Agriculture & Food Security
Children’s work in the livestock sector: Herding and beyond
Agriculture accounts for most of the reported child labour in the world, and livestock accounts for some 40% of the agricultural economy. Efforts to curb child labour require getting governments, farmer organizations and rural families directly involved in finding alternatives to practices which often reflect the need for survival. This desk study aims to give an overview of available data on child labour in the livestock sector and indicate potential avenues for action. By contributing to the knowledge base on this topic, FAO aims to provide a basis for further research and discussion in order to come to a common understanding of what efforts need to be prioritized and to encourage governments and other stakeholders to address this issue. Helping children to realize their rights and the reduction of poverty and food insecurity should be complementary goals.
Agricultural cooperatives and gender equality
FAO, International Year Of Cooperatives, Issue Brief Series, 2012
Agriculture is the main source of employment and income in rural areas of developing countries, where the majority of the world’s poor and hungry people live. Rural women play crucial roles in agricultural activities and in increasing food and nutrition security, as farmers/producers, workers and entrepreneurs. However, rural women have less access than men to the resources and opportunities they need to be fully productive in agriculture and to ensure the food security, nutrition and well-being of their families and future generations. Cooperatives can play important roles in overcoming the barriers faced by women and in supporting small agricultural producers. Evidence shows that efficient cooperatives have the capacity to empower their members economically and socially and to create sustainable employment through equitable and inclusive business models that are more resilient to shocks.
Gender and the Right to Food
In June 2012, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, was invited by the Asian Development Bank to contribute his views on the role of gender equality in securing the right to food at the Eminent Speakers’ Forum. Two articles reflect his contribution to the Forum: – Our secret weapon against hunger: gender equality and women’s empowerment – The contribution of the right to food to global food security: a tool not a symbol In March 2013, he presented the report “Gender and the Right to Food” to the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Innovative Approaches to Gender and Food Security
IDS Knowledge Services, Insights, issue 82, 2012
Gender justice and ending hunger are closely entwined, interdependent goals. Solving hunger now and in the future involves challenging the current global development model which permits – and is driven by – inequality. Gender analysis shows that women are providers of food as producers, processors, traders, cooks and servers. However, women are still often excluded or have limited access to resources, credit, information and markets, greatly limiting their productivity and food security. To add to this, unequal gender roles, responsibilities and workloads often leave women exhausted and malnourished. This issue shows how development policy and practice can improve food security while supporting women’s empowerment. Whilst there is no one size fits all approach the document shows that by empowering women, and transforming gender norms and inequalities within households and communities, food security programmes are more effective.
Invisible Guardians. Women manage livestock diversity
FAO, Animal Production and Health paper 174, 2012
This publication presents an analysis of women’s role in the sustainable use, development and conservation of animal genetic resources. The importance of small-scale famers and pastoralists as custodians of these resources is well recognized, but has never previously been disaggregated by gender. The differential roles of men and women have largely been neglected in studies of animal genetic resources management, but by piecing together several strands of argument and indirect evidence it can be concluded that women are the main guardians of livestock diversity. Case studies from many regions of the world illustrate that while to a degree women acquire their role as guardians of diversity by default because of global trends, many also make an active and conscious contribution to the management of animal genetic resources.
The State of Food and Agriculture 2012 - Investing in agriculture for a better future
Investing in agriculture is essential for reducing hunger and promoting sustainable agricultural production. Those parts of the world where agricultural capital per worker and public investments in agriculture have stagnated are the epicentres of poverty and hunger today. Demand growth over the coming decades will place increasing pressure on the natural resource base. Eradicating hunger sustainably will require a significant increase in agricultural investments, but also an improvement in their effectiveness. Farmers are the largest investors in developing country agriculture and must be central to any strategy for increasing investment in the sector, but if they are to invest more in agriculture they need a favourable climate for agricultural investment based on economic incentives and an enabling environment. Governments also have a special responsibility to help smallholders overcome the constraints they face in expanding their productive assets and to ensure that large-scale investments in agriculture are socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable. Government investment in agriculture is a crucial component of providing an enabling environment for private investments in the sector. Governments need to channel scarce public funds towards the provision of essential public goods with high economic and social returns.
Guidance Note: Integrating the Right to Adequate Food into food and nutrition security programmes
FAO, Right to Food Publication, 2012
This is a practical tool for practitioners who want to integrate the right to food into food and nutrition security programmes. It builds a bridge between the normative dimensions of the right to food and practical work on programme design, implementation and monitoring at country level. This tool does so by briefly explaining the conceptual, legal and operational dimensions of the right to food. Then it looks at four key entry points for integrating the right to food into food and nutrition security programmes: roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, legal aspects, monitoring, and recourse and claim mechanisms. Then uses specific examples and cases to illustrate how this can be done.
