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In Hanoi, the steering committee of MTCP2, in support to farmers organisations of Asia and Pacific region, will triple the 2015 annual workplan and budget based on the good results of the Project Year1 and with the support of IFAD, Swiss Development Cooperation and European Commission.

 Specific sub regional programs are being design to adapt to the dynamics of each region and participant countries. Three components are being implemented : 1/ strenghtening FOs capacities and networks, 2/ policy dialogue at national and regional level, 3/ increasing economic services to FO members.



Illegal logging in Peru

Posted by Beate Stalsett 0 comments

Written by Jess Morgan

Deaths of Campaigners brings illegal logging to light

A quadruple homicide in Peru’s Amazon Ucayali region has brought to light illegal logging activities and speculation regarding the safety of indigenous peoples.

Four Asheninka natives' bodies were found on 1st September while on their way to Apiwtxa, an Ashéninka community across the border in Brazil. They included a prominent anti-logging campaigner, Edwin Chota, who was the leader of Alto Tamaya-Saweto, a community near the Peruvian frontier with Brazil in the upper reaches of Alto Tamaya River. Chota had been leading campaigns for over 10 years striving to gain his people legal titles to their land and to expel illegal loggers from the area.

'Starting in 2002, he delivered over one hundred letters to as many governmental officials as he could demanding birth certificates, a better school, and adequate health facilities for his community. His life project encompassed every aspect needed to build thriving borderland communities'.

Chota's goal was to aid and better his community whilst conserving natural ecosystems and live sustainably. The Huffington Post wrote that 'Chota dreamed of a borderless Amazonian forest with indigenous peoples thriving alongside the region's biodiversity. He envisioned a new generation of indigenous families living in peace while teaching others how to protect and use the forest. In Chota's dream, Saweto would become a model indigenous community leading the way towards a more sustainable Amazon.'

However the land his community lives on is home to mahogany and cedar, both of which are in high demand globally. Insightcrime.org states that 80 percent of Peru's total timber exports are illegal and the money that can be earned is a tempting prospect for many: 'Traffickers can earn US$1,700 for every high-quality mahogany tree sold on the black market, and about US$1,000 for a cedar tree' . However as the illegal timber trade has flourished it has attracted smugglers of other illegal goods such as opium and coca paste.

A question of protection

“It was widely known that Edwin Chota and other leaders from the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community were asking for protection from the Peruvian authorities because they were receiving death threats from the illegal loggers operating in their area,” said Julia Urrunaga, director for the Environmental Investigation Agency in Peru, an international conservation group.

In an area where the law is an undefined grey area, the loggers ignore any rights the indigenous peoples may have, be it ownership or humanitarian and work to remove any opposition against their illegal operations.

Without legal protection people such as Chota are in a dangerous position which not only puts their lives, but their environment and communities' livelihoods at risk.

We must support indigenous peoples in gaining rights to their lands. By doing so, we will protect a large share of the world's most biodiverse areas and genetic resources which are found in areas where indigenous peoples live, and where they have been sustainably maintained for millennia. There is a strong need today for global recognition of the critical role that indigenous peoples play in conserving biodiversity.

We need to build and strengthen the capacities of indigenous peoples to protect their land and resource rights. Not only does this hinder illegal loggers, but also promotes food security and sustainable livelihoods. For information about sustainable timber production in South America and what IFAD is doing to help look here.

Farmers of Asia and Pacific are meeting in Vietnam (18-23 October)

Posted by Benoit THIERRY Monday, October 20, 2014 0 comments

This week end the annual regional steering committee of the Farmers Organisations MTCP2 program is starting in Hanoi, bringing together 50 participants from 15 countries of Asia Pacific Region (representing 900 FOs and 13 million farmers).
The event is divided in 4 phases: field visits with VNFU (Vietnam Farmers Federation Union (http://vnfu.vn/), conclusions of the Supervision and Implementation Support Mission and agreed actions, FOs and partners progress presentations on Tuesday and Steering Committee conclusions on Wednesday. We will bring you daily updates !
Follow us on MTCP2 facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MTCP2 .
Benoit THIERRY, MTCP2 manager, in Hanoi.

