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What are we reading?

Recently released books, reports, manuals, etc.

Hacia una agricultura familiar más fuerte

Spanish version of the 'Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'

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Vers une agriculture familiale plus forte: Points de vue au cœur de l’Année internationale de l’agriculture familiale

French version of of the 'Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming'

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Towards stronger family farms: Voices in the International Year of Family Farming

Throughout 2014, regional dialogues, civil society consultations, regional conferences and other events explored issues related to family farming. Many of these were (co-)organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the lead agency for the International Year of Family Farming. Across the regions, a set of key, common building blocks were identified to better support family farmers, raised by representatives of farmer organisations, governments, academia, international institutions and NGOs, amongst others.

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Corporate influence through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (G8NA), was inaugurated in 2012 as a commitment by the governments of the G8, African countries and corporate sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty in ten years by “unleashing the power of the private sector.” Ten African countries have signed cooperation agreements and several domestic and international companies have pledged to invest in areas relevant to food security and nutrition, amounting to more than US$7 billion. The G8NA has been heavily criticized, however, and this report adds to the discussion. Core problems with the initiative are highlighted, including governance of the alliance, the dominance of large corporate actors, and that it is poorly integrated into existing international processes and agreements. It concludes with a call halting the G8NA altogether unless radical changes are implemented, such as greater transparency, more civil society participation, and framing options within Committee on World Food Security principles and guidelines.

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Deep Roots

To celebrate the International Year of family Farming, FAO produced this extensive tome dedicated to stories surrounding the actual and potential future benefits of family farming. Deep Roots contains some 70 specially commissioned articles on diverse aspects of family farming from around the world, including regional overview papers that summarise the current situation and recent developments in each. ILEIA also contributed with an agroecological perspective in ‘Unlocking the potential of family farmers with agroecology’ (pages 42-45), followed by articles on gender and youth. FAO’S Director General Jose Graziano da Silva tells us that “out of 570 million farms in the world, 500 million are family owned, making the well-being of farm families inextricably woven into the overall wellbeing of societies, with tremendous implications for food production and sustainability.” He also confirms the organisation’s commitment to supporting FAO member states in shaping enabling policies and the knowledge environment for family farming in the years to come. Many photos in the book, including the cover photo, are entries in the AgriCultures Network’s Family Farming Photo Competition.

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Smallholder agriculture’s contribution to better nutrition

For most of the last 50 years, food production has increased ahead of population growth, with much of this coming from small scale family farms. Why then are such households still disproportionately vulnerable to undernutrition? The report does not address this question, as the real answer would indicate that more extreme actions are needed than the general recommendations put forward. These are that smallholder agricultural development can be an excellent way to reduce poverty and tackle hunger, that patterns of agricultural development need steering towards more diversified food production, and that smallholder agricultural programmes need backing up with primary health care, clean water and sanitation, female empowerment and other interventions. No-one may disagree with any of these, but it appears that much more is required, and that would involve a radical change in mindset regarding a rebalancing of power between family farms and local food systems, and the farming for profit agri-business model that currently dominates.

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The Global Nutrition Report 2014: Actions and accountability to accelerate the world’s progress on nutrition

This excellent publication is full of essential reading and valuable figures on nutrition- related issues. It is aimed at nutrition champions and their allies. The authors propose three types of complementary strategies to address challenges underlying malnutrition and hunger: nutrition-specific, nutrition sensitive, and enabling environmental investments. The report concludes that these strategies can have high human and economic returns. But the report fails to highlight the vital role of family farmers, especially women, in combating hunger and malnutrition, a notable omission in a document that appears in the International Year of Family Farming. Thereby, it overlooks the tremendous actual and potential contribution of 500 million family farmers to local and global food and nutrition security.

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The State of Food and Agriculture: Innovation in Family Farming

This annual collection of thoughts and figures on agriculture and agricultural production by the world’s leading organization devoted to food-related issues, is this year dedicated to family farming. The annex tables are as informative as ever, providing an overview of key information regarding trends in land holdings and labour. But the meat is in the text. The pivotal role family farmers play in ensuring that humanity is able to feed itself is clearly expressed. A very thorough review of all recent and relevant literature tries to find out ‘what strategy should be taken towards small family farms?’ The findings stress the importance of recognizing their diversity and the need to improve supplementary or alternative employment and income. However, FAO continue to promote the possibility of ‘sustainable productivity growth’ for poverty reduction and improved food security. To achieve this, it argues for two interrelated pathways: development and application of new technologies and practices via farmer-led and formal research; and application and adaptation of existing technologies and processes alongside traditional integrated farming systems. All in all it provides hope that we are beginning to ‘see the light’, but ensuring that this light burns brightly and continuously is another matter.

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Specialisation or diversification? Divergent perspectives on rice farming in three large dam-irrigated areas in the Sahel

This report is based on the main lessons and recommendations from three case studies analysing the strategies, aspirations and constraints of the various types of farmers living around the dams of Bagré (Burkina Faso), Sélingué (Mali) and Niandouba/Confluent (Senegal). The research, initiated by the Global Water Initiative (GWI) and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, aims to contribute to ongoing national and regional discussions on the policies and programmes needed to improve rice cultivation in dam-irrigated perimeters and to support farmers’ livelihoods.

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Towards Productive Landscapes: ETFRN News 56

The landscape approach has increasingly been promoted as a new perspective on addressing global challenges at a local level. In the face of increasing and competing claims to the land and the exhaustion of natural resources, planners, scientists and policymakers have come to realize the limitations of sectoral approaches. Integrated landscape level considerations have begun to supersede those restricted to, for instance, water, forests, farming and development programmes. Given this interest, and the potential impacts of such initiatives, it is important to learn from the many practical experiences in applying integrated landscape management throughout the world. This issue of ETFRN News 56, ‘Towards productive landscapes’, brings together 29 papers by practitioners from all over the world who highlight the successes and challenges of applying landscape approaches. Jointly, the articles explore: 1) the role of forests in mosaic landscapes; 2) governance arrangements at the landscape scale; and 3) key factors contributing to success in landscape management. This issue of ETFRN News results from a partnership between Tropenbos International (TBI) and the Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture (ILEIA), part of the AgriCultures Network dedicated to landscapes.

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Policy brief: Lessons from the landscape – approaches that work: Ensuring equitable benefits for forest and farming families

This policy brief introduces some common lessons seen where landscape approaches have worked. And it offers suggestions to rural development professionals that can help to consolidate and scale up the successes, for the benefit of the land and the lives of those who depend on it.

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Unlocking the potential of family farmers with agroecology

ILEIA contributed a chapter in the publication, Deep Roots, which includes 250 pages of images and articles contributed by agriculture and development experts, practitioners and scientists, giving us an idea of the importance of family farming around the world. The chapter provided by ILEIA on page 44-46 argues that agroecology is an approach that has proven to be able to unlock the great potential of family farmers. The article elaborates on the various special characteristics of family farmers, and explains how agroecology offers strategies that build on these characteristics, turning them into strengths. The chapter highlights examples from around the world where this approach has led to better food security, food sovereignty, income and independence for family farmers while contributing solutions to many problems the world faces today.

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2015 Family farming calendar

The photos in this calendar are all shortlisted entries to the 2014 International Year of Family Farming photo competition. The photo competition was organised on the occasion of the 2014 International Year of Family Farming by the AgriCultures Network and the World Rural Forum, in close collaboration with the Asian Farmers Association, CLOCLa Via Campesina and the More and Better Network. The photo competition jury consisted of Angèle Etoundi, Bernward Geier, S. Jayaraj, Tomás Munita, Deo Sumaj and Jun Virola.

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Agridape: Sustainable family farming

By devoting this issue (no. 29.4) to "sustainable family farming," LEISA seeks to contribute to this global effort to promote family farming, by sharing a series of innovative experiences that, for the most part, were implemented through IFAD-financed projects. These experiences are true endorsements for the sustainable valorization of family farming and poverty reduction in general.

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High-Altitude Rangelands and their Interfaces in the Hindu Kush Himalayas

This publication, issued on the 30th anniversary of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), contains a collection of papers and scholarly articles by ecologists, natural resource managers, and other professionals working on the high-altitude rangelands of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. The interfaces between high-altitude rangelands and other ecosystems in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region such as forests, wetlands and agricultural land are suffering from degradation, desertification and soil erosion, which are further aggravated by climatic and anthropogenic factors. However, more information is needed on the ecological role of high-altitude rangelands and their interfaces as a basis for developing and implementing plans for conservation and sustainable management of these fragile ecosystems. This volume has been compiled as a first step in addressing this knowledge gap.

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Non-governmental organizations and the sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises in Peru: An analysis of networks and discourses

This book provides a better understanding of the changing roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in promoting sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Peru. The book focuses on the domains of organic production, business social responsibility and sustainable production. The innovative study uses a combination of network and discourse analyses to identify the main patterns and shifts in the roles of NGOs in order to deal with sustainability and the market. Two major contemporary sociological theories - ecological modernization theory and network society theory - are applied to frame the analysis. The in-depth analysis of international networks of NGOs operating in Peru provide valuable inputs in terms of changes in network and discourse patterns, and consequently, changing roles for NGOs. Remarkably, social movement, liberal market and sustainability viewpoints are generating new networks and new discourses, with a prominent position of national and international NGOs vis-a-vis SMEs, and in absence of the national state. Next to the usual 'watchdog' roles, NGOs are developing roles of 'helper' in order to answer to the market needs of SMEs. The analyses challenges Castells scheme of space of flows versus space of place and suggests considering in ecological modernization theory both ecological rationality and social rationality in order to advance environmental governance of SMEs in developing countries, particularly in Latin America.

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PROTA : Ressources végétales de l'Afrique tropicale 7 (2) : Bois d'oeuvre 2

The second book, on timbers, in volume 7 of the prota encyclopaedia on useful plants originating from tropical Africa. While the first book in this volume described 511 species belonging to a selection of more than twenty botanical families, the second completes the inventory with 693 species whose primary use is also as timber.

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The value chain approach for mountain development: Case studies from Uttarakhand, India

The publication and its accompanying video were released at the International Conference ‘Addressing Poverty and Vulnerability in the Hindu Kush Himalayas’ in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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Organic supply chains for small farmer income generation in developing countries: Case studies in India, Thailand, Brazil, Hungary and Africa

Despite the increasing attention given to organic supply chains over the past decade, there are still significant market opportunities to pursue. The demand for organic products in developing countries continues to grow and price premiums for organic certified products are available, albeit not comparable with those of a decade or so ago. This paper focuses on case studies on organic rice in India and Thailand, horticulture products in Brazil and Hungary, and coffee and fruit in African countries. It first summarizes findings on the marketing, financing, post-harvest and value-added components of these organic ventures and then provides conclusions and recommendations for policy-makers, the private sector and support organizations for the future development of organic supply chains in developing countries.

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