Dr Chase Sova, Senior Director of Public Policy and Research at World Food Programme USA Continue reading
There’s a $200 billion deficit of financing for smallholder farmers. Find out how groups working with the Initiative for Smallholder Finance are bridging this gap.
Filmed as part of Farming First’s #SDG2countdown campaign, exploring SDG2.3 on doubling agricultural productivity and incomes.
Music: Ben Sounds
Farming First supporter the International Council for Science (ICSU) has released a downloadable set of recommendations and summaries on food security, following the ISCU Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation held at Rio+20 in June.
The recommendations and summaries draw on the presentations and discussions held at the session, as well as two major documents, “Food Security for a Planet under Pressure ” and “Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change“.
Contributors to the document include:
- Thomas Rosswall, Professor em., Chair, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Sweden
- Lindiwe MajeleSibanda, CEO, Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), Zimbabwe
- Tim Benton, Champion, UK Global Food Security (GFDS) programme, Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, University of Leeds, UK
- Ruvimbo Mabeza-Chimedza, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, Zimbabwe
- Ram Badan Singh, Indian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, India
- Adrian Fernández Bremauntz, Advisor on Sustainability to the Dean of the Metropolitan University, Mexico City, Mexico
The paper argues that in order to meet the vision of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability to “eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries”, it is necessary to recognise that agriculture is an essential part of sustainable development and that the global community must prioritise it.
Key recommendations include challenging the scientific community to take a transdisciplinary approach in addressing the nexus of food, water and energy, as well as fostering regional collaboration as a platform for sharing local-appropriate solutions. Important strategic recommendations include the need to integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies for green growth, the implementation of appropriate governance structures to minimise negative environmental impacts and the need to reshape food access and consumption patterns to be more sustainable.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has released a new book, Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies. It explains the unique ability of agriculture to achieve pro-poor growth in Africa by linking poor individuals to crop and livestock production in order to achieve desired results in poverty reduction and agricultural development. It explores agriculture as a platform for simultaneous growth and poverty reduction, and ends with some key remaining challenges that Africa faces when setting the above premise into practice.
The book is a collection of research results from 20 IFPRI colleagues and contributors. It provides evidence to inform the design of African development strategies and to address the ongoing debate on the role of African agriculture. Analysis is based on ten country case studies which reﬂect the diversity of agroecological conditions and development challenges facing low-income Africa.
The majority of Africa’s poor population is heavily dependent on farming. Poverty is still concentrated in rural areas, whilst the agricultural sector accounts for a large share of national income and employment. Agricultural development is therefore central in development strategies to reduce poverty and hunger on the continent. From a global perspective, African agriculture has fallen further behind that of other developing regions, despite a rapid growth period beginning in the year 2000, and continued to widen the rural-urban divide in Africa.
The book provides an economy-wide modeling framework that captures the linkages between sectoral and national economic growth on the one hand, and spatial and household level poverty on the other. It uses this framework to identify crops and sectors that have the greatest potential to generate pro-poor growth.
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia represent the ten case studies. The chosen countries are archetypal examples of the continent because of their respective agricultural production, poverty rates, and other variables that will help to realistically predict the steps forward for Africa.
The case studies were developed using a typology of African countries designed to capture four dimensions of the role of agriculture in development: the first two relate to natural resources and geographical factors, and the second two relate to agriculture’s situation in the broader economy and its relationship to poverty reduction. The ten countries selected cover Africa’s three regions: five in eastern Africa, three in southern Africa, and two from Western Africa. They also account for fifty-seven percent of low-income Africa’s total population in 2005. The book uses these case study countries to reflect general trends in Africa during the 2000s and the diversity of growth and poverty-reduction performances.
Results from the case studies suggest that, in general, agriculture cannot be excluded
from the current development model. The case studies show how even fairly modest improvements in currently low yields can greatly accelerate agricultural growth. As agriculture generates between 20 and 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in low-income African countries, faster agricultural growth will foster additional growth at the national level, including in nonagriculture.
Findings also point to export agriculture having high growth potential, which is expected to become a prominent part of agricultural strategies. Broad-based growth will be difficult to achieve without expanding staple food crop production and livestock production, given they have the scale and linkages to poor households needed to reduce national poverty. The case studies also confirm the need for increased investment in African agriculture, however the efficiency of these investment will have to increase if development targets are to remain attainable.
Lead editor, Xinshen Diao, comments:
“This is the first book to put agriculture into an economywide framework and to analyze the potential contributions of different agricultural growth options to broad economic growth and poverty reduction for African countries.”
You can read the book online here.
