Contributions for WFP-FAO co-led Post 2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition

Ellen Meleisea Australia
18-12-2012

Theme 1:

Question:

What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition?

What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?

 

Answer:

Key lessons:

The key lesson learned during the current MDG framework was that there are only two things that are important: people and the environment. Nations should NOT focus on “building their economies” or “generating economic growth”. That path has been tried, and it has failed.

If the ultimate goal of society is to improve the well-being of all humans on our planet so that people are able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives, there are only two objectives to be achieved:

(i) Uphold human rights (i.e. ensure equality under the law for women, minorities, LGBT, etc).

(ii) Safeguard natural resources (ie. ensure clean water, clean air, healthy soil, etc)

If these two objectives are achieved, all other objectives (reduction of poverty, reduction of maternal mortality, etc) will also be achieved.

For example, if women’s human right to equality (with men) is achieved, women’s health will improve, maternal mortality will drop, education of women will increase, women’s participation in the economy will increase, etc.

Likewise, if the resources on which human lives depend are safeguarded (through preventing water, air and soil pollution, ending dependence on polluting fossil fuels, farming without using polluting pesticides and other chemicals, etc)  human health will improve and people will have the resources they need to grow safe and nutritious food.

 

Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security:

Challenges: Climate change is a key challenge – it will destroy many countries and make it impossible for many people to grow food. Instead of focusing on “climate change mitigation”, nations should focus on stopping climate change. To do this they need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, right now. This switch will be challenging as there are powerful corporations who will oppose this change (because they will lose money) but if the ultimate goal is to improve the well-being of all people on the planet, these corporations must be opposed.

Opportunities: There have been great improvements in human understanding of our planet’s climate, ecosystems and soil and it has been proven that organic, labour-intensive and sustainable farming systems produce high yields with low pollution. Such systems use only the locally-available inputs, they do not rely on imported inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, etc). People benefit from such systems by not having to spend money to buy inputs (therefore avoiding debt) and by having a healthy and productive life. This will not make people “rich” but neither will “conventional agriculture” which usually results in people becoming indebted, the soil being destroyed, waterways depleted and polluted, and much misery for the people involved (who then move to the cities where they suffer even further).

Theme 2: 

Question:

What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on. 
Provide us with your own experiences and insights.  For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security? 

Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (www.zerohungerchallenge.org), and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?

Answer:

Improved governance and rights-based approaches are essential in achieving food and nutrition security. Accountability and political commitment are vital in achieving improved governance and ensuring that approaches are rights-based.

The Zero Hunger Challenge is an excellent initiative as it focuses both on human rights (access to food) and safeguarding natural resources (food systems must be sustainable and there should be zero waste of food).

The Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition is not useful as it still focuses on “economic growth” and “investment by stakeholders” rather than on upholding human rights and safeguarding natural resources. The core values of this strategic framework are not in line with the ultimate goal: that all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.

 

Theme 3:

Question:

For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.  A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):

a.    100% access to adequate food all year round
b.    Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
c.    All food systems are sustainable
d.    100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e.    Zero loss or waste of food.

Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals.  Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?

 

Answer:

The Zero Hunger Challenge objectives that I think are the most useful in terms of achieving the ultimate goal (“all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives”) are:

a.            100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round

c.             All food systems are sustainable

e.            Zero loss or waste of food.

 

The other two “objectives” are just indicators of whether the above three objectives have been achieved or not.
These two “objectives” will be achieved if the three other objectives are achieved:

b.            Zero stunted children less than 2 years old

d.            100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

 

For “objective” d, I would remove the words “and income”. The focus should NOT be on increasing income or wealth. The focus should be on improving peoples’ quality of life. An increase in productivity can represent an increase in quality of life (greater reward for the same work) but an increase in income does not necessarily represent an increase in quality of life, as income increase is often accompanied by an increase in debt.

 

Apart from the three objectives I listed above, nations should also strive to achieve the following objectives:

i. Equality in the law for women and men

ii. Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)

iii. 100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)

 

Thus, there would be six objectives in total:

I.             100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round

II.            All food systems are sustainable

III.           Zero loss or waste of food

IV.          Equality in the law for women and men (equal rights, equal pay, equal access to education)

V.            Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)

VI.          100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)

 

All objectives should be global and all nations should aim to achieve them within 10 years.

 

Julien Custot Food for the Cities - FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, ...
17-12-2012

Dear all,

 

Urbanization is, with climate change, among the greatest challenges of the XXIst century. Today, already more than 50 % of the population lives in urban areas. By 2050, urban dwellers will make about 70 % of the 9 billion people. All the increase of population will in fact take place in cities, in Asia and Africa. There has been many examples in the recent years - from the food riots in 2008-2009 to the Arab Spring - that food insecurity in cities can lead to civil unrest or conflicts. Development goals regarding food and nutrition security have to consider explicitly the urban areas.

 

Theme 1:

 

Because poverty is measured mainly through money, the MDGs may have been partially blind on food and nutrition security for the urban dwellers. Indeed, in a specific country, 1$ often does not have the same value in a rural area or in a city. Besides, in a rural area, there are often still a lot of non-monetary economy (in low but also in high income countries) while a city is mainly a market place. Moreover, in a city, you have to pay for housing (even in informal housing and slums), transportation, health and education, even before thinking about food. More comprehensive indicators need to be designed to better measure poverty in urban settings.

 

Among the challenges, we can then suggest:

 

  • The need to address food and nutrition security for the urban dwellers, include with a gender perspective,
  • Within a city or a metropolis, indicators should not only look at individual and household status but they should also consider the level of inequalities between the richest and poorest. Higher inequalities will impact access to food for the most vulnerable,
  • The volatility of the food prices should also be consider as an indicator leading to food and nutrition insecurity.
  • Theme 2:

 

Local authorities need to be involved in and committed for food and nutrition security for the realization of the right to food. Local authorities should be fully engaged in the governance process, in relations with the National Government. We may seriously consider promoting local food councils as an effective and most progressive way to get all stakeholders together at sub-national level. At municipal level, accountability of the mayors is linked to a close and daily contact with the population.

 

The “Zero Hunger Challenge” offers a great opportunity as it implicitly include cities:

 

  • 100% access to adequate food all year round, including urban dwellers, with access to staple food as well as fresh food for a sustainable diet. It should include an indicator on the biodiversity and seasonality of the food available.
  • All food systems are sustainable: it must include both rural and urban areas and consider the dynamics across the rural-urban continuum of the local food systems. The role of consumers as drivers of the food systems should be acknowledge. Food systems should not only be sustainable but also resilient. They include management of natural resources.
  • Zero loss or waste of food: waste is mainly done by households in urban areas.

The first version of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition (http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/026/ME498E.pdf) identifies, among the “issues that may require further attention” (page 36), the “ways to boost rural development to strengthen food security and nutrition in the context of rural‐urban migration”. It is indeed a priority.

 

Theme 3:

 

The Post-2015 Global Development Framework, objectives, targets and indicators should also be at the local level.

 

To make the Zero Hunger Challenge more operational, the objectives should be time-bound, with intermediate goals, standing somewhere between 0 and 100%.

 

The linkages between food and nutrition security and agriculture with the management of natural resources should be more directly reflected in the development goals to further promote sustainable diets.

17-12-2012

1. Link farming with global Greenhouse Gases cuts targets. This is not easy, but must be a priority. We now have "severe weather" as a normal in the Earth's, but we have time to mitigate global warning. 

 

To make these objective work the world need actions such as:

 

a. Stop deforestation because of crop and cattle expansion. We can protect the forests and feed the people at the same. The only think needed is searching best practices such as community grown farms, payments for protecting forests, and a best soil management (if we do not overuse the soil it can be used more time, so no farm expansion needed).

b. Change the actual farming system. Finding alternatives to burning (that is one of the most used system in the world) would help the world to cut CH4 and CO2 emmissions.

c. The establishment of a good local farming system is a good step to make stop the dependency on imported products... and our adicction to fossil fuels.

d. STOP ALL bio fuels that comes from crops. Bio fuels are a good alternative to fossil fuels if they come from wastes, but the ones that are from, for example, corn farms causes many GHG emissions... and are a threat to food security. We need the corn and the soy to eat. Food security is more important that fueling our vehicles. 
It is urgent to governments to stop promoting bio fuels (and an international veto would be good).

 

2. Promote family and community-managed agriculture as a priority over large scale and corporative farming. The Earth has enough natural resources for a future with a very good food security. What we need is that these resources be managed accuratelly in the present... and the future. When agriculture lands is in hands of the communities (villages, town, cities, ect) its more easy to make them sustainable. 

 

3. Creating policies that control food wasting is a must.

 

4. For a best future, we need to develop urban farming. Growing food products in cities is good  practice. Most cities have spaces that would able (or are being used) to farm. Terraces, gardens, etc.

 

All objectives must be in a global scale, because hunger and food security are an international problem, not only of a few countries.

Bettina Prato IFAD, Italy
17-12-2012

Dear all,

 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important discussion. Much has already been said by other contributors that I have found interesting and often quite compelling. As someone who works in an organization dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger, with particular focus on smallholder agriculture, I was particularly impressed, most recently, with the comprehensive contribution made by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development in the UK Parliament. Without wishing to restate points already stressed by other commentators, I would just like to share the following few thoughts, in the order of the three themes on which inputs have been solicited.

 

Theme 1: in my opinion, one important lesson from the pursuit of the MDGs is that working towards food and nutrition security is, I would say, the quintessential cross-sectoral (possibly even “all-sectoral”) issue, which is very much affected by what is done (or not done) in areas too often discussed without a “food security lens”. This includes, for instance, economic growth, employment and decent work, investment, energy, water, education, governance, and so forth…. In discussing a framework to replace the MDGs, it is very important not to discuss food and nutrition security as a theme that can be addressed in any sort of isolation from the other themes currently being discussed. More than any other theme (except for poverty, to which it is of course closely linked), food and nutrition security needs to be “mainstreamed” into all other discussions, in order to come up with meaningful pathways and targets on all relevant fronts. This means, of course, also that there needs to be an open “dialogue” between this particular consultation and other thematic, regional, and national consultations on the post-2015 and sustainable development agendas. As an earlier contribution to this e-consultation stated, silo discussions are very much to be avoided in this context. Also important to take home from the MDG experience is the need to focus more attention and resources on rural areas, rural-urban inequalities – in incomes, in nutritional status, as well as in access to clean water, electricity, infrastructure, education and health services, etc, rural data and indicators, and so forth. Rural development and overcoming rural-urban inequalities are central to boosting food security, but these issues were not much in focus in the first MDGs, and they are not yet emerging significantly in the post-2015 discussion. Conversely, reducing these inequalities and fully integrating rural areas into more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive patterns of growth are preconditions for achieving sustainable food and nutrition security for all.

 

Also concerning theme 1, I would say that, besides obvious issues such as growing investment in agriculture, more policy attention to food security, ongoing technological developments, and so forth, one key challenge (but also opportunity) for achieving global food and nutrition security has to do precisely with the transformation of rural areas and how rural-urban dynamics evolve. On the challenge side of this we can place the increasing deterioration of the natural resource base in many rural areas, the impact of climate change (which may redesign very significantly the geography of entire areas of critical importance for global food production and/or for the struggle against hunger), the ageing of rural and agricultural populations in several parts of the world and the high proportion of young people in other parts, rapid urbanization coupled with slow growth of urban economies and governance and service networks, and so forth. On the opportunity side, we have the growing integration of rural and urban economies linked to diffuse small-scale urbanization, integrated territorial development experiences, migration and remittance flows, the emergence or popularization of new technologies and opportunities for decentralized rural energy supply, information and communication networks, and so forth. And of course, the change in agricultural and rural markets and value chains, at country, regional, and global levels, represents both an opportunity and a challenge. So if I were to name one major area where work is needed to ensure future food and nutrition security, I would say changing the face of rural areas around the world, to turn them into hubs of inclusive and sustainable growth, with plenty of decent employment opportunities – many of them linked to agriculture in its broadest sense, areas where today’s rural youth want to and are proud to live, and where they can fulfil their aspirations in terms not only of food security but of overall quality of life.

 

Concerning theme 2, many other contributors have highlighted key success factors, from genuine political commitment and broad-based ownership to partnerships, accountability, human rights- approaches, cross-sectoral approaches (notably around nutrition), and yet other. Here I would just like to offer three points. First, I am not convinced that there is a “best” approach to the challenges of food and nutrition security. There are many good practices, but no blueprints, and this is particularly important to remember as we increasingly strive for positive impact “at scale”. As a result, it is critical to encourage and cultivate space for innovation, learning (and knowledge sharing), and systematic approaches to scaling up success, for progress to be sustained. This sort of space should be cultivated both within and across countries in my view. Second, it is important to work on the transformation of food systems in a holistic manner, simultaneously aiming for greater sustainability, productivity, and capacity to generate inclusive (and indeed pro-poor) economic and social benefits. Recent experience shows that this transformation is possible, provided that the key stakeholders (including rural communities and farmers) have the incentives to change (i.e. appropriate pricing, rewards for positive environmental externalities, market opportunities, etc.) and the tools to mitigate and better manage risks. Third, and final, among the many things that have proved effective to improve food security and nutrition, women’s empowerment and gender equality – in terms of access to productive resources, rights of tenure and use over land (and water), education, citizenship, and so forth – deserves singling out for greater emphasis and concrete attention. In this regard, perhaps it would be appropriate to consider gender-equal access and rights over land as a worthwhile global target for food security.

 

Coming now to theme 3, the Zero Hunger Challenge offers no doubt an ambitious and inspiring set of goals, which constitutes a vision towards which different context-specific objectives (certainly including time-bound objectives) can be developed. The one element of the agenda that could perhaps be strengthened in its ambition and also better harmonized with the other elements concerns the doubling of smallholder productivity and incomes. In this regard, I would offer the following observations. First, doubling smallholder productivity is not quite the same as doubling incomes – in fact, the relationship between increase in smallholder incomes and increase in their (agricultural) productivity may be complex and not at all straightforward. Second, in some contexts a doubling of smallholder productivity (however defined) may be an overambitious goal, while in others it is possible and appropriate to be more ambitious than this. As a result, it may be best to refrain from defining such a quantitative target for smallholder productivity growth a priori and with universal value. Third, decisions concerning productivity growth are to be made by the stakeholders directly concerned – first and foremost smallholders and other investors in agriculture – as they result from their investment decisions, which are in turn shaped by many factors. Fourth, many smallholders derive their incomes from a mix of sources, including but not limited to agriculture. An increase in the incomes may not represent an increase of income from agriculture, and this should also be acknowledged in some way. Fifth, for the many smallholder farmers who live below one or the other poverty lines, a doubling of income may be a rather modest goal, not quite on a par with the other elements of the Challenge, which are quite bold and inspiring. Finally, smallholder agriculture is the predominant form of agriculture globally, and therefore a key pillar of food systems. This means that it is also at the core of any efforts to achieve “100% access to adequate food all year round”, “all food systems are sustainable”, “zero loss or waste of food”… Etc.

 

So, what may be a concrete suggestion to address all these points? My suggestion is two-fold:

1)      Explicitly position smallholder agriculture in the other elements of the Challenge

2)      Revise the specific element on smallholder agriculture in a more ambitious manner – perhaps along the lines of “zero smallholder farmers live in poverty or food insecurity”

 

Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment!

