Who we are

Soura and Partners is an African company providing full consultancy and Think Tank services in engineering, rural development, agriculture, management and development of water resources, environmental management, infrastructure, mines, and renewable energy. The company was created by engineer Sourakata Bangoura, a specialist in water resources management, and a former international civil servant of the United Nations System.

Our services and areas of intervention

  • AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT.
  • ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY, LAND, AND WATER.
  • RENEWABLE ENERGIES / INFRASTRUCTURE.
  • SOUTH SOUTH AND TRIANGULAR COOPERATION.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Soura and partners sarl specializes in:
  • Human and institutional capacity building.
  • Development of policies and strategies.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of policies.
  • Hydraulics, water and sanitation.
  • Climate deregulation.
  • Advocacy and resource mobilization.
  • Agro industry.
  • Rural and Environmental economy.
  • Governance and sustained investment in individual skills and capacities.
  • Investment promotion.

Contribution to the agricultural component of the national response plan against the COVID 19 pandemic in Guinea

The Guinean government like others in the world and in particular in Africa has developed a National Response Plan to deal with the current COVID-19 pandemic which continues its destructive and destabilizing momentum on the economic, social, and cultural fabric of all countries affected.

Given its magnitude and speed of spread, the COVID-19 virus has become a global issue, hence the international community's commitment to this battle now looks like a struggle for survival.

Indeed, the livelihoods of populations and in particular populations who rely on agriculture, as a source of nutrition and income have seen their production, availability, and accessibility strongly be compromised. This constitutes a real threat to food and nutritional security, especially for the most vulnerable populations and countries. Faced with this situation, impact mitigation measures, as well as measures to strengthen the resilience of the populations, must be integrated into the national response plans for the pandemic.

State of play / Diagnosis of the situation of the agricultural sector during a pandemic period

The COVD 19 pandemic was officially declared in Guinea in March 2020. This period corresponds to the off-season dominated by intense agricultural activities linked to the production, harvest, and marketing of market garden products (vegetables and fruits), tubers (cassava, sweet potato, potato, etc.), food products (rice, corn, fonio, millet, etc.), food for livestock as well as fishery products.

With the start of the rainy season, fieldwork should resume in all regions of the country, and this in a context marked by the security measures taken by the government to limit the progression of COVID-19 in the country. Among these measures we can cite: The closure of the borders, confinement, the closure of places of worship, the night curfew, the locking, and the limitation of the movements of people from the capital Conakry towards the interior of the country and vice-versa, the ban on gatherings of people, and so on.

These salutary measures certainly have significant consequences in terms of food and nutritional security on the most vulnerable because of the disruption of markets and agricultural value chains, of supply and demand, with the rise in the price of imported foodstuffs such as rice, oil, and sugar.

Moreover, we must expect a fall in prices and a slump in local products (vegetables, fruits, and certain cereals), meat, and fishery products. Consequently, producers' incomes have also seen a decline because of limited access to national and regional markets. 

Are we not on the brink of a food and nutrition crisis with disastrous and unpredictable social and economic consequences if measures to mitigate the impacts and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations are not taken?

In addition to the measures already taken by the government, I suggest the following:

  • Strengthen the social safety nets already planned to support the most vulnerable households through direct aid, subsidies, tax exemption, etc. in order to strengthen the resilience of rural and urban populations, young people, women, the elderly, producers, and other value chain actors.
  • Government purchase of excess agricultural products available in production areas to redistribute it to vulnerable populations at subsidized prices and to set up security food banks. The food security stock can be supplemented by the import of strategic foodstuffs (rice, oilseeds, sugar) for which the available world reserves are currently large with normal prices.
  • Authorize and unlock access to areas of high consumption in order to facilitate the transport of food products from production areas to markets especially in urban areas, while strengthening security protection measures.
  • Strengthen the partnership between the State, microfinance institutions, and banks in order to facilitate access to loans for producers and other actors in the value chains.
  • Provide an emergency subsidy to producers through existing umbrella organizations for the purchase of agricultural inputs for this agricultural season.
  • Rethink our food production system to make it sustainable by investing in capacity building and the development of local production value chains.
  • Investments focused on training, production, harvesting, processing, conservation, and marketing.
  • The development of a national agro-industry is the foundation of a strong, resilient economy that creates wealth and prosperity for all.

NB: This contribution was written by Mr. Bangoura Sourakata, Consultant, Former International Civil Servant, CEO / Soura and Partners, Think thank Africa.

Contact: bangoura@sourapartners.com

Quinoa for Marginal Areas of Africa & Asia - Q-4-MAAS

1. RELEVANCE

1.1 Program background

The strong interrelation between agriculture and climate change is now well accepted as one of the key factors to consider for sustained food production and nutrition security for the fast-growing world population.

