Historically, scientists learnt from farmers to unravel the interplay between nature and farming. Pablo Tittonell believes that this year, the International Year of Soils, presents an opportunity to foster a true dialogue of wisdoms, bringing farmer knowledge and scientific knowledge closer together again.
Marcela Villareal says that healthy soils are essential for healthy lives. And, there is an urgent need to ensure the sustainable management of soils to ensure sustainability and food and nutrition security for all.
We are told that high input agriculture will boost food production in Africa. A persistent worry for Million Belay is the loss of knowledge related to our nutritious, traditional crops if they succeed.
We need to introduce the genes of multiple species to our own genes to help our bodies adapt and evolve within our changing world. We need dietary diversity, says Zayaan Khan.
Million Belay tells the story of how Aman Mame reads his landscape, and uses it to explain how social memory provides the context for responding to ecosystem change.
We need more farmers, not less, says John D. Liu. But as farmers can help limit climate change and increase biodiversity, so shouldn’t they be paid for more than simply the food that they produce?
Why is poverty deepening in Africa even when millions of dollars continue to be poured in to alleviate it?, asks Million Belay. He answers by highlighting how we need to promote agroecology, treat agriculture as a system, and move away from green revolution approaches.
Navina Khanna introduces the food justice movement in the USA, and how from the corner shop to Capitol Hill, communities are making waves, and fighting for fairer policies in both corporate and governmental sectors.
Governments and intergovernmental agreements on agrobiodiversity do not improve farmer and indigenous rights, the team of GRAIN argues. The peasants who are keeping agrobiodiversity alive are under threat from the rapid expansion of industrial farming. We need to fight for food sovereignty to preserve local agrobiodiversity.
We see an erosion of knowledge about our agrobiodiversity all over Africa, Million Belay says. Culture is at the centre of agrobiodiversity protection, he argues, and Africa’s agriculture policies should support this. There is a better way to feed Africa while maintaining our cultural practices in harmony with nature.
The International Year of Family Farming comes at a time when the majority of agricultural policies do not meet the needs of family farmers, particularly of women. Yet, family farmers deserve to be supported for many different reasons. Fatou Batta, in her last column of 2013, gives some suggestions for appropriate measures for supporting family farmers.
2014 has been declared the International Year of Family Farming by the UN. The preparations for the IYFF are already causing an unprecedented movement. José Antonio Osaba and Laura Lorenzo of the World Rural Forum share their visions on the potential of this year.
The UN’s decade of education for sustainable development (2005-2014) has brought few benefits for the rural population in the Sahel. Most of the region’s education programmes are inadequate, discriminating against girls and not taking into account the differing social, cultural and economic contexts. Yet it is also possible to find many effective strategies. Fatou Batta looks at some of these inspiring forms of education.
When the focus is on group learning and innovation, and building on what participants know and wish to learn and apply, field-based education can be relatively low-cost and yield rapid improvements in production. Peter Ton argues for farming-oriented education, presenting the positive results seen with Farmer Field Schools (FFS).
(June 2013) In today’s globalised world it is often hard for small-scale producers to access such markets on equitable terms. Development agencies need to make sure that the concerns of these farmers are taken into account in national policies, argues Fatou Batta.
(June 2013) Female entrepreneurs are a formidable force in Zimbabwe's rural areas. Shiela Chikulo argues for public policies and private support. This will help them continue supporting their families, while simultaneously contributing to economic recovery and growth.
(March 2013) Fatou Batta looks at the key role women play in African agriculture.They do more than 70% of the work on the land, and are responsible for almost all processing activities. But do we understand clearly enough the roles of rural women farmers? How can we provide women with strategic support that can enable them to influence agriculture policies?
(March 2013) The System of Rice Intensification is a very good example of agro-ecology in action, argues Rik Thijssen.Some thirty years ago, near the town of Nagua in the Dominican Republic, small-scale rice farmers were experimenting with transplanting seedlings.Today, just like back then, farmers are taking the lead.
(December 2012) David Millar looks at some of the obstacles to tree-planting in northern Ghana and identifies other strategies for combating climate change.Better grassland management provides an opportunity for northern Ghana to participate in the global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, benefit from the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM), provide income generation opportunities and efficiently contribute to the fight against desertification.
(December 2012) Eric Holt-Gimenez argues the need for a pro-active movement based on land sovereignty to fight land grabbing.Farmers’ organisations, social movements and development NGOs need to find “common ground” to protect peasant farmers, forest dwellers, indigenous communities, family farmers and urban agriculture from the devastation of dispossession.