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Food systems provide for all people’s nutritional needs, while at the same time contributing to economic growth. The food and agriculture sector has the primary role in feeding people well by increasing availability, affordability, and consumption of diverse, safe, nutritious foods and diets, aligned with dietary recommendations and environmental sustainability. Applying these principles helps strengthen resilience and contributes to sustainable development.
However, hunger, malnutrition, and poor health are widespread and stubborn development challenges. Agriculture has made remarkable advances in the past decades, but progress in improving the nutrition and health of poor farmers and consumers in developing countries is lagging behind. For instance, in Zambia, 45% children under five years old – almost one million -- are stunted. ‘Stunting’ is a technical term used by nutrition and public health specialists that refers to low height for age – a key indicator of child health. This is a result of chronic malnutrition, which is usually caused by the lack of good-quality food and poor access to health care particularly in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday.
Agricultural programmes and investments can strengthen impact on nutrition if they:
- incorporate explicit nutrition objectives and indicators into their design, and track and mitigate potential harms, while seeking synergies with economic, social and environmental objectives.
- assess the context at the local level, to design appropriate activities to address the types and causes of malnutrition, including chronic or acute under-nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and obesity and chronic disease. Context assessment can include potential food resources, agro-ecology, seasonality of production and income, access to productive resources such as land, market opportunities and infrastructure, gender dynamics and roles, opportunities for collaboration with other sectors or programs, and local priorities.
- target the vulnerable and improve equity through participation, access to resources, and decent employment. Vulnerable groups include smallholders, women, youth, the landless, urban dwellers, the unemployed.
- collaborate and coordinate with other sectors (health, environment, social protection, labor, water and sanitation, education, energy) and programs, through joint strategies with common goals, to address concurrently the multiple underlying causes of malnutrition.
- maintain or improve the natural resource base (water, soil, air, climate, biodiversity), critical to the livelihoods and resilience of vulnerable farmers and to sustainable food and nutrition security for all. Manage water resources in particular to reduce vector-borne illness and to ensure sustainable, safe household water sources.
- empower women by ensuring access to productive resources, income opportunities, extension services and information, credit, labor and time-saving technologies (including energy and water services), and supporting their voice in household and farming decisions. Equitable opportunities to earn and learn should be compatible with safe pregnancy and young child feeding.
- facilitate production diversification, and increase production of nutrient-dense crops and small-scale livestock (for example, horticultural products, legumes, livestock and fish at a small scale, underutilized crops, and bio-fortified crops). Diversified production systems are important to vulnerable producers to enable resilience to climate and price shocks, more diverse food consumption, reduction of seasonal food and income fluctuations, and greater and more gender-equitable income generation.
- improve processing, storage and preservation to retain nutritional value, shelf-life, and food safety, to reduce seasonality of food insecurity and post-harvest losses, and to make healthy foods convenient to prepare.
- expand markets and market access for vulnerable groups, particularly for marketing nutritious foods or products vulnerable groups have a comparative advantage in producing. This can include innovative promotion (such as marketing based on nutrient content), value addition, access to price information, and farmer associations.
- incorporate nutrition promotion and education around food and sustainable food systems that builds on existing local knowledge, attitudes and practices. Nutrition knowledge can enhance the impact of production and income in rural households, especially important for women and young children, and can increase demand for nutritious foods in the general population.
Most importantly, increasing women’s participation in agriculture and related activities is of great significance for improving nutrition and reducing hunger worldwide. Women play a vital role in advancing agricultural development and food security. They participate in many aspects of rural life – in paid employment, trade and marketing, as well as many unpaid activities, such as tending to crops and animals, collecting water and wood for fuel, and caring for family members. Women also manage household consumption and food preparation. But women face many constraints in the multiple activities they pursue – less land ownership, access to credit, extension and other services, and ability to hire labor. Too often, these constraints as well as women’s current and potential contributions to agricultural production go unrecognized.
“A farm laborer carries her child as she tends to tobacco crops”
Increasing opportunities for women can have a powerful impact on productivity and agriculture-led growth. Women are just as efficient agricultural producers as men and can achieve similar yields when given equal access to resources, including training and services. For example, in Kenya, researchers found that women could increase their crop yields by approximately 20 percent if given the same access to the same resources as men. In Burkina Faso, it has been estimated that overall household production could increase by about six percent by more equitably distributing fertilizer and labor between male and female-farmed plots. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent. This increase could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 – 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12–17 percent, up to 150 million people.
“Women selling vegetables”
When women’s productivity and incomes increase, the benefits amplify across families and generations. Women tend to devote a larger fraction of their income to their children’s health and nutrition, laying the foundation for their children’s lifelong cognitive and physical development.6 In Nepal, for example, the children of women who own land are twice as likely to be adequately nourished than children in households where women work on family land they do not own or children growing up in landless households. Mothers who own land are better able to provide more nutritious food to their children and ensure their health and wellbeing.
Strengthening women’s power, influence, and decision-making roles within the family and community can be an effective strategy to improve their consumption of nutritious foods and their health. In many parts of the world, women are more likely than men to spend the income they control on food, health care, and education for their children. Thus, increasing women’s access to land, ability to make decisions about land use, and control of physical and financial assets will not only increase agricultural production, but also improve child health and nutrition. Empowering women to promote healthy, diverse diets through the production and consumption of nutrient-rich crops using local food systems is critical for ensuring food and nutrition security. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17 percent.
Incorporating gender-sensitive nutrition components into policies and programs can avoid unintended gender impacts that undercut the effectiveness of these initiatives. In addition to providing women and girls with more opportunities to participate, gender-sensitive nutrition programs measure the impact of planned activities on women and men. Efforts to improve women’s nutritional status will be most effective if conducted in conjunction with programs that aim to improve the status of women and reduce gender inequalities.
While planning or evaluating nutrition interventions, it is important to understand the social and gender dynamics that could help or hinder their effectiveness. A gender analysis will help answer questions such as:
- What are the demographics of the affected group, disaggregated by sex and age?
- What decisions do women and men make that affect family nutrition?
- Who makes the decisions about breastfeeding - whether or not to breastfeed, when to start, how long to continue? This could be a mother herself, but might be her mother-in-law or husband.
Lastly, integrated agriculture and nutrition programs have great potential to improve nutrition outcomes, but evidence so far is scarce due to weaknesses in program targeting, design and implementation and equally importantly, poor evaluation designs. Using an agricultural platform to improve nutrition is also useful in sustainable development initiatives.
1) What are the main issues for policy-makers to consider when linking climate change on the one hand and food security and nutrition on the other, in particular when designing, formulating and implementing policies and programmes?
