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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


World food security at risk as variety of crops shrinks

The last of the 2012 drought-stricken corn is seen at a farm in Maryland on
October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Reprint from Thomson Reuters Foundation by Samuel Mintz 

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Globalisation touches almost every aspect of life in the modern world, including the food we eat. Over the last 50 years, diets around the world have become more and more similar while the diversity of food supply has decreased, which could mean that the world’s crops will be increasingly vulnerable to climate change and other dangers, according to a new report.

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Family farms are model farms, says FAO chief

José Graziano da Silva says family farming plays a crucial role in
sustainable food production. Photo: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images.

Reprint from the Guardian Professional by Francesco Rampa

There are an estimated 500m family farms in the world, and family farming is the predominant form of agriculture and main food producer in developed and developing countries.

The rising Africa narrative suggests that there will be a 4.7% growth rate in African economies in 2014, but while this offers opportunities to rural farmers, they often struggle to meet growing demands and find themselves at a disadvantage due to high costs, and low bargaining power.

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Haiti, Unfinished and Forsaken

Reprint from The New York Times | EDITORIAL | January 10, 2014

Four years after the earthquake, Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country. It’s possible that some natural or man-made crisis this year could push it back into the headlines. But sustained attention, with the kind of support from outside that Haiti still needs to rebuild and become more self-sufficient, is mostly gone.

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Solar Micro-Grid Aims to Boost Power and Food in Haiti

A solar panel on the roof of a home in Les Anglais charges a battery for use at
night. Photo credit: EarthSpark.

Reprint from National Geographic by Josie Garthwaite

On Haiti's southern peninsula, the town of Les Anglais rises alongside a snaking river prone to seasonal swells. Some 400 homes and businesses form the downtown core within a wider community of roughly 30,000 people.

Most of them are among the 75 percent of Haitians, and the 1.2 billion people around the world, who live without access to electricity. But a new model for connecting homes and businesses to clean, reliable power using smart meters, solar panels, and a small, independent power grid is being put to the test in Les Anglais. The idea is to combine these ingredients into a recipe for sustainable economic growth—in part by supplying power to process local crops that would otherwise rot before arriving at markets. (See related story: "Five Surprising Facts About Energy Poverty.")

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Haiti hopes miracle moringa tree can help to combat malnutrition

Elius Supreme working next to a 'miracle' moringa tree in Haiti. Photograph: Courtesy TreeForTheFutureReprint from Guardian Poverty Matters Blog by Felix von Geyer

Rich in vitamins, potassium and calcium, Haiti is promoting the moringa tree to address the country's chronic malnutrition.

The poorest country in the western hemisphere, 75% of Haiti's population lives on less than $2 a day, half on less than $1 a day, according to the UN World Food Programme. It imports 80% of its rice and more than half of all its food, despite 60% of Haitians working in agriculture. An estimated 7 million of the 10 million population are food insecure and USAid estimates that up to 30% of children are chronically malnourished.

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Haitian Development Breakthroughs That Could Change the World

A few weeks ago I had the honor of delivering Fordham University's Fall 2013 Gannon Lecture. The venue was the United Nations, and the talk was titled, "The Haiti Experiment: Development Breakthroughs That Could Change the World." You can listen to it from an audio link and check out photos of the evening. 

The lecture began with an exposition of three development failures I encountered in Haiti, but which affect the whole of the developing world: devastating loss of tree cover, the intentional collapse of domestic agriculture, and the near-total bankruptcy of foreign aid.

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2014 Declared "International Year of Family Farming"

Reprint from International Year of Family Farming

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

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FAO Links Farms, Forests and Smallholders

Benefits for smallholders include poverty reduction, livelihood improvement
and sustainable income.

Reprint from FAO

Strengthening  forest producer organizations should contribute significantly to reducing poverty, improving livelihoods and enhancing economic development of smallholder forest owners and farmers, FAO said today at the International Conference on Forest Producer Organizations, taking place in Guilin, China, 25-28 November 2013.

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