Nine more TEDx talks on food security

Last year we brought you six of our favourite TEDx talks on food security and since then we’ve discovered a whole lot more. Here are nine more interesting talks we think you might like.

JosetteJosette Sheeran, head of the UN’s World Food Program, talks about why, in a world with enough food for everyone, people still go hungry, still die of starvation, still use food as a weapon of war. Her vision: “Food is one issue that cannot be solved person by person. We have to stand together.” Watch the video.

 

BittmanMark Bittman, New York Times food writer, weighs in on what’s wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it’s putting the entire planet at risk. Watch the video.

 

 

HalweilBrian Halweil, publisher of Edible Manhattan, was on track to become a doctor until he realized that repairing the global food system could help to conserve people’s health and wellbeing more. Halweil believes that the local food movement is a truly powerful medicine. Watch the video.

 

 

 

RedmondLa Donna Redman, Senior Program Associate in Food and Justice at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and long-time food activist, examines how the root causes of violence and public health concerns experienced by her community are strongly connected to the local food system, and are best addressed by making changes in that system. Watch the video.

 

 

BaehrBirke Baehr, at the time just 11-years old, presents his take on a major source of our food — far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production. Watch the video.

 

mark-post-900x506Mark Post, a specialist in tissue engineering at Maastricht University in The Netherlands introduces Cultured Beef to the world and explains the process behind its growth and the future he envisions for in-vitro meat. Watch the video.

 

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What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Plant scientists urge Europe to stop blocking GM trials on political grounds, EurActiv

Borlaug Dialogue Highlights, World Food Prize

The Love Life of Plants, Gates Notes

‘Silent revolution’ of biotechnology food will surpass GMO products: Greenpeace report, Raw Story

World losing 2,000 hectares of farm soil daily to salt damage: UN University, EurekAlert

‘Climate-Smart Agriculture’: the Emperor’s new clothes?, CIDSE

Can sustainable intensification be the answer to better seeds, soil and family farming?, ICRISAT

World’s Largest Ever GMO Safety Study Set for London Launch, Sustainable Pulse

Even it Up: Big global campaign on inequality launched today, From Poverty to Power

The GMO debate: 5 things to stop arguing, The Washington Post [Read more...]

Why should women and girls be at the centre of development?

Katrin Glatzel, Policy & Research Officer, Agriculture for Impact

Trials are underway in parts of Britain to assess whether a later school start leads to higher GCSE grades.  As a result, thousands of teenagers are to get an extra hour in bed. University of Oxford researchers argue that teenagers start functioning properly two hours later than adults. While reading about these trials on the news, I remembered a documentary that I watched about a year ago – “On the way to school”.

girls

© Pierre Holtz. UNICEF

The documentary, supported by UNICEF and Aide et Action, tells us the stories of four children in developing countries and the burden they take on to attend school. Jackson, 10 years old from Kenya, and his little sister make round trip journeys of 30km by foot to school every morning, waking up at sunrise to set out. Zahira, 12 years old from Morocco, walks 44km along winding mountain passes each week to attend a boarding school, taking four hours on a good day. A good day means: no rain, no illness and no blisters.

The documentary highlights what we all know: education is important and is regarded a treasure for many children in developing countries. In Britain, we know education opens new opportunities, widens our horizons and helps shape our personalities.  For children in developing countries, however, it is clear education means a lot more.

For girls, the meaning of education is particularly striking. According to a new report from the World Bank, girls with little or no education are far more likely to be married as children, suffer domestic violence, live in poverty, and lack a say over household spending or their own health care than better-educated peers, harming them, their children, and their communities.

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Key Agricultural Development Debates

ID-100214047In conjunction with World Food Day last week, the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) launched a series of seven papers investigating the key agricultural development debates surrounding sub-Saharan Africa.

For many years the importance of agricultural development for poverty and hunger eradication was a key issue to be argued, debated and championed but more recently this message has been largely accepted with agriculture becoming a central theme on African and international development agendas. As World Food Day showed there is general agreement that smallholder and family farms play a critical role in providing food security, livelihoods, environmental protection and rural development.

Although investing in agricultural development, and smallholders specifically, is widely believed to help tackle poverty and hunger, the way of going about this is much contested, and debates over the right policies, technologies and investments are ongoing. It is these debates that these seven papers, the first of twelve, have explored, in particular looking at how such debates have changed since 2001 and the release of an issue of Development Policy Review entitled “Rethinking rural development“. This issue suggested that the role of agriculture in driving development and economic growth was diminishing with more people leaving the sector to pursue other jobs.

Today agriculture is largely seen as both critical to a country’s economic transition and, because the sector employs millions of people and families, as a route to improving the livelihoods of people around the world. Perhaps this is because the way agriculture is viewed has changed – within agricultural development spheres discourse is as often as not full of ideas such as market development, value chains, public-private partnership and enterprise. Agriculture in developing countries is being viewed as a business with risks but also with many opportunities. Recent rises in food prices, liberalisation of markets, the rise of regional trade and economic partnerships in Africa, and new African institutions such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) have opened the door for agriculture-led development and private investment.

Whether these developments will ultimately be good or bad for African development divides opinion. Do market-led approaches marginalise subsistence farmers, increasing their vulnerability to poverty? Will small-scale farmers ultimately have to leave farming as commercial farms capitalise on market opportunities? How much control over the development of farms and agriculture should individual farmers have? The seven papers presented aim to ignite debate on how African agriculture is changing and shed light on the way forward. The topics of these papers ranges from the changing African economic, political and social landscapes and its impact on food systems; the types of investment most appropriate for smallholder farmers, given their heterogeneity; economic diversification and the link between urban and rural economies; the potential of input subsidy programmes; and the role of ICTs.

Here we suggest some key agricultural debates currently taking place but we’d love to hear from you as to what you think the most important debates are in African agricultural development, and how you think resolution can be found. [Read more...]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Back agriculture to get the most out of aid to Africa, SciDev.Net

No-till agriculture may not bring hoped-for boost in global crop yields, study finds, UC Davis

Family farms produce 80 percent of world’s food, speculators seek land, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Can We Feed the World in 2050? A Scoping Paper to Assess the Evidence, GDAE

Principles for responsible agriculture and food investments are approved, FAO

Oxfam response to UN Committee on World Food Security Endorsement of Principles, Oxfam

Why ‘climate-smart agriculture’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, The Guardian

The Race Is On to Find Organic Pesticides, The Wall Street Journal [Read more...]

Scaling up- scaling up: food security, smallholder farmers & markets

LeapingandLearningFrontCover

Click here to download the Leaping & Learning Report

October 16th 2014 is World Food Day, and in line with this years International Year of Family Farming, the theme of this World Food Day is “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth” aiming to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. Across Africa, smallholders account for 80% of Africa’s farmland and produce 80% of the food in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. However due to a lack of suitable infrastructure, access to inputs, technology and storage, the majority of smallholders farmers are not well connected to markets.

After a warm welcome and opening remarks from our very own Katrin Glatzel, and introductions from H.E. Ambassador Neil Briscoe, the UK Permanent Representative to the Rome-based Agencies the panellists shared some of their experiences, successes and challenges from their diverse fields of work.

We heard first from Sharada Keats from the Overseas Development Institute as she provided a comprehensive overview of the key findings and recommendations of the 2013 Leaping & Learning report, sharing that there is no silver bullet for scaling up. Attempts to scale up often do not reach the poorest and most vulnerable and social safety nets must be put in place to ensure that those most in need are adequately supported during the uptake of the project. Thom Sprenger from HarvestPlus supported that reaching the farmers and consumers most affected by micronutrient deficiencies  is a barrier to scaling up and that there is a need to mitigate risks associated with the adoption of a new crop – through credit, insurance, input incentives, and market connections. [Read more...]

Yesterday, today and tomorrow: women, food and poverty

event141016-familyfarmingA series of international days as observed by the United Nations has and is taking place over several days this month.

Yesterday

Yesterday was International Day of Rural Women, the first of which occurred in 2008. The day is about recognising “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

Rural women are crucial in attaining sustainable rural development but they often face inequalities in terms of access to productive resources, finance, health care and education. Women and girls are also more likely to be undernourished and to go without food despite the central roles they play in a household’s wealth and health. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are not only central to household welfare though but to rural communities, national economic growth and global food security. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in her speech on the International Day of Rural Women, highlighted the message that rural women need to be at the heart of all development efforts.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in his speech marking the occasion, talked about the need to address discrimination and unequal access to resources in the first instance. Rural women often rely on natural resources for their livelihoods. For example, in developing countries, rural women represent approximately 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force. UN Women’s publication Realizing Women’s Rights to Land and Other Productive Resources, published with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), examines the factors affecting women’s rights to land and resources, presenting success stories and future priorities. UN Women also supports several initiatives that promote the leadership of rural women and has partnered with the FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) for the “Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women” initiative, which “engages with governments to develop and implement laws that promote equal rights”.

Rural women are key to producing and providing food for their families. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and Farming First have produced the interactive graphic “The Female Face of Farming”, which shows the role women play in agriculture around the world.

Today

Today is World Food Day and the theme is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”. This has been chosen to “raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers”, a key focus of the UN designated 2014 International Year of Family Farming. Family farms, the main form of agriculture in the food production sector, play a significant role in providing food and managing natural resources and thus contribute to the goals of ending hunger and poverty, protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development. 500 million out of 570 million farms across the globe are family farms, responsible for at least 56% of total agricultural production. This infographic was produced for World Food Day to highlight the critical role of family farmers. [Read more...]

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