1.1 Main issues for policy-makers while considering climate change: Environmental policies have sweeping implications for business, citizens and the environment. Building policy is a complex process and there are numerous opportunities for things to go well – or poorly. Societies have a long record of managing the impacts of weather- and climate-related events. Nevertheless, additional adaptation measures will be required to reduce the adverse impacts of projected climate change and variability, regardless of the scale of mitigation undertaken over the next two to three decades. Moreover, vulnerability to climate change can be exacerbated by other stresses. These arise from, for example, current climate hazards, poverty and unequal access to resources, food insecurity, trends in economic globalization, conflict and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Further, some planned adaptation to climate change is already occurring on a limited basis. Adaptation can reduce vulnerability, especially when it is embedded within broader sectoral initiatives. There is high confidence that there are viable adaptation options that can be implemented in some sectors at low cost, and/or with high benefit-cost ratios. However, comprehensive estimates of global costs and benefits of adaptation are limited.
1.2 Main issues for policy-makers while considering food security and nutrition: Underlying the food and nutrition situation are multiple challenges in achieving sustainable food production. A rapidly growing population is increasing the demand for food. Climate change is adding to the challenge of achieving sustainable food production and meeting the demands of a growing population. Events related to climate change are likely to intensify in the coming years. There is no magic bullet that can eliminate hunger and under-nutrition, given the complex nature of these problems. There are many inter-related issues, some of which are related to poverty and lack of empowerment. These include gender issues, discrimination against ethnic groups, land use, rights and ownership, war, the HIV pandemic, and environmental issues. Food solutions need to be integrated and multifaceted. Efforts to realize the “right to adequate food” must go beyond improving the production and distribution of nutritious food. “Safety nets” should systematically include or be accompanied by measures to promote sustainable livelihoods for households with malnourished children. Adequate feeding and care should be an integral part of national strategies and programs to reduce hunger and under-nutrition. This includes promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and appropriate complementary feeding, basic requirements for nutritional well being.
2) What are the key institutional and governance challenges to the delivery of cross-sectoral and comprehensive policies that protect and promote nutrition of the most vulnerable, and contribute to sustainable and resilient food systems? Production systems and the policies and institutions that underpin global food security are increasingly inadequate. Sustainable agriculture must nurture healthy ecosystems and support the sustainable management of land, water and natural resources, while ensuring world food security. In order to be sustainable, agriculture must meet the needs of present and future generations for its products and services, while ensuring profitability, environmental health and social and economic equity. The global transition to sustainable food and agriculture will require major improvements in the efficiency of resource use, in environmental protection and in systems resilience. Sustainable agriculture requires a system of global governance that promotes food security concerns in trade regimes and trade policies, and revisits agricultural policies to promote local and regional agricultural markets.
The current trajectory of growth in agricultural production is unsustainable because of its negative impacts on natural resources and the environment. The overarching challenges being faced are the growing scarcity and fast degradation of natural resources, at a time when the demand for food, feed, fibre and goods and services from agriculture (including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) is increasing rapidly. Some of the highest population growth is predicted in areas which are dependent on agriculture and already have high rates of food insecurity. Additional factors - many interrelated - complicate the situation:
§ Competition over natural resources will continue to intensify. This may come from urban expansion, competition among various agricultural sectors, expansion of agriculture at the expense of forests, industrial use of water, or recreational use of land. In many places this is leading to exclusion of traditional users from access to resources and markets;
§ While agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, it is also a victim of its effects. Climate change reduces the resilience of production systems and contributes to natural resource degradation. Temperature increases, modified precipitation regimes and extreme weather events are expected to become significantly more severe in the future;
§ Increasing movement of people and goods, environmental changes, and changes in production practices give rise to new threats from diseases (such as highly pathogenic avian influenza) or invasive species (such as tephritid fruit flies), which can affect food safety, human health and the effectiveness and sustainability of production systems. Threats are compounded by inadequate policies and technical capacities, which can put whole food chains at risk; and
§ The policy agenda and mechanisms for production and resource conservation are mostly disjointed. There is no clear integrated management of ecosystems and/or landscapes.
The challenges outlined above give rise to five key principles for guiding the strategic development of new approaches and the transition to sustainability:
o Principle 1: Improving efficiency in the use of resources is crucial to sustainable agriculture;
o Principle 2: Sustainability requires direct action to conserve, protect and enhance natural resources;
o Principle 3: Agriculture that fails to protect and improve rural livelihoods and social well-being is unsustainable;
o Principle 4: Sustainable agriculture must enhance the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems, especially to climate change and market volatility; and
o Principle 5: Good governance is essential for the sustainability of both the natural and human systems.
In order to cope with the rapid pace of change and increased uncertainty, sustainability must be seen as a process, rather than a singularly defined end point to be achieved. This, in turn, requires the development of technical, policy, governance and financing frameworks that support agricultural producers and resource managers engaged in a dynamic process of innovation. In particular:
§ Policies and institutions are needed that provide incentives for the adoption of sustainable practices, to impose regulations and costs for actions that deplete or degrade natural resources, and to facilitate access to the knowledge and resources required;
§ Sustainable agricultural practices must make full use of technology, research and development, though with much greater integration of local knowledge than in the past. This will require new and more robust partnerships between technical and investment-oriented organizations;
§ Evidence-based planning and management of the agricultural sectors requires suitable statistics, geospatial information and maps, qualitative information and knowledge. Analysis should focus on both production systems and the underlying natural and socio-economic resources; and
§ The challenges relating to stocks and utilization rates of natural resources often transcend national boundaries. International governance mechanisms and processes must support sustainable growth (and the equitable sharing of benefits) in all agriculture sectors, protecting natural resources and discouraging collateral damage.
3) In your experience, what are key best-practices and lessons-learned in fostering cross-sectoral linkages to protect and improve nutrition while preventing, adapting to climate change and reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions in projects?
1.1 Key Best-Practices in Improving Nutrition and Climate Change Adaptation: The agricultural sector both affects and is affected by climate change. While it contributes to mitigating it, agriculture affects climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from croplands and animals. It is affected by loss of agricultural land, salt water intrusion, changes in temperature and rainfall regimes and increasingly severe weather hazards. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with Procasur Africa, CARE (relief agency) in Kenya and the Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), organized a learning route titled “Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Adaptation best practices: The Experience in Kenya,” that took place between the 7th and the 13th of July 2014. Seventeen participants from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya all met together on an 8-day journey across the districts and rural communities of Kenya.
A Learning Route is an experience that transforms its participants, leading them to become agents of change in their own organizations. It is a capacity-building procedure with a proven track record of successfully combining local knowledge and experiences. The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts. This journey gets participants to understand these changes through peer learning, discussing directly with rural communities who are the promoters of the identified best practices and successful innovations (http://ifad-un.blogspot.in/2014/08/local-solutions-and-best-practices-on_21.html, accessed on March 31, 2015).
1.2 Lessons-Learned in Improving Nutrition and Climate Change Adaptation: Only by implementing real changes across the global food system will we be able to achieve food security and a stable climate for the long term. This will require a break from business as usual and a significant shared commitment by policy makers, investors, agricultural producers, consumers, food companies and researchers. Followings are lessons learned in improving nutrition and climate change adaptation initiatives:
§ Integrate food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies:
o Establish a work program on mitigation and adaptation in agriculture in accordance with the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), based on Article 2, as a first step to inclusion of agriculture in the mainstream of international climate change policy.
o Make sustainable, climate-friendly agriculture central to Green Growth44 and the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
o Develop common platforms at global, regional and national levels for coherent dialogue and policy action related to climate change, agriculture, crisis response and food security, at global, regional and national levels. These include fostering country-level coalitions for food security and building resilience, particularly in countries most vulnerable to climate shocks.
§ Significantly raise the level of global investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems in the next decade:
o Implement and strengthen the existing G8 L'Aquila programs and commitments to sustainable agriculture and food security, including long-term commitments for financial and technical assistance in food production and to empower smallholder farmers.
o Adjust national research and development budgets, and build integrated scientific capacity, to reflect the significance of sustainable agriculture in economic growth, poverty reduction and long-term environmental sustainability, and focus on key food security issues (for example, developing nutritious non-grain crops and reducing post-harvest losses).
o Increase knowledge of best practices and access to innovation by supporting revitalized extension services, technology transfer and communities of practice (for example, North-South, South-South, cross-commodity and farmer-to-farmer exchanges), with emphasis on low-to high-income countries and on women farmers.
§ Sustainably intensify agricultural production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of agriculture:
o Develop, facilitate and reward multi-benefit farming systems that enable more productive and resilient livelihoods and ecosystems, with emphasis on closing yield gaps and improving nutrition.
o Introduce strategies for minimizing ecosystem degradation and rehabilitating degraded environments, with emphasis on community-designed programs.
o Empower marginalized food producers (particularly women) to increase productivity of a range of appropriate crops by strengthening land and water rights, increasing access to markets, finance and insurance, and enhancing local capacity (for example through farmer and community-based organizations).
o Identify and modify subsidies (such as for water and electricity) that provide incentives for farmers to continue agricultural practices that deplete water supplies or destroy native ecosystems. Introduce compensation schemes that target the poor.
o Couple economic incentives for sustainable intensification of agriculture with strengthening governance of land tenure and land zoning to prevent further loss of forests, wetlands and grasslands.
§ Develop specific programs and policies to assist populations and sectors that are most vulnerable to climate changes and food insecurity:
o Develop funds that respond to climate shocks, such as 'index-linked funds ' that provide rapid relief when extreme weather events affect communities, through public-private partnerships based on agreed principles.
o Moderate excessive food price fluctuations by sharing country information on production forecasts and stocks, strengthening market databases, promoting open and responsive trade systems, establishing early warning systems and allowing tax-free export and import for humanitarian assistance. This includes embedding safeguards related to import surges and trade distortions in trade agreements.
o Create and support safety nets and other programs to help vulnerable populations in all countries become food secure (for example, cash and in-kind transfers, employment guarantee schemes, programs to build resilience, health and nutrition, delivery of education and seeds of quick growing foods in times of famine).
o Establish robust emergency food reserves and financing capacity that can deliver rapid humanitarian responses to vulnerable populations threatened by food crises.
o Create and support platforms for harmonizing and coordinating global donor programs, policies and activities, paying particular attention to systematically integrating climate change risk management, adaptation and mitigation co-benefits, and improved local nutritional outcomes.
§ Reshape food access and consumption patterns to ensure basic nutritional needs are met and to foster healthy and sustainable eating patterns worldwide:
o Address chronic under-nutrition and hunger by harmonizing development policy and coordinating regional programs to improve livelihoods and access to services among food-insecure rural and urban communities.
o Promote positive changes in the variety and quantity of diets through innovative education campaigns, which target young consumers especially, and through economic incentives that align the marketing practices of retailers and processors with public health and environmental goals.
o Promote and support a coherent set of evidence-based sustainability metrics and standards to monitor and evaluate food security, nutrition and health, practices and technologies across supply chains, agricultural productivity and efficiency, resource use and environmental impacts, and food system costs and benefits. This should include providing consumers with clear labelling.
§ Reduce loss and waste in food systems, targeting infrastructure, farming practices, processing, distribution and household habits:
o In all sustainable agriculture development programs, include research and investment components focusing on reducing waste, from production to consumption, by improving harvest and postharvest management and food storage and transport.
o Develop integrated policies and programs that reduce waste in food supply chains, such as economic innovation to enable low-income producers to store food during periods of excess supply and obligations for distributors to separate and reduce food waste.
o Promote dialogue and convene working partnerships across food supply chains to ensure that interventions to reduce waste are effective and efficient (for example, redirecting food waste to other purposes), and do not create perverse incentives.
§ Create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions:
o Sustain and increase investment in regular monitoring, on the ground and by public domain remote sensing networks, to track changes in land use, food production, climate, the environment, human health and well-being worldwide.
o Support improved transparency and access to information in global food markets and invest in interlinked information systems with common protocols that build on existing institutions.
o Develop, validate and implement spatially explicit data and decision-support systems that integrate biophysical and socioeconomic information and that enable policy makers to navigate trade-offs among agricultural intensification, nutritional security and environmental consequences.
Dear Ms Maria Helena Semedo and Mr Ibrahim Thiaw,
Warm greetings from the S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU), Mumbai, India
I am submitting herewith my contribution for e-discussion on: Towards the Development of the Programme on Sustainable Food Systems (SFSP) in the form provided by you.
I hope you will find my inputs useful. I am confident that the FAO and the UNEP will be able to develop a more effective programme on sustainable food systems (SFSP) in the years to come. Kindly acknowledge receipt of this email as well as enclosed contribution.
With best regards,
Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
S. N. D. T. Women's University,
1. From your knowledge and experience how have trade agreements and rules affected the four dimensions of food security (availability, access, utilization, stability)?
As a necessary element to human survival, food is a human right. Small, local family farms are the bedrock of traditional rural communities and global food security- the ability of countries to produce the food they need to survive. Yet the global food supply is increasingly falling under the control of giant multinational corporations. Large agribusinesses have rewritten the rules of the global agricultural economy, using “free trade” agreements to turn food into a commodity for profit rather than a human right. The global corporatization of agriculture has had disastrous effects on farmers, food security, and the environment.
Global agricultural policy used to be geared towards maintaining stability in global markets. Supply management programs, also called commodities agreements, helped maintain production around the same as demand, so that farmers didn’t produce an oversupply that would cause prices to collapse. These programs helped keep market prices above a price floor, which is a minimum price over the cost of production that farmers need to survive. In addition, countries have historically promoted their local economies by protecting domestic production from foreign competition. Most countries maintain taxes on foreign imports, called tariffs, as well as outright limits on the quantities of foreign imports, called quotas, in order to favor local economic development. This has especially been true in the agricultural sector, where local food production is key to food sovereignty.
Feeding the world in 2050 when our global population is expected to reach over 9 billion is one of the most daunting challenges of our time. In the face of climate change, and with scarce land and water resources, we must rapidly address this challenge and lay in place the right frameworks to boost food production and freeze the environmental footprint of agriculture all along the food value chain. We must also unlock the potential of millions of small producers who could be part of the solution to feed the planet.
Trade is an integral aspect of increased productivity and food security. All farmers, regardless of size, will only produce more when they see an available market. These decisions are no longer as local as they once were. With agricultural value chains becoming more complex, actions taken in far off capitals – and regional and international institutions as well – will have an impact on the rural small farmer more than ever before. The laws and regulations governing the different aspects of value chain development, many of which are part of trade agreements and institutions, also directly tie into market opportunity and productivity.
The potential gains associated with increased trade and easier movement of goods and services are becoming increasingly clear. Trade has now become a significant component of food security efforts and the broader agricultural development agenda. A strong enabling environment – with transparent and well-implemented laws, regulations, and trade policy – is central to value chain development. One of the biggest challenges in creating this enabling environment will be closing the gap between the system on the books and the realities in the market. This applies to domestic and regional laws and regulations, implementation of trade agreements, and transparent regulatory systems alike.
There are positive developments taking place at the intersection of trade, agriculture, and food security. But trade needs to be further integrated and better used as a tool for market development and productivity enhancement. In order to open markets effectively and to the benefit of all, innovation from both the public and private sectors will be increasingly important.
Overall, the 21st century will require a trade policy that is forward-looking and innovative in order to take advantage of future market opportunities. Trade can and should impact individuals positively, add value economy-wide, and deliver broader food security and development benefits. The new vision for agriculture should focuses on three strategic areas:
§ Facilitating leadership commitment to action by facilitating dialogue, commitment building and collaboration among diverse stakeholders;
§ Supporting country transformation by catalyzing and supporting action-oriented, multi-stakeholder partnerships at regional and country levels; and
§ Promoting innovation and best practice by facilitating exchange of innovation, experiences and best practices among stakeholders and regions, and monitoring partnership impact to track progress.
2. What is your knowledge and experience with creating coherence between food security measures and trade rules? Can rights-based approaches play a role?
Trade in agriculture is a vital part of international development. Ensuring that developing countries can have food security and benefit from international trade should be a priority for developed and developing countries alike. The right to food is a fundamental human right. Global commitments to make food security a reality for all people recognize that fair rules for international trade within a multilateral trade system are essential to achieve this goal. In developing countries, on average almost 60% of people are involved in food production. Trading food at fair prices is essential for their short and long term development. The link between trade and food security becomes clear through an examination of the basic principles, specific policies, and implications of international agreements for people who cannot take food security for granted. Basic principles and specific policies are both important in the debate about food security and trade liberalization:
- First, the points of intersection between food security and the agreement should be clarified.
- Second, the relationship between international commitments to food security and commitments to trade liberalization must be assessed in order to have coherence.
- Third, ways to broaden the definition of food security and its application within trade agreements should be explored.
Agricultural production is about our human need for food, not simply about markets. It is true that not all regions of the world can or should attempt to be competitive in the area of agriculture exports. Households and countries may be able to rely on the international supply of food to satisfy their needs, but only if the rules for trade are fair and give priority to the need for food security. In short, developed and developing countries must work together to ensure that more liberalized trade agreements are compatible with food security.
3. How can a food security strategy, including components that explicitly support small-scale farmers in agro-biodiverse settings, be implemented in ways that might be compatible with a global market-based approach to food security?
Food security is recognized world-wide as a fundamental dimension of national development, good governance and basic human rights. The generally accepted definition of food security is: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, enabling them to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Food security is recognized as a basic human right under international law. However, the global food system today is beset by serious challenges and risks:
- production and prices have become more volatile;
- hunger and poverty levels remain high, particularly among farming communities; and
- unsustainable practices exacerbate environmental challenges.
By the year 2050, the world’s population will have risen to 9 billion. Feeding this population will require substantial changes to ensure the production, distribution and consumption of sufficient nutritious and sustainably produced food. As the economy grows and markets develop for a variety of products, subsistence production is gradually replaced by production for the market. This tendency is further strengthened when an economy opens up to the outside world. If this happens at an advanced stage, when the population has already crossed the threshold of hunger, as has been the case in the Western world, the shift from subsistence food production to market production does not pose a serious problem to food security. In fact, it may even enrich the diet of the population by enabling it to obtain a wide variety of food from all over the world. But if market orientation occurs at an early stage, when a large section of the population has yet to secure access to sufficient food to guarantee a minimum required diet, questions are bound to arise regarding its impact on food security.
Questions have indeed arisen in recent years in the context of the macroeconomic reforms currently sweeping the Developing World. Markets are opening up both internally and externally, thus providing incentives to farmers to shift towards cash crops. Structural adjustment programs are strengthening these incentives by making production for export more profitable than before. Partly as a result of these policy reforms and also because of increasing urbanization, agriculture can be expected to become increasingly diversified and commercialized in coming years.
In order to gain further insight into the importance of subsistence income on the ‘down’ side, it is necessary to consider the forces that are responsible for reducing subsistence income. Two kinds of forces need to be distinguished here. They may be referred to as ‘push’ forces and ‘pull’ forces. Pull forces are those that divert household resources from subsistence production to potentially more attractive market-oriented activities. Push forces operate when the loss of resources (such as land, labour and capital) compel households to cut down on subsistence activities. These two forces must be distinguished because the loss of subsistence income is arguably more likely to entail losses in food security when it is caused by push forces rather than by pull forces. Most importantly, pro-poor transformation of rural economies requires increasing agricultural productivity and efficiency along value chains, diversifying economic activity, and integrating the rural economy into the broader economy through sound market systems. And for the rural and urban poor alike food security is rooted in sufficient, sustainable income. Through value chain and market system analysis, it is possible to:
a) identify constraints in agricultural markets, including input and output markets; and
b) develop solutions that change the structure of incentives so that market interactions benefit the poor.