Innovative Investments in Agriculture and Food Security – CFS Side Event

Posted by Christopher Neglia Thursday, October 16, 2014 0 comments

Innovation in the agricultural sector was the topic of a side event held last Wednesday during the Committee on World Food Security (CFS 41) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) building in Rome. Moderated by IFAD’s Gernot Laganda, panellists Richard Choularton (World Food Programme [WFP]), Andrea Cattaneo (FAO) and Santiago del Solar (Consorcios Regionales de Experimentacion Agricola [CREA]) contributed their perspectives on how innovation is generated, and how it is eventually adopted and used in the field.

In his initial remarks, Choularton proposed that innovation has a lot to do with failure. According to Choularton, previous donor investments secured incremental gains for small farmers, which every few years were wiped away by natural disasters such as droughts or floods. Perceiving the recurrence of these events, WFP developed a micro insurance scheme specifically tailored to improve the climate risk management of people with very few assets. The product is proving to be attractive to small farmers since they have the option to pay for premiums with their own labour. In Senegal and Ethiopia where this programme is active, insured farmers have been able to save more than twice the sum compared to those without any insurance, and they invest more in productive inputs.

However, innovation does not arise unswervingly. The long-term sustainability of the programme is not assured since, as Choularton conceded, about 80 percent of the cost of premiums is subsidized. And while small farmers enjoy the current work-for-insurance modality, it is unlikely private insurance companies would operate on the basis of in kind transfers. Nevertheless, it does not mean that this undoubtedly innovative financial mechanism cannot evolve in the context where the service is being provided, and actually facilitate a market for cash paying farmers. Indeed, the growth of farmers’ mutual insurance was a gradual process in Europe and North America.  

Andrea Cattaneo described the persistence of bottlenecks that can hinder innovation from taking hold. This can occur when, for example, policies are implemented unevenly, or establish perverse incentives, creating what he called ‘binding constraints’. Cattaneo also emphasized that innovation should be addressed in a broader system – through socioeconomic and climate  perspectives and trying to link the tailored solutions to specific National Agricultural Investment Plans.

Santiago del Solar representing the World Farmers Organizations through CREA (Consorcios Regionales de Experimentacion Agricola), an Argentine organization of  farmers dedicated to improving each farming enterprise, also offered edifying examples of how innovation can take hold in the most inhospitable of circumstances. Years ago, his group noticed that erosion and soil degradation were destroying agricultural land. The innovation they came up with was no-till technology, which at the time was not used in the Argentine countryside. Del Solar explained that when he first practised no-till, he made many mistakes. His own father criticized him because he would not use a plough like other farmers. But a generation later – 95 percent of Argentine farmers are using no-till farming methods. Nothing short of a revolution. In his words, innovation in the field occurs  because “farmers believe other farmers”.

What became salient to me during this session, was that innovation does not always occur within the timescales we prescribe. New behaviour and technologies are rarely inculcated within the span of a project. But, as Gernot Laganda offered in his summary, we should work to support innovation by identifying and addressing the financial drivers, institutional pathways and policy spaces that both define and negate agricultural paradigms. By training our efforts on change in these areas we can overcome the binding constraints that limit farmers’ abilities to realize their full potentials. 

by Kanayo F Nwanze

Every night, 842 million women, children and men go to bed hungry. Every day 8,000 children die needlessly from conditions linked to under-nutrition. Globally, 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition.

These statistics are well known, but they bear repeating. The burden of under-nutrition is incalculable, and the ramifications for children are particularly severe. When a child is deprived of essential nutrients in the womb and during the first two years of life, the resulting damage to physical and mental development can lead to a lifetime of health problems and unrealised potential.

There is not only a moral and social imperative to address under-nutrition, but an economic one. It is estimated that childhood malnutrition will cost the global economy some $125 billion in lost GDP growth by 2030.

It is one of life’s cruel paradoxes that many smallholder farmers, who do so much to help feed their nations, are too often hungry and malnourished. It is estimated that three-quarters of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas. Investing in nutrition through smallholder agriculture is more than a social good. It is sound development policy and good economics.

