Monday, September 10, 2012

Jobs, social welfare are crucial to food security, top ag scientist says

Johann Earle in Alertnet: Making life better for family farmers is a key way to ensure food security in Guyana without compromising the environment, according to a top Indian agricultural expert who helped lead that country’s agricultural “Green Revolution.”

M.S. Swaminathan, who promotes sustainable agriculture that preserves biodiversity and who worked in Guyana in the early 1990s on a forest conservation project, says agricultural and conservation need not be in conflict.

“The foundations of agriculture are land, water, biodiversity and climate. A family farmer will look after the land very well. It is the agri-business people who have short term interest in land,” the scientist told AlertNet at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in South Korea.

“A family farmer has to take care of the children so it is a way of life for them so they ensure that there is soil fertility…whether it is cow dung, compost, or crop rotation,” he said. What Guyana needs, he said, is “a new deal for the family farmers, otherwise family farming will disappear and all will become agri-business,” he said.

For the small South American nation to be a truly food secure, it must pay attention to three factors: availability of food on the market, which is a function of production; accessibility to food, a function of jobs and income, and absorption of food in the body, which is a function of clean drinking water, sanitation and primary health care like immunization, he said.

“You have food security in a country when all these three things are there,” he said...

A tractor in a Guyanese rice field, shot by Tracey Dos Santos, public domain

No comments: