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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Helping small scale farms thrive is the key to feeding our booming world

People dry crops on a farm in Liaocheng, China. (China Daily/via Reuters)

REPRINT > Co-authored by representatives from Heineken, Unilever, Hershey, Sodexo and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance for Quartz

By 2050, we are all going to have a lot more neighbors. According to recent data, the global population is expected to exceed 9 billion people in the next 30 years, with the highest rate of growth occurring in developing countries. This, along with changing diets resulting from a collective rise in income, will require a significant increase in food production, exacerbated by the deleterious effects of climate change.

If we want our children to thrive in the 21st century, then we must immediately grapple with the challenge of feeding our growing population and doing so sustainably. We believe that the solution lies with a demographic that, despite its large constituency, has suffered in the shadows for far too long—the 500 million smallholder farms in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

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6 Lesser-Known Uses for Sustainable Cotton

Image credit: Flickr/Kimberly VardemanREPRINT > Mary Mazzoni for TriplePundit

Cotton is one of the most widespread and lucrative commodities on earth. Its production supports 250 million people’s livelihoods and employs almost 7 percent of all labor in developing countries.

But the billion-dollar industry finds itself under the microscope, as critics point outenvironmental and human-rights concerns in its supply chain. With this many people depending on the crop, it’s clear that eliminating its use isn’t the answer. Efforts such as the Better Cotton Initiative seek to improve cotton-farming practices, limit environmental damage and prevent labor abuses. Proponents say programs like BCI can improve the cotton supply chain while ensuring people’s livelihoods.

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Are drought-resistant crops in Africa the tech fix they're cracked up to be?

The UN is calling for more aid to southern Africa to help farmers like Peter, pictured here in Kenya, to be
spent on drought-resistant seeds. Photograph: Farm Africa
REPRINT > by Oliver Balch for Guardian Sustainable Business

Biotech companies and non-profits are investing heavily in drought-resistant crops, but doubts remain over whether they are the best option for farmers

The rains are not what they once were in Kitui County. As climate change bites, the wet season is more erratic and drought has become an all-too-common phenomenon in this rural corner of eastern Kenya.

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Trees That Feed Foundation Expanding Breadfruit Capacity in Haiti

The breadfruit tree is one of the world’s highest yielding food plants. Photo: Trees That Feed Foundation

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, June 7, 2016 – In response to sharply increased demand for breadfruit in Haiti, the Trees That Feed Foundation (TTFF) announced today that it is partnering with the local Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) to grow 1,000 breadfruit trees a month for distribution to Haitian farmers who want to begin growing or to expand their existing production.

“A typical breadfruit weighs about four pounds,” said Mary McLaughlin, Founder, Trees That Feed Foundation, “and can supply the entire carbohydrate portion of a meal for a family of five. A single mature tree produces over 200 fruit a year. So you begin to see the potential impact on nutrition.”

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Canadian Bio Research Firm to Assist Smallholder Farmers in Haiti

SASKATOON, SK, May 26, 2016 – The POS Bio-Sciences firm, located in western Canada’s farming heartland, today announced a partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) in Haiti aimed at improving the struggling agricultural economy there.

The initial focus of the partnership will center on the moringa tree (Moringa oleifera), shown above. Virtually every part of this fast-growing and drought-tolerant tree has a use, from the leaves with their extraordinary nutrient content to the young seed pods, which are a delicacy in some countries. But the Saskatoon-based POS team is particularly focused on the oil extracted from the moringa tree’s seeds, echoing back to the company’s early success in helping to develop the canola oil industry which significantly improved the livelihood of farmers.

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U.S. To Ship Peanuts To Feed Haitian Kids; Aid Groups Say 'This Is Wrong'

Sacks full of peanuts are displayed for sale at a market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Aid groups say they are
dismayed by a planned influx of American-grown peanuts from a U.S. agricultural surplus that they fear
could undercut a vital cash crop in the impoverished Caribbean nation. Dieu Nalio Chery/AP

REPRINT > by Clare Leschin-Hoar for NPR The Salt: Whats on Your Plate

On paper, sending surplus U.S. peanuts to feed 140,000 malnourished Haitian schoolchildren for a full year sounds like a heroic plan. Instead, it's united 60 aid groups that are urgently calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to halt a shipment containing 500 metric tons of peanuts, preventing the legumes from reaching Haiti.

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Timberland joins forces with Haitian farmers to rejuvenate barren lands

Timberland is exploring the idea of buying organic cotton from Haiti after a successful project helping
local farmers plant trees. Photograph: A F Cortes 

REPRINT > by Larissa Zimberoff for Guardian Sustainable Business

Project to help farmers in Haiti earn a living from planting fruit trees has given way to a more ambitious goal to farm sustainable cotton on the island.

In 2010, just prior to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti, American shoe and apparel company Timberland announced it would plant 5m trees on the widely deforested and impoverished island. After the earthquake hit, Timberland’s then CEO, Jeff Swartz, visited the country and was faced with two options: pivot to support the massive earthquake recovery, or keep the focus on planting trees.

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Planting of Genetically Modified Crops Declined in 2015

Soybean fields in Iowa. Low commodity prices have led farmers to plant fewer soybeans, both genetically
engineered and nonengineered. Credit: Ryan Donnell for The New York Times

REPRINT > by Andrew Pollack for the New York Times

The world’s farmers have increased their use of genetically modified crops steadily and sharply since the technology became broadly commercialized in 1996. Not anymore.

In 2015, for the first time, the acreage used for the crops declined, according to a nonprofit that tracks the plantings of biotech seeds.

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