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What do we really know about the number and distribution of farms and family farms in the world?

The agricultural economics literature provides various estimates of the number of farms and small  farms in the world. This paper is an effort to provide a more complete and up to date as well as  carefully documented estimate of the total number of farms in the world, as well as by region and  level of income.

It uses data from numerous rounds of the World Census of Agriculture, the only  dataset available which allows the user to gain a complete picture of the total number of farms  globally and at the country level. The paper provides estimates of the number of family farms, the  number of farms by size as well as the distribution of farmland by farm size.

These estimates find that:  there are at least 570 million farms worldwide, of which more than 500 million can be considered  family farms. Most of the world’s farms are very small, with more than 475 million farms being less  than 2 hectares in size. Although the vast majority of the world’s farms are smaller than 2 hectares,  they operate only a small share of the world’s farmland. Farmland distribution would seem quite  unequal at the global level, but it is less so in low- and lower-middle-income countries as well as in  some regional groups.

These estimates have serious limitations and the collection of more up-to-date  agricultural census data, including data on farmland distribution is essential to our having a more representative picture of the number of farms, the number of family farms and farm size as well as farmland distribution worldwide. 

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Food Losses and Waste in Europe and Central Asia

The paper discusses the issues and policy options for reduction of food losses and waste in Europe and Central Asia, focusing primarily on middle and low income countries of the region.

Food losses and waste (FLW) depend on specific conditions and the local situation in a given country. In broad terms, food losses and waste are influenced by production and processing choices, patterns and technologies, internal infrastructure and capacity, marketing chains and channels for distribution, consumer purchasing and food use practices. To a large extent, FLW are rational from a private perspective as they are the result of the optimizing behaviour of agents. However, in certain countries there are serious limitations due to ineffective food chains, and a lack of capacity to preserve or process foods, or limited markets. From a societal perspective, FLW are claimed to generate socioeconomic and environmental problems.

Development context has high importance on the level, structure and causes of FLW. In developed countries of the region consumer preferences and practices are the main reason for FLW. As a consequence, all steps of the supply chain have to adjust their production, processing, or distribution to these preferences. In middle and low income countries the most frequently mentioned causes of food losses are inadequate infrastructure and technology, inefficient market and demand for supply as well as the lack of education and skills, in particular at the farm level.

Targeted investments to reduce FLW at any significant scale could be primarily done by the private sector. Equally importantly, by promoting effective policy and enabling environment in support of sustainable agricultural production, and value chain approaches the public sector can contribute to a minimisation of FLW. The scope of the public policies should be to create an enabling environment for private sector to introduce practices having potential to reduce FLW whereby contributing to increase the overall efficiency of food supply chains. 

 
 
 

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Resilience Measurement Principles – Toward an Agenda for Measurement Design FSIN Technical Series No.1

The Food Security Information Network (FSIN)* supports the development and harmonization of methods and tools for food and nutrition security analysis. A technical working group composed of renowned experts was constituted to lead the development of a common analytical framework and technical guidelines for resilience measurement.

This paper is an initial step toward the development of resilience measurement design for use by stakeholders (e.g. programme staff, monitoring and evaluation, policy makers). It outlines:

  • A definition of resilience
  • A series of measurement design principles
  • General technical guidelines for Resilience Measurement commonly used to promote rigor in all measurement approaches
  • A set of substantive issues and analytical concerns

Url to the publication:  http://www.fsincop.net/resource-centre/detail/en/c/213177/

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Monitoring and analysing food and agricultural policies in Africa Synthesis report 2013

MAFAP’s Synthesis Report presents key findings from an unprecedented effort to systematically monitor and analyse the effects of food and agricultural policies in ten developing countries across Africa: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda.

Key findings from the report include the following and much more:

  • The policy environment and performance of domestic markets depressed producer prices by an average of ten percent between 2005 and 2010, though price disincentives are declining.
  • Most governments adopted market and trade policies to protect consumers and keep food prices down in the reference period, whilst budgetary transfers were mainly used to support producers.
  • Producer prices would improve significantly if market distortions from inefficiencies in domestic value chains were eliminated through better targeted policies and public spending. These inefficiencies, however, seem to be increasing in all ten countries surveyed.

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Family Poultry Development - Issues, opportunities and constraints.

