Food security and seed systems

How dependent on agriculture is Malawi (S.E.Africa) for export earnings?
Makes up 90% of national export earnings
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What are the main crops grown in Malawi?
Maize, some casava
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What proportion of food grown in Malawi is produced by smallholders?
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Malawi was self-sufficient until the 1990's. What happened to affect this?
Famines in 2002, 2005 and 2012.
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Why are most smallholders net buyers of maize?
Fall into low maize productivity trap (Dorward and Chirwa, 2011)- maize produced at same time-all sell - no means of storing safely- market=flooded and + prices fall -not enough money or maize to feed themselves -high demand- expensive maize
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Why is Malawi food security so vulnerable?
Crop losses due to droughts, floods, pests, diseases, food price spikes, loss of livestock (semi-arid area with increasing environmental problems)
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What affected Malawian food security in 2005?
Election- party promised to implement an input subsidy programme using coupons/vouchers
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What did critics think would happen if subsidies were put into place?
Thought it would be a failure- subsidies can distort markets
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What happened as a result of the newly elected government implementing the input subsidy programme?
Maize miracle- next four years (2006-2010)- maize surplus. Food aid no longer required
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What two goals were put forward as a "model programme" by international donors?
2 agendas: 1) Raise smallholder productivity- allow people to escape the low maize productivity gap.- Can use land for other uses- 2) Encourage crop diversification- allowing more sustainable agriculture+ climate change resilience + better nutrition.
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Are the two goals complementary?
If maize price and productivity = high- little incentive to diversify.
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What impact did the input subsidy programme have on the seed systems?
Takes a while for money from coupons to go through- large companies were more able to ride out the time lag. Small companies couldn't. A few multinational seed companies now own 90% market- so have monopoly on the seeds available.
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How has the type of maize seed widely grown in Malawi changed since the seed sector narrowed?
Changed from open pollinating varieties (OPV) to hybrid seeds- which are more productive but have hybrid vigor- production declines significantly each year- have to buy new seeds each year- need the fertilizers etc- "lock-in"
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What happens at the Kari Katumani research centre?
Development of maize varieties for arid and semi-arid environments
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What is it a problem that seed companies sell only a few seed varieties?
These may have been developed elsewhere and may not be adapted to the specific local conditions in Malawi- or to the different regional areas
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Which seed systems are in conflict?
Formal and informal
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What is the UPOV system of plant variety protection?
Convention that protects new plan varieties as intellectual property rights
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What is the informal seed sector?
Where farmers multiply and exchange seed of important crops and varieties suited to the local agronomic conditions, both on an in-kind, and in some instances, cash basis
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To what extent is war/conflict to blame for famine?
Around 1/2 famines in the 20th century have conflict as the primary cause- with 10% lower per capita food production in the 5 years after a conflict ends compared with the pre-conflict situation (Pingali et al, 2005)
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Why are market forces such important factors in controlling frequency of famines?
Often enough food is physically produced- access is just not adequate e.g. 1970's famines in Mali, Niger- food not equally distributed
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What can lead to food insecurity?
Volatile price swings, limited government capacity to provide food/ agricultural support etc - multidimensional approach
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Why is it difficult to measure food insecurity?
Different households=different coping mechanisms e.g. some hold on to precious items and go hungry rather than sell and eat a little better- see hunger as short term. Some may supplement diet by foraging. Variations within countries
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How can GIS be used to map vulnerability to food insecurity?
Can investigate water resources, precipitation, basic physical infrastructure e.g. roads
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What are contemporary FEWS
Contemporary famine early warning systems- remote data-sensing satellites that can detect levels of chlorophyll production in plants to indicate how productive an area is
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What occurs as part of World Food Programmes?
Obtainment and movement of large quantities of food in response to emergencies or in bi-lateral trade programmes.
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Why is food aid not always the best option?
2003 Uganda- US send 100,000 tonnes of grain to North- feed people. At same time- surplus of food in the South- difficulty was in the transporting- did not need food imports.
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Why might cash flows be more beneficial than food aid?
Stimulate market growth and allow people to choose how they spend the money- can buy products in line with culture/aspirations etc
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Why is education so important?
Women's education= associated with 43% decline in malnutrition (Baro & Deubel,2006)- increased understanding of health and able to support families with higher earning jobs
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What indicators are used to measure food insecurity?
Income-based:% people on
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How is DEB used to measure food insecurity?
per capita daily energy balance- if higher than DER (daily energy requirements) = surplus- person is consuming adequate calories
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How does the US Household food security survey measure investigate food insecurity?
18 questions on behaviours and attitudes- distinguishes homes experiencing different levels of food insecurity
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Why has there been a shift to measuring public purchasing power instead of food production as a means of ascertaining food insecurity?
Purchasing power= key to access. Households become food insecure when able to mitigate negative shocks or there is erosion to food access (Smith et al, 2000)
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What could be the most successful strategy for mitigating the effects of climate change on crop yields?
Diversifying food production towards a profile of many species with different attributes
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How is climate change projected to affect food production globally?
10% reduction in maize production in Africa and Latin America by 2055- losses of US$2 billion/year- varies
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Which areas in Africa will be buffered from the worst effects of climate change?
Cooler parts where precipitation does not fall- may even experience increase in revenues
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


What are the main crops grown in Malawi?


Maize, some casava

Card 3


What proportion of food grown in Malawi is produced by smallholders?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Malawi was self-sufficient until the 1990's. What happened to affect this?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Why are most smallholders net buyers of maize?


Preview of the front of card 5
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