FSN Forum

DISCUSSION No. 148   •   FSN Forum digest No. 1340

Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture?

until 24 April 2018

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Dear Members,

Please find below the latest contributions to the discussion on Eradicating extreme poverty: what is the role of agriculture? which provide an overview on a range of options and interventions regarded as necessary to lift people out of poverty.

We also share the feedback of Ana Paula de la O Campos, who co-facilitates this topic.

The focus of this topic is on the nexus between agriculture interventions and extreme poverty and how agriculture can support the poor of the poor.

We hope you will take advantage of these few days left to keep enriching this lively exchange. We also remind you that this is part of a broader reflection aimed at improving FAO's approach towards the eradication of extreme poverty.

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

Your FSN Forum team

Ana Paula de la O Campos, facilitator of the discussion

Dear Members of the forum,

Thank you once again for your contributions. You continue to raise very important points in relation to making agricultural interventions reach the poorest of the poor, which is challenging. Also, thank you for pointing to specific case studies from Kenya, Pakistan, Cameroon, Belgium, and others.

Ana Paula de la O Campos

Some of you have pointed to the fact that the poorest have very little land and few or no inputs, and therefore, dedicated programmes are needed to reach them, using a multidimensional approach: cash transfers, asset transfers, credit, skills development, continuous support, and empowering structures such as self-help groups and farmer organizations. The land access question is also fundamental and it is also very difficult to address from a policy level.

Thank you also for pointing out the need to understand poverty from a multidimensional perspective. Income measures of poverty are less useful when trying to address the drivers of poverty, particularly when looking at agricultural interventions for the poorest. I think that a better understanding of how poverty manifests itself in rural areas is still much needed, and these diagnostics need to be participatory, but also the process needs to be empowering.

The role of nutrition in the eradication of extreme poverty is fundamental. Several studies point to the fact that despite progress in poverty reduction, nutrition is not a given. It is the “hidden poverty” as some of you have mentioned. This is an invitation to reflect on the state of our food systems and how we could make them more beneficial from the nutritional point of view, but also from the employment generation and suitability of resources. There will be trade-offs for sure, but giving more value to the “basics” of a sustainable healthy life should be at the basis of policy making, which is reflected in our Agenda 2030.

Also, thank you for pointing the role that FAO has in advocating for sustainable peace. Conflict affects food production through the loss of land, infrastructure, and the displacement of farming communities. In conflict situations, poverty reduction efforts become more challenging, including the strengthening of local institutions who are the ones making development sustainable in the long run.

I look forward to reading more of your contributions during the last days of this discussion. 

Ana Paula


iconLaxmi Prakash Semwsl, ANNAMRIT farmers as owners foundation, India

Laxmi presents the example of the Annamrit foundation, which brought together farmers, processors and distributors, development organisation and investors with the aim to strengthen and provide opportunities for funding and capacity development across the whole value chain.

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iconBruno Kestermont, Federal Public Service Economy, Belgium

Bruno draws attention to the role of vegetable gardens to support poor households.

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iconEmile Houngbo, National University of Agriculture, Porto-Novo (UNA), Benin

Emile provides two examples of experiences that succeeded in lifting communities out of extreme poverty through intensification of agriculture production. These two communities are in the areas of Bamileke in Cameroon and in Machakos in Kenya and both served growing urban districts.

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iconJoseph George Ray, Mahatma Gandhi University, India

Joseph, while highlighting the importance of context-specific interventions, identifies land reforms, promotion of democracy, access to productive assets, financial capabilities, agricultural cooperatives, and organic agriculture as necessary elements for building pathways out of poverty.

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iconPaul von Hartmann, California Cannabis Ministry, USA

Paul argues that the production of hemp, a crop that grows well under a wide variety of soil and climate conditions and with minimal input, could be taken up by farmers living on marginal lands.

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iconKevin Gallagher, Future of Agriculture (Asia), Mongolia

Kevin sees the risk of a widespread adoption of urban sedentary lifestyle by rural populations and warns that all efforts aimed at agricultural development must be accompanied by nutrition education activities.

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iconStanley Weeraratna, Rain Water Harvesting Forum, Sri Lanka

In sharing examples of Sri Lanka, Stanley depicts a clear role for agriculture in eradicating extreme poverty. Through comprehensive approaches taken to improve production, reduce losses and implement market structures, income for poor farmers can be increased. Stanley also points to home gardening as an important approach to alleviate poverty as such gardens can help fulfils the families’ food requirement while reducing needed expenditures.

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iconNazrul Islam, M-POWER, Bangladesh

Nazrul points to the knowledge gap that exists among farmers and proposes an increased use of ICTs for knowledge sharing as well as for accessing market information.

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iconFAO Publications

Colleagues from the FAO Publication Unit share a selection of relevant FAO publications that provide further information on the poverty-agriculture nexus.

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iconMalika Bounfor, Morocco

Malika focuses on the importance of developing marginal areas to reduce rural poverty. In particular, efforts shoud be made to encourage food production though capacity development, support to local crops and strengthening of local market systems.

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iconJames Wabwire Agoro, UNHCR Democratic, Republic of the Congo

James states that natural resource management is critical to the eradication of poverty in the Equatorial Region of Africa, which is extremely well endowed with natural resources. In both the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo for instance, local populations still operate an archaic subsistence economy, while competing with multinationals that operate a sophisticated international natural resource market that is largely closed to local players.

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iconPrabas Bhandari, Nepal

Prabas calls upon governments and developing agencies to help poor famers take up production of high yielding varieties in order to reverse the decline in agricultural production.

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iconLal Manavado, University of Oslo, Norway

Lal stresses the lack of consensus on a sound definition of poverty, which can become a stumbling block to progress. In fact, by measuring poverty in purely monetary terms we run the risk to draw a distorted picture of the reality in many rural communities.

Lal also provides us with an overview of the conditions that are needed for poor rural farmers to take up any of the technical suggestions made so far. He then argues that only after the potential beneficiaries can ascertain the relevance and appropriateness of any suggested interventions it is realistic to expect that they to take them up.

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iconMohammad Abdul Mazid, IFPRI/HarvestPlus Washington, Bangladesh

Mohammad sees scope for safety net programmes and video based training for teaching farmers innovative farming techniques and WASH approaches.

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