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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

Cities and agriculture: Developing resilient urban food systems

In response to the challenges set to food systems by ongoing urbanisation processes, this edited volume presents experience and evidence-based ‘state of the art’ chapters on the key dimensions of urban food challenges and types of intra-and peri-urban agriculture. The book provides urban planners, local policy makers and urban development practitioners with an overview of crucial aspects of urban food systems based on an up to date review of research results and practical experiences in both developed and developing countries. By doing so, the international team of authors, of which many are closely connected to the RUAF network, provides a balanced textbook for students of sustainable agriculture, food and urban studies, as well as a solid basis for well-informed policy making, planning and implementation regarding the development of sustainable, resilient and just urban food systems. The book covers a wide range of relevant topics, amongst others, urban food systems and policies, multi stakeholder planning, agriculture in urban design and spatial planning, short chain food marketing, productive and safe use of organic wastes and wastewater, urban agriculture and climate change, gender, financing urban agriculture and the role of urban agriculture in disasters and emergencies.

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Food in an urbanised world - The role of city region food systems in resilience and sustainable development

This report, commissioned by the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, seeks to provide an overview and synthesis of the current state of knowledge on city region food systems. The concept of ‘city region food systems’ has come up strongly in international policy debates in recent years as amongst others highlighted by a Global Call for Action on City Region Food Systems that was adopted by an international coalition of NGOs and government organisations at the 7th World Urban Forum in Medellín in 2014 (www.cityregionfoodsystems.org). The report aims to clarify the city region food systems concept and analyse the proposed benefits of pursuing a city-regional approach to food policy and planning. It provides recommended actions that would help stakeholders ensure improvements to food systems outcomes at a city-region level and as a means of implementing more integrated approaches to improving rural–urban linkages.

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The modern peasant: adventures in city food

Alarmed by the fact that city dwellers are ever more cut off from the countryside and that the hidden costs of the ‘supermarket culture’ are enormous, this book sought to find out if some kind of peasant-like self-sufficiency could be achieved for city dwellers. The author was quickly inspired by her discovery that London is teeming with so called modern peasants. Vivid stories of visits to producers are complemented by tips for baking, pickling, fermenting and foraging. These stories and a deep knowledge of cookery are combined to celebrate the city as a centre of food production. And the experiences from London show that taking the best from past and present traditions is exhilarating.

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Food for city building: A field guide for planners actionists and entrepreneurs

This book is a reflection of Wayne Roberts’ ten year experience as manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council, a pioneering group and the first food policy council to be officially embedded within a major city government. This book is clearly about putting people and place first in food policy advocacy and makes an impressive attempt at, “connecting many of the dots linking food... to a hometown place... to neighbourhood agencies... to community-based businesses ... to farmers... to workers... to the environment... to local governments... to residents, citizens, and activists... to democracy and empowerment... to physical and mental health.... to spirituality.” The book’s versatility is reflected in the different groups of readers it targets – including entrepreneurs, innovators and activists amongst city officials exploring food dimensions of civic development and the youth who are energising the food movement and will be the next generation of food professionals and leaders.

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Urbanisation, rural–urban migration and poverty

In an increasingly urbanised world, substantial transformations in population distribution seem inevitable. In countries where most of the population is rural, agricultural production systems are evermore based on large-scale, mechanised farming. And often inadequate access to resources puts a strain on the capacity of smallholders to adapt to droughts and climate variability. Rural–urban migration is the result of these transformations, and a critical component of urbanisation. This working paper aims to better understand migration and urban poverty and to challenge the assumption that urban poverty is a result of migration. The authors emphasise the role of cities and municipal governments in addressing the needs of their residents and stress that the lack of information on residents living in low-income and informal settlements is a reason why governments fail to reduce urban poverty.

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Sustaining local food webs

This report concludes that “local food webs are a cornerstone for the model of food provision that should be prioritised in order to secure our future food.” The authors’ set out to convince those who influence agricultural, food and nutrition polices of this statement. Case studies exploring African and the European contexts support the claim that local food webs are efficient when compared with long chains that deliver the commodities produced by industrial agriculture to distant consumers. Each case study raises different arguments for more protection, investment and support for local food webs. For instance, in Cameroon, local food production and exchange is shown to be a lifeline during failings of the formal sector. In Kenya local food webs are shown to provide food for the majority even when small scale producers are pushed to the margins. And from England, the mapping of local food webs is shown to be a powerful tool in the campaign against agribusiness. Similarities in terms of threats to the local food webs in each case study are highlighted and the mutual impacts between agricultural sectors in Europe and Africa analysed. Overall, the book provides a compelling case for sustainable food systems that help realise food sovereignty.

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Caring for Our Transboundary Landscape: Illustrations from the Kailash Sacred Landscape

This collection of simple drawings is designed to raise the awareness of rural mountain people and help them better understand the various changes and opportunities in their landscape. Rural mountain communities are highly vulnerable to the changes occurring in their landscape due to climatic and other factors (including demographic changes and migration). The first part looks at the changes and challenges in the landscape, such as impacts of climate change and unsustainable practices. The second part introduces solutions for better management and use of natural resources and introduces the concept and importance of collaborating across borders in natural resource management and conservation. The publication was created within the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation Initiative (KSLCI) and is intended in particular for communities living within the Kailash Sacred Landscape. However, its messages could be useful to mountain communities in a much wider context.

