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Daily Archives: December 8, 2018

SDG 2 – End hunger, achieve food security & improve nutrition – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

During the September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, hunger and food insecurity was one of the key topics of discussion, producing the SDG 2 – End Hunger and Achieve Food Security. Some targets were laid for this Sustainable Development Goal in a bid to achieve by 2030, to support some of the 1996 World Food Summit goals that never came to mature.

1. End the global hunger crisis and ensure all people, especially the poor, have access to sufficient and nutritious food.

The United Nations does not view hunger as just the scarcity of food but also as the inability of individuals to obtain what the FAO refers to as nutritious food. Most families in the Sub-Saharan region cannot afford a balanced diet more than twice in a week, something the UN believes is the main culprit behind malnutrition in the region. The plans are thus that as much as access to food is the main goal, access to right foods be given equal attention.

2. End the malnutrition monster and address the nutritional needs of infants, adolescents, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women.

3. Increase small-scale farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes through equal and secure access to land and other factors of production, financial services, knowledge, opportunities and markets for non-farm employment and value addition.

The main target persons here are fishers, pastoralists, family farmers, indigenous people and women, who are usually either neglected and their skills under-utilised, lack the right resources to invest in agriculture, or have little knowledge of what agriculture and modern methods of production really entail. If this plan is successfully executed, the UN projects a 230million reduction in the number of hungry people all across the globe.

4. Formulate measures to ensure the food commodity market and its derivatives functions properly, and that market information reaches farmers in time to avoid surprises on such market aspects as price volatility and demand variations.

These measures will be to ensure these new farmers-cum-entrepreneurs face as little risk of loss as possible while they strengthen their foundations and familiarise themselves with agricultural production and marketing.

5. Influence the redefinition of trade restriction policies and distortions in large world commodity markets in favour of the interests of these small-scale farmers.

This can be achieved through the removal of some or all forms of subsidies on agricultural exports, and all other restrictions that might discourage production, in accordance with the Doha Development Round mandate.

6. Encourage investment, through such methods as increased international cooperation, in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, technology development, agricultural research and extension services, and livestock and plant gene banks, as a way of enhancing the capacity of agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially the least developed ones.

7. By 2020, ensure the UN helps maintain the genetic diversity of domesticated and farmed animals and their related wild species, seeds and cultivated plants through establishment of diversified plant and seed banks at both the national and international levels. The body is also to ensure that benefits reaped from genetic resource utilization, as internationally agreed, are shared fairly and equally.

8. Formulate resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems that increase food production and productivity, help maintain ecosystems, boost adaptation to adverse weather conditions, climate change, flooding, droughts and diseases, and progressively boost soil and land quality.

Alarming Number of People Suffering from Hunger and Malnutrition

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation recently released a report which estimates that more than 800 million people of the 7.3 billion in the world (one in nine) are currently suffering from acute undernourishment. The report further affirms that almost 90% of the hungry people, 790 million, are residents of developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This represents one in eight or 13.5 percent of the total population of countries referred to as developing.

Between 1990-92 and 2012-14, the prevalence of undernourished people all over the world has reduced by 42% with only 9% of that being experienced in developing regions. Asia, being the most populous continent in the world, is home to 2/3 of the world’s undernourished people, but still boasts a better prevalence than the Sub-Saharan region where one in four people remain undernourished. Nonetheless, there has been a decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment in Sub-Sahara Africa from 33% in 1990-92 to 24% in 2012-14, although the number of people suffering undernourishment has actually increased.
The crisis takes its largest toll in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Southern Asian countries, with the 270 million acutely undernourished people in 2012/14 being a marginal decrease of the 1990-92 estimate. China and a few South-eastern Asian nations such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia have had cases of under-nutrition reducing by substantial rates while Latin America is the most successful among developing regions in fighting off hunger.

SDG 2 to Combat World Hunger

In the 1996 World Food Summit, it was resolved that the number of hungry people in developing nations be halved by 2015. A detailed plan for the same was laid and implementation took underway immediately. But then according to the 2012-14 study, the goal is unlikely to be achieved, though a significant reduction has been recorded and shall be further improved upon with the SDG 2. Latin America, the Caribbean region, South East Asia and East Asia have actually met the goal and now the major challenge remains the Sub-Saharan region.

On food security, the 2012-14 report shows that agriculture is still the world’s number one source of livelihood, with more than 40% of the total population depending solely on it. Particularly in the developing nations in Africa, agriculture has provided employment and proved an undisputed source of income in the last few decades. More than 80% of food consumed in the developing world originates from the 500 million small farms across the globe though the proportion has been on a steady decline lately.

The report further shows that men in these developing nations are far more productive than women, and that if women could access resources as easily as men, the number of hungry people in the world could reduce by 150 million.