Warm greetings from the S. N. D. T. Women's University (SNDTWU), Mumbai, India and thanks for your mail. I am sending (see attachment below) my comments / contribution on how to improve the uptake and relevance of FSN information for decision making.
It runs in 12 pages. I hope you will find it interesting and relevant.
With best regards.
Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
S. N. D. T. Women's University,
Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India.
1. What role can schools and universities play in promoting agricultural careers to youth? Please share any relevant programs you are aware of.
Youth development, the process of growing up and developing one’s capacities, happens no matter what we do. The challenge is to promote ‘positive’ youth development and plan ‘quality’ experiences with young people. Degrees in agricultural education can be used to teach agriculture or obtain a job in an agricultural related work field. This degree can give students the qualifications and knowledge necessary to teach agricultural classes such as the courses offered at the high school level. Students will be required to complete agriculture classes as well as education classes in order to become qualified to teach. A bachelor’s degree in agricultural education will qualify a person to teach classes all the way up to the high school level. A Masters degree is required in order to teach on the college level. An agricultural education degree also gives the qualifications to do extension work for universities and agriculture related companies and organizations.
Agriculure’s image among young people is changing where youth are now turning to farming and the food system as a viable career path. Increased access to education and new forms of agriculture-based enterprise mean that young people can be a vital force for innovation in family farming, increasing incomes and well-being for both farmers and local communities. Young people can transform the agricultural sector by applying new technologies and new thinking.
Today, several universities, colleges, schools and research institutions, across the regions of the globe, are promoting agricultural career among youth population, both men and women. The Future Farmers of America (FFA, located in Virginia in the USA, http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2571/Youth-Organizations-NATIONAL-FUTURE-FARMERS-AMERICA-ORGANIZATION.html) is one such organization. The FFA, officially called the National FFA Organization, is an educational organization for high school and college students who are interested in agriculture. The National FFA Organization works in conjunction with the National FFA Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that seeks partnerships with corporations, foundations, and government agencies to help provide funding for FFA programs. The FFA's main objective is to develop in its members qualities of leadership, character, scholarship, cooperation, and citizenship through agricultural education. The FFA is an integral part of many high school agriculture programs. The organization operates in cooperation with the Office of Vocational and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, as well as with state and local boards for vocational and agricultural education.
The FFA’s many programs include the New Century Farmer Program, which helps young people become aware of new opportunities in twenty-first century agriculture. New Century farmers are sent on traveling seminars to meet with and learn from innovative professional farmers and agriculture educators around the country. FFA Global Programs send members to foreign countries where they can learn the value, traditions, and role of agriculture in other cultures.
Because the majority of FFA members hope to pursue careers related to agriculture, the FFA sponsors numerous career development events at the chapter, state, and national level. These events help members explore the hundreds of career options available in the modern agriculture industry, from agronomy to food technology, forestry, floriculture, agricultural communications, and environmental and natural resources management. The FFA also provides information, incentives, and financial aid to members who wish to become college and high school teachers of agriculture.
Another career development program, Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), offers members an opportunity for “hands on application of the agricultural skills and principles” they learned in the classroom. A student involved in SAE may be placed in an agriculture-related job or may start his or her own agriculture-related business under the guidance of an adult mentor.
The FFA operates on local, state and national levels and its agricultural education program provides students with a well-rounded, practical approach to learning through classroom education. It focuses on agricultural topics, hands-on supervised career experience, as well as provides leadership opportunities, and challenges students' agricultural skills. Further, the FFA helps students develop their leadership skills by participating in public speaking, skill contests, chapter meetings, award and recognition programs, committees and community projects. Moreover, FFA also motivates young people to make positive contributions to their schools, homes, communities and ultimately, their country. The FFA helps students develop their leadership skills by participating in public speaking, skill contests, chapter meetings, award and recognition programs, committees and community projects. Moreover, the FFA also motivates young people to make positive contributions to their:
§ communities, and
§ ultimately, their country.
Any boy or girl aged twelve to twenty-one who is enrolled in an agriculture course or program is eligible to become a member of FFA. The FFA also includes honorary and alumni members.
2. What approaches are most successful in promoting the equality of female farmers?
Women are a critical component of agriculture in developing countries, contributing to ensuring food security and nutrition. They are farmers, unpaid workers on family farms, paid or unpaid agricultural laborers on other farms and agricultural enterprises, food processors and vendors, home gardeners, cooks, and carers for children and the elderly. Further, due to their specific roles in food production, many women are the repositories of knowledge about cultivation, processing, and preservation of nutritious and locally adapted crop varieties.
Given the right possibilities, such knowledge can allow women to be innovation leaders in sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, despite their wealth of knowledge and capacity, women farmers are neglected by policy makers, often not being recognized as “productive farmers”. Their farm work is frequently unpaid or under-valued; they tend to be excluded from decision-making; and they do not have equal access to land and other resources, credit, markets, education, extension services and inputs.
Collective action is a powerful means for women to increase productivity and access to markets whilst sharing knowledge, information and productive assets including land, livestock, and credit. Supportive collective structures help smallholders through:
§ economies of scale,
§ greater bargaining power,
§ facilitating access to agricultural services, and
§ strengthening political voice.
Such supportive collective structures include:
o producer organizations,
o farmer field schools,
o community - managed savings and credit groups,
o enterprise and marketing cooperatives,
o cow banks, and
o water sharing committees.
They also reap additional social benefits by creating a safe environment for women to meet, share information and tackle social problems such as “gender-based violence”. Groups can be especially empowering for women, providing opportunities to participate in decision-making and take on leadership roles. In order to maximize the benefit of women’s collective action, it is important to understand what strategies are most effective in different contexts and for different groups of women.
In some contexts, “women - only groups” can provide “enabling spaces” where marginalized women can gain self - esteem, confidence and skills by creating a space for them to identify their needs, understand their rights and begin to articulate their demands. “Women - only groups” can also provide a step towards wider participation in mixed groups and other “decision - making forums”. For example, in Northeastern Brazil, women farmers have created a forum through which they exchange their knowledge and experiences on agro-ecological farming, while strengthening their identity as rural women and building their ‘self – confidence’. For many, this forum helped to demystify the common notion that women are ‘helpers’, whose labor is of less value than that of men.
