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Innovation for food security

Posted in FOOD SECURITY by Faezah Ismail on April 20, 2010

More people are hungry today than were even alive a century ago, states a newly released issues paper that represents the first major output of Worldwatch Institute‘s Nourishing the Planet project.

Interestingly, the paper notes much progress in reducing hunger and boosting food security in recent decades.

The paper entitled Agricultural Innovation for Food Security and Poverty Reduction in the 21st Century: Issues for Africa and the World is a guidance document for the forthcoming 2011 edition of Worldwatch’s flagship report, State of the World.

The paper, authored by project collaborator Ecoagriculture Partners, identifies three challenges that are central to the global conversation on hunger reduction and these need attention.

They are as follows:

  • Unify the food security, climate change and ecosystem protection agendas.
  • Rise above conflicting perspectives on the causes and solutions to hunger.
  • Empower farmers and communities to feed themselves.

“Historically, there has been a major disconnect between policymakers focused on hunger reduction and the newer voices mobilising around ecosystem conservation and climate mitigation and adaption,” says issues paper co-author Sara Scherr, president and CEO of Ecoagriculture Partners.

“Yet in the midst of all this conflict, a rapidly growing set of individuals and institutions has been exploring innovations for reconciling these objectives for developing landscape mosaics that overcome these challenges simultaneously.”

Technical and institutional innovations to boost smallholder productivity, gain market access and restore natural resources are transforming agriculture in ways that can ensure food security, mitigate climate change and conserve critical ecosystem services including watershed protection, pollination and pest and diseases control.

Such innovations are often hidden, however, as entrepreneurial farmers get overlooked by national and international government leaders and funders.

“Success” stories, meanwhile, are too often not scaled up (or out) sufficiently to end hunger and food insecurity.

“Scaling up” has too often been approached by increasing the number of people involved, and not by mobilising similar successful, smaller-scale initiatives more broadly.

“Despite these obstacles, agricultural innovation is taking place in the fields of Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and elsewhere across Africa to overcome the blight of global hunger,” says Nourishing the Planet co-director Danielle Nierenberg.

“In order to feed the 1.02 billion people who go to bed hungry each night, change-makers must overcome the policy challenges that have plagued this issue for generations and embrace the innovations that have proven most effective to date”

Agricultural Innovation for Food Security and Poverty Reduction in the 21st Century: Issues for Africa and the World.

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