What are we reading?
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) : A new space for the food policies of the world, opportunities and limitations
The 2009 reform of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) opened a space for civil society organisations in the global policy arena. This 4th edition of La Via Campesina’s Notebook reflects on some of the sessions that have taken place since the reform and analyses the impact La Via Campesina and other civil society organisations have had within the CFS. The central questions are whether and to what extent the CFS provides a vehicle for promoting the concerns of grassroots and social movements. The report ends by discussing one of the dilemmas faced by La Via Campesina: does investing so much energy on institutional work have a detrimental effect on mobilisation and the struggles on the ground?
“We live today in an age of sustainababble, a cacophonous profusion of uses of the word sustainable to mean anything from environmentally better to cool”. Sustainability, continues Robert Engelman, author of the introductory chapter and president of the World Watch Institute, has become a marketing catchphrase for practices or products that are at best slightly less damaging than the conventional alternatives. In this latest edition of the State of the World series, scientists and policy experts attempt to restore the meaning of sustainability. What definition do we need to work from? What needs to be done to move towards true sustainability? And how to prepare for the possibility of a global environmental catastrophe?
Ever wondered what the world food problem looks like from the perspective of nutrients? If so, this publication offers some interesting insights. A major problem is the loss of nutrients; 80% of nitrogen and between 25 and 75% of the phosphorus consumed is lost to the environment. The results include a deterioration of water quality, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity and the acidification of soils. Another problem is a shortage of nutrients which can lead to land degradation. The authors propose several solutions, including improving nutrient efficiency in crop and animal production, reducing food waste, recycling nutrients from waste water systems and lowering the personal meat consumption.
When it comes to land grabbing most people think of the global South. This publication challenges this view. In the EU, 3% of the largest farms control 50% of all farm land. Moreover, land concentration is accelerating and subsidies paid under Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy stimulate this. In Spain, for example, 16% of the largest farmers receive 75% of all subsidies. In addition to land concentration, this report also examines cases of land grabbing in Europe: by Chinese companies in Bulgaria, Middle Eastern companies in Romania, and European companies elsewhere in the EU. The articles also show how new movements are emerging that are both resisting these land grabs and concentration, or arguing for alternatives.
Agricultural and food systems are failing and agro-ecology can play an important role in fixing them. That is the message of this publication in a nutshell. Drawing on a number of studies the author shows how climate change, biodiversity loss, natural resource degradation, urbanisation, hunger, obesity and excessive food waste are threatening the health of existing social and ecological systems. A strong, empirically grounded case, drawing on examples from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia, is made for agro-ecology as the way forward. The report shows how agro-ecology can increase yields, improve food and nutrition security, reduce rural poverty, build community and climate resilience and empower small scale producers.
Community biodiversity management : Promoting resilience and the conservation of plant genetic resources
How to conserve agro-biodiversity in practice? Simply promoting different varieties has not worked. This book presents experiences from different organisations that support farmers through community biodiversity management (CBM). This methodology is based on the premise that farmers have their own ideas and priorities when it comes to agricultural development and the use of plant varieties. Conservation measures and plant varieties are put in the context of livelihood development rather than making them the primary goal. The book starts with the history of CBM and goes on to describe experiences of CBM practices including diversity fairs and community seed banks. The final part summarises the lessons learnt from these experiences and discusses their implications for community resilience.
The practice of Participatory Development Technology in Rural Area of Yunnan Mountains - Participatory technology development (PTD) is an approach to learning and innovation that is used in development as part of projects and programmes relating to sustainable agriculture. The approach involves collaboration between researchers and farmers in the analysis of agricultural problems and testing of alternative farming practices. Center for Biodiversity of Indigenous Knowledge, a Chinese grass-rooted NGO, has been promoting Participatory Technology and Development in past decades. PTD have been introduced and applied in the rural development of Yunnan Mountainous area, southwestern China. In this book, experience and lessons on PTD practice have been summarised through case studies. Readers could benefit from these material and avoid make similar mistakes.
The document “The Climate Crisis: People’s Potential and Needs for Adaptation and Mitigation (Proceedings of the Conference, 6 – 9 October 2009, India International Centre, New Delhi)” is a synthesis of the deliberations of the workshop organised by MISEREOR and Welthungerhilfe. The document brings out examples of people’s existing strategies for adaptation and their needs and priorities to deal with the changing climatic conditions in future. This document is a joint effort by LEISA India team of AME Foundation, Bangalore and ILEIA, The Netherlands.
Biofuels and Rural Poverty makes an original contribution to the current controversial global debate on biofuels, in particular the consequences that large-scale production of transport fuel substitutes can have on rural areas, principally in developing countries but also in some poor rural areas of developed countries. Three key concerns are examined from a North-South perspective: ecological issues (related to land use and biodiversity), pro-poor policies (related to food and land security, gender and income generation) and equity of benefits within the global value chain. Can biofuels be pro-poor? Can smallholder farmers be equitably integrated in the biofuels global supply chain? Is the biofuels production chain detrimental to biodiversity? Most other books available on biofuels take a technical approach and are aimed at addressing energy security or climate change issues. This title focuses on the socio-economic impacts on rural people's livelihoods, offering a unique perspective on the potential role of biofuels in reducing rural poverty.
