- If you were designing an agricultural investment programme, what are the top 5 things you would do to maximize its impact on nutrition
Nutrition is enhanced when food production and distribution are efficient. The following factors maximize impact on food production and distribution, as well as nutrition:
- Basic infrastructure: Roads, transportation, communication, energy, irrigation, etc. Such infrastructure enables farmers to produce, market their products and capture value (earn a living). For example, Buyambi Parish, Kibiga Sub-county, Kiboga District, Uganda is partly not covered by a mobile telephone network, the roads are poor, there is no grid electricity, and agriculture is rain-fed. This adversely affects production, marketing and productivity.
- Production and storage support: Input supply, farm machinery, extension services, weather forecasting, producer associations and cooperatives, etc. The vast majority of farmers in the above-named sub-county have no access to improved seeds, extension services, up-to-date weather services; practice digging and farmer cooperatives are not present. Production is much less than it would have been if the services were available and farmers were organized. Also, productivity has drastically reduced.
- Marketing and business support: Structural services, information services, intelligence, chambers of commerce, etc. Farmers need information on policies, markets and supportive institutions so that they can identify opportunities for profitable farming, and/or engage in farming as a business. As stated earlier, farmers should be able to market their products and make a profit. This is the ultimate purpose of farming.
- Financial support: Credit services, banking services, crop/farm insurance schemes, trading exchanges, etc. Financial services can tremendously enhance farmer entrepreneurship. However, there is not a single financial institution specifically for farmers in Buyambi Parish, for instance.
- Policy and regulatory framework: Security, land tenure, investment grants, safety net functions, etc. It is a framework which fosters innovation, transportation, storage, access to markets, collective action, risk reduction, etc. Including climate change considerations in all plans and programmes. The cumulative effect should be increased commercial agriculture, incomes and sustainable development.
- To support the design and implementation of this programme, where would you like to see more research done, and why?
Research should be done in all the areas, because they complement each other in enhancing food production and distribution; and nutrition.
- What can our institutions do to help country governments commit to action around your recommendations, and to help ensure implementation will be effective?
Institutions should disseminate research findings and foster dialogue. In addition, they should carry out lobbying and advocacy on the factors below:
- Addressing institutional weaknesses: Often, the institutions in the agricultural sector are fragmented, inappropriate and under-funded. This has led to duplication, redundancy, losses and wastage of valuable resources. An appraisal of the institutional framework should be done, in order to ascertain corrective action.
- Transparency and accountability: There is widespread corruption and mismanagement in the sector due to various reasons, including inadequate remuneration. The causes of corruption and mismanagement should be addressed.
- Developing and implementation of quick alert systems: These would enable quick reaction to extreme events such as droughts, famine, pestilences, landslides, etc. Certainly, sustainability (and productivity) would be greatly enhanced.
- Certification of products: Products from sources which abide by policies and regulations should be certified, with assurance of access to markets.
- Monitoring of market and value chains: Chains should be constantly assessed, with the aim of improving efficacy and efficiency of marketing. For example, there is tremendous potential for value addition and export of raw and dry beans. That potential is not utilized because monitoring is insufficient. Such monitoring should include impacts on the environment.
- Adequate remuneration for responsible persons (as mentioned earlier): This should attract and retain skilled and experienced persons in the agricultural sector.
- Incentives for public and private sectors: Farmers should be provided with subsidies to purchase improved inputs (seeds, organic fertilizers, etc) and they should have access to index-based insurance schemes. Extension workers should be adequately facilitated and remunerated (even given bonuses) to work at the grassroots.
Litigation could be resorted to.