Family poultry encompasses the wide variety of small-scale poultry production systems found in rural, urban and peri-urban areas of developing countries. One can distinguish four broad categories of family poultry production systems: small extensive scavenging, extensive scavenging, semi-intensive and small-scale intensive. Empirical and circumstantial evidence from many developing countries shows that poultry development interventions can bring significant benefits to households, in terms of contributions to food security, women’s empowerment and poverty reduction. During three electronic conferences and preparation of the “Decision Tools for Family Poultry Development” several good practices and lessons learned for a “roadmap towards a more sustainable family poultry development” were recognized as essential tools for designing more effective projects. It is crucial to assess the feasibility and economic viability of family poultry interventions in each specific operating environment, and to develop an appropriate and tailored response in order to achieve sustainability. Lessons learned show that a “one-size-fits-all” response is not successful. Two different approaches towards family poultry development emerged from the electronic conference discussions: a conservative approach and a progressive approach. The former is used to preserve existing practices; the latter is used to introduce new practices. The progressive approach is often adopted by development agencies, as they assume that it leads to more efficient and productive systems. Economic outcome and sustainability of family poultry production should be given consideration when recommending more intensive production systems. The conservative approach seems more appropriate for remote village conditions, where the introduction of new technologies is challenging and poultry production is subject to many constraints. Development interventions should respond to the specific needs of the target group and, therefore, may involve single or multiple stages. Nevertheless, interventions focused on a single component of the production system (e.g. feeding, housing, health or breeding) often yield little improvement in family poultry production, as other constraints may arise and hamper productivity. In promoting the introduction of new technologies, it is crucial to carry out “hands-on/learningby- doing” training and ensure follow-up by technical agents. The formation of producer groups to deliver support services to poor farmers, such as training for capacity-building, supply of inputs and assistance for marketing, is a key issue for development. To achieve success and sustainability, however, the formation of producer groups needs to be combined with a value chain approach. Recommendations for specific genetic resources also need to be location specific. A single type of bird may not be suitable for all conditions. Suitability is dependent on a variety of factors, such as household resources (including time and commitment) and the underlying objective of poultry rearing (to meet household needs or to access markets and earn a sustained livelihood). The most appropriate genetic resources for scavenge-based systems are local breeds with improved productivity, adaptability and disease resistance. This also favours the conservation of indigenous breeds; its self-propagation capability ensures sustainability and very low dependence on external agencies/persons. Breeds that have low input costs with improved productivity are recommended for semi-intensive systems. These may be crosses of local with exotic breeds or crosses of two exotic breeds/lines designed to contribute improved productivity in line with increased investment. This system requires supplementary feeding and proper housing of improved birds, and use of crossbred chickens requires a supply system that produces the crosses. Government support may be required for the development of improved genetic resources that are appropriate to the specific conditions of scavenging poultry and for those used in semi-intensive production systems. Assessing the availability of locally available/produced feed resources is important for all four family poultry production systems. The utilization of new and existing local feed resources through different feeding techniques can assist in mitigating the potential impacts of climate change. For scavenging systems assessment of the scavengeable feed resource and its efficient use is crucial. Family poultry farmers using small extensive scavenging and extensive scavenging systems should be able to use on-farm mixtures as supplements to scavenging. Supplementation with locally available feedstuffs or commercial feed as a supplement to scavenging can be recommended for the semi-intensive system if the market prices of the birds or eggs ensure profitability. Poultry in small-scale intensive systems require ad libitum feeding with balanced commercial feed. The continuing education of family poultry farmers regarding types and quality of commercial feeds should raise awareness among them of their need for training on collecting (sourcing), mixing (formulating and compounding) and feeding (supplying, storage and offering) of commercial feed, as well as locally available (home-grown/home-mixed) feed. Newcastle Disease is identified as the major health constraint to family poultry production in developing countries. However, once controlled other constraints have to be addressed, such as other diseases (mainly fowl pox, fowl cholera and duck plague) and shortage of feed resources. The availability of quality vaccines and well-trained vaccinators is required to implement efficient vaccination programmes. Ensuring the involvement of women as vaccinators and advisors contributes to both effective poultry disease control programmes and the improved status of women in their households and their communities. Effective vaccination programmes should be combined with appropriate biosecurity measures and practices to strengthen the immune systems of birds (e.g. good nutrition and control of mycotoxins on grains). Appropriate family poultry policies are essential for family poultry development to ensure that the socio-economically disadvantaged are able to make use of these potent tools to improve livelihoods and the position of women. To achieve these goals policy-makers need to be made aware of the real contributions that family poultry can make, so as to ensure their active support. Family poultry development programmes need support from different sectors and careful designing to achieve a favourable environment for future sustainability. 

