October 7, 2016

What We’re Reading: Major rural development report

The EditorsEcoAgriculture Partners

2016 Rural Development Report – IFAD

The report notes, “Small farms continue to provide livelihoods for up to 2.5 billion people and account for up to 80 per cent of food produced in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In a fast-changing world, rural areas must transform – and rapidly – in order to be sustainably included in growing economies and to contribute to overall prosperity.” Meanwhile, major changes in rural environments, driven partly by climate change, and rapid social change including urban migration and increasing technological access are creating challenges and opportunities for improving rural livelihoods. This report is vital reading for anyone working to transform rural landscapes.

ACDI/VOCA announces new impact investment venture and vehicles – ACDI/VOCA

Impact funds are growing in popularity and scale, and are critical mechanisms for combining public and private finance for sustainable development. Their first investment vehicle, AV Ventures Ghana LLC, will specifically invest in growth in Ghana’s poultry industry through a USDA program that ACDI/VOCA is implementing. ACDI/VOCA’s announcement of their entry into this market, through subsidiary AV Ventures, is encouraging, but also points to challenges and questions about the sector: what does “impact investing” mean in this context. The USDA poultry program, for instance, includes no mention of any evaluation of environmental impact analysis of growing poultry production, and agricultural sustainability outcomes are missing from project goals. Will AV Ventures seek to coordinate investments to achieve multiple positive impacts and thus make progress toward the SDGs, or will they simply be a vehicle to leverage private finance to support the profitability of traditional sectoral US government contracts won by ACDI/VOCA. Time will tell.

Photo Essay: The Ghost Farms of Colorado – Modern Farmer

Roughly 80 percent of the precipitation in the US state of Colorado falls in the Rocky Mountains and flows west, while 90 percent of the population and the vast majority of the state’s farmland lies east of the Rockies. Water projects diverting water over and through the mountains have watered the east side’s agriculture for a century, but droughts and climate change are creating water rights conflicts between the few west side farmers with seniority and the east side farmers whose entire farming operations are dependent on irrigation from Rocky Mountain sources. This beautiful photo essay illustrates this conflict, a growing problem throughout the American West and around the world. Solutions are difficult to come by, as the politics of conflict between farmers and urbanites runs deep. The article notes, “Pragmatic eastern farmers, accustomed to drought-related challenges, seem more eager to forge cash-generating solutions than their western counterparts. For the plan to work, both sides of the state—and the issue—must continue to compromise.”


Featured image: In arid Morgan County, northeast of Denver, Matt Padilla manually dams up a flood irrigation ditch using a tarp and 2x4s. By Matt Nager in “Photo Essay: The Ghost Farms of Colorado.”

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