Thu, 2015-07-30 (All day)

In Food or Fuel, the second episode of the Future Food series, Kenyan Farmer and campaigner, Moses Shaha is cynical about ‘biofuels’, energy extracted from crop plants. He journeys through southern Kenya where farmers are starting to grow jatropha, to understand if this biofuel crop is a threat to farmland and food security as he fears, or whether growing energy crops can inspire innovation and help the environment long-term.

Note: A series of 6 x 25-min films exploring key questions around global food security

African countries are making some important strides toward a green energy sector. According to the Global Renewables Status 2009, Northern Africa boasts more than 500 MW of installed wind power, while Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania are all planning their first wind farms.

The fireless cooker is a little-used but valuable technology, comprising an insulated basket into which pre-heated food is left to cook in its own heat. During the recent Practical Action smoke alleviation project, the first fireless cooker demonstration used very smart baskets and expensive foodstuffs. The women felt it was 'too expensive' for them.

Access to modern forms of energy continues to elude the majority of households in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and only about 30% of the population has access to electricity while 90% relies on traditional fuels for cooking and heating. The central question addressed in this review is whether or not SSA can provide access to modern energy services for its entire population by 2030.

Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP), a firm planning to build a 300 MW windfarm in Kenya, said on Tuesday it had signed an exclusivity deal with Denmark's Vestas and would be signing a final agreement in October.

LTWP intends to erect at least 353 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850 KW, which will be procured from the world's biggest maker of wind turbines, Vestas Wind Systems A/S.

Halfway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole in an archipelago called Svalbard, three enormous caverns have been blasted 130 m into the permafrost. Called the doomsday vault, it will be a Noah's Ark of food in the event of a global catastrophe. Among the world's 45,000 most important seeds stored in this Svalbard Global Seed Vault, there will be quite a bit of India too. Seeds of sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and six small millets will be transferred by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from its headquarters in Patencheru, near Hyderabad to this location, 1000 km from the Arctic. William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, is at Svalbard for the opening celebrations tomorrow. He will join European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist Wangari Mathai in this global initiative. Norway is footing the $8.9-million bill for building the Arctic archipelago where, ironically, no crops grow. Secured behind an airlock door, the three airtight chambers can house duplicates of samples from the world's more than 1,400 existing seed banks. The Norwegian archipelago was selected for its inhospitable climate as well as its remote location. The seeds of wheat, maize, oats and other crops will be stored at a constant temperature of minus 18 degrees Celsius, and even if the freezer system fails, the permafrost will ensure that temperatures never rise above 3.5 degrees Celsius below freezing. This project is important as some of the world's biodiversity has already disappeared, with gene vaults in both Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed by war and a seed bank in the Philippines annihilated by a typhoon. Seed banks have begun contributing: potato seeds from Peru; 30,000 samples of different beans from Colombia; 47,000 seed samples of wheat and 10,000 types of maize from Mexico and thousands of rice varieties from Philippines. Pakistan and Kenya, both wracked by serious unrest, have sent seed collections too. By the time of the inauguration on Tuesday, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will hold some 250,000 samples, which will remain the property of their countries of origin. According to Dar, ICRISAT's participation adds a special significance to the project

US farmers appeal for commercial hemp farming Two farmers in the US state of North Dakota are appealing against a lower court's decision over commercial hemp farming. The lawsuit aims to end

In a bizarre mishap, about 10,000 wildebeest drowned at a bend in Kenya's Mara river in the last week of September. Conservationists say the deaths, which occurred over several days, have wiped out

Tata Chemicals is getting considerable stick from conservation groups and environmentalists in Africa over its plan to set up a soda ash facility jointly with the Tanzanian government. It is being

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