Ajit Maru, GFAR’s Senior Officer, reports on his participation in an interesting workshop in India where GFAR’s and APAARI’s primary objective of transforming agricultural research and innovation systems was illustrated in practice by SDAU, a GFAR and APAARI partner! How to double real incomes of smallholder family farmers and marginal farmers who have less than […]
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Background: The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, Gulu University and Egerton University are implementing an eight year program aimed at transforming African agricultural universities and their graduates to better respond to developmental challenges through enhanced application of science, technology, business and innovation for rural agricultural transformation. This is eight year program (2016-2024) and will be supporting students that are economically disadvantaged, those from post-conflict and conflict affected areas of Africa. Interested applicants will undertake their training at Gulu University and Egerton University.
Eligible Programmes: The RUFORUM Technical Committee (RTC) has identified the following priority programs for the academic year 2017/2018 as eligible for application and to be supported.
1. Bachelor of Science in Agri-Entrepreneurship and Communication
2. Bachelor of Science in Food and Agribusiness
3. Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition
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The understanding of agriculture by many young people or naive person is limited to farming which has to do with cultivating crops and harvesting the cultivated crops. This invariably means that many did not think beyond the primary production end of crops farming.
The secret behind agriculture as a goldmine to tap into remains that agriculture comprises of many enterprises along the value chain which has more return on income based on understanding and management practices put in place.
Agriculture has wide coverage and its beyond farming and even at that, the word farming is not limited to planting of crops but covers also, the rearing of animals in small and large scale. The value chain of agriculture is a holistic chain which must be understood before venturing into agriculture because, one might choose to operate on one enterprise or more than one depending on the understanding of the enterprise and the financial capability.
As said by a keynote speaker during the Poddeum value chain event with the theme “Tapping into the Green Innovation” – Many people have failed to understand the concept of agriculture and the stages of production as it relates to agriculture. Hence, there are three important stages that all farm owners, intending farmers (young and old) and business owners must understand in order to effectively tap into the goldmine of agriculture.
The primary production level is mainly known as the foundation for any agricultural enterprise because of planning and processes involved. Take for example, cultivating cassava or plantain, one needs to acquire a land, do the soil test, cultivate the land using laborer or machines, plant the seeds or seedlings, weed the plants as they grow, water appropriately in case of shortage of rain using traditional or modern irrigating system, harvest the crops at the harvesting season. This is quite similar to the animal husbandry practices except for some differences.
It is striking that most of the existing farmers both old and young fall into this category with few of them giving consideration for secondary and tertiary production. The reason is not far fetch from the truth that most of the dominating farmers at this production level are smallholder farmers who possibly produce for family consumption with little or none to transfer to the other production level.
I have no doubt that the primary production is the bedrock of agriculture but beyond this, what are the opportunities that are in existence in other production level. Obviously, they are numerous but few are outlined here.
In the past, this production level is like a trap for many people who believed that one does not need any value addition to his/her produce before breaking into the market. As the market expands, competition grows and people, especially the young people sees the need to add to value in term of packaging and branding of agricultural produce but few people are taking this advantage. Possibly because of funds, lack of technical know-how or the fear of the unknown outcome.
As an onlooker at the Poddeum Value Chain event, I penned down some highlighted areas where farmers (old and young) can dive into to enjoy the many opportunities that exist in agriculture.
First – Have you ever consider going in production and packaging of Inputs for smallholder farmers. The truth is, most of the farmers in rural areas have little or no access to inputs such as seeds, seedlings, equipment, mechanized machineries etc. Thus, one can tap into the opportunities of sourcing inputs for farmers. Although, finances might be an issue for people who lack of information and know-how but the market is huge (Kindly check AgriHub videos on how to access funds and financing for economic development).
Second – It is no longer a news that there are opportunities in the fruit industries as many young people are moving into this sector with well processed and packed fruit drinks and juice. Hence, one can either engage farmers or third party in supplying oranges or fruits which can be converted into fruit drinks and juice.
Third –The Agro Commodity Supply is one of the fastest growing enterprise where young people can tap into the existing opportunities. Let me cite a practical example of poultry industry. If a poultry farm with 1000 birds wants to feed its birds over three months, just imagine the feed consumption of the birds per day and over the period of three months. Hence, one can think beyond farming to compounding and producing feeds for the birds to feed and for the poultry industry to remain sustainable. This is just an example and there are numerous agro-commodity opportunities to tap.
Fourth – Think beyond the listed points, look at the loads of agricultural produce, critically observe the rural communities and see what gold mine you can tap into and invariably what problem you can solve with your green innovation.
This production level teaches people at the preceding levels to map-out strategies of marketing their products beyond their niche. This level is basically market focus that requires strengthening secondary production in order to operate effectively. Farmers, especially young people must understand that the world is now digital and hence, the need to take advantage of ICT to market agricultural produce beyond their environment.
But there are powerful forces that ensure the successful operations of these three stages and these include governments, the policy makers, agricultural researchers, scientist, development experts, banks etc.
It is noteworthy to recapitalized on the encouraging and inspiring words of the legend of our generation, Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) who has dedicated his life to helping smallholder farmers and agriculture. During the 2016 Agtalks in Rome with four young innovators shaping the agricultural sector, he said and I quote “It is high time the young people critically focus attention and ideas on the value chain, there is so much opportunities to tap into.
On this note, I challenge you to green innovate, look beyond farming, make value addition a top priority, make reasonable income and never hesitate to help communities through your green innovation.
Today, CFS43 endorsed policy recommendations on Connecting Smallholders to Markets which will play a decisive role in ensuring smallholders can continue support to global food production.
CFS43 and its stakeholders emphasized the potential role that smallholders can play in international markets, the financial and capacity building opportunities as well as the challenges in terms of standards to be met and conditions to be faced.
These recommendations draw on the outcomes of the CFS High-Level Forum on Connecting Smallholders to Markets held in June 2015, are based on existing evidence and aim to encourage good policies and practices.
The recommendations are intended to contribute to meeting the mandate of the Committee to strive for a world free from hunger where countries implement the Voluntary Guidelines for the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security. They complement but do not restate recommendations and relevant guidance previously provided in other CFS products.
Smallholders play an essential role in ensuring food security and nutrition today and in the future, including in the increase in food production needed to meet future global demand. Smallholders are a heterogeneous group across countries and regions, supply 70% of overall food production, and yet at the same time many smallholders themselves still suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition.
Smallholders engage in many interrelated markets, but also face challenges in securing market access and eliciting benefits to support healthy livelihoods. Governments have an essential role to play in addressing their specific constraints and maximizing potential for beneficial access to reliable and remunerative markets.
This will support governments’ efforts to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by providing benefits to the food security and nutrition of smallholders, and to achieving food security and nutrition for all. Read more
Follow World Farmer Organisation for updates on the CFS34
For the first time in Africa, policy makers and governments have committed themselves to ensuring that national resources are committed to promoting the growth of agriculture across the continent. But in order for agriculture to promote long-term economic growth in Africa, it needs to become profitable. This simply means more smallholder farmers need to lift themselves out of poverty by embracing farming as a business and also become a part of the decision-making to advance the right policies and secure investments that will ensure a better life for millions of Africa’s farmers and families.
In recent times, stakeholders in Africa’s agricultural sector have laid the foundations for a renaissance in agriculture across the continent; one powered by the enormous progress increasingly evident in farmers who are gaining more options in the seeds they plant, in the fertilisers they use, and in the markets available to purchase their produce. Farmers also have better access to markets, farming has also fast become more commercialised and productive.
“Different innovative financial packages are being developed. Crop varieties are coming up. AGRA has trained more than 300 seed breeders, we have also released almost about 500 varieties of improved crops that farmers can adopt,” said David Ameyaw, the Head of Monitoring and Evaluation for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Although this may only be a glimpse of success, it offers an inspiring new vision of a future Africa growing ever stronger through farming as a business.
A decade of intense domestic attention to farmers and food production has generated “the most successful development effort” in African history, with countries that made the biggest investments rewarded with sizable jumps in both farm productivity and overall economic performance, according to a new report released today by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The report released at the ongoing 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, has shown that ten years on, African countries that embraced agriculture saw food production, Gross Domestic product(GDP) and Nutrition all improve.
