Stories tagged: resource constraints

Supporting Rural Development in Guatemala

In the Cuchumatanes Highlands in Guatemala, The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been supporting a rural community development project.

The project aims to improve the livelihoods of 22,000 families with incomes below the poverty line. A needs analysis demonstrated that one of the problems in the area was poor handling and application of crop protection products, leading to health and environmental risks.

As a result, IFAD formed a partnership with CropLife Latin America to provide training for the project beneficiaries.

A multiple approach was used: teaching Integrated Pest Management (IPM) concepts and proper, safe use of crop protection products to farmers and their families, school teachers and health workers; a one-year course for schoolchildren on environmental protection; training teachers on the benefits and risks of crop protection products; communicating to housewives the importance of washing farmers’ clothes separately so as to avoid contamination of other clothes and water supplies; providing information to health workers at medical and paramedical levels on treatments in the event of accidents; and the training of trainers to amplify the reach of the programme goals.

A similar programme has started in the Dominican Republic and plans are being implemented to expand it throughout Central America.

This initiative in Guatemala echoes two of Farming First’s principles: Sharing knowledge and Building local access and capacity.

There are currently four IFAD-supported projects ongoing in Guatemala. Among them is a rural development project in the Western Region.

The target group comprises smallholder farmers, landless farmers, and microentrepreneurs and artisans. The programme will reach minority groups, particularly indigenous populations with lower educational levels and very limited access to productive resources.

For farmers in Guatemala, such assistance is needed as the country is facing the worst drought in 30 years.

Reuters Quotes Farming First’s Ajay Vashee on Food Security

3067940167_61b7fa1d6aIn a Reuters article published today, Farming First’s Ajay Vashee warned of the possibility of another food crisis, given increasing demand and finite resources.

He was joined by the Italian Agriculture Minister and a representative from the FAO in highlighting the need to address these food security and sustainability issues before they become even more serious.

The article also discusses how agriculture funding has not been prioritised compared with the subsideis given to the finance sector since last autumn:

Farmers from poor and rich countries alike want to get more funds for agriculture, saying the sector has been neglected since the economic crisis broke out…  Billions of dollars were poured out to prop up ailing banks, while funds are drying up to help the world’s almost 1 billion hungry, advocates for the poor say.

The G8 meeting takes place this weekend from 18-20 April.

Climate Expert Poll Warns of Major Risk to the World’s Breadbaskets

The Guardian newspaper has released the results of a poll asking climate specialists at a scientific conference in Copenhagen in March to predict climate changes throughout the 21st century.

Only 18 of the 182 experts thought that the climate would rise by less than 2C this century while the remaining 164 respondents forecasted higher changes and more serious repercussions.

Almost half (84 of 182) predicted a 3C-4C change this century, where:

global food production [would be] threatened as breadbaskets in Europe, Asia, and the US suffer drought, and heatwaves outstrip the tolerance of crops.

The poll suggests that continued attention needs to be paid on how to safeguard the world’s natural resources and how to create more innovative solutions for our food supply.

The Economist Discusses Water Scarcity, Water Management

economist_master_brand_logoOne of the lead stories in this week’s Economist discusses how water is used and managed around the world.

Many development experts are flagging the potential for a global water crisis if better management of our the earth’s water resources is not given more attention.  This includes wider application of existing knowledge as well as further innovation in policy-centred management systems and more funding for crop-related research.

Since the mid-20th century, the global population has roughly doubled while water use has trebled.  When this trend is paired with a shift in dietary choices toward more water-intensive foods (such as meat), the strain on water resources will increase.

The FAO also predicts that under current conditions, the world’s farmers will need 60% more water to feed the almost 9 billion people expected to be living on the earth. Yet, aid for needed projects such as better irrigation systems has been cut in half over the past generation, according to the OECD.

Using Supply Chain Partnerships to Support Agriculture in Africa

Unilever has been an active proponent of schemes to broaden the supply-base and support local livelihoods, particularly in its tea and palm-oil estates.

