Thursday, May 19, 2005

FARM-AFRICA: The Name Says It All

FARM-Africa (Food and Agricultural Research Management) is an international non- governmental organization that aims to reduce poverty through developing innovative approaches to natural resource management in Africa.

They work with marginal farmers and herders to help them manage their natural resources and develop sustainable livelihoods from their land. Through projects that work to improve small-scale dairy goat farming, resolve conflict among pastoralist communities, developing new roles for villagers to manage forests, just to name a few, FARM-Africa works to help rural farm communities dramatically improve their own well-being.
Through Projects located in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda they work in partnership with marginal small-scale farmers and herders to improve the ways in which they farm their land. Working with a wide range of rural communities, and concentrating on three priority areas:
Pastoral Development
Nomadic livestock keepers who move with the seasons to find water and grazing land for their animals, living on the milk and meat products they provide are Pastoralists. They numbers exceed twelve million in Ethiopia and Kenya alone. And they are amongst the most marginalized peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa suffering from high rates of poverty and having inadequate access to education and health services.
The Pastoral Development project aims to improve the abilities of pastoralists to plan and manage their own development. This is done by increasing their participation in food security and drought management activities. FARM-Africa uses a Mobile Outreach Camp approach to achieve this. A team of professionals move with nomadic communities supporting a range of activities including drought early warning systems, veterinary services, crop and animal production and marketing, and advocacy.

One specific Pastoral Development program is the Afar Pastoralist Development and Emergency Project in Ethiopia

Afar has been severely impacted by drought in recent years. In response, FARM-Africa has provided emergency support to the people of that region and their livestock providing assistance during the drought and by helping pastoralists rebuild their herds and their lives in a post-drought environment.

Working through the Mobile Outreach Camps FARM-Africa works directly with Afar communities and collaborating with government and other agencies, to draw on their expertise and also to provide training. This emergency program is possible because of strong and efficient networks and partnerships that they have built through their long-term development work.

It is intended that the emergency rehabilitation work will continue until mid-2005, when the pastoralists will be able to participate again in long-term development work, now managed as part of FARM-Africa's Ethiopian Pastoralist Project.

Community Forest Management
According to FARM-Africa's web site, Africa's forests are at risk. In Ethiopia only about 2% of the original forest cover remains, whilst forest resources in Tanzania have been significantly depleted over the past three decades. This has a serious impact on forest wildlife and threatens water resources. The situation is ever more serious given that Africa's forests provide livelihoods for millions of poor people across the continent.
FARM-Africa believes that the solution to this problem lies in working with the local community, linking their interests with the protection of the forest resources and is key to conserving forest resources, both now and for the future. FARM-Africa work together with the Ethiopian and Tanzania national governments and local communities to establish their rights and responsibilities over forest resources. Ultimately, communities, with government support, become custodians of the forest.
The Babati Agricultural and Environmental Education Project in Tanzania is one such project. The Babati Agricultural and Environmental Education Project is designed to improve agricultural and environmental education in thirteen primary schools in Babati district.

The main topics are basic crop production, chicken rearing, vegetable gardening and tree management. Pupils share what they learn with their families, making farms more productive and environmentally friendly.

FARM-Africa also encourages the increased involvement of poor parents in school management and the strengthening of the staff's ability to respond to community priorities. At the same time, the project provides materials and training for teachers in a more practical style of teaching called 'discovery learning'. Experiences and successes from the project will be shared with interested groups and key policy makers in Tanzania's education sector. This project is carried out in partnership with the schools and communities, government agencies (the District Education Department) and local educational NGOs including Oxfam and Haki Elimu.

Smallholder Development & Land Reform

FARM-Africa stresses that smallholder agriculture drives economic development and rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of Africans live in the countryside, relying on smallholdings of less than a few hectares to feed their families and grow surplus crops for sale
Smallholder agriculture is the main livelihood option for the majority of rural Africans and greater investment in it is the main pathway out of poverty for millions of people in Africa.

In order to allow the people's ability to build sustainable rural livelihoods, FARM-Africa also works on land reform, as land ownership is central to smallholder agriculture.
FARM-Africa believes that agricultural production can be increased through a variety of methods and processes with Africa's smallholder farmers, so they work in partnership to strengthen the abilities of community-based organizations including women's groups and farmers' associations, government extension staff, universities, local and international NGOs and the private sector so that together, they can drive their own process of development.
One of these efforts is the Community Animal Health Network - CAHNET in Kenya
Because farmers urgently need information about animal health developments, as well as new methods and new treatments FARM-Africa uses a range of information channels, including a website ( ), newsletter and workshops to deliver that information. CAHNET puts grassroots animal health workers in touch with each other, with policymakers, with scientists and with the latest research. Three other NGOs work with FARM-Africa to manage CAHNET. They are CAPE, CLIP and PACT .

FARM-Africa raises money from a wide range of supporters to fund their program. Including members of the general public, schools and churches, Friends of FARM groups, trusts and foundations, and major donors and corporations. FARM-Africa also aim to increase our fundraising activities in Africa, with initiatives that are currently taking place in Kenya and South Africa.
FARM-Africa is doing some important work, so if you get the chance go by their site at:
Because if everyone pitches in, as FARM-Africa says:
"A prosperous rural Africa can, and will, be achieved."

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