Decent rural employment for food security: A case for action
FAO, June 2012
This publication identifies the links between decent employment and food security and argues that improving policy coherence between employment and agricultural initiatives and investing more in the promotion of decent rural employment will contribute highly to the interlinked challenges of fighting rural poverty and feeding a growing world population in a sustainable way.
Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future
UNDP, May 2012
The report explores why dehumanizing hunger remains pervasive in the region, despite abundant agricultural resources, a favourable growing climate, and rapid economic growth rates. It also emphasizes that food security – the ability to consistently acquire enough calories and nutrients for a healthy and productive life - is essential for human development. To boost food security, it argues for action in four interrelated areas: agricultural productivity, nutrition, access to food, and empowerment of the rural poor. It asserts that increasing agricultural productivity in sustainable ways can bolster food production and economic opportunities, thereby improving food availability and increasing purchasing power. Effective nutrition policies can create conditions for the proper use and absorption of calories and nutrients. Finally, empowering the rural poor - especially women - and harnessing the power of information, innovation, and markets can promote equitable allocation of food and resources within families and across communities.
What Works for Women. Proven approaches for empowering women smallholders and achieving food security
The question of 'what changes do we need to empower women smallholders and achieve food security?' has been asked repeatedly. But transformational changes in both public policy and practice have been few and far between, although increasing access to resources and opportunities for women farmers could substantially reduce the number of hungry people in the world. In this context, nine international development agencies (ActionAid, Care, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Find Your Feet, Oxfam, Practical Action, Save the Children, and Self Help Africa) have produced a briefing to share the lessons learned based on their experience of promoting gender equality and working with women smallholders and rural women over many decades. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations for policy makers on measures to help close the gender gap in agriculture.
The Female Face of Farming
Empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods. This infographic, prepared by FAO and Farming First, allows us to take a take a closer look at the story of women and agriculture.
The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
USAID, IFPRI, OPHI, February 2012
The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) is the first measure to directly capture women’s empowerment and inclusion levels in the agricultural sector. The WEAI focuses on five areas: decisions over agricultural production, power over productive resources such as land and livestock, decisions over income, leadership in the community, and time use. Women are considered to be empowered if they have adequate achievements in four of the five areas. The Index also takes into consideration the empowerment of women compared with men in the same household, based on asking women and men the same survey questions.
Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security
FAO and IFAD, 2012
Rural institutions are a tool for social change and economic progress. These good practices show how group collaboration within organizations and with economic actors and policy-makers, enable small producers to fully participate in the economic, social, and political life of the society they live in.
Innovative approaches to gender and food security
IDS - Insights 82, January 2012
This issue of insights shows how development policy and practice can potentially improve food security while supporting women’s empowerment. They can focus on women’s critical role as food producers, consumers and family carers, while transforming gender norms and inequalities within households and communities.
Food Security Communications Toolkit
This toolkit is geared to helping food security professionals develop a communication strategy and communicate more effectively with their target audiences. Specific sections of the toolkit focus on policy makers and the media, because of the important role they play in implementing and influencing food security policies. It also looks at specific information products such as policy briefs, reports and early warning bulletins, and suggests ways to structure and improve them. Finally, it gives tips for using the internet, social media and Web 2.0 tools as these technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for engaging in two way dialogues with global audiences. The toolkit also includes readymade templates and dozens of tips and tricks distilled from many years of experience.
The role of women producer organizations in agricultural value chains. Practical lessons from Africa and India
Inducing institutional and organizational change to foster greater economic opportunities for small holders is often best achieved by enabling stakeholders to directly confront and compare alternative models of development operating within socio-economic and political environments different from their own. It is this basic premise that motivated FAO to initiate an Exposure and Exchange Program (EEP): to enable selected women farmers’ organizations from West and Central Africa and India’s SEWA (Self-Employed Women Association) to exchange and learn from their experiences. This report critically evaluates the SEWA model and draws conclusions relevant to African women producer organizations to better meet the challenges of raising Africa’s agricultural potential, improve incomes for small farmers, and ensure greater food security.
Agricultural cooperatives: Paving the way for food security and rural development
FAO/IFAD/WFP, 2011 (4pp)
Cooperatives offer small agricultural producers opportunities to access markets, and provide them with a range of services such as better access to natural resources, information, communication, technologies, credit and training.
