The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those endorsed by IFPRI.
Individual comments are separated by a red line.
I think the paper was well thought out and it is quite comprehensive. Thanks for the good work!
Just an input on focus area 4) Expanding appropriate research, knowledge and technology:
There is need to involve farmers in the research through on-farm trials and strengthen the research - extension - farmer linkage to enable flow of information and development of adequate/usable technologies. It is also important not to overlook indigenous knowledge and designing methods of exploiting such knowledge for the benefit of research for all.
First I would like to thank IFPRI for organising this conference - I feel that it has been a very motivating and stimulating event, bringing together people from quite different angles who share the vision of sustainable food security for all.
As a general point, I think more emphasis should be placed on nutrition security than has been done throughout the paper and the conference. Nutrition security is the broader concept, which encompasses food security, but includes care and health aspects. I do not want to elaborate any further on this, because this has already been done by Prof. Krawinkel et al. in their comments.
My comments mainly refer to the last part of the paper and the conference, dealing with "roles and responsibilities". During the discussion of the final session, it has been stated that researchers were missing in the list of responsible actors. They were actually not completely missing, as a look into the paper reveals, but subsumed under "international organisations and multilateral institutions". However, only "international agricultural research" was mentioned there. National research institutes, and research in other disciplines than agriculture, but of importance to food security and nutrition, were omitted. Furthermore, the role and responsibility of researchers was not sufficiently described and made explicit. Another topic that has been addressed in the discussion, but has not been given due attention in the paper, is the role of measurement. Therefore, I will focus on the subsequent issues:
What might be the responsibility of researchers in the field of food security and nutrition?
What is the role of measurement in the food security and nutrition debate?
Which are advantages of an index vis-à-vis single indicators?
An international Nutrition Index (NI) as an example of a new monitoring tool
What might be the responsibility of researchers in the field of food security and nutrition?
Researchers do not only provide information as a base for decision-making, they can also play their part in awareness-raising and creating political will. For this purpose, it may be critical to maintain a dialogue not only with policy-makers, but also with NGO's concerned with advocacy, the media and the general public, aiming at closer co-operation than has been done so far. This requires preparing scientific results in an illustrative and easily understandable way. Spreading research results to a broader audience could make the problems of hunger and malnutrition and potential solutions better visible to policy-makers and the public, and catalyse action. In the context of interaction with decision-makers and the public, research has also a role to play in finding a commonly acceptable measure of food security and nutrition, which takes me to my next point.
What is the role of measurement in the food security and nutrition debate?
Both awareness-raising and the setting of goals for decision-making would benefit from the existence of a commonly accepted international measure of food security and nutrition. As is well-known, implications for action differ quite a lot depending on the indicator used: if we look at the FAO estimates of undernourishment, we come to the conclusion that things are worst in Sub-Saharan Africa. Taking child malnutrition as a yardstick, South Asia turns out to be the region that deserves our utmost attention. The reasons for this divergence have not yet been fully clarified. Both types of indicators - the FAO estimates based on national food availability on the one hand and anthropometric indicators on the other - have been criticised for proneness to measurement error, limited reliability and lack of comprehensiveness (see Svedberg 1998 and Klasen 1999 - Klasen has demonstrated how possible small inadequacies of international reference standards of 1-3 cm for child growth can distort measured chronic malnutrition prevalence by far if the maximum of the normal distribution of children's anthropometric data is close to the cut-off point). Moreover, the use of different indicators is also the expression of a traditional disciplinary divide between agricultural and medical research, which is not beneficial to the people actually suffering from the complex problems of hunger and malnutrition. There is an urgent need to end this fruitless dispute about the "right" measure for food security and nutrition, to bridge the "disciplinary divide" and agree upon a commonly acceptable, suitable monitoring and targeting instrument, whilst acknowledging the actual limitations of existing indicators. For that purpose, indices can be shown to have some advantages over single indicators.
Which are advantages of an index vis-à-vis single indicators?
There are several arguments for using an index instead of a single indicator for monitoring food security and nutrition.
Hunger and malnutrition have many faces:
The reality of the hungry and malnourished is to complex to be captured by a single indicator, which is vividly illustrated by the controversial debate about the "best measure" - all existing indicators have their virtues and their shortcomings in describing food insecurity and malnutrition.
The reliability of the information can be improved for statistical reasons:
The role of measurement error, which has been hotly debated especially with respect to the FAO figures of undernourishment, is likely to be minimised for a given sample if several indicators with non-correlated measurement errors are combined.
Communicability increases with the condensation of information:
Indices condense information and facilitate a quick overview, both intertemporally and internationally (which is an important characteristic for both the public and policy-makers); they render complex statistical information more interpretable and easier to handle for non-statisticians. This may be useful in the field of food security and nutrition, given the multitude of existing indicators.
Indices can be powerful tools for advocacy:
Indices, in their property as single numbers, are more "eye-catching" in the political debate than a bunch of various indicators. Publication in international league tables and comparisons with countries' economic development have proved suitable for fostering a sense of competition among nations and mobilise political will (compare the success story of the Human Development Index despite the technically weak format in which it was initially introduced by UNDP). Lack of political will has been identified as major obstacle for realising the 2020 Vision.
An international Nutrition Index (NI) as an example of a new monitoring tool
At the Center for Development Research in Bonn (ZEF Bonn) an international Nutrition Index (NI) has been designed by myself, Joachim von Braun and Torsten Feldbrügge. The NI comprises three indicators, referring to inadequate dietary energy supply (the percentage of undernourished as calculated by FAO), malnutrition (the percentage of underweight in children under five years) and premature death (under-five-mortality) to capture the misery of hunger and malnutrition. It is an example how an index combining the aforementioned advantages could look like. The considerations underlying the choice of indicators are outlined briefly in the following (a fuller description can be found in ZEF Discussion Paper 26, available for download at http://www.zef.de/zef_englisch/f_publ.html, updates of figures and graphs can be obtained from me, further research will be published).
Including undernourishment makes sense even though the FAO estimates are mainly based on national calorie availability. But the role of national dietary energy availability for food security and nutrition cannot be denied, particularly not in poor countries. At the same time, there is no doubt that the FAO measure - be it in its use as single indicator or as part of an index - needs to be strengthened. (An option might be to base it on food consumption or expenditure surveys instead of deriving it from average dietary energy intake calculated by means of food balance sheets).
Why child malnutrition?
Using child malnutrition goes beyond the traditional concept of food security, because for good nutritional status, much more is needed than food which is adequate in quantity and quality: care and health environments have to be appropriate. Improving food supply without addressing problems in the latter two areas may be a waste of resources, because people, especially children, may be unable to utilise the food properly in their bodies. It is, therefore, worthwhile considering nutritional status, although international data are only broadly available for children, not for adults. (This means in practice, that the situation of other vulnerable groups like the homeless or the elderly, cannot be properly reflected by this indicator - but it can be considered by including adequate estimates of undernourishment.)
Why child mortality?
Premature mortality, in spite of being the most tragic outcome of hunger and malnutrition, is sometimes forgotten about or at least not explicitly mentioned in the debate. As soon as a child has died from malnutrition, he or she does not contribute any more to the numbers of the malnourished. Furthermore, in a high mortality environment, a malnourished child bears a higher risk to die than in an environment with lower overall mortality levels (compare Pelletier 1994). The urgency of targeted intervention against malnutrition may therefore be not only derived from the prevalence of malnutrition itself, but also from the level of mortality in a given environment. To illustrate that argument, one might ask the rhetorical question: "If you could not escape malnutrition, would you prefer to live in a place where this physical state carries a high or a rather low risk to die early?".
The weights of the indicators have been gained in principal component analysis and may be subject to criticism due to their "arbitrariness". It should be noted, however, that the weights are less critical for the index values than one might assume: sensitivity analysis has shown that modifying the weights within a reasonable range does not alter the ranking of countries significantly due to the correlation of the indicators (which is, however, not as high that the indicators would have to be classified as redundant vis-à-vis each other). The properties of the index are much more determined by the selection of indicators than by slight changes in the weights.
The NI may carry the potential for a broad-based alliance against hunger and malnutrition between several UN agencies, because it combines lead indicators used by FAO, WHO and UNICEF. Furthermore, using the NI in, e.g., project evaluations and surveys, would force practitioners to overcome the traditional disciplinary divide between agricultural specialists concerned with food production and health professionals, who often have difficulty in understanding each other. Due to the combination of indicators, they would have to look simultaneously at various sides of the problem of hunger and malnutrition, and at synergies and possible interactions, if they intend to maximise the outcome in terms of the NI. If the NI was used as project evaluation tool, initiators of irrigation projects aiming at increased agricultural production, for example, would have to consider possible side effects of water-born diseases on health and, therefore, on nutritional status right from the start.
Klasen, Stephan (1999): Malnourished and surviving in Asia, better nourished and dying young in Africa: What can explain this puzzle? Revised version of Paper presented at the European Society for Population Economics Annual Meeting, June 24-27, 1999, Turin, Italy.
Pelletier, David L.; Frongillo, Edward A., Jr.; Schroeder, Dirk G.; Habicht, Jean-Pierre (1994): A Methodology for Estimating the Contribution of Malnutrition to Child Mortality in Developing Countries. The Journal of Nutrition 124 (Supplement October): 2106 S - 2122 S.
Svedberg, Peter (1998): 841 Million Undernourished? On the Tyranny of Deriving a Number. Institute for International Economic Studies, Seminar Paper No. 656, Stockholm.
Wiesmann, Doris; von Braun, Joachim; Feldbrügge, Torsten (2000): An International Nutrition Index. Successes and Failures in Addressing Hunger and Malnutrition. ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 26. Center for Development Research, Bonn.
Center for Development Research
Comments to 'Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020'
We would like to congratulate you on a most stimulating - and indeed, energizing -conference. We appreciate your very broad approach, integrating a wide-ranging spectrum of topics impacting and impinging upon food security. You have raised many important points in your draft document "Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020" as well. However, as livestock development specialists concerned about the welfare of the estimated 930 million rural poor who are partially or totally dependent on livestock, we feel that the cursory attention the document gives to this topic does not do justice to its tremendous significance. We have the following comments to make.
Policies that benefit the poor in the context of the Livestock Revolution
IFPRI has done yeoman's services by detecting and drawing attention to the Livestock Revolution. However, although it is a "policy research institute" it stops short of presenting concrete recommendations or suggestions on how to influence this phenomenon so that it will benefit poor farmers. May we draw your attention to some of the policy options mentioned in recent literature:
Full internalization of all environmental costs of intensive/industrialized animal production into product prices (de Haan, Steinfeld and Blackburn, 1997)
Subsidies for production systems that save natural resources and conserve animal biodiversity (de Haan, Steinfeld and Blackburn, 1997). This could be direct financial subsidies or indirect benefits, such as subsidized animal health care services (Köhler-Rollefson, 2000)
Labelling/branding for products produced by pastoralists in extensive production systems (Köhler-Rollefson, 2001)
Genetic impact statement. Before a livestock development project is approved, a genetic impact statement should be prepared (ITDG 1996)
Livestock as source of employment.
Modernization and industrialization of livestock production will substitute capital for labour (Tacher, 1992), which is undesirable in developing countries with their high unemployment rates and inefficient education systems. In view of what "vertical integration" has meant for poultry and pig production in the U.S., we do not think this is an acceptable option or model for developing countries, and we would therefore urge you to include a caveat in this respect in paragraph 3 on page 14 of the draft document.
Research emphasis on alternative systems.
The section on pro-poor agricultural research (p. 19) should emphasize research on alternative systems (e.g., agroecology, IPM, indigenous knowledge), especially in marginal areas for two reasons: (1) in the past, these subjects have received very limited funding compared to the funds invested in high tech research. Despite the limited funding, alternative approaches were able to demonstrate their usefulness and comparative advantages. So it can be expected that enhanced research on the optimisation of alternative systems (e.g., improving local fodder plants and animal genetic resources) can make an important contribution towards food security in marginal areas. (2) The private sector has little interest in such subjects, so the public sector has to invest in this.
In contrast to the section 'Exploring the potential contribution of modern agricultural biotechnology' (p. 20), the section 'making use of agroecological approaches' (p. 19) remains entirely descriptive and does not put forward any recommendation on what needs to be done to support its use or its inclusion in future research. As it stands, the inclusion of agroecological approaches as a 'scientific tool and method' in the recommendation sounds like lip service rather than a genuine recommendation.
You mention two weaknesses of agroecology:
Low labour productivity: it is a weakness, but on the other hand, the labour-intensiveness of agroecology is not necessarily a disadvantage under circumstances where there is no alternative employment.
Low yields: the yields of individual crops are usually low, often much lower than in conventional systems. But total output per area can be high, and the calculation will be even more in favour of agroecological systems if both inputs and outputs are included in the calculations. Unfortunately, so far there are relatively few studies that give justice to alternative systems by accounting for environmental costs or giving a value to multiple uses (e.g., the fact that an animal provides a living saving account for emergency situations in addition to being a source of food).
Pastoralism as agroecological approach
The section on agroecological approaches (p. 19) does not mention livestock as the most sustainable and "agroecological" means of utilizing marginal areas for food production, nor as essential component of integrated farming systems. We suggest that you either add a subheading for appropriate use of livestock that contrasts pastoral production in marginal areas with industrial production or, at the very least, include a sentence to this effect under the agroecological approaches subheading.
Significance of livestock for food security in less favoured areas.
We regret the lack of attention given to livestock in your discussion of enhancing food production and security in less favoured areas" (p. 23 of the draft document, and various other IFPRI papers). In most marginal areas (deserts, steppes, mountainous regions), farmers depend much more on livestock than on crops. Some of the countries where famine is most prominent, such as Somalia and Mongolia, have economies that are dominated by pastoralism. For concrete suggestions on how to improve food security and livelihoods in these areas, you might like to check some of the literature prepared by the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development, specifically for the IFPRI meeting (Amuguni, 2001; Köhler-Rollefson and Mathias, 2001).
Animal Genetic Resources
The long-term role of agricultural biodiversity for food security is barely hinted upon in the draft document, although on p. 29, the"conservation of plant genetic resources" is mentioned as one of the responsibilities of international organizations. Why the omission of animal genetic resources?
May we quote from a recent document of the FAO (2001) which refers to a speech by Mr. Jutzi, Director of the Division of Animal Production and Health, " The trend for increased intensification and industrialization of production systems based on uniform genetic resources, would put into jeopardy the livelihoods of millions of small farmers. He noted that the erosion of animal genetic resources was continuing, and that with the loss of animal genetic resources, the issue must be addressed in order to maintain the ability of farmers to respond to changing environmental conditions, such as disease outbreaks and climatic variation" (FAO 2001, p. 4).
We would be grateful, if you could try to amend the document on the lines we suggested. We are sure this would be to the benefit of pastoralists and livestock keeping smallholders throughout the world.
Amuguni, H. M. 2001. Pastoralism and food security in Africa: Current policies and future prospects. Pp. 65-73 in Drawing on Farmers' Experiences in Food Security. Local Successes and Global Failures by G. Stoll et al. (editors). German NGO Forum Environment & Development, Bonn.
De Haan C, Steinfeld H, and Blackburn H. 1997. Livestock and the Environment. Finding a Balance. European Commission Directorate-General for Development.
FAO. 2001. Second Ad Hoc Session of International Stakeholders in Animal Genetic Resources, held in Rome, 5-6 June, 2001. Report. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.
ITDG. 1996. Dynamic Diversity. Livestock Keepers Safeguarding Domestic Animal Diversity Through Their Animal Husbandry. Intermediate Technology Development Group, Rugby, UK
Köhler-Rollefson, I. 2000. Management of Animal Genetic Diversity at Community Level. GTZ Programme Agrobiodiversity in Rural Areas. GTZ, Eschborn, Germany.
Köhler-Rollefson, I. 2001. Pastoralists, the Livestock Revolution and Organic Animal Husbandry. Ecology and Farming 27(May-June):10-11.
Köhler-Rolllefson, I. and Mathias, E. 2001. Livestock Production in the South. Sustainable or Industrial ? . Leaflet, German NGO Forum Environment & Development, Bonn.
