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Food security

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Agricultural practices and technologies to enhance food security, resilience and productivity in a sustainable manner: messages to the SBSTA 44 agriculture workshops

07 Oct 2016 11:59:17 GMT

This paper synthesizes knowledge within CGIAR and its partners on agricultural practices and technologies to enhance food security, resilience and productivity in a sustainable manner.

A number of agricultural practices and technologies which contribute to these objectives were identified and assessed to generate four key lessons.

Firstly, agricultural practices and technologies do not necessarily have universal applicability, they will have to be selected, tailored and applied as appropriate for the context, including agro-ecological zones, farming systems as well as cultural and socio-economic context.

Secondly, strong mechanisms for capacity enhancement and technology transfer are prerequisites for success of interventions.

Thirdly, suitable sources of funding are required to support implementation and scaling up efforts.

Lastly, many agricultural practices and technologies have the potential to achieve co-benefits for environmental health and climate change mitigation.

In contexts where mitigation is feasible, managing for multiple outcomes can help countries and smallholder farmers adopt low carbon development pathways.

Climate analogues suggest limited potential for intensification of production on current croplands under climate change

23 Sep 2016 10:19:19 GMT

Climate change could pose a major challenge to efforts towards strongly increase food production over the coming decades. However, model simulations of future climate-impacts on crop yields differ substantially in the magnitude and even direction of the projected change. Combining observations of current maximum-attainable yield with climate analogues, we provide a complementary method of assessing the effect of climate change on crop yields. Strong reductions in attainable yields of major cereal crops are found across a large fraction of current cropland by 2050. These areas are vulnerable to climate change and have greatly reduced opportunity for agricultural intensification. However, the total land area, including regions not currently used for crops, climatically suitable for high attainable yields of maize, wheat and rice is similar by 2050 to the present-day. Large shifts in land-use patterns and crop choice will likely be necessary to sustain production growth rates and keep pace with demand.

Climate change, vulnerability, food security and human health in rural Pakistan: a gender perspective

22 Sep 2016 04:59:35 GMT

Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries in the South Asian region given still overwhelming dependence of its population on agriculture which in turn mainly depends on the Indus Basin River System. The intensity and frequency of extreme climate events have increased in Pakistan during the recent decades.

In rural Pakistan, women and elderly are likely to suffer the most from adverse impacts of climate change as majority of them are engaged in/dependent on agriculture which is highly climate sensitive. Women and children are already an underpaid, overworked and exploited resource‘ and climate change will further increase this workload and accentuate their vulnerability. Yet, the gender vulnerability is one of the most ignored areas in the climate research.

This research explores the impact of climate change and gender differentiated socio-economic factors on household vulnerability. The study is based on the Climate Change Impact Survey (CCIS), 2013 data collected from 3430 farm households located in 16 districts of Pakistan representing all the major cropping systems and various categories of farms by tenancy and size of operational holding.

The results regarding health vulnerability regression model are suggestive that family composition by gender and age as well as literacy among females are important determinants of health vulnerability. It is observed that the households with higher number of younger family members are more health vulnerable. The farm households which have higher female ratio in their families are found to be more health vulnerable; whereas the households with greater ratio of educated females in the family are less health vulnerable. Finally, the results suggest that almost all climatic factors except Rabi season deviation of precipitation are important determinant of the health vulnerability and all the climatic variables enhance household level health vulnerability except the long run norm of the Kharif precipitation and Rabi-temperature which reduces health vulnerability.

The results of binary logit model estimated for food security are suggestive that family size and literacy among female members of the household are important determinants of the food security both affecting it positively and significantly. However, the composition of family by gender (female ratio) is not an important determinant of household food security. Finally, deviation of Rabi temperature from the long run norm and that of Rabi precipitation and Kharif precipitation have statistically significant effect on food security. The deviation in Rabi temperature has the adverse impact on food security as it affects wheat productivity, a staple food in Pakistan. The precipitation deviations in both the seasons have a positive impact on food security.

Climate change and food security in India

09 Sep 2016 03:15:59 GMT

Climate change has added to the enormity of India's food-security challenges. While the relationship between climate change and food security is complex, most studies focus on one dimension of food security, i.e., food availability.

This paper provides an overview of the impact of climate change on India's food security, keeping in mind three dimensions — availability, access, and absorption. It finds that ensuring food security in the face of climate change will be a formidable challenge and recommends, among others, the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, greater emphasis on urban food security and public health, provision of livelihood security, and long-term relief measures in the event of natural disasters.

To develop climate-resilient strategies and make adequate policy interventions, there is a need for an integrated assessment of the impact of climate change on India's food security. So far, there are fewer studies on the impact of climate change on other dimensions of food security besides production. Research efforts should be directed towards assessing and quantifying where possible the impact of climate change on undernutrition and food absorption.

Climate change vulnerability - cases from CIRDAP member countries

30 Aug 2016 03:36:33 GMT

Countries of the Asia Pacific region are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as indicated by the global assessments by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

This monograph focuses on the impact of climate change – one of the key concerns for sustainable rural development. Six insightful articles based on studies in different CIRDAP Member Countries including Bangladesh, Fiji, Iran, Nepal and Thailand. The studies examine the vulnerability of the Asia Pacific region, how climate change is affecting agriculture and livelihood of the people and different adaptation and mitigations initiatives taken to address the challenges posed by climate change.
The articles are:
  • Climate Change and Livelihood in Bangladesh: Experiences of People Living in the Coastal Regions
  • Preliminary Study of Climate Change Impact on Rice Production and Export in Thailand
  • Rethinking Concepts of Human Health, Food and Nutrition Security in the Pacific Region in the Era of Climate Change with Focus on the Fiji Islands
  • Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in a Changing Climate: Understanding Local Adaptations in the Upper Koshi, Nepal
  • A Study to Investigate Sustainable Adaptation to Drought among Nomads in Iran
  • Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Development

Living on a spike: how is the 2011 food price crisis affecting poor people?

25 Aug 2016 03:51:53 GMT

Global food prices rose through much of 2010 and into early 2011. What does that mean for the lives of poor people in developing countries, who spend up to 80 per cent of their household income on food? To find out, IDS research partners and Oxfam went to ask them, returning in March 2011 to eight community ‘listening posts’ in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, and Zambia, that were previously visited in 2009 and 2010. The researchers asked: What has happened to prices and wages since last year? How are people adjusting to these changes? What do people think causes food price volatility, and what do they think should be done about it?

The overall picture that emerges from these eight communities is of a more varied impact than during the 2008 food and fuel price spike. This is partly because food prices have not risen evenly everywhere. Zambia, for instance, has seen prices of maize (its food staple) decline since 2010, whereas in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Kenya, the price of the main staple – rice or maize – is higher than in 2010. In all eight communities, prices of most other foods, including sources of protein (meat, fish, tofu, or lentils), vegetables, and cooking oil, have also risen, as have many non-food essentials, such as cooking fuel, transport, rent, and other items, including fertilizer in Zambia.

The extent of people’s discontent with the situation becomes clearer when asked about their opinions on the causes of food price rises, and what should be done about them. From across the eight sites comes the sense that local food prices depend on harvests and environmental conditions in-country; there was a strong undercurrent of concern over scarcity from the way people spoke about population pressures and shrinking agricultural farmland in some places. Few people think international food prices are an important cause; some even dismiss such factors as merely convenient excuses made by their ineffective governments. But while governments are held responsible for acting to protect their people from price spikes, they are generally seen as having failed to do so effectively. There is a belief that governments can act to keep prices low if they want to; in Zambia, for instance, some people credited the imminent elections with putting political pressure on the government to keep staple prices low.

Poor people’s explanations of why governments have generally failed to act on food price rises revolve around two key perceptions: that governments do not care about poor people’s concerns; and that corruption at different levels of the system ensures that prices cannot be controlled, either because market inspectors can be bought off, national politicians owe big businessmen favours for help with election expenses, or cartels are permitted to operate.

