Creating a Well-Rounded Food Revolution

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Check out the most recent issue of the journal Science, which takes a look at ways to improve food security as the world’s population is expected to top 9 billion by 2050. To best nourish both people and the planet, the journal suggests a rounded approach to a worldwide agricultural revolution by encouraging diets and policies that emphasize local and sustainable food production, along with the implementation of agricultural techniques that utilize biotechnology and ecologically friendly farming solutions.

Innovation of the Week: Winrock International and Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Sylvia Banda started Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited in 1986, even though just 30 years ago women weren’t allowed to own businesses—or even eligible for loans—in Zambia. She began her business by serving people food she cooked and brought from home on what she calls, a “standing buffet,” because she didn’t have enough money for tables and chairs.

Not having furniture didn’t stop Sylvia’s business from taking off; she made almost a hundred dollars after a few days. And with her husband listed as the proprietor of her business because land rights are limited if not inaccessible to women in Zambia, Sylvia was able to grow her small “standing buffet” into three subsidiary businesses.

Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited is dedicated to creating, selling and serving nutritious foods, made from indigenous and traditional products that are purchased from local farmers and merchants. Sylvia provides work for 73 people and has developed partnerships with local development organizations, using her financial and popular success to become a proponent of farmer and employee training. She calls it “economic emancipation.”

Sylvia’s success has benefited not just her own family, but the wider community as well. And Winrock International, an organization that collects examples of projects focused on sustainable food, improving livelihoods and preserving local food traditions, hopes to extend her positive impact even further still by making her case study available as a resource and model for potential entrepreneurs—and for policy makers and NGOs who support potential entrepreneurs—around the world.

For more information about Sylvia’s work and other projects that are focusing on sustainable food, improving livelihoods and preserving local food traditions, see Winrock International’s site on Community Food Enterprises.

Emphasizing Malawi’s Indigenous Vegetables as Crops

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Check out this video of Kristof Nordin discussing how growing indigenous vegetables benefits farmers in Malawi:

Improving Livelihoods and Nutrition with Permaculture


Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Check out a video from our visit to Kristof and Stacia Nordin’s Permaculture project outside Lilongwe, Malawi:

Teacher Turned Farmer...Turned Teacher

This is the second in the four-part series on my visit to Heifer International projects in Gicumbi District in Rwanda. Crossposted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet blog.

Holindintwali Cyprien is a 40-year old farmer and livestock keeper in Gicumbi District, outside of Kigali in Rwanda. But he hasn't always been a farmer. After the genocide in the 1990s, he and his wife, Mukaremera Donatilla, 40, were school teachers, making a about $USD 50.00 monthly. Living in a small house constructed of mud, without electricity or running water, they were saving to buy a cow to help increase their income. And when Heifer International started working in Rwanda almost a decade ago, Cyprien and Donatilla were chosen as one of the first 93 farmers in the country to be Heifer beneficiaries. Along with the gift of a cow, the family also received training and support from Heifer project coordinators.

Today, they've used their gift to not only increase their monthly income--they now make anywhere from $USD 300-600 per month--but also improved the family's living conditions and nutrition. In addition to growing elephant grass and other fodder--one of Heifer's requirements for receiving animals--for the 5 cows they currently own, Cyprien and Donatilla are also growing vegetables and keeping chickens. They've built a brick house and have electricity and are earning income by renting their other house.

Although Heifer trained them how to collect water with very simple technologies using plastic bags, Cyprien took the training a few steps further and installed his own concrete tank. In addition, Cyprien has enough money to invest in terracing his garden to prevent erosion, a necessary farming practice in this very hilly area.

And today, Cyprien is going back to his roots and making plans to teach again--this time to other farmers. He wants, he says, "the wider community to benefit from his experience."

There's more...


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