Jax.Network has surpassed BSV hashrate

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Jax.Network, a blockchain merge–mined with Bitcoin, has gained around 1,200 Phash/s, which is two times higher than the average hashrate per day of Bitcoin SV (BSV), which has 568.87 Phash/s at the moment of writing. The project is right on track to outcompete Bitcoin Cash (BCH) with its 1.43 Ehash/s.

Jax.Network utilizes a merge–mining algorithm that allows miners to dedicate their computational resources to finding a proof–of–work not only in its own network but also in the Bitcoin network. Thus, by reusing the hashrate of the Bitcoin network, the Jax.Network blockchain leverages enhanced security and puts a check on potential inflation compared to a standalone network.

Such a technical solution offers increased incentives for miners. Apart from extra block rewards and transaction fees, miners, who decide to join JaxPool, an official pool by Jax.Network, can benefit from negative pool fees on BTC mining and up to a 1% bonus on BTC mining activities. It could be fair to assume that this offer helped to attract a lot of attention to the network, resulting in 1,200 Phash/s of combined hashrate in less than two months. At the moment, that's nearly twice more than the BSV network.

"Once miners test our network and understand how much more profitable it can be, we may see a rapid increase in hashrate. I would even assume that we might capture 100% of hashrate of the Bitcoin network," Vinod Manoharan, Founder of Jax.Network, commented.

About JaxPool

JaxPool is a BTC mining subpool under a top–5 mining pool. Its goal is to merge–mine Bitcoin with the Jax.Network blockchain and provide miners with increased profitability.

About Jax.Network

Jax.Network provides the technological infrastructure for a decentralized energy–standard monetary system. The Jax.Network blockchain is anchored to the Bitcoin network and issues two digital currencies JAX and JXN. Jax.Network aims at making these coins a universal standard for the quantification of economic value. Established in 2018, the company united professionals from all over the world to build a blockchain network based on the Proof–of–Work consensus mechanism and pure state sharding as a scaling solution.

ACTIF 2022 opens new trade and investment path between the Caribbean and Africa 

LONDON, Sept. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CS Global Partners, one of the world's leading government advisory agencies, is the official representative of the governments of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis all of whom took part in the first–ever Afri–Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2022), which took place in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 1 to 3 September 2022. The forum opened a new chapter for the relations between the Caribbean and Africa. Held under the theme, 'One People, One Destiny, Uniting and Reimagining Our Future', the forum set in motion various initiatives to further deepen and build new trade and investment relationships between Africa and the Caribbean.

The three–day forum was convened by African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Government of Barbados in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Africa Business Council, the Caribbean Community Secretariat, and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.

The Prime Minister of Barbados – Mia Amor Mottley, expressed pleasure at being selected as the host country for ACTIF 2022. She asserted that Africa and the Caribbean share common roots and need to work and act together in various sectors. Participants committed to building a commercial bridge between the two regions for their prosperous future.

ACTIF 2022 was the first forum of its kind between the two regions and aimed to provide an opportunity for the Caribbean and African business communities, as well as governments, to establish new commercial and strategic relationships with the goal of expanding trade and investment between both the regions. The high–level support between the two regions is intended to boost bilateral cooperation and engagement in trade, investment, technology transfer, innovation, tourism, culture and other sectors. The forum also opened doors to effective business matchmaking between the two regions.

The three–day conference featured various panel discussions on several topics, which were based on business–to–business engagements. The delegates discussed topics such as: developing special economic zones (SEZs) and industrial parks; boosting industrialisation and manufacturing; improving infrastructure, financing and trade logistics, including regional integration, promoting trade and tourism, creating the environment to accelerate private sector investment, improving agricultural productivity and increasing agribusiness opportunities and food security.

Along with this, the forum also witnessed the signing ceremony of two partnership agreements, 10 MoUs and three finance facilities. The star document of the forum, which signified the success of the summit, was the partnership agreement between seven members of the Caribbean Community and Afreximbank to promote and finance South–South trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean. Its ultimate goal is to promote and provide insurance and guarantee services covering commercial and non–commercial risks associated with African and Caribbean exports.