Tacher, G. 1992. Postscript: economic problems and future methods of livestock production. Pp. 493-501 in Animal Production in the Tropics and Subtropics by J. Pagot. Macmillan and CTA, London and Basingstoke.
SUSTAINABLE FOOD SECURITY FOR ALL BY 2020
ON THE 23 AUGUST DRAFT CONFERENCE PAPER
The Draft, as indeed the Conference itself, while freely recommending wide ranging reforms and action programmes, gave next to no attention to the question of how and by whom these should be funded. When the key issue of 'Priority Areas for Action' was voted upon by the participants, there was strong agreement that
'Invest in Human Resources' and
constituted the first and second priority over many others for reaching sustainable food security. Yet, the conference organisation did not prepare for a discussion of how and by whom such investments could possibly be financed, and a few brief attempts of participants to raise this issue were not followed up. 'Good Governance Costs Money' - this observation by an African speaker was not allowed to have an echo.
The entire Conference seemed to work under the tacit consensus that international aid would not be increased and that developing countries would have to make do with what they now had, or less. The final list of
'Whose Responsability is it to End Hunger?'
prominently displayed as a conclusion of the Conference, went through eight actors, from 'National Governments, central' to 'the individual person', but did not include 'the donors' (or any other such reference to external aid).
More specifically, the Conference did not address the issue of 'access', i.e. safety nets, social funds, or transfer programmes of any kind, and their costs. Can Food Security be meaningfully discussed without any reference to social welfare?
Finally a point of detail perhaps, but not small in terms of the resources involved:
The reference in the paper (three lines on page 28) are astonishingly superficial, given the volume (past, present and future) of the resources involved and the controversial debate on their best use. After all, food aid can be a powerful resource for the funding of a key aspect of development, for which cash financing is seldom availible: The recurrent costs of even 'good governance' social welfare programmes.
Dr. Jens Schulthes
Former Director of the Asia & Pacific Region, WFP
Member of the Intern. Federation of Agricultural Journalists email@example.com
Jakarta, September 26, 2001
FROM: Ir. Soekrasno Sastrohardjono, Dipl.HE
FAX: 62-21-7239940 / 62-21-7396792
SUBJECT: Comments on Draft Paper on "Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020"
Referring to DRAFT paper on Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020, my comments are as follow :
May I suggest one more area of policy actions as addition to suggested 7 points:
(8) Natural Disaster alleviation
Natural disaster that could happen frequently in small or large scale will decrease agricultural production leading to food insecurity and burden low income farmers. Prevention, countermeasure, and prompt actions should be create for the alleviation of natural disaster, such as : flood, long drought, El-Nino, El-Nina, earthquake, land slide, taifun, and large forest fire.
Executive Summary, point (3), third line from bottom
May I insert some words as follow :
………………appropriate infrastructure such as road, irrigation infrastructure and other water resources facilities, electrification, and storage facilities, and other policies………………………
Executive Summary, point (4), last line:
May I suggest one last sentence as follow:
To create regulatory arrangements that inform and protect the public from any risk arising from the release of genetically modified organism (GMOs).
Executive Summary, point (5), last line :
May I suggest one last sentence as follow :
Policies and institutions on water used priority rangking will support the farmers in overcoming water competitive and water conflict.
Hoping you are will informed and thanks for your good cooperation.
We would like to congratulate you for your excellent draft paper on "Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020", and at the same time make use of your invitation for comments.
Page 5 / Introduction: Access to sufficient food (= food security) is one key factor to sustain a healthy and productive life; however, in our understanding the capability for a sufficient and balanced food intake, and health (= nutrition security) are of just as great importance as achieving food security to attain a reduction in the number of malnourished people throughout the world. Therefore, the three aspects (food security, care, and health) should be given equal emphasis.
Page 6 / Progress to date: Regarding the increase in the number of malnourished preschoolers in Sub-Saharan Africa, the vast contribution to this increase through the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on family structures and productivity, particularly in rural areas, should be stressed.
Page 12 / Assuring Clean Water, Safe Sanitation, and Childcare: The combination of poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, as well as the HIV pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa requires special attention in addressing caring practices in this region. Due to a comparatively low transmission rate of HIV through mother's milk, infected mothers should be encouraged to continue the practice of exclusive breastfeeding to reduce child mortality.
Programs should further focus on a work load reduction, especially for women, to provide more time for an increased caring capacity and therefore improved child care. This, however, can only be achieved through poverty reduction to ease the pressure for income generation.
Page 12 / Fighting "Hidden Hunger": The majority of all cases of malnutrition are accompanied by micronutrient deficiencies (MND); in contrast, not all people suffering from MND are undernourished. Greater attention should therefore be directed towards the production and provision of high-quality, rather than high-quantity foods and diets.
Moreover, a distinct differentiation should be drawn between curative measures to fight MND, such as supplementation, and preventive interventions, like food fortification, dietary diversification, plant breeding (conventional or GMO approach), and public health care.
Page 13 / Ensuring food safety: As mentioned in the text, there are several variables influencing food safety. However, one important factor is not mentioned: the accumulation of toxic substances, such as heavy metals, in various parts of staple crops may have a pronounced and long-term negative impact on human health. Therefore, policies and institutions are also needed to address this area of food production, as well as water and soil preservation as public goods.
Page 13 / Educating girls and boys: Education programs must also consider careful changes regarding certain traditional food habits which often hamper nutrition security and contribute to the vicious cycle of malnutrition, even where food security is achieved.
Page 18 / Expanding appropriate research, knowledge, and technology: One instrument to ensure food and nutrition security in low-income countries is the increase in agricultural productivity, and various technologies to achieve this target are listed in your draft. On the other hand, research and development of technologies with the aim of reducing the horrendous post harvest losses (worldwide about 30%!) due to insufficient storage practices and conditions in developing countries should be given a high priority, too.
In addition we would like to make three general comments:
The IFPRI Vision 2020 Conference, as well as the draft paper, expound quite clearly that an increase in food production, though unquestionable a major challenge of the 21st century, is only one key factor in reducing the number of malnourished people within the next two decades. Nutrition security, on the other hand, is the second big pillar in achieving this aim. In this regard, from our point of view, it would be desirable to shift the CGIAR focus on food production to a focus where the human being is the center of interest. The acronym CGINAR = Consultative Group on International Nutritional and Agricultural Research could give expression to this.
We would like to bring up for discussion the usefulness of formulating long-term targets, such as the "vision of sustainable food security for all by 2020" (IFPRI) or "to halve the number of food insecure people to 400 million by 2015" (World Food Summit 1996). The negative impact on motivation, as a result of adjusting achievements in the reduction of malnutrition downwards with regard to the long-term time-scale set, might be greater that the motivating potential of so far unattained aims to overcome the lack of political will and action. Visions are endangered to become utopias. To our understanding, it might be more appropriate to formulate a general aim, such as reducing malnutrition in the world, and to ensure a sophisticated recording [see (3)] and evaluation of any progress made on a small-step basis.
The lack of suitable indicators for measuring changes in the number of malnourished people must be of major concern for all being involved in fighting food and nutrition insecurity. Indicators to be developed should be based on the evaluation of physical indices to keep, for example, changes in the children's stunting rate or number of people suffering from MND under surveillance, rather than using non-human parameters, such as the number of people depending on less than US$ 1 per day.
Prof. Dr. Michael Krawinkel*, M.D.
Dr. Helga Rau*, (research associate)
Sebastian Schaffer*, M.Sc., (Ph.D. student)
Agba Abbas A. Gadah Eldam, M.Sc., (visiting Ph.D. student; Univ. of Khartoum, Sudan)
Prof. Dr. T.C. Davies, (visiting scientist; Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya)
Was glad I attended teh workshop/conference in Bonn. Wanted to send my comments to you as below:
In both your priorities and roles and responsibilities, there was a noticable omission of farmers in the write up. Only the mention of food insecure people, most of which are indeed the growers!!
Also, specifically not much mentioned about agricultural scientists, NGOs or donors in the responsibilities specifically, just painted with a broad brush.
In light of the conference discussions, we need to place farmers first both as their role and responsibility in meeting food security, but also as the actual people who are probably food insecure themselves. If this is done, the other priorities and roles and responsibilities will fall into place better.
I am hopeful that some others from CIMMYT Mexico write their comments on your paper. I sent a trip report to Mexico where I hope it was circulated to others as appropriate.
I would like to suggest some possible further steps for action after the Bonn conference.
How to make the priorities a priority?
One of the major obstacles for food security is the lack of money in Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC). Many of them are severely indebted. The HIPC initiative (debt relief for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries) was a first step in the right direction (from 68 LIFDC 34 are also HIPC). We should try to enlarge the circle of beneficiary countries by proposing to policy makers that all / some LIFDC benefit from the same debt relief than the HIPC. This idea could be discussed at the World Food Summit + 5 or at the next G7/G8 meeting (if there will be room for discussion on development questions next time). IFPRI could play a catalyst role,
e.g. by presenting the problem of indebtedness and food insecurity at the World Food Summit +5 and proposing solutions for it
or by contacting the president of Germany, M. J. Rau and the Minister of Development Cooperation, Ms. H. Wieczoreck-Zeul (two major speakers at the conference and two politicians devoted to food security questions) and ask for their support to put this topic on the agenda of the next G7/G8 meeting (it might be the wrong time right now, ...)
We should search for ways to make investments in agriculture more binding. The 20/20 mechanism of the Kopenhagen Summit on social development (which aimed at giving poverty reduction a higher priority) could serve as an examples. Other possibilities should be elaborated.
Maybe the donor community could bind itself to some sort of a trigger mechanism saying that food security measures will be the top priority if the number of hungry people exceeds more than 20% of the population in one country (according to FAO these are 54 countries). Such a commitment could be discussed at the +5 summit.
We should not spend to much energy on complaining that nobody is interested in food security. Instead, we should try to join the ongoing development debate by showing that food security problems are closely linked to much of the ongoing discussions.
Congratulations on your draft "Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020,"
which proposes sensible areas for policy action.
One omission, however, is the importance of public education on nutrition.
Last week's IFPRI paper: "Global Food Projections to 2020: Emerging Trends and Alternative Futures," commendably includes a very practical solution to the critical problem of malnutrition. You conclude: "With the price changes that stem from cutting per capita meat consumption by half in developed countries... the number of malnourished children in developing countries would decline by 3.6 million children in 2020 and by 1.2 million in Sub Saharan Africa." That estimate excludes the decline that would occur in the number of malnourished adults, were per capita meat consumption cut in half. Why is this fundamentally important and highly cost effective solution omitted from your draft "Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020"?
It follows from your second paper's conclusions that public education should aim to halve per capita meat consumption in developed countries, and to halt the dramatic increase in per capita meat consumption presently taking place in many developing countries. Such public education should not make it appear that well-nourished consumers would be sacrificing anything for the benefit of the malnourished. It should make clear that halving meat consumption would have strong benefits for those whose intake of meat is high, as it would help reduce record rates of obesity now appearing in many countries (developing as well as developed), and near-record rates of diet-related illnesses such as heart disease (in spite of high levels of consumption of cholesterol-lowering drugs).
To assist in this effort, the recommended areas for policy actions in "Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020" should also include the elimination of subsidies and investments favoring large-scale, grain-fed livestock production. The private sector should function without scarce public funds.
Robert Goodland, Environmental Adviser, World Bank
T. Colin Campbell, Director, China-Oxford-Cornell Diet and Health Project
Feedback was requested in the paper "Sustainable Food Security for all by 2020", and this was re-inforced by Rajul Pandya-Lorch in the penultimate plenary of the Bonn Conference. Given the numbers present at the conference, and its structure, it was often difficult for individuals to get their ideas expressed publicly there. These comments cover aspects that were only partially covered in the conference and this paper. Hopefully, they can be placed on the website, as others may be interested in the comments. Any constructive feedback would be warmly welcomed. I unfortunately had to miss the last half of the final plenary session of the Bonn Conference, at which some of the aspects mentioned below may have been raised.
First, without wishing to be pedantic, I was rather perturbed by the sloppy and popularistic use of certain terms by people in the conference, even by food security "professionals", which I consider hinders clarity. Many people seemed to consider that what we are about is overcoming "hunger". "Hunger" is the sensation of craving for food for an unsatiated digestive system. It is the indicator of a deficiency, but not the deficiency itself. In some countries particular foods are sometimes consumed to assuage such sensations. Rice is one example, as it immediately swells in the stomach, giving a swift feeling of repletion. Unfortunately, however, the effect is short-lived. I would contend that our prime concern is not the assuaging of hunger, but the provision of adequate nutritional needs. This is NOT the same as overcoming "malnutrition", which covers "undernutrition", "overeating" and "eating that is bad for health". In the Conference the spectre of obesity related problems was raised, and the health problems associated with overeating, or eating inappropriate diets. Although there are substantial problems related with this in relation to health, and these problems are growing in many countries (aggravated by unscrupulous food companies pushing inappropriate foods and diets), even sometimes simultaneously with, or in association with undernutrition, I do not see them as our prime concern. I see the prime concern as being one of ensuring that those people at risk of not obtaining adequate, regular nutritional needs, get the food they need, when they need it.
In that context, it is not just obtaining food to assuage hunger, but obtaining all the nutritional needs for healthy living. IFPRI, and others, have drawn attention to micronutrient deficiencies, and their importance. A full understanding of micronutrient needs is still not established (see the article by Heidi Fritschel in the IFPRI publication "The Unfinished Agenda" 2001). Unfortunately this aspect was hardly discussed in Bonn, and only slightly appears in the Draft Paper, and to my mind needs to be strongly included in the analysis.
Secondly, it was indicated that, although there has been progress over the last three decades in reducing undernutrition world-wide, that currently there are still about 800 million people who are at risk or already suffering from undernutrition. It was indicated that many of these are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, they include a significant proportion of children, and many of these people live in rural areas. Beyond this, however, neither the draft paper, nor the Bonn Conference, discussed in any depth the characteristics of this vulnerable category of people. There is a need to differentiate this category of people, and the characteristics and circumstances of different sub-categories in much more depth, if we are really wishing to overcome their food security problems.
In relation to this, there has also been no clear discussion or information, on how these differentiated categories have changed over time, what successful strategies have been developed for particular sub-categories, and which were most cost-effective. Nor was there any discussion of which particular sub-categories are likely to present the most difficulties in the next 20 years, and quantify this for different areas. There have been successes, but we need to learn much more from experience, from both successes and failures. The Draft Paper needs to address these aspects much more. Its focus in macro-economic and sectoral policies, appears to ignore efforts at targetting the vulnerable sub-categories of people. There is not even any discussion of the difficulties of targetting.
Besides this, there is little differentiation of different types of food insecurity. Food insecurity my be chronic, seasonal, occasional, or cataclysmic. There is no analysis of these different types of food insecurity, and how they apply to the particular sub-categories of people given above. While working on coping and adaptation strategies of food insecure people in Cambodia in 1995, I was struck by how much abrupt health changes and illnesses in particular households could make such households very food insecure, even households that had previously been considered "comfortably-off" (and this was before the HIV/AIDS problems had really hit Cambodia). It suggests that we should be looking even wider than our 800 million, and seeing which households and people could be vulnerable to food insecurity from cataclysmic events, particularly of war, illness and natural disaster (all of which have been shown to have significant impacts on food insecurity).
In this context, too, although food availability can still be a significant factor to monitor and ensure, in recent decades, there has been more consciousness of the importance of access of individual households and individuals to the food they need, and their asset and income bases for achieving this. These vulnerable people are far from passive in relation to their plight. In the last decade more attention has been given to the coping and adaptation strategies adopted by food insecure individuals and households to overcome food insecurity, as well as to policies and measures to help such strategies. Unfortunately, this was neither discussed at the Conference, nor appears in the Draft Paper.
In looking at the food insecure in rural areas, there still appeared a rather undue attention at the Conference to the development of agriculture, as the major means of overcoming food insecurity in rural areas. One or two people drew attention to the fact that in many rural areas more food insecure households have already diversified their income sources, such that remittances, trading activities, craft-work, fishing, hunting, high-value mineral extraction, charcoal-production, transport route maintenance etc., often now constitute significant sources of income, often exceeding that coming from agriculture. These aspects need to be seen much more in a context of rural income-generation potentials, and rural area economic development stimulus. There is also a need for fuller understanding of rural labour markets, and how the more food insecure households can, and do, link with those labour markets. Unfortunately, none of this really got discussed at the Conference or in the paper, although the second policy objective in the paper does begin to address it.
Turning more specifically to the Draft Paper, it starts by outlining 9 "driving forces" that are considered to be expected to be important over the next 20 years. Unfortunately, there is no effort to weigh the comparative importance of each. Nor is there much discussion of the extent to which these driving forces are being addressed, or are likely to be addressed, which could strongly influence how much each "driving force" is likely to influence matters. The comparative importance of each (and maybe others) needs to be looked at in much more depth. Some of them, such as globalisation/trade liberalisation, reflect a current trend that has been pushed politically, and the demonstrations of Seattle and Genoa, besides numerous other re-actions, have suggested that there may be even more resistance to this trend in forthcoming years, and greater tendencies towards autarky instead.
Of the 7 policy directions indicated in the paper, I had a certain sympathy with the participant at the Conference, who felt it too strongly reminded him of a structural adjustment programme. Although the digital voting system was used during the Conference to get some sounding of the considered comparative importance of each amongst Conference participants, without a more detailed knowledge of the biases and experience of the participants, such spot responses are of limited value. Many participants may have knowledge of some areas, but be very unfamiliar with others (e.g. biotechnology, trade barriers, climate change or natural resource degradation). There is a need for much broader discussion to weigh the comparative importance of different policy groupings. The particular slants of some of these groupings, may influence the responses to the grouping as a whole, where individual elements of these groupings may be given different weightings. The process is also complicated by some overlap and duplication between groupings (e.g. Number 3 is involved with "improving markets", but number 7 is also involved in "national trade").
Although, over the years, I have worked on aspects of transport planning, rural extension, eating-habits, crop diversification and intensification, employment policy, international food commodity trading, household coping and adaptation analysis, and wider food security planning, my prime experience is in the functioning of the domestic marketing systems for basic foods and food crops, and government policies in relation to the development of these, and most of the remaining comments given below will be directed to that aspect.
Although, significant attention was given in the draft paper and the Conference to "Globalisation" and International trade, comparatively little attention was given to the problems of domestic agricultural marketing, particularly of basic food crops. Nevertheless, one participant from Kenya indicated that one of the main concerns that farmers expressed to her before she came to the Conference was in relation to their possibilities to market their produce. One World Bank participant also expressed their current concern to find effective means for stimulating producer association for marketing purposes. Another African participant drew attention to considerations of post-harvest aspects, and local agro-processing, which she considered had not really been addressed in the Conference. Even the Mistress of Ceremonies of the Conference from IFPRI, raised the need to discuss "Domestic Marketing" more.
Over the last two decades much policy in relation to domestic agricultural marketing has focussed (led more by macro-economists, rather than agricultural marketing practitioners) on price and trade liberalisation (both in relation to domestic and international trade), getting the state out of direct involvement in agricultural marketing, and encouraging privatisation. It was envisaged that such policies would achieve major gains. Nevertheless, at the end of this time, many domestic agricultural marketing systems are still not functioning well, and problems of agricultural marketing often become a major topic of discussion in Cabinet meetings of developing country governments. Often the nascent emerging private sector has either been unable or unwilling to undertake trading functions that would lead to a stable and efficient marketing system that would aid longer-term development. More recently, there have even been calls to "help" the private sector in a number of ways, to enable them to function and make their profits, and the state is being resurrected to be a "support" to the private sector, but only along clearly defined and limited lines. The problems of domestic agricultural marketing are many and various, but have often been particularly great in relation to the marketing of basic food crops.
Some of these problems are:
Inadequate transport and telecommunications networks and infrastructure, and deficient transport means and their operation (beginning to be addressed, but involves much more than just building arterial and/or feeder roads, and privatising railways and/or domestic coastal shipping networks);
Inadequate operational financing, particularly where privatised banking has led to a greater focus on short-term return financing, that does not allow for the retention and later sale of basic food crops, where seasonal price ranges exist, but are not particularly predictable (only really being addressed by inventory credit and microfinance schemes, that are not really getting anywhere near overcoming the problem);
With the removal of state marketing boards (however inefficient they may have been - and not all of them were!), there are often no secondary buyers, willing or able, to purchase and store basic food crops over time to help stabilise the market, and get crops promptly purchased, often resulting in surpluses resting with producers, and smaller intermediaries not being able to operate;
A number of the bigger intermediaries entering the crop trading system, having a mix of economic interests, amongst which the marketing of basic food crops often has a low priority, and too many risks involved in it, so they can tend to eschew it;
A number of small traders entering the marketing system, primarily as an immediate source of income, and these traders not developing a high level of knowledge in relation to the crops in which they are trading, and also often being unstable economic operators, moving in and out of the system, with limited resources and experience.
In recent years, IFPRI, has begun to undertake some research into input and output marketing, but has hardly begun to scratch the surface of issues that need to be addressed. It is not just a question of providing transport, storage and/or telecommunications infrastructure, without also addressing its sustained maintenance, the availability of appropriate transport means, their operators, and the effectiveness of their operations. There is still far too little good analysis of the development of different categories of intermediary in agricultural marketing systems, the functions they are performing, their resources, experience and constraints, and how they link with each other. Also it is often forgotten that a major aim of private sector operators is not to compete, but actually to reduce competition to their advantage (either by monopoly or cartel formation, or by control of market information or the dissemination of market dis-information). Such activities can and do lead to distorted market functioning, and do not enable a marketing system that works to the advantage of either producers or consumers.
A number of countries are unlikely to be able to reach a level "playing field" to compete in international markets, until they have more stable and efficient domestic marketing systems. It is still much easier and less costly to import a ship load of grain from North American ports to African coastal urban centres (leaving aside the question of production and shipping subsidies that such grain often gets), than to transport the same grain by land 150 kilometres from the same urban centre. In such circumstances the domestic supplier is unlikely to ever have a chance to get started towards a level playing field. It is as one participant at the Conference described, more like a "vertical cliff"!
On a last matter, at the Conference, the quick digital voting poll indicated that about 70% of the participants who voted, considered that at best there would only be a 20% reduction in the numbers of food insecure people up to 2020. If so many of the people involved with food security have such pessimism, is it just a laudable, but unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, this question was not followed up. It would help to know what the factors are that led participants to such a pessimistic position, because it is only in looking in more detail at the blocking forces, that efforts can really be made to turn them round. It is clear that the sums required to achieve food security for all are not great in relation to arms expenditure, developed country subsidies etc., and that these types of comparisons need to be more fully pushed into the public domaine and with policy makers. There is a need for strong advocacy? Who will provide it?
Government and Agricultural Marketing Consultants
September 9, 2001
Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020
I am not sure how the conclusion is reached that rapid pro poor ‘economic growth’ (and effective provision of public goods – but I do not object to this as strongly!) will be key to sustainable food security? Food insecurity is a problem that should have a targeted response. Experience has shown that when macro-economic growth is prioritised, this is not necessarily beneficial to poverty alleviation. Rather than economic growth shouldn’t the potential for self-sufficiency be the primary step – with basic asset provision/protection (especially, land, collateral + minimum housing provision) and capacity building? As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows, there is no point in aiming for higher aspirations (economic growth) until basic shelter and security objectives are fulfilled.
Also, the reference to ‘public goods creation’ is incomplete, as this should, surely, include the protection/enhancement of public goods (where these already exist)?
Line 5: Should this say ‘productive resources and/or employment (as self sufficiency could be obtained without employment in a farming situation).
Lines 5 & 6: Problem with ‘and’ again. Shouldn’t this say/mean that policies and institutions are needed to facilitate access by rural poor families to inputs, knowledge (including – but not solely – to appropriate technologies) and, where appropriate employment (farm and non farm). Shouldn’t this include markets/distribution channels too? As drafted it seems incomplete, with key elements missing?
Line 8: Why agro-industries? Industrial livestock farming, for example, does not enhance rural situation/employment. Or does this mean e.g. local food processing/manufacturing industries? If so, clarification needed.
Para (4): This could usefully include the novel use of products (for new market opportunities).
Para (5): Not sure about reference to low agricultural productivity leading to exploitation of natural resources? Low productivity does not necessarily lead to natural resource exploitation… This depends on management. This paragraph is misleading as drafted. Our primary concern is the detrimental impact of intensive/industrial systems, which is well-documented.
Also, concerned at reference to policies promoting chemical fertilizer use for soil fertility. This is short-term gain, rather than sustainable (organic) solutions available.
(6): As regards ‘good governance, should it be categorically stated that comprehensive legislation and effective enforcement is necessary (i.e. including education and advice, not just prosecution).
(7): In practice, how could globalisation be guided to benefit the poor? Sceptically, I would say that the only way would be by the imposition of a ‘poverty tax’ on private export gains!
Last Para: Indent 2. Improving access to productive resources and/or remunerative employment.
First Para: Indent (7). Here again, I would question the value of promotion of macroeconomic policies and international trade in countries where when food security is primary concern. In such cases, surely national agricultural/food policies should support and advise with regard to sustainable pro-poor initiatives, and aim at self-sufficiency (with efficiency) in the first instance.
As regards livestock farming, we would like to see a level playing field both by the internalising of externalities (taxes/duties) and by the payment of subsidies to enhance ‘public goods’.
As regards livestock, R & D should not be aimed towards increasing yields per land area, but on sustainable and humane systems.
Para 2: The agro-ecological approach is criticised due to low labour productivity. However, in a ‘developing’ country situation, higher employment may be desirable?
Para 3: As well as more judicious use of inputs, appropriate land management techniques, such as (crop/livestock) rotation.
Para 2: ‘Scientific apartheid’ exists already for economic reasons. Situation described would not lead to it – because if ‘developed’ countries took (ethical) decisions in favour of moratorium, there would be no such research in those ‘developed’ countries either. The language in this paragraph is over-emotional and inaccurate. It appears persuasively in favour of biotech, rather than analytical and measured.
3rg Para: The argumentation in this paragraph is convoluted and lacking strength and logic. The fact is that – in the case of intensive/industrial livestock farming – experience has shown that intensification in industrialised countries (and some ‘developing’ countries) leads to environmental degradation. It would be more honest and logical to say that if intensification follows the model of industrialised countries, then environmental degradation is likely. Therefore, a new model is needed.
Penultimate Para: Increased fertiliser use only boosts productivity and reduces land degradation in the short-term, not on a sustainable basis. Sustainable (e.g. organic) solutions should be found.
First Para: The whole question of plant-based food v meat should be examined. The question of food security cannot be adequately examined without an analytical look at relative productivity (and health/nutritional aspects), given limited resources.
Para 3: There should be support for the conservation of both plant and livestock genetic resources (indigenous and adapted breeds in the case of livestock).
Para 4: The term ‘more sustainable and socially just’ could be amended to ‘more sustainable and ethical’ – this gives a wider, more encompassing meaning?
Last Para: I would suggest that fees/levies could also be raised on food export earnings (especially as regards countries not yet self-sufficient in food.
IFPRI's draft paper on "Sustainable Food Security For all By 2020"
Dear Madam, dear Sir!
As welcomed on the front page of the a.m. draft paper, we would like to comment on some of the aspects mentioned.
First of all, it is our impression that this paper gives a good description of the reasons for our failure to achieve a sustainable food supply situation world-wide, even though progress has been and is visible. At the same time, fields of action are identified and described which de-serve rapid and lasting attention.
It seems that, similar to the consequences to be derived from Agenda 21, a next step must be to find allies, to set up and agree upon binding action plans - and then go for them in various partnerships and on various levels.
However, besides these general comments, we would like to add some thoughts on Inte-grated Pest Management, or rather Integrated Crop Management, or even Integrated Farm-ing. In your draft paper, Integrated Pest Management is described as part of the agroecologi-cal approach, and it is described as a system with relatively low labour productivity and yields.
Whereas this characterisation of the agroecological approach might be correct with regard to efficiency and yield, such a judgement does not do justice to Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Common understanding of IPM is not one of a low input or low efficiency system. It is rather a modern - and highly sustainable - strategy in farming. It is a systematic approach which dwells on an abundance of experiences and on the outcome of actual research, on the site-specific choice of cultivation practices, cultivars, cropping systems, biological and physi-cal weed and pest control, and on agrochemicals - as one more tool from the tool box. With regard to agrochemicals, there is the rule of "as much as necessary but as little as possible" - and as a consequence of this systematic approach, IPM is just the complete opposite of a system with low labour productivity and yield.
In this context, Integrated Crop Management (ICM) or even Integrated Farming (IF) deserve a by far larger attention. If degradation of soils is a serious matter to deal with, if nutrient de-pletion of soils is to be kept in mind, if too strong a dependency on external inputs is identi-fied as a hazard to the sustainability of a production system, then integrated systems more than any other approach offer chances to achieve sustainable yield increases - and, along with these, improvements of the global food security and of the local environments.
A second thought has to be kept in mind as well. Even if political and social conditions will improve globally, even if the seven broad areas of policies described in IFPRI's draft paper are covered to a satisfying extent, climatic hazards still will persist. Accordingly, food aid will be necessary to varying degrees in various countries again and again. Besides, there are re-gions on this planet which will never be able to bear the amount of food needed by the peo-ple living there. As a consequence, regions with favourite conditions will have to produce more than what the people living there actually need. It seems that food security can become reality on a global scale. It is very unlikely, however, to become reality in every region and country of this planet at any given time.
As a last thought, we would like to add the idea of soil (and water, and nutrients...) as limited resources. In the light of a growing world population, the efficiency of the use of these re-sources will become more and more important. The less soil and water and nutrients are needed for one kg of grain, the more effective - and the more sustainable - production sys-tems will be, and the easier we will reach our common target of sustainable food security for all.
EISA - EUROPEAN INITIATIVE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NACHHALTIGE LANDWIRTSCHAFT E.V.
(ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE FARMING)
p.o. Dr. Andreas Frangenberg
I thought the paper was comprehensive, well-structured and concise. I have
several minor comments and a couple of major ones which I I will make here:
The cover asks the question "have we got the priorities right?" My
instinctive response was "whose priorities?" Obviously these are broad-brush
global priorities that derive from reviews and reports, mainly by IFPRI,
which could be considered as the new conventional wisdom...it may be useful
to state this.
I get the sense that, with regard to nutrition, there is household
food security and there is micronutrient malnutrition. The former clearly
does not equate with individual nutritional well-being which in turn does
not depend on micronutrient adequacy alone. Persistent, chronic nutritional
deprivation (manifested by child stunting and wasting) is not an "emerging
or re-emerging" problem, it's a problem that's caused by deficits in food,
health and care that's always been with us, and it is not decreasing nearly
fast enough. One way of flagging this would be to put more emphasis on the
need for a life-cycle approach to nutrition, wherein birthweight is a
critical indicator -- particularly as this was not mentioned in the section
on driving force number 4.
The conclusion does not do justice to the main text. The main reason
is the fallback onto "political will" As the report states, political will
is a cliche, and a very tired one at that, that is probably no longer
helpful. Most decision-makers are inured to such exhortations. Furthermore,
from a human rights perspective there is no such thing as political will --
there is a political CHOICE. This means that a government may choose to
address child malnutrition, or not. To the extent that it has the capacity
to act, it should be held accountable for such choices. Political will on
the other hand somehow implies that such a duty to act is negotiable, rather
than an ethical imperative.
Overall though I thought this was a very good report.
Stuart Gillespie, PhD
International Food Policy Research Institute
2033 K Street, N.W.,
Washington DC 20006-1002, USA
We propose the following change
Conserving and UTILIZING Plant Genetic Resources
Efforts to implement the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and
Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture (FAO 1996) should be reinforced. This entails, inter alia, adequate financing of
international and national genebanks to ensure that these resources
remain available for breeding of food crops. It is essential for global
food security that this collections are kept in a public domain
accessible for current and future plant breeding. This can be
facilitated under the recently revised FAO International Undertaking
(IU) and requires adoption and ratification by states without undue
We are a family of 5, including 1 grandson 5yr old.
Read where you are having a conference for "World Food 2020". We belong to
FARM "Farm Animal Reform Movement". We are not total vegetarians, as we have been raised on meat & animal by products. However if we had known how the animals were raised and abused, it would have torn our stomachs apart!!
How can we humans call ourselves civilized when we do such atrocities, inhumane to these helpless creatures of God!. When Jesus fed the multitudes, he did not slaughter a cow, or animal, he fed the people FISH and BREAD.
It has been proven that people in Asia who eat very little meat or none at all are more healthy than Americans who stuff themselves with steak, chops, chicken .
If we were meant to eat meat, we would have fangs, like a dog or cat.
We have flat teeth, meant for grinding grains, fruits etc Anyone that promotes flesh eating of animals is very hateful, unconscionable, and will surely end up on the short end.
Please do not promote factory farming!! Do the world a favor ,yourself and your loved ones.
I would like to congratulate for a very wide range of topics covering document.I would like to add the following subjects, which are missing, or not enough emphasized:
Developing water resources
Rain and stream water harvesting, to enrich water resources.
Constructing water reservoirs, and increasing the volume capacity of existing reservoirs.
Enhancing the use of Drip Irrigation as a saving water method.
Enhancing the use of fertilizers application through Drip Irrigation system( fertigion), For precise application and reducing the hazard of water table contamination.
Introducing soil drainage methods to avoid water logging and high water table.
Sustainable use of saline water for irrigating salt tolerant crops
Recycling sewage water for irrigation use and social ecological solution.
Soil\Water \Plant Laboratory Regional service for farmers for improving plant nutrition and efficient water use for irrigation.
Regional Field -Service Extension agencies, to farmers for saving water and efficient irrigation.
In addition to the Urban Agriculture, which was mentioned, I would like to emphasize the Peri Urban Agriculture, which is the rapidly changing structure of farming around the urban area, as a result of adoption to the consumption features of the neighborhood urban inhabitance.
Agricultural Regional Research and Development (R&D), entities.
I would like to illuminate the conception of partnership between researchers,
Agricultural Extension agent and farmer representatives, on a regional level, to form a Committee which will decide on priorities on farmers technologies need, research and extension working programs.
In these R&D committees, the farmer’s role could be dominant, especially if the initiative is theirs and they contribute to the common budget.
Under this combination, the technical solutions and relevant knowledge to farmer, will be supply in relative short time.
Since the market is the outlet for agricultural production, market information on all levels, plays a decisive role. Marketing information services on regional, national and international (export) level has to be established and supplied to farmers in true time.
Such marketing research will lead to find the commercial advantages of certain regions and to an increase of farmers’ income.
Agricultural developing of marginal areas.
Desertification as a result of bad agricultural practices is well known. The reveres procedures of combating desertification by introducing water resource development, irrigation and new technologies of advanced agriculture in the desert
Also the role of agro pasturing in marginal areas could be mentioned.
Also developing methods for crops wind protection and decreasing the hazard of sand dunes crawling, could be mentioned.
By using agricultural sustainable method, marginal areas as deserts, wetlands, sand dunes and others can play a huge role in food security.
Soil Conservation methods
Since erosion is a major factor for soil loss and soil fertility, soil conservation methods as building terraces, contour cultivation on slops, constructing water ways, drainage, reforestation ,combating fires and others has an enormous role in food security.
Raanan Katzir, Director,
"SACOG, " Sustainable Agriculture Consulting Group"
4 Efter St. Tel Aviv, 69362, ISRAEL.
Tel: (-972-3)-6991381.Celular: (-972-58)-727-976
Fax: (-972-3-) 6990152. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020
Draft: August 23, 2001
Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. K. Sommer, Agrikulturchemisches Institut,Karlrobert Kreiten-Str. 13, D-53115 Bonn . Germany
The draft to a certain extent are slogans which to some kind hit the problems existing but they don't offer ideas for solutions. It has to be realised that during the last decades the situation in developing countries has changed especially according to the density of population also in rural areas. Furthermore for villages and towns the farmers have to grow much more then for the subsistence of their families and new technologies promote the development of larger farms.
Secure access to land
The claim for secure access to land for rural poor people sounds very social and quite honourable, but something should be added: "Secure access to fertile land for people who are capable to use the land professionally". Because of the density of population in many areas the time of subsistance farming and shifting cultivation is over and common people on their level of education are not able to till the land efficiently and carfully in respect to very difficult soils and the extreme environmental and climatic conditions. Devastation and the loss of land quite often are the results. This doesn't mean that these problems in any case are solved better by big land owners.
Expectations of policies and institutions
The postulation: "Policies and institutions are needed to help farmers to replenish the plant nutrients removed from the soils through better utilization of available organic material, better production practices and use of chemical fertilizers," is quite easy. To solve these problems in practice is something else. Organic matter should be recycled, but specially in tropical areas organic material should be handled very carfully in mulching systems covering and protecting the soil surface against weathering and the loss of water by evotranspiration. The minerilsation of the organic matter as plant residues should be delayed by nitrogen deficiency as much as possible. This means that broad-casting of nitrogen fertilizers should be avoided. The uptake of nutrients by the plants should be favoured below the surface layer of organic matter. By this way the high fixation of plant nutrients in ferralitic soils and the activation of phytotoxic aluminum and iron from the sorption complexes of these soils after the application of mineral fertilizers could be controlled. In principle crop production in the area "South of the Sahara in Africa" on ferralitic soils should follow the system of minimum tillage in combination with the "CULTAN"-System (Controlled Uptake Long Term Ammonium Nutrition). This technique successfully and convincingly was developed by our working group during the past decades for any crop and location, Sommer, 2000. By the "CULTAN"-System the excessiv use of pesticides, water pollution and soil degradation, resulting from excessice use of chemical inputs, can be controlled very effectively, also in hands of people with low levels of education in farming, when they receive the adequate technique
Improvement of food availability
There will remain a wrong impression according to the improvement of availability of food in different developing areas, just by a statement that during the last 30 years the situation in South Asia has improved much more than in the area of Sub-Saharean Africa. The specific difficulties in the salinity and lack of water in irrigated areas are mentioned. But in the humid tropics of Africa in general the soils are old, weathered, leached and degradated. These soils can not be used for crop production efficiently by procedures which are developed for the semihumid areas. In one case calcium is the cation on the sorption complex of the soils, in the other aluminum, iron and manganese are dominating. In these areas there is no much choice to concentrate crop production on the better soils of young vulcanic ashes. Up to now it is possible to leave difficult soils behind use, as practiced in some areas of Central America. Furthermore in the areas of Africa mentioned desperating situations in food supply favour civil wars which destroy the rest of the organisation of these countries and the sensitive beginnings of very successful agricultural projects. Manuals how to handle these ferralitic soils for crop production successfully, was worked out in a very good farm project of the "Bong Mining Company", Liberia, West Afrika, Sommer, 1979.
Sustainable food security
In comparison to the "World Food Conference in Rome, 1974" it is a good progress that the statement of this conference of 2001 in Bonn quite clear tells the truth, that by business as usual no sustainable food security can be achieved.
Sweeping technolocal changes
Advances in molecular biology are high wellcomed in of crop production and food sucurity. But it should be realised that high potentials of the plants only can be realised by adequate crop management. Advances in the techniques of fertilisation in relation to plant physiology and soil protection should be taken into account and have a high priority in transformation to praxis.
Degradation of natural resources and increasing water scarcity
To improve the control of soil degradation the farmers have to learn to treat the soils by high skilled minimum tillage and optimum yields per area. Soil erosion has to be prevented and the loss of water by evotranspiration has to be minimized by modern fertilizer management. For this it may be inevitable to apply modern fertilizer techniques in larger farm units. As mentioned in the draft, the future of small-scale family farms also for this reason is very uncertain.
In total it can be realised that the general opinion about "sustainable food security" by now seemes to be more realistic than befor. This is a big progress in the direction of solving the problems present in an acceptable period of time, when more scientists will return to applied research and the training of local poeple in the management of modern farming by capable advisers will be intensified.
Sommer, K. 1979: Influence of sulphate on nutrient dynamics in humid-tropical soils
The Bong Range Farmer, Ed. No. 2, Bong Mining Company, Liberia
Sommer, K. 1979: Interactions between sulphate and pH-values in humid-tropical soils
The Bong Range Farmer, Ed. No. 3, Bong Mining Company, Liberia
The papers are publications of the "Bong Mining Company". After the farm project and the mine because of the civil war are closed, the manuals can be received from the author.
K. Sommer, 2000: "CULTAN" Cropping System: Fundamentals, state of development and perspectives; In: Nitrogen in a sustainable ecosystem: from the cell to the plant.
Edited by M.A. Martins-Loucao & S.H. Lips, pp. 361 - 375
Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands
K. Sommer, 2000: "CULTAN" bei Getreide, Hackfrüchten, Feldgemüse und Grünland
Leitfaden für die Praxis, ( Title in engl.: "CULTAN" in cereales, potatoes and sugar beets, vegetables and pastures)
Vertrieb: Stahlbau Küppers GmbH, Waldhufenstraße 9, 52525 Heinsberg, Germany
AUGUST 31, 2001 -- My name is Adriana Stuijt. (telephone country: 31) 519-562-936) As a long-time medical journalist covering the Southern African region, I have read your Draft Report for the Bonn conference Sept. 4- 6 with great interest.
Based on my in-the-field observations of the agricultural situation in Southern Africa I would venture to say that your Draft Report's estimates -- based as I noticed they had been on 1997 figures in quite a few cases -- and as far as they pertain to the sub-Saharan African region are, to say the least, highly optimistic:
The agricultural sector in the entire Southern African region is in fact at this very moment in serious collapse due to the poor agricultural policies and poor socio-economic governance of most of the governments here.
This poor governance centers mainly around the widespread high-level confusion which still exists among many African pastoral tribal communities about their urgent need for housing and feeding their own families in urban environments -- and the fact that excess-crop-producing agricultural holdings should not be used for housing homeless subsistence families instead, but should ONLY be used to produce excess, affordable commercial crops to sustain food security for the entire region.
Reference to your Draft 's item (1) Investing in Human Resources:
Human Resources: While many African governments are making praiseworthy investments in human resources by encouraging widespread education of thousands of new tribal farmers in their "Africanisation of agriculture" programmes (Tanzania and Malawi are prime examples) many other governments such as Zimbabwe's, Namibia's and South Africa, have instead decided on a "fast-track", highly aggressive and volatile Africanisation programme for all their commercial agricultural holdings -- and which programmes are leading to very rapid, growing food insecurity throughout the Southern African region right now, this year.
Capable commercial farmers of ethnic-European stock are now being chased off and terrorised off their (excess crop-producing) farms by the hundreds in Zimbabwe and South Africa alike -- with the predictable result that the subsistence homeless families now taking over and building homes on these valuable agriculturally-enriched farmlands are proving completely incapable of rapidly developing crop-producing abilities.
Certainly it can be seen already that these poor, agriculturally-uneducated subsistence families right now in Zimbabwe -- many headed only by women -- are not learning commercial crop-production nearly rapidly enough to help produce excess crops routinely and thus feed the rest of their countries' populations at this very moment. They are barely able to sustain themselves in fact.
In fact the devastation caused in the Zimbabwe landscape from rapid soil erosion caused by current, grossly mismanaged "slash-and-burn" subsistence farming can even be clearly seen on Landsat pictures from space and other results such as the past two years' excessive flooding in downstream Mozambique.
So the long-term crop-producing abilities of this landscape are being destroyed even now. How this landscape will ever recover and how the international community addresses this, are both totally interlinked.
The underlying problem this entire disaster is caused by this clear misunderstanding among these above-mentioned Southern African leaders about "landlessness" versus "homelessness" -- a tragic misunderstanding which has created this terrible agricultural crisis, and which is leading to widespread famine throughout the Southern African region at this very moment -- not projected into the year 2020 -- but now.
Zimbabwe will be running out of its staple food maize by September, for instance -- and now has to turn to South Africa's (primarily Afrikaner) commercial farmers to buy export maize from, just to stave off famine.
On 27 August 2001 Sapa-DPA reported that Zimbabwean Agriculture Minister Joseph Made had announced that his government will have to import 100,000 tons of maize, -- half of what famine monitoring agencies say is the bare minimum to avert famine early next year when all their maize stocks are depleted.
He said the grain would be imported from South Africa, but gave no indication whether this would be food aid or donations. (Economists say that Zimbabwe's economic crisis and critical foreign currency shortage precludes it from paying for food imports).
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation and many other experts predict that at least 200,000 tons will have to be imported to stave off famine there. Organisations also warn that it is late to be ordering.
"Zimbabwe has not taken a position on the maize market in South Africa to secure its import requirements," said a spokesman for the Commercial Grain Producers' Association.
On August 25, an urgent food security meeting of the eight-member ministerial committee from the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) was held in which they named South Africa as the only country producing excess maize crops -- the staple diet of three quarters of the SADC states.
SA's Afrikaner farmers targetted in more than 6,500 armed attacks - nearly 1,200 farm occupants in South Africa have already murdered between 1/1994 and August 2001 -- 89% victims were Afrikaner farmers:
Yet due to the above-mentioned and still increasing armed farm attacks against their own primarily Afrikaner community, South Africa's maize farms this year are also producing considerably less food as hard-hit agricultural families are vacating the land. More than 20,000 Afrikaner farmers have already voluntarily left the sector since 1994 mainly because of the violence against them.
Regional experts currently estimate that SADC - which consumes an average 28.35 million tons of cereal a year - now has a cereal deficit of 3.22 million tons after a widespread drop in production since 1994.
SADC is made up of Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
On September 2, the SADC states must have another report-back meeting in Mauritius to announce their export needs from South Africa - the region's economic powerhouse and the only one with a grain surplus - or from other countries.
Due to poor governance under the Mbeki-government, violence has in fact become rampant in South Africa -- and is icnreasingly destabilizing the country's economy, including in the countryside.
I refer you to the SA Police's own website statistics: http://www.saps.org.za/8_crimeinfo/bulletin/200106/jm2001.htm showing the results of this rampant and apparently uncontrollable crime wave -- in which since 1994, more than 200,000 people have already been killed in South Africa in violence-related incidents.
But the crime epidemic is worsening the food security situation even more -- because as the crisis grows, the local governments increasingly take "scapegoat"decisions targeting the ethnic-European communities in their countries. Thus they are taking disastrous political decisions which are economically highly unsound -- such as fast-track Africanisation of agricultural land -- taken by African leaders which include Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Sam Nujoma of Namibia.
These leaders are forcing fast-track, highly rapid Africanisation of all their commercial agricultural holdings - by deliberately forcing violent removal of the current ethnic-European agricultural communities.
In Zimbabwe, this has now turned into a route, a terror campaign which has in fact been labelled as "rampant racism targeting one ethnic group" by the South African Human Rights Commission in August 2001.
You predict in your Draft report that at less than 2,300 calories per person per day at the moment, average food availability in Sub-Saharan Africa will barely meet requirements as it is.
You also point that throughout Africa today, low soil fertility and lack of access to reasonably priced fertilizers, along with past and current failures to replenish soil nutrients in many countries, should be rectified through efficient use of organic and inorganic fertilizers and improved soil management.
Why is it then that this very community which is actually reinvesting all the time in undertaking this requirement to enrich agricultural land, is now being deliberately being removed from commercial agricultural holdings which had proven their high-crop producing capability in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia?
And leading agricultural experts in the Western world, who are so concerned with the growing food insecurity in this region -- are simply not speaking up to stop this?
The scenarios out outlined in your conference Draft paper, and I quote, "point to one inescapable conclusion: that even rather small changes in agricultural and development policies and investments, made in both developed and developing countries, can have wide-reaching effects on the number of poor and undernourished people around the world. "
Would you not agree therefore that the current disastrous fast-track forced removal of ethnic-European farmers (primarily of Afrikaner stock) throughout the Southern African region must also have a massive, indeed a devastating long-term effect on the food security of this entire region?