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Maternal nutrition in emergencies

Current evidence underlines the importance of the nutritional status of women as a crucial factor in the survival, healthy growth and development of her children. Although it is the subject of less global attention, maternal nutrition is also crucial for women’s own ability to live a healthy life.

The EC demonstrated its strong commitment to 'enhance maternal and child nutrition in external assistance' by adopting a nutrition policy in March 2013. Specifically in the humanitarian context, the Commission’s support is aimed at treating, preventing and alleviating maternal and child undernutrition, to reduce or avoid excess mortality and morbidity, in emergencies. For maternal nutrition in emergencies, the DG ECHO is concerned that there are a number of gaps at policy and practice levels and limited guidance is available, in order to efficiently and effectively address the needs for maternal nutrition.

A one-day technical roundtable on “Maternal Nutrition in Emergencies” was held in Brussels in November 2013, convened by DG ECHO. The meeting brought together key DG ECHO technical staff and partners, agency nutrition focal points, donors and technical experts. The aim of the round table was to discuss the evidence, current practice and issues related to maternal nutrition in emergencies and to suggest priority actions and initiatives required to address these gaps and challenges.

We would like to share with you the report of this event, prepared and facilitated by Emily Mates and Tanya Khara (ENN), composed of 2 parts. (1) The technical background paper, identified a number of gaps in the area of maternal nutrition in emergencies and formed the basis for discussions at the technical roundtable meeting. The review summarised the available literature relating to: women’s particular nutritional vulnerabilities, what the implications of these are for women and their infants, current international guidance on maternal nutrition and what is currently being done in emergency programming. A series of key gaps were highlighted as a result. (2) The meeting report provides an overview of the discussions held at the roundtable of the main issues, gaps and recommendations.

Key recommendations have been made during the technical roundtable, which will require follow-up. We would like to raise some of the issues and recommendations in future events and meetings, and will appreciate the support of our partners in carrying this issue forward.

Catherine Chazaly

DG ECHO Policy Officer – Nutrition

28.01.2014
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Summary of the Online Discussion on Rights-based Approaches to Food Security in Protracted Crises

From 22 October 2013 to 20 November 2013, the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) hosted the fourth e-discussion of the Community of Practice on Food Insecurity on Protracted Crises. This e-discussion focused on “rights-based approaches to food security in protracted crises,” soliciting the participation of the worldwide FSN Forum community of experts and practitioners. The outcomes will feed into the drafting process of an Agenda for Action for Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises.

16.01.2014
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A Vegetable Garden for All

A practical guide for setting up family gardens for the production of nutritious, safe food crops, that would contribute to the diets of populations affected by food insecurity

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Analysing nutrition governance in fragile contexts: lessons and implications

This Maximising the Quality of Scaling Up Nutrition Programme (MQSUN) Briefing describes lessons learnt and implications from a MQSUN assignment which main objective was to analyze the research and policy challenges for improving nutrition governance in a context of state fragility.

Efforts to strengthen government commitment to reduce under nutrition in Fragile and Conflict Affected States (FCAS) face a number of context specific challenges:

  • First, most nutrition investments tend to adopt short-term humanitarian approaches to tackle food and hunger crises.
  • Secondly, FCAS usually lack the capacity to design and implement their own nutrition strategies, thus reinforcing their dependency on the policy advice, technical training and funding from the donor community.
  • Thirdly, there are very weak or nonexistent accountability linkages between the state and society in FCAS, so that citizens lack the means to hold their governments to account and political elites lack the incentives to respond to citizens’ demands.

This briefing offers practical recommendations and policy advice to address nutrition governance challenges in a context of fragility.

18.12.2013

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Nutrition Commitment Audit for Nigeria

This Operational Research and Impact Evaluation (ORIE) Research summary highlights key findings from a Nutrition Commitment Audit (NCA) designed and applied in Nigeria in 2012 in order to examine national and sub-national level factors influencing the country’s commitment to addressing undernutrition.

28.10.2013