Young urban men appear particularly angry about government failures to act. With ongoing revolutions in the Middle East and other protests against governments in Europe, the stress and discontent fuelled by high food prices merits close attention.

Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility: IDS Bulletin

25 Aug 2016 03:41:54 GMT

Between 2007 and 2012 global food price volatility affected millions of people on low and precarious incomes. As food has been increasingly commodified and people on low incomes have struggled to pay for life's necessities, they have responded by changing their ways of making a living, residences, diets, family relationships and ways of caring for one another.

This IDS Bulletin maps out how food price volatility has played a part in global social change, showing how a multitude of micro-reactions to rising and unpredictable prices has laid the foundations for transformed societies.

Written by researchers from ten countries, each of whom carried out a longitudinal study into the impacts and effects of food price volatility over three or more years, this IDS Bulletin elucidates two critical areas.

First, it gives insights into how reactions to food price volatility led to transformations at multiple levels and second, it demonstrates the usefulness of a social research method that understands the mechanisms by which social change comes about in a macro-event like the global food crisis.

Stabilising prices will not be enough to provide development opportunities to those who have already been forced to change their way of life, for whom high prices remain a barrier to life improvements and for whom cultural change has swept away much that they once could rely on. It is time to think not only about stabilising the price of food, but also making it possible for citizens to have greater control over what and how they eat, alongside rights to care, equitable gender relations and a fair working environment.

Article titles:

  • Introduction: How Prices Rose and Lives Changed
  • From Global to Local and Back Again: Researching Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility
  • Anomaly or Augury? Global Food Prices Since 2007
  • Disaggregated Analysis: The Key to Understanding Wellbeing in Kenya in the Context of Food Price Volatility
  • Macro Events and Micro Responses: Experiences from Bolivia and Guatemala
  • Eat With Us: Insight into Household Food Habits in a Time of Food Price Volatility in Zambian Communities
  • The Role of Fatalism in Resilience to Food Price Volatility in Bangladesh
  • Food Prices and the Politics of Hunger: Beneath Market and State
  • Food Price Volatility in Ethiopia: Public Pressure and State Response
  • How to Support Poor Vietnamese Consumers to Deal with Food Price Volatility and Food Safety Issues
  • Food Price Volatility and the Worrying Trend in Children's Snacking in Indonesia
  • Life Around the Firewood Stove: The Impact of Price Volatility
  • Social Change, New Food Habits and Food Price Volatility in Burkina Faso
  • ‘Tell Me What You Eat and I'll Tell You Who You Are’: Changing Eating Habits in Cochabamba, Bolivia

The challenges of climate change: testing climate smart agricultural solutions for improved food security

18 Aug 2016 12:11:07 GMT

Climate change is likely to have far-reaching consequences for agriculture, natural resources and food security, demanding a response that integrates research, development and policy. Because of the disproportionate impact of climate change on the rural poor, priority investments should be directed towards poor agriculture, fish or forest dependent people whose livelihoods are most at risk.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is the Australian Government's specialist agricultural research-for-development agency. Funded through the Australian aid program, ACIAR identifies opportunities and brokers partnerships between Australia and developing countries to undertake international agricultural research and capacity building.

ACIAR's research portfolio covers crops, livestock and fisheries, natural resources and forestry, and economics, policy and social sciences. Projects are designed so that new knowledge and innovative practices underpin development in partner countries and Australian agricultural systems.

ACIAR research partnerships have developed more resilient farming systems in many countries of the Indo Pacific region. Both mitigation and adaptation to climate variability and change are important components of this research for development.

This brief highlights the wide range of ACIAR activities addressing climate variability in the Indo-Pacific region through climate smart practices (CSA).

Changing climate, changing diets: pathways to lower meat consumption

11 Aug 2016 02:09:55 GMT

Demand for animal protein is growing. Global consumption of meat is forecast to increase 76 per cent on recent levels by mid-century. A ‘protein transition’ is playing out across the developing world: as incomes rise, consumption of meat is increasing. In the developed world, per capita demand for meat has reached a plateau, but at excessive levels. Among industrialized countries, the average person consumes around twice as much as experts deem healthy. In the United States, the multiple is nearly three times.This is not sustainable. A growing global population cannot converge on developed-country levels of meat consumption without huge social and environmental cost. Overconsumption of animal products, in particular processed meat, is associated with obesity and an increased risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Livestock production is often a highly inefficient use of scarce land and water. It is a principal driver of deforestation, habitat destruction and species loss.Crucially, these consumption trends are incompatible with the objective of avoiding dangerous climate change. The livestock sector is already responsible for 7.1 GtCO2e a year of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – just under 15 per cent of the global total, and equivalent to tailpipe emissions from all the world’s vehicles. Rising demand means emissions will continue to rise. Even with best efforts to reduce the emissions footprint of livestock production, the sector will consume a growing share of the remaining carbon budget. This will make it extremely difficult to realize the goal of limiting the average global temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, agreed in 2010 by parties to the UN climate change conference in Cancún. There is therefore a compelling case for shifting diets, and above all for addressing meat consumption. However, governments are trapped in a cycle of inertia: they fear the repercussions of intervention, while low public awareness means they feel no pressure to intervene. This report offers a challenge to the received wisdom that these obstacles are insuperable. Drawing on original research,  including an innovative survey of public attitudes in 12 countries and extensive focus groups and stakeholder consultations in Brazil, China, the United Kingdom and the United States, it suggests how the cycle of inertia can be broken and a positive dynamic of government and societal action created. It argues that although reducing meat and dairy consumption is far from straightforward, it is neither an insurmountable task nor more challenging than other climate imperatives, such as decarbonizing power, industry and transport. Recommendations: Action is needed on three the case for government intervention  - a compelling evidence base that resonates with existing policy objectives such as managing healthcare costs, reducing emissions and implementing international frameworks will help mobilise policy-makersinitiate national debates about meat consumption - increasing public awareness about the problems of overconsumption of animal products can help disrupt the cycle of inertia, thereby creating more enabling domestic circumstances and the political space for policy intervention. Governments have a role to play here, as do the media, the scientific community, civil society and responsible businesspursue comprehensive approaches - the evidence indicates that shifting diets will require comprehensive strategies drawing on all components of the intervention toolkit. Such strategies will amount to more than the sum of their parts by sending a powerful signal to consumers that reducing meat consumption is beneficial and that government takes the issue seriously. Successful policies will be tailored to n[...]

Climate change, food, water and population health in China

11 Aug 2016 01:50:11 GMT

Anthropogenic climate change appears to be increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of extreme weather events. Such events have already had substantial impacts on socioeconomic development and population health. Climate change’s most profound impacts are likely to be on food, health systems and water.
This paper explores how climate change will affect food, human health and water in China. Projections indicate that the overall effects of climate change, land conversion and reduced water availability could reduce Chinese food production substantially – although uncertainty is inevitable in such projections. Climate change will probably have substantial impacts on water resources – e.g. changes in rainfall patterns and increases in the frequencies of droughts and floods in some areas of China. Such impacts would undoubtedly threaten population health and well-being in many communities.
In the short-term, population health in China is likely to be adversely affected by increases in air temperatures and pollution. In the medium to long term, however, the indirect impacts of climate change – e.g. changes in the availability of food, shelter a nd water, decreased mental health and well-being and changes in the distribution and seasonality of infectious diseases – are likely to grow in importance. The potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change can only be avoided if all countries work to gether towards a substantial reduction in the emission of so-called greenhouse gases and a substantial increase in the global population’s resilience to the risks of climate variability and change.

