Why small-scale farmers and livestock keepers should be the focus of the global food security agenda–Jimmy Smith

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Green Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, Sidamma, Ethiopia

A cow grazes in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region of Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Kettema Yilma).

More than a thousand delegates are attending the International Grassland Congress in Sydney, Australia, this week, a meeting that only takes place every four years. Giving the opening keynote presentation on Mon 16 Sep 2013 was Jimmy Smith an animal scientist and food security expert.

‘. . . Delegates have heard that reducing the carbon footprint of global agriculture is just one challenge.

Dr Jimmy Smith, head of the International Livestock Research Institute, says the more immediate question is how to feed the world’s booming population.

‘”Estimates show that between now and 2050 the world will need to produce about one billion tonnes more cereal, and about half of that would be used for livestock feed and the other half for human consumption,” he said.

‘”We would need about a billion tonnes of…

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Smallholder farmers hold the key to global food security

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While a lot of money is being pumped into agriculture in a bid to boost production and alleviate hunger in the world, these efforts are unlikely to succeed without focusing on mixed smallholder farmers, a new study has warned.

The study, which puts countries like Kenya––long criticised for neglecting the smallholders––on the spot, says smallholders hold the key to ending perennial hunger in the world.

“In most regions of the world, farming systems are under intense pressure. But the problems are not the same everywhere,” said Mario Herrero, ILRI senior scientist and the paper’s lead author.

“In the past, farmers have developed the ability to adapt to small changes, in terms of weather patterns and access to fertile land and water. But the rapid rates of change seen in many developing countries today outstrip the capacity of many to adapt.”

Read more… (Business Daily)

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No solution to food crisis without involvement of the world’s small-scale farmers

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Regina Frazer

Regina Frazer: Maize, potato, cassava, chicken, dove, pig and vegetable farmer in central Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

A Guardian blog post today argues that the world’s many small farmers are critical to solving the world’s food, and food price, crises.

The blog says, ‘We should celebrate one of the largest but least recognised groups in the world, who grow most of the food we eat.’

‘With the start of the food crisis in 2007 and the increasing number of hungry people in the world, the tide has started to turn. The blind promise that agribusiness would feed the world appeared to be a fiction, and more and more people, governments and institutions are recognising that there will be no solution to the current crisis without the participation of small-scale farmers.’

To read more about the importance of the world’s small-scale farmers, most of whom continue to mix crop growing…

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Three reasons to protect agricultural biodiversity

One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

By Alice Marks

23309616640_6150860834_o Durum wheat variety, Ethiopia. Credit: Bioversity International

Even though new species are being discovered every day, one in five plants are threatened with extinction, according to the first annual State of the world’s plants, 2016 published by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in May 2016. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the largest threats facing these endangered plant species are the conversion of land for agriculture and biological resource use – the deliberate or unintentional consumption of a ‘wild’ species. Indeed, agriculture has been identified as the main threat to 85% of all threatened species, plant and animal, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. For example, the growth of palm oil plantations has led to significant losses of natural forests and peatlands, with accompanying impacts on biodiversity.

Agricultural biodiversity, defined by Bioversity International as “the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used…

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Certain irrigation techniques to spur food production have dangerous side effects

DESERTIFICATION

Photo credit: Feedly

On World Water Day, hear why some techniques in Kenya should carry a serious health warning.

The hidden dangers of irrigation

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by Imogen Mathers

For farmers in Kenya, creative ways to irrigate crops can be the difference between a harvest failing or thriving. In this drought-prone country, access to reliable water sources is a daily challenge.

Few would argue with the need for better irrigation. Yet certain techniques introduced by the government to spur food production have dangerous side effects, warns Bernard Bett, a veterinary epidemiologist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya. The pools and canals that underpin flood irrigation create ideal conditions for mosquitoes to thrive, and are a draw for wildlife to gather and drink. This confluence of elements forms a perfect petri dish for zoonotic diseases such as malaria and dengue to circulate between wildlife, livestock, humans and insects.

Read the full…

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Guatemala Says YES to Farmers’ Rights: Capacity Development at Work

THE GFAR BLOG

la foto (005)

The mountains of La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes cover 14% of Guatemala and are home to numerous family farming communities. The area is rich in genetic diversity of crops such as maize, and is among the most biologically diverse regions in Central America. However, a few years ago, smallholder farmers in the region were unaware of their valuable contribution to crop diversity, or of their rights as farmers.

As early as 2001, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, recognizing the unique contribution to agricultural biodiversity and the valuable traditional knowledge carried by smallholder farmers – such as those of La Sierra de los Cuchumatanes – called upon member governments to adopt measures to protect and promote Farmers’ Rights. In 2013, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) started working with NGOs and other partners to promote Farmers’ Rights in Guatemala.

As part of this…

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New FAO chief’s plan : global eradication of hunger (UN News)

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NEW CHIEF OF UN’S FOOD AND AGRICULTURE AGENCY OUTLINES PLANS AS HE STARTS WORK

New York, Jan  3 2012  6:05PM

The new head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has begun work, pledging today to increase the agency’s support to poor countries experiencing prolonged food crises.

“Ending hunger requires the commitment of everyone: neither FAO nor any other agency or government will win this war alone,” <“http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/119343/icode/”>said Director-General José Graziano da Silva at a press conference in Rome, where the agency’s headquarters are located.

He stressed the need for FAO to work closely and transparently with its member States, other UN agencies, the private sector and civil society to achieve its goals, particularly in scaling up support to poor countries.

The global eradication of hunger remains his top priority, Mr. Graziano da Silva said, adding he was also focusing on developing more sustainable methods of food production…

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