To avoid food crisis of the sort seen in 2008, we must enable millions of farm families, to increase crop production, sustainably through effective markets, more collaborative research and knolwedge sharing.
Retrurning crops and the farmer to the centre of policy decisions is fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to sustainable development.
In order to avoid food crisis of the sort seen in 2008, we must work together to enable millions of farm families, especially small holders and women farmers, to increase crop production, sustainably through the maintenance of effective markets, more collaborative research and committed knowledge sharing.
Our experience as a private partner is than in most countries, the main constraint is not availability of technology or knowledge, but how to deliver the same to the farmers’ gate. We call this ‘last-mile delivery’ of knowledge, tools, services, innovation and markets.
In a world where population and consumption are rapidly growing, working towards food security for all, including the availability, accessibility and affordability of sufficient food with the required nutrient value, is a responsibility shared by farmers, businesses, governments and other representatives of society.
Central to the solution are millions of farmers around the world who produce all the food we eat. Many of these farmers are trapped in a cycle of poverty.
By improving their incomes through lastmile delivery of better tools, knowledge, partnership and market access, we can not only create a sustainable solution to poverty, but also help address the challenges to food and nutrition security.
Some projects can be carried out by the private sector alone but we need to work hand-in-hand with governments if we want to make a dramatic difference in the lives of millions of people. Our coalition, Farming First, calls on all stakeholders to work to avoid another food crisis and to achieve the MDGs.
To do so, governments need to: Raise productivity levels exponentially, Devise long-term agricultural development strategies that support the development of local agricultural markets and focus on farmers’ needs, Target women farmers, in view of their vital roles in the agricultural workforce, household food procurement and preparation and family unit support, and Support policies that encourage investment in the agriculture sector in developing countries.
More specifically, governments need to invest in agricultural education programmes to train agronomists, extension workers and agro-input dealers.
Voluntary certification programmes should be developed on a large scale, as is being done in the US by the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) programme of the American Society of Agronomy.
This is the single-largest certification programme in agriculture, with over 13,000 certified advisers throughout the US and Canada. This programme has been extended to India and Argentina.
To ensure the last-mile delivery of knowledge, similar certified schemes are needed in most developing countries in order to train and certify crop specialists who can provide focused extension services to farmers, starting with the selection of the right seed varieties and continuing through nutrition, pest and post-harvest management.
Governments need to invest in the development of input-output infrastructure. One of the IFA’s member companies, Yara International, recently launched the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor Project together with the government of Mozambique and other stakeholders.
Through a cluster approach, the project aims to provide easy access to electricity, irrigation and a transport network for market access in order to develop the potential of 10-million hectares of arable land.
Massive investment in irrigation, port facilities, railroads and feeder roads needs to made in a concerted manner to serve agricultural and food markets — not just at the national level but also a regional one.
Select examples can be scaled up for many countries facing similar constraints. Even though structural transformations are important in the longer term, more immediate improvements in the welfare of poor households can be realised through agriculture, thus directly contributing to the achievement of MDG1 by 2015.
To bridge the gap in the delivery of services, we need to work with farmers throughout the crop lifecycle, with regard to all farm inputs. An initiative called Farming First proposes a six-point action for promoting sustainable farming:
Bring all stakeholders together,
Include the agri-input dealers into the extension network,
Use the cellular phone network to daily message farmers vital information in their local language,
‘Get local’ and engage on an ongoing basis, to factor in acute regional differences in language, diet and agronomic practices,
Innovate partnerships in relation to food and nutrition security and public health, and
Organise the small farmers with holdings less than two hectares — the vast majority of farmers in the world — into groups that can establish partnerships with the corporate sector in order to achieve economies of scale, improve income levels and respond better to market needs.
Posted by Jitendra Kumar Nigam , CEO at Qualitas Crop Sciences Pvt Ltd | 14 Jul, 2010
Posted by Adiseshan Bharathi,In Charge at Sri Vinayaka Enterprises|13 Jul, 2010
Posted by ashok sehgal , president at gmecg | 13 Jul, 2010
Posted by prasanta misra , chief consultant at government of india | 13 Jul, 2010
Posted by George Varuggheese,President at Godimages Good Governance Society|12 Jul, 2010
Posted by Jitendra Kumar Nigam | 12 Jul, 2010
Posted by p.Satya Narayana | 12 Jul, 2010
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