe
  • Overweight and obesity continue to increase in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults. In 2018, an estimated 40 million children under five were overweight. In 2016, 131 million children 5–9 years old, 207 million adolescents and 2 billion adults were overweight. About a third of overweight adolescents and adults, and 44 percent of overweight children aged 5–9 were obese. The economic costs of malnutrition are staggering.
  • Let me add that, overweight and obesity are key risk factors for non-commmunicable diseases(NCDs)…NCDs are on the increase!

What is the way forward for food and nutrition policies to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security?

  • In theory, it is simple: A concerted and radical shift from conventional food and nutrition policies to agro-ecological and related food systems policies. This was reiterated and strongly argued, by the CSM, at the just concluded CSM/CFS meeting in FAO, Rome, Italy.
  • For those of us in Africa, we are meeting this week, in Addis Ababa, to deliberate on and articulate a “Road Map on Food and Nutrition Security Policies” for Africa, informed by the latest evidence on the state of food and nutrition situation in Africa and the need for proactive and responsive food and nutrition policies, anchored on agroecological food production systems, while leveraging a systems thinking approach.

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Is there evidence of a link between pesticide residues contamination of soil and water with the increasing rates of cancer?

The month of September is here and with it the Libras are in their element…doing a balancing act…and avoiding closed places…they need fresh air…

 There is palpable fear and consternation…people are asking what is causing this sudden increase in cancer deaths? The causes are multi-factorial and associated with long term exposure to a myriad of causative factors which include environmental toxins, in general and specifically, toxic agrochemicals; these include organochoride(OCP) and organophosphate pesticides(OPP).

 What is the way forward towards addressing this public health and environmental menace?

  • Firstly, we need to ensure that policy makers, the legislators and regulatory and enforcement agencies are made aware of these linkages and the dangers that toxic pesticides, especially those banned in countries where they are manufactured: These pose grave danger and harm to the health of our soils, plants, and the citizenry.
  • Secondly, leadership, at the highest political level, needs to make the connection between these harmful pesticides and their INCREASED use, in African countries, Kenya included. Use of these pesticides will increase if GMO seed technology is adopted. Towards that end, we applaud President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for his decision to reject the GMO technology push and instead advise a precautionary approach which recognizes the inherent risks and dangers of these biotechnologies to our environment, including our soils and our health. As part of regional advocacy, find AFSA’s letter of appreciation on the same: http://www.pmldaily.com/oped/2019/09/afsa-open-letter-of-appreciation-to-president-of-the-republic-of-uganda.html
  • As world citizens, who care for the future of humanity and the environment and who subscribe to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), we are obligated to continue with evidence based advocacy to create awareness among the policymakers and other stakeholders, including consumers, on the inherent dangers of reckless and increased use of these toxic agrochemicals and their links to increasing cancers.
  • Here is a link to concerned farmers demanding that some of these toxic pesticides, like glyphosate aka Roundup, be banned: https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/nakuru/Firm-wants-herbicide-linked-to-cancer-banned/1183314-5230224-v7bo9/index.html

And finally, here is a link to on-going efforts being made by the author of this article to ‘add his voice” to the advocacy agenda for a safer and healthier world for all,…”leaving no one behind”. http://epaper.peopledaily.co.ke/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&pubid=2d11dca3-13c2-4add-9dc1-cee781ba2925

Going Organic in East Africa

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