Friday, June 7, 2013

Investing in small-scale farmers can help lift over 1 billion people out of poverty – UN report

Investing in small-scale farmers can help lift over 1 billion people out of poverty – UN report

an estimated 2.5 billion people who manage 500 million smallholder farm households provide over 80 per cent of the food consumed in much of the developing world. Credit: IFAD

4 June 2013 – Given the right conditions and targeted support, small farmers can unleash a new and sustainable agricultural revolution, the United Nations environment agency a partner agricultural development organization reported today on the eve of World Environment Day

According to the report, Smallholders, Food Security and the Environment, an estimated 2.5 billion people who manage 500 million smallholder farm households provide over 80 per cent of the food consumed in much of the developing world, particularly Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

The report, commissioned by the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), also shows that most of the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day live in rural areas and depend largely on agriculture for their livelihoods. 

“Two decades of underinvestment in agriculture, growing competition for land and water, rising fuel and fertilizer prices, and climate change have left smallholders less able to escape poverty,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.
“Smallholder farmers can continue to be marginalized or be recognized as catalysts for a transformation of the way the world manages the supply of food and the environmental services that underpin agriculture in the first place,” Mr. Steiner added in a joint news release by UNEP and IFAD.

Earlier studies cited by UNEP and IFAD show that a one per cent increase in agricultural per-capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has five times the impact on the poverty gap than the same increase in GDP in other sectors. 

One study demonstrated that for every ten-per-cent increase in farm yields, there was a seven-per-cent reduction in poverty in Africa, and a reduction of over five-per-cent in Asia.

The report makes it clear that investing in the agricultural sector offers the highest rate of return for those interested in overcoming poverty, Mr. Steiner said, and speeds progress towards reaching the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and building a post-2015 sustainable agenda. 

Support for the small farming sector also supports the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge which, among its goals, aims to achieve 100 per cent access to adequate food all year round, and the UNEP-UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO) ‘Think East Save: Reduce Your Footprint’ campaign to cut down food waste. 

“Smallholder farmers hold a massive collective store of experience and local knowledge that can provide the practical solutions needed to put agriculture on a more sustainable and equitable footing,” said Elwyn Grainger Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division. 

“To place these smallholders at the forefront of a transformation in world agriculture, they need appropriate support to overcome the many challenges they face,” Mr. Jones added.
Among its recommendations, the report advocates for taking into account the needs of the farmers, who advocate for shifting the focus in sustainable agriculture from minimizing the negative impacts of farming on the environment to greater growth opportunities for them.
The report also advocates investment in market-based mechanisms that provide smallholders with incentives to invest in sustainability, such as removing subsidies on unsustainable fertilizers or expanding fair or green certification schemes that allow smallholders to compete in new niche markets locally and internationally.

Today’s report is ahead of World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June. Hosted this year in Mongolia, the Day’s theme is closely linked to food security, focusing on reducing the estimated one third of all food produced - 1.3 billion tonnes, worth around $1 trillion - that is wasted or lost each year.


Food prices to stay high as productions dips, UN agency reports in 10-year outlook

Buying food at the market. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark
6 June 2013 – Agricultural production is expected to slow down over the next decade, due largely to limited expansion of arable land, rising production costs, environmental pressures and resource constraints, the United Nations food agency said today, launching in Beijing its report on the global agricultural outlook.

“Although relatively resilient to economic downturns, the agricultural markets continue to reflect the impact of a two speed global economy with weak recovery in developed countries and vibrant growth in many developing countries,” the authors reported in the ‘Agricultural Outlook, 2013-2022’ produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

This year’s report contains a special feature on the future of agriculture in China, whose agricultural output rose 4.5 times since 1980. With one-fifth of the world’s population, comparably little agricultural land and water resources, China’s focus on food security and self- sufficiency have allowed it to improve access to food.

In Beijing, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva participated in the report’s launch. The event was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and is part of a two-day international forum.

“High food prices are an incentive to increase production and we need to do our best to ensure that poor farmers benefit from them,” said Mr. Graziano da Silva. “Let’s not forget that 70 per cent of the world’s food insecure population lives in rural areas of developing countries and that many of them are small-scale and subsistence farmers themselves.”
He added: “China’s agricultural production has been tremendously successful. Since 1978, the volume of agricultural production has grown almost five fold and the country has made significant progress towards food security. China is on track to achieving the first millennium development goal of hunger reduction.”

According to the report, global agricultural production for crop sectors and livestock production reviewed is projected to grow on average 1.5 per cent annually, compared to 2.1 per cent in the previous decade.

“These trends reflect rising costs, growing resource constraints, and increasing environmental pressures, which are anticipated to inhibit supply response in virtually all regions,” OECD and FAO said.

Mr. Gurría said that the “relatively bright” picture – strong demand, expanding trade and high prices – assumes continuing economic recovery. “If we fail to turn the global economy around, investment and growth in agriculture will suffer and food security may be compromised,” he said.

“Governments need to create the right enabling environment for growth and trade,” he added. “Agricultural reforms have played a key role in China’s remarkable progress in expanding production and improving domestic food security.”

Policy reforms and economic growth across the globe have been changing demand and supply fundamentals sufficiently to turn agriculture into a more market-driven sector which provides investment opportunities, particularly in developing countries.

The report forecasts that developing countries will boost their production growth, particularly economies that have invested in the agricultural sector, and therefore boost their trade growth, particularly exports in coarse grains, rice, oils, sugar, beef, poultry and fish.

Consumption of these goods is also projected to increase, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, followed by Latin America and other parts of Asia. Growing populations have been driving the increase in consumption, but also higher incomes, urbanization and changing diets.

Meanwhile, average prices are expected to be higher for the coming decade than they have been in the previous ten years which included historic highs.

The launch of the report comes one day after World Environment Day, which this year focused on curbing the massive loss and waste inherent in today’s food systems. At least one third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table, according to FAO which is part of the “Think. Eat. Save: Reduce Your Foodprint” campaign with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and public and private sector partners.

If it continues on the current trajectory, the world will need about 60 per cent more food calories in 2050 compared to 2006.

UN Website


Human Rights Advocacy Promotions | Human Rights

Home - Human rights Promotions Website




Post a Comment