by Francesco Fiondella
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy there is 54 years, and it has an infant mortality rate higher than any other country except Afghanistan. It is also a country that is extremely vulnerable to climate variability and change. The livelihoods of four out of five people in Niger depend on rainfed agriculture. In other words, crops get their water only when it rains, which isn't a given in this part of the world. Read more »
By Cecilia Schubert
Biofuel is hot commodity, and the private sector is looking at small-scale farms in developing countries to help produce crops to feed the industry. Understandably, this is causing controversy, with accusations of land-grabbing by private companies, and fears that farmers may swop food crops for more profitable biofuel crops, increasing their risk of hunger. But what is actually happening behind the headlines? Can farmers really benefit from the investments or will they only jeopardize food security and degrade the environment? Is it really a fair deal for everyone involved?
by Vanessa Meadu
Are farmers part of the ‘Future we Want’? After two years of consultations capped off by two intensive weeks of sessions and negotiations, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (aka. Rio+20) has produced a 53-page document outlining a renewed vision for sustainable development and commitment “to ensuring the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations.” Sustainable agriculture, food security and smallholder farmers are now formally part of that equation. Read more »
By Cecilia Schubert
Food is essential for every living being. Without it, there won’t be any future at all. To achieve a world without hunger, we need to establish a new way of thinking about food and strengthen policy convergence and partnerships. These are some of the many important words given by Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in his introduction speech at the event ‘Aiming for a Food Secure Future: Think Global, Act Local’, which took place on 19 June alongside the UN Sustainable Development negotiations in Rio.
The event, which was jointly organized by the Rome-based agricultural agencies including IFAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and Bioversity International, aimed to engage key stakeholders in a discussion about the actions required to help communities and countries create a food-secure tomorrow, and to ensure that the Rio+20 negotiations view food as a core priority for achieving sustainable development. Read more »
By Cecilia Schubert
Mary Robinson’s message at this year’s Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) was clear. Farmers have the right to live free and equal in dignity and respect. “There is no dignity in seeing your child die prematurely due to malnutrition,” she said. Research on climate change and agriculture must be linked to questions of rights and justice; science must respond to the true needs of farmers. A climate justice approach, which is based on science and grounded in human rights, can ensure that the science carried out serves the needs of the people.
By Vanessa Meadu
In a world that is becoming increasingly food-insecure, due to population growth, climate change, volatile food prices, unequal food access, and inefficient supply chains, what solutions exist to feed 9 billion people by the year 2050?
The problem we face is by its nature very complex, so it stands to reason that solutions will need to address a range of issues, often several at once. Where do we begin?
By Vanessa Meadu
A central question at the current Rio+20 negotiations is how to shift to a sustainable, green economy.
One way is to place an economic value on environmental goods and services and encourage a shift towards more sustainable activities by paying or rewarding those who practice good stewardship. In the agricultural sector, this means paying or rewarding farmers who adopt good practices. Payment for Ecosystem Services, or PES, is an innovative market-based approach currently being used around the world to encourage such shifts.
"The new vision for sustainable development that will emerge this week from the Rio+20 Earth Summit must recognize the significance of agriculture in economic growth, food security, poverty reduction and long-term environmental sustainability." So says Bruce Campbell in an editorial published Huffington Post, based on the Final Communique from the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day which took place on 18 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event was convened by some of the world's leading agricultural organizations. The full text is below.
by Sir John Beddington
I have just been briefed on the outcomes from the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD 2012) held today in Rio de Janeiro. As Chair of the independent Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change, I am pleased that our seven policy recommendations were taken up through the set of learning events held at this important venue and that so many good examples, tools and approaches for a sustainable food system were shared by this diverse set of researchers, practitioners and stakeholders.
When the Commission released its report, Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change, it was our intention to foster cross-sectoral innovation that would lead to meaningful global change. The work at ARDD 2012 exemplifies this innovation and the coordination needed to transform the global food system. Read more »
By Jeff Haskins
Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman, scientist, and political theorist, once said that agriculture was the only honest way for nations to acquire wealth “wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle.”
Today, agriculture is the world’s biggest industry. The farms and pastures that provide the food essential for sustaining the burgeoning human population covers a large portion of the Earth’s surface area (not including parts covered by oceans, deserts and ice). Advancements in plant science and agronomy over the last few decades have led to tremendous increases in farm yields that have helped to lift millions out of poverty.
Yet despite these gains, more people go to bed hungry today than ever before in the history of the world. Moreover, the burden of current food production practices on the earth’s system in terms of GHG emissions, water, land and other natural resource uses is eroding our ability to feed the future, according to leading scientists presenting at the Forum. Read more »
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Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)