Improving agricultural and food systems is essential for a world with healthier people and healthier ecosystems. Healthy and productive lives cannot be achieved unless “all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and
healthy life” (FAO, 1996). Healthy ecosystems must be resilient and productive, and provide the goods and services needed to meet current societal needs and desires without jeopardizing the options for future generations to benefit from the full range of goods and services provided by terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. There are very strong linkages between the conditions to achieve universal food security and nutrition, responsible environmental stewardship and greater fairness in food management. They intersect in agricultural and food systems at the global, national and local levels.
Can the new food governance system and strategic thinking on food security and rural development, prompted by the 2007–09 food “crisis”, prevent future crises and lead to the lasting eradication of hunger?
Small scale farmers are among the poorest and the hungriest in the world and yet small scale farming is supposed to pave the way to ending poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. It even appears as if efforts by governments and the development community at large to support small scale farming in sub-Saharan Africa are not yielding significant results. Poverty is deepening and the number of the hungry is going up not down. In the light of the global recommitments to agriculture, calls are being made wherever possible to invest in small scale agriculture but different results cannot be expected if the same strategiesare used.
This article reiterates and proposes some ideas to make agriculture work for development in sub-Saharan Africa. New strategies and investments in small scale farming must take cognizance of some key facts, that market access is key to small scale food production systems as such efforts to increase agricultural productivity can only be effective if they are linked to an appreciation of market potential. As much as small farmers require assistance to be able to produce more food, they equally require assistance to be able to sell Africa’s food and this requires serious reconsideration of post-production systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, that there is a need for strategies that will seek to end the way interventions in the agricultural sector are de-linked from each other and promote an integrated approach of supporting the full continuum of production, processing and marketing of food.