A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Let’s not be dogmatic about farming methods, many options are needed. Options are precisely what smallholders lack. At best these farmers live imprisoned in “either/or” lives filled with heart-wrenching choices. The rich world must foster equal access to farming essentials and above all choice, for smallholders are indispensable to the future of agriculture.
The consumer is king in agriculture. Until aware consumers change their behaviour, the smallholder farmer will get good words, symbolic gestures, and little else. Consumers need to meet producers halfway by paying a fair price and sharing the risk.
By Sonali Bisht, founder of INHERE (India)
Every perceived ill of US farming boils down to too few farmers working to feed too many people. The challenge is to get more young people farming, and help them through the early years when they must focus on learning their craft.
By Michael O’Gorman. Founder of the Farmer Veteran Coalition
If we are to survive climate change, we must adopt policies that let peasants diversify the plant and animal varieties on our menus. Only they have the know-how and patience to find out what plants and livestock will thrive where. A fundamental change in the regulatory machinery is needed.
By Pat Mooney, Co-founder and executive director of the ETC Group
The future has arrived, it’s just not at the scale required. The spread of bottom-up approaches to farmer innovation, coupled with breakthrough technology developed by input companies, will make smallholders productive and profitable. Crucially, new technologies must be accessible, appropriate and affordable.
By Kavita Prakash-Mani, Head of Food Security Agenda, Syngenta International
Experts’ ideas about how resource-poor farmers could improve productivity ought to be guided by indigenous knowledge. Low-cost, micro-innovations that make use of local resources have great potential but are often overlooked by mainstream developers of agricultural technology.
By Dr. Florence Wambugu, CEO, Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International (AHBFI)
Striving to produce ever more food is the wrong starting point for achieving food security. Instead, let’s focus on reducing inequalities by giving small-scale farmers’ more control, valuing their knowledge, and removing barriers that hamper women’s ability to farm on equal terms.
By Rokeya Kabir, Executive Director of Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS)
If poor farmers had more freedom to innovate and adequate access to public and private investments, they would likely disappoint us by getting out of farming altogether. But even if only one or two in five remained, they would change the world for the better, literally.
By Julio A. Berdegué, Principal Researcher, Latin American Centre for Rural Development (RIMISP)
Nothing is as ironic as the fact that we indigenous peoples, who brought so many foods to the world, lack the means to escape poverty and malnutrition. Having control over what we produce, how and when we do it, and power over its distribution will allow us to build sustainable livelihoods. We call that food sovereignty.
By Tarcila Rivera Zea, Director of the Centre for Peru’s Indigenous Cultures (CHIRAPAQ)