Caribbean countries such as Barbados, the Republic of Suriname, the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines signed the agreement with African Export–Import Bank.

The agreement will help to boost knowledge sharing between Africa and the Caribbean region with technical cooperation, research and several joint events. It also has the potential to accelerate the membership of CARICOM nations in Afreximbank as it will enable the bank to operate in the region and deliver on the new vision.

Over and above this, in order to mobilise trade and investment between the two regions, Afreximbank also signed a US$250 million Trade and Investment Agreement with the Central Bank of Barbados.

Further, Afreximbank outlined their aim to establish the export–import as they signed a MoU with the Caribbean Association of Banks. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of hundreds of delegates comprising African and Caribbean business leaders and government officials discussing how to improve trade and investment between the two regions. It was signed by the Chief Executive Officer, CAB, Wendy Delmar, and the Executive Vice President of Afreximbank, Denys Denya.

To sustain these efforts, Africa–Caribbean Business Council, CARICOM Private Sector Organisation and Afreximbank also signed another MoU. The rest of the memos included Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Barbados Investment and Development Corporation signed by BIDC's Hill and GEPA's Dr Afua Asare, and BIDC, GUTA's Dr Joseph Obeng and BCCI's Anthony Branker, Ghana Union of Trade Association and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry signed by Hill.

Various senior government representatives, business leaders, representatives of business associations, prospective investors and buyers, project promoters, development agencies, multilateral finance institutions, think tanks and research institutions from Africa and the Caribbean were in attendance at ACTIF 2022 with more than 1,500 delegates representing 93 countries (comprising 48 African countries, 12 Caribbean countries, and 33 other countries).

The specific objectives of ACTIF2022 were:

  • Promotion of inter–bank relationships, which includes financial flow and fostering payment.
  • Development of cultural and creative engagements between two regions that can be commercially viable.
  • Creation of a business case for a potential AfriCaribbean Free Trade Area.
  • Creating a suitable platform which helps to disseminate trade and investment information and other products and initiatives of the bank, which will support trade between Africa and Africans in the diaspora.
  • Help in the reduction of the counterpart risk perception among African and Caribbean businesses in dealing among themselves.
  • Promotion of trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean as the forum served as the platform for market identification, building business partnerships, exchange of trade and market information, and co–investments.
  • The forum also facilitates Afri–Caribbean investments by fostering and bolstering cross–regional business and investment linkages.

Nandi Canning nandi.canning@csglobalpartners.com +27828215664

Remedy in Sight to Subdue an Invasive Poisonous Enemy in Kenya’s Drylands

Hannah Sakamo's dead goat is surrounded by Prosopis juliflora plants. The invasive species is a threat to rural livelihoods. Photo: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

Hannah Sakamo’s dead goat is surrounded by Prosopis juliflora plants. The invasive species is a threat to rural livelihoods. Photo: Joyce Chimbi/IPS

By Joyce Chimbi
Nairobi, Sep 16 2022 – Hannah Sakamo is worried. She is about to lose yet another goat in less than a month. A pastoralist in Eldepe village, Marigat Sub-County, Baringo County in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, her household’s lifeline is at stake.

The goat in question, whose days are now numbered, has consumed pods, or the fruits of the invasive species, Prosopis juliflora, locally known as mathenge.

Mathenge is a small, prolific seeding, fast-growing, drought-resistant, evergreen tree of tropical American origin that produces masses of pods containing small tough smooth seeds. It is by far considered to be one of the world’s worst invasive plant species.

“You can tell when a goat is on its death bed by just looking at the mouth. The goat is unable to close its mouth, eat or drink water because the mouth shakes and slides from one side to the other when the goat attempts to eat. At least seven goats die every single day in six surrounding villages because of eating these pods,” Sakamo tells IPS.

The invasive species has increasingly invaded Kenya’s semi-arid and arid ecosystems significantly affecting biological diversity and rural livelihoods.

Fredrick Chege, an independent researcher in invasive wild species, says that of all livestock, goats and cattle are the most vulnerable. He tells IPS that the consumption of pods can cause neurotoxic damage to the central nervous system in mostly cattle and goats.

