Poverty and Hunger

Poverty and Hunger

Eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges. The poor are not only those with the lowest incomes but also those who suffered from hunger, disease, and the lack of adequate shelter. This blog addresses two fundamental aspects of the challenge of reducing poverty: securing the availability and affordability of food; and generating productive employment and decent work.

The first phase of the discussion focuses on food (from 26 August until 7 September) and the second phase will focus on employment (from 9 September until 21 September). The discussion shall be guided by realism and pragmatism, with MDGs’ timeframe in mind (by 2015).

Even though the proportion of people in the world suffering from malnutrition and hunger has fallen since the early 1990s, their number has risen. About 1 billion people suffer from hunger, while at least another estimated 2 billion are undernourished. The decrease in child malnutrition has also been slow; the proportion of children in the developing world who are underweight decreased from 33 to 27 per cent between 1990 and 2005, well short of the target of reducing by half their percentage in 1990. Currently, about 143 million children under 5 years of age in the developing countries suffer from malnutrition, which exacerbates the impact of disease and reduces their health and education potential.

Discussion Phase 1 – Securing the availability and affordability of food

The world food prices crisis has served to highlight, the cumulative neglect of agriculture and rural development over the year and exposed existing and potential vulnerabilities of households, governments and the international system to food and nutrition insecurity.

While risks may be pronounced in urban areas, they are significant in rural areas as well, where globally 75% of the poor reside. Many of the rural poor are smallholder farmers whose capacities to benefit from high food prices are severely constrained by lack of inputs, investment and access to markets.

  1. Higher food prices have created a humanitarian emergency that needs. High agricultural commodities’ prices have raised the prospects of investments flowing to agriculture that could benefit small farmers and rural development and turn agriculture into a vibrant economic sector with significant positive effect on food security and poverty. How can we transform subsistence agriculture in order to ensure long-term, sustainable productivity increases and the development of a diversified economic base?
  2. Expansion of international trade supported has benefited some countries as well as certain socio-economic groups within countries. However, a large number of poor countries and poor people are being left behind. At the national level, how can we achieve complementarity between promoting agricultural and rural development, reducing hunger and taking advantage of international trade? At the international level, how can greater ‘policy space’ be created for countries to address the uneven sharing of the costs and benefits of global food trade?
  3. Women play an important productive role in agrarian societies. They produce most of the food consumed and account for a significant share of the total agricultural production. However, women’s contribution to the welfare and livelihood of rural communities are rarely addressed within existing policy frameworks. What policy measures would ensure that women are active participants in, and benefit from agriculture and rural development?
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    NGO Kalyan has been implementing Millennium Village Programme supported by German Agro Action since September 2006 in a small pocket of Purulia district in the state of West Bengal, India. This programme is precisely aimed at to achieve MDGs by improving the livelihood status of the people in the project area. Some of the notable intervention in the sector of agriculture development will be shared in this juncture.

    1) System of Rice Intensification: Experience shows that System of Rice Intensification (SRI) may bring a revolutionary change in crop productivity. Transplantation of (i) younger seedlings of 10-12 days old instead of 30-40 days old; (ii) single seedlings with wider spacing (10 inches) instead of multiple seedlings in a clump with closer spacing as well as moist paddy field instead of flooded or water logged field are the key technical issues of System of Rice Intensification. In the project area normal yield is around 28 qtl. per ha. But in SRI the yield may be around 52 qtl. per ha. or more. At present a number of 35 farmers area doing SRI in the project area. This System of Rice Intensification is affordable to the poor farmers and also suitable in drought prone area. Cost of production is almost equal with the cost of traditional practices. It may also be done through organic way. Community response and probability of scaling up of SRI in future is very much encouraging. Some of the farmers outside the project area are also doing SRI in this year. Thus, it may pave the path towards food security in rural area.

    2) Nutrition Garden: Nutrition garden is a concept of developing homestead garden having fruit plants and vegetables to ensure fruits and vegetable availability for household consumption. In the MV project area most of the households have their own homestead land. There is enough opportunity to develop nutrition garden in those land. People are trying to develop nutrition garden of their own with the support from the project.

    Cultivation of pulses and rearing of improved varieties poultry birds are also becoming popular which may contribute in nutrition security at household level

  2. Margo Fletcher

    There is no more effectvie way to help the MDGs than to support organisations that help to allow people to control their own fertility.