Category Archives: Other Papers

Synthesis of Deliberations of the Fourth Global Meeting of the Farmers’ Forum

The following was read by Ms. Rachel Kalaba, a representativeof young farmers in Zambia, during IFAD Governing Council meeting on February 22, 2012.

Synthesis of Deliberations of the Fourth Global Meeting of the Farmers’ Forum
in Conjunction with the 35th Session of IFAD’s Governing Council
Rome, 20-21 February 2012

1. We the participants in the the 4th global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum, representing millions of small- and medium- scale family farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fishers (including rural youth), reiterate our appreciation of the Farmers’ Forum process and its contribution to bringing the voice of smallholder farmers into the country strategies and programs of IFAD. There are encouraging achievements in the coverage and diversity of our partnerships in country programmes. There is considerable potential to build upon and improve what has been achieved. Yet a lot more needs to be done. This is of utmost urgency, given the challenges that we face.

2. Demands on agriculture are ever increasing. Natural resources – land, seeds, water, fisheries,pastures – are being depleted and contaminated, while competition for these resources is becoming ever more fierce. A serious threat to the future of agriculture is that young people face great hardship in building a dignified life in the rural areas. More often than not, they are given no viable alternative, but to abandon their villages and migrate to cities or abroad.

3. 500 million smallholder and family farms produce four fifths of the food consumed in the developing world. Sustainable smallholder and family agriculture is, therefore, the foundation of food security, poverty reduction and sustainable management of natural resources.

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GDAE Article: The True Cost of Cheap Food

How does cheap food contribute to global hunger? GDAE’s Timothy A. Wise, in this recent article in Resurgence magazine, explains the contradictory nature of food and agriculture under globalization. He refers to globalization as “the cheapening of everything” and concludes:

“Some things just shouldn’t be cheapened. The market is very good at establishing the value of many things but it is not a good substitute for human values. Societies need to determine their own human values, not let the market do it for them. There are some essential things, such as our land and the life-sustaining foods it can produce, that should not be cheapened.”

Download “The True Cost of Cheap Food”
Read more on GDAE’s research “Beyond Agricultural Subsidies”
Read more on GDAE’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program

ActionAid and Food First Report: Smallholder Solutions to Hunger, Poverty and Climate Change

With the worsening of the global food crisis, general international agreement has emerged regarding the importance of smallholder agriculture in the battle against hunger and poverty. However, public debate has been highly restricted and increasingly dominated by conventional, market-led, and corporate approaches to aid and agricultural development. These positions call for a return to the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Round, a new “Green Revolution” and the spread of biotechnology to the countries of the Global South. In global and national policy circles, these “business as usual” approaches are eclipsing many proven, highly effective, farmer-driven agroecological and redistributive approaches to agricultural development.

Sustainable, smallholder agriculture represents the best option for resolving the fourfold food-finance-fuel and climate crises. Although conventional wisdom assumes small family farms are backward and unproductive, agroecological research has shown that given a chance, small farms are much more productive than large farms. Small, ecological farms help cool the planet and provide many important ecosystem services; they are a reservoir for biodiversity, and are less vulnerable to pests, disease and environmental shock.

Just as small farms can be more productive and environmentally beneficial, there is also strong evidence that small farm communities can be far superior to large, mechanised operations for improving rural livelihoods. However, this potential is thwarted because smallholders are systematically disenfranchised of their basic human rights and dispossessed of their wealth and basic resources. If smallholders are to be the social and productive base for ending hunger in the Global South, then the rights of smallholders especially women—must be ensured. Ensuring smallholder rights and the equitable distribution of resource entitlements in the countryside not only implies increasing the levels of aid and investment flowing to smallholders, it implies the redistribution of public investment in agriculture, including land reform.

Download the full report at Food First

CSO RECOMMENDATIONS TO EFFECTIVELY ADDRESS THE IMPACT OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS ON THE VULNERABLE SECTORS IN THE ASEAN REGION

(Final Draft, August 6, 2009)

We, representatives from civil society organizations of women and men migrant workers from the formal, informal and labor sectors, small-scale farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, consumers, academe and non-government organizations from the ASEAN region, gathered at the “Regional Conference on the Impact of Financial and Economic Crisis on Vulnerable Sectors of the Region: Civil Society Voices and ASEAN” held in Jakarta,Indonesia on July 28-29, 2009 wish to register the following recommendations to ASEAN and other intergovernmental bodies:

1. We acknowledge that the global economic and financial crisis is a recurrent event that creates havoc on the livelihoods and welfare of many communities, especially the most vulnerable sectors. The crisis has been addressed through partial reforms, stimulus packages and bail outs. To prevent or mitigate future crises, we need a thorough re-examination of the global financial system and the formulation of the corresponding systemic, institutional reforms. We need to put in place a new global financial architecture that is fair and transparent, that has a development agenda and that is responsive to shocks. Reforms will include sound regulation of capital and financial markets including the need to control excessive flows and high risk leverage and regulate various financial products( e.g. sub-prime loans and credit cards). There, too, should be proper and timely disclosure of information on the advantages/disadvantages of financial products. A charter for the responsible sale of financial products should be developed.

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Jakarta Conference Action Plans

Regional Conference on the Impact of Financial Crisis on Vulnerable Sectors:
Civil Society Voices and ASEAN
July 28-29 2009, Jakarta
(Final Draft)

Action Plans which participants agreed to work on together:

I. Agricultural Sector
1. Priority Policy Agenda
1. Create and strengthen mechanisms for dialogue and consultation between CSOs and government, at the national and regional levels, towards the ASEAN Summit.
2. Address food security issues through the development of mechanisms for fair trade system.
3. Farmers, fishers and CSOs are able to present their positions /views / recommendations to the new cabinet of Indonesia.

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Will China Save the World from Depression?

Will China be the “growth pole” that will snatch the world from the jaws of depression?

This question has become a favorite topic as the heroic American middle class consumer, weighed down by massive debt, ceases to be the key stimulus for global production.

Although China’s GDP growth rate fell to 6.1% in the first quarter — the lowest in almost a decade — optimists see “shoots of recovery” in a 30% surge in urban fixed-asset investment and a jump in industrial output in March. These indicators are proof, some say, that China’s stimulus program of $586 billion — which, in relation to GDP, is much larger proportionally than the Obama administration’s $787 billion package–is working.
Countryside as Launching Pad for Recovery?

With China’s export-oriented urban coastal areas suffering from the collapse of global demand, many inside and outside China are pinning their hopes for global recovery on the Chinese countryside. A significant portion of Beijing’s stimulus package is destined for infrastructure and social spending in the rural areas. The government is allocating 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) in subsidies to help rural residents buy televisions, refrigerators, and other electrical appliances.

But with export demand down, will this strategy of propping up rural demand work as an engine for the country’s massive industrial machine?

Read the full article at Foreign Policy in Focus

Indonesia: Farmers lose in hybrid rice lottery

by Biotani and GRAIN

Just under two years ago Indonesia’s central government launched a major hybrid rice programme. The plan was to convert over 135,000 ha of prime rice land to hybrid rice production by offering farmers free seeds, which the government would purchase from private seed companies. It was a great deal for seed companies, especially for those with the political connections to access the scheme– people like Tommy Winata, a local tycoon who had just recently set up a joint venture with a Chinese hybrid rice company.

For Indonesia’s farmers, it was a different story. By October of 2007, with the first season of the hybrid rice operation in full swing, those farmers who’d signed up to the scheme were experiencing major problems, and even complete crop failures. Some were burning their fields out of desperation.

“We are like a lottery as the government tests its variety,” said one farmer from the village of Dusun Karang Duwet, about 25 km south of Yogyakarta City, Central Java.

Read the full article at Grain

Agriculture is at the core of sustainable development

By Elenita Dano and Juan Hoffmaister

THE current thematic cycle of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) could not have come at a more opportune time. As the world faces perhaps the most serious convergence of crises in food and finance, climate change, environment and energy, the 17th session of the CSD will tackle the intricately woven issues of agriculture, land, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa.

The multiple crises facing the world today make CSD17, which will convene in New York on 4-15 May, unique from the other sessions of the CSD. The outcome of the session is expected to be a concrete response by the international community to the crises, with the food crisis at its heart. The mandate of the CSD allows it to integrate the discussions on global responses to the food crisis from the different parts of the UN system, consistent with the principles of sustainable development embodied in Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration.

After discussing the obstacles, opportunities and challenges to sustainable development in these very crucial development areas during the review year (of the current thematic cycle) in May 2008, governments are now ready to tackle the way forward by agreeing on the priorities for action to address the challenges. At the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) held on 23-27 February 2009 in the run-up to CSD17, delegates presented their views on the actions that the international community and national governments must take to operationalise the principles of sustainable development in agriculture, land, rural development, drought, desertification and Africa.

For more information, go to TWN website

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The United Nations Must Manage a Global Food Reserve

More than half of the world’s 6 billion people eat rice as their staple food. Global rice prices have been rising since early 2003. Moderate increases of 9 per cent in 2006 and 17 per cent in 2007 were recorded, but since the beginning of 2008 international rice prices have shown a steep upward trend, reflecting a limited supply available for purchase.1 In March 2008, the high quality Thai 100 per cent B (white rice) was quoted at $562 per tonne, which was 74 per cent higher than in March 2007, and rose to $898 per tonne by mid-May 2008. Likewise, Thai A1 Super, fully broken rice, markedly increased by 94 per cent, from $263 per tonne in March 2007 to $522 in March 2008 and surged to $764 per tonne two months later. By May 2008, world rice prices were more than double their May 2007 level.

Hardest hit by this spike in prices are major rice-importing countries, especially the Philippines, the world’s top rice importer. The increase in prices worldwide also drove up domestic rice prices, which rose from March 2007 to March 2008 by 100 per cent in Bangladesh and Cambodia, 70 per cent in Afghanistan, 55 per cent in Sri Lanka and 40 per cent in the Philippines.2 Only 6 to 7 per cent of global rice production is traded internationally each year.1 Due to a very thin market, the price of rice has been subject to the sharpest fluctuations among the world’s traded staples.

The rice crisis resulting from soaring prices and tight supplies has serious implications. Rice provides 60 per cent of the food intake in Southeast Asia and about 35 per cent in East and South Asia. The International Rice Research Institute reports that 700 million, or two thirds of the world’s 1.1 billion poor, live in rice-growing countries in Asia. These people spend as much as 30 to 40 per cent of their income on rice alone. The poor are, therefore, vulnerable to the surge in rice prices since their purchasing power will be seriously hit, resulting in severe food deprivation and malnutrition.2 In recent months, the rice crisis has resulted in social unrest, with mass protests and food riots in several countries.3

Read the full paper at UN Chronicle