Each day we are posting three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?
1. Koos Michel, Oxfam Novib, Netherlands says:
“We need massive public investment in transfer of low cost simple technologies and innovations to millions of smallholder families, especially focused on women farmers (as they do the majority of the work) that help increase their food security, maintain and increase their productivity in a sustainable way, and increase their resilience to the increasing climate variability. We have seen many successful examples that can be scaled-up, and we are working on a coherent proposal to bring this together in a common framework. The work needs to be complemented with government policies and private sector linkages, empowerment of (women) farmers and their producer organizations, so that extra production doesn’t lead directly to price falls.
We don’t believe in simple solutions based on subsidized fertilizers and “miracle” seeds. In many countries there is a more profound problem of increasing soil degradation that has to be tackled with a combination of measures that can restore organic matter and retain moisture in the soil that require mostly transfer of knowledge and farming techniques and not expensive inputs.”
2. Don Seville, Sustainable Food Lab, Vermont, USA says:
“I work with the private sector and NGOs to build linkages before “formal markets” (those with food safety requirements, high quality and traceability goals, etc) and small scale producers in Central America and Africa that are in need of better markets and incomes. I would like to see more funding targeted to infrastructure for small-scale farmers that would help them participate in these more stable and value-added markets. There isn’t for the poorest farmers–these are farmers have the potential to meet modern market requirement with the right side of capacity building, infrastructure, and market linkages.
Often missing from the efforts to link farmers to markets are the investments in irrigation, storage, packaging, and transportation that would allows small scale farmers (in collaboration through an intermediary) to provide consistent higher quality products. There are some interesting innovations in irrigation systems that have even potential for farmers that lease land; of course, it also depends on good watershed planning and investment which is another important investment area.
Farmers also need good commercial support in their linkages to the private sector. For small scale producers to act as consistently as a larger agricultural producers, the intermediary (cooperative, marketing association, trader, private company, etc) needs to be even more sophisticated to be both professionally consistent in delivery and quality and maintain transparency to the farmers. The other priority I see is the need to invest in sustainable agriculture — particularly in building organic matter in soils, which can sequester carbon (good for climate change) and improve productivity (good for food security and markets). We need research, incentives, and extension to rapidly scale up adaption of practices.”
3. Ron Gretlarson says:
“I would like to see more agricultural funding (in every country, but especially in Africa) devoted to the promises of Biochar. The reasons are threefold: increased availability of ag residues for household energy purposes (need funding for lower-cost char-producing stoves), beginning the task of taking carbon out of the atmosphere (carbon negativity needed to get to 350 ppm), and most importantly improved ag output (seems to be getting a doubling of yield in Africa, even with no or reduced fertilizer.)”
Want to read more responses?
See PART I to hear from Dave Andrews (USA), Dave Johnstone (Cameroon), Pierre Castagnoli.
See PART II to hear from Paul Sinandja (Togo), Dov Pasternak (Niger), and Pascal Pulvery (France).
See PART III to hear from Christine McCulloch (UK), Hans R Herren (VA), and Amadou Niang.
What is your answer? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg.
Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in the New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and
Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She is currently traveling across Africa looking at innovations that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty and blogging everyday at Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet. She has a regular column with the Mail & Guardian, the Kansas City Star, and the Huffington Post and her writing was been featured in newspapers across Africa including the Cape Town Argus, the Zambia Daily Mail, Coast Week (Kenya), and other African publications. She holds an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in environmental policy from Monmouth College.