Stories tagged: UNCSD

Farming First Joins 600 Agricultural Experts at Agriculture and Rural Development Day

Farming First joined a consortium of the world’s leading agricultural organizations today,  to discuss agriculture’s role in building a global green economy in the lead up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) united around 600 agricultural experts in order to ensure that the new vision for sustainable development outlined at Rio+20 recognizes the importance of agriculture and includes key steps necessary for achieving a sustainable food system. Specific examples of these steps being called for today include:

  • Greater integration and broader partnerships amongst sectors – water, energy, crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries
  • A commitment to the generation and dissemination of knowledge to improve food systems
  • A clear process towards a Sustainable Development Goal for food and agriculture

Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Chief Executive of the South Africa-­based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), commented:

Rio+20 negotiators must make explicit the link between food security and sustainable development as well as steps needed to ensure farmers, especially smallholders, have dignified livelihoods, can feed their families and have money in their pockets. For this to happen they require conducive policy environments that enable them access to markets and appropriate technology.

ARDD featured keynote speakers, including the Brazilian Minister for the Environment, Izabella Teixeira. Two high-­level panel discussions also took place, as well as thirteen participatory “learning events” that shared knowledge from various projects on the ground in the developing world that are already offering lasting solutions to poverty and food and nutrition insecurity. Business representatives also participated in the day event, showing support for increased private investment in agriculture, following on from the $3 billion investment pledged by businesses as part of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition announced by the G8 last month.

Anne Grethe Dalane, Regional Director of Latin America chaired a Farming First Learning Event, entitled “Achieving and measuring sustainable intensification: the role of technology, best practices and partnerships”. She commented on her sector’s role in agriculture for a green economy:

The private sector is an essential player in delivering the technologies, tools and knowledge needed by farmers. Public-private partnerships can play a key role in driving sustainable growth in agricultural productivity.

Rachel Kyte, Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank & Chair, CGIAR Fund Council, praised the efforts made by the Agriculture and Rural Development Day Consortium. She commented:

Today we are seeing best practices in action. We know that, if scaled up with speed, these approaches could increase food production and improve livelihoods without damaging the environment. We need to create conditions for innovation and then invest so that innovation moves from the lab to the farmer’s fields.

Food security has been highlighted as one of the seven priority areas of the Rio+20 negotiations. Feeding a global population of 9 billion people by 2050 will require at least a 70% increase in global food production and a 50% rise in investments in the agricultural sector.

Growth from agriculture is at least twice as effective in reducing poverty than any other sector. Through improved management of crops, livestock, soil, water, forests and other natural habitats, smallholder farmers can achieve the triple win of (1) stronger food security with reduced poverty, (2) greater resilience in the face of environmental threats, and (3) more robust rural livelihoods.

Visit the Farming First Green Economy page for infographics and an animated video about the vital role agriculture plays.

Farming First’s Lindiwe Sibanda on BBC Network Africa

LindiweAhead of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development in May, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda of Farming First went into the BBC studios to discuss what the priority objectives for agricultural policy should be in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Sibanda discussed the key principle of the Farming First plan as well as highlighting recent work of her own organisation FANRPAN on identifying the most vulnerable households in villages for targeted support.  She discusses how African countries are spending $19 billion each year on the import of key staple foods despite the fact that 70% of the population is smallholder farmers with the potential to grow their own food.

Dr. Sibanda argues for the need to improve productivity in a sustainable way.  Knowledge transfer and investment in infrastructure and resource management skills are key in achieving this.  For instance, many farmers use recycled seeds which yield only 10% of the harvest that new seeds would bring.

Under these principles, agricultural policy should aim to help farmers eventually ‘self-help’ and become self-sufficient.

Listen to the full broadcast of Dr Sibanda here:

[audio: drsibandabbcnetworkafrica.mp3]

Video Interview with Malawi’s Farm Subsidy Programme Coordinator

In May 2009, Farming First ( interviewed Mr. Idrissa Mwale, Principal Economist at the Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi. Mr. Mwale has coordinated the country’s farm subsidy programme, which targets the most needy farming households with subsidised seed and fertilizer. The programme has produced record harvests over the past four years, which have created an export market for Malawi’s farmers. Mr. Mwale discusses the next steps for the programme and how other African governments are learning from the agricultural programme as a driver of rural development.

Watch the video:

Mr Mwale was also interviewed by BBC’s World Business News.

Listen to the BBC interview audio file here:


Mr. Mwale also presented a speech on the successes of the programme at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development on 14 May 2009. In his speech, he discusses why and how agriculture should be put back at the center of the development agenda. He also notes how the Farming First principles align well with the programme Malawi has been following to date:

…this achievement came about because the Government of Malawi made a choice to prioritize the agricultural sector. This allowed the Government and various cooperating partners to increase investments in inputs provision, extension service delivery and agricultural research. This notwithstanding, the Government still believes that more investments in agricultural research, local based capacity building, irrigation development and marketing are necessary to spur increased and sustain production in the medium to long term. This is consistent with the Farming First principles of the partners hosting us tonight.

For the full text:

Download the speech (pdf)

Final Adopted Text from CSD-17 Published on the UN Website

An advanced, unedited text of the final recommendations of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development is now available on its website.

Gerda Verburg, Chairperson of the Commission and the Netherlands’ Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, said of the outcome:

Nothing less is needed than a revolution in ideas and a revolution in technologies, supported by a revolution in trade policies and market access and the financial means to implement.

The final plan stressed the central importance of farmers – particularly women farmers and rural communities – to deliver such a paradigmatic shift in the agricultural sector.

According to the final press release issued on the CSD-17  final text, This could be done by

employing science-based approaches and local indigenous knowledge; expanding investment incentives, in particular for small farmers; and encouraging and supporting safge integrated pest management.

Highlights from the Opening of the High Level Segment of the CSD-17

Presented 13 May 2009, New York

Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the UN, Pdt of ECOSOC:

We know that 75% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and most of them depend directly on agriculture. The poor were the first to be affected by the food crisis, which added 115million people to the ranks of hunger in 2007 and 2008. Early indications are that the economic and financial crisis could bring the total number of hungry past one billion.

First, current agricultural practices will not allow us to meet the food needs and consumption patterns of a growing and developing world population, let alone in a sustainable way. Investments in new technologies are needed to support a shift toward a more sustainable agricultural and food production system.

Multidimensional challenges require an integrated approach, combining economic, social and environmental solutions. We see that the Commission on Sustainable Development is uniquely placed to take on this challenge, as the very aim of sustainable development is to apply this integrated approach.

It provides an effective platform to bring together and foster dialogue between Governments, the UN systems, the policy research community and Major Groups. I trust that this session will produce clear deliverables and concrete actions to learn lessons from the global food crisis and tackle the hunger and malnutrition challenge, within the sustainable development framework.

(emphasis added)

Recommendations on Capacity Building from CSD-17 Side Event

CAPACITY BUILDING: WORDS INTO ACTION: Physical, Social & Economic Infrastructure

At a recent side event of the UN CSD-17, 71 delegates and members of major groups from more than 20 countries came together to define their specific issues and to hear their perspectives on effective capacity building actions. The event format included a brief presentation providing context, followed by round table discussions (90 minutes). The discussion focused on the cross cutting issues of Capacity Building and the three infrastructures (Social, Physical and Economic) as they relate to African (and other) rural sustainable development.

Capacity Building can be defined as:

“The building of human, institutional and infrastructure capacity to help societies develop secure, stable and sustainable economies, governments and other institutions through mentoring, training, education, physical projects, the infusion of financial and other resources, and most importantly, the motivation and inspiration of people to improve their lives.”

Results and Recommended Actions
A brief summary of participant contributions are noted below.

Common Rural Issues & Recommended Capacity Building Actions:

•    Rural migration to cities is eroding food development capacity for many countries, which results in the need to import food. Solutions are needed to establish jobs for farmers and their families to remain in rural communities.
•    Farmers are often the least educated;  90% are women; their farming techniques are extremely rudimentary and minimally effective. Education and systematic farming technologies are needed to boost food production and to keep youth on the farms.
•    Governments do not provide sufficient support to farmers, but focus their attention on the cities.  An organization of farmers & government relations is needed to boost food production and address farmer capacity shortfalls.
•    There is no “check list” to confirm the existence of new infrastructure or to measure & guide progress. Farmers should be given the means to define what they “need” in terms of capacity building.
•    Donor fund governance is extremely weak; corruption is a drawback. Effective governance and internal control practices are needed and must be transparent, accountable and participatory.
•    Uninformed government workers make poor choices for farmers. Government training is needed in all capacity building aspects (social, physical and economic infrastructures).
•    Diverse developed countries help, but there is no coordination to optimize the collective impact and outcome in the recipient country.
•    A huge capacity building void is created when women are not consulted on capacity development initiatives. Initiatives are often failures because women as the key element of familiar farming structures are not consulted. Effective facilitated engagement processes are required.

A sampling of specific recommendations for actions that were discussed is given below:

•    In a given location, 40,000 chickens are grown, but there are no storage & production facilities for chicken harvesting and marketing. Food is wasted & economic opportunities lost.   Action needed: Create infrastructure to manage loss reduction such as abattoir and meat storage facilities, and develop chicken markets.

•    Climate has changed and temperatures rising; existing seeds are no longer appropriate for climate conditions. Action needed: Provide seeds that grow effectively in changed climate.

•    Government/Farmer relationship management processes do not exist. Action needed:  Implement stakeholder management and strategy development processes.

•    Supply system technologies do exist but are not applied, i.e. In a given location, farmers know how to maximize the growing of oranges and mangos but lack the knowledge on how to produce and store juice. Action needed: Provide training for the application of these technologies.

•    Multiple government and stakeholder roles are unclear; they cannot work together effectively. Action needed:  Implement stakeholder management processes.

•    Lack of resources to access proprietary technologies limits the farmer’s ability to learn and develop capacity. Action needed: Provide access to open source technologies or fund proprietary technology transfer.

•    In a given place, electrical power infrastructure reliability is very poor; power outages that last for 3 to 4 days are common.  Action needed:  Upgrade infrastructure, provide reliable power supply, and implement training in system operation & maintenance. Include women in the training programs.

•    Ecosystems are degrading. Action needed: Implement ecosystem safeguard strategies.

•    Capacity building needs to involve service training. Action needed: Identify roles to involve local people in projects, assure gender balance and consider characteristics of local culture.