The Global Development Network that brings agricultural policy researchers and policymakers from the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) convened in Nairobi to articulate the need of bringing forth policy issues relevant to the region that have always in question over the food security. The Sub- Sahara Africa Country Research Teams presented their findings and reviews of the agricultural research on Sub-Saharan region. The presentations were made at a point of ‘supporting policy research to inform agricultural policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia project regional workshop to help shape North-South and South-South debates on agricultural policies.
The five official launch of the Global Development Network (GDN) on agricultural policy making process, covers: Irrigation and water use effectively, agricultural pricing and public procurement, managing agricultural commercialization, long-term challenges to food security and rural livelihoods, improving effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of fertilizer use. The same five agricultural policies will be launched on the same themes from South Asia perspective on 22nd -23rd November 2012. “This lack of access to information is one of the reasons why GDN and the agricultural policy researchers from Sub-Saharan Africa have been working on this project across the region” says George Mavrotas, project Director and Chief Economist at GDN.
Representatives who attended the event raised the concern on private sector initiative to be optimum and be recognized for the intervention of food security. “The price of fertilizer and that of output are among the factors constraining food security in Africa” Ackello Ogutu Team leader for challenges to food security in SSA said. Tax policy, agricultural policy need to be balanced in long-term with political support in subsidizing the inputs in solving the problem, adds Ogutu.
Over the last one year five country research teams from leading African universities and organizations in SSA along with the project steering committee and research assistants have reviewed extensive published and unpublished research in areas that affect agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Among the emerging issues and trend in SSA that challenges the GDP includes global food crisis of 2007, market failure and food security.
The workshop is as a result of a distinctive process in Africa where food security investment has not been fully implemented. While opening the event, Rodgers Mwewa Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture stated that much work needs to be done to improve the understanding of contemporary agricultural policy making process in the region. Some of the challenges that have dragged down Africa States in agricultural research and policy making and implementation, include inadequate funding, weak research-extension farmer input supplier linkages, lack of inadequate logistical support, low staff motivation and poor management and coordination, the Minister said.
Participants and Africa in general were urged to use such forums such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) process to engage policy makers on the need to incorporate increase investment in research. The event was attended by delegates from the Government of Ghana, Government of Zambia, regional research institutes, and international organizations, private sector companies and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has supported this project.
GDN collaborates with 11 Regional Network Partners, international donor organizations and governments, research institutes, academic institutions, think tanks and 12,000 individual researchers worldwide in developing skills and knowledge I relation to agricultural issues. It was founded in 1999 and its headquarters in New Delhi, and offices in Cairo and Washington DC.
The author of this post is David Choge, a journalist based in Nairobi, Keneya. The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Global Development Network or its Board of Directors.
Excessive reliance on food import can never bring stability in food security in any country on the globe. With food many vital things including sovereignty is closely interwoven. A country may not be subdued by might, but if that country suffers from vulnerability in food production, ways automatically open up to allow entry of aliens coming with food aid and in the event of scarcity such ‘humanitarian assistance’ is not possible for any government to reject.
No doubt, attaining food security for an over populated, land-starved and miss-governed country is arduous and impossible in many cases due to factors beyond control. Scarcity of water, small land holdings, dearth of able manpower, exodus of growers/farmers from the agriculture sector due to lesser return or rapid absorption of manpower by the industries, growth in the prices of agricultural inputs, unplanned urbanization and most importantly natural calamities caused by climate changes are keeping the dream of many countries becoming self-reliant in food far away. Without a substantial production of cereal at home food security for any country would remain a pipe-dream.
To meet these challenges a well thought-out work plan is imperative and the government(s) must keep vigil whether a well-intended plan is causing more harm to the people instead of paving the way for food security. And for carrying forward the work plan, international /multinational cooperation or assistance is essential for the food-starved and developing countries with over population likeBangladesh.
Food security automatically focuses on agriculture and this sector in the southAsiaregion has been facing major and minor problems or challenges for quite sometime back. Many problems in the countries in the southAsiaregion are common and many are not. For example, gradual decrease in the availability of irrigation water, disproportionate use of fertilizers, (hitherto) small-scale exodus of growers from the agriculture vocation, shrinking of agriculture land holdings especially in the eastern part (Bangladesh) are common among the countries in the region.
Of the similarities, in almost all the countries women are getting more involved in direct farming replacing their men due to demographic change, growing mechanized farming and commercial scale production of cereal. On the one side countries are getting industrialized and on the other side involvement of woman in agriculture production is on the rise. This is the real picture in the agriculture in southAsiaregion now.
But one thing would perhaps remain and become acute in the coming days especially inBangladeshdubbed to be the most densely populated country. Here, as of to-day, the chance of expanding the land holding through the merger of very small holdings is slim because of too-much individualistic mentality and age old land law. Cooperative movement in this country began long ago but that has hardly been able to hold together contiguous small holdings for large scale farming of rice, cereal and high value vegetables for long. This is really a problem indeed.
Rice production inBangladeshtrebled in last 40 years mostly due to application of high yielding variety seeds, expansion of fertilizer use and irrigation facility. But the benefit of the increased production mostly negated due to population boom and natural disasters (flood, cyclone, tidal surge) visiting every year. On the natural calamities the government or people might have little control but population boom perhaps could have been checked smoothening the way to attain a dependable food security.
A woman in Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, separates rice from husks using a traditional sieve.
In the southAsiaregion agri-product storage capacity, supply chain, fertilizer production (exceptBangladeshfor the time being) and use of tractor in cultivation are on the rise. In Baluchistan of Pakistan women are running tractors. These are all encouraging developments. But more miles have to go to reach cereal to the people who still subsist on government’s food distribution programme.
Recently a high level workshop cum seminar of the agriculture experts, researchers and agro-commercial entrepreneurs was held in Sri Lankan capitalColombowith the purpose of delving the problems and finding the appropriate way to mitigate the problems towards attaining food self-sufficiency in the southAsiaregion. The presentation of the experts including Sri Lankan Minister, Dr. Sarath Amunugama were very much close to the reality on the ground. All the presentations were thought provoking and path-showing. Some of the experts dealt with micro and macro matters in the field of agriculture. The GDN-IPS seminar could properly focus on the problems already stated in the previous chapters, but did not go for an imposing resolution perhaps considering the point that much more should be known about the agriculture and its socio-economic impact in the southAsia. The seminar in one word could be said that it is one more step towards eliminating the blocks in the way to attain a sustainable food security for the region.
The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Global Development Network or its Board of Directors.
Colombo, Oct 23 (IANS) Empowering women to be confident farmers should be a priority of South Asian countries, an agricultural policy brief on addressing challenges to food security and rural livelihoods in the region released here Tuesday said.
“Empowered women farmers as can increase their income, develop a stable rural livelihood and contribute to ensuring food security, said the Global Development Network (GDN) policy brief, one of five documents released at a two-day workshop that brought together policy-makers, agricultural researchers, experts and private sector players from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
It noted that the SanghaKrishi experiment in the southern Indian state of Kerala in which 250,000 women farm 10 million acres of land “shows that if women are supported with land ownership schemes and index-based insurance to become independent food producers, then they can play a significant role in ensuring food security”.
It quotes Pooja, a farmer who has benefitted from the scheme as saying:
“Now that we work in a group, we earn at least 70,000 rupees each per harvest. We can help each other out because we know we will earn from our crops. We are able to get loans easily from a bank and a family can borrow from within the group to pay for children’s education. That family can then repay the other members without interest.”
Picture Courtesy | Panos Pictures
More than 44,000 such groups now exist in Kerala.
“Agriculture remains an extremely vital sector for millions of people in South Asia, including small farmers who are critically dependent on it.
Therefore, we need to delve deeper into agriculture policy issues by providing policy makers, the media and the wider public with research which is scientifically rigorous but at the same time, timely and easily accessible to them,” said George Mavrotas, project director and chief economist at GDN.
The policy briefs are the outcome of 12 months of effort during which five country research teams from leading South Asian universities and organisations, along with the project steering committee and research assistants, reviewed extensive published and unpublished research on five vital agricultural development issues.
The policy briefs are part of GDN’s global research project “Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia” that is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The aim is to help shape North-South and South-South debates on agricultural policies. It seeks to enrich the body of knowledge related to agricultural issues. In doing so, it draws from the existing knowledge base, especially cross-country research findings,” Mavrotas explained.
The project output includes 10 agricultural policy briefs, 10 policy research papers and 10 project documentaries.
These will now be presented before the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington next month and later before the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Rome.
“We figured that the best way to take the project forward is to engage with all stakeholders through these two organisations,” GDN lead strategist Tuhin Sen, who is based in New Delhi, told IANS.
The other policy briefs released Tuesday cover irrigation and water use efficiency (Ali Hasanain/Lahore University of Management Sciences), agricultural pricing and food procurement (ParakramaSamaratunga/Institute of Policy Studies, Sri Lanka) and managing agricultural commercialization for inclusive growth (Vijay Paul Sharma/Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad).
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in New Delhi, with offices in Cairo and Washington, GDN supports researchers in developing and transition countries to generate and share applied social science research to advance social and economic development. It works in collaboration with 11 regional network partners as well as with international donor organisations and governments, research institutes, academic institutions, think tanks and more than 12,000 individual researchers worldwide.