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Topic: Household Food Security

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Edible insects Future prospects for food and feed security

Insects are often considered a nuisance to human beings and mere pests for crops and animals. Yet this is far from the truth. Insects provide food at low environmental cost, contribute positively to livelihoods, and play a fundamental role in nature. However, these benefits are largely unknown to the public. Contrary to popular belief, insects are not merely “famine foods” eaten in times of food scarcity or when purchasing and harvesting “conventional foods” becomes difficult; many people around the world eat insects out of choice, largely because of the palatability of the insects and their established place in local food cultures.

By:

Arnold van Huis, Joost Van Itterbeeck, Harmke Klunder, Esther Mertens, Afton Halloran,Giulia Muir, and Paul Vantomme

 

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Gender and Agriculture: Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps

Women make essential contributions to agriculture in developing countries, where they constitute approximately 43 percent of the agricultural labor force. However, female farmers typically have lower output per unit of land and are much less likely to be active in commercial farming than their male counterparts. These gender differences in land productivity and participation between male and female farmers are due to gender differences in access to inputs, resources, and services. In this paper, we review the evidence on productivity differences and access to resources. We discuss some of the reasons for these differences, such as differences in property rights, education, control over resources (e.g., land), access to inputs and services (e.g., fertilizer, extension, and credit), and social norms. Although women are less active in commercial farming and are largely excluded from contract farming, they often provide the bulk of wage labor in the nontraditional export sector. In general, gender gaps do not appear to fall systematically with growth, and they appear to rise with GDP per capita and with greater access to resources and inputs. Active policies that support women's access and participation, not just greater overall access, are essential if these gaps are to be closed. The gains in terms of greater productivity of land and overall production are likely to be large.

Andre Croppenstedt,  Markus Goldstein and Nina Rosas

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Technological Change and Productivity Growth for Food Security: the case of shifting cultivation and the REDD policy

In many parts of the forest-agriculture frontiers of the tropics, shifting cultivation is practiced as a way of subsistence farming. In particular, widespread poverty and rural population growth are the prevalent causes that aggravate the need for encroaching into the forestland for subsistence farming in these frontiers. In such areas, economic policies and technological change to improve agricultural productivity are vital to avoid the expansion of agriculture by means of shifting cultivation. In particular, as we are in the age of global climate change, resource use and management practices that rely on the use of land clearing and biomass burning, thus emitting carbon into the atmosphere must get our careful attention, despite the need to bring more land under cultivation for enhancing food security. This situation is quite challenging and requires much more careful attention in the case of shifting cultivation practiced in some Asian and African countries. For instance, shifting cultivation by land clearing and biomass burning recycles phosphorous and other nutrients but contributes to deforestation, emission of greenhouse gases, loss of biodiversity, and increased soil erosion and land degradation, etc, and as yet is an important livelihood and food security strategy for millions of smallholders. Because shifting cultivation is so different from the forms of agriculture mostly practiced in the lowlands, and by majority population, it is one of the most misunderstood land use systems. Therefore, in the name of forest conservation and land development, governments in Asia and Africa have devised ad-hoc policies and laws seeking to eradicate shifting cultivation. The reasons usually given for such restrictive state policies are that shifting cultivation is: technologically primitive to improve agricultural productivity; prevents development and thus keeps people trapped in poverty; destructive to forests and soils; and contributing to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by deforestation. However, by adapting appropriate technology and agronomic practices agricultural productivity can be improved in those tropical areas. Such technological changes for more productive and environmentally friendly agriculture, by means of zero tillage/reduced tillage, mulching, integrated plant nutrient management using both organic and mineral fertilizer, improved crop rotations, and improvements in water productivity can not only avoid shifting cultivation, but also contribute to food security, rural livelihood, poverty alleviation, improved soil fertility, and reduced GHG emissions from deforestation. In particular, agricultural productivity can be improved by provision of input subsidies for mineral (inorganic) fertilizers to build on sound ecological principles and agronomic practices; access to finance and micro-credit; improving the infrastructure; capacity development for men and women farmers; and research and development targeting poor rural areas and addressing emerging questions of agro-defence. This chapter therefore discusses the opportunities for technological change in agriculture by rethinking the Agricultural Input Subsidy Programs (as economic-policy reforms) in Asian and African countries, as well as the new financial incentives arising from REDD (as Payments for Environmental Services from UN-REDD program) for those countries for a land use transition towards more intensified agriculture. It is argued that unlocking the potential of ecosystem markets can provide new income to the farmers for the services they provide anyway, while safeguarding the resource quality and enhancing food security.

20.09.2012