Stories tagged: G8

Reflections on the G8: Taking the Initiative on Commitments to Tackle Nutrition

Over the last few weeks, Farming First has been following G8 discussions, providing updates across our blog and Twitter feed.  The landmark “Hunger Summit” saw world leaders pledge $4bn to combat child malnutrition.

This pledge was one of – if not the – greatest achievements of this year’s G8 summit, whose legacy has been to firmly place tackling levels of malnutrition on the global political agenda. Whilst addressing hunger has long been the key focus of issues surrounding food security, tackling the “hidden hunger” of malnutrition has been increasingly recognised as central to the wider food security challenge.

The UN estimates that there are 870 million undernourished people in the world, meaning that one in eight people do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Malnutrition causes stunting in children, affecting their physical and mental development.

On top of this, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) recently discovered that poor nutrition correlates to a loss of up to 10% of GDP for developing economies in Asia and Africa. Evidently, malnutrition has a significant impact on the growth of developing countries both in terms of the health of the population and the ability for economies to expand.

Moving forward, it will be the role of people and organisations at all levels – from governments, NGOs, business and community leaders – to build on discussions around hunger and malnutrition at the G8 to overcome of the world’s most harrowing problems.

Farming First has been collecting the views from a range of organisations on the role that agriculture will play in addressing hunger and malnutrition. Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director at Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) spoke to Farming First TV about the growing acknowledgment of nutrition in development discussions:

Finally people are starting to pay attention [to the issue of nutrition]…now we’re not just talking about food security, we’re talking about food and nutrition security. This shifts the discussion, where we’re not just talking about how do you grow more, and grow it sustainably, but how do you make sure it’s addressing some of the key nutritional challenges like hunger, micro-nutrient deficiency, stunting, as well as being over-weight and obesity.”

Agriculture has a key role to play in the fight against malnutrition and innovative solutions are already in action around the world to help find solutions. Last week, Farming First launched our unique “Food and Nutrition Security Interactive Map” which highlights the work of leading global and regional initiatives in action. All over the world, agriculture is already leading the way in facing this great challenge.

Farming First member IFA recently launched an infographic that illustrates how fertilising crops can improve human health. The infographic highlights that less than 20% of agricultural production growth by 2050 will come from land expansion and that 55-85% of soils are deficient in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, demonstrating that fertilisers are essential for more food, better nutrition and healthier lives.

Biofortification is also an essential part of the solution to ending the worldwide devastation caused by malnutrition. Ensuring that staple crops are bred to increase their nutritional value not only provides the world with more nutritious food but it also eliminates the fortification process further along the supply chain, so that smallholders have access to safe and healthy food straight from the farm.

Returning farmers to the centre of decision-making will be imperative if we are to effectively build on this commitment and create effective collaborations. In building on these important steps in tackling food and nutrition security, Farming First urges policy makers to:

  1. promote a clear joint focus on a common goal for food security at the global level through policy and operational coherence
  2. encourage increased transparency on how much of pledged funding has been committed and to what types of programmes
  3. engage a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that efforts are coordinated, clear, collaborative and ultimately successful.

To read more about our work surrounding Food and Nutrition security, please click here


Food Security Takes Centre Stage at G8 Summit as New Alliance is Announced

The G8 Summit at Camp David last weekend marked a new stage in the mission towards a food secure future, with the announcement of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The new initiative announced by the G8 in partnership with African leaders aims to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through significantly increased investment from the private sector in African agriculture; as well as through effective country plans and food security policies.

At the G8 summit in L’Aquila in 2009, over $20 billion was pledged to bolster food security; yet only 22% of these donations have been disbursed. The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition promises to build on and help realise the promise of L’Aquila by fulfilling outstanding financial pledges, providing bilateral and multilateral assistance aligned to country plans with increased efficiency.

A statement from the White House said:

In partnership with Africa’s people and leaders, our goals are to increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities. We recognize and will act upon the critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women, in transforming agriculture and building thriving economies.

At the African Union assembly in 2003, the African-led Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme was put in place to reform African agriculture, with the aim of an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in agriculture by 2015. The New Alliance will work in partnership with this programme, providing predictable funding commitments, specific policy actions, and statements of intent from the private sector.

In particular, the New Alliance pledges to:

– Support the financing of infrastructure projects

– Secure commitments of $1.2 billion over three years from existing and new donors

– Launch a Technology Platform that will assess the availability of improved technologies for food commodities and create a roadmap to accelerate their adoption

– Launch the Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership, with AGRA to promote the commercialization, distribution and adoption of key technologies improved seed varieties

– Share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture

– Support the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) in identifying key risks to food and nutrition security and agricultural development and recommending options for managing these risks

– Accelerate the availability and adoption of agricultural index insurance, in order to mitigate risks to farmers

The topic of nutrition, particularly in the first 1,000 days of children’s lives, also featured prominently in the announcement, with G8 leaders promising to support the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, as well as the accelerated release, adoption and consumption of bio-fortified crop varieties to improve the nutritional quality of food in Africa.

Most significantly during the conference, US President Barack Obama announced the signing of Letters of Intent from over 45 local and multinational companies, such as Yara and Syngenta to invest over $3 billion across the agricultural value chain. In his speech President Obama said:

We’re going to hold ourselves accountable. We’ll measure results. And we’ll stay focused on clear goals: boosting farmers’ incomes and over the next decade helping 50 million men, women and children lift themselves out of poverty.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) welcomed the initiative, particularly celebrating the strong ownership element by African countries themselves. He said:

The unveiling of this initiative today sends a strong signal that the world’s largest economies are ready to extend and deepen their commitments and deliver on a new level of support for eradicating hunger, and doing so in ways that are sustainable for our planet and our societies – including rural societies in developing countries.

Other organisations have had a more critical reception of the announcement. Oxfam’s Lamine Ndiaye commented:

This new alliance – is a nice complement at best, a deflection at worst. The role of the private sector is important, but they will not be able to make up for the G8’s broken promises. Smallholder farmers need the freedom to pursue their own growing strategies, not take overly prescriptive tips on farming from G8 leaders, or one size fits all technologies from far away CEOs. Having been developed without African civil society, it’s unclear what role they will play in its execution

To see the attention of the world’s leaders focussed so firmly on food security and nutrition and stimulating worldwide discussion is a welcome step forward. The impressive promises made by the G8 could pave the way towards improved livelihoods for the world’s poorest – provided that they maintain this momentum to turn their pledges into progress.

Farming First Calls for G8 Leaders to be Accountable for Food and Nutrition Commitments

As world leaders kick off a two-day gathering for the G8 Summit in Camp David today, food security and nutrition is high on the agenda. Today Barack Obama, G8 and African leaders will meet at a symposium to discuss new G8 efforts on food security and the opportunity and benefits of private sector investment in African agriculture and food sectors.

Since the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) in 2009, where leaders pledged to partner with global governments to improve agriculture and bolster food security through $22 billion worth of new investments, donors disbursed only 22% of their pledges without reporting how they would honour the remaining funds.

Farming First welcomes the planned G8 food security agenda, but calls for measurable, coherent systems to be put in place by governments to track the progress of new commitments made, in light of neglected promises from L’Aquila, and ensure their actions build on existing initiatives.

Robynne Anderson from the World Farmer’s Organisation comments:

G8 leaders should take action and build on the food security pledges they made in L’Aquila. Renewed funding should be coordinated, transparent and farmer-centred as well as being inclusive and broad-based. It should recognise agriculture’s role in building a global green economy, reducing poverty, stimulating growth, and ensuring food and nutrition security.

To implement smarter programmes for food security, health, and nutrition, Farming First recommends strategies for global leaders:

1. Include agricultural activities in national nutrition strategies and promote the role of farmers as nutrient providers.

2. Train farmers in using appropriate agricultural inputs and techniques that can encourage the production of abundant and nutritious crops and mixed diets, including fruits and vegetables.

3. Highlight the importance of increasing productivity and diversity as an essential component of ensuring access to nutritious foods.

4. In addition, micronutrient deficiency affects not only people but also plants, livestock and soils. By addressing all forms of micronutrient deficiency, productivity gains can be made and people’s nutrition can be improved.

5. Target farmers, especially women farmers in developing countries, as key partners in improving household nutrition and delivering nutritional interventions, such as dietary supplements

6. Increase the productive capacity of farmers in food insecure countries through a focus on:

  • Land tenure security
  • Access to financial services, including savings, financing and risk mitigation for farming and value addition
  • Access to technology, inputs and irrigation
  • Agricultural extension services to share knowledge with farmers
  • Reduced post harvest losses through storage
  • Improved rural infrastructure

Recently, President Obama invited four leaders from African countries, Ghana, Benin, Tanzania, and Ethiopia to join G8 leaders at the Summit for a session on food security. Many parts of Africa are facing a food crisis as they struggle to cope with high levels of drought, poverty, high grain prices, disease, and environmental degradation, and it is important they are involved in the discussions too.

