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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

Lessons in supporting family farming: Stories from Swaziland

Many rural development initiatives attempt to improve the lives of family farmers. Some succeed, some fail – but all of them can offer valuable lessons for the future. In a two-phased documentation workshop, farmers, field workers and other experts working in IFAD-funded projects in Swaziland described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. Published in the International Year of Family Farming, it offers various lessons and challenges relevant for professionals who are working to support family farmers.

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ILEIA Financial statement 2013

Balance sheet and statement of revenues and costs 2013

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ILEIA Annual report 2013

This summary of the ILEIA 2013 annual report shows the activities and results of ILEIA and the AgriCultures Network in 2013, as well as the lessons learnt in this year. It covers the four main result areas of ILEIA and the network: global knowledge sharing and the magazine, documentation and systematisation, education, policy advocacy and strengthening of the AgriCultures Network.

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Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer

In a context of a changing climate and growing concerns for more healthy food systems, agroecology is gaining momentum as a scientific discipline, sustainable farming approach and social movement. There is growing anecdotal and case study evidence of its multiple benefits, from climate resilience to farm productivity. Yet its promotion in public agricultural policies, research and extension is still limited. This paper explores why this is. It calls for consolidating the evidence base for agroecology through multi-dimensional tools that not only measure yields, but also its many other benefits: economic, environmental and social. Mainstreaming agroecology will require a fundamental cultural and philosophical shift in how we as a society define‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ agriculture.

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Feeding Frenzy: The New Politics of Food

Feeding Frenzy addresses the question “Can we feed the world of 9 billion by 2050?” through the lens of the today’s market turmoil and prevailing hunger and inequality. Following a brief history of the food system, McMahon delves into economic and political issues shaping the current food crisis. The book addresses how governments and corporations are fighting to secure control over food supply chains. Land grabbing, speculation on global food markets and export bans are a few of the topics discussed. Finally, McMahon outlines actions that would help to shape a sustainable and just food system. He states categorically that we have enough land and already produce enough food, if only we could support smallholder farmers, put ecology at the centre of farming, and make financial markets work to address real challenges.

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State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability

Although optimistic, the book is framed by a sentiment of crisis, with humanity at an unprecedented crossroads requiring a sharp departure from politics and business as usual. The book examines both obstacles to, and opportunities for, responsible political and economic governance. The scope is broad with contributions covering issues from appropriate technologies, markets and public goods, to the organisational capacity of civil society. The unifying message is that engaged and well-informed citizens are the key to better governance. It ends with a call to action, that we must build a culture of grassroots community engagement to improve the relationships that bind us to each other and to the planet we live on.

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Who Wants to Farm? Youth aspirations, opportunities and rising food prices

Adding fuel to the debate on the future of agriculture, this paper explores why youth in developing countries appear reluctant to enter farming. Based on research in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, it looks at conditions that attract young people to farming, and entry points for youth participation in policy making decisions on agriculture and food security. Contributors to agriculture’s lack of appeal were a lack of access to land and capital, and social changes such as increased formal education. But agriculture proved attractive to youth when education is used to enhance productivity, and when young people mobilise in groups to enhance the freedom offered by meaningful employment. And agriculture could be made even more attractive with targeted support from public policies, and the use of young role models to show the potential of agricultural opportunities.

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Constitutions and the Commons: The Impact of Federal Governance on Local, National, and Global Resource Management

Constitutions and the Commons looks at a critical but little examined issue of the degree to which the federal constitution of a nation contributes toward or limits the ability of the national government to manage its natural resources (or commons). Furthermore it considers how far the constitution facilitates the binding of constituent states, provinces or subnational units to honor the conditions of international environmental treaties. While the main focus is on the US, there is also detailed coverage of other nations such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, India and Russia.

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Land Solutions for Climate Displacement

The threat of climate displacement looms large over a growing number of countries. Based on the more than six years of work by Displacement Solutions in ten climate-affected countries, academic work on displacement and climate adaptation, and the country-level efforts of civil society groups in several frontline countries, this report explores the key contention that land will be at the core of any major strategy aimed at preventing and resolving climate displacement. This innovative and timely volume coordinated and edited by the Founder of Displacement Solutions, Scott Leckie, examines a range of legal, policy and practical issues relating to the role of land in actively addressing the displacement consequences of climate change. It reveals the inevitable truth that climate displacement is already underway and being tackled in countries such as Bangladesh, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and the United States, and proposes a series of possible land solution tools that can be employed to protect the rights of people and communities everywhere should they be forced to flee the places they call home.

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Learning for rural change: 11 stories from Zambia

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 Zambia described, analysed and wrote down some of their most promising experiences. This book presents the results of their work. The eleven articles provide different lessons and challenges relevant for professionals in the field of agriculture and rural development.

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Building a New Agricultural Future:Supporting agro-ecology for people and planet

Agro-ecology applies ecological concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally, more than 800 million people worldwide are undernourished. Shockingly, half of these are small-scale farmers and their families, for whom a failed harvest due to drought, or the loss of land caused by irresponsible large-scale land investments, can have a devastating effect on their livelihoods. Climate change and the injustice of hunger require urgent attention, and investment in a model of agriculture that is truly sustainable. This briefing makes the case for investment in agro-ecology to achieve food security for some of the poorest farmers in the world. It shows how an agro-ecological approach can provide a range of social, economic, and environmental benefits that, with the right policy support and associated investments, can be scaled up to enable smallholder farming communities to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

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Reclaiming food security

This book presents a critique of the dominant directions taken by public policy in the name of food security. He argues that food should not be treated in the same way as any other commodity and genuine food security should be firmly aligned with principles of food sovereignty, wellbeing, equity and ecological sustainability. He examines the history of pursuing increased agricultural production (at all costs), trade liberalisation, global market integration and increased marketing and why these approaches have failed to deliver food security. The author urges that we move towards a renewed conceptualisation of food security that embraces freedom for people and nations to lead happy, healthy and long lives.

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The transformative potential of the right to food: Final report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter

On 10 March 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, presented his final report to the UN Human Rights Council. This report offers more than a call for a new paradigm for agriculture, also providing a nuanced vision on how to get there. He sets the scene with a succinct explanation on how the current exclusive focus on production efficiency has failed to reduce hunger and has also led to severe environmental impacts. He argues that the transition to sustainable production and consumption and reducing rural poverty, requires agroecological farming and actions such as curtailing industrial meat production. Inclusive smallholder food systems and the recognition of smallholders’ rights should be prioritised, and not co-opted into the dominant food system. De Schutter also highlights the level of interdependence by illustrating that rebuilding local food systems in developing countries is strongly linked to food system reforms in rich countries. And food policies can be democratised at three levels, by rebuilding local food systems, deploying national strategies, and shaping an enabling international environment. Key insights in this report come from De Schutter’s bridge between local and international action. At one level is the need to understand democracy in terms of communities choosing and shaping their food systems, while at another level is the need to harness governmental support and cooperation.

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Transcript speech Olivier de Schutter

Food Otherwise Conference, 22 February 2014, Wageningen, the Netherlands

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Transcript speech Vandana Shiva

Food Otherwise Conference, 21 February 2014, Wageningen, the Netherlands

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Dez qualidades da agricultura familiar

What is family farming, and what distinguishes it from entrepreneurial farming or family agribusiness? The confusion tends to be highest in places where the modernisation of agriculture has led society further away from farming. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg takes us into the world of family farming, which he says is considered to be “both archaic and anarchic, and attractive and seductive”.

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Scaling-up agroecological approaches: what, why and how?

Agro-ecology is a science, a social movement and a broad set of agricultural approaches. Scaling up agro-ecology requires a systematic search for combinations of techniques and strategies that fit specific ecological, social and political contexts. This discussion paper aims to support civil society and government actors by providing evidence of the centrality of agro-ecological approaches for sustainable agriculture. The author also highlights the challenges (along with specific actions) to scaling up agro-ecological approaches. These include breaking down ideological barriers, supporting farmer-to-farmer networks, creating supportive policy environments, empowering women and democratising the policy making process.

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Living with the Trees of Life: Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture

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.

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Agro-Ecological Intensification of Agricultural Systems in the African Highlands

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.

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