Following the release of this report, Ousmane Badiane, Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) stressed the role of farmers in sustaining and tracking the growth of agriculture in Africa “Farmers need to engage more with the government and make sure that the sector is not corrupted but instead improves over time because the initial impact we’ve seen can trace that countries which have embraced agriculture grew twice the rate of others in terms of agriculture,” he said. Badiane also added that when Agriculture grows, it grows for the smallholders and therefore they have a stake in making sure that their governors, the private sector and other stakeholders take CAADP seriously and continue improving.
Farmers need to have a voice in policy planning, designs and executions in order to not only keep track of what’s happening but also pressure the government to invest more and also efficiently. “They have to make sure that programs meet their needs also have to build their own capacity to be part of the dialogue and the policy making process and then ask for the things they want the government to be spending money on,” Badiane explained.
The rich harvest
Africa Agriculture Status Report 2016 finds that “after decades of stagnation, much of Africa has enjoyed sustained agriculture productivity growth since 2005, and as a result, poverty rates have declined in places like Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. The report notes that agriculture has had its biggest impact in countries that moved quickly to embrace the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme or CAADP, which was created in 2003. A key component of CAADP was its call for African governments to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture and to aim for six percent annual growth in the sector.
The article was originally Source from 2016 African Agriculture Status Report, Chapter 2
Originally published by: Felicia Omari Ochelle
Photo credit: Lori Neuhardt
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina Presented with the Fara Leadership Prize
Photo Credit: FARA
African smallholders are the private sector – the largest segment on the continent. By seeing agriculture as business, smallholders as customers and entrepreneurs, and companies as organisations that want smallholders as customers and suppliers, policymakers and investors can leverage the continent’s existing assets to catalyse economic transformation rather than trying to create it from whole cloth.
I was recently appointed president of the African Development Bank. A development bank is not necessarily an intuitive concept; most banks don’t exist to serve explicitly social purposes. But what defines a bank is the way it conducts business, whatever that business may be.
This is why I say I wear my banker hat, and not my development hat, when I speak about agriculture. Agriculture is not a way of life. It is not a social sector or a development activity, despite what people may claim. Agriculture is a business. And the more we treat it as a business, as a way to create wealth, the more it will promote development and improve people’s lives to boot.
One way to treat agriculture like a business is to get the private sector more involved in it. When I was Nigeria’s minister of agriculture, the most important thing I had to understand was that government can’t create agricultural transformation; it can only enable it by making more room for businesses to intervene. We could do this by putting the right policies and regulations in place, by creating strong institutions, and by building sufficient infrastructure. But there is not much else government can do with a reasonable measure of efficiency. Agricultural transformation has to be led by the private sector.
The problem in Nigeria was that the private sector was largely non-existent in agriculture. Take fertiliser and seeds. For 40 years, the federal government had been procuring these inputs and filtering them down through layers and layers of state and local governments until, in theory, they got to the smallholder farmers who needed them. Except the theory rarely played out in practice. Our data indicated that only 11% of the fertiliser procured by the government got to farmers in the end. Since the seeds also rarely got to where they were going, some suppliers started selling the government grain instead – counterfeit seed. In fact, the system existed to serve the rent-seekers attached to it, not the smallholders who were supposed to benefit from it.
With corruption and inefficiency like this, it wasn’t hard to explain why a country with 84 million hectares imported almost all of its food. We decided to try to replace government-run agriculture with a set of small and medium enterprises that ran the gamut from providing inputs to smallholder farmers to transporting, processing, and selling food. These businesses would bypass government bureaucracies and build supply chains directly into rural communities, generating – we hoped – significant ripple effects.
We dismantled the public procurement system in less than 100 days. Over the next two years, the number of seed companies operating in Nigeria increased from just 11 to more than 100. The new fertiliser market mobilised ₦5bn from private investors over the same span. Major players like Syngenta, which had stopped doing business in Nigeria because of the corruption, re-entered the market. We now have more than 5,000 mom-and-pop shops selling these companies’ products – and providing informal agricultural training – directly to farmers.
I don’t mean to make it sound so simple. Merely removing the government from the fertiliser and seed business doesn’t guarantee that the private sector will step into the breach. We needed to demonstrate that there was a market opportunity – that farmers wanted to buy these products. But without a ready supply, it was challenging for farmers to express their demand. It was a classic bootstrapping problem.
On the demand side, the key was making fertiliser and seeds affordable enough for smallholders to try. So we instituted a 50% subsidy, with the idea that farmers would fund more and more of their purchases over time. Subsidies are not new or radical, but we innovated by creating a new and radical delivery mechanism: the eWallet program. We knew that there were 130 or 140 million mobile phones in Nigeria, so phones seemed like the most efficient way to reach millions of farmers. As a side benefit, the eWallet program helped us make contact with farmers, which not only gave us more information about the population we meant to serve but also gave them a means to communicate back to us over time. Yes, eWallet was about delivering fertiliser and seed vouchers, but it was also about building a platform for interacting with millions of once-inaccessible smallholders in the future. Recently, we started using the eWallet platform to deliver other benefits, including vouchers for nutritional supplements.
Some critics said we were crazy for using mobile phones to try to transact business with people who could barely read or write. But we knew that they were already using their phones to arrange for remittances from relatives in the cities, which told us that they trusted mobile communication more than most government institutions. Our priority was to make sure that the mobile phone interface is translated into local languages. Now, eWallet has 15 million subscribers. I am especially proud of the fact that several million of those subscribers are women farmers, who have historically been neglected by agricultural programmes.
The eWallet program helped with demand. If farmers were going to start purchasing fertiliser and seed in large numbers, though, we needed to make sure the fertiliser and seed was available, so it was critical to address the supply side, too. The problem was the lack of capital for agricultural start-ups; the solution we hit upon was easier credit. The ministry of agriculture collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a new initiative to share risk with banks and encourage them to make more loans to agricultural businesses. With a little more assurance, banks have increased their lending to the agriculture sector from roughly ₦10bn annually to in excess of ₦40bn.
I recount this history from Nigeria because it demonstrates four key principles that are guiding me as I take on my new role at the African Development Bank. First, smallholder farmers can be customers. Second, companies are interested in serving them if the conditions are right. Third, mobile phones can facilitate transactions that used to be prohibitively expensive. Fourth, scale. Africa is the fastest-growing continent in the world, with a population that already surpasses one billion. The majority of those people earn their living by farming small plots of land. So any institution that is dedicated to inclusive growth for Africa must stand for reaching all African smallholders.
There have been more successful pilots in agriculture than I can count. Sometimes, I joke that we have too many pilots and not enough planes for them to fly. Beyond pilots, we have the accumulated experiences of more than 50 African countries to draw from. Kenya has taught us how to build a thriving horticulture sector. Ethiopia has taught us how to improve extension. Tanzania succeeded in creating growth corridors. Rwanda figured out land registration and titling. Mozambique and Ghana discovered innovative ways to finance agricultural development. We need to take those lessons and apply them on a grand scale.
The African Development Bank is poised to do this because we have resources and relationships with every country on the continent. Currently, about 8% of the portfolio is in agriculture (I plan to increase that number), but almost everything we do impacts agriculture in one way or another, because we focus on infrastructure investment. Our work to build roads, to provide energy, and to create telecommunications networks will help farmers as much as anyone else as long as we do it properly. We aim to think holistically about our infrastructure investments, so that they form a core of a strategy to link smallholders to the burgeoning formal economy.
The truth, however, is that the African Development Bank is very small relative to the need for investment in African agriculture. Like every business, we need leverage. Building on the lessons I learned in Nigeria, I hope to use our balance sheet to share some of the credit risk of agriculture sector lending across the continent.
Agriculture is seen by banks as a huge risk. It doesn’t have to be. If we use our resources to guarantee some loans and help banks get more comfortable with lending in the sector, then we believe we can unlock the many billions of dollars needed to spur new businesses and help the sector function properly. There is no shortage of entrepreneurs who want to serve farmers’ needs. There is only a shortage of capital. If entrepreneurs have the resources they need, then we can get a lot closer to agriculture as it should be – as a business.
It is easy to forget that the largest private sector group in African agriculture is the smallholder farmers themselves. For decades, farming was viewed as a subsistence activity whose loftiest goal was food security for individual households. But life is about more than having enough food to survive. Farmers want to eat nutritious food that helps them thrive. Beyond food, they want education, health, and housing – comfort and a promising future – and they will invest on those things if given the opportunity.
When I was a boy in a village school, every classroom was full when the harvest was good. But when the rain failed and the crop was meager, families had to pull their children out of school to work. Many classmates who were just as smart as I was had to drop out so their families wouldn’t starve.
Sending children to school when there’s enough food to go around is a business decision, and so, unfortunately, is taking children out of school when their labour is needed to keep the household functioning. If the development sector starts treating agriculture as a business, then the hundreds of millions of small business owners operating farms will have better options from which to choose.
My father, who grew up farming, used to tell me that “agriculture doesn’t pay.” And when farmers have no access to finance, inputs, information, or markets, it doesn’t. But there is so much value inherent in agriculture, and we need to unlock it.
Agriculture can pay. Hundreds of millions of small farmers, thousands of local agribusinesses, and hundreds of seed and food companies will make it pay, as long as the development community and governments are willing to try something new.
And when I say pay, I mean it in the broadest sense of that word. Yes, pay in terms of incomes for smallholders, and yes, pay in terms of profit for the business people engaged in the sector. But also pay in terms of a healthier and happier life for hundreds of millions of Africans, and a stronger Africa.
- AKINWUMI ADESINA
AKINWUMI ADESINA IS PRESIDENT OF THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK. THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
Every women is a star says a Maggi advert. But every woman is a champion in the agricultural sector.
The issue of food security lies strongly in the chain of sustainable production of food and women plays a significant role in attaining the much concerned food security. Let me explain some of the several aspect of the value chain in which women’s involvement is critical.
a. Farm and Field Activities:Counting in figures revealed that millions of women work on the farm as farmers and farmer workers. Regardless of gender disparity, majority of women own their own farm land while few of them work as hired labor and family labor for their husband and relatives. The range of activities women performed on the farm as farmers include production of food crops and cash crops such as vegetables, maize, yam, rice, cowpea, millet, palm oil, cassava etc.; family labor and hired labor to clear and weed farm land, separate stalk, harvest produce and transport to the produce to the market or ban using their carrier basket and bicycle.
b. Processing Unit: Another area where women constitute a powerful force is the processing unit. Harder will one pick a processing unit in the agricultural sector without the dominance of women. Taking a lead from rice processing, cowpea processing, millet processing, cassava processing and palm oil processing, women are major players in this chain. On two different occasion, I had visited the palm oil processing unit in Ijebu-ode and Iju-Itaogbolu in Ondo state where women remove the palm oil fresh fruit, boiled and filter until it is ready for sales. These observation reveals how women took their time to process agriculture produce of their choice. Good example of processing examples also include:
• Cassava processing and utilization- pancake, flour and odorless fufu
• Processing and storage of maize garri, cassava flour, tapioca, maize flour, malted maize drink, corn meal, pap (wet and malted maize flour).
• Processing and utilization of soybean into soymilk, flour paste and soy meal
• Processing and storage of fresh tomatoes into tomato paste.
• Rabbit meat processing and utilization
• Processing and storage of melon
• Cocoyam processing and utilization into cocoyam flour for soup thickening and cocoyam chips etc.
c. Marketing and Trading Unit: Women are good seller as well as good buyer. Backed in the village where women aggregators will walk through the farm to buy-off the harvested cassava and yam produce to sell off to the larger market. Studies have revealed the long reign of women in the marketing aspect of the value chain with their tentacle wide spread to retailing and wholesales of agricultural produce. Having visited some notable markets with special attachment to Mile 12 market and Idi-oro markets in Lagos state, it is no doubt that bulk of women are exploring the potentials in the agricultural sector.