“Whenever affected goat attempts to chew cud per the course with the digestive process of herbivores, you will see it vomiting a green liquid and the mouth shakes uncontrollably. Digestion can therefore not be completed,” he expounds.

Once these symptoms become visible, the goat will die from starvation in a matter of days. Pastoralists do not consume meat from an animal that is either starving or ill even during a drought. It is considered taboo.

Fish from Baringo County, he says, are not spared “fishermen at Lake Baringo, and Bogoria in the Rif Valley have become accustomed to catching deformed fish. Fish without eyes because the thorns from the Prosopis julliflora species have invaded the lakes poking their eyes.”

According to research by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Prosopis juliflora is one of many invasive species in this East African nation. Research shows there are at least 34 species; 11 arthropods, 10 microorganisms, four vertebrates, and nine plant species including Prosopis julliflora.

Mathenge is extremely difficult to control because it thrives in most soils such as rocky, sandy, poor, and saline soils. It has very deep roots that can reach the sub-surface waters. It is impossible for it to co-exist with other vegetation because it absorbs significant amounts of water,” Chege expounds.

“Even when you cut Prosopis trees above ground, they regenerate very fast, forming thorny thickets that are nearly impossible to penetrate especially along water courses, roadsides, flood plains, and generally on areas that are not inhabited or dormant land.”

Prosopis Juliflora was originally introduced to Kenya’s dry land areas as a solution to deforestation and to provide firewood. It did not take long for the solution to become a problem that has now gotten out of hand by displacing native plants and endangering pastoral economies.

Once the species has taken root, Chege says it is very difficult, labor-intensive, and expensive to successfully remove it because of regeneration from the soil seed bank as well as due to regeneration of trees from cut stems.

Prosopis juliflora seeds also pass easily through the gut of livestock and are deposited in the soil from where they thrive within a short period. Similarly, children enjoy eating pods because they are sugary and sweet and they too, deposit these seeds in the soil because they chew the pods and spit out the seeds.

Government data shows Prosopis juliflora spreads at a rate of between 4 % and 15 % per year. The average cost of clearing a Prosopis thicket three to four years old in a plot of 10X10, Sakamo indicates, falls at somewhere between $10 and $30. An expensive venture because the invasive species can begin to sprout again in a matter of four weeks.

Research shows that so prolific is the species that since the first herbarium specimen-a collection of preserved plant specimens maintained for scientific purposes- was collected in 1977 in Kenya’s coastal region, Prosopis juliflora can now be found- at varying degrees of invasion-in seven of eight regions in this East African nation.

Prosopis juliflora was declared a noxious weed in Kenya in 2008 under the Suppression of Noxious Weeds Act (CAP 325), meaning that it is considered to be harmful to the environment or animals.

Under this Act, Chege says, the Minister of Agriculture can compel land owners to remove any declared noxious weeds such as Prosopis juliflora from their land or have it otherwise removed.

Elvis Kipkoech, a charcoal trader, says that the government allowed the use of Prosopis juliflora for charcoal production as a means to control it through utilization.

This method, he tells IPS, has not worked because unscrupulous charcoal producers mix the invasive species with other tree species which has led the government to place a total ban on charcoal production in Kenya.

Against a backdrop of challenges to bring this invasive enemy under control, a solution is in sight in the form of the National Strategy and Action Plan for Management of Prosopis Juliflora in Kenya.

The strategy aims at effectively managing the invasive species through a combination of biological, chemical, mechanization, and utilization methods since Prosopis can be used not only in charcoal burning but to produce poles for furniture making and fencing.

Meanwhile, Sakamo helplessly watches as the negative effects of notorious mathenge suck the life out of her beloved goat; she urges the government to hasten access to these solutions and is hopeful that this will be her final loss.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Achieving Lifelong Independence for People with Disabilities

Vernae Gallaread speaks with a fellow The Arc San Francisco member. Credit: The Arc San Francisco

Vernae Gallaread speaks with a fellow The Arc San Francisco member. Credit: The Arc San Francisco

By SeiMi Chu
San Francisco, Sep 16 2022 – Vernae Gallaread aspires to teach sign language to people with disabilities and to families who cannot afford sign language lessons for their children.

Gallaread has an intellectual and developmental disability, but that doesn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams. She initially self-taught herself sign language through a book that her mother bought.

At The Arc San Francisco, where she works as a receptionist and a board member, Gallaread develops her sign language skills through a class the organization offers.

As a board member, Gallaread can voice her opinions and discuss the organization’s policies, improvements, and participants’ ideas.

“The Arc San Francisco has impacted my life because I got to show my independence. They taught me to have confidence in myself, be a self-advocate, and speak up for myself,” says Gallaread.

The Arc San Francisco’s mission is to partner with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and transform communities through lifelong learning and self-determination.

The organization offers person-centered services that include workforce development, education, wellness programs, and even art and recreational programs. Workforce is one of its pillars but not the main one.

The Arc San Francisco’s workforce development program is focused on competitive integrated employment – meaning that participants get competitive jobs compensated as they would for a more traditional candidate.

Clifford Phillips received the 2019 James Latin Self-Advocacy Memorial Award from the 23rd Golden Gate Self Advocacy Conference. Credit: The Arc San Francisco

Clifford Phillips received the 2019 James Latin Self-Advocacy Memorial Award from the 23rd Golden Gate Self Advocacy Conference. Credit: The Arc San Francisco

Participants go through a paid internship before deciding what field they are interested in pursuing. By collaborating with a team of specialized job developers, The Arc San Francisco encourages participants to look at their needs—whether they need full-time or part-time employment, their skill sets, and their passions. After making their decision, participants will receive help from a job developer navigating their job search.

“What we have found in the last eight to 10 years is that we have corporations coming to us, looking for talent. We’ve been pounding the pavement looking for jobs for folks. This has been an interesting development. That we’re seen as a talent pipeline, which is wonderful,” Kristen Pederson, Executive Director at The Arc San Francisco, reflecting on its workforce development program.

In addition to its workforce development program, The Arc San Francisco has an adult education program. Depending on the participant’s needs, the organization will provide individualized services for its participants and ensure that they are reaching the goals that they have set for themselves.

Clifford Phillips, a participant at The Arc San Francisco with an intellectual and developmental disability, is a member of the adult education program. He volunteers for the homeless, sings as part of the gospel choir, and shops at Safeway for his fellow participants.

Through the organization, Phillips teaches a black history class, in which Gallaread is also enrolled. He dreams of becoming a teacher who will stand up for everyone and make a change.

“People out there don’t care about us. When people tease us, I will stand up for myself. I want to help people and be a strong African American man who will stand up for everybody,” Phillips says, articulating his passion.

California is the only state that has mandated services for people with developmental disabilities. The Lanterman Developmental and Disabilities Services Act was enacted in 1969. This law states that services and supports are “available to persons with developmental disabilities, including innovative services and supports, the standard agreement contract between the department and regional centers and purchase-of-service policies, and information and training on protecting the rights of consumers at administrative hearings.”

People who have disabilities can go to regional centers in California and qualify for different services that the centers offer, such as counseling, educational training, family support, and many others.

Ramakrishna joined HopeTHRIFT in 2019. Despite his disability in being unable to walk independently, he gained confidence through interacting with strangers while working at the thrift store. Credit: Hope Services

Ramakrishna joined HopeTHRIFT in 2019. Despite his disability in being unable to walk independently, he gained confidence through interacting with strangers while working at the thrift store. Credit: Hope Services

Another organization that aids people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is Hope Services. The organization was founded in 1952 by a group of parents who had children with disabilities. They wanted to have their children at home while also giving them access to education. The organization currently serves over 3,600 individuals every year and is in eight counties in California.

Hope Services has a variety of programs that range from education to housing, but its popular program is the community employment program. The organization initially helps its participants individually by finding out what their interests and skill sets are. Afterward, it finds jobs that fit best with the participants. If extra help is needed, Hope Services has staff that can support participants on the job until they fully understand and learn the tasks and responsibilities.

“Some individuals might need long-term support. For instance, we have a group of four people that work at Home Depot right now. There is a staff that is there all the time with them and goes from one person to another to give them the support that they need throughout the day,” Cathy Bouchard, Specialty Director at Hope Services, explained.