The fate of forests matters to us all — for forests purify the air we breathe, protect and clean the water we drink, and keep our planet cool and habitable. And yet we continue to destroy or degrade them to satisfy our ever-growing demands for food, fuel and fibre. For those who live in or near forests, including family forest owners, forest communities and indigenous peoples, safeguarding the future of the forests on which they depend is the only sure way of improving their livelihoods. But they face an uphill battle in their task: their rights to own or use forested land are largely insecure, they have little say in the decisions that affect them, their business skills are often weak and funds are almost always scarce. Breaking down these barriers requires investment. As this pocketbook shows, investing in locally controlled forestry not only helps the long-term stewards of our forests stay on the right side of poverty, it also makes social, economic and environmental sense.
A great variety of rural development initiatives are taking place in the Republic of Sudan. In this book, the outcome of a documentation and communication training in Khartoum in 2013, practitioners describe and analyse some of the most promising experiences. The articles provide lessons and challenges relevant for professionals in the field of agriculture and rural development. The book is divided into four themes: water management & crop production, livestock, women empowerment and approaches to sharing knowledge. The hope is that this book serves as a source of inspiration for future initiatives.
This book details water-efficient, edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants of the world. It is a botanical blueprint for re-greening vast expanses of the earth’s surface, using less irrigation, producing more food and generating absolute abundance.
This booklet documents the main lessons learnt during the two Learning Routes in the MENA region that took place in between February and March 2013. First, it provides short summaries of the initiatives that were visited in Morocco and Egypt. These are based on the initial documentation of the success stories that Procasur and ILEIA conducted before the Learning Routes. Next, the main lessons identified during the two routes are presented. The final chapter focuses on the lessons drawn from the process of the Learning Route, showing the ways in which knowledge building using this method can be innovative.
Building a Future with Farmers : Challenges faced by young American farmers and a national strategy to help them succeed
Based on a survey of over 1,000 farmers this report identifies the current needs of young and beginning farmers in the United States. The survey found that access to land, capital, health care, credit, and business training are the largest challenges faced by young and beginning farmers. Farmers rated farm apprenticeships, local partnerships and Community Supported Agriculture as the most valuable programs to help them succeed. The report also suggested detailed strategy for improving the number of young farmers and the likelihood for success and it's completed with policy and consumer recommendations.
Deforestation and forest degradation have been occurring for thousands of years. The drivers of deforestation differ by region: soy and cattle are key in South America while timber, paper, and palm oil are more important in Southeast Asia. The demand for these products is global and originates primarily in urban areas. We also examine the role of population and diet, which are key underlying factors in the demand for tropical commodities causing deforestation. Recent actions to deal with some of the drivers of deforestation, such as pressure to change the soybean industry in Brazil, have proven successful, showing how deforestation can be slowed - and even stopped - in the next few decades. Both deforestation, which completely removes the forest canopy, and degradation, which maintains the canopy but causes losses of carbon, are important sources of global warming pollution, as well as threats to biodiversity and to the livelihoods of forest peoples. Thus it is important to understand the causes of these changes - the "drivers" of deforestation. In this report, the Union of Concerned Scientists explains these drivers and shows that they have changed fundamentally in the twenty-first century. The report focuses on the economic agents that play a critical role in deforestation.
Ecological Livestock : Options for reducing livestock production and consumption to fit within ecological limits, with a focus in Europe
Human pressure on the planet is reaching a scale that could compromise the stability of the Earth's systems. A group of influential scientists have recently identified nine planetary boundaries related to Earth-system processes and their associated thresholds, which – if crossed – could destabilise our living environment. The main impacts of livestock production are key components in four of those boundaries – biodiversity loss, nitorgen and phosphorus cycles, land use change, and climate change – including the three already beyond acceptable levels. Ecological livestock, and more widely ecological farming, relies on the principle of ecological optimisation. Ecologically optimising agriculture systems will ultimately lead to achieving global food security while ensuring protection of ecosystem services.
Climate change and variations have become an important issue in Thai rural sectors, especially for agriculture producers. Their livelihoods are sensitive and vulnerable to climatic changes. Typical responses to climate change in Thailand tend to focus more on disaster management as climate-related natural disasters capture more attention from the public compared to slow but progressive changes in climate. More perversely, climate adaptation (or even mitigation) is often used as justification ongoing development activities to procure funding. There is a shift in the types of actors involved in adaptation. In addition to conventional public agencies and non-government organizations, a new breed of organizations initiates innovative climate adaptation efforts: agro-based social enterprises. This paper looks at how Green Net, a Thai agro-based social enterprise, works to improve adaptive capacity among its organic and fair trade rice farmers in Yasothorn, a Northeastern region of Thailand. It highlights the adaptation successes, collaborative adaptation efforts and shares advantages of such enterprises and its lessons learned from its ﬁeld activities during 2007–2011.
This systematisation document on the salt affected lands of Port Said has been written for the Learning Route on Water Management which took place in Egypt from 10 to 17 March 2013. This Learning Route focused on the technological packages developed within the activities of Irrigated Benchmark Project in salt affected soils in Northern Delta.
In this document, a description and analysis of the mechanised raised bed package for old lands in Sharkia are elaborated. It shows the positive impact of raised beds on water saving and crop yield as well as the promising role of the raised bed machine in rapidly spreading this technology and accelerating the farmers’ adoption to the technology. This systematisation document on (mechanised) raised bed farming in the old lands of Sharkia has been written for the Learning Route on Water Management which took place in Egypt from 10 to 17 March 2013. This Learning Route focused on the technological packages developed within the activities of ICARDA’s Irrigated Benchmark Project in the old lands on the Nile Delta of Egypt.
This document provides a synthesis of the lessons learnt during the Learning Route on farmers' organisations in Morocco.