Forests do not only provide a habitat for wild animals or exist to scare us in horror movies, they do more for us than we realize. One of the most widely accepted definitions of a forest is by the FAO. The organization explains forests as land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10%.
Forests cover about 31% of the world’s land surface (which is just over 4 billion hectares where one hectare equals 2.47 acres). A better way to visualize this is by telling you that one hectare is about the size of an European football field. Therefore, 4 billion hectares is a lot of football fields.
Now that we know just how much of the earth is covered by forests, here are some more facts about them you probably didn’t know:
1. Forests Are Big Employers Of Labor: The United Nations estimates that about 10 million people are directly employed in forest management and conservation. The World Bank also states that the formal timber sector employs more than 13 million people.
These records cover only the formal sector. What about the undocumented forest workers? Forest business is largely informal and therefore many contributions and workers are largely unreported and the figures could amount to a lot more than we imagine.
Forests creates jobs which ranges from wood production to transportation, charcoal production and so much more.
2. They Serve As Habitat To Many: Forests serve as habitat to many animals such as deer, tigers, bears, and other wildlife. They also house plants and trees like oak, magnolia, moss, and many others. However, you would be surprised to find out that many people live in forests, 300 million people to be exact.
Therefore, forest destruction not only ruins habitats for plants and animals, but also renders some humans homeless and takes away their source of survival.
3. Forests Affect Our Everyday Lives: Almost everything you’ve done today can be traced back to forests. If you’ve eaten today or taken the bus, or even written something down on a piece of paper, then forests have paid an important role in your activities.
The manufacturing of products such as paper, fruits, wood, and even ingredients for detergents, medicine, and cosmetics, can be trailed back to the forest.
The importance of forests, especially in our daily lives, cannot be overemphasized.
4. They Give Us Oxygen: Did you know that one tree provides about 260 pounds of oxygen yearly? That means two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four. How much more a forest?
Forests make oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen. Without this process, we would not survive. Forests also clean up the air by absorbing harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide to release oxygen.
Apart from making the air clean for us, they also cool the air. The evaporation from a single tree can create the cooling effect of 10 room size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. If one tree can do that, what can a whole forest do?
5. Forests Attract Tourism: Nature is beautiful, and a lot of people are willing to pay good money to experience nature. Forests can be a good way to drive agritourism and enhance the economy. When tourists pay to see forests and their reserves, this contributes to the economy of the community where the forest is found.
Also, the visual aesthetics and cooling effects they have can boost creativity and serve as a source of inspiration.
Are we missing an important point in this post? Let us know in the comment section below.
Important Food Habits You Should Adapt This Year
It’s a new year and while you’re writing up your new year resolutions, we hope “contributing to food security” is one of them. If it isn’t, there’s still time to add it.
One of the biggest threat to food security is Food loss and waste (FLW). According to the FAO, approximately one-third of all produced foods (1.3 billion tons of edible food) for human consumption is lost and wasted every year across the entire supply chain. When food is wasted, the resources such as water and nutrients which were used to produce that food, are also wasted.
With numbers that high, it might seem like adapting the food habits which will be discussed later in this post will not solve affect anything. However, if we all make our own little efforts from our various homes, the results might surprise us.
Shop Smart: Have you ever found an old banana you bought rotting out in the fridge because you bought it and forgot about it? Probably.
Shopping is not easy. Sometimes we end up buying and forgetting about the existence of what we bought, sometimes we end up buying more than we need, or sometimes we don’t buy enough. To be a smarter shopper, it is important to not only make a shopping list, but to stick to it. This will help reduce impulse buying which could lead to food waste.
Shopping smart also means knowledge of that buying in bulk may not always be smart. You might be certain of what you will eat next Monday but by next Monday, someone takes you out for a meal and what happens to the food produce you bought ahead of Monday? It could go to waste.
The reality of life is that plans change and purchasing food items against the unforeseeable future could lead to waste. You could easily see an advert for a nice meal which could cause you to change your plans to cook dinner. What happens to the food produce you had already bought? It could go to waste.
A study conducted by Victoria Ligon of the University of Arizona to understand how people acquire, prepare, consume, and discard food. She tracked shopping and food preparation patterns and her results confirmed that bulk-buying too often leads to food waste.
“To me, the big-picture finding is that while this meal planning helps us psychologically feel less stressed about all of the home tasks we have to manage, it is not easy to execute. In the end, it results in inefficiency and waste because food is perishable.”
- Victoria Ligon.
She also explained that the rapid increase of fast food has created more food options. This has caused people to change meal plans without notice. This could cause the previous meal plan to go to waste if products had already been purchased for it.
These are some key points you should take into consideration when shopping so you can make smarter decisions.
Pay Attention to Expiry Dates: You might feel justified throwing out food because it is expired. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t have to wait till the food expires before you take action.
Another reason why buying in bulk should be discouraged is because we are humans and sometimes, we forget. Purchasing canned food in bulk can also lead to expiration and eventual wastage.
One of the ways of curbing this is by creating a “last in, first out” system in your refrigerator. This means that the last thing you put in should be the first thing out. That way, nothing overstays its welcome in the fridge. You should also use this system for expiry dates. The foods closest to their expiration should be used up before the ones whose expiration is still far off.
Which of the above listed habit will you be adapting? Let’s know in the comments section below.
Elnefeidi Group Secures African Development Bank $60 million loan To Boost Agriculture
The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $60m loan to Elnefeidi Group Holding Company to help finance its long-term agriculture and food expansion programme.
The planned expansion includes increasing agricultural productivity, enhancing related infrastructure, food processing and distribution. It will directly contribute in developing Sudan’s livestock value chain (poultry and beef) by increasing the country’s export capacity for value-added livestock products. This will help reduce the economic value that the country loses by exporting millions of live animals each year.
“Agricultural transformation is one of the Bank’s top five strategic priorities and the Bank is delighted to have identified a viable private sector actor like Elnefeidi Group which has a proven track record and through which we can channel the Bank’s support” said Atsuko Toda, African Development Bank Director for Agriculture Finance and Rural Development.
The loan is expected to contribute significantly to food security, food import substitution, and household incomes by creating jobs and increasing local productivity and distribution by over half a million metric tonnes each year across several countries. Elnefeidi Group employs over 1,842 people and has distribution networks covering North, East and Central Africa.
“This approval to Elnefeidi Group is another demonstration of the African Development Bank’s continued support and strong commitment to enable, deepen, and empower the private sector in Sudan, as an engine of economic and inclusive growth,” said Raubil Durowoju, the Bank’s Country Manager for Sudan. “This is also consistent with Sudan’s National Agriculture Investment Plan, which seeks to achieve agriculture-linked growth, largely through private investments.”
Sudan is widely considered to hold immense food production potential. Sixty-three percent of its land area is classified as agricultural, and its competitive advantages include: a promising demographic profile, projected growth in household food demand, and proximity to a range of markets in Central Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, many of them food-deficit countries.
Letter to a Farmer
Wheat Farmer (shutterstock)
You are my hero. You might think your life is mundane, perhaps even redundant, however for millions like me on the outside looking in, you are extraordinary.
For many of us who are not farmers, we drive past your swaying fields and hum about spacious skies and kernels of corn.
You till the soil from morning till night. Waking up every day to ensure the labour of your hands is coming to fruition. You are the epitome of hard work and determination and although that may sound cliche, it is true.
Farmer, you are indeed wonderful. You plant seeds in the soil and watch them grow. You help to build nations and communities both at home and abroad.
Although policies remain in place to stifle your trade or limit the way you import and export goods, you stay committed to your trade and it’s robust returns.
For the days, months and years that you toil, for the food you give and for the way you inspire millions around the world, I say thank you.
Please don’t let anyone tell your story, especially those who have no idea what it’s like to produce their best work.
If many of us could work from dusk to dawn, then receive one-fourth of the money that the crop was worth only a year ago, we would not last in our professions.
I doubt most of us would stay in our trades if we received one-fourth pay for our best efforts.
Thank you for your dedication and contribution to society. Thank you for making the world a better place. Your commitment needs to be emulated by many.
Hopefully, you would pass the torch of your excellence to the younger generation and give them a chance to fill the fields with robust crops and produce.
Your work reminds us that farming is indeed the essential work that needs to be done.
A loyal consumer.