Knowledge for Development

Judith's Pick - End of June 2014

25/06/2015 - Judith Francis

Dear colleagues,

Please find here below a selection of recent developments and publications that may be of interest to you. The LEI report on food waste in the EU highlights the need for ACP governments to mandate their national and regional universities to find similar evidence that can support decision-making. As explained in Hauff and Nguyen's paper, universities are potential actors for sustainable development. For undergrad students in food science for example, collecting data on food waste at the retail and household levels and investigating its systemic causes are an excellent introduction to the many possible avenues leading to a sustainable world and can inspire them to innovate in business and/or research. Faculty executives and teaching staff must push tertiary education in that direction.

The May/June 2014 is ready and will be shared early next week. Our next dossier, to be featured in our July 2014 newsletter, is about sorghum. In Kenya, sorghum is well adapted to long dry spells and serves as an alternative to maize. Good planting practices and smart soil/nutirent management will raise yields, evidently, but indigenous crops possess the extra capacity for resilience without much need for complex breeding. The issue of neglected, under-utilised crops and crop wild relative is an important one: it is vital to understand what mechanisms are in place to ensure equal access to the genetic diversity collected and to ensure that countries derive economic benefits from any sale or profits from improved genetic resources based on their indigenous resources. 


Reducing food waste by households and in retail in the EU

The EC commissioned LEI Wageningen UR this study to investigate what the effects of a 40% reduction in food waste at the household and retail level would be on the economy. The study shows that such reduction could result in annual savings of € 123 per person and the total savings for the EU of € 75.5 billion. However, the total effect on the EU economy will be negligible. The reduction in food waste on the demand side (household and retail) will mean that much less agricultural land will be needed for growing food (in the EU, agricultural land use will be reduced by 28,940 km2 – an area of the size of Belgium). Most of this agricultural land will be freed up because of a reduction in waste of dairy products, fruits and vegetables and red and white meat. The study reveals however that the results would be greater if European households would adopt healthy eating patterns in terms of lowering consumption of meats and dairy instead of reduce food waste. Follow-up research is necessary to determine what the results would be of reducing food losses on the supply side (agriculture, the processing industry, storage and transport) and food losses and waste in the rest of the world.

(LEI Wageningen UR, 16/04/2014)


Universities as potential actors for sustainable development

In their paper, Michael von Hauff and Thuan Nguyen of the Technische Universität in Kaiserslautern, Germany argue that Universities can contribute to solutions for major challenges of the 21st century such as increasing environmental and socio-economic crises, inequalities of income and wealth, and political instabilities by integrating the concept of sustainable development (SD) in research, organisation, and by educating future decision makers. Through university curricula, future decision makers can learn the competences needed to solve ecological, social, and economic problems in societies. The authors discuss the observation that universities in Germany fall behind internationally in implementing sustainable strategies and present an approach to how universities can implement the holistic concept of SD. The further analyse the current state of implementing sustainability strategies at universities, and how the success of these implementation efforts can be evaluated and fostered.

(Sustainability, 19/05/2014)


The role of varietal attributes on adoption of improved seed varieties: the case of sorghum in Kenya

Anne Gesare Timu, of ILRI and colleagues from the University of Nairobi and the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, Kenya examined the effect of variety attributes on adoption of improved sorghum varieties in Kenya. Using data from a random sample of 140 farmers, a multivariate probit was used to identify variety-specific drivers of adoption. The results on farmers’ perception of variety attributes showed that improved varieties had desirable production and marketing attributes while the local varieties were perceived to have the best consumption attributes. Evidence further indicated that the major attributes driving rapid adoption of sorghum varieties are taste, drought tolerance, yield, ease of cooking, and the ability to fetch a price premium. Early maturity, a major focus of research was found to have no effect on the adoption decision. The findings of the study implies that breeders should focus more on non-yield attributes like taste and ease of cooking to increase adoption and satisfy the multiple needs of the farmers.

(Agriculture & Food Security, 09/05/2014)


A global initiative to collect, conserve, and use crop wild relatives

This paper by Hannes Dempewolf and colleagues of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Germany, and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, UK, informs researchers interested in the 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change' initiative and encourages them to start collaborating under its umbrella. The authors explain that the main objective of the project is to collect and protect the genetic diversity of a range of plants with characteristics that are required for adapting the world's most important food crops to climate change. The initiative also makes these plants available to plant breeders who can readily use them to produce varieties adapted to the new climatic conditions.

(Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 18/02/2014)




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