Involvement in mixed groups can also be empowering, although work is required to raise equity within the groups. Activities pursued by many cooperatives are generally skewed towards men. For example, in many countries, land is usually required as collateral for some activities, but women are not usually the registered owners of the land they farm. Some approaches that have helped address this gender imbalance include:
o working directly with individual cooperatives to raise awareness of the issue of women’s participation and empowerment,
o supporting cooperatives in drafting gender - sensitive by-laws,
o making their activities and benefits relevant and accessible to women, and
o training model cooperatives on gender-sensitive business plan development.
Presented below is brief description of case study on “Promoting Gender-Sensitive Cooperatives in Ethiopia”:
As Africa’s largest producer of honey and beeswax, and the world’s fourth largest beeswax producer, smallholders in Ethiopia have a ready market. Yet, low productivity, poor quality, and limited market access force smallholders to sell locally at lower prices.
“An Ethiopian woman sells her seed and grain products at a women-run store at the Becho-Woliso Farmers Cooperative Union”
Through formation of the Zembaba Bee Products Development and Marketing Cooperative Union, small - scale producers were provided training in production techniques and the use of new technology that was more socially acceptable for women. The cooperatives and project partners encouraged local government to expand extension services and help the cooperatives to build capacity, ensuring that training was available at times when women could attend.
New village honey collection centers allowed women to engage in processing and marketing and gave them better access to information. Women also began making the specialist overalls, gloves, and veils required to handle bees. These measures have helped to increase women’s confidence and overcome the gender specific barriers to women’s participation in honey production. Women have organized themselves into self-help groups and are negotiating with cooperatives to revise the by-laws on women's membership and introduce a functional adult literacy intervention. Gradually through this collective action, they are becoming involved in the management of the union and cooperatives.
3. What measures can development organizations and governments take to make rural areas more appealing for future farmers?
Young people in rural areas have often found themselves marginalized both by decisions on the formulation and development of rural policy and by decision-making processes related to youth policy. However, young people in the countryside are more profoundly affected than other young people by the transitions taking place in contemporary society. A number of serious problems confront young people in rural areas: relatively high unemployment, marginalization, a lack of appropriate resources, a level of education below that available in towns and cities and poor career prospects. Jobs in farming (formerly the main source of employment in the countryside) are becoming fewer and young farmers who want to take over a farm face many hurdles. Given these difficulties, the question young people face is whether to stay in the countryside or to go in search of opportunities elsewhere. The changes lying ahead in rural areas, in particular in central and eastern European countries, will have a fundamental impact on the opportunities available to young people continuing to live in the countryside. Society must provide the resources necessary to enable young people in rural areas to take responsibility for their own future. Developmental organizations and national governments, across the regions of the globe, should envisage strengthening following efforts for the purpose of making rural areas more appealing for future farmers:
§ Add agriculture to the curriculum,
§ Offer young farmers a voice, and
Also, the governments should:
o consult rural youth organizations on the drafting of rural and youth policies, particularly where the setting up and implementation of education and training programs are concerned;
o pay particular attention to the problems of young farmers, make it easier for them to set up in farming, provide training appropriate to their needs, help to improve the public image of farming and introduce increased tax relief for acquiring or developing farms;
o ensure that educational and training opportunities in rural areas are maintained and developed and that opportunities for further study are not found only in urban areas. Priority must be given to keeping rural primary and secondary schools open;
o take steps to develop distance learning in rural areas, promote access to the latest technology and encourage the establishment of businesses in the countryside;
o train teachers specializing in educational fields adapted to the needs of rural areas;
o introduce a training program for young managers of small and medium-sized businesses in the countryside;
o provide support, including financial support, for the development of rural youth organizations, with particular emphasis on youth organization programs and projects to promote rural development;
o instruct local authorities in rural areas and their associations to set up pilot development projects (i. e., involving businesspeople in the provision of training and mentoring for the young, setting up youth business centers providing equipment for a given period (seedbeds for rural enterprises) and offering grants to companies that employ young people, etc);
o encourage young people to participate in local political life in rural areas (through consultation, encouragement to participate in decisions concerning them, youth councils, etc);
o encourage job creation in rural areas by means of support programs for people wishing to retire, making it easier to transmit skills and transfer operations and ownership;
o promote new activities and help young people to find alternative employment in the countryside;
o encourage the development of communications, transport and new information technologies in rural areas, especially the most remote ones; and
o promote sustainable agriculture and rural development and encourage local initiatives for a better protection of nature and the environment.
Furthermore, strengthening the technical and entrepreneurial skills of young people is of paramount importance in rural areas, where literacy and training rates are often lower than elsewhere. Farmer field schools are platforms for training and experience-sharing between farmers and have proven effective in knowledge, technology and innovation dissemination.
Agriculture is currently a source of growth, and its development is essential to ensure global food security. Young people are needed to meet these challenges. However, as is the case with their elders, constraints will have to be overcome, mainly regarding access to land and funding, while also improving training. The necessary transformation and modernization of agriculture also requires the increased appeal of agriculture for young people and greater productivity, but it will also reduce labor requirements. Rapid urbanization will also lead to the development of medium-sized cities and could generate new jobs for young people in rural areas.
4. Please share any relevant case studies about empowering women and youth in agriculture to achieve better food security.
Presented below is description of selected case studies about empowering women and youth in agriculture to achieve better food security:
Case Study – I: Tanzania: Women’s Empowerment: Improving Resilience, Income and Food Security (WE-RISE):
Funded by the Australian Government (AusAID) through CARE Australia, this project is improving food security, income and resilience for chronically food-insecure rural women in Tanzania through their social and economic empowerment. The Lindi and Mtwara regions of Tanzania face issues of poverty, food insecurity, variable climate and poor infrastructure. Agriculture, the main occupation, is subject to many constraints such as crops vulnerable to disease and extreme weather fluctuations. In recent years inconsistent and unreliable rainfall, in addition to floods and droughts, has made this even more difficult. Cultural and religious norms shape negative attitudes towards women. For instance, many husbands assume absolute control over their wives when they marry, and decide whether or not their wives can join groups. Gender inequality is rooted within local communities and gender-based violence is common. These norms make it difficult for women to access land, education and markets. The most vulnerable women in the community often have to sell their labor to others, in order to earn enough money for food. This prevents them from being able to work their own plots.
