Displaying 1-20 of 43 key documents
Source: IISD | June 2012
This paper gives an overview of the financing needs of smallholder farmers, their current sources of financing, and ways to deliver these funds to help them achieve the triple dividends of enhanced food security, increased resilience to climate change, and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases. It offers recommendations for mobilising investment to enable further progress towards this goal.
The authors argue that there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution, and suggest that adaptation funds and the private sector could be a source of additional support, in the absence of public sector financing for agriculture or a carbon market for smallholders. They conclude with recommendations for policymakers, such as building on prior experience and knowledge, and creating an enabling environment for climate-smart agricultural investment.
This report presents the results of a study of six African agricultural carbon projects and identifies institutional innovations — such as financial management and carbon monitoring systems — that have helped make them successful. It also puts forward emerging research questions and discusses the future of the project.
The study found that direct carbon payments to farmers were low, but non-cash benefits were received after careful management. The projects successfully established systems for financial management, agricultural extension, and carbon monitoring, using a complex set of partnerships. They also found that mechanisms for settling conflict over land and benefits were crucial, as were methods for managing power dynamics to ensure equitable decision-making and participation.
Source: OECD-FAO | June 2012
This is the eighteenth edition of the Agricultural Outlook, which outlines projected market trends (from 2012 to 2021) for major agricultural commodities and biofuels, and presents recent developments and uncertainties associated with those markets. It focuses on the challenges of meeting the rising demand for food alongside input costs, resource constraints, environmental pressures and the impacts of climate change.
The report finds that world prices for many agricultural crops are expected to remain high over the long-term, in spite of a short-term decline. It highlights progress in improving the sustainability of agricultural practices, and calls for the private sector to take a leading role in creating the right environment.
The report concludes by arguing for better agronomic practices and commercial, technical and regulatory environments, and strengthening agricultural innovation systems, as essential policy challenges. It calls for developing countries to invest in agricultural infrastructure in rural areas and in human capital, and to put in place policies for reducing food loss and waste.
Source: World Agroforestry Centre | June 2012
This book compiles the findings of over a decade of ecoregional research and methodological innovation by the Africa Highlands Initiative, drawing on case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. It describes the experiences of stakeholders involved in integrated natural resource management (INRM) activities in the eastern Africa highlands.
The book showcases innovative tools and practical methods for putting INRM into action, and tangible results from these efforts in five countries. It shows the importance of an integrated approach to managing agro-ecosystems, and includes lessons learned on what works, where and why. It also shows that achieving sustainable agricultural development in the region is a complex task, and requires combined efforts and commitment by individuals and institutions with complementary roles.
Source: ICRISAT | January 2012
This paper looks at how climate change could affect the rate of phenological development — biological events related to climate, such as flowering — and rainfall patterns during the growing season. The authors suggest that these changes may result in mismatch between water demand by crops and water availability from rainfall.
The paper describes a project that combines a new analysis of meteorological data with previously published data on climatic changes to assess the expected consequences of this mismatch for food security.
The authors illustrate how understanding how key crops might be affected by climate change in the Asia-Pacific region can help farmers, community workers and policymakers to prepare and adapt. Strategies include timing of planting, managing rainwater resources, use of new varieties, alternate crops and shifts in geographic distribution of crops.
Source: UNU-MERIT | June, 2011
This paper describes two case studies of smallholder farms in South Africa to assess the processes involved in agricultural innovation carried out jointly with farmers. It highlights the importance of experimentation and cooperation for cash crop and subsistence farmers, and reviews current policies to evaluate how grassroots innovation is being supported in South Africa.
The paper points to inadequate policy support for grassroots innovation. It outlines the characteristics of innovation systems including social contexts, learning cycles and self-reflection, and discusses intellectual property rights. The authors identify triggers for innovation, including the potential to cut down on labour, and suggest that policymakers and local communities need to engage in cooperative activities to create an enabling environment for grassroots innovation. Policy suggestions include creating links between formal and informal research and viewing collaboration as a key indicator of success.
Source: Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (CSACC) | March 2012
This report lays out a set of policy recommendations for the sustainable intensification of agriculture and reduction of food waste to create a resilient global food system. Based on a review of scientific evidence, it pinpoints seven actions that policymakers — including those attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) — should adopt to foster sustainable agriculture and efficient food supply chains.
Recommendations include integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into global and national policies;
intensifying agricultural production while reducing negative environmental impacts; and creating comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems.
This policy roadmap will require the reshaping of food production, distribution and consumption patterns, and empowering vulnerable populations to build a sustainable global food system.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) | December 2011
This report examines how agricultural research, and practices can promote gender equality, and why the distinct role of women in achieving food security must be recognised.
It gives an overview of how gender should be integrated throughout the research, development, and extension system. It explores ways of integrating gender in conducting research; designing, implementing, and adopting extension services; setting agricultural agendas; and evaluating the impact of gender equity initiatives.
The authors review evidence on the significance of gender issues, and present a conceptual framework that links different contributors to the agricultural innovation cycle. They discuss the data needed to inform gender-sensitive decisions and priority-setting, and argue that agricultural researchers must be attuned to gender issues in how technologies are developed and adopted. Each chapter provides a summary of findings and recommendations.
Source: UNEP | February 2012
This report, which is part of the UN Foresight Initiative, describes the 21 most pressing emerging global environmental issues — those recognised as very important to well-being by the scientific community, but are not yet receiving enough attention from the policymakers. These cover a range of themes, from food security to biodiversity, energy and technology.
One of the most important cross-cutting issues identified in the report is the need to rethink international environmental governance. Other areas in need of improvement include the science–policy interface, and coping with incremental damage to the environment.
Improving food security in light of changing climate is also high on the list of priorities, with the report suggesting a need for more comprehensive early warning systems, support for smallholder farmers, efforts to reduce food waste and increasing agricultural efficiency. Other issues highlighted include managing the impacts of glacial retreat; improving ocean governance; accelerating the implementation of renewable energy systems; and considering the environmental implications of nuclear reactor decommissioning.
Source: The World Bank | May 2011
This sourcebook provides an overview of current and upcoming information and communications technology (ICT) for agricultural innovation, and discusses their potential to improve productivity, services institutions and value chains. It aims to provide both technical and policy guidance to development professionals and decision makers, and focuses on how ICT can support poor smallholder farmers including female farmers.
The guide includes fourteen modules on various aspects of ICTs in agriculture, including how to use the technologies to boost livestock, crop and fishery production; increase smallholder farmers' access to financial services; and improve rural governance. Each module provides information about current trends in ICT use, identifies challenges and lessons learned, notes how technologies have been used to achieve specific goals, and offers examples of successes or failures. The report describes the contributions these technologies can make, provides guidance on how to design and implement ICTs and on how to evaluate them.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)
This report presents a global overview of the role of livestock in nutrition and food security, and discusses ways of meeting the expected increase in demand for livestock as a source of food with limited resources. It examines how livestock contributes to food security in three population groups — livestock-dependent societies, small-scale mixed farmers and urban dwellers — and the main challenges they face in producing enough food.
The first section of the report discusses how livestock contributes to food security, including economic factors that affect the choice of foods, and the stability of livestock food supplies. The second section examines the contribution of livestock as a source of food in each population group, and the last part of the report looks to future prospects for producing enough food in the context of risks such as water shortages. It concludes that careful management of livestock food systems will be key in building a stable livestock food supply to meet future needs.
Source: Center for Global Development | September 2011
This report presents findings from the first randomised evaluation of a cash transfer programme delivered using mobile phones. The study investigated the effect of mobile phone technology on monthly cash transfers to households in Niger that were affected by a severe drought.
Villages that received cash in this way, known as 'zap', saw benefits such as reduced costs of receiving cash, more diverse purchases and diets, and more types of crops. This, suggest the authors, is down to the zap mechanism encouraging different decision-making in the household, as well as due to lower costs and greater privacy.
They conclude that mobile transfers are a cost-effective way of transferring cash to remote rural populations, especially those with limited road and financial infrastructure, but caution that more research is needed on broader effects on the welfare of these populations.
Source: Centre for Global Development | September 2011
This report outlines how ICT (information and communications technology) could facilitate the adoption of agricultural technologies that can contribute to improving crop yields in developing countries.
It reviews existing agricultural extension services — programmes that deliver information to farmers — which use ICT, categorised by the type of services and how they are provided (by text, for example, or the Internet). The report concludes that although these programs are innovative, implementing them remains a challenge and evidence of their impact is limited. It is not yet clear that ICT-based services will replace existing agricultural extension systems, and there is a risk that they will become unsustainable — a fad with limited impact on the lives of the poor. The report suggests evaluating pilot programmes using rigorous methods, and says that future efforts should calculate demand and cost-effectiveness, and identify information best suited to such programmes.
Source: Food Security (2011) | April 2011
This journal article investigates the significance of drought and other water-related constraints in South Asia compared with other limitations to the production of four major food crops — wheat, rice, sorghum and chickpea — in five South Asian farming systems.
The study was based on a survey of 330 'expert informants'. It indicates that water shortages and constraints such as high-cost irrigation or flooding of low-lying fields contribute to no more than 30 per cent of current yield gaps in major food crops. Other constraints contribute the most to yield losses, particularly soil infertility and poor management of fertiliser, weeds, pests and diseases. The respondents suggested interventions to address these constraints and improve food security, which include biotechnology and improvements in soil fertility.
Source: Climate Change Adaptation and Development Initiative (CC DARE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
This paper suggests that research-based, small-scale interventions that help farming systems adapt to climate change can guide progress towards achieving food security and addressing the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
It outlines lessons learnt from the Climate Change Adaptation and Development Programme jointly implemented by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Development Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The authors argue for a shift away from top-down, corporate approaches to agricultural research and practice, in favour of a democratic approach that involves giving more decision-making power to local people, including farmers and indigenous people. Small-scale initiatives reduce tillage, protect the soil surface and alternate cereal crops with legumes that enrich the soil.
The paper suggests that communicating food security solutions to the public can help balance vested interests and level the field in favour of small producers. Managed effectively, the current drought in the Horn of Africa offers a window of opportunity to re-establish food security as a global priority.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
This online book, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, explores Africa's potential for intensifying agricultural production through ecological agriculture — the integration of traditional, conservation oriented farming techniques with modern science and technology.
Building on discussions from the Conference on Ecological Agriculture, held in Ethiopia in 2008, it outlines past experiences such as lessons learned from the Green Revolution in Asia; trends in African agricultural knowledge, science and technology for development; and climate change implications for agriculture.
The book concludes that ecological agriculture can benefit smallholder farmers in several ways such as helping to increase Africa's productivity, and therefore improving food security, and helping farmers adapt to climate change by making agro-ecosystems more resilient to stress. But scaling up ecological agriculture will require policy support as well as additional resources and information.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) | March 2011
This policy guide, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, lays out the key requirements for developing effective and efficient smallholder seed enterprises, and how the process can be supported through policy. It argues that the best way to ensure production and distribution of quality seed in developing countries may be to support smallholder seed enterprises, but this approach can only succeed if the right policies and capacities are in place.
The report gives an overview of each stage of the evolution of the seed sector and possible interventions, as well as priority activities for policy support at each stage. These may include national policies to encourage linkages between research, quality control and financial systems that can support local smallholders in taking over seed production from the public sector. It outlines specific requirements for the establishment and sustainable operation of smallholder seed enterprises.
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) | September 2011
This report presents two case-studies that illustrate problems arising from subsidising fertiliser and electricity for groundwater irrigation in India — a policy put in place in the 1960s to boost food production and food security. It aims to analyse why subsequent reforms of these policies have done little to resolve economic and environmental problems; identify reforms that could prove successful; and outline political processes that could help achieve them.
Using India's experience, it highlights political challenges of using subsidy policies that could also be relevant to other countries.
This analysis is based on a literature review and interviews with stakeholders. The report also presents the conceptual framework, and gives an overview of fertiliser policy in India: how it has evolved, the stakeholders involved in the political process, and the policy implications of subsidy reform. Case-studies of electricity supply in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab are used to demonstrate policy reform feasibility.
The report concludes that for both electricity supply and fertiliser policies, various reforms could be adopted that are unlikely to face significant political obstacles. It argues that experimental and research-based knowledge could be used more effectively.
Source: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) | June 2011
This report, from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), highlights the results of research into what drives and inhibits the uptake of new crop-livestock farming techniques by small-scale cattle farms in Asian countries. The authors describe five farming systems in China, Indonesia and Vietnam that have attempted to increase beef production and profitability by integrating new farming knowledge and technology with help from ACIAR. Using these case studies, the authors draw out lessons learned for future initiatives. Key findings include the importance of partnering with local people who have a good understanding of the farming system, and having a realistic expectation of the scale of improvements that can be made with new technologies.
Source: World Agroforestry Centre | April 2011
This report synthesises the results of a review of 104 studies on gender and the adoption of agroforestry in Africa, and aims to identify strategies that challenge gender imbalances in development initiatives. It explores women's participation in agroforestry, including their ability to manage agroforestry practices, access to agroforestry information, and how they benefit from agroforestry.
The results highlight the substantial benefits that agroforestry can offer to rural women in Africa, mainly because it requires fewer resources than alternative enterprises. But women's participation is low, with limited access to information and markets, and a mixed record of successful management of agroforestry technologies.
The report provides several technological, policy and institutional recommendations for improving the efficiency of women's participation in agroforestry. They include domesticating important tree species, and ensuring that women have access to market information and microfinance. The report concludes by suggesting further research in areas such as measuring the income that women generate from agroforestry, and identifying the key ingredients of success stories across Africa.