In a recent interview aired on Voice of America, Farming First’s Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and Ajay Vashee spoke about the decline in agricultural development support over the past generation and how that has impacted the global food crisis, particularly in Africa. Dr. Sibanda said:
“As a result of diminished resources and lack of funds for agriculture, we saw declines in productivity, we saw people moving out of farming to rely more on commodities like minerals, and rely more on imports of food rather than produce their own.”
Ajay Vashee also warned that the scale of the need is tremendous, and agricultural investments need to be sustained and expanded further in order to reap the anticipated outcomes.
The broadcast also addressed the structure of the Obama administration’s intended agriculture plan, which includes $3.5 billion over the next three years to help developing-world farmers produce more food and get their products to market.
Critical to heading off the food crisis in Africa is the prioritisation of research imperatives (per Farming First’s Principle 6). Joachim von Braun, Director-General of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, discussed the scale of the challenge facing global agriculture:
[I]f agricultural research and development were to increase from $5 billion a year to $15 billion, “10 years later we will have…300 million [fewer] people among the hungry poor. This is the largest benefit one can achieve with this type of investment.”
At a U.N meeting in September, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined the U.S. agriculture policy:
The strategy Clinton sketched out includes many of the elements experts say developing- world farmers need most: investments in research and development, access to improved seed and fertilizer, insurance programs for small farmers, as well as improved infrastructure such as roads and storage facilities to help farmers get their products to market.
The article highlights the fact that agriculture is a “good investment” for policymakers to make and that their efforts need to be farmer-focused and knowledge-based, aimed at diversifying the range of tools which they have at their disposal over the long-term.
Listen to the complete audio broadcast here:[audio: voiceofamericafoodsecuritysibandavashee.mp3]