Edible insects and the future of food

03 Jun 2016 04:11:30 GMT

Some experts think that edible insects could be a good option for sustainable protein production and consumption, and one of the keys to global food security in a world of nine billion people or more. Here the authors have used the methods of Foresight to explore the potential of insect-eating within four different future scenarios. Interestingly, edible insects featured as a plausible part of all four imagined futures. This suggests that eating insects might become mainstream in a few decades. However, questions remain about the economic viability and food safety of insect-based foods. Research into these questions is necessary and justified.
Policy recommendations:
A future of widespread entomophagy is plausible but many challenges would need to be addressed before the industry could emerge on a substantial, even global, scale:
  • research is needed into production and processing technologies and food safety issues. The economic viability of a future edible insect sector is substantially uncertain at present. It will depend on the size of the eventual market for edible insects as well as the scale economies of insect production and processing
  • the reality of human insect-eating could increase the availability and affordability of healthy protein in the developing world. Countries in tropical regions where insect-eating is already established may be in the best position to expand this market and companies in these regions may have a competitive advantage in serving it
  • As developing countries become wealthier, insect-based foods may offer a more sustainable way to meet future protein requirements than conventional meat. However, the assumption that it will be easier to persuade consumers to eat insects than convince them to eat less meat should be tested, and it is possible that other meat alternatives (such as lab-cultured meat or vegetable and algalproteins) may be as sustainable and marketable, or more so, than insect-based foods

From uniformity to diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems

02 Jun 2016 10:21:53 GMT

The evidence in favour of a major transformation of our food systems is now overwhelming. Many influential studies have helped shape our understanding of the perilous situation our food systems are in, from the degradation of ecosystems to the fragility of farmer livelihoods in many parts of the world; from the persistence of hunger and under-nutrition to the rampant growth of obesity and diet-related diseases. However, few studies have yet to provide a comprehensive view of how alternative food systems, based around fundamentally different agricultural models, perform against the same criteria. Even fewer have mapped out the pathways of transition towards the sustainable food systems of the future.  This report explores the potential for a shift to occur from current food systems, characterized by industrial modes of agriculture, to systems based around diversified agroecological farming. It asks what the impacts on food systems would be if diversity, rather than uniformity, were the key imperative. The ecological benefits of such a shift have been widely documented. The key question, and the one asked in this report, is where the trade-offs lie. In other words, could food systems based around diversified agroecological farming succeed where current systems are failing, namely in reconciling concerns such as food security, environmental protection, nutritional adequacy and social equity. Highlights of this report:today’s food and farming systems have succeeded in supplying large volumes of foods to global markets, but are generating negative outcomes on multiple fronts: widespread degradation of land, water and ecosystems; high GHG emissions; biodiversity losses; persistent hunger and micro-nutrient deficiencies alongside the rapid rise of obesity and diet-related diseases; and livelihood stresses for farmers around the world many of these problems are linked specifically to ‘industrial agriculture’: the input-intensive crop monocultures and industrial-scale feedlots that now dominate farming landscapes. The uniformity at the heart of these systems, and their reliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and preventive use of antibiotics, leads systematically to negative outcomes and vulnerabilities industrial agriculture and the ‘industrial food systems’ that have developed around it are locked in place by a series of vicious cycles. For example, the way food systems are currently structured allows value to accrue to a limited number of actors, reinforcing their economic and political power, and thus their ability to influence the governance of food systems tweaking practices can improve some of the specific outcomes of industrial agriculture, but will not provide long-term solutions to the multiple problems it generates what is required is a fundamentally different model of agriculture based on diversifying farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods, i.e. ‘diversified agroecological systems’ there is growing evidence that these systems keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods data shows that these systems can compete with industrial agriculture in terms of total outputs, performing particularly strongly under environmental stress, and delivering production increases in the places where additional food is desperately needed. Diversified agroecological systems can also pave the way for diverse diets and improved health change is already happening. Industr[...]

WFP and Norway: partners against hunger

06 Apr 2016 12:51:14 GMT

This report provides an overview of the use and impact of the Norwegian aid contribution to the World Food Programme's (WFP) humanitarian activities.

Change in the making: progress reports on CGIAR gender research

05 Apr 2016 01:03:49 GMT

Agriculture in the developing world faces formidable challenges, which range from increased food demand to climate change impacts, and whose scope and complexity are evolving rapidly. The opportunities to address these challenges through collaborative research are also considerable, however, and provide grounds for optimism that renewed efforts in agricultural science can succeed. CGIAR has committed itself to making a critical difference in gender equity in agriculture. This has involved, in the first instance, a rapid transition in our research from merely enumerating the women affected by science-based innovations to a more comprehensive and targeted approach for bringing positive change to women as well as men.

In 2012, CGIAR started mainstreaming gender into the new global CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and, by 2014–2015, CGIAR had stepped up its investment in gender research from 2% to 14% of the total budget. This represents a significant effort to reverse years of under-investment in support for women in agriculture, as called for by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (Farnworth, 2010). CGIAR research aims to deliver clear and practical explanations of gender relations, which can provide researchers in all areas of our work with a sound basis for developing innovations that are more gender responsive or transformative and for putting these innovations to work through development partners. The ultimate goal is to empower poor women as well as men, so they can benefit tangibly from the adoption and sustained use of CGIAR innovations, resulting in more gender-equitable distribution of food and income.

2016 Global Food Policy Report: How We Feed the World is Unsustainable

31 Mar 2016 02:31:53 GMT

The annual IFPRI Global Food Policy Report provides an in-depth look at major food policy developments and events in the past year, and examines key challenges and opportunities for the coming year. The 2016 report This year’s report draws on the latest research on opportunities and challenges the world will face in achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to food and nutrition security.

The report argues that, if we are to meet SDG targets, we must promote and support a new global food system that is efficient, inclusive, climate-smart, sustainable, nutrition- and health-driven, and business-friendly. It includes chapters on climate change and smallholder farmers, sustainable diets, food loss and waste, and water management as well as regional profiles of the unique challenges facing Africa, Middle East & North Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and Latin America & the Caribbean.

Measuring health and well-being of young people in the Transfer Project

18 Mar 2016 11:41:32 GMT

This policy brief addresses the knowledge gap that exists about the effectiveness of cash transfer programmes to impact young people’s health, development and well-being. The brief maps out a variety of emotional and physical aspects of young people’s development during their transition to adulthood, with the aim of undertaking a comparative longitudinal study of four countries (Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe). The main pathways that affect young people’s development that are here considered are education, mental health, poverty and general health and nutrition. Data is being collected directly from young people across in order to provide policymakers with information on whether and through what mechanisms the transition to adulthood can be influenced by social protection programmes. 

Adapted from authors' summary.

Revisiting RP's Hybrid Rice Program

18 Mar 2016 10:35:05 GMT

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2004 the International Year of the Rice (IYR). The IYR is a venue to promote improved production and development of sustainable rice-based systems that will contribute to environmental conservation and a better life for present and future generations. Rice is the country's staple food, the main source of income for millions of farmers, and the flagship industry of an agricultural country like the Philippines. In more ways than one, it is the grain that shaped the cultures, diets, and economies of the Filipinos and the rest of the Asians. One of the Philippine government's answers to the increasing shortage of rice supply in the country is the introduction of hybrid rice. This new breed of rice provides higher yields that would make it possible for Filipino farmers to meet the huge demand for rice. However, while the introduction of hybrid rice seems favorable to our neighboring countries because of low labor costs and highly irrigated areas, the same scenario does not seem applicable to the Philippines. This issue's main article gives the reasons why this is so.

Articles include:

  • Scientists trace evolution of rice varieties in the Philippines
  • Modern farming techniques key to RP’s rice self-sufficiency
  • Investment symposium highlights RDC week and DPRM celebration in Region II
  • Rice expert stresses importance of rice to Filipinos


The State of Food and Agriculture: social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty

18 Mar 2016 10:14:48 GMT

This edition of The State of Food and Agriculture 2015 reviews the effectiveness of social protection interventions in reducing poverty, raising food consumption, relieving household food insecurity and hunger, and promoting longer-term improvements in nutrition. It is argued that social protection programmes are effective at reducing poverty and hunger. This is especially the case when they are gender-sensitive or targeted at women because they enhance child and maternal welfare, which is important for breaking generational poverty. 