The launch of Bill Gates’ 2012 Annual Letter, released yesterday, has seen the Microsoft founder and philanthropist address audiences across the world on the importance of tackling poverty. One of his primary concerns in his 2012 letter is agriculture, and the crucial role it plays in international development.
Currently, over 1 billion people – about 15 percent of the world – are hungry. Smallholder farmers are unable to produce enough food to feed their families and lack the support to work themselves out of poverty. In his letter, Gates highlights the responsibility developed countries have to not only invest in agricultural aid, but in agricultural research. Between 1987 and 2006, agricultural aid fell from rich countries from 17 percent to just 4 percent.
At the same time, demand for food is increasing because of population growth and economic development, with the world’s population set to hit 9 billion in 2050. Supply growth has not kept up, leading to higher food prices and climate change threatens farmers’ ability to produce enough food to meet the growing demand.
Agricultural innovation, Gates argues, is a vital way forward. During the ‘Green Revolution’ of the 1960s and 1970s, new seed varieties for rice, wheat, and maize were developed that helped many farmers greatly improve their yields. In some places, such as East Asia, food intake went up by as much as 50 percent. Globally, the price of wheat dropped by two-thirds. The same process can happen again:
We can be more innovative about delivering solutions that already exist to the farmers who need them. Knowledge about managing soil and tools like drip irrigation can help poor farmers grow more food today. We can also discover new approaches and create new tools to fundamentally transform farmers’ lives. But we won’t advance if we don’t continue to fund agricultural innovation, and I am very worried about where those funds will come from in the current economic and political climate.
He also stated that agricultural research is ‘chronically underfunded’. Climate change is becoming an increasing threat; studies show that the rise in global temperature alone could reduce the productivity of the main crops by over 25 percent. Climate change will also increase the number of droughts and floods that can wipe out an entire season of crops. Increased investment in agricultural research can unveil new seed varieties that can survive extreme weather conditions, as well as combat plant diseases that destroy crops.
Click here to read Bill Gate’s 2012 Annual Letter letter in full. Follow the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #BillsLetter.
In this year’s edition of the State of the World report, Worldwatch Institute has spotlighted the successful agricultural innovation that help to nourish the planet. Drawing from hundreds of case studies, the report shows that innovation is key for preventing food waste, building climate change resilience and reducing poverty and outlines 15 proven, environmentally sustainable “prescriptions”.
Some of the profiled innovations include:
• In 2007, some 6,000 women in The Gambia organized into the TRY Women’s Oyster Harvesting producer association, creating a sustainable co-management plan for the local oyster fishery to prevent overharvesting and exploitation. Oysters and fish are an important, low-cost source of protein for the population, but current production levels have led to environmental degradation and to changes in land use over the last 30 years. The government is working with groups like TRY to promote less-destructive methods and to expand credit facilities to low-income producers to stimulate investment in more-sustainable production.
• In Kibera, Nairobi, the largest slum in Kenya, more than 1,000 women farmers are growing “vertical” gardens in sacks full of dirt poked with holes, feeding their families and communities. These sacks have the potential to feed thousands of city dwellers while also providing a sustainable and easy-to-maintain source of income for urban farmers. With more than 60 percent of Africa’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, such methods may be crucial to creating future food security. Currently, some 33 percent of Africans live in cities, and 14 million more migrate to urban areas each year. Worldwide, some 800 million people engage in urban agriculture, producing 15–20 percent of all food.
• Pastoralists in South Africa and Kenya are preserving indigenous varieties of livestock that are adapted to the heat and drought of local conditions—traits that will be crucial as climate extremes on the continent worsen. Africa has the world’s largest area of permanent pasture and the largest number of pastoralists, with 15–25 million people dependent on livestock.
• The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is using interactive community plays to engage women farmers, community leaders, and policymakers in an open dialogue about gender equity, food security, land tenure, and access to resources. Women in sub-Saharan Africa make up at least 75 percent of agricultural workers and provide 60–80 percent of the labor to produce food for household consumption and sale, so it is crucial that they have opportunities to express their needs in local governance and decision-making. This entertaining and amicable forum makes it easier for them to speak openly.
• Uganda’s Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) program is integrating indigenous vegetable gardens, nutrition information, and food preparation into school curriculums to teach children how to grow local crop varieties that will help combat food shortages and revitalize the country’s culinary traditions. An estimated 33 percent of African children currently face hunger and malnutrition, which could affect some 42 million children by 2025. School nutrition programs that don’t simply feed children, but also inspire and teach them to become the farmers of the future, are a huge step toward improving food security.