Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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1. Theresa Endres, World Vegetable Center, Mali says:

“I would like to emphasize the need to strengthen a multidisciplinary and holistic research and development approach.”

2. Gezahegn Ayele says:

“I would like to see more funding directed to market development in the context of Value chain.”

3. Kephas Indangasi, Turkana Livestock Development Project, Brussels says:

“The issue of food security, a thematic area where I spend my time making my contribution to facilitate food security of the most vulnerable communities of the ASALs Horn of Africa, is my first choice in the following ways. Most of those who are food insecure should be supported to make a contribution towards food production not only for subsistence but also for the market. More funding should be directed toward increasing and safeguarding food production systems among the vulnerable (food insecure communities). Food relief increases the tendency of dependency on others, thus furthering food insecurity, while facilitating those food insecure communities shall enable them to safeguard their sources of food and also make a contribution of food onto the market for those who do not have an opportunity to produce de to being of alternative service or occupation to the society.”

photo credit: Bernard Pollack

4. Betty Maeda says:
“I would like to see more agriculture funding directed towards educating and empowering small scale farmers.”

5. Mary Mavanza, Jane Goodall Institute, Tanzania says:

“I would like to see more funding directed to improve quality of agricultural products and link local producer associations with international markets.”

6. Naude Malan, University of Johannesburg, South Africa:

“The world food system reflects how our society is constructed and these imply problems that concern the sustainability of development, the loss of biodiversity, and the inequitable redistribution of the benefits of development. Agricultural funding should be directed to address these problems, but this is a complex solution. We need to investigate how agriculture could become a means to transform our society to one where biodiversity is treasured; we need to direct funding to the preservation of wild genetic resources and the use, domestication and improvement of new crops in our food systems. I know of many ‘wild’ crops that are used in traditional cuisine in my country and we should be cultivating and eating these.

The next issue would be to supplement the biological effort of utilising new crops with social scientific strategies and social policies that would do the following: distribute land and competence to farm the land equitably. The equitable ownership of land and cultivating the ability of those disenfranchised from land to farm the land could be more important in the long run than merely securing biodiversity, as it is our use of land and crops that is key to their survival outside protected areas. Agriculture represents a huge opportunity to equitably integrate the poor into the market and in this way create opportunities for them to improve their lives.”

Photo credit: Bernard Pollack

7. Eric Kisiangani, Practical Action, Kenya says:

“Many small-scale farmers feel that markets often reward them inadequately for their produce. Consequently, they become de-motivated from investing and making improvements in their production systems management of the natural resource. More donor investments should be redirected towards improving strategies that enable farmers to realize price rewards that they will be happy with for their produce. A range of interventions including strengthening producer groups into cooperatives, skill development in agro-processing and value addition, communal storage to absorb the glut during harvesting, cold storage facilities etc.”

8. Stephen Muchiri says:

“My response is that more funds should be directed towards supporting small holder farmers, especially functions that support them to develop pro-poor infrastructure, like storage, agroprocessing, pro-poor polices in agriculture and trade, pro-poor agriculture credit access, pro-poor communication and information systems and generally capacity to meet national and regional markets.”

9. Luis Gasser says:

“This is clearly a million dollar question. Not easy to answer. All of us who are in some way involved in rural development or agriculture know where we want to see more money being spent. But things are not that obvious. We have to ask ourselves what merit there can be in increasing the ecological footprint of communities by encouraging them to abandon subsistence farming methods and by introducing them to market-oriented agriculture, or even worse, commercial farming? It is a fallacy to believe that communities can actually improve their living standards by increasing agricultural output. Non-agricultural activities are most likely the only way towards a perceived higher living standard.  People can use their traditional or remarkable new skills to produce non-agricultural products for market or to provide services. They may need help but this path will give them a fair opportunity to do something about their own lives. It’s giving people a chance to make use of their unused skills and talents rather than forcing them to stay in farming. Nobody must think that all those people in developing countries involved in farming are actually farmers out of free choice. Most of them will be happy to abandon farming altogether or even to leave their land for other opportunities. It is a mistake to make people believe that increasing agricultural output could be a possible solution to the misery in countless rural communities in developing countries. Far too much effort has been put into promoting high input agricultural methods without noticeable improvement. Any aid program offered should always try to build upon proven survival strategies and the wisdom of local communities.

People know what they need the most. They surely need food security but they also need freedom of choice.  This is where more funding should be directed, namely into education, training, extension services for farmers, as well as all other aspects of food security that will allow local communities to improve and make best use of their natural resources and have alternatives to farming.  It may sound contradictory but a lot more agricultural funding must be diverted to opening the doors to those who want to leave agriculture altogether. But food security, a very complex issue, must not be compromised or neglected. More funds must be directed to local communities (e.g. mini loans) so that they may themselves deal with this issue, but not necessarily without outside supervision, guidance, and assistance. Why not allow a greater diversity in economic and social development, particularly when it comes to the issue of food security?”

What is your answer? Email me at [email protected] or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg.

Danielle Nierenberg
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
other publications.

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.
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