However, as poor households typically face multiple constraints and risks, the report cautions that social protection, by itself, is not enough to move people out of poverty. The report discusses how social protection and agricultural policies can be interwoven to maximize programme and developmental impacts, and makes the case that social protection measures will help break the cycle of rural poverty and vulnerability, when combined with broader agricultural and rural development measures. 

Adapted from available summary.

Rice reforms and poverty in the Philippines: a CGE analysis

15 Mar 2016 09:57:11 GMT

The quantitative restriction (QR) on rice will last until the end of 2004. The paper employs a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model to analyze the possible poverty and distributional effects of the rem oval of QR and the reduction in tariff on rice imports. Policy experiments indicate that while market reforms in rice lead to a reduction in the overall headcount poverty index, both the poverty gap and the squared poverty gap indices increase. The Gini coefficient increases as well. In general, these results imply that the poores t of the poor are adve rsely affected. In particular, while market reforms in rice bring about a reduction in consumer prices that is favorable to all, imports of rice surge and generate displacement effects on poor households that rely heavily on agricult ure for factor incomes, particularly on palay rice production and other related activities. Palay production and its output price decline. This translates to lower demand for factor inputs in the sector, lower factor prices in agriculture, and lower factor incomes for these households. Thus, poverty in these groups, as well as the general income inequality, deteriorates. However, the results of the experiments involving various poverty-offsetting measures indicate that an increase in direct government transf rs to these household groups can provide a better safety net.

Philippine rice supply demand: Prospects and policy implications

12 Mar 2016 06:42:26 GMT

This paper analyzes the changes in the Philippine rice economy during the past three and a half decades and evaluates the policy options in light of the prospective rice supply and demand situation over the next decade and beyond. The changing nature and trends in rice production, trade and consumption are presented here. Projections of demand, supply and trade gap are provided as well.

Food policy: Its role in price stability and food security

12 Mar 2016 05:34:41 GMT

Due to the increase in prices of basic agricultural commodities in 1995, food price stability and food security emerged as a major policy concern in the Philippines. This paper argues that the sharp increases in prices of rice; largely the choice and management of policy instrument have caused corn and sugar. It argues that highly protectionist policy on tariffs imposed on sensitive agricultural products is not sustainable over a prolonged period of time. Moreover, bidding out of the right to import while retaining quotas, can minimize gross errors in timing and amount of importation.

Targeting transfers to the poor: the case of food subsidies

11 Mar 2016 06:21:18 GMT

Provision of safety nets for the poor is a popular call in development policies especially in light of the government’s pursuit of structural and macroeconomic adjustments.

A simple exercise in this article shows that even when the only information employed in identifying potential beneficiaries is the area of residence, an area-differentiated income transfer program amounting to P2 billion is capable of achieving the same poverty reduction as a universal program. Increases in food prices are also found to be inimical to poor households.

[extracted from source]

The next global breadbasket: how Latin America can feed the world: a call to action for addressing challenges & developing solutions

09 Mar 2016 11:39:12 GMT

Addressing humanity’s great challenge — finding sustainable ways to feed rapidly increasing numbers of people around the world — is Latin America’s great opportunity.

Across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), a more productive and environmentally sustainable agriculture system holds great promise for achieving food security around the world — as well as for the region’s development, for poverty alleviation and for social progress.

The LAC region has a third of the world’s fresh water resources, the most of any developing region when measured on a per capita basis, and more than a quarter of the world’s medium to high potential farmland. The region as a whole is already the largest net food exporting region in the world, and it still has achieved only a small fraction of its potential to expand agricultural production for regional consumption and global export.1 In addition to its abundant natural resources, the region has a large number of farmers who have extensive experience and capacity to innovate, as well as relatively strong institutions and markets. The essential building blocks for massive and sustainable agricultural growth are already in place.

But in order for the entire LAC region to deliver on its enormous agricultural potential, many “moving parts” will have to be brought into harmony. How to do that is the subject of this report.

The next 10 to 20 years offer a critical window of opportunity to advance new forms of productive and environmentally sustainable agriculture in the region. With that in mind, we have set out to illustrate the great potential that exists, the obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of realizing that potential, and how the private and public sectors can and must move forward together.


Seeds of adaptation: climate change, crop diversification, and the role of women farmers

04 Mar 2016 10:56:02 GMT

Around the world, women farmers are taking a leading role in implementing strategies aimed at crop variety conservation and diversification, with the goal of strengthening local climate change adaptation capacities. That is the message conveyed in this gender brief by the Center for International Forestry Research. The brief begins by outlining the problem: political, social, economic, and environmental changes are putting pressure on farmers’ seed systems, systems in which women play a key role. However, these women are often overlooked by researchers and development personnel, policies, and programmes. This context is expanded upon, with the brief noting that every stage of local seed systems, from selection, to storage, production, distribution, and exchange, is under growing stress. Privatisation, rural to urban migration, a growing feminisation of agriculture, climate changes, and declining crop varieties are all significant contributors to the insecurity of women and local seed systems.


Two case studies are then concisely discussed to illustrate the central role women are playing in tackling these issues. Firstly, there is the story of Pema, who lives with her parents, husband, and daughter in Bhutan. Together with the rest of their village, Pema is trying to adapt to climate change through crop and rice diversification. The brief presents Pema’s own words as she describes the difficulties they have faced through the damage caused by wild boars, and the reduction of water due to drought. The second case study concerns crop and variety conservation in South Africa, where the initiation of a national community seed bank is supporting local smallholder communities in their efforts to revive and improve traditional seed-saving practices. One such community has women front and centre, in the form of the Gumbu village community seed bank, managed and operated by 40 women farmers.


The role of rural women farmers in household food security in Cross River State, Nigeria

04 Mar 2016 10:44:57 GMT

Women play a key role in ensuring food security, yet in Nigeria rural women farmers have suffered long-term marginalisation in the nation’s affairs. In light of this fact, this study seeks to determine and better understand the roles rural women farmers play as household food producers, as conservators of agrobiodiversity, and as food processors in the Cross River State. The study employed a survey research design, and included 2231 respondents of whom 2021 were rural women farmers, and 210 were agricultural extension agents. A total of 221 rural women farmers and 21 extension agents were then chosen for further study, using a random sampling technique. The questionnaire used was split into four parts; first on the personal information of the respondent, and then on each of their roles as food producers, conservators, and processors.


The overall findings of the study showed that rural women play a significant part in the food security of Cross River State. In none of the sectors investigated did the respondents have significant differences in opinion compared to the hypothesis presented by the study, that positioned rural women farmers as important actors in household food security and production. Furthermore, a literature review provides evidence agreeing with the findings of this study. This includes a Food and Agriculture Organisation finding in 2009 that estimated women to be responsible for around 50% of global food production, rising to 60-80% of production for household food consumption in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan Africa countries. The authors note that Douda (2009) estimated that women in south-western Nigeria account for up to 90% of labour used in rice cultivation, underlining their fundamental importance to food security. Other findings note the importance of women to maintaining biodiversity, conservation, and traditional knowledge.


Sustainable food security: re-igniting Nigeria's economy via systems strengthening

04 Mar 2016 10:33:39 GMT

The use of ‘systems strengthening’ can help achieve food and nutrition security, contribute to growing a more sustainable economy, and better respond to inherent systemic challenges. That is the argument of this topic brief, presented in a Nigerian context. The brief shows how the principles behind systems strengthening can be used to achieve a cohesive, efficient, and just global food security agenda.


To begin, the authors define systems strengthening as the process of identifying and implementing changes in policy, ownership, mindset, and practice across multiple systems at the same time, in this case the agricultural, nutrition, and health systems in Nigeria. This is done via an array of initiatives and strategies that improve the functions of multiple, interlinked sectors so that access, coverage, quality, and efficiency are simultaneously increased. The second half of the brief is dedicated to communicating nine key building blocks for a global food security agenda, most of which form the basis of strategic initiatives behind the systems strengthening approach:


  • Prioritising equitable development, particularly through the empowerment of women who are fundamental in driving change in nutrition and food security.
  • Ensuring access to nutritious food through comprehensive approaches to food and nutrition security that include policies, programmes, and investments that are sensitive to all the needs of every group, especially children, mothers, and the most vulnerable.
  • Recognising the key role of agriculture and rural development in eliminating poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, and supporting the sector accordingly.
  • Agricultural and food systems must be sustainable, climate sensitive, and aim to improve the management and diversity of ecosystems.
  • Reinforcing resilience to natural and man-made disasters that are expected to increase in frequency and intensity due to climate change.
  • A focus on food security and waste throughout value chains, including post-harvest processing and consumer waste.
  • Ensuring responsible investment in agriculture and food systems that is inclusive of and empowers farmers and small producers.
  • Ensuring efficient, equitable, and stable food systems through inclusive and transparent governance at all scales
  • Fostering an inclusive macroeconomic approach that recognises the interdependence of urban, rural, and peri-urban communities.

Celebrating African rural women: custodians of seed, food, and traditional knowledge for climate change resilience

04 Mar 2016 06:46:38 GMT

In unprecedented fashion, much of Africa is currently at risk of losing a vast wealth of knowledge about crops, nutrition, medicines, biodiversity, and ecosystems, just as it is needed most.   Rapidly changing social and environmental contexts are threatening traditional ways, and it is vital that the rich knowledge held by the present generation of elders is allowed to continue to inform and complement contemporary science and technology, and not simply become lost. To argue this case in-depth, the African Biodiversity Network and the Gaia Foundation have jointly produced this report that explores the central role that women and traditional knowledge plays in the resilience and diversity of local, rural food systems across the continent. It is hoped that the document will help spur discussion and debate, and inspire greater inclusion and documentation of African women’s knowledge and roles in agriculture within a framework of peaceful community building. The first section of the report introduces and contextualises the role of African women as custodians of seed and food diversity. It describes Africa’s rich biocultural and crop diversity, and the unique role women play in maintaining and passing on traditional knowledge often linked to identity-affirming sacred sites, rituals, and symbolism. A guest interview with Professor Patricia Howard, author and political ecologist, discusses the status that women derive domestically through this knowledge, and how this role is unjustly marginalised, under-researched, and unaccounted for in official statistics. Key messages include that: seed is at the centre of agriculture and food systems; women tend to be the main custodians of wild foods; and the present generation of elders are possibly the last generation which retain living memory of Africa’s rich biodiversity. Section two discusses a number of ways in which women’s roles in agriculture and the community is undermined: the impacts of colonisation and globalisation; the commercialisation of agriculture; the legal barriers presented by GMO patenting; land-grabbing for extraction and biofuels; and pressure from commercial interest to narrow crop-diversity, which places stress on local seed exchange systems and biodiversity. This section also has an interview with feminist, philosopher of science, and science policy advocate Dr. Vandana Shiva, who is committed to protecting farmers’ rights to their own seed stores. The section concludes that colonialism brought Victorian values regarding women that laid the foundation for decades of gender discrimination. Additionally, free trade agreements have negatively impacted local producers, who are unable to compete with large corporations. Section three concerns the restoration of women’s traditional knowledge and leadership, and its importance to increasing resilience and food security. The concept of agroecology is introduced, with the aid of a selection of expert interviews. A key message is that agroecology, an approach that builds on and empowers traditional knowledge in a holistic fashion, is ecologically, socially, and economically just, and if used widely enough can be effective at mitigating climate change. Additionally, community-led dialogues, reflection, and research must be continued and strengthened. The report the presents a number [...]

Climate variability, seasonal climate forecast, and corn farming in Isabela, Philippines: a farm and household level analysis

02 Mar 2016 04:43:43 GMT

Seasonal Climate Forecast (SCF) is one of the tools, which could help farmers and decision makers better prepare for seasonal variability. Using probabilistic principles in projecting climatic deviations, SCF allows farmers to make informed decisions on the proper choice of crop, cropping schedule, levels of input and use of mitigating measures. However, a cloud of uncertainty looms over the true value of SCF to its target users.

To shed light on the true value of SCF in local agricultural decision making and operations, farm and household level survey was conducted. A total of 85 corn farmers from the plains and highlands of Echague and Angadanan, Isabela were interviewed.

Results showed that climate and climate-related information were undoubtedly among the major factors being considered by farmers in their crop production activities. All aspects explored on the psychology of corn
growers pointed to the high level of importance given to climatic conditions and SCF use. This was evident on the farmers’ perceptions, attitudes, and decision-making processes.

Though the high regard of farmers on climate forecast and information cannot be questioned, actual application of such information seemed still wanting. Most corn farmers still started the season by “feel”—relying on the coming of rains and usual seasonal cropping schedules when commencing key farm operations. Reliable indigenous knowledge on climate forecasting was scarce. With corn farmers in Isabela still thirsting for climate-related information, the delivery of appropriate information and accurate forecasts should be addressed through proper extension and provision of support.

Overall, SCF still has to solidify its role in the decision making process. Reliable SCFs remain the key to answer the riddle of seasonal variability and allow farmers to securely harness the goodness of the changing seasons. Ultimately, a holistic approach is necessary to truly elevate the productivity in Isabela’s corn lands.

Profitable use of SCF in a policy context: the case of rice stockholding in the Philippines

02 Mar 2016 04:25:54 GMT

This paper documents the activities of the National Food Authority (NFA), particularly on rice marketing, in realizing its mandates of buying high and selling low. Because the Philippine agriculture is greatly affected by extreme climate events such as El Niño and La Niña, this paper highlights the importance of seasonal climate forecast (SCF) information as input to the formulation of various policy decisions of the NFA. Among these important policy decisions are: how much volume of paddy rice to procure from farmers to be able to defend its support price; how much volume of rice to maintain in order to achieve stability in the supply and consumer price; and how much volume of rice, as well as when is the best time, to import to be able to position the optimal level of stocks in time for the lean season. It is also argued in the paper that importation has been playing a significant role in the rice supply-demand situation of the country since 1990, making it one of the most significant government interventions in the rice sector. Based on historical data assessment, some of the worst events in the past such as the 1995 rice crisis and over-importation during the 1997-1998 El Niño could have been avoided if policy decisions, particularly on the volume and timing of rice importation, were linked to SCF. Indeed, linking crop production and import decisions more systematically with SCF would enhance the usefulness of these forecasts at a more practical level.

Estimation of the food poverty line

02 Mar 2016 04:09:32 GMT

The measurement of poverty essentially hinges on choosing a welfare indicator, and setting a poverty line, i.e. a minimum value of the welfare indicator that households (or persons) must have to fulfill their basic needs. In developing countries, the poverty lines used for measuring monetary poverty are absolute poverty lines, which are based on a fixed welfare standard that is merely updated across time by price changes, and whose differing nominal values across regions merely reflect cost of living differences.

To monitor changes in absolute poverty across time, it is crucial to ensure that the established poverty line is a fixed standard of living that represents the minimum standard required by an individual to fulfill his or her basic food and nonfood needs. Typically, the food (component of the) poverty line is set with the cost of basic needs method, which entails determining the price of some nutritional benchmark through an artifice. In the Philippines, the official food poverty line is estimated at urban and rural areas of each province by using a one-day food menu as the artifice. These menus satisfy energy, and other nutrient requirements. We review the issues raised on this methodology, including the nutritional benchmarks, and propose an alternative approach for estimating the food poverty line using a representative food basket (and some spatial price indices to adjust for differences in cost of living). The proposed methodology addresses issues on consistency raised against the current official approach for setting food poverty lines

Incorporating regional rice production models in rice importation simulation models: a stochastic programming approach

02 Mar 2016 03:02:30 GMT

In the Philippines, importation has remained as one of the most feasible options for the government to meet the growing demand for rice. It is thus imperative for the government to develop a strategy that would ensure adequate supply and minimum importation costs. One of the critical factors in import decisionmaking is rice production. The Inter-Agency Committee on Rice and Corn (IACRC), where the National Food Authority (NFA) and Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) are members, decides on importation when there is an impending production shortfall in the coming season. However, because Philippine agriculture is vulnerable to extreme climate events and climate change is believed to further intensify the effects of seasonal climate variability, rice production forecast is becoming more uncertain. Inaccurate production forecasts could lead to incorrect volume and ill-timing of rice imports, which in turn could result in either a waste of resources for the government or a burden to consumers. Contraction of rice imports in the early 1990s, ill-timing of imports in 1995, and overimportation in 1998 illustrate how inaccurate forecasts of volume and timing of rice importation, especially during El Niño and La Niña years, could result in substantial economic costs such as higher rice prices due to rice shortages, higher storage costs, among others.

This paper evaluates the significance of SCF information, among other things, in rice policy decisions of the government, particularly on importation. It presents an alternative method of forecasting the level of rice production through regional rice production models. The rice production models systematically incorporate SCF and could be used in support of the current practice of forecasting rice production based on planting intentions.

The paper also demonstrates how SCF, together with these production estimates, could be incorporated in the rice import decisions of the government through the Rice Importation Simulation (RIS) model, which was developed using a Discrete Stochastic Programming (DSP) modelling approach. The RIS model, which recommends a set of optimal rice import strategies, could serve as guide for the government in its rice import decisions in the face of seasonal climate variability and could be used in estimating the potential value of SCF.

Trends in household Vulnerability

02 Mar 2016 02:10:42 GMT

Increasingly, development policy has taken a social reform focus. Public policies and government programs articulated in the Medium Term Philippine Development Plans reflect the thrust toward sustainable development. However, since all members of society do not equally benefit from economic growth, government has to develop and implement social protection mechanisms, and to work on reducing poverty.

This paper presents a few of the latest statistics on income poverty, growth, and inequality, and makes a case about the need not only to monitor current poverty, but also to reduce future poverty. An assessment of the trends in household vulnerability to income poverty is made for the years 2000, 2003, and 2006. Measurement of household vulnerability is based on the use of a modified probit model, income data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, as well as the official poverty lines. Policy implications about the vulnerability assessment are also discussed.

Chronic and transient poverty (PIDS)

01 Mar 2016 02:41:36 GMT

The Philippines has been posting progress in terms of poverty reduction since the early 1990s. However, reversal in the trend was observed in 2006. Further worsening of the poverty situation is expected given the various economic and natural shocks (i.e., food and fuel price hikes; global financial and economic crisis; typhoons Milenyo, Reming, Frank, Ondoy, Pepeng; and the recent El Nino) that recently hit the country. Many households, especially those that belong to the bottom 40 percent, are deemed vulnerable to these shocks.

Using a panel of households from the different rounds of Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) and Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS) from 2003 to 2008, this paper examined the movements in and out of poverty among households. The study provided a description of the extent of chronic and transient poverty as well as the various household characteristics that discriminate among the different groups of households, including the chronic and the transient poor. A panel regression analysis was also explored to identify factors that can predict the income-based poverty status of households. Based on the descriptive and regression analyses, some insights were presented that can guide the government in the formulation of specific types of interventions to different groups of households, especially the transient poor. This is hopefully an attempt to recover the previous gains in poverty reduction and thus attain the MDG target of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

Philippines: food security versus agricultural exports?

29 Feb 2016 02:42:09 GMT

This paper tries to characterize the current situation in the Philippines with respect to the goal of the Aquino administration to be food secure and self-sufficient in rice by 2016. Specifically, it aims to address the question: "Should the government continue its efforts in increasing rice productivity to achieve food self-sufficiency, or should it focus instead on increasing the production of high-value crops for exports, in the aim of achieving food security?"

The study finds that the Philippines is far from being food secure. Looking at the food-trade balance at the macro level, it was noted that food security has deteriorated through time due to increased imports. At the micro level, several indicators of food self-sufficiency and food security were identified. A negative correlation between food self-sufficiency and all four indicators of food security namely: 1) value of food consumption, 2) share of nonstaples, 3) share of animal products, and 4) proportion of households with sufficient food, was established with respect to the relationship of food security, food self-sufficiency, and well-being. Rice self-sufficiency on the other hand, was found to be positively correlated with food security and per capita expenditure, which is a measure of standard of living.

Moreover, the paper looked into the relationship of agricultural exports on food security. In particular, it examined the effect of expanding the production of high-value crops for export, and its possible contribution to food insecurity, in terms of reducing the domestic food production. Results revealed that the expansion of export crop production will not displace crop land, nor will it have a significant effect on staple crop availability or prices.

Inputs for Philippine hosting of APEC 2015: food security

25 Feb 2016 11:21:56 GMT

Initiatives toward the attainment of global food security have been done not just unilaterally but also regionally and globally. Among the platforms which have made great efforts in this aspect is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). In 2015, the Philippines will host the next APEC Summit. Food security shall be high on the agenda of the Summit and of various Meetings. To provide advice to the Philippine Government on the possible Philippine position on food security during its hosting, this paper recommends that the Philippines should adopt agribusiness development based on sustainable food supply chains as its priority advocacy, while continuing to promote elements of food security as expressed in the APEC Road Map. This "branding" integrates a strong position on Blue Economy with the agribusiness development and road map thrusts of DTI and DA.

Transforming state-citizen relations in food security schemes: the computerized ration card management system in Kerala

11 Feb 2016 04:20:08 GMT

This paper looks at the application of ICTs to the improvement of state-citizen relations in a developing country context. It argues that, to maximise responsiveness of the government, ICTs need to target the structural problems in state-citizen relations, from which unresponsiveness of the state to citizens is generated. Failure, as portrayed here, arises from the fact that ICTs, rather than being used for tackling the causes of issues in government responsiveness, tend to be conceived and utilised primarily as a means for acquiring political consensus.

This argument is illustrated through a case study of computerisation of the ration card procedure in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where a typical problem of state unresponsiveness – mirrored by a burgeoning amount of unattended ration card applications – is matched by a typical e-government solution, i.e. digitalisation of the process of document release.

The case study reveals that, while the structural problems of the process of ration card delivery in Kerala lie within two crucial nodes, namely poverty status determination and verification of applications, the digital solution devised by the government addresses predominantly the front-end, politically appealing node constituted by citizen application for a ration card. This strategy, which leaves untouched the crucial nodes of state unresponsiveness, turns out in citizen dissatisfaction on the long run. Implications are both theoretical, as a cause for failure is identified and deconstructed in the domain of ICT4D, and practical, as an orientation to structural problems is recommended for policymakers that engage in ICT-based government reform.

Bringing agriculture and nutrition together using a gender lens

20 Jan 2016 03:46:29 GMT

The feminization of agriculture is well recognized: women are acknowledged as the main food producers in mainstream development policy and practice. However, women are dis­proportionally affected by hunger and malnourishment. A growing body of literature focuses on how to contribute to improved nutrition through agricultural interventions. ‘Women’s empowerment’ is often cited as a promising strategy for improved nutrition. Yet, there are multiple meanings of women’s empowerment and a lack of evidence on the linkages between women’s empowerment and food and nutrition security. As a result, proposed and emerging responses do not provide the evidence of what works and why; neither do they result in sustainable food and nutrition security.

This paper contributes to literature on the linkages between food and nutrition security using a gender lens; through which we can consider specific power relations between men and women. The paper argues that addressing unequal gender power relations is part of the solution to achieving improved nutrition and agricultural outcomes.

Finally, the paper introduces the Nutrition and Gender Sensitive Agriculture Toolkit for addressing food and nutrition insecurity using an explicit gender lens. This toolkit was developed as part of a KIT and SNV partnership.

The food and nutrition situation in Zimbabwe

18 Jan 2016 03:44:34 GMT

The current levels of food and nutrition insecurity in Zimbabwe condemn a large section of the population to reduced intellectual and physical capacity and ill health, resulting in limited productivity and worsening poverty. The gains in nutrition during the 1980s have largely been eroded. This chapter dis­cusses the food and nutrition situation in Zimbabwe by closely examining the patterns and impact on vulnerable populations. The nutrition situation is then related to the HIV and AIDS pandemic and poverty. Poverty makes HIV worse and AIDS makes poverty worse (Ray and Kureya, 2003). The increase in HIV infections and poverty has resulted in some doubts about the ability of the country to improve nutrition and food security.

The chapter then elaborates on the nutrition policy as well as the institu­tional set-up responsible for monitoring and addressing the nutrition problems.

Emerging strategic partnerships are examined from the national (state and pri­vate) perspective and at the local level where the zunde ramambo concept has emerged as a crucial social safety-net for many vulnerable people. Social groups that have been identified as most prone to food shortages and hence malnutrition even in times of plenty are families working seasonally in exist­ing and former large-scale commercial farming areas (Mehretu, chapter 5), some families in communal and resettlement areas, and low-income urban dwellers. Nutrition policy making was mooted with the aim of reducing the severity of the problem. The last two sections of the chapter examine the les­sons learnt and the challenges that face the country in dealing with the prob­lems of nutrition.

Expanding lessons from a randomised impact evaluation of cash and food transfers in Ecuador and Uganda

14 Jan 2016 03:56:59 GMT

There is now substantial evidence that periodic cash transfers to poor households as a form of social protection, particularly when conditional on complementary investments in child schooling and health, can lead to substantial and sustained improvements in household welfare, household food security and child schooling. Similarly, food transfers can lead to substantial improvements in household food security and may have persistent effects on household expenditure and food consumption. However, there is very limited evidence directly comparing impacts of the two modalities in the same setting.

This study draws from a unique set of integrated social protection experiments conducted in two countries to compare the relative impacts of cash and food transfers on household behavior in side by side comparisons in starkly different contexts: Ecuador and Uganda.

The study addresses the following research questions:

  • How does social protection affect intrahousehold conflict and intimate partner violence (IPV) in Northern Ecuador?
  • What lessons can we learn from a mixed methods qualitative and quantitative investigation on the impact of cash and in-kind tranfers on intimate partner violence in Northern Ecuador?
  • How do cash and food transfers linked to early childhood development (ECD) centers affect child cognitive development in Uganda?


Made by Monsanto: the corporate shaping of GM crops as a technology for the poor

07 Jan 2016 12:27:59 GMT

Genetically modified (GM, transgenic) crops have come to be widely invoked as a key technology for improving agriculture in the developing world, enhancing agricultural productivity, alleviating poverty and achieving food security at both household and global levels. Yet the types of GM crops and traits currently on the market are considered to have been designed to meet the needs of farmers in industrialised countries and to offer little to small-scale farmers in the developing world. Though a range of more relevant crops and traits may be in the pipeline, they appear to be some way off.

This paper examines these claims. Focusing on the case of the international agribusiness company Monsanto, the paper demonstrates that stories about sustainability and feeding the world played an important role in driving and shaping that company’s technological and commercial strategies over a period of 20 years, even though they had little influence over the actual content of the technologies that were being developed in Monsanto’s laboratories

The impact of an unconditional cash transfer on food security and nutrition: the Zambia child grant programme

07 Jan 2016 11:57:28 GMT

The Child Grant Programme is one of the Government of Zambia’s largest social protection programmes. The programme provides a monthly cash payment of 60 kwacha (US$12) to very poor households with children under five years old.

A randomised controlled trial of 2,515 households was implemented to investigate the impact of the programme. The researchers found that cash transfers improve household consumption, food consumption, diet diversity and food security. These outcomes lie along the causal pathway linking the cash transfer to children’s nutrition. For children under five, there were positive but not statistically significant impacts of the programme on weight. There were also strong and significant heterogeneous impacts on reducing stunting among children who have access to clean water or more educated mothers. The results demonstrate that nutrition can be improved through an integrated and holistic strategy instead of only pursuing targeted programmes in one sector such as health or agriculture.

Private standards, small farmers and donor policy: EUREPGAP in Kenya

07 Jan 2016 11:47:06 GMT

Food safety has moved up the policy agenda in industrialised countries in recent years. Governments have tightened both product and process standards, and businesses have had to respond to ever more stringent public food safety standards and the need to maintain consumer confidence.

Private voluntary standards developed by groups of companies are one response to this challenge. Complying with process-based standards and certification at the farm level has become a market access condition for access for some products. Failure to meet these challenges will undermine rural development strategies predicated on expanding agricultural production and introducing high-value products.

An analysis of the EUREPGAP standard for horticulture links this standard to the development of European Union food safety regulations. As a pre-farm gate standard, EUREPGAP creates new challenges not only for farmers, but also for the exporters that play a key role in the horticultural value chains supplying European supermarkets.

When some European supermarkets began to insist that Kenyan suppliers be certified, the potential impact on small farmers in Kenya was recognised by numerous development agencies. However, to the extent that their responses focused directly on the problems of small farmers rather than on certification as a value chain coordination issue, some of their interventions were ineffective.

This article looks at these issues in detail. It argues that the future challenge for donors will be both to understand better how the global food business is organised into value chains that link together dispersed economic agents, and to devise policies and programmes that recognise the possible trade-offs between business vitality and poverty reduction and identify the roles and responsibilities of public and private actors in ways that allow these trade-offs to be overcome

Food security and sovereignty in Africa: issues, policy challenges and opportunities

07 Jan 2016 02:43:52 GMT

The last few decades have seen food insecurity as an emerging crisis that has bedeviled many African countries. While many post-colonial African governments have widely recognised the role of agriculture in national development and capacity development efforts for education and skills have been ongoing for several years, progress to attain food security has been slow. This is partly due to the adoption of approaches which have not been long-term and institutions that do not have supporting mechanisms to use the capacities generated.

This paper examines the causes of Africa's food insecurity, the consequences of food insecurity, the policy challenges, and the necessary interventions that can address the varying challenges that have contributed to this food insecurity. It is argued that putting in place appropriate capacity development initiatives can help alleviate the problem of food insecurity in Africa. In addition, food security efforts in African countries need to be complemented by food sovereignty principles that have at their core citizen participation, agrarian reforms, the promotion of property rights for local people, access by smallscale farmers to local and regional markets, and the putting of producers and consumers at the centre of decision-making process on food issues.

Governing modern agricultural biotechnology in Kenya: implications for food security

07 Jan 2016 01:16:27 GMT

This report reviews governance issues of modern biotechnology. The study used two case studies of transgenic sweet potato and Bt maize to examine how governance issues influence household and national food security in the country. The report argues that for biotechnology to engender food security in Kenya in the context of globalisation and international governance, the national context for biotechnology has to be facilitative. More specifically, there is need to synchronise biotechnology development with national development imperatives taking into account structural limitations that could negate gains made through biotechnology activities.