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Towards a resilient future: experiences with community managed disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation

This publication is based on a selection of the many stories and experiences from Cordaid partners in community managed disaster risk reduction (CMDRR) and climate change adaptation and includes details of the global declaration on CMDRR and climate change, signed by more than 80 partners and participants in Lilongwe, Malawi. The declaration and the stories provide insights into the CMDRR process, achievements with CMDRR so far and set out its potential. The stories highlight the good practices that have been developed, identify the challenges in further developing CMDRR and future opportunities to do so.

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Agro-ecology: building a new food system for Europe

There is increasing evidence which shows that "business-as-usual" for the food system is no longer an option. Agro-technologies, such as high-yielding crop varieties, agrochemical inputs and mechanization have mainly benefited large land owners and transnational corporations, at the expense of small businesses, the most vulnerable and the environment. Unless challenged, the already-significant ecological footprint of industrial agriculture is expected to increase as a result of future global environmental change.

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What do we really know about the number and distribution of farms and family farms worldwide?

Background paper for The State of Food and Agriculture 2014. ESA Working Paper No. 14-02. Rome, FAO. / The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and level of income. It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the number of farms by size as well as the distibution of farmland by farm size.

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Why a "Soils Otherwise" conference?

Reflections on why a "Soils Otherwise" (or in Dutch: 'Bodem Anders') conference by agronomist Willem Stoop.

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No ordinary matter: Conserving, restoring and rnhancing Africa’s soils - A Montpellier Panel Report, December 2014

Soil is a resource that has for too long been neglected in the policy realm. This report is a strong plea to donors and governments, to adopt a long-term vision and backed by adequate financial support, to help farmers nurture, conserve and restore their soils. This book looks at the extent of soil degradation in Africa and the role of traditional and ecological approaches to building up soil organic matter and biota. Climate change, and the need for both mitigation and adaptation, is highlighted as an urgent reason why agricultural management must aim to build soil carbon and resilient systems. Recommendations range from the grassroots, building on existing local and traditional knowledge, to higher level policy decisions such as attributing values to land degradation, and securing land rights that create incentives to invest in the soil.

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Permaculture research: Soil test handbook

Permaculture seeks to create systems where natural soil fertility is fostered and describes a healthy soil as having three main characteristics; rich and diverse biological life, good structure and available nutrients. This handbook outlines how to conduct ‘farmer-friendly’ soil tests requiring no special training or equipment, and focuses on the first two characteristics of a healthy soil. The tests cover a range of soil properties including, drainage, earthworm population, pH, soil texture, topsoil depth and soil compaction. Instructions for carrying out the tests are clear and easy to follow. It is accompanied by the ‘soil advice handbook’ which helps to interpret test results. This is a practical resource for farmers who want to learn more about soil testing, and the Permaculture Association welcomes feedback from farmers around the world so that they can keep improving them.

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Global dialogue on family farming, Rome, 27-28 October, 2014

This report, drafted by ILEIA, highlights the most important contributions made during the Global Dialogue on Family Farming in October 2014. In the International Year of Family Farming, a policy dialogue process was organised, including six Regional Dialogues on Family Farming and civil society consultations at the FAO Regional Conferences - all of which focused attention on the challenges facing family farming and the actions that need to be taken to foster their role as key drivers of food production and stewards of natural resources, territories and landscapes in all regions of the world. This year-long process culminated with the Global Dialogue on Family Farming, which proved to be a phenomenal representation of the energy and action that characterised the entire Year. The report is co-published with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the implementing agency for the IYFF. It follows on from 'Towards Stronger Family Farms. Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'.

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Final report for the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition (18 and 19 September 2014, Rome, Italy)

FAO held the International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition in Rome on 18 and 19 September 2014 and a side-event on the Symposium during COAG on 30 September 2014. This report provides an overview of the Symposium and the COAG side-event.

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Results-Based Management for sustaining rural poverty reduction: Lessons from IFAD 7th regional forum

Results-Based Management is no longer just an option. It actually is opting for performance. Projects must produce the best results possible through capacity-building and existing instruments, based on best management practices that have been proven to be effective. This special edition of AGRIDAPE, published by IED Afrique, falls within this context. The goal is to help document and share the forum’s main results and lessons on a larger scale.

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Soil Atlas: Facts and figures about earth, land and fields

Soils are the basis of our food production and much more, and this book explains much and in an easily readable way. Short pieces of text and infographics make the messages clear. For example, in explaining the global picture of the rate at which we are losing soil to erosion, contamination and declining soil fertility. But this book also covers the role of soils in land policy, tenure, mining, urbanisation, ‘green’ cities and traditional systems. Although there is an emphasis on where we are going wrong, the Soil Atlas does also showcase positive experiences. From innovative grazing techniques keeping pastoralists on their land, cooperation between farmers to stop soil erosion, and to urban design that includes food production – the message is clear. Whether a farmer or not, soils concern us all, and soil conservation deserves global attention.

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Handbook on capitalisation of experiences 2012: Knowledge management and adaptation to climate change

This manual, developed by IED Afrique, provides guidance on how to draw lessons from farmers’ experiences in climate change adaptation. The enormous challenge of adaptating to climate change requires the systematisation and sharing of these lessons, so that new and ongoing initiatives can be improved. The manual builds on Learning from experience. It offers a refresher on key concepts in systematisation, and outlines practical steps and tools.

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Manuel sur la capitalisation des experiences 2012: Gestion des connaissances

French version of the manual: Handbook on capitalisation of experiences 2012: Knowledge management and adaptation to climate change

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Spécialisation ou diversification? Perspectives divergentes sur la riziculture irriguée par trois grands barrages dans le Sahel

French version of the report: Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel

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