What are we reading?
The transformative potential of the right to food: Final report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, calls for radical transformation of the world’s food systems. The emphasis in agricultural policy should shift from productivity to "well-being, resilience and sustainability", he says. The expert warns that the current food systems are efficient only from the point of view of maximizing agribusiness profits. "The food systems that we have inherited from the twentieth century have failed. Of course, significant progress has been achieved in boosting agricultural production over the past fifty years. But this has hardly reduced the number of hungry people." The Rapporteur also points at other effects of industrial agriculture, such as significant loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, fresh water pollution and climate change.
This discussion paper will contribute to ongoing debates on agro-ecological approaches and their centrality for achieving truly more sustainable agricultural and food systems; to provide key evidence and arguments for supporting advocacy work of CSOs calling for the scaling-up of agro-ecological approaches in various social and political arenas at national and/or international levels.
Based on the career of Roger Leakey, the former Director of Research at the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, this book presents the experiences of real life situations in rural villages of remote and distant places. Living with the Trees of Life demonstrates how the multi-disciplinary science of agroforestry, which embraces biology, genetics, ecology, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, soil science, food science, and the social sciences, can offer hope from the doom and gloom often emanating from the tropics. Written in an accessible and engaging style that will appeal to both a professional and general readership, this book takes a more positive approach to the issues facing agriculture and highlights an innovative approach to resolving the big issues of poverty, malnutrition, hunger and environmental degradation including climate change.
There is an urgent need to increase agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa in a sustainable and economically-viable manner. Transforming risk-averse smallholders into business-oriented producers that invest in producing surplus food for sale provides a formidable challenge, both from a technological and socio-political perspective. This book addresses the issue of agricultural intensification in the humid highland areas of Africa – regions with relatively good agricultural potential, but where the scarce land resources are increasingly under pressure from the growing population and from climate change. In addition to introductory and synthesis chapters, the book focuses on four themes: system components required for agricultural intensification; the integration of components at the system level; drivers for adoption of technologies towards intensification; and the dissemination of complex knowledge. It provides case studies of improved crop and soil management for staple crops such as cassava and bananas, as well as examples of how the livelihoods of rural people can be improved. The book provides a valuable resource for researchers, development actors, students and policy makers in agricultural systems and economics and in international development. It highlights and addresses key challenges and opportunities that exist for sustainable agricultural intensification in the humid highlands of sub-Saharan Africa.
Agricultural biodiversity for resilient farming systems: What knowledge is needed to release potential and overcome constraints?
This report is an adaptation of the knowledge mapping study conducted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre for Hivos and Oxfam Novib’s Agrobiodiversity@knowledged programme. The report identifies agrobiodiversity’s potential for food security, smallholder livelihoods, and the environment in the face of global change. Using a theoretical framework based on resilience thinking, it analyses the potential role of knowledge and knowledge flows in change processes. Data collected through literature study and consultations with key actors is used to identify where constraints on knowledge or knowledge flows can form barriers and where strengthened knowledge can contribute to positive change through releasing the potential of agrobiodiversity for resilient farming systems. The study revealed a broad range of successful cases showing how agricultural biodiversity – through the actions and management of smallholder farmers and their organisations – has contributed to strengthened livelihoods as well as to more resilient ecosystems. Sample cases are presented in this report.
The report presents a global perspective on the impacts of industrial meat and dairy production, and illustrates its increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment. The way we produce and consume meat and dairy needs a radical rethink. The Meat Atlas aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming and advocates clear individual and political solutions.
Mountain farming is family farming: A contribution from mountain areas to the International Year of Family Farming 2014
Mountain farming takes many forms – forms as diverse as the world’s mountain landscapes – yet largely remains family farming. These mountain farming activities have traditionally fed and supported individual households although, today, they have begun to expand increasingly toward global markets. Yet, mountain farmers still tend to be driven by familial, cultural and ecological values rather than solely profit maximization. This publication, featuring 25 case studies from across the mountain landscapes, gives an overview of the global changes affecting mountain farming and the strategies that mountain communities have developed to cope. Each study also presents a set of lessons and recommendations, meant to inform and benefit mountain communities, policy-makers, development experts and academics who work to support mountain farmers and to protect mountains. Enabling mountain communities to learn from each other’s experiences and gather inspirational ideas from around the world will help enhance their resilience.
A two-day conference with leading thinkers and do-ers, workshops, excursions, films and inspiring initiatives.
Many rural development initiatives attempt to improve the lives of small-scale farmers. Some succeed, some fail – but all of them can offer valuable lessons for the future. In a two-phased documentation workshop, a group of experts working in IFAD-funded projects in Ethiopia described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. The fourteen articles provide different lessons and challenges relevant for professionals in the field of agriculture and rural development.
Ending poverty: Learning from good practices of small and marginal farmers - The Self Employed Women’s Association’s Exposure And Dialogue Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization
This publication is intended for FAO and SEWA staff and other development practitioners. It has three objectives. First, it shares and records a small subset of experiences gained and good practices identified by participants, and summarizes some of the lessons learned. Second, it aims to serve as a reference for other organizations who may wish to embark on a similar collaboration. Third, drawing on a few of the personal and technical documents prepared by FAO participants following the four Exposure and Dialogue Programmes, this publication documents some of the practices, mechanisms, and models that make SEWA an exemplary organization in addressing grassroots issues using a needs-based, capacity-development approach.