Indeed, it is widely acknowledged that the impact of climate change on agriculture may potentially be among the most serious in terms of the number of people affected and the severity of impacts on those least able to cope. According to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), local temperature increases of 2 degrees Celsius or more above late 20th century levels will significantly reduce yields of major crops (including wheat, rice and maize), particularly in low-latitude tropical countries. Recent studies on 10 major crops reported that climate change has already affected the global food production and average reduction in consumable food calories is likely to happen at the rate of ~1% (-3.5 X 1013 kcal/year) (Ray et al., 2019) . The impact on crops from temperature increases will be further exacerbated in some regions by reduced precipitation and greater frequency and severity of droughts. It will also be aggravated by increasing soil and water salinity, resulting from greater evapotranspiration, reduced groundwater recharge and seawater intrusion into aquifers due to the global sea level rise.

On the other hand, agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and thus among primary contributors to climate change. According to the emissions inventories maintained by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agriculture accounts for around 15 percent of global GHG emissions, with its contribution rising up to 35 percent if deforestation for agricultural purposes and other land use changes (e.g. loss of soil organic matter in cropland and pastures) are taken into account. Agriculture also contributes about half of the global emissions of two most potent non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases – nitrous oxide and methane – resulting from various agricultural activities such as fertilizer application, biomass burning, manure management and enteric fermentation in livestock production. Around 80 percent of total emissions from agriculture, including deforestation, are from developing countries.

Climate change mitigation measures that can be undertaken in the agricultural sector include various changes in agricultural land management, such as conservation tillage, agroforestry, and rehabilitation of degraded crop and pasture land, as well as improvements in nutrition and genetics of ruminant livestock, and technologies that can convert emissions from manure and biomass into biogas. Such approaches will also contribute to higher agricultural productivity, improved management of natural resources and production of valuable by-products such as bioenergy.

Mitigation measures must be accompanied by adaptation measures, because the impacts of climate change on agriculture are already evident in many parts of the world and because its trends are expected to continue even if GHG emissions are stabilized at current levels. Adaptation measures can significantly reduce the adverse economic impacts of climate change and may include such measures as change in the genetic architecture of crop plants to make them tolerant to climate induced stresses as well as more water and nutrient efficient; introduction of irrigation in regions presently practicing dryland farming, changes in cultivation and sowing times, crop and livestock insurance, diversification of rural livelihoods and safety nets. Among the most crucial measures is the adoption of climate-smart agriculture (CSA), defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes GHGs (mitigation) where possible, and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.

Non-conventional stress-tolerant crops like quinoa among those attracting much interest in recent years – can play a central role in sustaining agricultural productivity and food security under climate change conditions, particularly in marginal areas where the natural resource base is already poor or has been degraded. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is a domesticated Andean edible seed crop, which can make an important contribution to food security and poverty reduction in developing countries with marginal environments and those adversely affected by climate change impacts, particularly increasing soil and water salinity, and water stress. Quinoa´s great adaptability to climate variability and its efficient use of rainfall makes it an excellent alternative crop in the face of climate change.

In addition to being climate resilient, quinoa contains vitamins, trace elements, all the essential amino acids and no gluten. The nutritional benefits and agricultural versatility of quinoa shows that it is a crop with high potential to contribute to food and nutrition security in low-input environments, particularly in areas where water stress and soil and water salinity make growing other crops to support healthy diets difficult.

In recognition of quinoa’s high nutrient content and adaptability to marginal environments, The United Nations General Assembly had therefore declared 2013 as the "International Year of Quinoa" (IYQ) and designated The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as the Secretariat of the IYQ, as proposed by the government of Bolivia and receiving strong support from many Central and South American countries.

As a follow-up to the recommendations of the IYQ, from 2014 to 2016, FAO partnered with several countries’ Governments to support the introduction of quinoa in Africa as well as in Asia , to determine the best cultivation, production, and utilization techniques suited to the quinoa crop and farming systems involved in order to curb the gap between food and nutrition insecurity.

Identified cultivars of quinoa are facultative halophytes and can be cultivated successfully in poor and saline soils. Among the cereals, barley has highest threshold salinity of 8 dS/m (Maas and Hoffman, 1970), but quinoa is much more tolerant than barley: the most tolerant cultivars of quinoa can give economic yield even at high level of salinity (~ 20 dS/m, which is about 45% of sea water salinity). Quinoa is more water-efficient and drought-tolerant than most major crops, adapting well in environments with annual rainfall as little as 200 mm, relative humidity from 40% to 88%, and temperatures from -4 ℃ to 38 ℃.

The adaptability of quinoa to extreme conditions permits its cultivation in difficult environments where other crops are not usually grown, enabling the restoration of abandoned lands and granting access to available resources which would otherwise be lost. Moreover, quinoa is mainly a self-pollinated crop. Self-pollination reduces the need for farmers to buy seeds for re-sowing each season. If the harvests are managed properly, farmers can rely on seeds produced on-farm to keep genetic purity for several seasons (up to four). Among the many advantages that quinoa offers are also the fact that it sells for a higher price on international markets compared to major staple crops.

