Stories tagged: principle3

G20 Leaders Warn of Funding and Investment Gaps in Ensuring Long-term Food Security

At the conclusion of their recent summit in Pittsburgh last week, world leaders warned that “sustained funding and targeted investments are urgently needed to improve long-term food security.’

Their final statement includes a series of recommendations related to food security and sustainable farming.  Here are some quotes from the statement itself:

We called on the World Bank to play a leading role in responding to problems whose nature requires globally coordinated action, such as climate change and food security… (#21)

Over four billion people remain undereducated, ill-equipped with capital and technology, and insufficiently integrated into the global economy…. we call on the World Bank to develop a new trust fund to support the new Food Security Initiative for low-income countries announced last summer… (#23)

The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are also critical to our ability to act together to address challenges, such as climate change and food security, which are global in nature and require globally coordinated action… (#24)

The World Bank, working with the regional development banks and other international organizations, should strengthen its focus on food security through enhancements in agricultural productivity and access to technology, and improving access to food… (#24)

The poorest countries have little economic cushion to protect vulnerable populations from calamity, particularly as the financial crisis followed close on the heels of a global spike in food prices… (#34)

Even before the crisis, too many still suffered from hunger and poverty and even more people lack access to energy and finance. Recognizing that the crisis has exacerbated this situation, we pledge cooperation to improve access to food, fuel, and finance for the poor… (#38)

Sustained funding and targeted investments are urgently needed to improve long-term food security. (#39)

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.

New Fiber-optic Cables for Africa Make Info Gathering Quicker, More Reliable

Fibre-optic cables in AfricaIn July this year, the first of four undersea fibre-optic cables went live, connecting Africans along the eastern corridor to high-speed broadband internet.  The lines touch ground in Mombasa (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Maputo (Mozambique), and Mtunzini (South Africa).

This new cable should substantially reduce the time it takes to seek out information online, the cost of making calls abroad, and the technical obstacles which small-scale businesses have faced in launching data-heavy websites.  Some experts speculate that it could also boost activity in commodity and stock exchanges.

The importance of infrastructure to economic development is clear.  And for agriculture, this has traditionally meant the building of irrigation systems, of utilities, and of roads to markets.

Yet, in today’s world, a fast and reliable connection to information is also important for farmers. More severe and variable weather patterns as a result of climate change mean that farmers need better meteorological information and planting advice.  Increasingly globalised markets require up-to-date information on prices and regulations abroad.  And online marketing of crops can help cooperatives and other smaller-scale farm groups make more profit from the crops they grow.

Mozambican Farming Cooperative for Women Shares Knowledge, Builds Local Access and Capacity

In the past, Celina Cossa would queue for days and even nights just to get the chance to buy a bag of maize to feed her two children, her husband, and herself.  She was one of thousands of Mozambican women finding it difficult to feed her family in a country that was newly independent from its Portuguese colonisers and in the midst of a civil war.  Food shortages in Mozambique in the 1980s were a norm, and many – especially women – were extremely poor.

In response, Cossa, along with 250 other women, began growing crops and raising poultry together. With limited funds at first, many of the women would bring their own agricultural tools and money to support the project.

The women sold the excess and created a business that now has about 2,900 mostly women farmers. And as the numbers grew, they expanded the reach of their operation to begin helping others get credit to start their own businesses.

Now called the General Union of Cooperatives (UGC), this Mozambican network of women farmers is still led by Cossa.  UGC gives them technical training, literacy education, as well as services such as childcare.  Members now supply much of the capital’s vegetables, fruits, and poultry with members making on average 50 per cent more than the national minimum wage.

Now the cooperative also helps women farmers get loans to start and run their businesses, assists with giving them expert advice on how to begin farming and helps them sell their produce at markets. To date, the farmers produce eight thousand chickens per month and are supplying the local markets with their products.

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This post was adapted from an article written by African journalists Menesia Muinjo and Geline Fuko, who took part in a journalist training session coordinated by IPS.

Book Review: “Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty”

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Two veteran Wall Street Journal reporters, Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, have teamed up to write a book addressing one of the most pressing questions of the 21st-century: global hunger.

The authors ask why hunger persists when the technology and tools already exist to feed the world:

Since the time of the Green Revolution, the world has known how to end famine and tame chronic hunger.  We have the information and tools.  But we haven’t done it.  We explored the heavens.  We wired the world for the Internet…. Yet somehow we haven’t eliminated the most primitive scourge of all.

In the opening chapters, Kilman and Thurow introduce the work of Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize-winning plant scientist who died on Saturday at the age of 95.  Back in the 1940s, Borlaug was assigned to a newly launched research centre in Mexico to train Mexican scientists how to boost farm productivity through plant breeding experiments.

Over the next two decades, Borlaug’s research helped boost wheat yields in the research areas almost seven-fold, from 11 bushels per acre in the early 1940s to as much as seventy-five bushels per acre in 1960.  Borlaug then travelled elsewhere in the Americas and across to Asia to demonstrate the potential yields which these new varieties could produce and to convince policymakers and farmers to adopt them to feed their growing populations.  (Apparently, the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ripped up her flower garden to plant the new wheat varieties.)

And thus, the Green Revolution was born.  Demographic projections of mass famine and a population implosion were prevented, and the global supply of food exploded.

Yet around the same time, shifts in global agricultural policy began to shift.  Starting in the early 1980s, newly independent former colonies in Africa and Asia started to see a reversal in the foreign assistance being given to agricultural development (inputs, infrastructure, extension training, and research support).  In addition, the money being targeted at the alleviation of hunger came in the food of foreign-grown food aid shipped into areas of need.

A generation later, in the summer of 2008, the world went through a global food crisis where prices doubled and tripled for many staple foods and global reserve stocks of grain were reduced to dangerously low levels.  Kilman and Thurow argue that the time is right for a broad reinvestment into agriculture, similar to how the United States rallied to support the Marshall Plan for Europe in the aftermath of World War II.

The authors argue that public sentiment is in favour of increased support to feed the hungry, and social and political stability are increasingly under threat from those without sufficient resources to subsist.  They present a range of options, from investment in infrastruture and new seed technologies to policy reforms relating to how national budgets are allocated and how trade regulations are drawn up.

Africa is a particular target as it is seen as “the world’s final frontier of agriculture” where yields are still low and modern agricutural practices are often non-existent.  Coupled with a rapidly increasingly population, African farmers will be expected to double their production by 2030 in order to simply meet their own people’s food demands.  This will be no small feat, and it would require a coordinated, collaborative approach to see it through successfully.

UN Agencies Team Up to Help Predict Future Food Shortages

Two UN groups are teaming up to help identify and respond to areas likely to be impacted by food shortages in the future.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has agreed to share data concerning floods, hurricanes, mudslides, drought and other forms of severe weather with the World Food Programme (WFP).

This information can help the WFP provide better and faster assistance to those living in areas impacted by climate-related disasters:

Severe weather, brought on by climate change, has a direct impact on people’s food security. Floods, hurricanes, mudslides, drought and other weather events destroy crops, homes, and lives – increasing hunger among the world’s poorest people.

Climate change is accentuating the suffering caused by political and economic instabilities in many countries.