Towards co-creation of sciences : building on the plurality of worldviews, values and methods in different knowledge communities
With regards to knowledge, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is science. But there are also local, endogenous, and traditional ways of knowing that successfully guide the lives of many people across the world. These can be considered as expressions of science in their own right. They are however often excluded in favour of mainstream science which continues to form the basis of formal education and which receives the gross of public funding. This book presents the worldviews, values, methods and concepts of four different knowledge communities in Ghana, India, Bolivia and the Netherlands. The authors argue that a plurality of sciences is the best option to meet the sustainability challenges of our time.
There has been a rapid uptake of the term Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) by the international community, national entities and local institutions, in the past years. However, implementing this approach is challenging, partly due to a lack of tools and experience. Climate-smart interventions are highly location-specific and knowledge-intensive. Considerable efforts are required to develop the knowledge and capacities to make CSA a reality. The purpose of the sourcebook is to further elaborate the concept of CSA and demonstrate its potential, as well as its limitations. This sourcebook is a reference tool for planners, practitioners and policy makers working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries at national and subnational levels, dealing with the effects of climate change.
There are many projects that are testing or promoting climate-smart agriculture, but few have shown widespread uptake. This booklet showcases 16 initiatives that are having a widespread impact on food security, adaptation to climate change and climate change mitigation, covering large areas of land and improving the lives of millions of people. With examples from both the developed and developing world, the initiatives include innovative agricultural interventions (Chapter 1 in this booklet), initiatives that address climate-related risks (Chapter 2) and policies and institutions that underpin adaptation to and mitigation of climate change (Chapter 3). In some cases, particularly in the policy domain, the support for climate-smart agriculture is a side-benefit rather than the core objective of the initiative; in others, it is the main focus. But ultimately, all the cases meet the threepart goal of improving resilience to climate change, enhancing food security and livelihoods, and reducing agriculture’s climate footprint.
This report aims to improve understanding among policymakers and practitioners – together with those influencing and making decisions in relevant business sectors – of the relationships between smallholders, food security and the environment. It leads to the conclusion that, with targeted support, smallholder farmers can transform the rural landscape and unleash a new and sustainable agricultural revolution.
This report warns that unless urgent action is taken to revive global seed diversity and farmers' knowledge, food systems now and in the future will be unable to adapt to climate change. For thousands of years of agriculture, farmers have increased seed diversity and deepened their complex knowledge, to give them to tools to deal with the multiple challenges of farming. But the industrialisation of farming in recent decades has meant that this seed and knowledge is rapidly disappearing. The resulting loss of germ plasm from which to breed and adapt new crops means that farmers and food systems are increasingly vulnerable in the face of climate change. Report warns of the dangers of leaving a reduced agricultural gene pool for future generations - but it also shares inspiring stories of farmers around the world who are working to revive seed diversity. The report gives key recommendations for policy and practice to revive resilient food systems, so that future generations may also be able to farm and eat.
GE ‘Golden’ rice is a genetically engineered (GE, also called genetically modified, GM) rice variety developed by the biotech industry to produce pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene). Proponents portray GE ‘Golden’ rice as a technical, quick-fix solution to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a health problem in many developing countries. However, not only is GE ‘Golden’ rice an ineffective tool to combat VAD it is also environmentally irresponsible, poses risks to human health, and compromises food security.
The Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2013: Alternatives and Resistance to Policies that Generate Hunger
With UN resources and international solidarity between states in decline, collaboration with major corporations in major development projects has become the new fad in international affairs. The interests of these corporations however do not always coincide with that of the public. Sustainable alternatives have emerged from civil society and social movements that are “founded on the participation of all people concerned and adapted to fit their needs”. This year’s right to food and nutrition watch explores “policies that generate hunger” in the area of: public private partnerships, gender, farmers’ seed right and small-scale fisheries. The final part looks at the development of twelve countries from the perspective of the right to adequate food and nutrition.
Wild food plants are a critical component in the subsistence system of rice farmers in Northeast Thailand. One of the important characteristics of wild plant foods among farming households is that the main collection locations are increasingly from anthropogenic ecosystems such as agricultural areas rather than pristine ecosystems. This paper provides selected results from a study of wild food conducted in several villages in Northeast Thailand. A complete botanical inventory of wild food plants from these communities and surrounding areas is provided including their diversity of growth forms, the different anthropogenic locations were these species grow and the multiplicity of uses they have.
Trade and environment review 2013 - Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate
UNCTAD’s message is clear. What we need is a “rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high external-input dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers.” Why? Because the dominant model of agriculture is failing. Food prices are increasing, agricultural productivity is declining, the global nitrogen and green house gas emissions limits have been crossed and one billion people are chronically underfed. So, how can we change that? By shifting towards diverse production patterns that close nutrient cycles and by localising food production as much as possible.
(This article resulted from a documentation workshop on amplifying agroecological solutions, convened in Ghana in May 2013)