News / Africa

Smallholder Farmers Key to Food Security

A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna, May 2013 file photo. A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna, May 2013 file photo.
x
A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna, May 2013 file photo.
A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village, on the outskirts of Nigeria's north-central state of Kaduna, May 2013 file photo.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Kim Lewis
The international aid group ActionAid said a key approach in addressing global food insecurity is to focus on making food more accessible. In order to achieve this, the group said attention must be placed on empowering smallholder farmers. 

“Smallholder farmers actually produced most of the world’s food and they are also some of the people that sometimes go hungry,” explained ActionAid’s senior policy analyst Doug Hertzler. “There are studies over many decades that show smallholder farmers can actually produce more food per land area than large farms when they have adequate access to resources and input.”

Hertzler proposed increased public investment in agriculture to strengthen the productivity of smallholder farmers.

“If you look at Africa, what’s happened since the 1980’s, there’s been a decrease in investment in rural areas. There’s not good infrastructure in rural areas, there’s not good extension services in rural communities in terms of educating people about markets, ways of producing. Public investment can do things that private investment can’t,” he said.

The ActionAid official said only a few countries have actually achieved the goal set in 2004 to increase their agricultural investment by up to ten percent.

Hertzler noted that smallholder farmers can generally feed themselves without outside aid, but that their agricultural production gets disrupted when faced with crises such as war, drought, extreme weather conditions, or an unexpected financial emergency.

“Since people are poor and living on the margins of society, when they have a health emergency in the family or other reasons and need cash, they often sell part of their crop for cash but then maybe run out of food toward the end of the year. So, that’s why we often see hunger,” explained the ActionAid analyst.

Another important factor that should be considered in food security, Hertzler noted, was that often native crops are hardier in climate change than crops spread elsewhere that require specific amounts of fertilizer and water. He said making sure smallholder farmers have the ability to sustain their crops will allow them to be more resilient whenever a crisis occurs.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid