Online consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Online consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security
- toward a post-2015 development agenda
Written evidence submitted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
Agriculture and Food for Development, UK Parliament
1. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture and Food for Development welcomes
this online consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security - toward a post-2015
development agenda. The APPG calls for any Post-MDG process to consider the livelihoods of
smallholder farmers of paramount importance to addressing global hunger and eradicating
poverty. Acknowledging that giving smallholder farmers rights and assistance to create viable
businesses, is a key component of a coherent food system, and should form part of any PostMDG framework. Addressing food insecurity means empowering smallholder farmers to move
from subsistence farming, through public and private sector support - with strong information
and technology transfer - to profitable small businesses. There is a broad spectrum of policy
interventions needed to ensure the emancipation for smallholder farmers; however, once this
intervention has been made, the opportunity for smallholder farmers to thrive without further
overseas development assistance is possible. This requires reliable financing, strong public sector
support and an enabling environment for private sector investment which will underpin the
transformation from subsistence farmers to successful small businesses. The Post-MDG
Framework must consider the 450 million smallholder farmers worldwide as central agents to
reducing global hunger and, given the right support, able to grow themselves out of poverty, for
2. The APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development brings together Parliamentarians concerned
with agriculture, nutrition and food security in the developing world. The Group promotes
support for the developmental needs of the 450 million smallholder farmers who feed 2 billion
people worldwide. It engenders progressive and informed debate within Westminster and
beyond by bridging the gap between policy makers, agricultural development specialists and
practitioners in the field.
3. The APPG was established in October 2008 in response to growing concerns over the heightened
Food Crisis and a steady decline in the funding of agricultural development both by bilateral and
multilateral organisations over nearly two decades. Chaired by Lord Cameron of Dillington, the
APPG is a cross-party initiative drawing members from both Houses of the UK Parliament which
brings together Parliamentarians concerned with both the technical, and social science, of
agricultural development in poorer parts of the world. It uses its cross-party membership to
raise the understanding of developmental needs of smallholder farmers and other stakeholders
in developing countries and hence facilitates debate on the level of support given by the British
Government and other major donors. In doing this, the APPG recognises the pivotal role that
agricultural research outputs have in helping smallholder farmers to increase their productivity
and in eliminating global poverty.
4. Although the MDGs have acquired unprecedented political and financial support, they have also
been justifiably criticized (Pollard et. al. 2011). They overlooked many key aspects of
development which are today essential in promoting the health and wellbeing of poor
communitites in developing countries. A primary example of this is the complete lack of any
focus in the MGDs on the agricultural or any other productive sector, and the impact of these
sectors on the livelihoods of poor people. The voices of farmers, must be heard. Engagement
with rural communitites including smallholder crop farmers, pastoraslists, fisherfolk, processors,
and agro-businesses more generally are vital to ensure that their needs and interests are
reflected in a post-MDG framework. Allowing smallholders to be active agents in developing
solutions to their problems is a key requirement for a successful Post-MDG planning and
development process, and should be recognised as such.
5. The World Development Report in 2008 stated, “Improving the productivity, profitability and
sustainability of smallholder farming is the main pathway out of poverty in using agriculture for
development.” Clearly then a post-2015 consultation should put smallholder farmers at the
centre of the agricultural development paradigm. It means consulting those farmers in rural and
remote areas, not just those who have access to major cities or good links with government
officials. It means fostering an active partnership between the public and private sector to
ensure that smallholders are given the assistance they need to improve their production and
gain access to markets, so that they can flourish into profitable and viable businesses.
6. Currently the world is letting MDG 1 to halve of the number of people who suffer from hunger
globally slip through its fingers and further out of reach. Even if we can reverse this trend of
increasing hunger and somehow manage to meet this target in the remaining few years of the
MDGs, which seems highly unlikely, what next? Little attention is being given to the global needs
beyond 2015 – such as the need to double agricultural production by 2050 if the most basic
requirements of an expected global population of 9 billion people are to be met. In addition
there is an urgent need to reduce food waste, increase access to food of the hungry (through the
better distribution of food), and also a need to find ways to increase production in a sustainable
7. It is notable that many successes in tackling food security in the developing world have resulted
from co-operation at community farming level and the very highest political level. In Brazil,
Bangladesh and Mozambique by way of example, concentrated effort at both levels has created
remarkable results, reducing hunger and under-nutrition over the past 10 years. It is essential
that agriculture and food security, with a focus on the importance of smallholder farmers, is
central to any Post-MDG framework. This should lead to a food system which is equitable and
promotes a favourable environment in which even the smallest farmers can grow themselves
into a viable business. Sustainably raising agricultural production, improving knowledge access
to inputs for poor farmers to grow sufficient nutritious food and cutting post-harvest losses
should also form part of this focus on tackling hunger, addressing food security, and helping
poor smallholder farmers build small-scale businesses.