The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11. Women in agriculture - Closing the gender gap for development
The 2010-11 edition of The State of the Food and Agriculture (SOFA), FAO’s flagship report, estimates that the production gains from closing the gender gap in agriculture and rural employment in developing countries could reduce the number of hungry in the world by 12-17% – 100 to 150 million people – a significant progress towards achieving global food security.
Infographic presenting the SOFA’s key messages
Changing nature of gender roles in the drylands of the horn and east Africa
REGLAP, December 2011
This report considers to what degree gender relations and the changes taking place are included within drought risk reduction (DRR) and response strategies, and what lessons can be learnt for developing more effective, gender-sensitive drought-related interventions. The report concludes by providing recommendations to DRR actors for more gender-sensitive interventions and support in pastoral areas.
Agromisa / CTA
Agrodoks are a series of publications on small-scale agriculture. This series consists of simple, practical manuals on agricultural methods. The Agrodok booklets are aimed at farmers and field workers in tropical and subtropical countries. Each provides a theoretical background on a particular topic and then explains its practical applications extensively. With over 47 titles in English, 46 in French, 48 in Portuguese and 2 in Swahili, you’re sure to find the information you need!
Responsible governance of land tenure: an essential factor for the realization of the right to food
FAO Land Tenure Working Paper 15, May 2010
This Discussion Paper emphasizes the right to food as a primary objective of public policies concerned with economic and social development. Achieving this objective depends on responsible governance of land and other natural resources. The importance of land lies in the fact that it often represents a direct link with cultural identity, while serving as the primary source of food production and sustenance. Given that land tenure and administration systems determine who and under what conditions can exercise property and usage rights of such a valuable resource, it is fundamental to analyse the relevance of land tenure in light of its effect on the realization of the right to food.
Learning AgriCultures. Insights from sustainable small-scale farming
The Learning AgriCultures series of seven modules is dedicated to understanding small-scale (family) farming and how it can become more sustainable. Each module has three learning blocks, looking at its theme from the perspective of: 1) the farm, 2) issues in the wider context affecting farming, and 3) sustainability approach and governance issues. These learning blocks are followed by a section of educational support material. Educators can choose from practical cases (mostly drawn from 25 years of articles in ILEIA’s archive), exercises, games, photos and videos as well as further references (free books and websites) to supplement their courses. A glossary of difficult terms, drawings and diagrams help explain concepts throughout. Through suggested questions, practical examples from around the world and different kinds of resource material, educators can make their own lesson plans choosing that which is relevant to their own regional context.
Fertile Ground. How governments and donors can halve hunger by supporting small farmers
Action Aid, April 2010
Empowering local farmers to produce more food for local markets is the bedrock of global food security. Small farmers, the majority of whom are women, are responsible for 90% of the food grown in Africa and produce about half the world’s food supply. They are determined, resourceful and incredibly hard-working. Given a chance, they could quite literally grow their way out of poverty and hunger.
Communicating for Food Security
This free online course from FAO can be downloaded, done online, or be requested on CD-ROM. Face-to-face training materials are also available. The course provides guidance on how to design and implement a communication strategy for food security information. Using several realistic examples, it illustrates the various components of a communication strategy, and provides concrete and detailed guidelines on how to communicate through the media and how to present information to policy-makers in order to influence the policy-making process. It is currently available in English; other languages are planned. The course has three units: designing your communication strategy; working with the media; communicating with policymakers.
More information (click on Communicating for Food Security)
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010. Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises
WFP/FAO, October 2010
This year’s report focuses on a particular group of countries, countries in protracted crisis, where levels of undernourishment are estimated to be at almost 40%. It examines the difficulties faced in trying to turn around the situation in such countries, not least the difficulty of moving beyond the mindset of humanitarian intervention towards a broader based development agenda. The report highlights actions that can be taken to rationalize the way protracted crises are handled. These include more holistic assessment of the crisis itself, including a deeper understanding of the drivers of crises; building on local community responses and institutions; introducing or supporting social protection mechanisms such as food-based safety nets; and moving from food aid to a broader-based food assistance approach. The final section provides recommendations on ways to improve engagement with countries in protracted crisis.
Lightening the Load. Labour saving technologies for rural women
IFAD, January 2010
The multiple roles of women can act as an obstacle to development interventions, which often put additional pressure on women’s time. Women’s heavy workload reduces the time available for participation in project-related activities or affects their ability to care for their families. Ensuring women’s access to labour-saving technologies for water, energy and farm-related activities is fundamental, and the need for such technologies is greater than it has ever been before. This publication looks back at three decades of experiences in introducing labour-saving technologies and practices to rural women and persisting gender discrimination in access and control. It also takes into account major developments in science, technology and innovation over the last several years and shows they can benefit women.
