What the private sector could do for small farmers

June 21, 2012

Mićo Tatalović

Mićo Tatalović
Deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

Scaling Up: Global Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture’  was presented by the UN Global Compact at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum this week (15-18 June).

“Sustainable agriculture will require significantly increased investments in research and application of available technology to improve yields and reduce losses, including bringing this technology to scale for poorer regions of the world,” says an analysis paper prepared for the forum.

Flickr/ Peter Casier

Fiscal constraint means the private sector will have to be “significantly involved” and innovative public-private partnerships will be needed, as well as incentives for private sector involvement, it says.

But so far large-scale commercial farms have benefitted from technology, leaving smallholder farmers behind, the new report says.

Success stories, highlighted in the report, include the RIICE project, which aims to forecast rice production and provide crop insurance for small-scale famers using satellite technology. It targets 5 million smallholder rice farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam and is spearheaded by Allianz Reinsurance and sarmap, a Swiss-based remote sensing company.

Another example is Enel, an Italian energy company, which partnered up with the World Food Program (WFP) to reduce their carbon footprint by supporting high-efficiency cooking stoves and solar panels for WFP’s work including on sites in Ghana and Panama.

There are “islands of success” but the challenge is now to “scale up our best efforts” said Jordan Dey, principal of HKS Global who chaired the session.


This blog post is part of our coverage of Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. To read news and analysis on Science at Rio+20 please visit our website.

Advertisements

Organic farmers are doing it for themselves

June 20, 2012

Mićo Tatalović

Mićo Tatalović
Deputy news editor, SciDev.Net


Although governments are expected to agree on an outcome document at Rio+20, critics and campaigners say the initiatives launched at the sidelines of the summit by countries, NGOs and other stakeholders may be just as – if not more – important in terms of real change.

One of the first such ‘voluntary pledges’ announced on Friday (15 June) by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), was a global organic agriculture research network scheduled to launch in February 2013.

Flickr/ Find Your Feet

 

“The idea is to integrate existing organic agriculture research networks at the local, national and regional level,” Urs Niggli, director of Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and a professor at University of Kassel-Witzenhausen, both in Switzerland, told SciDev.Net. Niggli is hoping that through the new network they can build a series of research projects focused on the South that would have a high impact on famers’ wellbeing.

His center is already conducting long-term trials evaluating organic farming systems in a range of developing countries and “most of them are research projects where farmers are involved, a very positive development.”

The network’s outcomes would include profiling success stories to make organic farming more visible to policymakers and scientists, and to mainstream it.

Carlo Scaramella, coordinator with the World Food Programme, told SciDev.Net:

“This research could help us understand in which context certain solutions are most affordable and most appropriate.”

“Enhancing the ability of governments, and community stakeholders to implement organic farming in a systematic manner would probably help effectively realise better and more resilient food security – and that would be an extraordinary outcome.”


This blog post is part of our coverage of Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. To read news and analysis on Science at Rio+20 please visit our website.


%d bloggers like this: