State of the World 2011 Report : Agricultural Innovation for Food Security and Poverty Reduction in the 21st Century


Dozens of farmers, activists, academics and journalists are clubbing together to produce the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2011 report on “Innovations that Nourish the Planet”. The contributors to the report are collectively challenging the global food community to identify the technical and institutional innovations that are most effective to helping feed sub-Saharan Africa.

The SOW11 report, to be released next January, seeks to highlight innovations that can address the challenges faced around the world: reducing hunger and malnutrition, enhancing environmental and agricultural sustainability, improving the lives of women and girls and be both economically feasible and scalable for farmers and the investment community.  The project will also consider the institutional infrastructures and partnerships necessary to achieve success from these innovations.

The Issues Paper, released prior to the report, provides an overview of the issues and approaches facing the world, to provide a larger international discourse to the authors’ contributions. The report recognises two perspectives on food security :

  • ‘Global Food Security’ which seeks to strengthen food supply chains to secure movement of products at low prices to vast populations of consumers.
  • ‘Food Security for the Poor’ which focuses on strengthening the capacities of smallholder farmers to supply adequate and quality food supplies at a local level.

The paper focuses on three challenges to highlight when exploring possible innovations:

  1. Innovations may be driven by or dependent on the policy discourse on food security within that area.        
  2. The food security agenda needs to be integrated with the agendas for climate action and ecosystem restoration.
  3. Innovations must empower farmers and communities to achieve bottom-up change.

The Worldwatch Institute intends to use the report to uncover the innovations that entrepreneurial farmers use, to promote their value to the global community and help advise foundations and international donors interested in supporting agricultural development. Additionally, by considering innovations and examples from many different perspectives, the SOW11 might help to improve understanding and communication among the different communities of discourse to help achieve food security together.

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