Stories tagged: hunger

Sharing and spreading agricultural knowledge as a way of combating malnutrition

The first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. According to the World Bank report World Development Indicators 2003, one sixth of the world’s population suffers hunger due to extreme poverty. Part of the hunger problem that is increasingly receiving attention is nutrition insecurity, or malnutrition, which affects one billion people around the world and is responsible for almost 10 million deaths a year. With the increase in food prices, this number is likely to increase.

Agriculture must play a role in addressing nutrition security. Promoting and improving agricultural productivity and farming practices can bring positive impact on malnutrition levels. While technological and scientific innovation are key tools for producing a sufficient supply of healthy and nutritious food to satisfy the world market, another issue must be addressed as a priority: the problem of information flow. Education and knowledge share are vital to fighting malnutrition. Some independent initiatives have been taking place in Africa, as reported by Agfax, a radio and press service that reports on recent developments in farming and rural livelihoods, that are successful examples of getting information out to those who need it most.

Share Fair is an organisation that helps to spread and improve agricultural knowledge amongst African farmers through workshops and presentations at events; literally “Share Fairs”. In an interview with Agfax, Jacqueline Nnam, a knowledge-sharing officer in Ghana, pointed out that the biggest challenge facing African farmers is the “packaging of information”, meaning that the phrasing of the language employed and the jargon used – especially related to scientific research – are a barrier to effective communication. “Another thing is providing exactly the type of information the farmers want” says Nnam referring to the amount of information given to farmers that can be irrelevant for their businesses and may only create confusion.

Another example is the Healthy Learning Programme, run in the arid and semi-arid districts of Kenya. In order to ensure that information on nutrition and farming is passed on to the younger generation, the country is investing in health teaching for primary school children. The programme aims to teach kids basic knowledge ranging from hygiene to production of crops for food and for generating income. Children are also encouraged to implement their newly found knowledge at home. In an interview with Agfax, Veronica Mugure, a Class Seven student in Narumoru Primary School, said that the programme had changed their lives for better. In addition to learning how to grow and harvest their own crops, the students were taught to cook the food and were also fed at the school. Another student from the school, Veronica Wamboi from Class Six, said that the project had helped them on many levels. They benefited from the sale of the crops they harvested and were also taught business skills.

Understanding how to effectively communicate and share relevant information with farmers can have a direct impact on the production of food and improvement of nutrition as can basic education for tackling the underlining causes of malnutrition and hunger itself. Initiatives like the Healthy Learning programme and the approach taken by Share Fair are great examples of small schemes that can go a long way in combating hunger and malnutrition and addressing basic health education.

Farming First Launches New Guide to Food Security Initiatives Ahead of G8 Summit

Download Farming First’s Guide to Food Security Initiatives

foodsecurity_guideFood security is an immediate and future priority for all countries worldwide. Since the food crisis erupted in 2008, a large number of global and regional food security initiatives have been launched or strengthened in response. While these developments are welcome, improving policy and implementation coherence is essential to ensure programmes have the desired impacts.

As we move towards action on these food security policies, Farming First urges policymakers 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.

map_final_smallReturning farmers to the centre of policy decisions is fundamental to sustainable development. Governments, businesses, scientists and civil society groups must focus attention on the source of our food security. Women farmers should become specially targeted recipients because of their vital roles in the agricultural workforce,
household food procurement and preparation, and family unit support.

Productivity levels in most developing countries have to be raised exponentially while considering environmental sustainability. Policies encouraging investment in developing countries’ agricultural sectors should be supported.

Governments should invest in their agricultural sectors and devise long-term agricultural development strategies supporting the development of local agricultural markets and farmers’ ability to answer market demands.

Local production should also be stimulated by providing farmers with the technology, the knowledge and the adequate financial services they need.

FAO Issues Progress Report on the Status of African Agricultural Growth

In the lead-up to its High-Level Expert Forum in Rome this October, the FAO has issued a cautiously optimistic progress report on the state of the African agricultural sector, as reported in a recent article by Voice of America.

The FAO has calculated that agriculture has grown by 3.5% in 2008, largely due to better policies and more uptake of new technologies such as drought-resistant rice.

Keith Wiebe, FAO’s Deputy Director of the Agricultural Development Economics division, said:

After a long period of neglect, the importance of agriculture is becoming more clear to all of us.  And that is resulting in improvements in some of the supporting services and infrastructure that are the real obstacle to improved growth in Africa.

Women are a key part of the agricultural workforce as they represent about 80% of those working in the sector.  They will be expected to double food production in order to feed an African population that is set to grow from 770 million in 2005 to over billion by mid-century.

FAO Warns that World Food Output Must Rise by 70%

A recent announcement by the FAO states that world food output must rise by 70% by 2050 to meet projected demand from a growing population and changing diets.

Global cereal demand must increase by about 50%, from 2.1 billion tonnes today to 3 billion tonnes by 205.  Over the same period, meat output must increase by almost 75% by 2050 to 470 million tonnes.

A massive 90% of the needed output is expected to come from higher yields, but the area of land under cultivation is also expected to grow by 120 million hectares.  These increases are most likely to occur in developing regions with large supplies of land per capita, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

Pope Calls for Increased Agricultural Investment

1916676488_c4a0b5427ePope Benedict XVI has issued an his third encyclical calling for a restructured global economy.  In it, he also calls for an increased role for agricultural investment in helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in the developing world.

An article by the Associated Press says that the Pope:

specified that aid should go to agicultural development to improve infrastructure, irrigation systems, transport and sharing of agricultural technology.

“Silent Hunger Crisis”: FAO Estimates Over 1 Billion Hungry in the World

2626227998_f58850b534A recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has announced that the total population of those going hungry has surpassed the 1 billion person mark for the first time in history.

“A dangerous mix of the global economic slowdown combined with stubbornly high food prices in many countries has pushed some 100 million more people than last year into chronic hunger and poverty,” said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO. “The silent hunger crisis — affecting one sixth of all of humanity — poses a serious risk for world peace and security.”

The report argues that the rise in hunger levels is largely the result of the global economic recession.  Fewer remittances are being received and international trade and investment have slowed down, affecting local economies in the developing world.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most dense pockets of hunger in the world.  Many of the countries in this region have hunger levels of over 35% of their populations.  Areas of south Asia — notably India — also have high levels of food poverty.

To address these issues, the FAO and other UN agencies have called for a reinvigorated investment in agriculture, particularly in the poorest and most vulnerable regions.  Of these affected areas, Jacques Diouf of the FAO said that they “must be given the development, economic and policy tools required to boost their agricultural production and productivity.”

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), also added:

Many of the world’s poor and hungry are smallholder farmers in developing countries. Yet they have the potential not only to meet their own needs but to boost food security and catalyse broader economic growth. To unleash this potential and reduce the number of hungry people in the world, governments, supported by the international community, need to protect core investments in agriculture so that smallholder farmers have access not only to seeds and fertilisers but to tailored technologies, infrastructure, rural finance, and markets.