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المنتدى العالمي المعني بالأمن الغذائي والتغذية

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

Mylene Rodríguez Leyton
Mylene Rodríguez LeytonUniversidad Metropolitana de BarranquillaColombia

Good afternoon, 

I send greetings to the organizers and participants in this forum; I would like to share some thoughts from the academy, particularly from the area of public nutrition of the Nutrition and Dietetics Program and the Food and Human Behavior Group, at the Metropolitan University of Barranquilla, Colombia.

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

The obligatory conditions for agriculture to succeed in the eradication of extreme poverty and the availability of land as the main asset for agricultural production, which have the necessary resources, access to credit, technical assistance that enables them to produce quality sustainable volume to meet the demands of the markets, that there is a marketing system that guarantees the fair conditions of commercialization to ensure income.

A significant proportion of the population of many countries of the world lives in rural areas, so it is necessary that rural workers have opportunities for education, health services, housing, living conditions and security that motivate the inhabitants of the country. rural sector to remain in their places of origin cultivating food for self-consumption and to market, which is free of all forms of violence or situation that leads to displacement to urban areas, which worsens poverty by increasing or generating Misery belts.

It must have capacity for food, mainly the young population, to produce a planned way, which transcends the activity of producing food, must be articulated in a sustainable food system and oriented to food and nutritional security contributing to the results in food of the population, in this way, the flow of food through productive chains that allow the flow of products, boosting not only markets and industry but also the nutrition of people not only through self-consumption of products for consumption food.

The strengthening of people in extreme poverty for agricultural activity is strengthened in a source of employment, the promotion of entrepreneurship projects that help generate income and in this way contribute to mobilize human, social and economic development.

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

The sustainable management of natural resources contributes to the eradication of extreme poverty since it guarantees the permanence of the necessary resources for production and marketing and for self-consumption.

The care of natural resources allows to develop productive processes of clean agriculture and agroecological systems.

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? 

If the different types of activities different from the cultivation of the land but that have to do with the obtaining of products for human consumption and that are viable to form productive chains that generate increase of the income, decrease of the prices of the foods and the activity becomes a source of employment.

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

The policies necessary to address food security and eradicate poverty must be multisectoral policies related to the development of peasant capacities, social welfare policies that guarantee their living conditions and promote social development and commercialization.

This includes the promotion of the permanence of the rural population in their areas of development; likewise, promotion of family agriculture linked to local development contributing to food sovereignty.

5. Can you share any examples of experiences that succeeded in reducing (or eradicating) extreme poverty through an agricultural pathway?

Below I will illustrate this topic with some experiences that show how agricultural production has great potential for improving the quality of life of the rural population; however, paradoxically it is not always a reality, it is the rural population that presents the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, the living conditions are precarious and where there are higher rates of malnutrition.

The Colombian agricultural sector presents a series of situations and experiences that become lessons learned for the definition of policies oriented to the poorest population.

Colombia is a country with favorable factors for agricultural production such as the climatic variety due to the geographical location in the tropical zone, the productive potential of the soils; as an example we can mention the cultivation and commercialization of some products such as coffee have been the engines of the economy for many years and Colombia has been a leader in the world market generating significant income in the gross domestic product.

The reactivation of the agricultural sector with the peace process consolidated in the present government, the agricultural sector has once again become stronger and this is how the Colombian government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has promoted the agricultural policy Colombia Siembra,  it represents a commitment to a new rebirth of the Colombian countryside, aimed at strengthening the development of the agricultural sector for the validity of this government. It is proposed to increase the supply of agricultural products for the country and will promote agricultural exports with added value, through the increase of the sown area and productivity.

This initiative will benefit all agricultural stakeholders (Family Farming, Farmers and Agribusinesses), providing them with adequate financial instruments to meet the needs of their productive activities. Colombia Siembra will create a favorable environment to boost the investments required in the new areas, technological packages, water solutions, infrastructure, machinery, research and technology transfer.

The Colombia Program sows that has the following objectives:

• Increase the agricultural supply to guarantee food security in the country.

• Increase the area and yields destined to the production and promotion of agricultural and agroindustrial exports.

• Promote the development of agricultural businesses to improve the income of producers.

• Strengthen technological development and services in the agricultural sector.

Coffee Production in Colombia, this is another case that leaves lessons learned regarding the eradication of poverty. Coffee producers have formed associations and have established policies to develop the sector and establish measures when the world price of grain decreases generating economic crisis. In 1927 the Colombian coffee growers united in order to create an organization that would represent them nationally and internationally, and that would watch over their welfare and the improvement of their quality of life. Thus was born the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC), considered one of the largest rural NGOs in the world, becoming the main guild of Colombia, with presence in all rural areas where coffee is produced in the country. Its central axis is the coffee producer and his family, so that his business is sustainable, that the coffee communities strengthen their social fabric and that Colombian coffee continues to be considered the best in the world.

The objective of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia is to increase the quality of life of Colombian coffee producers by contributing to the reduction of poverty; however there are other actors in this productive process that are the grain collectors and the scope the Federation is limited for this population; given that coffee cultivation takes place in some seasons of the year, harvesting is a manual process, occupies a high number of workers, but the employment generated is seasonal, who perform this work are rural inhabitants of low educational level, that do not have direct employment contracts by the owners of the crops, therefore they are not always fairly remunerated; it is the owner of the crop who decides the payment for each kilo of coffee collected; their lifestyle is nomadic, since when the coffee harvest is over, they migrate in search of other income opportunities; These conditions are what perpetuate the cycle of poverty in this population.

Below I share some links with publications of interest on the role of agriculture in the fight against poverty  and attached a research article that illustrates the case of coffee pickers in Colombia

Four ways to fight poverty with agriculture, experience in southern Brazil.

Renew agriculture to fight poverty.

This is the key to eradicating hunger in Latin America