FSN Forum

DISCUSSION No. 148   •   FSN Forum digest No. 1337

Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture?

until 24 April 2018

iconHow to participate

Send your contribution to
or post it on the
FSN Forum website www.fao.org/fsnforum


Dear Members,

The discussion on Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture? attracted many new comments which we share below together with the feedback of the co-facilitator Ana Paula de la O Campos from FAO.

With this discussion, we invite you to reflect on how agriculture could be better integrated in poverty reduction strategies to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor.

Your views will be part of a broader reflection to refine and improve FAO's approach towards the eradication of extreme poverty by using its experience in supporting agriculture and the livelihoods of rural dwellers towards the realization of SDG1.

Please read more on the discussion webpage, also available in French and Spanish.

We thank you very much for your enthusiastic participation so far and look forward to coming two weeks of exchange.

Your FSN Forum team

Ana Paula de la O Campos, facilitator of the discussion

Dear members of the forum,

Thank you very much for so many contributions! They will be very helpful as we continue to develop the framework for our work on extreme poverty.

Ana Paula de la O Campos

You have highlighted a number of important aspects that we will need to take into account for FAO's work to also reach the poorest of the poor and prevent that more rural people fall deeper in poverty:

- The need to develop more effective strategies and programmes on mitigation and adaptation that are sensitive to the roles of small scale producers and their needs. "Think global but act local", maximizing local resources, knowledge. As a follow up, I would like to ask the members of the forum to discuss on how we could move this forwards more effectively, in ways that are scalable and sustainable, particularly, on how to bring the environmental and social sectors together.

- Strengthening the agriculture and nutrition linkage. Good nutrition is fundamental for productivity, in any sector, but it also fosters better education and higher incomes for younger generations. It is important to look at the effectiveness of our current food systems to foster good nutrition, particularly that of the poor and the poorest. Where agroclimatic conditions allow, year-round vegetable production is a good option for bringing more micronutrients to the table.

- We are not fostering the agriculture sector for poverty reduction enough. Investments in agriculture continue to be below what is needed in order to tap on opportunities that exist in the sector, including organic agriculture (as demand for healthier foods from cities arise) as well as for sustainable production to foster climate change mitigation (CSA, agroecology). Resources are needed to foster and disseminate local technologies, including farmer to farmer exchanges.

- The importance of revitalizing rural areas and making the agricultural sector more attractive to the youth. Using technologies to disseminate information and knowledge (example of YouTube videos) that are more specific to local needs. Creating market linkages while also helping develop territorial markets for more high quality food availability at territorial level.

As a follow up to the discussion, I would like to invite the members to further discuss and express their opinions on the following points:

- I would like to know more about the potential impact of preventing food loss and waste in poverty reduction: do you have any examples?

- Overall, while eradicating extreme poverty will require multisectoral approaches, how could agriculture be better integrated in poverty reduction strategies? Often these strategies have a weak rural focus, while most of the poor live in rural areas. How can the role of agriculture be more focused on poverty reduction and reach the poorest? Any suggestions?

- And the other way around, how can agricultural strategies be more inclusive of the poorest? What mechanisms do we have in the sector to better identify and understand the needs of this population and increase their lack of productive assets? 


iconJohn Ede, Ohaha Family Foundation, Nigeria

John discusses the situation of rural poverty in Northern Nigeria, where urgent steps to save the people and the region from extreme poverty need to be taken. The main concern is that policies to support agriculture practices have been designed by experts with limited input of local stakeholders and therefore do not respond to real needs.

Read the contribution

iconFrank van Kesteren, INCLUDE knowledge platform, Netherlands

Frank shares the article "Social protection does not make African farmers lazy, but more productive" recently published in de Volkskrant newspaper.

Read the article

iconJoseph Bagyaraj, CNBRCD, India

Joseph responds to the questions proposed and suggests actions to support the income of small farmers.

Read the contribution

iconPeterson Kato Kikomeko, Kyambogo University, Uganda

Peterson lists some agriculture interventions that can be effective in reducing rural poverty in the context of limited access to productive resources.

Read the contribution

iconDeborah Muricho, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Elaborating on the situation in Sub-Saharan African and Kenya in particular, Deborah claims the decisive role of agriculture in supporting the livelihoods of the rural people. Policy measures should focus on reducing risks and uncertainties of agriculture, along with land reform. The case of pastoralists in West Pokot County illustrates this approach, as indigenous practices were incorporated in external interventions and institutional support helped them overcome shocks.

Read the contribution

iconMahtab S. Bamji, Dangoria Charitable Trust, India

According to Mahtab, it is necessary to provide more support to farmers so that they can increase their productivity and income, and at the same time rural people should develop skills for off-farm livelihoods. It is also important to strengthen the linkage between agriculture and nutrition.

Read the contribution

iconDavid Odili, Square Impact Nigeria, Nigeria

David highlights the problem of land ownership as central to the development of a modern and productive agriculture sector in Africa. He also suggests the idea of a Conditional Land Transfer (CLT) scheme to support the extreme poor.

Read the contribution

iconIkenna Ejiba, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Ikenna draws attention to the impacts of conflict and of climate change, which are often interrelated as in Northern Nigeria, with rural dwellers being increasingly pushed into extreme poverty.

Read the contribution

iconMarc van der Sterren, Farming Africa, Netherlands

At the core of rural poverty is the lack of access to land and empowerment of farmers: providing farmers with specific advice and information about increasing yields in the most appropriate way can go a long way in lifting communities out of poverty. Marc’s essay available at http://smarterfarmers.org advocates for this approach providing examples of successful interventions.

Read the contribution

iconMou Rani Sarker, International Rice Research Institute, Bangladesh

Mou laments the fact that the larger share of agriculture production goes to middleman preventing small farmers from improving their livelihoods. In the case of Bangladesh this also affects migration to urban areas and disincentives youth from being engaged in agriculture.

Read the contribution

iconDeepak Sharma, VAAGDHARA, India

Deepak's experience in working with small and marginal farmers in indigenous tribal communities in Banswara district of Rajasthan, India, shows the benefit of introducing a nutrition sensitive farming approach. The project used a "participatory learning and action" process to engage about 600 family farms.

Read the contribution

iconLindsay Campbell, University of Sydney, Australia

Lindsay argues that in the cases where the poor have access to land, microcredit schemes to purchase seeds, fertilizers and other inputs can be very useful. Some form of food distribution should complement such a measure so that these people can work productively until crops, pastures for livestock, poultry, fish ponds have started producing.

Read the contribution

iconBill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, United Kingdom

Bill suggests supporting the production of fertilizer from urban waste. In addition to providing nutrients, such a production would also provide a chargeable service to the urban economy that the rural poor could take up with the necessary support.

Read the contribution

iconHerbert Iko Afe, Université d'Abomey Calavi, Benin

Herbert stresses the importance of cooperatives and associations for allowing deprived households to access credit. He also mentions the beneficial effect that sustainable natural resource management can have for example in the case of fisheries, where the high percentage of bycatch puts great strain on the fish stock.
Wage labour along the value chain of agricultural products can constitute another strategy to allow the poorest to benefit from agriculture.
Policies, especially those geared toward the most vulnerable are however necessary to facilitate such processes and to allow agriculture to contribute favourably to the eradication of poverty.

Read the contribution