Final Note

Just like poverty and disease, global hunger and food security is a subject that well merit the attention of international leaders, even from the most developed nations. Through correct practices of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, production of nutritious food can take place, decent incomes will be generated and our brothers from developing countries will have their lifestyles and living standards greatly improved. Right now our soils, oceans and rivers are getting degraded, but if these goals ever get to be implemented, it’s possible to have our old good planet back.

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Organic food, just no artificial chemicals? – Food Security and Food Justice – Ireti Adesida

Organic food, just no artificial chemicals? – Food Security and Food Justice – Ireti Adesida

Organic food is not just no pesticide and fertilizer, it involves the whole process of food production and a longer chain.

Are you an organic food consumer? What do you think about organic food compared with non-organic food, safer and healthier? Do you think you know enough about the meaning of “organic”?

Just no artificial chemical is not enough

In terms of “organic”,no synthetic chemical is a common sense for most of us. As an ordinary consumer, I had understood it like that for a long time, until I met and chatted with some local farmers in an organic market, I realized it’s not enough.

What’s “organic”?

Often regarded as safer, healthier and more environmentally friendly, “organic” is expanding in the world, meanwhile, similar but not standard regulations are accepted in different regions. However, the laws and regulations are too complex, I think most people prefer to accept the short and simple definition which claims the standard of organic food as “.

Generally, these laws and regulations of “organic” mean closer to nature. Here, I try to explain more about organic food from several dimensions.

Some key points related to organic

Sustainable seeds

Can you image seeds can’t be saved for the following year and farmers have to pay money to buy new seeds from seeds companies every year? That’s the truth of seed slavery. Seed monopoly is a serious global problem. Data shows, 67% of global seeds are monopolized by 10 big multinational corporations.

Monsanto, which is famous for the genuine modification seeds, accounts for the largest percentage (23%). GMOs not only make farmers rely more on capital and specialists, but also destroy the biodiversity.

Organic inputs

This is mainly in the process of growth. As mentioned at the beginning, in an organic farm, artificial chemicals, including — but not limited to — herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides and additive, which may lead to cancer or other diseases, are refused. Instead, organic substances are always used as alternatives. In addition, making use of the interaction of different species in an ecological system is also a practical method.

Although it seems consumers pay most attention to the point of artificial chemicals, after I talked with some organic farmers, I learned that some issues here are still often ignored, i.e., do the so-called organic fertilizers come from plants or animals organic enough? Is there no pesticide residue in soil?

Healthy soil

Soil is an often- ignored issue. Healthy soil is always ignored by consumers but it’s really significant. Active biomass in healthy soil is good to ecosystem and improve food production in a natural way. However, synthetic chemical is a soil microorganism killer in conventional agriculture.

In some organic farms which I visited in China, farmers spend several years on improving the soil which needs not only money and time but also the respect of nature and enough patience.

Picking ripe

In general, local food is suggested as more natural and healthier because less nutrition would be lost, also, the farmers can harvest ripe food. As we know, some foods are picked before they are ripe enough, allowing for softening time, like banana and avocado, to make sure they are still fresh when transferred to the supermarkets of a far country. It’s hard to identify they are organic or not, but at least not natural.

Natural farming

Several years ago, I saw someone criticized a girl’s yard as a mass, because in her photo on Weibo, different kinds of plants and grasses grew together, looked not so tidy. But the girl responded that it was “natural farming”. It was the first time I heard about this term.

Natural farming started in Japan and is popular in Asia, also called “do nothing farming” ( even driving away insects is unnecessary), reducing the material inputs and labor work, making use of biodiversity to improve the yields.

I regard this ecological approach as another level of organic. Is that a lazy work? No, it’s science and philosophy.

Organic & Food safe and justice

Why organic? As Committee on World Food Security pointed out, today, the rise of world hunger is still a big issue. On one hand, it seems unreality to make sure all people access to organic food. On the other hand, organic approach is safer in the whole process of production and food chain.

In my opinion, some ideas should be taken into consideration.

The core of this factors is to keep the ecology safe, to keep the land safe, healthy and in good condition in the long run, which means it’s also justice to the successors.

In conclusion, when we talk about organic food, not only using no artificial chemicals should be considered, but also the long chain, from the very beginning — seeds and soil, to the very end— harvest and future,  is needed to think about.

It’s not to say everyone should choose organic food, currently, people still rely on the high production and low price of conventional food. However, it’s necessary for consumers to learn more about organic food and the truth of what we eat everyday, then make choices which suit for ourselves.

SDG 2 – End hunger, achieve food security & improve nutrition

SDG 2 – End hunger, achieve food security & improve nutrition

During the September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, hunger and food insecurity was one of the key topics of discussion, producing the SDG 2 – End Hunger and Achieve Food Security. Some targets were laid for this Sustainable Development Goal in a bid to achieve by 2030, to support some of the 1996 World Food Summit goals that never came to mature.

1. End the global hunger crisis and ensure all people, especially the poor, have access to sufficient and nutritious food.

The United Nations does not view hunger as just the scarcity of food but also as the inability of individuals to obtain what the FAO refers to as nutritious food. Most families in the Sub-Saharan region cannot afford a balanced diet more than twice in a week, something the UN believes is the main culprit behind malnutrition in the region. The plans are thus that as much as access to food is the main goal, access to right foods be given equal attention.

2. End the malnutrition monster and address the nutritional needs of infants, adolescents, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women.

3. Increase small-scale farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes through equal and secure access to land and other factors of production, financial services, knowledge, opportunities and markets for non-farm employment and value addition.

The main target persons here are fishers, pastoralists, family farmers, indigenous people and women, who are usually either neglected and their skills under-utilised, lack the right resources to invest in agriculture, or have little knowledge of what agriculture and modern methods of production really entail. If this plan is successfully executed, the UN projects a 230million reduction in the number of hungry people all across the globe.

4. Formulate measures to ensure the food commodity market and its derivatives functions properly, and that market information reaches farmers in time to avoid surprises on such market aspects as price volatility and demand variations.

These measures will be to ensure these new farmers-cum-entrepreneurs face as little risk of loss as possible while they strengthen their foundations and familiarise themselves with agricultural production and marketing.

5. Influence the redefinition of trade restriction policies and distortions in large world commodity markets in favour of the interests of these small-scale farmers.

This can be achieved through the removal of some or all forms of subsidies on agricultural exports, and all other restrictions that might discourage production, in accordance with the Doha Development Round mandate.

6. Encourage investment, through such methods as increased international cooperation, in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, technology development, agricultural research and extension services, and livestock and plant gene banks, as a way of enhancing the capacity of agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially the least developed ones.

7. By 2020, ensure the UN helps maintain the genetic diversity of domesticated and farmed animals and their related wild species, seeds and cultivated plants through establishment of diversified plant and seed banks at both the national and international levels. The body is also to ensure that benefits reaped from genetic resource utilization, as internationally agreed, are shared fairly and equally.

8. Formulate resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems that increase food production and productivity, help maintain ecosystems, boost adaptation to adverse weather conditions, climate change, flooding, droughts and diseases, and progressively boost soil and land quality.

Alarming Number of People Suffering from Hunger and Malnutrition

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation recently released a report which estimates that more than 800 million people of the 7.3 billion in the world (one in nine) are currently suffering from acute undernourishment. The report further affirms that almost 90% of the hungry people, 790 million, are residents of developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This represents one in eight or 13.5 percent of the total population of countries referred to as developing.

Between 1990-92 and 2012-14, the prevalence of undernourished people all over the world has reduced by 42% with only 9% of that being experienced in developing regions. Asia, being the most populous continent in the world, is home to 2/3 of the world’s undernourished people, but still boasts a better prevalence than the Sub-Saharan region where one in four people remain undernourished. Nonetheless, there has been a decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment in Sub-Sahara Africa from 33% in 1990-92 to 24% in 2012-14, although the number of people suffering undernourishment has actually increased.
The crisis takes its largest toll in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Southern Asian countries, with the 270 million acutely undernourished people in 2012/14 being a marginal decrease of the 1990-92 estimate. China and a few South-eastern Asian nations such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia have had cases of under-nutrition reducing by substantial rates while Latin America is the most successful among developing regions in fighting off hunger.

SDG 2 to Combat World Hunger

In the 1996 World Food Summit, it was resolved that the number of hungry people in developing nations be halved by 2015. A detailed plan for the same was laid and implementation took underway immediately. But then according to the 2012-14 study, the goal is unlikely to be achieved, though a significant reduction has been recorded and shall be further improved upon with the SDG 2. Latin America, the Caribbean region, South East Asia and East Asia have actually met the goal and now the major challenge remains the Sub-Saharan region.

On food security, the 2012-14 report shows that agriculture is still the world’s number one source of livelihood, with more than 40% of the total population depending solely on it. Particularly in the developing nations in Africa, agriculture has provided employment and proved an undisputed source of income in the last few decades. More than 80% of food consumed in the developing world originates from the 500 million small farms across the globe though the proportion has been on a steady decline lately.

The report further shows that men in these developing nations are far more productive than women, and that if women could access resources as easily as men, the number of hungry people in the world could reduce by 150 million.

Final Note

Just like poverty and disease, global hunger and food security is a subject that well merit the attention of international leaders, even from the most developed nations. Through correct practices of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, production of nutritious food can take place, decent incomes will be generated and our brothers from developing countries will have their lifestyles and living standards greatly improved. Right now our soils, oceans and rivers are getting degraded, but if these goals ever get to be implemented, it’s possible to have our old good planet back.

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Policy Seminar: To Feed the World, Youth in Agriculture Required • The Hunger Project

Policy Seminar: To Feed the World, Youth in Agriculture Required • The Hunger Project

Policy Seminar: To Feed the World, Youth in Agriculture Required

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. and a 60% increase in current food production levels will be needed to feed everyone. Meanwhile, the average age of farmers throughout Africa and Asia is currently 60. So who will grow the food and build the resilient food systems necessary to sustain a growing population?