Hope Services founded jobs for over 300 people. One of its successes includes its thrift stores, HopeTHRIFT. People can donate used goods, and HopeTHRIFT will sell those goods to generate revenue for Hope Services. HopeTHRIFT furthers Hope’s mission by providing career opportunities and job experience for its clients.

When asked about her time working at Hope Services, Bouchard described it as the best thing that happened to her. “It really solidified the fact that every individual, regardless of the level of disability, has a contribution to make and a family that loves and cares for them,” Bouchard reflected.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value

The Launch of the Equal Pay Platform of Champions at the UN General Assembly Hall six years ago – on 13 March 2016. Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown

By Belen Sanz and Patricia Cortes
MEXICO CITY, Sep 16 2022 – International Equal Pay Day, observed officially by the United Nations on 16 September, aims to draw attention to the gender pay gap – the difference between what a woman earns compared to a man for work of equal value – and the systemic inequalities it is rooted in.

The UN recognizes that equal pay is essential to build a world of dignity and justice for all. Yet, despite decades of activism and dozens of laws on equal pay, women globally still earn 20 per cent less than men. 1

The gender pay gap is often larger in care work, as it is often invisible, unequally distributed, underpaid or simply unpaid.

In care sectors including domestic work, the gap is often even larger, with care work invisible, unequally distributed, underpaid or simply unpaid.

This year’s 2022 International Equal Pay Day provides the opportunity to highlight that—through the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work and the promotion of decent work for care workers and their representation2 —the care economy can play a catalytic role in these uncertain times, shifting towards a society of care.

It would support societies to overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency and growing conflicts in different parts of the world, including the unprecedented levels of food and energy shortages, increased forced migration, and the spiralling of care needs and demands on women and girls.3

Bakery Grows with New Equipment
Employees prepare bread dough for baking in the Jenishkul Bakery in the village of Kara Koo, Kyrgyzstan. Through a UN Women Program and Kumtor Operating Company grant, implemented jointly, this bakery was able to purchase three ovens, baking sheets and a machine for flattening bread dough – all of which helped to increase its production. Credit: UN Women/David Snyder

The crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic underscored society’s reliance on care work both on the frontlines and at home. For many, poverty have put essential services such as piped water and clean cooking fuel out of reach. Such deprivations propel other gender inequalities as women spend more time on unpaid care and domestic work.4 Yet care work remained the last line of defence in the face of crisis.

The global response to lessen the care burden on women and girls was limited in face of the mounting care needs emanating from the pandemic. The 2022 report of the UNDP-UN Women COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker indicates that almost 60 per cent of countries and territories tracked did not take any measures to address unpaid care during the pandemic.

Among those that did respond, care measures were often out of sync with societal needs in terms of coverage, generosity and duration.5 And care work remained last in line for fair wage compensation. While the social recognition of care sector workers and the care economy may have risen during the pandemic, this recognition has yet to be translated into better wages and working conditions, including increased formalization of the care sector, and securing investments into the care economy.6

The joint WHO-ILO report titled “The gender pay gap in the health and care sector: a global analysis in the time of COVID-19” 7 shows that, despite women comprising 67 per cent of the healthcare workforce globally, the industry continues to sustain a pay gap of 24 per cent between women and men. Measures to promote pay transparency and legal instruments against pay discrimination are needed to begin to close this gap.

Against this background, the Global Alliance for Care was launched as a collective commitment emanating from the Generation Equality Forum in order to mobilize global, multi-stakeholder action towards the Care Economy Action Area of the Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights.

Convened by the Government of Mexico through the National Institute of Women (INMUJERES) and UN Women, the Alliance is a multi-stakeholder platform that promotes strengthening the care economy by deepening and broadening the progress secured with governments adopting regulatory frameworks.

These includes labour market regulations and standards to secure decent care work arrangements; the adoption of comprehensive care systems that will ensure access to care for people who need it and guarantee the rights of the people who provide it; the inclusion of unpaid care work in national statistics and data; and valuing and reducing unpaid care work through scaling investments in social care infrastructure and services.8

With compounded crises on the horizon, multi-stakeholder action is not only critical but the only way forward. In September 2018 ILO, UN Women and OECD launched the Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC) to accelerate the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value. EPIC brings together leaders of the labour market (including governments, trade unions, employers’ organizations, private sector, civil society and academia) to close the gender pay gap by 2030 in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), namely SDG 8.5 and 5.

The coalition aims to achieve these ends through advocacy, knowledge sharing, facilitating cross regional and sectoral research, innovation and learning, and awareness raising.

Joint action and scaled-up investments to secure innovative solutions for the provision of care policies and services is the pathway towards women’s economic autonomy. By promoting this approach, the Care Alliance contributes to positioning the care economy as a fundamental pillar of sustainable and transformative recovery.

Together with its 78 members to date, the Care Alliance will accelerate progress on gender equality and enable care’s catalytic effect on the overall 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is time to care. Women and girls deserve no less!

1 ILO, 2020. Understanding the gender pay gap.
2 UN Women, 2022. A toolkit on paid and unpaid care work: From 3Rs to 5Rs.
3 UN Women, 2022. In Focus: War in Ukraine is a crisis for women and girls. March.
4 UN Women, 2022. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. The Gender Snapshot 2022.
5 UN Women, 2022. Government responses to COVID-19: Lessons on gender equality for a world in turmoil.
6 Ibid. UN Women, 2021.
7 World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization, 2022. The gender pay gap in the health and care sector: a global analysis in the time of COVID-19. Geneva.
8 UN Women, 2022. A toolkit on paid and unpaid care work: From 3Rs to 5Rs.

Belen Sanz is Country Representative UN Women, Mexico; Patricia Cortes is Coordinator Global Alliance for Care, UN Women.

IPS UN Bureau


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Transforming Education, Transforming The World

By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, Sep 16 2022 (IPS-Partners)

Leaders from across the world are uniting at the UN Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit to address a global education crisis that threatens to derail decades of development gains and is depriving millions of girls across the world of their inherent human right to access a quality education.

Yasmine Sherif

As we mobilize financial resources, listen to the world’s youth, identify needs and solutions, and work collectively to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda, we must not forget the 222 million crisis-impacted children and adolescents worldwide. They are left furthest behind and they urgently need our support. Education Cannot Wait’s ground-breaking analysis highlights that about 78 million of these crisis-impacted children are out of school, and close to 120 million are in school but not learning. These shocking figures cannot be allowed to represent the 21st century.

Caught in conflicts and protracted crises, displaced by climate change, and fighting to survive in some of the harshest and most inhumane conditions on the planet, these girls and boys need our urgent and unwavering support.

We need to unite in action to deliver on the commitments that will be made at this seminal Summit to ensure girls and boys in places like Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, the Sahel, Ukraine, Yemen and beyond are guaranteed their human right of a 12-year quality education.

This is our commitment to ensure and improve equitable inclusive education and learning outcomes, to protect and improve external financing, to work together in the spirit of multilateral and organizational cooperation to build crisis-resilient education systems, and to scale and mainstream high-impact and evidence-based interventions into results and sustainable impact.

Education Cannot Wait, as the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, champions these transformational approaches designed to be responsive in the midst of brutal crises by delivering with humanitarian speed and developmental depth to ensure no child or adolescent is left behind.

We urge world leaders to make good on our promises as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals, Charlevoix Declaration, Safe Schools Declaration and other international accords, and support us in realizing 222 Million Dreams for an education, and 222 Million Dreams to use that education to make the world a better one than the world in which they suffer today.

Yasmine Sherif is Director of Education Cannot Wait.

Reimagining Urban Agriculture With Vertical Farming

Time is ripe to re-imagine urban agriculture with vertical farming. The ongoing global food crisis, particularly in urban areas, presents a unique opportunity to grow and strengthen this revolutionary and sustainable food production approach

Vertical farm in Finland. Credit: Creative Commons.

By Esther Ngumbi
URBANA, Illinois, USA, Sep 16 2022 – Cities across the world including New Jersey and  California, a State that is home to a multi-billion dollar agricultural industry, have continued to experience climate change linked extreme events including scorching temperatures, extreme heat events, heavy storms and flooding with devastating impacts on agriculture, food security,  and  food systems.

