Ploughing for access to credit: The story behind Philippine rural finance

The Executive Summary of the Proceedings of the International Conference on Best Practices on Paving the Way Forward for Rural Finance (USAID et. al 2003) stated that concern for food security and the vulnerability of the population in rural communities, the high incidence of poverty and the growing income disparity between the urban and rural areas necessitate an efficient rural financial market. Like most developing countries, rural finance in the Philippines is faced with challenges that need to be addressed in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal 1.

Celeste Gualberto
Caloocan City, Philippines


Rural Economic Development, Volume 14 No 2/2007

Avian Influenza

Bird flu - is the world at risk?

Bird flu has raged in South-East Asia since late 2003, spreading westwards since 2005. In the summer of 2005 it reached the European region of Russia, and in February 2006 it was confirmed for the first time in Africa. The spectre with the mysterious code name HPAI H5N1, that is not only wiping out poultry throughout the world, but also has the potential to trigger a pandemic akin to Spanish flu in 1918, has dominated the media for months on end. What does it all mean and what impact is it having on rural areas?

Dr Karin Schwabe
German Federal Ministry of Food,
Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV)
Berlin, Germany

Germany's commitment to the fight against bird flu: Supporting smallholders, maintaining biodiversity

In most developing countries the greater part of poultry production is in the hands of smallholders. Poultry keeping is an important income and nutrition factor in these systems. Its particular significance lies in the fact that women play a key role in keeping the small livestock and in using the resulting income. In view of the large number of local poultry breeds, these stocks also represent a rich reservoir of animal genetic resources and thus make an important contribution to biodiversity.

Dr Marlis Lindecke
, Carola von Morstein
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Eschborn, Germany

Highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 - a global animal health crisis: Profound challenges to science and society

The H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza epizootic is a serious multidimensional challenge to agriculture, rural development and public health and requires high multisectoral attention for its solution. Many drivers of the crisis are insufficiently known which renders its technically and socially successful containment rather difficult. In this article some of these elements are highlighted as are the main actions undertaken by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in support of its member countries.

Samuel C. Jut
Director, Animal Production and Health Division
Joseph Domenech Head, Animal Health Service and Chief Veterinary Officer
UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Rome, Italy

BMZ supports developing countries in the fight against bird flu

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is supporting efforts to limit the spread of bird flu. It is promoting cooperation between agricultural and veterinary experts and specialists in human medicine in drawing up and implementing emergency plans in developing countries. Since 2003 the highly infectious bird flu virus H5N1 has spread rapidly from Asia as far as Europe and Africa. There are warnings of a possible pandemic, because already 225 cases are known of people catching the disease; 56.9 percent of these victims have died. Further spread of the virus among wild birds, poultry and humans in particular regions increases the ever-present risk that the virus will mutate.

Manfred va
n Eckert
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Eschborn, Germany

Guest opinion: Bird flu virus H5N1 - a deadly risk for humans?

The recent spate of international conferences convened by scientists, UN agencies and the donor community on epizootic aspects of avian influenza (AI), referred to in the media as «bird flu», and on the possibility that it could develop into a human influenza pandemic, shows that AI is slowly being taken increasingly seriously around the world. International organizations especially are warning that the virus could leap species and spread to humans; some scientists, on the other hand are more sceptical as to whether there is any immediate danger of this happening.

Professor Dr Karl-Hans Zes
Free University of Berlin
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, International Animal Health
Berlin, Germany

The failing structures of animal health services - room for improvement

The current avian flu situation has clearly demonstrated what we already knew: that animal health service structures are malfunctioning in most parts of the developing world.We have seen that flu sending the animal health system to the top of many Governments' agenda. However, if Governments and donors are primarily preoccupied with containing the risk of a human pandemic there are serious doubts that the results of the commotion around avian flu will significantly improve smallholder poultry producers' access to animal health services.

Karsten Nellemann K
Network for Smallholder Poultry Development (Fjerkrænetværket)
Frederiksberg C, Denmark

African villages without wings...?

As the spectre of bird flu hovers menacingly, many African households are already counting the cost of the H5N1 virus. Backyard poultry is an important source of revenue and protein in Africa, yet the disease threatens to cause massive hardship in this sector. Porous borders, a busy informal chicken trade and inadequate veterinary services contribute to the spread of the virus.The poorest groups in the chain are also the most exposed and the least informed on the scourge. Accordingly, it is crucial that they be informed on the necessary  preventive measures.

Dr Hansjörg Neun, Director
Dr Joseph O. Mugah
Head, Information Department
Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
Wageningen, The Netherlands


A one-size-fits-all solution won't work

National decisions about how to control bird flu are critical to global as well as national success.The best ways to fight bird flu in industrialized countries are often not the best for developing nations.This article describes the strategy of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and its partners to improve control of the disease in developing countries, and thus to help protect both human health and development around the world.

Clare Narrod
International Food Policy Research Institute - IFPRI
Washington D.C., USA

Tom Randolph,Karl Richand Carlos Seré
International Livestock Research Institute - ILRI
Nairobi, Kenya.



What is driving bioenergy's exceptional upswing?

Biomass use is a tradition going back thousands of years. With the drastic rise in oil prices and increasing concern about global climate change, energy production from biomass is experiencing a renaissance. In industrialised countries, bioenergy is helping to develop new agricultural markets outside market regulation and subsidies; for developing countries without their own oil reserves, biomass provides an opportunity to produce energy from domestic resources. Newly industrializing economies are seizing the opportunity to produce biofuels and export them to meet the growing global demand.

Uwe R. Fritsche
Coordinator, Energy & Climate Division
Öko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology) Darmstadt, Germany

Biofuels - what are the technical options?

Bioenergy refers to the production of energy from biomass, i.e. from organic matter of plant and animal origin.The transportation sector uses bioenergy in the form of biofuels.This article provides an overview of the technical processes for producing liquid biofuels.

Christine Clashausen
Hamburg, Germany

Guest opinion: Energy from biomass - competition for food production?

As oil prices rise inexorably, the appeal of biofuels is growing rapidly and investors all over the world are looking to reap rewards from bioethanol, biodiesel and other alternative fuels. Although a global market for biofuels is only just emerging, there is already an international trade in bioethanol made from Brazilian sugarcane and biodiesel from Indonesian palm oil. Recently, Malaysia and Indonesia even announced their intention to form a palm oil cartel - the «biofuel OPEC» of the future?

Jürgen Maier
Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung / German NGO Forum on Environment & Development - Bonn, Germany

Potential challenges and risks of bioenergy production for developing countries

Following pioneer Brazil the world is seeing a dazzling growth in bioenergy production derived from plants and other biomass. China has an ambitious programme of its own and several African countries have set their sights on a biofuels future.The European Union as a whole today is focused on biofuels.This article summarizes the outcomes of a highlevel global study on the global prospects of biofuels in this century

Project Leader of the Biofuels for Transportation study
Worldwatch Institute - Washington, D.C., USA

Europe - a new market for biofuel exports or vibrant competitor?

Speculations about the size of the European biofuels market are the topic of international conferences and newspaper articles. For a number of developing countries the option to access the European market will determine the dynamics of their own biofuel industry. Experts agree that private and policybased standards for this new market are required in order to ensure sustainable biofuel production.Will developing countries have a chance to access this market?

Dr Elke Foerster

Vera Scholz
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
Eschborn, Gemany

Dr Andre Faaij
Copernicus Insitute - Utrecht University Department of Science, Technology & Society - The Netherlands

Jatropha curcas - an undemanding plant for biodiesel productio - Nut-oil to biodiesel

Jatropha curcas is an undemanding plant which grows in subtropical and tropical regions around the globe, even in the poorest soils - so its production does not compete with food crops.The highly oleaginous nuts can be used for the production of motor and heating fuel.What are the prospects for rural regions if this oil plant, which has only ever grown in the wild, can be brought into cultivation?

Klaus Sieg
agenda - Photographers & Journalists
Hamburg, Germany

Is Brazilian biofuels experience a model for other developing countries?

With growing interest worldwide in the use of liquid biofuels in the transport sector, ethanol and biodiesel are considered the best alternatives. Rising oil prices, environmental concerns and interests in energy security have driven countries to look to biofuels production as a potential solution. Other driving forces are the need to stabilize commodity prices and cut down on agricultural subsidies. This paper describes the Brazilian experience with large scale ethanol production.

Professor Arnaldo Walter
FEM & NIPE - State University of Campinas - Unicamp
DE/FEM/Unicamp - Campinas, Brazil

Young authors on the World Development Report 2008

Agriculture for Development: The World Bank's 2008 World Development Report

The 2008 World Development Report will be on «Agriculture for Development in a Changing World». It argues that agriculture can play five essential functions for development: a source of overall economic growth, an instrument for poverty reduction, a business opportunity, a provider of environmental services, and a tool for food security. Yet, these functions have been under- and mis-used, calling for major redress in the way governments and international donors use agriculture as a key instrument for development.

Derek Byerle
Co-director World Development Report 2008
The World Bank Rural Development Department
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

ProfessorAlain de Janvry
Co-director World Development Report 2008
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, U.S.A.

Does EurepGAP standard marginalize poor farmers? - Evidence from Kenya

One way that many sub-Saharan African countries have attempted to reduce poverty and achieve higher rates of growth is by diversifying their export portfolio away from primary commodities into nontraditional exports with more auspicious market trends.The horticulture export industry has become one of the most dynamic expressions of these agricultural diversification efforts, and fits squarely within donor support of labour-intensive trade.

Solomon Asfaw
Leibniz University Hannover
Faculty of Economics & Management
Hannover, Germany

New approaches for marginal and food-insecure areas: The need for innovative, concerted action

The world population has already surpassed the 6 billion mark.This population, however, is unequally distributed between the so called «developed world» and «the least developed world» - the former with less than a quarter of the world's population but controlling over two thirds of the global economy. Achieving sustainable food security for all by 2020 seems to be an uphill task if no deliberate policy reform policies are put in place.

AtugonzaL. Bilaro
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Morogoro, Tanzania

Recycling human waste for food security

Eighty percent of the world's hungry population and those lacking adequate access to sanitation live in rural areas. Progress at achieving hunger and sanitation targets are lagging behind, more so in rural areas. Conventional measures to improve food security and sanitation have been ineffective as chemical fertilizers and water-based sanitation are not only costly but have adverse environmental effects. Ecological sanitation offers alternative solutions by promoting reuse of human excreta on farmland and in essence does boost linkages between sanitation, agriculture and protection of environment.

Elizabeth Were
Department of Water and Environmental Studies
Linköping University, Sweden

Azolla as a technology to improve the nitrogen use efficiency of lowland rice

The small, floating water fern Azolla, considered a «green gold mine» (Wagner, 1997) offers a new significant contribution to agriculture.When used as a cover on the floodwater surface, this nitrogen-fixing fern can drastically reduce ammonia volatilisation losses in lowland rice fields and save N fertilizer, leading to an increase in grain yield. This Azolla approach is especially attractive in lieu of the high N fertilizer cost and the growing need to improve rice grain yield with minimum adverse environmental effects associated with the intensive use of N fertilizer.

Maria AndreaKern
Professor Paul L.G. Vlek
Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (Center for Development Studies)
Bonn, Germany

Promoting farmer innovation in urban areas - Not in my Backyard?

The rural search for farmer innovators evolves to the urban context. Food insecurity, unemployment, social exclusion, and other societal ills are attacked simultaneously, as creative farmers act  progressively in their urban agricultural pursuits. Urban farmers - and especially local innovators - hold the key to the future of agricultural policy, extending from the rural setting to  include the rapidly expanding urban environment. What is needed now is more support by imaginative bi-lateral agencies and inspired policy-makers: there are signs that it is just beginning to happen.

Rebecca LRutt
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What future for family farming in ACP countries?

Agriculture remains a key sector for most ACP countries, hence has to be placed higher on development agendas. Family farming has proved to be amazingly resistant in hostile conditions, but the sector still urgently requires revitalisation for improved competitiveness. Besides making money family farming contributes to social cohesion in rural areas and to rural-urban dynamics; it helps to provide food security, to create employment, to curb migration and to manage natural resources.

Dr Hansjörg Neun
Director Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)
Wageningen, The Netherlands

Philip Mikos
European Commission
Head of Unit B4, DG Development, EC