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Opinions

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Opinion: A systems approach against poverty

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.

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Opinion: Food justice moving forward in the USA

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.

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Opinion: No agrobiodiversity without peasants

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.

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Opinion: A better way to feed Africa

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.

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Opinion: 2014 - Hope for family farmers

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.

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Opinion: This is the moment

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.

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Opinion: Inspiring forms of education

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.

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Opinion: Invest in people

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).

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Opinion: Getting a fair share

(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.

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Opinion: Breaking institutional barriers

(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.

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Opinion: Women - the primary link

(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?

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Opinion: Agro-ecology in action

(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.

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Opinion: Grass for carbon

(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.

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Opinion: Land sovereignty

(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.

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Opinion: What we need is to end hunger

(September 2012) There is a difference between producing more food and ending hunger, says Eric Holt-Giménez. To end hunger we must end poverty and inequality. Conventional agriculture’s record on these issues is abysmal. To end hunger we need agro-ecological approaches and structural reforms that ensure that resource-poor farmers have the land and resources they need for sustainable livelihoods.

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Opinion: A stock of social capital

(september 2012) Farmer organisations represent the social capital needed in the rural areas, says Thomas Mupetesi. National policy makers should pay attention to the role that farmers’ organisations can play in tackling environmental issues, building on what organisations like ours are doing. What we need to do is to share the lessons learnt and show what these organisations are already doing to respond to climate change.

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Opinion: Beyond value chains

Farmers need to participate in the processes that shape all rules and regulations, argues Christian Gouët.An approach such as the Participatory Generation of Positions and Proposals (PGPP) can help link these organisations with policy makers.

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Opinion: Food movements, unite!

The world's different food movements need to work together, argues Eric Holt-Giménez. The question facing them is “How can we, in all our diversity, converge to become powerful enough to transform the world’s food systems?” The answer is being forged daily, on the ground, as political alliances grow between producers, workers and consumers, and as social movements begin bridging North-South and urban-rural divides: “convergence in diversity”.

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Opinion: Goodbye bees – and thanks!

Honey bees are amazing creatures, but they are dying by the millions. John Wightman looks at our slow reaction to their disappearance, calling for someone to apply slow response thought processes so as to search for a global solutions. Quoting Einstein, if the bee disappears from the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.

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Opinion: Land is money

“Investments” in southern India have very negative consequences, says Suprabha Seshan. "In my immediate neighbourhood, a tea farm sells at 1 million rupees an acre. A few years ago it would have been a fifth of this price. Of course this means that rural people are leaving the countryside. They are leaving independent and stable (though, not easy) lives to become consumers in the shanty towns around cities."

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