Case Study – II: Vietnam: Women in Aquaculture - Success Story in Vietnam's Northern Uplands:
Poverty and food insecurity are common conditions among the ethnic minority communities of Vietnam's remote northern upland regions. This is especially true in the northwestern provinces of Son La, Lai Chau, and Hoa Binh. While the area is rich in water resources such as reservoirs and rivers, many families typically earn only a subsistence livelihood through small fish- and rice-farming activities. The full potential of the area has never been fully realized, and until recently, many households lived below the poverty line. Gender roles and division of labor among these ethnic groups have become defined and structured over the years. The task of fish farming has traditionally been the domain and responsibility of men. Women have had little if any involvement, particularly in matters that require decisions about which technologies to use, what investments to make, or how revenues could be increased. Though women are the linchpins of their families, tradition has limited their influence in these matters. Some of achievements of the project are discussed below:
§ Empowering Local Women: Social and economic change came to the provinces in 1999 after they were selected to participate in a three-year pilot project aimed at alleviating poverty and malnutrition among ethnic households. The objective was to develop and promote community-based aquaculture activities as a viable livelihood. The strategy, however, departed from traditional norms by placing a high priority on engaging and empowering local women as key players. This progressive concept and its subsequent design were the result of collaborative efforts of the Vietnam Ministry of Fisheries, provincial authorities, Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 1, and the U.N. Development Program and Food and Agriculture Organization.
§ Education and Training: In preparation for their new role, women were given priority under the Aquaculture Techniques Training program to learn methodologies of pond, cage, and rice/fish culture. They were also trained in resource assessment, planning, and implementation. "I learned that fish culture was easy and brought many advantages”, said Vi Thi Mung, who is now a commune project farmer. Vi Thi Mung further said: "Our rice fields were not enough and our income was very low. After starting rice/fish farming, we earned money for daily marketing, medicine, and the children’s school fees”. Throughout the training process, the women also acquired practical information pertaining to nutrition, money matters, and community activism. These tools greatly strengthened their self-esteem by providing opportunities to increase their financial status and elevate their social standing within their families, local communities, and culture as a whole.
§ Grass Roots Involvement: Participation at the commune, district, and provincial levels was integral to the success of the project. Its roots, however, were firmly set at the local commune level to ensure local responsibility, ownership, and sustainability beyond the term of the project. Each of 50 communes was spearheaded by a six-member committee called the Commune Action Group, which consisted of the commune extension worker, the best-performing local aquaculture farmer, and representatives from the local units of the Farmers' Association, Women's Union, Youth Union, and People's Committee. At least two of these representatives had to be women. The committees' task was to formulate a plan to develop aquaculture as a viable livelihood in their respective communes. This included facilitating and coordinating activities and mobilizing the local communities and organizations to assist in this effort. The Commune Action Group plans were reviewed and further refined by action groups at six district and three provincial levels. These groups also provided additional technical assistance, as well as ongoing leadership and support with implementation and assessment.
§ Communities Strengthened: This system created a ripple effect of success throughout the region. A total of 151 "result demonstration" farmers and more than 5,900 ethnic minority "fellow" farmers were involved as a result of the extension of this model. Over half the beneficiaries were women. Working together, women and men created and successfully managed grow out ponds, nurseries, hatcheries, rice/fish and cage culture, and integrated agriculture/aquaculture farms under this project. Financing for these activities was made available through a micro credit and savings scheme established to provide direct financial support to the farmers. Many took advantage of the opportunity, and most communes fulfilled the responsibility for 100% repayment of their loans.
Additionally, the skills of extension personnel and field staff at the province, district, and commune levels were strengthened, and local organizations such as the Women’s Union and Farmers' Association became active in advocating for their communities. Partnerships were forged between aquaculture organizations and institutions from other agricultural sectors. And the women in whom so much had been invested had the opportunity to become active partners in raising their communities' standards of living.
The project ended in 2002, but gained recognition as a viable and sustainable model for promoting development and reducing poverty in rural areas. In particular, the Commune Action Groups’ role in mobilizing local communities and organizing participatory extension and credit support services is being considered for replication under the Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction Program in Vietnam.
Dear Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum),
Please find below and attached my contribution. I hope you will find it interesting.
With best regards
Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.),
Population Education Resource Centre (PERC),
Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work,
S. N. D. T. Women's University,
Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India.
- What innovative strategies and channels have you used to reach policy makers and get feedback on their emerging needs?
I am researcher & demographer employed with the Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), S. N. D. T. Women’s University (SNDTWU, http://sndt.ac.in/), Mumbai, India. My academic activities at the PERC primarily include research and publication/material production. I resort to make direct contact with the policy makers through my research views and findings. I look at research not only as a tool for discovering innovative ideas, but also as medium for communication and dissemination of information and policy level strategies.
- Have you ever significantly changed your communication or policy outreach strategy? How did you change it? Did you get better results?
No, I have not significantly changed my communication or policy outreach strategy.
- What role do intermediaries (the media, “champions” in the government, etc.) play in helping you communicate your recommendations to policy makers?
Print media (including journals), in particular, influence policy makers to some extent. Of course, this strategy alone does not yield desired result. It also requires lobbying by influential social activists, researchers and other like-minded personnel. There has to be network of all these people in order to transport the recommendations to policy makers.
- If you are a policy maker or user of FSN information, how do you communicate your information needs to the information producers? What should information producers consider when trying to increase the use of their evidence by policy makers?
It is possible to communicate about the information need to the information producer ONLY IF both I and the information producer are PART OF THE SAME PROJECT/ORGANIZATION. The more people who enter this positive loop, the faster it spins. The more people who take part, the faster the human species learns.
- More than anything we would like to hear your success stories about what actually worked in terms of your information being used by policy makers!
In terms of what actually worked, it is an uphill ask to get insight into whether or not policy makers use the information provided. Information and input might have been institutionalized by the policy makers in one or several programs within the region of a country. But there is no mechanism to find out if this has actually happened.
1. Were the first ten years of implementation of the Right to Food Guidelines a success? Or were you disappointed? Is the glass half full or have empty?
The food industry has made highly visible pledges to curtail children's food marketing, sell fewer unhealthy products in schools, and label foods in responsible ways. Ceding regulation to industry carries opportunities but is highly risky. In some industries (e.g., tobacco), self-regulation has been an abject failure, but in others (e.g., forestry and marine fisheries), it has been more successful.
2. Looking at the last ten years, what are success stories of the progressive realization of the right to food? And what are the biggest challenges?
- (a) Success stories of the progressive realization of the right to food: I find following success story on right to food from Brazil:
Four out of ten Brazilian Indians live in extreme poverty, and more than half of indigenous children are anemic. The goal of the Joint Programme (entitled “MDGs beyond averages: Promoting Food Security and Nutrition for Indigenous Children in Brazil”) was to support the government in its efforts to improve the food security and nutritional status of indigenous children in the regions of Dourados and Alto Rio Solimões. The programme focused on two objectives:
- Promoting access to public programmes and services, with the aim of reducing cases of malnutrition and the infant mortality rate; and
- Promoting the sustainability of production and access to food by strengthening local productive systems that rely on and respect the food and economic culture of the target communities.
The initiatives focused on children; however, emphasis was also placed on women, since child malnutrition can only be addressed effectively if the mother-child unit is taken into account. All initiatives relied on full participation from the communities and public agents. Crosscutting actions were undertaken to empower indigenous communities, leaders and organizations and to strengthen public capacities. Some of the achievements of the Programme were:
- Activities with the potential to become pilot programmes were carried out to support breastfeeding and supplementary feeding.
- Knowledge was shared among indigenous and non-indigenous peoples regarding health rights and culture.
- The nutrition surveillance system was strengthened.
- Challenges: Soaring world food prices, the increasing competition of biofuel production with food production, and the growing awareness of the impacts of climate change have put the world food problem squarely back on the global development agenda. This is therefore a rare opportunity to mobilize human rights, and the right to adequate food in particular, as the guiding framework for policies and action. Nonetheless political leadership all over the world is still locked in patterns of action that have led to persistent and growing world hunger, with too much emphasis on technological fixes, on “breadbasket” areas to feed the poor, and treating food as a commodity little different from other traded commodities.
3. How can the Right to Food Guidelines be used better to accelerate the realization of the right to food? What would be the role of the Committee on World Food Security?
National governments, as appropriate and in consultation with relevant stakeholders and pursuant to their national laws, should consider adopting a national human-rights based strategy for the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security as part of an overarching national development strategy, including poverty reduction strategies, where they exist. The elaboration of these strategies should begin with a careful assessment of:
- existing national legislation, policy and administrative measures;
- current programmes;
- existing constraints; and
- availability of existing resources.
Furthermore, the national governments should formulate the measures necessary to remedy any weakness, and propose an agenda for change and the means for its implementation and evaluation. These strategies could include objectives, targets, benchmarks and time frames; and actions to formulate policies, identify and mobilize resources, define institutional mechanisms, allocate responsibilities, coordinate the activities of different actors, and provide for monitoring mechanisms. As appropriate, such strategies could address all aspects of the food system, including the production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of safe food. They could also address access to resources and to markets as well as parallel measures in other fields. These strategies should, in particular, address the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, as well as special situations such as natural disasters and emergencies.
4. We are often criticized for doing advocacy only: Where is the evidence that human rights based approach leads to better outcomes? What’s your answer to this challenging question?
Food security is a part of the human right obligations by the states. From this angle, it means for instance the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all, without any discrimination, and the formulation of policies and corresponding benchmarks. It should also identify the resources available to meet the objectives and the most cost-effective way of using them.
The right to food offers a coherent framework with which to address critical dimensions in the fight against hunger. It emphasizes human rights principles such as participation, non-discrimination, transparency and empowerment, and provides mechanisms for increased accountability and the rule of law. It is States’ primary obligation, individually and through international co-operation, to take necessary measures to meet the vital food needs of their people, especially of vulnerable groups and households. In this respect, a peaceful, stable and enabling political, social and economic environment at national and international levels is fundamental for states to ensure adequate priority for food security and poverty eradication.
Food is globally mostly produced by private producers and delivered in market economy. States don´t have any obligation to deliver food free of charge, but it must create a judicial and policy environment that enables right to adequate food without any discrimination and using all available resources. The land rights itself are a civil law issue, but equal access to land of men and women and all minorities is a human rights affair.
Food security is a complex issue and cannot be tackled without a holistic approach. Several policies such as trade, agriculture, environment and energy have an influence on food security, and this underlines the importance of policy coherence: These policies should be in compliance and support the objectives of development policy or at least not work against it.
Dr. Santosh Kumar Mishra (Ph. D.), Technical Assistant, Population Education Resource Centre (PERC), Department of Continuing and Adult Education and Extension Work, S. N. D. T. Women's University, Patkar Hall Building, First Floor, Room. No.: 03, 1, Nathibai Thackerey Road, Mumbai - 400020, Maharashtra, India (http://sndt.ac.in/). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel.: +91-022-22066892 (O) +91–022–28090363 (R) +09224380445 (M)
What do you think are the main drivers of and obstacles to development for Viet Nam in the next 30 years?
- Drivers of development: All players and stakeholders should be given fair and ample opportunity to be part of the programme (particularly those with the least resources or the greatest economic disenfranchisement).
- Obstacles to development: Techniques for restoring degraded areas and sequestering soil carbon to enhance future productivity should increase or stabilize food production. Where the path to long-term sustainability means reducing productivity in the short term, economic incentives and transitional programmes will be required. Specific actions must be taken to assist those most vulnerable to long- and short-term increases in the price of food rather than relying on trickledown economic effects. Appropriate targeting of a portfolio of interventions at key points of vulnerability, such as meeting the food and nutritional needs of mothers and young children, will have disproportionately positive payoffs in future productivity and development.
Keeping in mind that each scenario represents an extreme future, how plausible do you think the scenarios for Viet Nam are? What would you like to add/change in each scenario to make it more plausible from your perspective?
Viet Nam: The core issue of food security in Vietnam is the problem of poverty. Food supply is pretty full (rice and other food) but there are still large numbers of people who lack income to buy enough food. The rice farmers suffer a major cost in the food security policy of the Government. Growing rice is the most inefficient form of production for poor farmers if they want to increase their income. In some localities, income from rice is so low that farmers abandon fields if they are not allowed to convert land to other purposes. This makes negative impacts on the development of the country, land waste and does not help reduce poverty.
What solutions would support the drivers of the best scenario and help overcome obstacles encountered on the way? How about overcoming the challenges of the worst scenarios? (all countries)
Feeding the world in an equitable and sustainable manner must involve food production and the food system assuming a much higher priority in political agendas across the world. Shaping the debate around issues like jobs, economic development and public health rather than about “joint sacrifice” would be most effective. Government departments around the world should consider moving responsibility for water, food and energy into one department to improve effectiveness.
What are the key first steps needed to get a change process in motion, and who needs to be involved? (all countries)
There is a growing sense of urgency in establishing an effective and democratic agricultural system, which has in turn slowly given way to the emergence of various social movements and initiatives (such as the IPC) that highlight the importance of creating self-reliant local food systems. Food sovereignty is widely recognized as the right of all individuals to define their own agricultural policies, policies that are socially and economically appropriate in ensuring people’s physical and emotional well-being. This includes the right to food and the right to produce the food that’s necessary to sustain a society. For food security to be existent, it is paramount to ensure physical and economic access to a variety of food products that meet the dietary needs for a healthy living. There is need:
- to ensure adequate food supplies both at the national and local level,
- to create a reasonable degree of stability in the supply food network, and
- to ensure the ability of households to physically and economically access the food that is required.