d. Research and Extension Field: Quite a number of women has arouse for the needed transformation in the agricultural sector. Not only do they see themselves as champions but also as change agent who can represent women interest in the agricultural sector and in decision making process as well as policy formulation. NIWARD, AWARD to mention few, of those representing women’s interest in the agricultural sector.
e. Champion in Utilization: Women are of course champions in pricing of agricultural commodities and its utilization. It is often said in pidgin language that “soup wey sweet, nah money kill am”meaning every sweet and delicious meal is a function of money but I want to believe that there a person behind the preparation that actually brought out the aroma. After engaging in production, marketing, processing, women still end up cooking meals for the children and husband. “They (women) play vital roles in the maintenance of our families, investing as much as 90 per cent of their income in the families compared to 35 per cent for men,’’. Indeed, every women deserve applaud for their tireless effort.
Although, women’s role in agriculture cannot be capture at once in a blog post but NIWARD continuous activities explains it more. Hence, there is need for government and other stakeholders to extent their arm of agricultural transformation to women, especially those in the rural area.
This blog post is written to mark a year remembrance of my beloved mother who passed away on Wednesday, 29th April 2015 but spent her last breathe to send my brothers and I to the university with her hard earn income from both agricultural and non-agricultural related work.
Photo Credit:Seun James TaiwoPhotograhy
Agric farm By Abdallah el-Kurebe The Federal government, through the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri has revealed that in its efforts to bridge funding challenges in the sector, it is set to invest $300 million to fund youths in agriculture. He also assured that 20% of an initial grant […]
Back in 2015
As an undergraduate, my practical involvement in agriculture has taught me thatagricultural practice goes beyond the four walls of the classroom.
Combining both the practical experience and theoretical learning is essential to conceive of practical ways to support agriculture. My initiative, called AgrindusNetwork, started in 2015. It is a paradigm shift from the usual- journal publications, articles, books and so on, for the smallholder farmers and youth who are into agriculture and those who desire to venture into agriculture. The initiative involvesa team of innovative young professionals in the field of agricultureworking with smallholder farmers in the South West (Ondo and Ekiti States). Activities undertaken include assessment of current and prospective capacities of farmers; discussion of trends in agriculture including the benefits of adopting best practices to boost their production and enhance their livelihood and lots of ground to be cover in the rural sphere and ultimately, in the agricultural sector
The Agrindus Principles
AgrindusNetwork is all about describing agriculture within the rings of rural farmers/communities and youth involvement in agriculture and agribusinesses. Agriculture has grown from being a mere practice to a business oriented approach. In his statement in 2010, Vaarstsays; a focus on agriculture is generally believed to be a panacea for sustainable development of any nation. Stressing on this fact, farmers in my own description are the backbone of any nation with no exception of Nigeria farmers. Just imagine a farmer cultivating 3-4 different crops (yam, cassava, maize and leafy vegetables) on one hectare of land every planting session and feeding his family member and selling the remnants to earn income as a supplement of his effort. This really depict the potential of farmers in using agriculture as a development tool.
The second principle is deeply rooted in Dr AkinwumiAdesina statement that“saga of increased youth unemployment is particularly traceable to the neglect of agriculture and the mono – cultural dependence on oil. To solve this issue, a solid attention is given to youth to take up the baton of agriculture from our old age people but much is said but little is implemented with less than 5% of the youth venturing into agriculture and agribusinesses. Although, several reasons influencing this include migration of youth (this account for 60%), disincentive to agriculture, orientation of youth to agriculture as dirty, non-profitable ventures etc.
Continuity of the work started
AgrindusNetwork is determine to continue transform the rural agricultural sector from just mere old age engaging in agriculture to what is called an exposure of young people to agriculture as a lucrative business and to flaunt the potentials of these old farmer’s practices to prove what they can do without the improve varieties of seeds, latest technology and improve breeds of livestock and also, what exploit they will perform if they have sufficient funding and the needed infrastructural facilities such as improved varieties, new intervention approaches that is grass-rooted, good road network, good market, new technology and good extension system.
To aid our work and make the voice of farmers count, we have our faces on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
Photo Credit: FAO