Right to Food Methodological Toolbox
FAO, October 2009
This toolbox is a book binder including six different volumes that provide practical information and detailed guidance on ways to integrate the right to food into different levels of national legislation, policies and programmes. It provides operational assistance to those seeking to monitor the right to adequate food and to identify and classify vulnerable groups suffering from hunger and food insecurity. There are also a large number of recommendations on planning, implementing and monitoring public allocations and expenditures in this field.
Gender Vulnerabilities, Food Price Shocks and Social Protection Responses
ODI Background Note, August 2009
The first half of 2008 saw the peak of the international food price spike, with effects on domestic and local food prices in many countries. Since then, the global economic crisis has further compounded the situation, with concerns that the contagion effects could reverse decades of progress in developing countries, with hundreds of millions of people experiencing worsening impoverishment and destitution. This Background Note argues that two important features of the food price crisis have received inadequate attention. First, women are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of the food price crisis, both as producers and consumers. Second, responses at the international and national levels have not taken sufficient consideration of gender dynamics into crisis responses.
Growing vegetables for home and market
FAO Diversification booklet No. 11, 2009
Vegetables that are easy to grow - potatoes, onions, tomatoes - provide economic, social and nutritional advantages and can make significant differences to smallholder livelihoods. With this booklet, policy-makers and development personnel will recognize the opportunities that are available for producing and marketing quality vegetables. The purpose of the FAO Diversification booklets is to raise awareness and provide decision support information about opportunities at farm and local community level to increase the incomes of small-scale farmers.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008. High food prices and food security - threats and opportunities
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008 presents the latest statistics on global undernourishment. It reviews the impact of high food prices and concludes that chronic hunger in the world has increased rapidly, now affecting well over 900 million people, and placing tremendous pressure on achieving hunger reduction. This report also examines how high food prices present an opportunity to relaunch smallholder agriculture in the developing world.
Helping Women Respond to the Global Food Price Crisis
IFPRI, Policy Brief No. 007 , October 2008
The current food price crisis has received widespread attention, but discussions to date have largely overlooked the gender dimensions of the crisis. More than 15 years of rigorous research on gender and intra-household resource allocation suggest not only that men and women will be affected differently by the global food crisis, but also that, as both consumers and producers, they will have different stocks of resources with which to respond to rising prices. Although the current situation calls for an urgent national and international response, urgency is not an excuse for misguided policies that fail to address the gender implications of the crisis. Instead, decision makers should take this opportunity to incorporate what is known about women’s roles in agricultural production and household welfare, and the specific challenges they face, both to craft more effective policy responses and to enable women to respond better to the current challenges and opportunities.
Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
World Bank, FAO, and IFAD, 2008
Women play a vital role as agricultural producers and as agents of food and nutritional security. Yet relative to men, they have less access to productive assets such as land and services such as finance and extension. A variety of constraints impinge upon their ability to participate in collective action as members of agricultural cooperative or water user associations. In both centralized and decentralized governance systems, women tend to lack political voice.
Gender inequalities result in less food being grown, less income being earned, and higher levels of poverty and food insecurity. Agriculture in low-income developing countries is a sector with exceptionally high impact in terms of its potential to reduce poverty. Yet for agricultural growth to fulfil this potential, gender disparities must be addressed and effectively reduced.
The evolving contexts of AIDS and the challenges for food security and rural livelihoods
FAO (ESW), September 2008
This paper focuses on the changing context of the HIV epidemic, with the aim of generating new insights into what it means for rural societies. The paper argues that although there are signs that the epidemic is stabilizing or even declining in some highly affected countries, the socio-economic effects associated with HIV and AIDS will continue to be considerable for many years to come – and as such they require innovative, well coordinated and appropriately planned responses from the agriculture sector.
Failing the Rural Poor: Aid, Agriculture and the Millennium Development Goals
ActionAid, September 2008
This briefing focuses on a sector that is critical in ending hunger – agriculture. In particular, it focuses on the role of aid to agriculture in developing countries. Aid is not the only instrument of inter-government policy that impacts on agriculture and the ability of people to feed themselves adequately – trade and private investment are also of central importance. This briefing shows the ways that aid has helped to cement the current food crisis. It also makes a series of recommendations to national governments and donors on how to reshape their support for this critical sector.
A significant shift: women, food security & agriculture in a global marketplace
A Significant Shift builds on ICRW’s more than 20 years of research and practical application on how and why to involve women in agricultural development efforts, as farmers, farm workers, and agricultural businesswomen and entrepreneurs. Most importantly, it challenges the agricultural and international development communities to significantly shift their view to see women as key economic agents of change in rural communities who in their own right contribute to local, national and global food security, and agricultural and economic growth.
Improving the nutrition status of children and women
id21 insights, issue 73, July 2008
Current high world food prices serve as a reminder of the vulnerability of large parts of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to hunger and under-nutrition. Good nutrition status for children and adolescent girls is fundamental for attaining many of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite this, donors and governments under-invest in interventions to improve nutrition. This issue of id21 insights argues that this underinvestment is due to a lack of incentives for donors; few take a strategic approach to investments that have the potential to improve nutrition and they have little idea whether current investments are making a difference.
A Significant Shift - Women, Food Security and Agriculture in a Global Marketplace
This paper reviews current thinking and practice on increasing agricultural productivity, both subsistence and commercial agriculture, and examines what is known about women’s roles in both sectors. In sum, new directions in development assistance and agricultural investments must recognize and support women’s involvement in the full agricultural value chain from production to processing to marketing. For small-scale and women farmers, the international community must support investments to improve subsistence farming, expand opportunities for commercial farming, and increase access to wider and more lucrative markets. For the millions of landless and land-poor women and men, the international community must expand opportunities for wage employment, both on- and off-farm.
Healthier farmers, better products
LEISA Magazine, Vol. 23, No. 3, Sept 2007
In recent years there has been a growing interest in the links between food, food production and health. In this issue we present examples of how such links between health issues and agriculture have been addressed in practical ways. There are articles about the use of traditional crops and food gardens for fighting AIDS in South Africa, the use of medicinal plants and local health traditions for primary health care in India, and how health concerns are driving safer vegetable production in Vietnam.
Family nutrition guide (CD-ROM)
The Family Nutrition Guide is a practical guide that aims to improve the feeding and nutrition of families in developing countries. It is primarily written for health workers, nutritionists, agricultural extensionists or other development workers who design nutrition education materials and activities and work with people at community level. It should also be useful to mothers or other caregivers who want to know more about family feeding, as well as anyone training health staff and other community-level workers. This CD includes the three language versions (English, French and Spanish).
Ensuring a food secure future: ingredients for change
Panos London, 2007
Hunger hits the headlines during times of famine, yet chronic food shortages are part of everyday life for millions of people in Africa and Asia. This package of media resources exploring food security includes free-to-reproduce print and audio features, as well as a briefing to help editors and journalists cover the complex issues raised by research. Panos has commissioned local reporters in Kenya, India, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia to talk to people about their relationship with food. The resulting print and audio features are free to reproduce.
Food Security Information for Action
The Food Security Information for Action Programme is funded by the European Commission (EC) and implemented and coordinated by FAO. Its website provides access to Food Security related information and resources produced by the programme. Its overall purpose is to enhance national capacity to use food security information from different sectors and sources for more effective anti-hunger policies and programmes.
Gender in advocacy on trade and food security
CIDSE & Caritas Internationalis, August 2006
As gender is one of the two cross-cutting priorities of the CIDSE Strategic Framework 2005-2008, the Trade and Food Security Working Group decided to make an assessment of the integration of the gender perspective with the objective to clarify and develop this dimension in its advocacy work.
FAO LinKS Training Manual - Building on Gender, Agrobiodiversity and Local Knowledge
FAO, March 2006
This training manual is based on experiences collected in numerous training workshops carried out under the FAO-LinKS project in Eastern and Southern Africa. It constitutes a conceptual guide for trainers that can be used to lead them through the issues of gender and local knowledge which are important elements for agrobiodiversity management and food security.
Food Security in Practice No. 2: Using Gender Research in Development
This practitioner’s guide bridges the gap between research and practice by providing up-to-date, relevant information on why and how gender issues, when taken into account, can improve the design, implementation, and effectiveness of development projects and policies.
FAO Telefood - Building solidarity to end world hunger
Since 1997, FAO has organised TeleFood, a campaign of concerts, sporting events and other activities to harness the power of media, celebrities and concerned citizens to help fight hunger. Money raised through TeleFood pays for small, sustainable projects that help small-scale farmers produce more food for their families and communities. Since its start, the campaign has generated more than US$12 million in donations.