Five key findings emerge from this report: 

  • Alleviating rural poverty and food insecurity in Kenya requires changes at the local, national and international levels because of the inter-connectedness of agricultural systems and development in general.
  • Developments in agricultural biotechnology requires slow and careful policy planning and implementation in order to improve food security of smallholders and reduce possible negative and socio-economic impacts of technology.
  • The Kenyan public sector will continue to play an important role in biotechnology development because this area of research is crucial to the national and local interests.
  • The transfer of agricultural biotechnology to developing countries as advocated by international agencies and their national collaborators is a risky undertaking, particularly when it proceeds faster than the capacity of the state to cope with the management of new knowledge.
  • While recognising that agricultural biotechnology has potential to alleviate food insecurity in rural Kenya, its programmes must be strongly linked to the interests of smallholders and institutions that support local participation. 

Gender review of selected programmes in the agriculture portfolio of the Norwegian Embassy in Malawi

30 Dec 2015 01:00:31 GMT

In Malawi, the Global Hunger Index classifies the food security situation as “serious”. Lack of food security causes child undernutrition and child mortality. Levels of malnutrition are alarmingly high. About half of all children under the age of five show signs of chronic malnutrition. One-third of the population is food-insecure, with disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.

Women in Malawi play a critical role in agriculture, and agriculture plays a critical role for the livelihood of women. Purposively empowering women and focusing on their unique challenges within agriculture and climate change will greatly reduce poverty and enhance productivity. The UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food underlines that the empowerment of women should be at the centre of food security strategies, both in order to guarantee the right to food for women, and because it is the most cost-effective measure to reduce hunger and malnutrition for all.

The female share of economically active persons in agriculture in Malawi reached 60 per cent in 2010. This is among the highest average agricultural labour force participation by females in the world. In addition, women smallholders produce 70 per cent of food that is consumed locally and perform 50–70 per cent of all agricultural tasks. Furthermore, women spend on average 1.2 hours a day getting water and fetching firewood, adding to their time poverty.

However, women continue to have poor access to and control over the means of agricultural production, including agricultural inputs, improved technologies, extension services, credit and land. Women’s weak bargaining position within households results in a situation where they may not be able to decide on priorities in the household budget.

Owning seeds, accessing food: a human rights impact assessment of plant variety protection

23 Dec 2015 01:55:52 GMT

• Ex ante human rights impact assessment (HRIA)
• Case studies in six communities in Kenya, Peru and the Philippines
• Assessing possible consequences of plant variety protection systems based on UPOV 91 model
• Focus on the right to food of small-scale farmers in developing countries

• Negative impact on the functioning of informal seed system adversely affecting the right to food
• Traditional knowledge unacknowledged by government institutions adverse impact on farmers’/minority/women’s rights, biodiversity, right to food
• Lack of impact assessment and participation when PVP laws are drafted and implemented
• HRIA confirmed as a valuable and flexible approach to assess human rights impact

• Governments: be mindful of the needs of the most vulnerable groups and the right to food when drafting and implementing PVP laws, by undertaking HRIA, ensuring transparent and participatory processes, and identifying necessary accompanying measures
• Technical assistance providers: encourage sui generis  PVP laws that are evidence-based and mindful of specific development needs
• Civil society organisations: raise awareness of potential human rights impact and get involved in policy processes related to PVP laws

Capacity building material for the realization of farmers rights in Malawi: farmers' rights related to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture in Malawi

23 Dec 2015 01:35:05 GMT

The capacity building material on Farmers’ Rights is framed within the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, in force since 2004, is the only international legal binding instrument recognizing the past, present and future contributions of farmers in all regions of the world, particularly those in centres of origin and diversity, in conserving, improving and making available these resources. The Treaty recognizes that such contributions are the basis of Farmers’ Rights.
According to the International Treaty, Farmers’ Rights should be promoted at national and international levels, but the responsibility for their realization rests with national governments.
The Treaty establishes as measures to protect and promote Farmers’ Rights the following:
• protection of traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;
• equitably participate in sharing benefits arising from the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture;
• participate in making decisions, at the national level, on matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and
• save, use, exchange and sell seeds and propagating material saved in farms.
This list is not exhaustive and governments could adopt additional measures to realize Farmers’ Rights at the national level. However, the Treaty recognizes that the implementation of the mentioned measures is fundamental to the realization of Farmers’ Rights.
The capacity building material on Farmers’ Rights offers useful mechanisms for advancing in the implementation of the International Treaty in Malawi, especially in the realization of Farmers’ Rights.

Improved metrics and data are needed for effective food system policies in the post-2015 era

07 Dec 2015 01:52:19 GMT

Most low and middle income countries are burdened by persistent undernutrition as well as by rapidly growing overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. It is widely accepted that agricultural and food system policies must make a greater contribution to enhancing diets and hence to improving nutrition if these challenges are to be addressed.

However, existing tools which measure the outcomes of agricultural and other food policy interventions relevant to nutrition capture only some elements of food systems, such as agricultural output, total food supply, and food prices. These provide a partial assessment of actual food and nutrition needs of vulnerable populations, dietary quality, or the drivers of food choices. Consequently, decision makers only have fragmented evidence on which policies and interventions work best to enhance food value chains for nutrition.

Since good evidence lies at the core of effective policy action, it is difficult for governments to intervene effectively when needs are poorly understood and impacts inadequately measured. New metrics are therefore needed to measure diet quality and sufficiency, as well as food system efficiency and sustainability, and the processes that link various points across food system domains.

Progress is needed in six key areas:

  • Improving the quality and quantity of data on food intake among different sectors of the population.
  • Reaching agreement on how to measure diet quality.
  • Developing metrics that measure women’s roles in dietary choices.
  • Designing metrics to measure the ‘food environment’, including how different food system domains are linked to, and interact with, the food environment in which dietary choices are made.
  • Devising metrics that measure the healthiness of food systems, all the way from agriculture through markets to people’s actual food consumption.
  • Developing metrics that measure people’s ability to access food of sufficient quantity and quality

Looking within the household: a study on gender, food security, and resilience in cocoa-growing communities

03 Dec 2015 12:22:29 GMT

Many West African cocoa households experience a ‘lean season’ before the cocoa harvest - many food crops cannot be harvested in the July to August dry season - leaving them vulnerable to various events and issues which potentially cause stress – most notably food insecurity.

It concludes that the efficient use of resources across seasons can have a significant impact onresilience outcomes

This study, relying primarily on qualitative data from Côte d’Ivoire, examines how income allocation and intra-household dynamics affect household resilience during the lean season. Its findings indicate that in contexts in which women and men’s income are separate and destined for different purposes in the household, the fact that men’s income is often earmarked for individual spending creates particular problems for households in the lean season.

Women’s empowerment within the household is essential to improving intra-household resource allocation for resilience. In many contexts, this translates into development programmes supporting women to increase their production and ability to control income independently of men. However, a context of individual gendered agricultural production, and gendered spending obligations, such as West Africa, calls for a slightly different approach.

Enhancing agricultural productivity is critical, but in addition it is important to encourage co-operation between women and men in households to result in joint decision-making in the interests of the household.

(Publisher's abstract)

Common futures: India and Africa in partnership

24 Nov 2015 12:50:47 GMT

Africa with its 54 countries is over ten times the size of India but has roughly the same population -- just over one billion people. The demographic structures are also very similar. In India more than fifty percent of the population is below the age of twenty five and in most African states, half or more of thepopulation is under twenty five years of age. The collective strength of Africa and India is their young population.  This volume brings together contributions from young thinkers from both the regions to share ideas on how to make development happen. It includes six contributions each from African and Indian scholars on six themes of:

  • boosting growth through trade and infrastructure development
  • dealing with inclusion in technology and finance
  • securing the Indian ocean and addressing issues of internal security
  • sustaining development by addressing climate change and developing clean energy
  • creating jobs and skills manpower
  • securing food for all have been included in this primer

Together these six themes address the challenges of inclusive economic growth.