Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

9-01-2013

Below are several key learnings from our Conservation Agriculture projects in Malawi and Zambia that related to the post-2015 discussion:

 

  1. The hiring of female extension officers should be made a priority in agriculture programmes carried out by both government ministries and donor agencies. Enabling women to produce greater yields, particularly in non-staple foodstuffs, would greatly increase overall household nutrition, as well as provide more diverse market opportunities for women.
  • Directly addresses: MDG #1, target C;
  • Indirect – MDG #3, 4, and 5

 

  1. Adjustment of government policies to reduce their emphasis on maize production and marketing, so that greater market opportunities for non-maize foodstuffs can be exploited. This can be accomplished in the following ways:
    1. Reducing floor price of maize to reflect actual market prices.
    2. Utilizing the existing grain depots and other infrastructure as clearing houses for bulking, storage, and selling of all crops (other than maize).
    3. Increasing quotas for the purchase of crops other than maize

 

Furthermore, governments and agencies should collaborate to create district-level agricultural marketing plans to help connect rural producers directly to local, urban, and peri-urban markets.

  • Directly addresses: MDG #1, targets A& C;

 

  1. Implementation plans for agriculture, in which CA is strongly emphasized, need to be carried out at the district level in conjunction with farmers at a variety of economic levels in order for interventions to present a diversity of CA methods that match local agro-ecological and socio-economic conditions. These plans should be vetted by CA task forces made up of relevant stakeholders, and then used as frameworks through which agencies must adhere to in their implementation of CA programs.
  • Directly addresses: MDG#8, Targets A, B and C

 

  1. We strongly caution against the free distribution of hybrid seeds and fertilizers as a means of incentivizing adoption of CA, as it irrevocably creates a dependency that can rarely be sustained following project completion. Programmes implementing CA need to present a diversity of methological and technological options for the farmers to experiment with and innovate to fit their particular situation; this could include mulching (bio-mass transfer), cover-cropping, intercropping, agroforestry, etc. Input distribution should be limited to sustainable “one-off” seeds; in particular, the use of open-pollinated varieties that can be harvested and replanted in subsequent seasons with little yield loss.

 

  1. We at Concern are not opposed to the use of Green Revolution technologies, including seeds, fertilizers, chemical herbicides and/or pesticides. As such, farmers with means in areas with agro-business infrastructure should be supported in accessing loans through microfinance agencies in order to adopt CA. However, it must be recognized that the high costs, limited access, and management regimens that are a prerequisite of these technologies cannot be sustained over the long-term by most small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa without first building their capacities within their existing local resource base. Furthermore, a diversity of approaches may lead to greater diversity of nutritional and economic resources produced by the implementing households.
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  • Directly addresses: MDG#7A, 8F
  • Indirectly addresses: MDG #1C