 

Bettina Prato, Ph.D
Research Coordinator
Office of the Chief Development Strategist

IFAD

17-12-2012

Poucas palavras = boa vontade

Rachael Shenyo Alticultura, Guatemala
17-12-2012

I am a Master's degree student in agricultural & resource economics, and I have been doing my field research on the impact of climate change on crop loss, regional food prices, and familiar impacts in marginal environments located at high altitudes in rural Guatemala. I stongly feel it would be a terrible mistake to not consider climate change impact in any discussion of regional or national or world food security. Crop losses, increased pestilence, changes in yields, loss of soil fertility, loss of arable land, and rising food prices have significant effects on ability to grow and/or purchase food. Our group believes that regional market empowerment is necessary to provide the flexibility in adaptive practices required to reduce risk of climate change impact; but trade policies, monopolies, and genetic rights laws that favor use of imported seeds and varieties have been a key stumbling block in this endeavor.

I would be happy to discuss my findings more. It should be noted that the region we work in has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world.

Julieth Galdames UdeC, Chile
17-12-2012

1. Fortalecer la agricultura, es la base de la disponibilidad de alimento fresco y saludable para todos. Instruir a la gente, sobre todo de comunidades pequeñas en formas de agricultura sustentable y conservación natural de alimentos.

2. Prohibir definitivamente aditivos dañinos para la salud en el procesamiento de los alimentos, desde su cultivo hasta su envasado.

3. Crear una red global de pesquisa y transporte de alimentos, desde donde se sobre-produce hasta donde escasea, con la voluntad de países y empresarios, para que en el mundo no se siga desechando alimento mientras otras personas mueren de hambre.

Denu Tsegaye Adama University, Ethiopia
17-12-2012

Poverty and hunger are deep rooted in most of African countries triggered by economic, social, and political factors. I believe that a region and country specific targets might help in achieving the targets. I do appreciate and stand for all the goals set by FAO to end hunger and poverty.

Summary

 

  1. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture and Food for Development welcomes this online consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security - toward a post-2015 development agenda. The APPG calls for any Post-MDG process to consider the livelihoods of smallholder farmers of paramount importance to addressing global hunger and eradicating poverty. Acknowledging that giving smallholder farmers rights and assistance to create viable businesses, is a key component of a coherent food system, and should form part of any Post-MDG framework. Addressing food insecurity means empowering smallholder farmers to move from subsistence farming, through public and private sector support - with strong information and technology transfer - to profitable small businesses. There is a broad spectrum of policy interventions needed to ensure the emancipation for smallholder farmers; however, once this intervention has been made, the opportunity for smallholder farmers to thrive without further overseas development assistance is possible. This requires reliable financing, strong public sector support and an enabling environment for private sector investment which will underpin the transformation from subsistence farmers to successful small businesses. The Post-MDG Framework must consider the 450 million smallholder farmers worldwide as central agents to reducing global hunger and, given the right support, able to grow themselves out of poverty, for good.

 

Introduction

 

  1. The APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development brings together Parliamentarians concerned with agriculture, nutrition and food security in the developing world. The Group promotes support for the developmental needs of the 450 million smallholder farmers who feed 2 billion people worldwide. It engenders progressive and informed debate within Westminster and beyond by bridging the gap between policy makers, agricultural development specialists and practitioners in the field.

 

  1. The APPG was established in October 2008 in response to growing concerns over the heightened Food Crisis and a steady decline in the funding of agricultural development both by bilateral and multilateral organisations over nearly two decades. Chaired by Lord Cameron of Dillington, the APPG is a cross-party initiative drawing members from both Houses of the UK Parliament which brings together Parliamentarians concerned with both the technical, and social science, of agricultural development in poorer parts of the world.  It uses its cross-party membership to raise the understanding of developmental needs of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders in developing countries and hence facilitates debate on the level of support given by the British Government and other major donors. In doing this, the APPG recognises the pivotal role that agricultural research outputs have in helping smallholder farmers to increase their productivity and in eliminating global poverty.

 

  1. Although the MDGs have acquired unprecedented political and financial support, they have also been justifiably criticized (Pollard et. al. 2011). They overlooked many key aspects of development which are today essential in promoting the health and wellbeing of poor communitites in developing countries. A primary example of this is the complete  lack of any focus in the MGDs on the agricultural or any other productive sector, and the  impact of these sectors on the livelihoods of poor people. The voices of farmers, must be heard. Engagement with rural communitites including smallholder crop farmers, pastoraslists, fisherfolk, processors, and agro-businesses more generally are vital to ensure that their needs and interests are reflected in  a post-MDG framework. Allowing smallholders to be active agents in developing solutions to their problems is a key requirement for a successful Post-MDG planning and development process, and should be recognised as such.

 

  1. The World Development Report in 2008 stated, “Improving the productivity, profitability and sustainability of smallholder farming is the main pathway out of poverty in using agriculture for development.” Clearly then a post-2015 consultation should put smallholder farmers at the centre of the agricultural development paradigm. It means consulting those farmers in rural and remote areas, not just those who have access to major cities or good links with government officials. It means fostering an active partnership between the public and private sector to ensure that smallholders are given the assistance they need to improve their production and gain access to markets, so that they can flourish into profitable and viable businesses.

 

  1. Currently the world is letting MDG 1 to halve of the number of people who suffer from hunger globally slip through its fingers and further out of reach. Even if we can reverse this trend of increasing hunger and somehow manage to meet this target in the remaining few years of the MDGs, which seems highly unlikely, what next? Little attention is being given to the global needs beyond 2015 – such as the need to double agricultural production by 2050 if the most basic requirements of an expected global population of 9 billion people are to be met. In addition there is an urgent need to reduce food waste, increase access to food of the hungry (through the better distribution of food), and also a need to find ways to increase production in a sustainable way.

 

  1. It is notable that many successes in tackling food security in the developing world have resulted from co-operation at community farming level and the very highest political level. In Brazil, Bangladesh and Mozambique by way of example, concentrated effort at both levels has created remarkable results, reducing hunger and under-nutrition over the past 10 years. It is essential that agriculture and food security, with a focus on the importance of smallholder farmers, is central to any Post-MDG framework. This should lead to a food system which is equitable and promotes a favourable environment in which even the smallest farmers can grow themselves into a viable business. Sustainably raising agricultural production, improving knowledge access to inputs for poor farmers to grow sufficient nutritious food and cutting post-harvest losses should also form part of this focus on tackling hunger, addressing food security, and helping poor smallholder farmers build small-scale businesses.

 

  1. Evidence collected by the recent APPG inquiry report “Growing out of Poverty” indicates that in some countries, as much as 90% of the population are subsistence farmers. But it also demonstrates that, given the right support they can be transformed into productive, economically active, well-fed contributors to their country’s GDP and national food security (APPG, 2011). The policy interventions that the Post-MDG Framework should consider in addressing food security through smallholder farmers. A number of these are outlined below.

 

  1. More and better support for smallholder agriculture can boost the economic and social status of women, who are the majority of smallholder farmers. This support should empower them to make decisions about their own lives and those of their families. Evidence shows that farmer parents who move from subsistence to surplus tend to spend any available cash on educating their children – thus enabling women to earn more income from agriculture would benefit the education of future generations. More diversified and increased agricultural production can also reduce the nutritional shortcomings of expectant and new mothers whilst simultaneously boosting the physical health and cognitive well-being of their children. So good quality agricultural investment returns not only healthy citizens, capable of achieving their full potential and less likely to require healthcare interventions, but also  increases labour productivity, which in turn will lead to economic and social progress.

