Je salue cette initiative, qui occasionne le moment d'echanger sur comment nourrir les habitats de notre planète.
A l'état actuel du développement technologique et des avancés en matière des droits de l'homme. il est impensable et déplorable que de milliers de personnes particulièrement d'enfants meurent chaque jour par la faim ou de la malnutrition. je considère cela comme une honte pour l'humanité. j'ai été témoin dans ma vie de militant des droits de l'homme, de plus de trois hommes chefs de ménages qui sont donné la mort parce que qu'ils étaient incapables de trouver la nourriture pour ses enfants et leurs femmes. ça c'est passé au Burundi en 1999 dans une province du Nord dénommé Kirundo, il y avait la famine causée par la sécheresse. Nourrir le monde et lutter contre la faim est à la fois facile et complexe:
1. Gouvernance mondiale opérationnelle et exigeant à tout les etats et mettre en place un mécanisme de contrôle efficace
2. Reformer la FAO pour plus d'efficacité sur le terrain;
3. Faire la question de lutte contre la faim, un axe transversal dans les planifications UNDAF et DSRP dans tous le pays;
4. Adopter une stratégie internationale pour changer systématiquement les méthodes agricoles, l'actualisations régulières des intrants et la fertilisations des sols;
5. Adopter une stratégie d'échanges bilatérales et / ou multilatérales des cultures;
6. Créer des fonds, des lignes budgétaires etc. pour promouvoir l'agriculture, la transformation; bref promouvoir les industries alimentaires
I have been following with great interest the discussion.
My feeling is that we tend to give too much emphasis to the technical aspects of food security and neglect the political side of the issue. We also tend to mix the two very different questions of i) reducing - now eradicating - hunger and ii) producing sufficiently for all.
On the first point, we have to realize that the conditions in countries have been
- in favor of agriculture in rich countries (e.g. farmers better represented politically and well organized to defend their interests; consumers are ready to pay relatively high food prices as food only represents a small share in their expenditure; subsidies for agriculture affordable because of reduced share of agriculture in the economy)
- unfavorable in poor countries (farmers have no political weight on political regimes that for long have been undemocratic, they are disorganized and cannot influence policies, agriculture is a big share of GDP and costly to subsidies; liberalized policies imposed through structural adjustment programmes have been prevented to change because of WTO membership; food is a big share in household expenditure in urban areas where they can put pressure on governments through demonstrations; the option of food aid has given a disincentives to governments to invest limited funds into agriculture).
This has resulted on the one hand in high subsidies and protection for agriculture in rich countries, and poor support in non industrial countries. The limited support and services available for farmers in poor countries are benefitting to few better off farmers, while the majority of farmers, those who are the most food insecure, have been excluded.
So for me the main challenge, to reduce hunger, is to find a way to include these people so that they can improve their standard of living. 2012 is the international year of cooperatives, but while it is said that 1 billion out of the 1.4 billion farmers are part of cooperatives or groupings, we have to admit sadly that most of these groupings are either non-functional or dominated by the local rural elite and do not operate in favour of the smaller farmers. So this is an area where support is needed as, if better organized, farmers can be stronger on markets, get access to cheaper equipment/inputs, be influential on policies. There are of course good experiences to learn from, and we need to apply lessons from them. Authentic democracy can also help to change the political balance that is unfavorable to farmers by giving them opportunity to propel representative leaders to Parliament and/or Government.
We also need to do more for those rural dwellers (particularly the land less) to have more job opportunities or less trouble in migrating to urban areas, where towns can offer jobs.
Regarding the two questions (hunger, more production), there is clearly a need to continue increasing production. But not in any way:
- First we need to use more environmental friendly technologies.
- Second they should be easily accessible to poor farmers.