Dr Lindiwe Simbanda, a Farming First spokesperson and CEO of FANRPAN, says:

Consulting with African heads of state could be an important opportunity for G8 leaders to establish a broader set of solutions and make the global partnerships formed under the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative more productive.

At Camp David today, Farming First hopes to see global leaders seize the opportunity to foster policy coherence on food security, price volatility and global health, and that any announcements made include mandatory and transparent progress updates from G8 Nations.

Read Farming First’s policy paper on Nutrition here.

Let’s Thrive: ONE Campaign calls on G8 to Invest in Agriculture

In four weeks’ time, world leaders from eight of the world’s wealthiest countries will meet at Camp David for the annual G8 summit. This Tuesday, the anti-poverty group ONE launched a new campaign to ensure that the boosting agricultural investments in poor countries features high on the agenda.

The four-year campaign entitled ‘Thrive’ calls on world leaders to take urgent action to break the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty in 30 of the world’s poorest countries. The campaign has a brand new webpage, which features a public petition, urging G8 leaders to agree to and implement a bold plan to irradiate poverty and malnutrition through agriculture. Each time the petition is signed, an animation plants a seed into the heads of the G8 leaders, visually reinforcing the campaign message.

The launch of the ‘Thrive’ campaign coincides with a new report from ONE called “Food. Farming. Future: Breaking the Cycle of Malnutrition and Poverty”. The report shows that a commitment from world leaders could lift 50 million people out of poverty and save 15 million children from starvation. Once visitors have signed the petition, they are taken to a platform that tells stories that are “Living Proof” of the progress being achieved by some of the world’s poorest people. The video below shows how supplementing bread with iron and folic acid in Egypt is helping to combat birth defects and miscarriages.

Ben Leo, global policy director at ONE commented: “ONE’s new analysis shows that sustained investment in small-scale farming, together with a focus on ensuring children have enough nourishing food to eat, will have a huge impact on tens of millions of people around the world living in extreme poverty.”

Visit the website here to learn more.

Click here to visit the Farming First page on Nutrition.

G8 Wrap-Up with Farming First’s Lindiwe Sibanda on BBC World Service

After the G8 summit at the end of June, Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, spoke with BBC World Service’s Network Africa radio show to discuss the outcomes of Muskoka 2010. Dr. Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), said,

We are quite happy with the outcome although more could have been achieved, though what is particularly pleasing is the fact that the leaders have been able to commit to an accountability framework.

This framework, the Muskoka Accountability Report, is the first of its sort and is a clear sign that leaders are opening up their negotiations to the outside world so that no longer are commitments made behind closed doors.

Whilst it was revealed at Muskoka that only US$6.5 billion of the US$22 billion pledged at L’Aquila last year has actually been dispersed to date, Dr. Sibanda said that it was encouraging that leaders had promised to ensure the full amount would be dispersed by 2012.

Dr. Sibanda noted that the majority of the US$6.5 billion that has been delivered has gone towards financing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

Globally we now accept that Africa has a plan, Africa is committed to a plan it wants to implement and there is now coherence, slowly, in financing initiatives that are Africa-led.

The broadcast also addressed the growing crisis in the Sahel, in particularly in Chad and Niger.  To tackle this challenge, Dr Sibanda proposed starting with agricultural policy.

How do we get Africa to have and realise its own green revolution? How do we get Africa to improve productivity? Unless we realise the potential productivity by having good quality seed, by having the right fertilizer to improve productivity, by looking after our natural resources, making sure our soils are fertile enough to boost productivity, we will always be chasing the food that we cannot produce and grow on our own.

Listen to the interview here:

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US Radio Interviews Farming First’s Morgane Danielou Ahead of G8 Summit

As the G8 and G20 sessions got underway, Farming First’s Morgane Danielou spoke with a US radio channel, Farm Cast, about sustainable agriculture around the worldwide.

Danielou discussed that how the Farming First principles were developed to provide relevant guidelines to agricultural programmes worldwide at global, regional and local levels, both in developed and developing countries.

She highlighted how the challenge in developed countries was to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural activities, whilst in developing countries the focus must be on raising agricultural productivity:

We need to learn the lessons from those [that have achieved increased productivity] and see how we can increase agricultural productivity, especially in Africa, whilst not having the environmental impacts that we had in the sixties or the seventies.

Danielou also said,

If you want to perform agriculture in the best way possible for farmers, or for consumers or for nature it has to be seen as a highly knowledge- and technology-intensive sector and there has to be constant investment in agricultural research.

Listen to the Farm Cast interview with Morgane Danielou here: