Re: Addressing food insecurity in protracted crises: adequate and appropriate funding mechanisms

Subhash Mehta Devarao Shivaram Trust, India
24.04.2013

Funding of Producer Company (PC) and integrated agriculture of each area, ensures the rural poor smallholder producer communities access to safe and nutritious food. My search began sixteen years ago when I moved to Rome. Looking out of the aircraft window, seeing the 'Isolated rural poor, out of sight out of mind', struggling to make two ends meet, whilst we have been putting all the burden on her/ his shoulders to feed us, the urban haves Globally. I exposed myself to the plight of the rural poor smallholder producers and the cause of the crisis facing them started to surface, the possible solutions and in the short term. S when I was exposed to the market oriented agriculture development, focusing on externally produced bio inputs for mono crops produced to meet the bulk needs of the chain stores, benefiting the input producers and the supply side. The fact was that on the ground in the developing countries the buyer was only picking up around 10% of the produce at the organic premium price, rejecting the balance on grounds of quality. An unfair organic agriculture trade practice ! I decided to adapt and apply my entrepreneurial, management (planning & budgeting) experience and expertise for the setting up by the rural farmers producer companies/ orgs (PC) but staffed by professionals ( general practitioners [Gps] / MBAs in agriculture, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, India), www.navajyoti.org, who have recently implemented this model and in one of the poorest parts of Odisha, India. This successful innovative management intervention model, takes over all responsibilities and manages the cash to cash cycle risks, other than on farm activities. In time to come the PC, given the required funding, would be in a position to create human and institutional capacity locally and deliver/ provide all services to their communities, as the Government's role is diminishing/ no longer in a position to deliver/ take the responsibilities covering education, health, rural development, the environment/ forests/ biodiversity, etc., if the developing countries want to improve the livelihoods of their rural poor. Before returning to India in 2000, I enrolled myself at the Institute Agriculture Mediteranian Bari (IAMB), in Pulia, Italy, end 1999, for an intensive course, 'Integrated (Organic) Agriculture, Inspection, Certification and Accreditation, enabling me to understand smallholder friendly syatems, enabling me to follow a path to serve the isolated rural poor smallholder producers, out of sight out of mind of the mainstream agriculture Policy, Governance, Plans & Budgets, NARES, the CGIAR/ GFAR, IFAD, World Bank/ Asian Development Bank, etc. Following integrated organic agriculture as applicable to the local soil and agro climatic conditions of each area has the potential to improve net income, purchasing power and livelihoods of the smallholder producer communities in the developing countries. I have since made interventions at National and Global conferences, focusing on and putting on the table the fact that 'Public Funds' be used for meeting the needs of the rural poor smallholder producer communities, thus ensure access of nutritious food to their communities and the urban poor at little or no cost, by minimizing the cost of production and post harvest losses, adding value locally to increase the shelf life of the produce, the result being reduction in hunger, malnutrition, poverty, effects of climate change and suicides. We need to ensure that 'Public Funds' are used primarily to improve rural livelihoods by contracting successful farmer enterprise in each area as models for wide replication of their low cost integrated agriculture among smallholder producers in their area, also for the season after AR4D required due to climate change, etc., thus ensuring an inclusive bottom up system on the ground to ensure the maximum impact and in the short term. The green revolution intensive conventional high cost high risk agriculture system is the cause of the agrarian crisis among the rural poor smallholder producers, with reducing net incomes each year, as they are dependent on nature, traders supplying high cost external inputs for advice, credit, prices being fixed after their produce reaches the market (mostly lower than cost of production) manipulated by the commodity boards, pushing them deep into debt resulting resulting in hunger, malnutrition, poverty and suicides. Further, the use of poor quality unsafe agro chemicals is harmful to their health, the insecticidal residues on the food they produce is many times higher than the GAP standards. The change to mono crops due to false promises and greed has resulted in the smallholder producers giving up the sustainable integrated agriculture knowledge of their fore fathers which ensured their access to nutritious food for their communities, thus putting the community to work in rural areas. The women and educated youth in rural areas need to be retrained as GP/ MBAs in agriculture, thus ensuring jobs for them. The other option is to move to the urban slums, taking jobs in lpoorly paid services or factories. Successful farmers in each area are adapting to climate change, season after season, in an effort to ensure that their farm production and net income increases, year after year. They need to be identified in each area and contracted for using their farm for visits and wide replication of their integrated agriculture model among the other producers in the area. The problem since the 'Green Revolution' has been that the Government policy for incentives/ subsidies has been for the high cost external inputs, including seed and these benefits accessed mostly by large farmers, not for the local integrated agriculture practices followed by smallholder producers, for which they get assistance for organic certification and against purchase of bio inputs, which are mostly of poor quality. What they should be assisted is for producing low cost inputs, including seed and on farm. Government needs to urgently put in place and fund 'producer oriented development policies' for meeting all the needs of the rural poor smallholder producers, from soil till the produce is converted to cash. They need to be supported fully to produce safe, quality, tasty and nutritious food and not just food as being mandated by NARES, encouraging nutrition to come from Industry as a supplement. Farmers need capacity building to optimise farm production, set up their PC, staff them with professionals, etc., in an effort increase their net income, year after year, and in the long term, but mainstream agriculture systems need to mandate this and work along with the smallholder producers not against them.