That requires more funds for independent public research (private research seeks to produce goods that can be sold and that are given characteristics of private goods - exclusion in particular - such as fertilizers, pesticides, hybrid or GMO seeds/ public researchers financed by private firms tend to develop what these firms want). Research has proven to be the most profitable investment in agriculture. Independent public research should focus on crop/animal management that is labour-based (a key asset of poor farmers), knowledge intensive (a potentially public good) and requires limited purchased inputs (poor farmers do not have cash to buy them). In this way, improved technology kill two birds with one stone (although I don’t think we should kill birds...): be at the same time more friendly to poor farmers and to the environment.
Unfortunately, when people start thinking increased production, they tend to think that we should do more of what we are already doing (input intensive agriculture, work with larger commercial farms). That may help to reach the 70% target of increasing world production, but at a huge and intolerable environmental and social cost!
Furthermore, I am not sure that we really need to increase food production by 70% as we have now more food today than what we need of feed the world and that more than 1/4 of what is produced is wasted or lost. Part of the discussion is also the need to adopt food consumption patterns (less meat in particular, less waste) which will have less of an ecological foot print and be more healthy.
I stop here for now. For those who read French, I invite you to have a look at my website www.lafaimexpliquee.org for more information.
Regards to all,
Undernutrition entails huge economic costs in terms of forgone gross domestic product (GDP). For example, a study titled “The Cost of Hunger” estimated that, in Central America and Dominican Republic, the costs stemming from child undernutrition were about US$ 6.7 billion, or more than 6 per cent of countries’ GDP. The study, jointly produced by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and WFP, is available at http://www.eclac.org/publicaciones/xml/9/32669/DP_CostHunger.pdf.
While these statistics are grim news, they also show the strong connection between child under-nutrition and economic growth. From this perspective, how can we ensure that these linkages are recognized and measured in the post-2015 agenda?
FAO-WFP Facilitation Team
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF ACHIEVING FOOD SECURITY AFTER 2015 The Millenium Development Goals expire 2015 but national governments with their economies continue to exist beyond that. Whether the MDGs will be renewed or given another name entirely, the goal will still be similar to what we have at present. The very first goal of the MDGs which seeks to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty is a goal that will be pursued as long as people continue to dwell on the planet earth. Achieving food security is putting the right structures in place that will ensure the production, processing and distribution of the right type, quantity and quality of food. In as much as everyone eats food, the duty of ensuring food security is that of national governments. The major area I see as a great challenge and which will be a good opportunity for food security is the development of rural infrastructure. More than half of the food produced in any developing country is produced in the rural areas. The youths and women make up to 70% of the farming population in Nigeria for example. Unfortunatly recently, there is mass migration of the youths from the rural areas to urban areas to take up non agricultural profession leaving agriculture in the hands of the aged. This is evident in the fall in food production and exportation recently than compared to what was obtainable in the 1960s-1980s. Government programs on agriculture do not address the rural areas seriously, hence the sustained migration. My opinion as a development worker working with women and youths in the rural areas is that, food security programs should not dwell on provision of farm equipment and seeds or training and incentives alone. Any food security program or policy that does not target the development of critical rural infrastructure is bound to fail. In my opinion, if rural areas are opened up alone, every other aspect of food security will naturally take shape. In addition to that, agro-processing industries should be located in rural areas to give value to their produce. This is the only thing that will keep the farming population back in the rural areas. Develp rural infrastructure and every other thing will follow if food security must be achieved
It is heartening to see calls for decentralized approaches to addressing the war against malnutrition. From my perspective and the company that I work for, I feel that there is a serious need to put the needs of the customer first and foremost who in this case is the small holder farmer.
Without assigning blame or pointing fingers, because for all intents and purposes activities are performed with the best of intentions, assistance to farmers in my region is piecemeal, incomplete and ineffective. In general programs look at working with volumes of farmers with numbers under 1000 generally not considered. There is no problem with this except when you take into consideration the funding levels that are assigned to assisting these numbers of farmers and the structure of the programs that ensue.
What I mean by this is that we will have a seed and basic equipment distribution to farmers to assist with increasing production. There is nothing wrong with this, but too many times they are supplied to farmers that do not have access to effective irrigation for example. The end result is crop failure. In other cases the need is not seeds or tools, but agronomy support and training. However under these large unwieldy programs because of the nature of the funding this is not supported effectively.
Rather then this mass one shoe fits all approach there needs to be a call out to the community to ask what each INDIVIDUAL farmer needs.
The model that I work with in the Pacific and in Samoa to be specific is to identify champions in each of the village communities. We do this by driving through communities and identifying those farmers who are actively participating in the sector. Our total company focus is making our farmers more successful. We then ask this farmer if he would like to work with us and if he/she agrees we discuss a farm plan. Our first question - What is holding you back? This gives us the base to work off. In most cases the initial issue is yields from his/her current crop. We then propose a program, present the farmer with forecasts and costings and on agreement we begin.
We work on the principal the success breeds success. We know how our communities work. When they see that something is working for a neighbour they will copy this. From a commercial perspective each of these farms is a marketing platform in each village. Within very short time frames other farmers from the area start calling and asking to be involved and we bring them into the program. In addition to this we are continually training our farmers (we are a biological organic company). We invest a lot of time and effort in up-skilling our champion in the village. They become an in-trenched field consultant to the other farmers and a knowledge sharing base in the community.
End of the day it is working. My take - smaller, properly funded programs according to the farmers needs. Stop trying to heal the world in a single program. We discard too many "small step" programs because we think that they take too long. However if we had been working that way from the beginning we wouldn't be having this discussion now.
Soil Health Pacific Ltd
The MDG brings a lot of bright in fighting of food insecurity. The key lessons of the MDG shows us that if one can make things to change for a better thing then the output is good. Ethiopia one of the country facing the food insecurity problem for a longer period and still facing the challenge of minimizing such conditions. Together with the MDG and the governmental plan the minimization of the poverty in the country shows a progress. The main causes of the poverty in the country are the insufficient education, agricultural production, road and transportation, health and water source. Fighting such root causes of the poverty minimize the food insecurity in the country. Now a day agricultural production is increasing even though still the agrarian production is leading, which is the still lead to food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition during the drought season. Even though there is a production sometimes people are still facing the challenge to purchase what they need due to the low money purchase power and lack of knowledge on the access of the food. The availability of the agricultural product does not mean that there is no food insecurity. For instance we can see in the rural areas there is production of agricultural products but due to lack of knowledge on nutrition they are facing the malnutrition problem.
The challenge of the Ethiopia in the fighting of the poverty is that, Ethiopia is struggling to achieve different objectives at once for instance the road construction, fighting hanger, making available power source for the country, education, the challenge of fighting HIV/AIDS and other health problems and some other developmental activities.
The other challenge of that Ethiopia in fighting of hunger is the loss of the agricultural production during harvest and post harvest. The loss of the post harvest of agricultural product reaches to more than 40% of the production especially on the perishable agricultural products. The lack of the skilled persons working on the post harvest and nutrition lead the country to even loss the production.
There are different challenges beside the above like link between the NGOs and GOVs and the local producers or the farmers. Different findings aimed to help those in needs, but when we see through the fund for the farms is nothing when we consider the fund given for the organization and for fee of the NGOs and GOVs employee's. There for there need to be given a special re-assessment for such miss leading gap to achieve the goal of the MDGs.
To address the food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition problem in the coming future the link between the GOVs, NGOs and the local farmer need a strong linkage. This link will minimize the gap and minimize the knowledge gap. The main focuses that need to be seen to achieve food security are one to produce agricultural products sufficiently by use of the irrigation. The second thing is to process and use the agricultural product efficiently by minimizing the loss during harvest and post harvest. The third thing is to exchange knowledge on the nutrition, processing, value chained and food science role in the country. Finally reassessment of the information with the local farmers, in building smooth relation.
The Zero Hanger Challenge is one that faces Ethiopia now a day. Hunger due to lack of food, Hanger due to lack balanced diet, hanger due to lack of knowledge and others have direct or indirect impact on the reduction or eradication of hanger. As I have mentioned above to achieve this goal Zero hanger the Farmers, NGOs and GOVs should work together; to increase agricultural production; minimize loss of agricultural products; increasing a person income to attained purchase ability; give a good path in the value chain of agricultural products; building a market access for consumers; increasing once country knowledge on FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION, POST HARVEST, MARKETING AND OTHERS.
The objective put by the UN under the Zero Hanger Challenge outstanding. The problem is that most of the objectives are regional and country specific. For instance when we consider Africa to achieve such objectives first it need to fulfill other major objectives, even though some countries in Africa are well developed as compared to the least developed once. Putting the major objective as in the UN ZHC each region and country should develop their own sub objective to achieve the major objective.
In my opinion
We need to replace the fossil fuel power plants, the primary source of GHG. Now!
At a scale required to accomplish this task :
Ethanol starves people : not a viable option.
Fracking releases methane : not a viable option.
Cellulose Bio Fuel Uses Food Land : not a viable option
Solar uses food land : Not a viable option
Wind is Intermittent : Not a viable option
All Human and Agricultural Organic Waste can be converted to hydrogen, through exposure intense radiation!
The Radioactive Materials exist now, and the Organic waste is renewable daily.
Ending the practice of dumping sewage into our water sources.
Air, Water, Food and Energy issues, receive significant positive impacts .
Reducing illness / health care costs as well !
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I strongly recommend that FAO and others involved follow a logical approach to planning for these topics. Such an approach is step by step yet iterative and utilises planning tools like stakeholder and problem analyses that facilitate the accurate determination of the current (present) situation, the goals we need to achieve and the best activities to achieve these goals. I fear that an unorganized think tank type, scatter shot approach will not instill any confidence in the results.
A preliminary review of the stakeholder and problem analyses for hunger and food security tells me that the two are separate and distinct topics with conflicting interests. The root cause of hunger is poverty not availability of food. Producing more, cheaper food does not solve the problem of poverty. To achieve food security farmers and producers need to get better returns on their labour and investment which means higher prices. FAO needs to determine which of these two subjects is part of its mandate. Surely FAO’s mandate cannot cover both.
The following is an article that I wrote on World Food day in 2011 in response to the FAO’s Director General’s Statement. That I must regurgitate this suggests that I wasted my time.
NO FOOD DAY
October 16, 2011 designated as “World Food day” has come and gone – or has it? For too many of the billion hungry people the world over, most days are “no food day”. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) promoted the theme “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability” to highlight a worldwide trend that is “hurting the poor consumer, the small producer and agriculture in general” because “food prices which were stable for decades have become increasingly volatile”. They concluded that “controlling prices was key to the fight against hunger”.
FAO further lamented that “Agriculture cannot respond fast enough with increased food production because of long-term under-investment in research, technology, equipment and infrastructure”.
The statement by the FAO Director General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, leaves several unanswered questions: Why did FAO emphasise the volatility or fluctuation of food prices and not the fact that the prices were higher although fluctuating? How do higher prices hurt producers and agriculture in general? Why does FAO concern itself with the hungry? Since when are the interests of food producers the same as those of consumers? Could the high price of energy be a contributing factor to high food prices? and Why is there under-investment in agriculture?
It is unfortunate that the FAO statement does not distinguish between the food producers and distributors. Promoting more investment in agriculture is like “pushing rope” since it deals with an effect and not the cause! Food producers around the world have repeatedly increased their production when they are adequately rewarded for their investment. Our experience in Barbados supports this. When our government in 1971 taxed all of the nasty profits out of our highly efficient sugar industry (over $50 million between 1974 and 1981) the result was dwindling capital investment in the industry with productivity falling by 50% from a high of over ten tonnes of sugar per hectare to the five tonnes per hectare currently being achieved.
Our people supposedly abhor agriculture but several are reputed to be cultivating marijuana in discreet nooks and crannies around the island despite the risk of imprisonment. Why are they not growing sweet potatoes and yams? Could it be that cultivation of the latter is not lucrative enough?
We need to stop expecting the food producers to feed the poor and hungry - this is society’s responsibility not the food producers who are trying to earn a living!
I strongly recommend that FAO focus on its mandate to promote food production and leave the job of feeding the hungry to those with that conflicting mandate. In the process FAO should ensure that OXFAM and other food-aiders feed the hungry with fresh, healthy food from their poor countries like rice, yams, sweet potatoes, vegetables and coconut water instead of over-processed and unhealthy wheat flour and powdered milk. This would promote food production in the very countries where most of the hungry are located. Unfortunately, such action would put the food-aiders out of work and we cannot have that, can we?
I recall hearing President Bush (the son) admit in the dying days of his Presidency (October, 2008) that the USA had made a mistake in providing food-aid to poor countries. He concluded that the USA should have helped the countries to produce their own food instead. At the time I thought “Wow! I wonder how many people have heard and will remember this”. Obviously not many!
FAO also supports the “elimination of trade-distorting agricultural subsidies in rich countries”. Rubbish! Agricultural subsidies have been practiced by the rich countries for centuries. It is one of the reasons why they are rich! Their economies are not bled by having to import billions of $ in foreign food. Subsidies promote their agricultural industries, maintain their producers’ standard of living and contribute significantly to their economies by providing value added opportunities which amount to more than the value of their agriculture. They also promote their countries’ food security. Such subsidies only distort trade in agricultural commodities when the surpluses they tend to produce are dumped on the world market at less than their real cost of production. It is the act of dumping that distorts the trade not the subsidies!
Governments the world over subsidise housing, health, education, transport, and utilities for the poor but are not supposed to subsidise the most basic and important item needed by the poor – food ! Logic seems to be lacking. Furthermore, if the subsidies are eliminated where would the food-aiders get their cheap food to feed the hungry? Round and round we go….!
NB: Peter Webster is a retired Portfolio Manager of the Caribbean Development Bank and a former Senior Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Key challenges seen around especially in combating food insecurities as be as result of poor policies and laxity in implementation of result oriented policies. Year in year out most governments have dependent on rain fed agriculture, owing the importance of irrigation. Insecurity has been seen as major hinderance in ASAL areas where resources such as livestock may be of greater importance. Most analysist have considered crops as a case for food security thereby forgeting the contribution of other importance sectors in food provision such as livestock, water and even the co-operatives.
And a more pronounced challenge is the changes in climate where most arable lands are rendered dried day by day. I may also consider the rising of conversion of arable land into structures such as skycrappers, buildings e.t.c. You will realize most of these building have been constructed in fertile lands better for agriculture. This will require better policies on construction. Poor leadership especially in most developing nations has been influencing food insecurity with frequent tribal wars and displacements of persons.
Key lessons learned:
- that small - medium sized mixed farms that encourage high biodiversity are the most productive when it comes to broad nutritional value.
- that villages and neighbourhoods represent the appropriate scale for effective human relations.
- the level of urbanization resulting from failure of the so called "green" revolution.
- the dis-inclination for governments, no matter how much they pay lip service to the goal of de-centralization, to implement autonomy for bioregions.
- urban and suburban organic gardens
What works best:
- mainstream permaculture principles, re-create productive ecosystems
- get children reconnected to wilderness,
we will never address the predicament of hunger and malnutrition as long as we stay on the treadmill of "feeding" the growing population.
The 1st Law of Ecology: All life on earth is food.
The 2nd Law of Ecology: Population size is proportional to food availability.
Every year for the past 6,000 years aggreculture (sic) [waging war on biodiversity to grow humans' favourite foods] has produced a food surplus which has fueled the explosion of the human biome at the expense of other species and ecosystems services.
Let the UN and the WTO put a cap on food production and make sure every human gets an equal share. The population will stabalize in a decade. Then start to bring down production to reduce the population to the carrying capacity of the planet.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)