Challenges in agriculture and food systems, particularly in urban areas and cities around the world, present an opportunity to re-imagine urban agriculture and increase production and processing of food in and around urban areas.  Doing so could feed billions, but it will take investment, collaboration, research, and innovation.

The growth in vertical farming and urban farms and the accompanying research evidence demonstrating that urban farming can be highly productive is a good trend that should have support by governments, private industry, philanthropists, NGO and research institutions and universities

Promisingly, there are several innovative approaches to growing food in urban areas around the world that are already helping. One example is vertical farming that uses abandoned buildings, warehouses, and skyscrapers to grow food. Other approaches include growing food in trendy rooftop gardens.

In New Jersey, Aerofarms, for example, has the capacity to produce approximately 19,000 pounds of vegetables annually. In Chicago, Wilder Fields, a vertical farm has the capacity to produce 25 million heads of fresh lettuce.

These urban growing food approaches that are no longer a futuristic concept  have several advantages to traditional farming.  First, these approaches do not need soil. Instead, they use other growing medium such as hydroponics and other nutrient enhanced growth medium. Second, because production happens indoors with no definitive growing seasons, reliable production can take place all year round. Third, vertical farms use less water and have short production times.

Moreover, fresh food grown in vertical farms travels fewer miles to the grocery stores as opposed to conventional produce that must travel thousands of miles by plane or truck. Because the crops are shielded from several challenges that conventional agriculture faces including extreme weather events, and crop devouring insect pests, vertical agriculture could see increased yields and food production. Vertical farming can indeed meet food production needs in an environmentally sustainable way.

Urban city consumers have also contributed to an increase in vertical farms, as they are increasingly taking into consideration the ecological footprint of the food they are consuming.

Encouragingly, in recent years, there has been a gradual increase in the number of vertical farming enterprises, particularly in Asia and North America. In the US, there are several vertical farms including AeroFarms, Green Spirit Farms, BrightFarms, Gotham Greens, Freight Farms, Chicago, New Jersey, and Detroit.

The growth in vertical farming and urban farms and the accompanying research evidence demonstrating that urban farming can be highly productive is a good trend that should have support by governments, private industry, philanthropists, NGO and research institutions and universities.

To encourage continuous growth in vertical farming and growing food in urban areas, and make urban areas agricultural powerhouses, there needs to be sustained research, innovation, and funding support from diverse funding sources.

The good news is that some of the key things that need to happen to sustain growth of vertical farming are happening.  The United States Department of Agriculture, for example, convened a stakeholder workshop that solely focused on vertical agriculture and sustainable urban ecosystems  and further held small group discussion that focused on many areas that are critical to thriving vertical farms such as plant breeding, engineering and pest management.  Additionally, USDA released a call for funding, to support research on urban agriculture.

At the same time, there has been an increase in peer reviewed articles and research about vertical farming. This includes research addressing its economic feasibility, system designs and optimizations, breeding plant varieties, optimizing nutrients used in vertical farming,  use of robotics technology to automate harvesting , and  effective and best practices for management of pests.

Of course, to upscale vertical farming and to ensure that all cities, and not just a few cities, have at least one vertical farm, it will take much more. Among the things that are needed is the formation of task forces consisting of diverse stakeholders that will be charged with coming up with strategic plans, policies, recommendations, and assessments of what it will take to grow urban farms in cities. In the US, for example, the White House in conjunction with the USDA and all elected city mayors and public and private research universities can join efforts.

Complementing the above efforts is the need to keep building databases of urban agriculture initiatives, encourage more private sector funding, create policies to support the sustainable growth of urban farms including vertical farms, and launch urban agriculture research initiatives that are housed in universities that are located near cities.

Time is ripe to re-imagine urban agriculture with vertical farming. The ongoing global food crisis, particularly in urban areas, presents a unique opportunity to grow and strengthen this revolutionary and sustainable food production approach.

Dr. Esther Ngumbi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and a Senior Food Security Fellow with the Aspen Institute, New Voices.