8. Evidence collected by the recent APPG inquiry report “Growing out of Poverty” indicates that in
some countries, as much as 90% of the population are subsistence farmers. But it also
demonstrates that, given the right support they can be transformed into productive,
economically active, well-fed contributors to their country’s GDP and national food security
(APPG, 2011). The policy interventions that the Post-MDG Framework should consider in
addressing food security through smallholder farmers. A number of these are outlined below.
9. More and better support for smallholder agriculture can boost the economic and social status of
women, who are the majority of smallholder farmers. This support should empower them to
make decisions about their own lives and those of their families. Evidence shows that farmer
parents who move from subsistence to surplus tend to spend any available cash on educating
their children – thus enabling women to earn more income from agriculture would benefit the
education of future generations. More diversified and increased agricultural production can also
reduce the nutritional shortcomings of expectant and new mothers whilst simultaneously
boosting the physical health and cognitive well-being of their children. So good quality
agricultural investment returns not only healthy citizens, capable of achieving their full potential
and less likely to require healthcare interventions, but also increases labour productivity, which
in turn will lead to economic and social progress.
10. Sustainable agricultural practices also improve the resilience of farming communities to weather
shocks and foster environmental sustainability. Therefore, by turning subsistence agricultural
systems into a vibrant, profitable and sustainable rural sector, countries can make progress
towards virtually all of the current Millennium Development Goals.
11. It is crucial that any Post-MDG process includes a focus on public investment in smallholder
agriculture, sustainable agricultural practices, and the importance of smallholder farmers’ rights
and respective national food security targets. Governments must ensure that policies, laws and
regulations are put in place that will enable smallholder farmers to build viable enterprises.
Smallholder farming systems provide employment and food for most of the developing world –
yet smallholders seldom have a voice in discussions and decisions on these issues. The PostMDG framework must address this problem by ensuring smallholders are given a voice in any
national discussions on a new framework.
12. Land tenure and ownership are also important but sensitive issues for agricultural development,
comprising a complicated web of customary practices and modern law. The Post-MDG
framework should acknowledge that farmers will not take risks on their farm unless they have
secure land tenure agreements. Smallholder farmers, including pastoralists, face competition
for their land from other resource-intensive industries such as mining, tourism, agro-fuels, and
housing, as well as land speculators Secure land tenure and agrarian reforms can unlock
economic growth and empower women, giving them access to and control over finance and
other crucial inputs. A post-MDG framework should therefore include land tenure security for
13. The Post-MDG Framework should encourage Governments, with assistance from donors, to
create conditions that attract pro-poor private sector investment to secure and sustain the
livelihoods of smallholder farmers. This by its very nature needs to be a long-term venture.
Government’s role in kick-starting commercially-viable smallholder agriculture should include
the building of transport infrastructure such as rural feeder roads; ensuring that inputs are
available and affordable; and frameworks for coordination and cooperation of public sector
partnerships with the private sector (such as the commodity exchange set up in Ethiopia to allow
easier and standardised trade for smallholders). The provision of public goods in areas such as
agricultural research, extension and training are also part of the long-term role of governments.
If these aspects of the wider ‘agricultural development’ agenda are prioritised, the Post-MDG
Framework will have more chance of succeeding in reducing poverty.
14. Public and private sector investments in small-scale farming require consistency. Some
investments may only see returns in the medium to longer term and a long-term commitment
(minimum of seven or eight years) is often required for smallholder farmers to lift themselves
out of poverty (APPG 2011). Although private enterprise will drive investment in the agricultural
sector, governments have an important role to play as providers of public goods as well as
targeted support and facilitating an enabling business environment. Any targets to ensure food
security and create an equitable food system must involve the private sector – without which
innovation, funds and market access will remain elusive for many smallholder farmers.
15. A business oriented approach to the integration of smallholder farmers into agricultural market
chains will also contribute to food security and poverty reduction if large numbers of
smallholders are empowered to become commercially viable and earn a fair return on the
labour, knowledge and capital they invest on their land. For example, involvement of
smallholders, after training in suitable business skills, in activities such as small-scale seedproduction enterprise has proved effective in increasing the uptake and dissemination of
improved, locally adapted new seed varieties in Nepal (Whitcombe, 2010). Private sector
investments along agricultural value chains can open up new market opportunities for
smallholder farmers. However, many are still missing out on these opportunities, and a post
MDG-framework should include a focus on developing their ability to link to markets on fair
16. In recent years, innovative partnerships between the public, commercial and voluntary sectors
have helped to identify the critical policy, regulatory, coordination and investment actions
needed from the public sector to develop productive, competitive, profitable and equitable agrifood systems in sub-Saharan Africa. These partnerships put smallholder farmers at the centre of
their business strategy as they acknowledge the central role that smallholders play in
contributing to the food system across the world. An example of this is the C:AVA (Cassava :
Adding Value for Africa) project where, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a
partnership has been forged between smallholder farmers in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria
and Malawi. This is in partnership with public universities and research institutes in UK and
Africa, and private sector processors and end users to develop value chains to manufacture and
distribute high quality cassava flour.
17. The Post-MDG Framework should recognise the complementary nature of agriculture and
nutrition to ensure food security. Food price rises and increasing volatility in food commodity
markets continue to impact upon smallholder farmers: this is particularly true regarding
economic access to a stable nutritious diet, meaning that more people going hungry than
before. Estimates suggest that on top of the one billion hungry people worldwide there are a
further one billion who suffer from hidden hunger. It is therefore important that in order to
achieve a sustainable agricultural sector, in which smallholders play a leading role, the Post-MDG
framework should ensure a complementary focus on nutrition and agricultural development.
Without this smallholders will not be able to afford sufficient nutritious food in times of food
price spikes and this can severely impact upon their labour productivity, as well as impacting on
the physical and cognitive development of their children.
18. Specific indicators for a Post-MDG framework which seeks to promote improved food security
through development of small scale agriculture could include a practical set of situational,
outcome and sustainability indicators that truly reflects the complex and multifaceted
contribution of agricultural development to poverty reduction and food security.
19. A Post-MDG framework which calls on all sectors of society to work towards global food security
and poverty reduction should provide smallholder farmers with the tools and opportunities
needed work themselves out of poverty. If the Post-MDG Framework sets out a clear agenda, to
offer targeted support to smallholders by creating a favourable investment and knowledge
transfer environment, smallholders will be given the opportunity to become self-sustained
businesses, which will contribute to poverty reduction and food security.
20. The Post-MDG Framework should seek to integrate smallholders into markets, and at the same
time recognise the need for investment in public goods and an enabling environment in which
public and private sectors are able to complement each other to encourage a working food
system which allows smallholder farmers to realise their businesses’ potential.
--For further information, or if you wish to receive oral evidence from the APPG’s Chair - Lord Cameron
of Dillington - please contact the Group’s Coordinator, Dominic Foster
All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2010) “Why No Thought
for Food?” A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Global Food Security
All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (2011) “Growing Out of
Poverty” A UK Parliamentary Inquiry into supporting and developing African agriculture
Aryeetey, E. (2012) “Towards a New Post-2015 Development Agenda”
Pollard A., Sumner A., Polato-Lopes M. and de Mauroy A. (2011) 100 Voices – Southern perspectives
on what should come after the Millennium Development Goals, London: CAFOD and Brighton: IDS.
Vandemoortele, J. (2012) “Advancing the UN development agenda post-2015: some practical
suggestions.” Report submitted to the UN Task Force regarding the post-2015 framework for
Witcombe,J.R., Devkota, K.P. and Joshi, K.D. (2010). Linking community-based seed producers to
markets for a sustainable seed supply system. Experimental Agriculture, 46, pp 425-437
The World Bank (2008) World Development Report: Agriculture for Development.
Yamin A.E. (2012) Post MDGs: what next for a global development agenda that takes human rights