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The "Open" Secret of African Agricultural Transformation

Over the past three months, I have been in my first semester of Masters training in agricultural and applied economics, and I am yet to optimize the functions of maximizing my blogging passion and maximizing my grades all subject to a time constraint. 

After reading the transcript of a classic interview between the McKinsey Quarterly and Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow I thought I should come back to the blogging after a long period of silence and share what I dubbed the "open secret" of African agricultural transformation. You will realize by the end of this blog why I have called it an open secret. But first, let us start with a question:   What really determines the differences in productivity between nations, sectors and firms? Just as background information, Prof Robert Solow is internationally recognized for his contributions to the theory of economic growth and development. In the 1990s he worked with the McKinsey Global Institute  in some sector level stu…

You want to know more about the role of agricultural innovation in creating food security in Africa?

"Agricultural innovation lies at the heart of striking the opportunity lying between agriculture’s demand-side incentives and supply-side constraints. Innovation is a subject of great importance because it stimulates sustainable growth in a highly competitive market"

Hi guys!
The Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa, FARA just launched an essay writing competition for young agriculture academics. I have submitted my essay and our essays are in the public evaluation stage where we need to mobilize many votes through Facebook. If you are on Facebook, please help me win. My essay gives a clear picture why "innovation" should Africa's priority in a dynamically changing world, marred by its challenges but full of its unique opportunities. Regardless of being food insecure and suffering from supply-side constraints, Africa has demand-side incentives for agriculture. It however takes the eyes and guts of innovators to realize the gold lying between these two "…

What distinguishes a good life from a sustainable and bright future

We have entered now the era of Sustainable Development, where the focus is not only on ensuring that people from the most marginalized parts of the world have a good life, but that they also have aa sustainable and bright future.


To help understand how a sustainable and bright future future is different from a merely good life, I thought I should remind our "valucentric" readers about the relationship between economic growth and sustainable economic development. Defining economic development The term development means a change over time, typically involving growth or expansion. According to (Norton, et al., 2006), development is a process with many economic and social dimensions. It is a dynamic process including not only changes in the structure and level of economic activity, but also increased opportunities for individual choice and for improved self-esteem. In the first Human Development Report, UNDP defined development as expanding people’s choices. 
Economic developme…

Zimbabwe Research and Intellectual Expo (RIE) Week, 3rd to the 6th of September 2014, Part 1: All we have is what we have…

Resource efficient and portable small scale rural brooder heating system
This week has been a great week for Zimbabwe’s Sunshine City, Harare. Despite the fairly cold mornings lately, this week we have been warming up ourselves with some “hot” ideas at the Research and Intellectual Expo (RIE) currently underway at the University of Zimbabwe. The RIE is an initiative of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education that seeks to showcase the various innovations taking place in the country's universities and colleges.
I decided to dedicate most of my time strolling through the exhibition stalls, sniffing around for some agricultural innovations, especially those that do not kill the “golden egg goose.” My search today was quite successful as I made a stop at the Midlands University stand and met one inventor showcasing what he calls the “portable brooder heating system.”
The mortality challenge .For most rural African families, commercial breeding of chickens could be a…

The "60 percent" game changers for youth in developing countries and the "golden egg goose": Power Points for the Youth

I have been doing some research on Climate Smart Agriculture and the youth and I thought I should just share a few "power" points today on "why the world needs more climate smarts", like you and me. I have called them the "60 percent" game changers and the "golden egg goose."
The "60 percent" game changers "As the world needs to feed more mouths, it needs to create more jobs; this convergence of events is making agriculture not only an option for youth employment and entrepreneurship, but a very viable one" In my research I bumped into three 60 percent statistics that point to possible game changers for the youth in developing countries. I have summarized them in the phrase above and I call them the three "60 percent" game changers.
Food demand growing by 60 percent First, it is estimated that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed.
Yout…

Together we can make the world a better place... Launching Climate "Smarts" Perspectives

The Climate Smart Challenge We have all heard by now that global food demand is increasing and that food consumption worldwide is expected to increase in 2018 by nearly 30 per cent over 2005 figures! This is driven to a great extent by a growing middle class in emerging markets fueling an increased demand for non-staple crops such as cashews, tree nuts, chocolate, and coffee. 
This trend also comes on the backdrop of complexly changing climatic conditions evidenced by increasing floods, deforestation, and soil erosion which has had a disproportionate effect on agriculture, especially in developing countries because of their high dependence on agriculture. In some cases these effects have been catastrophic. You should be thinking climate smart by now In the face of an increasingly hungry population (an estimated 870 million people, one in eight of the world’s population, were undernourished in 2010–2012) and a rapidly transforming transforming population (annual cereal production will…

And they lived dairy ever after...

The Story of Kiambaa Rural Dairy Cooperative The Fin4ag International Conference held in Nairobi from the 14th to the 18th of July 2014 set in motion a number of evolutionary processes, especially among young people whose impact on agriculture in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific is going to be revolutionary. A recent news article by the main organizers of the conference, the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) supports this. 
As a young African agriculture enthusiast, one of my encounters with destiny at the Fin4ag conference was during the field trips when we visited Kiambaa Rural Dairy Cooperative and met two happy couples that are living "dairy ever after" in rural Kenya, Mr and Mrs Nyaka and Mr and Mrs Njeka. 
The two couples shared their life stories and how dairy farming through the network of a Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) is impacting positively on their families and communities. I was astonished by how these humble and hardw…

Just to give you All a BIG THANK YOU!

"Lack of gratitude is as the sin of witchcraft" -  (My Translation of a common Shona Proverb)
Sometime back I asked for your support in the YoBloCo , Young Agriculture Blogger Competition. 

I would really like to thank all those who voted for this blog, and all those who found time just to look at my blog and read the posts. I know time is expensive for you all to make detailed comments on each posts, BUT I also know that you read my blog, because the number of views has kept on increasing to over a 1,500 views now!

I am very pleased to share with you that even though the Barefoot E-ssue did not make it into the top 12 Blogs, we sure did get a special mention from CTA! Check out the News item here

In the same regard, I would also like to extend my warm gratitude to the Technical Center for Agricultural  and Rural Cooperation (CTA) for organizing the Web 2.0 Training that introduced me to blogging and birthed the Barefoot E-ssue.

By the way, I started the Barefoot E-ssue as part …

Let's do a little bit of Math... The Sustainable Food Future Equation

Sustainable Food Future=grow more food (with less resources)+grow more peoplewho love togrow more food (in a more sustainable way)
I am quite happy to be communicating with the world again after a significant period of silence. Things have been a bit hectic but pretty exciting. I have had the privilege of joining a group of representatives from one my country's largest farmer representative body (you can check 'em out here) in visiting their farmers  around the country.

The most intriguing aspect of the visits I was privileged to join, is the evidence of young innovative and resilient agro-preneurs that are emerging across the African rural and rural-urban food markets landscape. From the far country side to the budding rural towns, ant-army like busy groups of young agriculture entrepreneurs are producing and moving food in a manner we have not seen as much in African history.

Gradually more young people are taking over the mantle of food production and food trade in Africa a…

Retelling the tale of "two-speed economies" - inclusive growth imperatives

One third of the world's people depend on small farms for their livelihoods. This is a key development statistic. Inclusive smallholder agriculture driven growth should be a central part of our development priorities. Africa has experienced trends of impressive economic growth, improved governance and improved human development over the past decade. 

However, the pace and pattern of recent growth in Africa has not delivered the jobs and poverty reduction that Africa has been seeking. Africa's rural communities have been left behind in its “positive” economic growth. 

This is the “two-speed” economy tale told by the McKinsey Global Institute in a Mexican report titled "Growth and prosperity in a two-speed economy." The report shares how Mexico, a modern, fast-growing economy, with globally competitive multinationals and cutting-edge manufacturing plants exists amid a far larger group of traditional  enterprises that really do not contribute to growth. You can read the M…

The YoBloCo Youth Blog Competition Public Evaluation has opened.. Vote for this Blog!

Greetings,
Exciting news!  The Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) is now open!  After an initial selection that followed the blog submission, 145 blogs (out of 194 submissions) have met the minimal requirements of an eligible blog and have been qualified for public evaluation. Guess what...?!  This blog, "Afrika's Barefoot Agriculture E-ssue" is one of the pre-selected individual blogs! There are 121 blogs in the individual category and 24 blogs in the institutional category.  If this blog happens to be one of your favorite blogs, please do not hesitate to vote for it NOW!
Here is the procedure: 1. Click on the link below to go to the voting page: https://tinyurl.com/individual-blogs (By the way you are supposed to vote for the two best blogs of your choice) 2. On the website of the YoBloCo Awards, you will find my blog's profile listed as "The Barefoot E-ssue". You should see something that looks almost like this: 3. Click Vote on my bl…

My best 2 minute lecture on Agricultural Development so far...

"When we invest together, good things grow" IFAD, 2014
I have never heard it expressed in a simpler and more powerful way before. I happened to bump into one of IFAD’s videos on the Year of family farming, and I must say, this short video is one of the best lectures I have had on agricultural investment and development so far. You can watch the video here (right click to open it in a new tab or new window). Below, I share with you three main insights from the video and my short homework exercises on “what I learnt.” Insight Number 1: One third of the global population have their livelihoods dependent on small farms, that’s approximately 2.3 billion people and they work extremely hard for long hours every day, struggling to feed their families and educate their children. What I learnt: I realized just how important productivity and profitability increasing technologies are to helping change the world.The need for more advanced seed, more effective, efficient and environmental…

What does Development mean to you (Part II)... "Aiding Aid to work better for Africa"

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article entitled, "What does development mean to you... Never miss the value for the money"
I know and understand that the post was not that popular because it carried a little bit of mind-boggling issues. My apologies, but the whole idea is to trigger thoughts outside the box and to foster dialogue, so that at the end of the day, we all get the fundamentals right and we are operating on the same wavelength.
By the way, we are still celebrating the "Year of Agriculture and Food Security (I usually call it the YoAFS)" and the "Year of Family Farming." And I am becoming really excited by the increasing amount of YoAFS "multimedia traffic" I am encountering in the digital space.Was just having a look at the AU page for the YoAFS, and check out a glimpse of it below:
Anyway, before I get carried away, let me talk about what I really want to talk about. In my earlier "Development Perspectives Article" I r…

Make the first 90 days of the Year of Agriculture and Food Security count!... Trust me, It will change the game...

90 days89 days
88 days ... and counting

Well, we all got really excited when the leaders of Africa in 2012, declared 2014 the year of Agriculture and Food Security.
Well I could be seen by others to be asking or expecting too much if I say, what I am about to say, but I will say it anyway... "We have not managed to make the first 17 days of 2014 as Africa's Year of Agriculture and Food Security (YoAFS) effectively count, and hence we need to roll up our sleeves and increase momentum..." 
This statement does not mean that our leaders are doing nothing. Certainly not. I know there are a number of high level meetings taking place on the continent and beyond deliberating how the YoAFS can be the dawn of Africa's century.
But, while the high level technical meetings are happening; for instance, while our leaders are preparing for the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union which will run from the 24th to the 31st of January 2014, under the theme, "Ye…