 

  1. Sustainable agricultural practices also improve the resilience of farming communities to weather shocks and foster environmental sustainability. Therefore, by turning subsistence agricultural systems into a vibrant, profitable and sustainable rural sector, countries can make progress towards virtually all of the current Millennium Development Goals.

 

  1. It is crucial that any Post-MDG process includes a focus on public investment in smallholder agriculture, sustainable agricultural practices, and the importance of smallholder farmers’ rights and respective national food security targets. Governments must ensure that policies, laws and regulations are put in place that will enable smallholder farmers to build viable enterprises. Smallholder farming systems provide employment and food for most of the developing world – yet smallholders seldom have a voice in discussions and decisions on these issues. The Post-MDG framework must address this problem by ensuring smallholders are given a voice in any national discussions on a new framework.

 

  1. Land tenure and ownership are also important but sensitive issues for agricultural development, comprising a complicated web of customary practices and modern law. The Post-MDG framework should acknowledge that farmers will not take risks on their farm unless they have secure land tenure agreements.  Smallholder farmers, including pastoralists, face competition for their land from other resource-intensive industries such as mining, tourism, agro-fuels, and housing, as well as land speculators Secure land tenure and agrarian reforms can unlock economic growth and empower women, giving them access to and control over finance and other crucial inputs. A post-MDG framework should therefore include land tenure security for women.

 

  1. The Post-MDG Framework should encourage Governments, with assistance from donors, to create conditions that attract pro-poor private sector investment to secure and sustain the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. This by its very nature needs to be a long-term venture. Government’s role in kick-starting commercially-viable smallholder agriculture should include the building of transport infrastructure such as rural feeder roads; ensuring that inputs are available and affordable; and frameworks for coordination and cooperation of public sector partnerships with the private sector (such as the commodity exchange set up in Ethiopia to allow easier and standardised trade for smallholders). The provision of public goods in areas such as agricultural research, extension and training are also part of the long-term role of governments. If these aspects of the wider ‘agricultural development’ agenda are prioritised, the Post-MDG Framework will have more chance of succeeding in reducing poverty.

 

  1. Public and private sector investments in small-scale farming require consistency. Some investments may only see returns in the medium to longer term and a long-term commitment (minimum of seven or eight years) is often required for smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty (APPG 2011). Although private enterprise will drive investment in the agricultural sector, governments have an important role to play as providers of public goods as well as targeted support and facilitating an enabling business environment. Any targets to ensure food security and create an equitable food system must involve the private sector – without which innovation, funds and market access will remain elusive for many smallholder farmers.

 

  1. A business oriented approach to the integration of smallholder farmers into agricultural market chains will also contribute to food security and poverty reduction if large numbers of smallholders are empowered to become commercially viable and earn a fair return on the labour, knowledge and capital they invest on their land. For example, involvement of smallholders, after training in suitable business skills, in activities such as small-scale seed-production enterprise has proved effective in increasing the uptake and dissemination of improved, locally adapted new seed varieties in Nepal (Whitcombe, et.al. 2010). Private sector investments along agricultural value chains can open up new market opportunities for smallholder farmers. However, many are still missing out on these opportunities, and a post MDG-framework should include a focus on developing their ability to link to markets on fair terms.

 

  1. In recent years, innovative partnerships between the public, commercial and voluntary sectors have helped to identify the critical policy, regulatory, coordination and investment actions needed from the public sector to develop productive, competitive, profitable and equitable agri-food systems in sub-Saharan Africa. These partnerships put smallholder farmers at the centre of their business strategy as they acknowledge the central role that smallholders play in contributing to the food system across the world. An example of this is the C:AVA (Cassava : Adding Value for Africa) project where, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a partnership has been forged between smallholder farmers in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi. This is in partnership with public universities and research institutes in UK and Africa, and private sector processors and end users to develop value chains to manufacture and distribute high quality cassava flour.

 

  1. The Post-MDG Framework should recognise the complementary nature of agriculture and nutrition to ensure food security. Food price rises and increasing volatility in food commodity markets continue to impact upon smallholder farmers: this is particularly true regarding economic access to a stable nutritious diet, meaning that more people going hungry than before. Estimates suggest that on top of the one billion hungry people worldwide there are a further one billion who suffer from hidden hunger. It is therefore important that in order to achieve a sustainable agricultural sector, in which smallholders play a leading role, the Post-MDG framework should ensure a complementary focus on nutrition and agricultural development. Without this smallholders will not be able to afford sufficient nutritious food in times of food price spikes and this can severely impact upon their labour productivity, as well as impacting on the physical and cognitive development of their children.

 

  1. Specific indicators for a Post-MDG framework which seeks to promote improved food security through development of small scale agriculture could include a practical set of situational, outcome and sustainability indicators that truly reflects the complex and multifaceted contribution of agricultural development to poverty reduction and food security.

 

  1. A Post-MDG framework which calls on all sectors of society to work towards global food security and poverty reduction should provide smallholder farmers with the tools and opportunities needed work themselves out of poverty. If the Post-MDG Framework sets out a clear agenda, to offer targeted support to smallholders by creating a favourable investment and knowledge transfer environment, smallholders will be given the opportunity to become self-sustained businesses, which will contribute to poverty reduction and food security.

 

  1. The Post-MDG Framework should seek to integrate smallholders into markets, and at the same time recognise the need for investment in public goods and an enabling environment in which public and private sectors are able to complement each other to encourage a working food system which allows smallholder farmers to realise their businesses’ potential.

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For further information, or if you wish to receive oral evidence from the APPG’s Chair - Lord Cameron of Dillington - please contact the Group’s Coordinator, Dominic Foster fosterdj@parliament.uk

References

 

All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2010) “Why No Thought for Food?” A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Global Food Security http://www.agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org/Growing%20Out%20of%20Poverty%20-%20APPG%20AF4D%20Inquiry%20Report.pdf

 

All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2011) “Growing Out of Poverty”  A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into supporting and developing African agriculture http://www.agricultureandfoodfordevelopment.org/Why%20No%20Food%20for%20Thought%20-%20A%20Parliamentary%20Inquiry.pdf

 

Aryeetey, E. (2012) “Towards a New Post-2015 Development Agenda” http://www.unicef-irc.org/research-watch/Post-2015--What-Next-/907/

 

Pollard A., Sumner A., Polato-Lopes M. and de Mauroy A. (2011) 100 Voices – Southern perspectives on what should come after the Millennium Development Goals, London: CAFOD and Brighton: IDS.

 

Vandemoortele, J. (2012) “Advancing the UN development agenda post-2015: some practical suggestions.” Report submitted to the UN Task Force regarding the post-2015 framework for development

 

Witcombe,J.R., Devkota, K.P. and Joshi, K.D. (2010). Linking community-based seed producers to markets for a sustainable seed supply system. Experimental Agriculture, 46, pp 425-437

 

The World Bank (2008) World Development Report: Agriculture for Development. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWDR2008/Resources/WDR_00_book.pdf

 

Yamin A.E. (2012) Post MDGs: what next for a global development agenda that takes human rights seriously? http://www.unicef-irc.org/article/899/

David Gustafson CIMSANS, United States of America
17-12-2012

Please see the attached description of the new Center for Integrated Modeling of Sustainable Agriculture & Nutriation Security, whose planned areas of work are highly relevant to both Themes 1 and 3.

 

I would be happy to provide additional information on current CIMSANS activities, including a round-table on "modeling of sustainable nutrition security," which will be held in Dublin on 10 April 2013, immediately preceding food security meetings planned by CGIAR and the EU, also to be held in Dublin. We also hosted a round-table at FAO in October 2012, and I gave a presentation on certain aspects of this topic at Doha last month.

 

Thanks - Dave