For years, many in the agricultural sector thought that under-nutrition could be solved by a simple equation: increase agricultural production and incomes, and better nutrition would automatically follow. After all, if you grow more food and earn more money, you can consume more food and nutrients. We now know that income growth alone does not guarantee good nutrition. Despite better yields, higher revenues and greater access to markets, the rates of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiency remain unacceptably high in many rural regions.

Over the last few decades, we have learned important lessons that have helped us ensure that agriculture – the biggest employer in most of the regions where IFAD works -- contributes to better nutrition. First, there is compelling evidence that women’s education, health, nutritional status and decision-making power have a significant impact on the health and nutritional status of children. Women are the primary care givers in rural households, and when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for the family. More than half of the reduction in malnutrition between 1970 and 1995 is attributable to improvements in women’s status and education. Empowering and educating women must be a principal goal of agricultural development.

We put this knowledge to work in Bangladesh, where we partnered with the government and WorldFish to introduce nutrient-dense small fish to poor communities. As part of the project, families were educated on the importance of nutrition, particularly for pregnant women and young mothers. As a result, malnutrition and stunting have been reduced significantly.

Second, we need to address issues of wastage and post-harvest losses so that farmers can make the most from what they grow and reduce the amount of extra food they need to grow. Today, there is no shortage of food globally — the world grows enough. But in sub-Saharan Africa, between 20 and 40 per cent of crop production is lost because of poor processing and storage. We see similar problems in poor rural communities in every region where we work: Asia, Latin America, North Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

Investing in modern storage facilities means that farmers can keep their produce safe during harvest seasons so that it can be eaten or sold at a later date. We have seen this in Timor-Leste where two-thirds of the population is considered food insecure. More than 60 per cent of the children where we work are chronically undernourished. Low crop productivity has long been a problem in Timor-Leste, but when farmers were first offered high-yield maize seeds, they hesitated. They were already losing 30 per cent of their stored maize every year to pests.

IFAD joined forces with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Australian government to provide better storage and better seeds, which we expect will increase food availability by 70 per cent. The secure storage also creates an incentive for farmers to adopt higher yielding varieties and should allow them to wait for the off-season when prices are higher. Secure storage also creates an opportunity for farmers to climb the value ladder, moving into alternative income activities, such as producing food for livestock. As this example shows, low production and waste are two parts of a complex, dynamic equilibrium that locks rural people into cycles of poverty. Such complex problems demand systematic solutions and strong partnerships.

Thirdly, we must ensure that knowledge and science serve agriculture. Scientific advances can improve the nutritional value of what we grow. We have seen innovations such as quality protein maize, which offers 90 per cent of the nutritional value of skimmed milk, or the bio-fortification of key crops to address micronutrient deficiencies — such as vitamin A in sweet potato. These are already making a difference to food and security but more needs to be done to help farmers grow and sell a more diverse range of foods. There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but studies show that rice, maize and wheat provide 60 per cent of the world’s energy intake. Several indigenous crops are known to be more nutritious than the ones we eat today, while fruits and vegetables provide micronutrients that are vital for good health. Through science, we can improve the quality of available food, and through education, we can ensure that this translates into better nutrition.

In order to improve dietary quality for people of all ages in a community, behavioural change is necessary. That means there has to be a convergence of efforts and inclusive partnerships so that people have the nutritional knowledge as well as the resources to satisfy it. On a community level, diversified crops, more nutritious varieties and higher incomes may only amount to better harvests in the barn and money in the bank, not better meals on the table and food in children's stomachs. As we have seen, by taking spectrum of actions and increasing knowledge of care and feeding practices, household diets, and the preparation and storage of food, we can turn mere growth into real gain.

Women are leaders in family farming

Posted by Beate Stalsett Wednesday, October 15, 2014 0 comments

Written by IFAD gender team

The United Nations declaration of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) has done much to publicize the role of small family farmers in global food supply. These are people working in any area of agriculture who derive a significant portion of their income from farming, involve members of the family in managing the farm and rely mostly on family labour. Smallholder family farmers are responsible for as much as four fifths of the food produced in the developing world and are major contributors to global food security.

