As we marked World Food Day yesterday – there was a certain ironic discussion going on in our house – what to send our9 year old son into school with for the harvest assembly this week?
My dilemma – to reach to the back of the food cupboard to find a tin (as requested by the school!) or something fresh from the garden….squash, beetroot or plums?
Well I’ll leave that dilemma for you to speculate…but if you’re looking this week to do something in your school assembly around harvest, then do look at our new Food and Sustainability part of our Schools website.
It’s packed with activities for teachers and has links to examples of inspirational food producers stories around the world.
Good luck and any suggestions of what to send welcome…
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Dateline: Thika, Kenya
As the cicadas chirp, the frogs croak and the October full moon bathes
the flame trees of Thika, I’m celebrating the successes of our ally
PELUM Kenya on a balmy evening with friends from 3 continents who have
gathered to defend agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty. We have
been finding ways of strengthening the knowledge systems of small-scale
food producers, mostly women, who provide most of the food for Africans
and, indeed, as they do for many in the rest of the world, including Europe.
Recently, at the Nyeleni Europe 2011 forum for food sovereignty we committed to
rename 16 October as World Food Sovereignty Day. There are many related
events in the UK over Sept and Oct that are celebrating the realisation of food
sovereignty worldwide. It started with the UK Food Group conference, on 27
Sept “The Food Producers” with speakers from African, UK and International
On 18 Oct the APPG agroecology and War on Want are urging people to
join the food sovereignty revolution.
It encourages us, as we were urged at the Small is… festival last month in our lively Sunday morning session on ‘food’, to: Be inspired; Be energised; Challenge, resist, and dismantle those who destroy local food production; Champion the knowledge and skills, the technologies of the small-scale food providers who feed the world; Defend their position internationally, including in the discussions about land grabbing, agricultural investment, food speculation, nutrition, governance and more, which are being discussed this coming week in Rome at the UN’s Committee on world Food Security (CFS) at which I will be representing the organisation.
Join us in alliances that support the social movements of these small-scale
food providers who will our secure future food.
Celebrate 16 October by calling for Food Sovereignty now!
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The hill and mountain districts of far and mid-western Nepal have been hit by persistent food insecurity. The agricultural produce is not sufficient for household consumption in many areas of the country due to high dependency on subsistence agriculture, very small land holdings, inequality in land holdings, low productivity, limited agricultural infrastructure, use of traditional tools and lack of appropriate technologies.
In my recent visit to one of the Practical Action’s project sites in mid-west Nepal I saw a ray of hope where people were continuing the land leasing approach for food production introduced by Practical Action.
Practical Action, with support of the European Union, implemented a food security project in this area, focusing on a land leasing approach targeting smallholder farmers who owns less than 0.05 hectare of land or are landless.
The project has supported the group of small land-holding or landless farmers in accessing the land through a land leasing approach. The project has also people in accessing various appropriate agricultural technologies, extension services, agri-infrastructures and linking with markets.
A survey indicated that the proportion of project households having food sufficiency for less than three months has been decreased to 6.7% from 58.3%. The study also revealed that the food sufficiency for three to six months, six to nine months and more than nine months have been increased to 41, 33.8 and 18.5% from 28, 10.7 and 2.9 per cent respectively.
The smallholding farmers, who I met recently, were very happy and were continuously practicing the plastic house technology and micro irrigation technology in their leased land. They were receiving support from the local agro-vets and local resource people developed by the project. It is encouraging that from the selling of the vegetables and other agricultural produces, they were able to buy some pieces of land on their own where they can grow more produce to fulfill their food need.
With this evidence, I think the land leasing approach can be a sustainable approach that can be replicated elsewhere while working with the smallholders or landless farmers to secure or improve their food security conditions.5 Comments » | Add your comment
World Food Day gives us an opportunity to not only reflect but also to rethink how we can, in our capacities, feed the world.
Feeding the world is one of today’s biggest challenges for many countries, especially in the greater Horn of Africa where more than 11 million people face starvation. In recent months, millions went hungry and countless malnourished children died. Many are still without food today. This was, and still is, without doubt, a major world crisis. In Kenya, nomadic pastoralists living in the fragile northern parts of the country are particularly at risk. Women, the old and children under five are worst affected.
The region has suffered from more intense recurring drought and flooding over the years. The affected populations who have witnessed the negative effects now associated with climate change know the consequences of these natural and man-made disasters. The levels of malnutrition and famine have reached their highest percentages.
The distressing experiences of their tales haunt those who dare spare some time to ‘feel them’. One such statement is from Kausa, a 50-year-old grandmother, we met in Elwak, northern Kenya, two months ago.
“As a woman, it hurts to see my children cry with hunger,” she said. “It’s more painful as a mother to tell them that I don’t have any food to give them.”
The sheer need of this situation only confirms my belief that Practical Action’s long term development work, which is reaching out to these vulnerable communities to increase their resilience to climate change and drought, is needed now more than ever.
We know that pastoralism will be seriously affected by climate change but on the degree and locations of these impacts we are less certain. But unless we put in place adaptation to climate change, many millions of the poorest already negatively affected by food insecurity and other challenges will continue to suffer the most.
Tackling food insecurity/hunger requires more than just increasing livestock production and farm outputs. We should all aim to produce sufficient food to supply the full nutritional requirements of the human species whilst attempting to live in harmony with the natural environment and its finite resources.
Simple calculated steps on the choice and use of appropriate technologies can, and always will, yield good results. A vital step is to empower these vulnerable communities and groups to take control and increase their own food production. And to do this, we have to combine the best of all approaches to sustainably to improve the food security situation.
For the pastoralists, whose mainstay is best suited for the fragile ecosystems they inhabit, it is time to put in place pro-pastoralist policies and interventions that will lead to the industry being not only profitable, but competitive, more resilient, better able to provide environmental benefits and give greater choice, innovation and value to producers for them not to rely on relief aid.
Sustaining the above wishes will of course require huge commitment and continued effort by all stakeholders over the long haul. There are no quick fixes. But we know that we can defeat hunger by investing in: interventions that improve food production, marketing and the market systems, and their supply chains that in the long term will empower them to produce more and earn an income that can be used to cater for basic healthcare, education to ensure food security in the future.2 Comments » | Add your comment
Food is a basic human need. Yet for many people across the world, this basic human need is not that easy to come by.
Putting food on the table is a struggle for small scale farmers and pastoralists with little income or natural resources. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it, that the very people who grow food or rear livestock for food are those that go hungry? Why? Lack of agricultural knowledge and investment, little access to credit, little access to markets, growing competition for land and price volatility.
What is more, where the climate is changing year on year, there are no spare resources to adjust or adapt practices in order to reduce the impacts of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events.
I was recently in Mandera, north western Kenya, where I came face-to-face with the terrible reality of drought, and the devastating impact it’s having on families and children.
People hadn’t eaten for days, yet when asked what they needed, not one person said they needed food. In fact, any food aid they received went to their livestock. What they needed was rain so they could grow their crops and feed their livestock.
So it was good to see Practical Action working with agricultural communities to cope with drought by helping to develop drought resistant crops, protect livestock and conserve precious water.
High up in the Andes in Peru, the temperature can drop to as low as -35 degrees centigrade and there is practically no vegetation. Practical Action works with communities to grow food that will survive these harsh conditions.
And in flood prone places like Bangladesh where it’s impossible to grow crops, Practical Action has developed a technology to allow farmers to grow food on flooded land.
We work with entire market systems, often focusing on helping poor farmers and producers to build their abilities to engage with people they do business with and get better deals for themselves and their communities.
Investing in farmers and pastoralists like this ensures not only can they put food on the table but they can also earn more money – working themselves out of poverty.
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