Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rio+20 a chance to engage smallholder farms in sustainable agriculture

Mark Tran in the globaldevelopment blog at the Guardian (UK): The draft outcome document of the Rio+20 summit mentions smallholder farmers – many of them women – in growing acknowledgment of their importance in terms of food security, with the continued threat of famine in the Sahel, and environmental sustainability, as farming accounts for at least 14% of global greenhouse emissions.

That smallholder farmers are on the agenda is gratifying for Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad), one of the three UN food agencies based in Rome. The Nigerian national, who has worked for 30 years in poverty reduction through agriculture, rural development and research, will be championing the cause of smallholder farmers in Rio next week.

Nwanze said smallholder farmers have gained tremendous importance in the past five years, beginning with the L'Aquila initiative in 2009, in which the G8 industrialised countries pledged to invest $22bn in agriculture in the developing world to boost food security.

"It has been fascinating to see the importance given to small farmers now compared with 20 years ago, when they were considered not sustainable because of their slash and burn techniques," Nwanze said in a telephone interview from Rome. "Now they are considered among the most sustainable private-sector enterprises in terms of family inputs and their relation to the land. Smallholder farmers were specifically mentioned by President Obama at Camp David last month [in the G8 food security initiative]."...

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