What may be less well known is the key role women play in family farming. Today’s message from IFAD’s Associate Vice-President and Gender Champion underscores their vital contribution.

15 October, marks the International Day of Rural Women, a day that highlights the role of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty, and throws a spotlight on the many challenges that they face.

A family traveling along the 2-km werabadiyawa road in Galgamuwa, Sri Lanka.
This road was constructed with the help of IFAD's Smallholder Plantations
Entrepreneurship Development Programme.

©IFAD/G.M.B. Akash

The challenges for rural women

Women provide a substantial part of the work on family farms. They have greater overall workloads than men, combining household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, collecting fuelwood and water), care of children and the elderly, farming and non-farm activities. Moreover, rural women have limited access to productive resources, customary norms restrict their role in households and public life, which limit their ability to make decisions and seize opportunities. In many parts of the world, rural women have little decision-making power at the household level, including on the use of their own earnings.

Investment projects and other programmes are needed to enhance women’s economic and social empowerment, and to support them in ensuring their families’ food security and diversifying income sources.

Household methodologies – working with women and men

IFAD is developing methodologies for supporting family members in developing their household livelihood strategies. The goal is to work with both women and men to determine common priorities and make joint decisions about what is best for the family and the family business, including the distribution of workloads. Addressing gender inequalities is often part of households’ solutions to these issues. Household methodologies produce critical changes in gender relations within households. These include the ability of household members to make their own decisions regarding use of available resources to improve their livelihoods, planning together as a family, working towards family goals and holding each other accountable, as well as increased farm productivity along with food security and incomes. As a result, families using household methodologies report that their livelihoods are more sustainable and resilient.

In Malawi, household mentoring has been piloted at three irrigation schemes under the IFAD/World Bank-supported Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project. The methodology was introduced to enable households to identify and address gender inequality and HIV/AIDS-related issues at household level. The approach has had a big impact on participating households, including men:

“I have seen big changes in our household – given our past and current life. We have big things happening! I am a happy man. Initially, I was wasting money but with this programme I am clearer. Now we plan, budget together and implement our vision and goals. I am a changed man, I share care work with my wife such as drawing water and taking care of our children.” (Hamton Mdala, male head of household)

Gladys Casafranca, is the chairman of "Las Ovejitas", a women's group in
Occepata, Chincheros, Peru. As a result of the IFAD-supported Marenass project,
 Gladys has an improved stove, buys and sells animals  with her husband, and cultivates sweet peas.
©IFAD/Pablo Corral Vega 

Supporting women’s groups

Women’s groups, including cooperatives, producers’ organizations and self-help groups have proven to be another effective way of addressing some of the challenges faced by women farmers. These groups can facilitate access to markets and financial services for women, and self-help groups can build women’s confidence, voice and bargaining power.

Kamalbai is a woman farmer who joined a self-help group supported by IFAD’s Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme. Through the self-help group, she obtained access to loans and started activities such as growing vegetables for sale in local markets, livestock raising and kitchen gardening. This increased her income and provided her family with better food. Her participation in the self-help group also revealed Kamalbai’s natural leadership skills. Encouraged by her community, she won elections to become Sarpanch (head of village): “From being extremely shy in even talking to men in my own family, today I have no apprehensions in talking to anyone, from State officials to bank staff or even the Chief Minister.”

The groups also provide a safe environment for women to learn new skills, discuss and design their own solutions, implement joint actions, obtain access to productive resources, and process and market products. In addition, the women’s groups provide a platform where social issues and attitudes at the household level can be addressed and changed, including domestic abuse, alcoholism and malnutrition.

The innovative Shaurya Dals deal with
violence against women at the village level
The Tejaswini programme has also initiated the innovative Shaurya Dals (“Courage Brigades”) to deal with violence against women at the village level. A Shaurya Dal is a small village group consisting of 10 members, with five women from self-help groups, and the remaining five persons from the village (including two male members) who are aware and sensitive to gender issues and have required social acceptance. The objective of these groups is to sensitize the village population regarding issues of violence and sexual harassment against women and girls, and to address and resolve these issues through community-based solutions.