In a recent panel co-organized by The Hunger Project and IFPRI on Youth Required: Building Resilient Food Systems for a Sustainable World, development experts from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), IFPRI and The Hunger Project discussed the complex challenges in creating more youth employment opportunities in agriculture, making food systems better able to face climate change and other threats.

“Mass education has brought the status of agriculture down…. I’ve yet to meet a farmer who is educating his son to come back to farming,” said Vimlendra Sharan, director of FAO’s Liaison Office for North America. Youth hear “agriculture” and think “hopelessness,” Sharan said, adding that there is one acceptable form of “arranged marriage” in the working world: youth and agriculture. But, he concluded, it is preferable that this be a “love marriage” in which talented, educated and trained young people view it as a desirable, remunerative career.

“Millennials are absolutely disengaged when it comes to what the Sustainable Development Goals are, and what global development solutions look like,” said IFC Knowledge Management Specialist Claudia Koerbler, host of Global Storytelling for Global Development. With over 3 billion people able to access the Internet, continued Koerbler, social media platforms create innumerable opportunities for “social capacity development” to take place. Citing an example of a Kenya-based mango farmer using social media to share his story and an India-based mango farmer responding with his own best practices, she concluded that these online tools can be active agents of change for engaging youth.

It was only appropriate that a youth farmer join the panel via video. Alpha Sennonfounder and executive director of WhyFarm, stressed that sensitization to farming as a fulfilling occupation must start during childhood. Through what Sennon called “agri-tainment,”—including a superhero character named “AGRIMan”—children are learning that producing abundant and nutritious food is heroic. For youth, Alpha said it is all about framing: call it “swagriculture,” and youth will take pride in getting involved.

Even if societies begin promoting and valuing farming as a vital occupation, it is currently not lucrative and barely able to achieve self-reliance for smallholders, Thurlow noted. But there is time to act with today’s large cohort of youth: “We have half a century to get Africa ready for retirement!” he exclaimed. Large foreign companies’ increasing interest in Africa presents tremendous opportunities for youth participation, he said. Governments and organizations, he added, must create policy environments that help in expanding youth opportunities, in coordination with rapidly evolving technological advancements and their uptakes by industry.

At the same time, some of the panelists underscored the importance of empowering youth while at the same tie ensuring that young people continue to work with the rest of their communities. “We don’t want to lose the intergenerational component,” Costello said. “We still need the youth to not work exclusively among themselves, but to be working intergenerationally with the elders, with their policymakers, with older people who may currently be farmers or have jobs that could break into the agricultural sector.”

According to the panel, countries are in dire need of either overhauling or implementing existing policies that will make farming more profitable: social protection, access to credit, insurance and land, regulated prices and trade systems. Expanding market chains and opportunities in agriculture requires private sector investment and incentivizing policies. Sharan added that development professionals must do away with the fear of working with the private sector and instead strategize about how to develop effective partnerships.

We need to build out linkages between agriculture and other sectors, make children aware of food systems, and make agricultural technologies more affordable for smallholder farmers, panelists concluded, with Thurlow summing it up simply as, “we need less panic and more action.”

An earlier version of this blog post first appeared on IFPRI’s website. Mary Kate Costello is a Policy Analyst at The Hunger Project; Katarlah Taylor is an IFPRI Senior Events Specialist. 

Live well, waste less and watch that attitude… – Food Security and Food Justice

Live well, waste less and watch that attitude… – Food Security and Food Justice

It’s no surprise that Supermarkets are one of the main facilitators in an ever-present unsustainable food system. I am currently an employee at a local branch of a major Supermarket. Here, I will hold my hands up and say that, before I began my module on Food Security and Food Justice, I gave little thought to the impact my actions were having on the amount of waste food created by supermarkets daily. Therefore, I speak from experience when addressing the contributing factors to food waste found in my store. A mini research project if you will; concerned with the impact of Stock Replenishment/Rotation, Labelling/Reductions and Disposals/Initiatives. I want to show that, at its core, food waste is a behavioral issue that supermarkets aren’t doing enough to amend.

Stock Replenishment / Rotation

We are driven by aesthetics, something supermarkets utilize as a marketing tool; however, this also contributes massively to food waste. Research shows that customers are more likely to buy produce that is stacked high and plentiful . This expectation to provide such an excess of food means supermarkets often order too much and over display food.

Supermarkets halfhearted efforts to combat this self-inflicted problem is through employees rotating stock. Moving produce closer to its ‘Use by’ date to the front makes it the first thing customers see and buy. Few people fall for this however, with savvy shoppers rummaging to find the product which will last the longest. And why shouldn’t they? It would be a wasted opportunity and a waste of money for a customer to pick the shortest lasting date. Supermarkets would be wise to readdress how they replenish stock and to not under estimate their shoppers. Putting out single dated stock would save a lot of products going to waste. Stock rotation is not enough and is often done incorrectly. Limit choice, limit waste.

Labels & Reductions

A huge contributor to the surplus of food waste is the lack of standardization and incorrect labeling of food products, especially when it comes to ‘Best by’ and ‘Use by’ dates. We have become dependent on supermarkets to control our relationship with food, giving them undeserved authority. ‘Best by’ dates are merely an indication of quality not expiration whereas ‘Use by’ dates are an official safety recommendation for food consumption. Supermarkets want us to buy more so their ‘Best by dates are often defined by this and are often used to push sales. Many supermarkets have set out to amend this: Tesco have banned the use of ‘Best by’ dates to simplify labelling and Sainsburys have started to offer advice and recommendations on best by products in order to alter attitudes.  It’s a great start but we are still waiting for other supermarkets to follow suit as this confusion of dates and lack of understanding is often a large contributor to food waste. Solution revisit labels to educate customers.

Supermarkets excessive replenishing of stock and usage of ‘Best by’ and ‘Use by’ dates often cause a large quantity of items destined for reduction, something we do at regular intervals. I am a reduced section scavenger; I’m well aware that there’s something behind the psychology of the reduced sticker that makes shoppers buy excessively and often thoughtlessly. Reductions are a tool that prima-facie show supermarkets attempting to reduce food waste. However, it regularly leaves perfect food for disposal. Unfortunately, food waste doesn’t stop in store, reduced sections simply shift responsibility of food waste from supermarkets to costumers. The only way supermarkets can utilize a reduced section as an effective food waste tool is if they correctly educate people and to help break down stigma associated with most reduced items.

Disposals and Initiatives

To deal with the food left for disposal many supermarkets provide initiatives aiming to prevent it going to waste. Despite being a small store, my work is still expected to follow through with these initiatives. In the stock room of my store there is a poster which clearly asks what connections we have with food waste charities. Sadly, this poster is blank, and when I asked about it, I was met with shrugs, laughs and to be perfectly honest a lazy and uninterested attitude. I doubt however that my stores attitude is an anomaly. Supermarkets every day waste perfectly good food for avoidable reasons.

I’m aware that many charities take only specific donations, and this often is not what supermarkets have available, making maintaining partnerships difficult. However, poor attitudes or a lack of knowledge are not valid excuses. Tighter regulations need to be enforced to show that every store has a partner charity or an initiative that helps reduce food waste and employees should be made aware of the importance of this. In terms of addressing my own stores attitude I came across The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP). TRJFP is set up in Sheffield and in other cities across the UK. The project intercepts what would be food waste from supermarkets.  They make their own judgement on what is fit for human consumption and then filter them into many food waste reduction pathways.

TRJFPs Fuel For School project corresponds with the argument that food waste is primarily behavioural. Education is a tool for deterring attitudes and perceptions surrounding food waste. Supermarkets miss the mark when it comes to tackling this, often facilitating a particularly redundant relationship between food and customers. TRJFP began working with Primary Schools to prevent a negative relationship with food; offering open days and pop up markets.

If supermarkets cannot sell or take responsibility for the consumption of waste foods, then they should step up and join forces with projects such as this, being active advocates and advertising them too. This would tackle negative attitudes and subsequently begin to dint in the overall problem of food waste. Food waste should not be the full burden of charities and initiatives like TRJFP, therefore Supermarkets need to take a long look at themselves and the uniformity across all their stores.

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SDG 2 – End hunger, achieve food security & improve nutrition – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

During the September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, hunger and food insecurity was one of the key topics of discussion, producing the SDG 2 – End Hunger and Achieve Food Security. Some targets were laid for this Sustainable Development Goal in a bid to achieve by 2030, to support some of the 1996 World Food Summit goals that never came to mature.

1. End the global hunger crisis and ensure all people, especially the poor, have access to sufficient and nutritious food.

The United Nations does not view hunger as just the scarcity of food but also as the inability of individuals to obtain what the FAO refers to as nutritious food. Most families in the Sub-Saharan region cannot afford a balanced diet more than twice in a week, something the UN believes is the main culprit behind malnutrition in the region. The plans are thus that as much as access to food is the main goal, access to right foods be given equal attention.

2. End the malnutrition monster and address the nutritional needs of infants, adolescents, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women.

3. Increase small-scale farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes through equal and secure access to land and other factors of production, financial services, knowledge, opportunities and markets for non-farm employment and value addition.

The main target persons here are fishers, pastoralists, family farmers, indigenous people and women, who are usually either neglected and their skills under-utilised, lack the right resources to invest in agriculture, or have little knowledge of what agriculture and modern methods of production really entail. If this plan is successfully executed, the UN projects a 230million reduction in the number of hungry people all across the globe.

4. Formulate measures to ensure the food commodity market and its derivatives functions properly, and that market information reaches farmers in time to avoid surprises on such market aspects as price volatility and demand variations.

These measures will be to ensure these new farmers-cum-entrepreneurs face as little risk of loss as possible while they strengthen their foundations and familiarise themselves with agricultural production and marketing.

5. Influence the redefinition of trade restriction policies and distortions in large world commodity markets in favour of the interests of these small-scale farmers.

This can be achieved through the removal of some or all forms of subsidies on agricultural exports, and all other restrictions that might discourage production, in accordance with the Doha Development Round mandate.

6. Encourage investment, through such methods as increased international cooperation, in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, technology development, agricultural research and extension services, and livestock and plant gene banks, as a way of enhancing the capacity of agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially the least developed ones.

7. By 2020, ensure the UN helps maintain the genetic diversity of domesticated and farmed animals and their related wild species, seeds and cultivated plants through establishment of diversified plant and seed banks at both the national and international levels. The body is also to ensure that benefits reaped from genetic resource utilization, as internationally agreed, are shared fairly and equally.

8. Formulate resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems that increase food production and productivity, help maintain ecosystems, boost adaptation to adverse weather conditions, climate change, flooding, droughts and diseases, and progressively boost soil and land quality.

Alarming Number of People Suffering from Hunger and Malnutrition

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation recently released a report which estimates that more than 800 million people of the 7.3 billion in the world (one in nine) are currently suffering from acute undernourishment. The report further affirms that almost 90% of the hungry people, 790 million, are residents of developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This represents one in eight or 13.5 percent of the total population of countries referred to as developing.

Between 1990-92 and 2012-14, the prevalence of undernourished people all over the world has reduced by 42% with only 9% of that being experienced in developing regions. Asia, being the most populous continent in the world, is home to 2/3 of the world’s undernourished people, but still boasts a better prevalence than the Sub-Saharan region where one in four people remain undernourished. Nonetheless, there has been a decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment in Sub-Sahara Africa from 33% in 1990-92 to 24% in 2012-14, although the number of people suffering undernourishment has actually increased.
The crisis takes its largest toll in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Southern Asian countries, with the 270 million acutely undernourished people in 2012/14 being a marginal decrease of the 1990-92 estimate. China and a few South-eastern Asian nations such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia have had cases of under-nutrition reducing by substantial rates while Latin America is the most successful among developing regions in fighting off hunger.

SDG 2 to Combat World Hunger

In the 1996 World Food Summit, it was resolved that the number of hungry people in developing nations be halved by 2015. A detailed plan for the same was laid and implementation took underway immediately. But then according to the 2012-14 study, the goal is unlikely to be achieved, though a significant reduction has been recorded and shall be further improved upon with the SDG 2. Latin America, the Caribbean region, South East Asia and East Asia have actually met the goal and now the major challenge remains the Sub-Saharan region.

On food security, the 2012-14 report shows that agriculture is still the world’s number one source of livelihood, with more than 40% of the total population depending solely on it. Particularly in the developing nations in Africa, agriculture has provided employment and proved an undisputed source of income in the last few decades. More than 80% of food consumed in the developing world originates from the 500 million small farms across the globe though the proportion has been on a steady decline lately.

The report further shows that men in these developing nations are far more productive than women, and that if women could access resources as easily as men, the number of hungry people in the world could reduce by 150 million.

Final Note

Just like poverty and disease, global hunger and food security is a subject that well merit the attention of international leaders, even from the most developed nations. Through correct practices of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, production of nutritious food can take place, decent incomes will be generated and our brothers from developing countries will have their lifestyles and living standards greatly improved. Right now our soils, oceans and rivers are getting degraded, but if these goals ever get to be implemented, it’s possible to have our old good planet back.

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Fairtrade: Fair For Who? – Food Security and Food Justice – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

Fairtrade: Fair For Who? – Food Security and Food Justice – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

Fairtrade is all about improving conditions for the people at the bottom of the commodity chain. This means the farmers and workers in developing countries who allow us to have tea, coffee, bananas, gold, flowers, cotton and many other commodities we often take for granted. For every jar of coffee or bunch of bananas we consume, there is often a field of workers in inadequate conditions enabling us to have this. This is why Fairtrade aims to place more focus on these people, ensuring they benefit fairly from their hard work.

Food security refers to ‘reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food,’ something that many farmers in underdeveloped and developing countries lack. Through the use of Fairtrade, food security for the workers, their families and communities is supposed to increase, but this is not always the case.

Making the rich richer?

The question that always looms close to Fairtrade, is who is really benefiting? The first option is the intended group of workers and farmers. The second, and more controversial option, is the big corporations, the supermarkets, the plantation owners. It is claimed that for these groups, Fairtrade is merely a tool of marketing and deception. Given the money hungry Western world, it is not hard to see why this has become a fierce belief of many. Fairtrade produce is stocked in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose and many more. The Fairtrade logo allows supermarkets to have a higher moral and ethical standing in their industry, and gives them control of the profits made under the guise of helping the poor. For example, Johannessen et al analysed Fairtrade coffee produced in Guatemala and Nicaragua. Their findings demonstrated that as Fairtrade is a part of the conventional market in which the supply chain is controlled by multinational corporations, majority of the economic revenue from the coffee goes to the consumer countries. This is despite the emphasis which the consumer countries place on the producer benefits, which it turns out is only a small part of the picture. More specifically, research from non-profit organisation TransFair shows that, on average, from a 3.5oz Fairtrade chocolate bar costing $3.49, cocoa farmers receive only 3 cents. How can this be justified as fair for the farmers?

Disadvantages of Fairtrade

Not only do consumer countries reap the benefits of Fairtrade, the farmers in developing countries are disadvantaged because of it. Fairtrade intentions have been diluted the further down the supply chain you go, and farmers are often kept locked in poverty rather than alleviated from it.

Firstly, the notion of ‘Fairtrade absolutism’ comes to mind meaning Fairtrade cannot help all farmers. This refers to only a small proportion of farmers in developing countries being a part of Fairtrade schemes. Many of the poorest communities in rural areas will never encounter the types of of plantations that work with Fairtrade, instead they may face worse poverty, thus lower food security, as consumers buy produce with the Fairtrade logo over their non Fairtrade branded produce.

Secondly, although the labor standards of Fairtrade are clearly aimed at protecting exploited children, this does not always prevent it from happening. Often the children of the employed workers at plantations still work in fair trade certified farms as they are not classified as contracted workers, resulting in them being informally part of the plantations. However, it must be acknowledged that there has been very little reported about forced child labor at fair trade farms which is definitely an improvement from other plantations in developing countries.

Thirdly, often is the case that there is a market oversupply of certain fair trade products. Food surplus is already a very real issue regarding excess food and by attempting to deal with the problems in developing countries, Fairtrade is instead contributing to this issue. This is particularly the case with coffee. Coffee is one of the most sought after fair trade products, with sales constantly increasing. However, it has been claimed that coffee prices worldwide have been diminished due to the overabundance of coffee.

coffee price graph.png
This graph shows the high levels of coffee production correlate to lower prices, and therefore lower incomes, for the growers. This tends to be due to the increasing levels of supply which are not met with equally high levels of demand, hence causing market oversupply and food surplus.

Misleading logo

The Fairtrade logo can be somewhat misleading for many consumers. For example, market giant Nestlé, the world’s largest food and drink brand, uses the fair trade logo on their highly popular product Kit Kat. Thus many make the assumption that Nestlé is a fair trade company. However, this is not true as less than 3% of Nestlé’s cocoa purchases is incorporated into the chocolate bar Kit Kat.

Controversy relating to Nestlé comes as they have been accused of using the production of majority of their cocoa produce, which is not Fairtrade. This is ethically unsound and raises questions as to whether Fairtrade should be associated at all with a brand which violates their ethical standards, and whether the ties with such a distinguished brand is a higher priority than their morals.

For Future Fairness

Fairtrade itself acknowledges that they have many improvements and further changes to make to truly fulfil their aims of being fairer to the farmers and workers. Their own research has made it evident that they need to ‘deliver deeper impact for farmers and workers’. They claim this will be through dealing with the disproportions of power within the supply chain, empowering women, extending more core work to farm workers etc. Cynics will say that this is simply a way of the Fairtrade brand attempting to promote themselves as the chances of these improvements happening in the foreseeable future are slim, due to the power and influence that Western corporations have on Fairtrade.

Fairtrade have clearly bitten off more than they can chew.

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More food for thought – the Food Security Bill | PRS – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

More food for thought – the Food Security Bill | PRS – Ireti Adesida – Ireti Adesida

Freight traffic: Railways majorly transports bulk freight, and the freight basket has mostly been limited to include raw materials for certain industries such as power plants, and iron and steel plants. It generates most of its freight revenue from the transportation of coal (43%), followed by cement (8%), food-grains (7%), and iron and steel (7%). In 2018-19, Railways expects to earn Rs 1,21,950 crore from its freight traffic.

Passenger traffic:  Passenger traffic is broadly divided into two categories: suburban and non-suburban traffic.  Suburban trains are passenger trains that cover short distances of up to 150 km, and help move passengers within cities and suburbs.  Majority of the passenger revenue (94% in 2017-18) comes from the non-suburban traffic (or the long-distance trains).

Within non-suburban traffic, second class (includes sleeper class) contributes to 67% of the non-suburban revenue.  AC class (includes AC 3-tier, AC Chair Car and AC sleeper) contributes to 32% of the non-suburban revenue.  The remaining 1% comes from AC First Class (includes Executive class and First Class).

Railways’ ability to generate its own revenue has been slowing

The growth rate of Railways’ earnings from its core business of running freight and passenger trains has been declining.  This is due to a decline in the growth of both freight and passenger traffic.  Some of the reasons for such decline include:

Freight traffic growth has been declining, and is limited to a few items

Growth of freight traffic has been declining over the last few years.  It has declined from around 8% in the mid-2000s to a 4% negative growth in mid-2010s, before an estimated recovery to about 5% now.

The National Transport Development Policy Committee (2014) had noted various issues with freight transportation on railways.  For example, Indian Railways does not have an institutional arrangement to attract and aggregate traffic of smaller parcel size.  Further, freight services are run with a focus on efficiency instead of customer satisfaction.  Consequently, it has not been able to capture high potential markets such as FMCGs, hazardous materials, or automobiles and containerised cargo.  Most of such freight is transported by roads.

The freight basket is also limited to a few commodities, most of which are bulk in nature.  For example, coal contributes to about 43% of freight revenue and 25% of the total internal revenue.  Therefore, any shift in transport patterns of any of these bulk commodities could affect Railways’ finances significantly.

For example, if new coal based power plants are set up at pit heads (source of coal), then the need for transporting coal through Railways would decrease.  If India’s coal usage decreases due to a shift to more non-renewable sources of energy, it will reduce the amount of coal being transported.  Such situations could have a significant adverse impact on Railways’ revenue.

Freight traffic cross-subsidises passenger traffic

In 2014-15, while Railways’ freight business made a profit of about Rs 44,500 crore, its passenger business incurred a net loss of about Rs 33,000 crore.17  The total passenger revenue during this period was Rs 49,000 crore.  This implies that losses in the passenger business are about 67% of its revenue.  Therefore, in 2014-15, for every one rupee earned in its passenger business, Indian Railways ended up spending Rs 1.67.

These losses occur across both suburban and non-suburban operations, and are primarily caused due to: (i) passenger fares being lower than the costs, and (ii) concessions to various categories of passengers.  According to the NITI Aayog (2016), about 77% to 80% of these losses are contributed by non-suburban operations (long-distance trains).  Concessions to various categories of passengers contribute to about 4% of these losses, and the remaining (73-76%) is due to fares being lower than the system costs.

The NITI Aayog (2016) had noted that Railways ends up using profits from its freight business to provide for such losses in the passenger segment, and also to manage its overall financial situation.  Such cross-subsidisation has resulted in high freight tariffs.  The NTDPC (2014) had noted that, in several countries, passenger fares are either higher or almost equal as freight rates.  However, in India, the ratio of passenger fare to freight rate is about 0.3.

Impact of increasing freight rates

The recent freight rationalisation further increases the freight rates for certain key commodities by 8.75%, with an intention to improve passenger amenities.  Higher freight tariffs could be counter-productive towards growth of traffic in the segment.  The NTDPC report had noted that due to such high tariffs, freight traffic has been moving to other modes of transport.  Further, the higher cost of freight segment is eventually passed on to the common public in the form of increased costs of electricity, steel, etc.  Various experts have recommended that Railways should consider ways to rationalise freight and passenger tariff distortions in a way to reduce such cross-subsidisation.

For a detailed analysis of Railways revenue and infrastructure, refer to our report on ‘State of Indian Railways’.

http://www.prsindia.org/theprsblog/more-food-thought-food-security-bill

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Food Security and Nutrition Agenda of Afghanistan – Ireti Adesida

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Food Security and Nutrition Agenda of Afghanistan – Ireti Adesida

Celebrating the first anniversary of the Food Security and Nutrition Agenda of Afghanistan

On 12th November 2018, in conjunction with the AFSeN-A Second-High Level Steering Committee meeting, the first anniversary of the Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda and Afghanistan union with the SUN Global Movement was celebrated in the office of the Chief Executive.

H.E. The Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdulla in his opening remarks appreciated one year progresses and indicated that given the current context, we should do more to improve the food security and nutrition situation in Afghanistan.

H.E Nasrullah Arsalai the Director General of the Council of Minsters’ Secretariat, the government coordinator for the agenda and Afghanistan focal point for the SUN Global Movement, updated participants on AFSeN-A one year achievements and shed lights on next year actions. Dr. Said Shamsul Islam Shams, the coordinator of the technical secretariat presented the multi-stakeholder food security and nutrition strategic plan and the concept on Afghanistan National Food Authority which were welcomed by participants.

Ministers and head of UN and development organizations pledged their commitment to continue supporting the AFSeN-A in the future.

AFSeN-A video clip and Video message of Gerda Verburg the SUN Coordinator for the first anniversary were displayed which were much appreciated.  Awards and appreciation letters were distributed to key players and stakeholders who supported the AFSeN-A and ensured active participation in coordination platforms in the past year.

H.E. @AfgExecutive presents an award to @UNICEFAfg Deputy Representative, Stefano Savi, recognizing UNICEF’s support to the #Afghanistan Food Security and Nutrition Agenda (AFSeN-A). In 2017, #Afg joined the @SUN_movement, becoming its 60th member. #ForEveryChild, nutrition pic.twitter.com/5wl3QAzvgT

— UNICEF Afghanistan (@UNICEFAfg) November 14, 2018