Lipton/Unilever Tea has a partnership with Rainforest Alliance on sustainability certification. Another partnership with Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Ministry of Natural Resources, World Agroforestry Centre and the World Conservation Union also promotes Allanblackia seed production for fat/oil, as a substitute for palm oil in spreads, soap and as an alternative source of farmer income.

Farmers, transporters and crushers benefit, and the value of Allanblackia trees encourages farmers to reverse deforestation.

Experts Brainstorm Key Challenges in Achieving ‘Farming First’ Plan

At a recent side event at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development’s Intergovernmental Preparatory Session (IPM), over 85 people gathered together to brainstorm key challenges to achieving the Farming First plan.

Here are some of the top issues, organised according to each of the Farming First principles:

1. Safeguard natural resources

Key challenges:

– Lack of education/awareness – The public needs to be educated on what sustainable agriculture is. The education of farmers on the sound use of resources also needs to see improvements.
– Framing the issue – Common definitions for “sustainability”, “natural resources” and other terms need to be reassessed.
– Lack of economic incentives – There is a need to incentivize farmers to use sustainable farming techniques, without adding additional costs which cut into their livelihoods.

2. Share knowledge

Key challenges:

– Application of knowledge – knowledge is not applicable to different regions or contexts.
– Dissemination of knowledge – the way in which knowledge is shared or passed on is not appropriate to some context or acts as a restriction
– Access to knowledge – availability of and access to resources, particularly the internet as a major resource for information, is limited.
– Agribusiness and local farmer competition – competition between agri-businesses and local farmers for resources and knowledge can be an impediment. Participants stressed the need for greater coordination among related, overlapping sectors and fields of study within agriculture, business, and science and technology to provide a more holistic approach to agriculture.
– The role of governments – Bureaucracy is a major challenge to the dissemination of knowledge, constituting a strong disincentive for farmers and other stakeholders.  Additionally, food production and agriculture are often not priorities for governments, which limits the number of opportunities for knowledge sharing. Farmer-to-farmer learning should be strengthened in order to cope with this.
– Public image of agriculture – Agriculture does not generally have a positive image as an occupation, yet, as urbanization remains a growing trend, dependence on the remaining farmers is increasing.  The public perception of agriculture needs to be improved and its importance shared with policy-makers and urban populations so that food production and food security are fully understood and made a priority for policy makers and investors.  Agriculture as an industry also needs to coordinate with the technology sector in order to reach and educate younger generations with regards to this challenge

3. Build local access

Key challenges:

– Access to Microcredit/finance – is insufficient and limits farmers capacity to invest, grow and create real opportunities for themselves
– Access to knowledge – lack of access to education and/or research/knowledge is an impediment for farmers and impedes the adoption of best practices.
– Governance – poor governance, excessive bureaucracy and corruption are all major problems for farmers and limit their access to resources and to markets.

4. Protect harvests

Key challenges:

– A lack of education/knowledge among farmers – including inadequate knowledge post-production on food safety and on food storage
– A lack of local farmer coordination on crop growth –  As markets are flooded with particular goods in each season or if sales do not occur rapidly enough, large parts of the crop can be damaged and farmers face adverse conditions because of the glut.

5. Enable access to markets

Key challenges:

– Improving infrastructure – Insufficient transportation and poor infrastructure were common themes as to why farmers were unable to sell their crops once harvested.
– Trade barriers and access to foreign markets – Contributors agreed that constraints on access to markets were one of the most important challenges faced by farmer. It was agreed that farmers would gain far greater access to markets if tariff and trade barriers were eliminated, and they were able to compete on common ground in the global marketplace.  Farmers have goods to sell – they just need the policy and practical supports to buttress their efforts.

6. Prioritise research imperatives

Key challenges:

– Participatory setting – greater participation is required in research activities.  Despite the presence of integrated teams of researchers, it is believed that practitioners are being left out.  Research should include more groups and start from a bottom up approach where more information is collected from farmers.
– Dissemination of research – information should be more widely spread so that the international community can benefit from it.  More joint projects might encourage the sharing of research from advanced countries.
– Needs and resources of scientists and farmers – these two groups should play a bigger role in identifying research needs.  A global source of funding should be established for use by scientists and farmers.