Dear High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition,
Thanks very much for the opportunity to comment on the zero draft version of “Investing in smallholder agriculture for food and nutrition security.” This paper is an important step in addressing the constraints to food and nutrition insecurity for the increasing population. The paper is well structured with very relevant policy implications.
Please find below some comments from our team that could add more value to the already excellent report.
1) There is a need to include a section on the threats posed by climate change and the urgent need to build smallholders’ resilience for lasting poverty reduction. Our recent “4 degree report” (http://climatechange.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/Turn_Down_the_heat_Why_a_4_degree_centrigrade_warmer_world_must_be_avoided.pdf) highlights the impacts of climate change on agriculture and other sectors, and the need to build adaptive capacity and design agricultural production systems that are more resilient to climate change.
2) The report needs a stronger emphasis on scaling up of climate-smart technologies, practices and policies. The 3 principal climate-smart agriculture investment areas include 1) Sustainable land and water management practices, 2) Climate risk management, and 3) Transformation of production systems. Global warming requires that adaptation strategies should cover a broad spectrum of change beginning with incremental adaptation (e.g. Varieties, change planting time, improved water management, etc) and extending through system adaptation (e.g. Climate-ready crops, climate-sensitive precision agriculture, adoption of no-tillage farming, agridiversification, etc) to more radical changes in land use and ecosystem services management (e.g. agroforestry for increased productivity and carbon sequestration).
3) There is a need to sharpen the discussions on land degradation for the following reasons: 1) Most smallholder agricultural practices are inherently based on traditional practices. 2) Traditional agricultural systems mostly rely on the carrying capacity of ecosystems, and are highly vulnerable to increased pressures such as population growth, economic cycles and climate change. 3) Poor land management under traditional farming systems (e.g. cultivating steep slopes, repetitive cropping leading to nutrient mining, overgrazing etc) accentuates land degradation and/or suboptimal yields. 4) It is estimated that 24% of world’s total land area and 20% of its croplands are losing productivity (Bai et al. 2008).
4) Furthermore, the report needs to draw on the important findings of a recent UNEP report (http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/avoidingfamines/portals/19/UNEP_Food_Security_Report.pdf) launched at Rio 20+ There is a need to discuss the following drivers of change (backed with empirical data if available) that are crucial to success of smallholder farming: 1) Pressure on water needed for agriculture, 2) Pressure on land available for agriculture, and 3) Pressure on key ecosystem services to agriculture (e.g. deforestation, habitat loss/reduction, etc).
5) The study team may also find it necessary to include specifically the role of science and innovations. New knowledge, technologies and practices are required to increase nutritional security, boost agricultural productivity, and conserve ecosystems. There are a number of areas that science can contribute to sustainable agricultural intensification and climate smart agriculture. These include the development of 1) improved breeds for higher nutritional quality that are also adapted to climate change, 2) Technologies that increase nutrient and water use efficiency in agricultural production systems, 3) Improved soil management techniques that preserve ecosystem functions and sequester carbon, 4) Agro-ecological approaches that complement the biological and ecosystem services that inherently support agriculture and that better manage risks; and 5) Better nutrition for livestock and aquaculture that increase productivity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions .
6) For science and innovation to better serve smallholder farmers, it is critical to 1) Better link public and private Research and Development (R & D) systems to ensure that high-priority science and technology gaps are filled 2) Develop governance mechanisms for effective public–private partnerships in R & D characterized by shared risk and return on investment, and clarity on open access, and 3)Ensure researchers work directly with smallholder farmers for effective transfer of technology adapted to local conditions.
7) Lastly, policy recommendations need to realize the role of demand and supply side interventions. An example of demand and supply policies to stimulate increased agricultural input use (World Bank, 2007) is presented in the Table below
Strengthen soil-crop research and extension
Support to public agencies
On-farm trials and demonstrations
Reduce input sourcing costs
Lowering trade barriers to increase national and regional market size
Improve farmers’ ability to purchase inputs
Improve access to credits
Phased and incremental use (e.g., small bags for fertilizers)
Implement laws that enables farmers to use risk-free collaterals for loans
Reduce distribution costs
Improve road and rail infrastructure to lower transport costs
Provide farmers with risk management tools
Improved weather forecasting, weather-indexed crop insurance
Strengthen business finance and risk management
Use credit guarantee and innovative insurance schemes
Improved quality and dissemination of market information
Public and private sector information systems easily accessible to farmers
Improve supply chain coordination mechanisms
Product grades and standards
Market information systems to reduce information costs
Protecting farmers against low and volatile output prices
Investment in measures to reduce production variability such as drought-tolerant crops, deep-rooted crops, irrigation, and storage systems
Empowering farmers by supporting producer organizations
Investment in rural education
Training farmers in organizational management
Improving the resource base so that input use is more profitable
Investment in soil and water management and irrigation infrastructure
Thanks very much for the opportunity to comment on this report. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist at Ademola Braimoh at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related links and resources:
Constraints to Smallholder Investments - A consultation by the HLPE to set the track of its study
Committe on World Food Security (CFS)
High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE)
The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) Key Elements