FRW news in brief

    | August 4, 2014

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    1-Somalia: Poor rains increase risk of famine

    Rainfall was only half of normal levels during the recent March-to-June rainy season in Somalia.

    Crops and livestock have not received enough water, meaning that the number of hungry people will increase this year, echoing the situation in the lead-up to the 2011 famine.

    The ongoing food crisis is already affecting over 850,000 people in the country. The UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, stated, “The food crisis in Somalia will deteriorate in the coming months, with drought conditions already observed in parts of the country.”

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    2-Malawi: Celebrating 50 years of independence

    On July 6, 1964, Malawi gained its independence from the United Kingdom. This year, the 50th anniversary of independence coincided with the commemoration of 20 years of multi-party democracy.

    But, 50 years after independence, Malawi still relies on donor aid. Forty per cent of the country’s budget is funded through aid, and two-thirds of that was suspended after the recent Cashgate scandal revealed that millions of dollars had been stolen from government coffers.

    In his inaugural speech, recently elected President Peter Mutharika said the nation must expand its economic base by improving agriculture through irrigation and value-added processing, and by developing the mining sector, to move the country away from its dependency on donors

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    3-Mali: Eliminating pesticides

    The UN Food and Agriculture Organization established a farmer field school in the Bla region of southern Mali in 2003. While only 34 per cent of cotton farmers in the area participated in the program, pesticide use on cotton farms in Bla − more than 4,300 households − dropped by 92 per cent.

    FAO’s analysis showed that alternative methods of pest control were three times more cost-effective than purchasing and using synthetic pesticides.

    Growers in the Bla study group reduced their average production costs by not applying chemical pesticides. By shifting to alternative “biopesticides” like neem tree extract, farmers saved nearly $500,000 US over the study period, with no negative impact on yields.

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