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
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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More