As shown in the graph (Figure 1), quinoa production and price on the market have increased over the period (2005-2015) with the peak reached in 2014-2015, following the focus raised by the International Year of Quinoa in 2013. While the production normalized thereafter, the prices followed a downward trend. That is probably due to the increase on demand mainly from rich countries, but also to production increase. However, all indications are that there is an opportunity for a sustainable quinoa production and productivity which can be reached through the improvement of access and consumption by local communities with the development of appropriate value chain and insertion into people diet to ensure their food and nutrition security and alleviate poverty.


Program goals and objectives

The overall goal of the program is to improve and sustain food security, nutrition and incomes through increased production and productivity, local market and export development for farming communities in marginal areas and those being adversely affected by climate change impacts, including water stress and rising soil and water salinity (see Section 3.1 Impact). To this end, the program’s development objective will be to increase the agricultural productivity of farmers in such areas by enabling them to include quinoa in their cropping systems and cultivate it on salt-affected and degraded lands in an environmentally sustainable manner, with direct economic benefits in the form of food and income for their households and fodder for their livestock (see Section 3.2 Outcomes).

Bibliography 

  1. Ray and al, 2019. This is a rate of consumption in more than 50 countries extrapolated from the modeling studies
  2.   Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Zambia; Buthan, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan.
  3. FAOSTAT (2020). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistical Database, Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/faostat/en
PROJECT TITLE: Water management for resilient and sustainable agriculture and in response to COVID-19 in Cape Verde

The archipelago of Cape Verde, made up of 10 islands with a resident population estimated at 556,000 inhabitants in 2020 according to INE projections, is located on the Atlantic Ocean 450 km from the Senegalese-Mauritanian coast. Due to its geographical position in the northernmost part of the Sahelian zone, Cape Verde has a semi-arid climate which is tempered by oceanic influence with low rainfall over the whole country, not exceeding the 300 mm on annual average for 65% of the territory.

The practice of agriculture is dominated by rainfed crops which are characterized by very random productions, a consequence of variations in the rainfall regime. The main crop is corn, most often associated with beans. Sweet potatoes, cassava and potatoes are grown in more temperate and humid highlands.

Corn production in a normal year does not cover more than 10% of national consumption needs. This in comparison to beans, production covering about half of the national consumption needs. 

Irrigated agriculture is mainly developed in the islands of Santo Antão, Santiago and São Nicolau.

Cape Verde has made significant socio-economic progress since gaining independence in 1975, resulting in its classification as a middle-income country, thus setting itself up as a model for so many other countries. However, the country continues to face multiple challenges related to climate change, the intrusion of salt water, persistent droughts and recently the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The latter, with the paralysis of mobility of populations including those in rural areas, puts additional pressure on a country which was already making considerable efforts for its development and requires a new response, both more adapted and more innovative. Indeed, COVID-19 strongly affects pillars of the country's economic sectors, namely tourism, transport, commerce, leisure and sport, civil construction and agriculture. The negative impacts of the pandemic also include: the loss of jobs and income for thousands of workers in the affected sectors, the drastic decline in the financial resources of the State and the slowdown in the economic activity of the country in general. Young people, women, the poor and the poorest are particularly affected and are therefore the most vulnerable, which requires an appropriate strategy of professional reintegration and safeguarding food security while awaiting the recovery of the national economy.

The agricultural sector is especially not spared as the consequences of COVID-19 affect agricultural activities and cause a decrease in food production, threatening the food security of rural households and declining income. It is also to be expected that thousands of young people and women who have lost their jobs in different regions will turn to the agro-pastoral sector as the only alternative to compensate for the loss of household income. This will increase the pressure on a sector already weakened by the effects of climate change.

Faced with this situation, the Cape Verdean government has prepared a response and protection plan for poor families and those in the informal sector. This plan includes several measures including, among others: Ensuring food and nutritional security for families in poverty and extreme poverty. In this context, the following measures are planned: The mobilization and provision of water resources for the agro-pastoral sector and the supply of drinking water to the populations; efficient management of water for irrigation and pastoral hydraulics; the promotion of crops with high added value, etc.

Water would therefore be at the heart of the emergency plan that the Cape Verdean government has prepared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic hence it has been added to the actions already underway. This plan among others provides, measures for the preparation and implementation of actions aimed at the development and management of water for multiple and concomitant uses, including water for efficient irrigation, the supply of drinking water with a strengthening of hygiene and sanitation for all island populations, particularly in rural areas. The revitalization of agriculture focused on access to water will aim to develop conventional and unconventional sources to maximize agricultural yield, create jobs especially for young people and increase the incomes of all actors in the value chain of all agricultural products.