In line with IFAD’s Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the commitment to place family farmers at the forefront of agricultural transformation and sustainable development, IFAD-supported projects and programmes are increasingly addressing women’s role in family farming. Through the use of household methodologies and by involving women farmers in women’s groups, the aim is to strengthen their decision-making power and increase their income earning opportunities for the benefit of the entire family.

Addressing gender inequalities and empowering women are vital to meeting the challenge of improving food and nutrition security, and enabling poor rural people to overcome poverty. (IFAD’s Policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment)

Read more:

Celebrating International Day of Rural Women

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, October 14, 2014 1 comments

by John McIntire, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department

A farmer weighing turnips
in El-Ferech, Tunisia
©IFAD/ Susan Beccio 
In recognition of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) in 2014, IFAD is dedicating the International Day of Rural Women on 15 October to the millions of rural women worldwide who live and work on family farms.

It is estimated that smallholder family farms are responsible for up to four fifths of food production in the developing world – thus making a significant contribution to global food security. They are also custodians of vital natural resources and biodiversity, and central to climate change adaptation.

Women carry out a substantial and growing part of the work on family farms and represent 43 per cent of the global agricultural workforce. Indeed, in many parts of the world, women are more likely to work in agriculture than in any other sector. Much of this work is unrecorded, undervalued and unpaid. In addition, the challenges that are common to all family farmers are often exacerbated for rural women, impeding their ability to improve their own livelihoods and those of their families.

For example, despite their crucial role, lack of land rights remains a serious challenge for women farmers. The percentage of farm holdings headed by women worldwide is less than 20 per cent. Control over productive assets and income also continue to be unequal. Rural women typically have less access than men to financial services, new technology and information, and improved agricultural inputs, including such basics as good seed.

Women in smallholder family farms also have greater overall burdens of labour, working an average 13 hours a week more than men. Women of all ages manage household responsibilities, care of children and the elderly, and combine these duties with farming and non-farm activities. Customary norms restrict their activities inside and outside the home, limiting their freedom to make decisions and to take advantage of opportunities. In some developing countries, surveys show that women have no say in how their earnings are spent.

Innovative work at household level
Pacifique Musabyimane stands in front of
her home in Kirehe district, Rwanda
©IFAD/Chris Neglia 
In recognition of the complexity and significance of rural women’s roles, IFAD has developed innovative approaches to engage with all members of poor rural families. Using so-called ‘household methodologies’, trained mentors work with women and men to help them determine common priorities. This includes making joint decisions about what is best for the family and the family business, and redistributing the workload.

Household methodologies produce important changes in family life. All members of the household can begin planning together, working towards family goals and holding each other accountable. The benefits include increased productivity, food security and incomes, together with greater happiness and greater resilience to external shocks.

The approach is being widely applied in Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda, where about 50,000 people are participating. IFAD is leading the drive to scale up household mentoring as a methodology and it has been included in the design of new projects in Ghana, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mozambique.

The road to Beijing+20
For IFAD, the International Day of Rural Women 2014 is also the starting point for a year-long process to prepare for the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+20). This was a landmark agreement and policy framework for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Ndoumbe Mbaye (left), 20, and Faton Fiop, 22, attending
a literacy class in Thiourour village, Koki zone, Senegal
©IFAD/ Susan Beccio  
The status of rural women has been on the international agenda since the first World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975 and their rights are enshrined in international treaties such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Despite this, it is a shocking fact that rural women still generally fare worse than rural men, and worse than urban women and men, on all development indicators.

Beijing+20 provides a significant opportunity to focus on the elimination of discrimination against rural women. This must include narrowing the gaps that still exist, in particular with regard to access to education, health care and services, infrastructure, productive resources and assets.

IFAD is planning a series of events at global, national and local level to highlight the importance of economic empowerment for rural women and to showcase the results achieved by IFAD-supported programmes and projects. These events will lead up to the Global Leaders’ Commitment Forum on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which will take place in September 2015 in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly.