Calls to support small-scale Agriculture intensifies as the world celebrate Rural women’s role in food production
By Caroline Chiimba
National governments, international institutions, and the global community are being called upon to support local and small-scale agriculture as a long-term and sustainable solution against food insecurity.
This comes as the world celebrated the International Day of Rural Women this month themed “Rural Women Cultivating Good Food for All” along with World Food Day. While a larger number of smallholder farmers comprise of women, research shows that less than 15 percent of landholders worldwide are women, preventing millions from unlocking the power and the potential to flourish as farmers, as most do not own land.
Speaking during commemorations of the World Food Day and International Rural women day, WFP Representative and Country Director, Ms. Francesca Erdelmann saidsmallholder farmers are the cornerstone of inclusive, rural economies and sustainable agricultural food systems.
“I particularly appreciate our collaboration with rural women who invest actively in the economy and wellbeing of their communities; leading the charge in improving grain production, growing a range of fruits and vegetables and supporting each other financially through loans and savings groups. I want to do a special shout out to you on this occasion to appreciate your resilience, your commitment and your boundless energy in lifting your communities and your country towards a better future,” she said.
“We work with rural farming communities to upgrade productive infrastructure such as dams, roads, dip tanks, storage facilities. Together we introduce climate smart and nutrition sensitive farming techniques and connect farmers to markets, strengthening business skills and financial literacy.
“Working with colleagues from Agritex we can take resilience efforts to scale ensuring that farmers do not face barriers to profitable agricultural entrepreneurship. It is also vital to protect rural communities from climate change and unpredictable weather events. Together with the Climate Change Management Department and the Meteorological Services Department we work on proactive risk management, to be able to anticipate drought events through defined risk thresholds, anticipatory actions and prearranged financing.
“Making sure that farmers are informed in real time of changing seasonal patterns and appropriate adaptive measures is also an important part of this. Our collaboration with colleagues from the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) makes for a strong coordinated effort.”
The same sentiments we reiterated by Caritas Internationalis which added that states and the global community should also avoid focusing on achieving short-term food security and instead focus on long-term home-grown innovations that build sustainable local food systems rooted in local realities, inclusive and resilient to shocks around the world.
“Caritas Internationalis calls the international community and decision makers, to ensure greater efforts to support new forms of small-scale agriculture, create social food cooperatives, and enable small-scale farmers to cultivate their land. This means a change in agricultural development projects, with a focus on watershed management and access to sustainable agricultural materials,” said Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis.
“If we do not take measures now, an increasing percentage of the world’s population is destined to suffer from hunger. Food injustice needs to be immediately addressed at the highest level. Food production must be devoid of political and vested interest and seen as a common good for humanity.
“It is a paradox that, in our opulent globalised world, four out of ten people cannot afford healthy food. The current severe food crisis cannot be solely addressed by industrial agriculture. We need to move away from a focus on efficiency and profit maximisation in the food system and instead focus on sustaining local food systems, which through diversified seeds, have the capacity to improve food and nutrition security.” He further added that the only way to fight the current severe food crisis is to address the “food injustice” that stems from a lack of concern for the poorest and the most vulnerable.