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المنتدى العالمي المعني بالأمن الغذائي والتغذية

Re: Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture?

Claudio Schuftan
Claudio SchuftanPHMViet Nam

Dear friends all,

The call for this discussion starts from the wrong title, I’d say. I have many times advocated that the issue is not eradication of poverty; the issue is disparity reduction: the cake has to be re-sliced more equitably! (it is a zero sum game...)

A focus on interventions addressing hunger and extreme poverty are indeed sector-specific --and this is the problem.

If the discussion calls on inputs on the role that agriculture can play in improving the lives of the poorest of the poor we are precisely again falling on a sector-specific approach. Am I wrong?

FAO's approach towards the eradication of extreme poverty by using its experience in supporting agriculture thus needs to be expanded to embrace a disparity reduction approach.

Also, speaking of ‘the poorest of the poor’ is so depersonalizing. These are people rendered poor by an age-long process of deprivation, marginalization and exploitation. This is their ‘ordeal’, as you say. What are agricultural interventions going to contribute to change this?

Yes, SDG1 is right: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”. But have the SDGs really set the tone for this in the next 12 years? The clock is ticking...

You are right when you say that ‘agriculture mostly looks at those who have some assets, leaving the extreme poor behind’. When you talk about cash transfer programs you are a small step closer to what I mean.

I do hope FAO refines and improves its approach towards, not the eradication of extreme poverty, but towards disparity reduction. People have been ‘left behind’ for eons. The SDG slogan is thus aspirational at best.

1. Under what conditions can agriculture succeed in lifting people out of extreme poverty? Particularly those households with limited access to productive resources.

Unfortunately under none if used sector specifically.

2. What is the role of ensuring more sustainable natural resource management in supporting the eradication of extreme poverty?

This, again is only one aspect of the problem. If taken alone, little can be expected.

3. Can those without the opportunities to pursue agricultural production and to access resources such as fish, forests and livestock find pathways out of extreme poverty through these sectors?

‘Without opportunities’ relates to having been rendered poor and having been left behind and points towards disparity reduction actions that will only come if these groups act as claim holders, organize and mobilize to demand redress.

4. What set of policies are necessary to address issues connecting food security and extreme poverty eradication in rural areas?

Demand that the SDGs be reconsidered so they can apply the human rights framework to achieve the goals through 117 progressive realization indicators. (I know I am a dreamer…)