Abstract: This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some important foods from urban eaters back through retailers, processors and transporters to the primary producers. Particular attention is given to the functioning of the market places and how new actors enter into the food system. These reveal that more important to the system than competition are various forms of collaboration. Of particular interest is how a wide range of small-scale and interdependent actors produce the food and get it to urban eaters at a city feeding scale without large vertically- or horizontally-integrated corporate structures. This “symbiotic food system” is an existing alternative to the corporate-dominated agri-business food system; it can and does deliver at scale and in a way that better responds to the needs of people in poverty who are buying food and the interests of food producers. It is not perfect in Dar es Salaam, but the food system is working and is a model that should be built on.
Abstract: Consumers are increasingly interested in the “values” associated with the food they eat and are often willing to pay more for food for which there is a “story” that links farm to fork. The “values” associated with these foods may be that they are locally produced, by small or mid-scale farms, or use production practices that enhance the environment. Wholesale channels that provide marketing options for small and mid-scale producers and support these values are referred to as “values-based supply chains” (VBSCs). Goals of VBSCs are to: (1) provide greater economic stability for producers and others along the supply chain; and (2) provide high quality, regional food to consumers. After a brief overview of VBSCs, we then describe three cases—a specialty food manufacturer, a natural food cooperative and a regional “food hub”—representing different entry points along the food supply chain. We analyze them regarding the common benefits of VBSCs: transparency, fair prices to farmers and ease of purchasing from small and mid-scale producers. We conclude with common themes that emerge for VBSCs of the future and what it will take to strengthen them within regional food systems.
Abstract: Rice is a new crop in Uganda, but has quickly grown in importance. Between 2000 and 2010, total area under rice cultivation in the country grew by 94% from 140,000 ha. Changes in the agro ecosystem due to expansion in rice area may have altered the pest status of rice insect pests. However, far too little attention has been paid to assessing the prevalence and importance of rice insect-pests in Uganda. In this study, we interviewed 240 lowland-rice farming households from eight districts within the north, east and central regions of Uganda about their perceived insect-pest problems and control measures employed, if any. A semi-structured questionnaire was used. The farmers ranked rice insect pests as the most important biotic constraint in rice production, with stem borers and the African rice gall midge (AfRGM) perceived to be the 1st and 2nd most detrimental insect pests, respectively. In spite of this, only 36% of the respondents could positively identify symptoms of AfRGM damage on rice plants, while 64% were familiar with stem borer damage. Over 60% of interviewed farmers expressed confidence in the effectiveness of insecticides for controlling rice insect pests. Cultural control measures were not popular among the farmers.
Abstract: Many microbes attach to surfaces and produce a complex matrix of polymers surrounding their cells, forming a biofilm. In biofilms, microbes are much better protected against hostile environments, impairing the action of most antibiotics. A pressing demand exists for novel therapeutic strategies against biofilm infections, which are a grave health wise on mucosal surfaces and medical devices. From fungi, a large number of secondary metabolites with antimicrobial activity have been characterized. This review discusses natural compounds from fungi which are effective against fungal and bacterial biofilms. Some molecules are able to block the cell communication process essential for biofilm formation (known as quorum sensing), others can penetrate and kill cells within the structure. Several targets have been identified, ranging from the inhibition of quorum sensing receptors and virulence factors, to cell wall synthesizing enzymes. Only one group of these fungal metabolites has been optimized and made it to the market, but more preclinical studies are ongoing to expand the biofilm-fighting arsenal. The broad diversity of bioactive compounds from fungi, their activities against various pathogens, and the multi-target trait of some molecules are promising aspects of fungal secondary metabolites. Future screenings for biofilm-controlling compounds will contribute to several novel clinical applications.
Abstract: Mid-tier supply chains/values-based food supply chains have emerged, in both France and the United States, as viable alternatives for small and mid-sized farms that had previously struggled. These supply chains deliver more products to a larger region than short supply chains such as farm-direct markets and are distinguished from the dominant long supply chains by (1) products that are differentiated from the mainstream based on superior quality, environmental stewardship and social responsibility; and (2) the characteristics of the strategic relationships that link the supply chain participants. On the demand side, regional supermarkets, restaurants, public and private institutional buyers, and individual consumers have demonstrated their eagerness to seek out and pay premiums for these types of high-quality food products that are delivered via trusted and transparent supply chains and characterized by their authentic farming stories. The set of case studies presented in this paper (three from each country) will highlight both the parallels and differences in the development of these innovative supply chains between two countries with quite dissimilar agricultural and food sector traditions and policies.
Abstract: Despite their unrivalled value in livestock systems, certain temperate, pasture, legume species and varieties may contain phytoestrogens which can lower flock/herd fertility. Such compounds, whose chemical structure and biological activity resembles that of estradiol-17α, include the isoflavones that have caused devastating effects (some of them permanent) on the fertility of many Australian sheep flocks. While the persistence of old ‘oestrogenic’ ecotypes of subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum) in pasture remains a risk, genetic improvement has been most effective in lowering isoflavone production in Trifolium species; infertility due to ‘clover disease’ has been greatly reduced. Coumestans, which can be produced in Medicago species responding to stress, remain a potential risk in cultivars susceptible to, for example, foliar diseases. In the field, coumestrol is often not detected in healthy vegetative Medicago species. Wide variation in its concentration is influenced by environmental factors and stage of growth. Biotic stress is the most studied environmental factor and, in lucerne/alfalfa (Medicago sativa), it is the major determinant of oestrogenicity. Concentrations up to 90 mg coumestrol/kg (all concentrations expressed as DM) have been recorded for lucerne damaged by aphids and up to 600 mg/kg for lucerne stressed by foliar disease(s). Other significant coumestans, e.g., 4’-methoxy-coumestrol, are usually present at the same time. Concentrations exceeding 2000 mg coumestrol/kg have been recorded in diseased, annual species of Medicago. Oestrogenicity of some Medicago species is also influenced by maturity and senescence. Studies in Israel, North America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia have confirmed that coumestans in lucerne, represent an acute or sub-acute loss of reproductive efficiency in herbivores, e.g., sheep, cattle, and possibly horses. When sufficiently exposed peri-conception, coumestrol, sometimes present in lucerne, be it as pasture, hay, silage, pellets, meal, and sprouts, is associated with what can be an insidious, asymptomatic, infertility syndrome. Most livestock research with oestrogenic lucerne has been conducted with sheep. Ewes may be at risk when the coumestrol concentration in their diet exceeds 25 mg/kg. In studies where lambing was compared for lucerne and a phytoestrogen-free treatment, the mean decrease in lambs born/ewe was 13%; ewes on lucerne, exhibited a lower frequency of multiple births.