Posts

Food SovereigntyAt the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina changed the face of agriculture forever by creating and advocating for the idea of food sovereignty. La Via Campesina, which translates to “The Peasants’ Way,” is an international, grassroots social movement — arguably the biggest one around the world. It works to educate and empower small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, land workers, rural women and indigenous people everywhere so that they can reclaim their power in the global food system.

The Origins of La Via Campesina

In Belgium in 1993, farmers – both men and women – from four different continents came together to found La Via Campesina. During this period of globalization, small farmers needed to unite to protect their voices. An estimated 200 million people are now part of this movement.

The International Peasant’s Movement

La Via Campesina, also known as the International Peasant’s Movement, has three main goals:

  1. Defending food sovereignty and agrarian reform

  2. Promoting agroecology and defending local seeds

  3. Promoting peasant rights and defending against the criminalization of peasants

Defending Food Sovereignty

When people speak about global food equity, they often refer to food security. Food sovereignty takes this concept of equal distribution of food one step further, and advocates for control of the food system by those who actually produce, distribute and consume.

According to the Declaration of Nyéléni at the first global forum on food sovereignty in 2007, “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

World agricultural systems are the most productive they’ve ever been. The issue today isn’t a lack of food, but rather power imbalances in the control of the food, preventing those who need nourishment most from getting it. Food sovereignty supports that everyone – producers, harvesters, consumers – has the right to take back power from the markets and corporations.

Another factor is the struggle for land and agrarian reform. The organization seeks to ensure that those who produce have the rights to use and manage lands, water, livestock, etc., rather than the corporate sector.

Promoting Agroecology

This movement is deeply connected to sustainability and believes that agroecology is a way to combat the economic system that places more importance on profit than people around the world. Small farmers comprise almost half of the world’s population and have shown already that they can produce food in an eco-friendly, sustainable way.

Agroecology is a comprehensive view of farming which states that processes and practices should be adapted to fit local conditions. By creating agricultural systems based on the independence of peasants, without the use of oil or other fossil fuels, agrochemicals, or genetic modification, both the environment and global food systems will make strides towards a safer future. It relies on the decentralization of agricultural power. While this may sound counterintuitive in an increasingly globalized world, decentralization gives power back to the people who need it most.

An integral part of agroecology is the recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge. Passed on from generation to generation and deeply embedded in the culture of a community, traditional knowledge provides useful information about the local landscape and agricultural needs. La Via Campesina fosters farmer-to-farmer transmission of information and innovation through observation.

Promoting Peasant Rights

Peasants are increasingly being displaced and discriminated against in every part of the world. Corporations continue to violate their basic rights while peasants struggle to protect them, sometimes dying in the process. In 2017, 207 men and women were killed for defending their land, forests and water; a quarter of them were Indigenous.

It must also be noted that the term “peasant” does not carry negative connotations; as defined by La Via Campesina, “A peasant is a man or woman of the land, who has a direct and special relationship with the land and nature through the production of food and/or other agricultural products.” Many think peasant is a pejorative word, indicative of a low status. In a modern context, there is no association between the word “peasant” and “low class.”

La Via Campesina promotes a Universal Declaration on the rights of peasants and other rural workers. This Universal Declaration includes the right to an adequate standard of living, seeds, land, information, justice and gender equality.

The Accomplishments

La Via Campesina has made substantial, lasting accomplishments. Multiple countries have made food sovereignty a part of their national policies and constitutions. After heavy lobbying, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants was adopted in 2018.

Djigal, a small-scale fish producer from Senegal, shares her thoughts on the matter. “…A movement like this allows us to globalize the struggle…For a long time, peasants didn’t know what was at stake in these negotiations. But through this movement, we’ve become more educated. Now we can speak for ourselves.”

The impacts of this movement cannot be overstated. It is a daunting task to shift the balance of power of the global food system towards small-scale farmers, indigenous people and rural women. Advocates of industrial capitalism believed peasants would disappear, but here they are, fighting around the world for their rights.

– Fiona Price
Photo: Flickr


Rice is one of the world’s most popular foods. It is a culturally significant staple in cuisines across the world, from Asia to Africa to the Americas. In fact, rice comprises at least 20% of daily calorie intake for more than 3.5 billion people. Rice is also enticing, especially for the impoverished, for its versatility, nutritional value and affordability to produce and buy. To continue supplying this necessary meal staple for millions of people worldwide, it is imperative that rice farming is efficient and high-yielding. Here are several efforts demonstrating how technology improves rice production.

Crop Manager

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a global research organization that discovers and implements solutions for rice farming and production to help end world hunger. One such initiative is the development of a useful rice production product called Crop Manager. Crop Manager is a computer program designed to assist rice farmers in tasks like nutrient management and fertilizer selection.

Crop Manager is especially useful for impoverished farmers due to its simple information delivery method. The program conveys information to farmers quickly and concisely via computer printouts and SMS text messages. Thus, even farmers with only basic technologies like cell phones or computers can access this advanced data and improve their crop yields. Crop Manager is currently active in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Biofortification

The IRRI has also committed to improving rice itself. To do this, the organization has begun researching and implementing biofortification: genetic modification of a crop to improve its nutritional value. With this method, grains have been genetically modified to provide greater amounts of nutrients like zinc and iron. This innovation is incredibly helpful for those consuming rice as a major component of their diet. More nutrient-dense rice can help poor families prevent diet-induced diseases like iron deficiency anemia, an illness that causing extreme weakness due to low red blood cell counts.

Hybrid Gains

Another organization demonstrating how technology improves rice production is RiceTec. RiceTec is an American company committed to modernizing rice production worldwide. One specific effort RiceTec has organized is modified disease-resistant rice grains. These hybrid grains are more formidable against diseases that typically kill rice crops, ensuring crop yields remain high.

Other hybrid grains developed by RiceTec allow farmers to increase the quantity of rice in their fields, as well as provide grains with stronger straws and improved grain retention. The implications of these innovations are massive; by introducing these hybrid grains into rice fields worldwide, people relying on rice as a primary component of their diets will become more able to feed themselves and their families. For farmers, selling more of the crop will provide greater income and improve their quality of life.

Furthermore, some hybrid rice grains have the added benefit of using less arable land to provide comparableif not morecrop yield. In 2009, for example, China reduced its rice-growing land use by 14% while increasing production by 44.1%. With the increased use of hybrid grains worldwide, the sustainability of rice production will continue to improve. Additionally, reducing arable land use will feed more with minimal strain on the environment.

Moving Forward

Modern farming and wealthy countries have long used technology to improve their crops. Developments ranging from crop management software to higher nutrition in crops themselves to hybrid grains have forever changed the practice of farming. By delivering this technology to the world’s poor, people relying on rice as a staple will have the opportunity to succeed both in terms of crop viability and overall quality of life. As technology continues improving rice production, the world comes one step closer to eradicating food insecurity.

– Domenic Scalora
Photo: Flickr

Farm to ForkRecently, the European Union Green Deal created a new food security strategy called the “Farm to Fork Strategy.” The European Union Green deal aims to make Europe the most climate-neutral continent and the Farm to Fork strategy is at the heart of this goal. Farm to Fork is a directive designed to “ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food.” The EU particularly noted that global food systems cannot be resilient during times of crisis such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, unless food systems are sustainable. The EU further noted that food systems need to be redesigned in order to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

The Farm to Fork Strategy

On June 2, 2020, The EU dedicated €10 billion towards developing the start of the program by donating towards “the research and innovation of food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and the environment” along with developing new technology to find a nature-based solution for naturally grown food, that is also sustainable year-round and throughout multiple years, by growing annuals in the farms of European countries. This trial run, done exclusively in Europe, hopes to be a pioneer in agriculture, destined to help millions globally once the project receives more traction.

The Farm to Fork Strategy stands in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and not only plans to provide more sustainable food sources but will also provide aid to issues such as global warming, pollution, deforestation and overfishing. The overall goal is to “ensure food security and create a safe food environment” globally.

The Main Goals of Farm to Fork:

  • Ensuring sustainable food production;
  • Ensuring food security;
  • Stimulating sustainable food processing, wholesale, retail, hospitality and food services practices;
  • Promoting sustainable food consumption and facilitating the shift to healthy, sustainable diets;
  • Reducing food loss and waste;
  • Combating food fraud along the food supply chain.

This detailed plan, if executed properly, is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global food shortages. Targets that are essential to meet in order to reach the environmental and food safety goals of Farm to Fork are:

  • a reduction by 50% in the use of chemical and hazardous pesticides by 2030;
  • a reduction of nutrient losses by at least 50% while ensuring that there is no deterioration in soil fertility;
  • a reduction in the use of fertilizers by at least 20% by 2030;
  • a reduction of overall EU sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture of 50% by 2030;
  • reaching 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

The Potential Impact of Farm to Fork

With the use of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the entire world could be more self-sustaining. The initiative could help millions around the world who struggle with food scarcity, making sustainable agriculture one of the most important fields in society. Farm to Fork helps not only food scarcity but the environment as a whole as well. Farm to Fork aims to do more than just curb global hunger, ultimately, aiming to make the planet a better place as a whole.

Alexis LeBaron
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in maldivesThe Maldives, a series of islands bordering both India and Sri Lanka, has faced increased obstacles with food security and hunger. With a population of 515,696 citizens, it is estimated that over 10.3% are battling with hunger. However, increased efforts have been made to combat this rise in hunger in the Maldives.

Problem in Numbers

With various scattered islands in the Maldives, it must be noted that a majority of citizens live in urban areas. However, despite this setting, 17.3% of children in the Maldives are underweight while 10.6% are wasted — a condition where a child’s muscle and fat tissues dissolve away to the bone.

It is also estimated that 36% of babies are not exclusively breastfed in their first six months of life, leading many to not receive the necessary nutrients to develop. This heavily contributes to serious health problems in the future.

In addition to the youth being affected by malnutrition, it must be noted that the adult population is also facing a malnutrition burden, with 42.6% of women of reproductive age having anemia.

Causes of Hunger and Poverty

Food insecurity in the Maldives points towards a variety of factors. A recent cause is resultant poverty caused by a lack of tourists. It is estimated that tourism accounts for two-thirds of the nation’s GDP. However, recent border closures due to COVID-19 have severely impacted citizens on a national scale. With one-third of adult males and a quarter of females engaged in tourism-related occupations, thousands have lost their jobs, making it harder for people to provide food and other basic necessities for their families.

Climate change, environmental degradation and declining ocean health severely threaten food security in the Maldives. Rapid changes in temperatures, flooding and drought, impact agricultural yields, reducing the ability to locally produce food.

Another factor that contributes to hardships is the decline of exports in the fish sector. With fishery accounting for another large portion of the nation’s GDP, many families who depend on fisheries as their main source of income have experienced serious financial impacts.

Road to Change

Despite the increased rates of hunger among the Maldivian population, organizations have stepped up to aid the needy. A prominent organization is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has dedicated itself to developing both fisheries and agriculture in the Maldives.

The main course of action for the FAO was to reassess the situation in the Maldives and open opportunities to grow the fishery and agriculture sector. Through promoting a stable framework, the organization enabled thousands to enter new jobs in the agriculture industry while accelerating demand for certain goods.

Another course of action was teaching sustainable practices to hundreds of Maldivian farmers. By helping with smaller-scale farms, FAO was able to heavily accelerate growth, boosting production in underprivileged communities. The FAO also helped equip farmers to thrive during climate change. The organization provided farmers with knowledge and methods to increase the productivity of their crops, livestock and fisheries in the face of adverse climatic conditions.

Despite great aid from the FAO, the Maldives continues to face problems in feeding the entirety of its population. Organizations like the FAO can help in the short-term but the Maldives needs government assistance to see long-term change. For the Maldives to see a reduced hunger rate, the government must act alongside nonprofit organizations to increase food security in the country. With the help of NGOs and the Maldivian government, the overall hunger rate in the Maldives can be reduced.

Aditya Padmaraj
Photo: UNDP

hunger in switzerlandSwitzerland is a well-off country with a high standard of living and a low poverty rate. While poverty does exist within the country, food security is not much of a concern due to strong welfare programs. This is because hunger in Switzerland is an issue that the government takes seriously and works hard to improve.

Life in Switzerland

Switzerland has a high overall standard of living, but this comes with a high cost of living that can alienate impoverished people. Both Zurich and Geneva are some of the most expensive cities in the world in which to live. Even against other developed countries with similar standards of living, Switzerland is expensive. The average total household expenditure in Switzerland is about 60% higher than the average of the European Union.

The price of living in Switzerland is steep. Swiss health insurance is mandatory by law, monthly rent is relatively high, and transportation and grocery costs are significant expenses. Switzerland also boasts some of the highest salaries in the world, which offsets the costs of living. However, of the 7.9% of Swiss residents living below the poverty line— about 660,000 people—still struggle to afford what they need. However, poverty in Switzerland is relatively low. Government welfare programs help impoverished people get back on their feet.

Welfare Programs in Switzerland

Hunger in Switzerland is rare due to the fact that Swiss welfare payments cover necessities such as food, clothing, housing, health insurance, and other personal needs. Upwards of 270,000 Swiss residents receive some sort of welfare, distributed at the cantonal level to residents living below the country’s poverty line. This amounted to about $2.85 billion spent on welfare throughout the entire country in 2018.

There are several guidelines about who qualifies for receiving welfare and how welfare benefits can be spent. They include housing within a certain price range, cars covered for health reasons or jobs inaccessible by public transport, and welfare not covering expenses for pets. Welfare recipients are not eligible to become Swiss citizens while receiving welfare or for three years after (although the wait is longer in some cantons).

The social assistance programs work to ensure Swiss residents are receiving the help they need to survive and get back on their feet. 8% of welfare recipients need help for six or more years, 20% require assistance for only one or two years, and about 50% receive welfare for less than a year. Aggressive and good quality welfare programs ensure that hunger in Switzerland is a very rare and easily fixable issue.

Global Food Security and Hunger Worldwide

While hunger in Switzerland itself is not much of an issue, Switzerland works hard to assist global food security.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership for agricultural research.  CGIAR is one of Switzerland’s 15 priority organizations for global development. It supports research in 80 countries on food quality and sustainable natural resource management. The goal of their research is to stabilize agricultural production and food supply for a rising global population. The Swiss Federal Council renewed its contributions to the CGIAR in 2019, pledging to contribute CHF 33.1 million or $35.9 million in the 2020-21 period.

Switzerland is dedicated to supporting other countries in facing food insecurity, as shown by the town of Basel which put together the event “Basel Gegen Hunger” in June of 2018. This was the second annual event for the campaign. The event raised funds and brought awareness to the hunger crisis in South Sudan. In six weeks, the residents of Basel raised more than CHF 53,000—close to $60,000—for people affected by the famine.

Hunger in Switzerland is low due to its comprehensive welfare programs. However, the Swiss are dedicated to fighting global hunger. Switzerland addresses hunger domestically and globally through agricultural research, giving money, and spreading awareness.

Kathy Wei

Photo: Flickr

improving food security in Malawi
One of the key underpinnings of public health is food security — especially in a nation with a fast-growing population, such as Malawi. Many organizations, including the nonprofit — Soil, Food and Healthy Communities (SFHC) are working to empower communities through improving food security in Malawi. How do they aim to achieve this? By working with these communities in developing productive, sustainable agricultural practices.

The Current Situation

Malawi became independent from British rule in 1964 and has made steady progress in building a more resilient country since the nation’s first, multi-party, democratic elections in 1994. According to the World Bank — literacy rates in Malawi have improved but poverty rates remain high, with 51.5% of the population living in poverty as of 2016. Again, per the World Bank — poverty in Malawi is driven by factors including low-productivity farming and limited non-agricultural economic opportunities. Hunger is still a widespread problem, as 47% of children in Malawi are stunted according to USAID.

Smallholder farmers make up 80% of Malawi’s population — largely growing crops to feed themselves. Therefore, improving food security in Malawi must involve more efficient farming practices to promote food production and economic growth.

Initiatives of SFHC

SFHC is working to improve farming techniques, nutrition, soil/environmental health and food security in Malawi. The organization coordinates many projects to support farmers by doing research driven by their needs. SFHC initiatives include building more sustainable food systems and using agroecological farming methods for improving food security in Malawi. According to its website, SFHC assists more than 6,000 farmers in more than 200 villages in northern and central Malawi.

Joint Research in Improved Agricultural Methods

Olubunmi Osias, a Cornell University student, spoke with The Borgen Project about her experience working remotely for SFHC this summer as a Cornell CALS Public Health Fellow. Osias is a research assistant for Rachel Bezner Kerr, who holds a doctorate in Development Sociology from Cornell University and is an associate professor at the same university. Kerr works with SFHC on the effects of different agricultural methods on nutrition and food security. Kerr also uses an agroecological framework, which is the study of ecological systems as it relates to farming. Harnessing ecological analysis can help promote soil conservation, crop yield and pest management — offering a way to improve food security in Malawi. “Dr. Bezner Kerr is looking at a revival of agroecology, including intercropping, where you grow different crops together. It is better for the soil and productive yield. Other methods are being developed to manage pests,” said Osias.

Osias sees agroecological research as a way to alleviate some of the lasting deleterious effects of Britain’s colonial rule on Malawi. This includes but is not limited to their encouragement of planting corn and other cash crops as opposed to producing a variety of food crops for local consumption. Not only did British colonial forces kill peaceful protestors who advocated for change in the 1950s but they also undermined traditional farming practices, to the detriment of food security.

A Community-Based Approach

In order to make sure that SFHC research to improve food security in Malawi is driven by the needs of local communities, Kerr is using a community-based participatory research approach (CBPR). According to Osias, CBPR has many similarities to other forms of research. However, CBPR is unique in that it is a partnership between the researcher and the community — rather than a researcher studying people who have neither influence over the research-study design nor the goal.

Better Research Makes for Better Results

Research projects like the one that Osias assisted with can contribute to improvements in agricultural productivity. This can in turn improve health outcomes by providing communities with better food security and a more stable source of income. 

Tamara Kamis
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

transportation in impoverished areas
Transportation plays a major role in the development of a region. A lack of transportation impacts a large population of the global poor, from those in rural regions looking for urban jobs to students who need to commute to school. There is great potential for transportation in impoverished areas to stimulate growth and increase opportunities for underserved communities. Here are five facts about transportation in impoverished areas.

5 Facts About Transportation in Impoverished Areas

  1. Access to Transportation: Though a seemingly simple topic, transportation is quite complex for many people across the globe. There are many potential obstacles to accessing transportation. For example, public transport remains unaffordable to many poor people. Relatively high fares make public transportation unattainable for the bottom 20% of the income pyramid.
  2. Increased Job Opportunities: In developing regions, a large portion of economically disadvantaged people live in rural areas. Transport conditions are frequently difficult and draining for these rural poor. A study found that transportation services in rural sub-Saharan Africa actually helped reduce poverty and encourage growth. Improved transportation generally increases access to opportunity for the poor, potentially leading to increased income and ownership of assets. Eventually, these improvements support sustained economic growth for individuals, spurring generational change.
  3. Access to Education: Many students in impoverished areas find that commuting to and from school takes a toll on their physical and mental capacity to learn. In many cases, students drop out of primary school because they have to walk long distances to reach school. In fact, in the absence of paved roads, only 21% of rural girls and 58% of rural boys attend school. On the other hand, if a paved road exists, school enrollment rates increase to 48% for girls and 76% for boys.
  4. Food Security: Access to food and the risk of hunger remain major threats to the global poor. Although rural economies in developing countries are predominantly agrarian, approximately 45% of land area in low-income countries is located more than five hours away from the main market. Without proper infrastructure, farmers cannot sell their produce to a larger market. For instance, poor road links were shown to raise transport costs of bananas in Kenya by 14%. Better transportation systems improve the efficiency of food distribution by connecting regions, while also lowering vehicle damage.
  5. Gender Disparities: There is an obvious gap between the number of men and women in poverty. Despite increasing their participating in the labor force, women end up with lower salaries, often working in the informal sector. Unequal access to transportation perpetuates this trend. In Pakistan, where 75% of women engaged in non-agriculture jobs in the informal economy, a lack of access to public services adversely impacted women’s economic security. Due to fear of violent street crime and abuse, a disproportionate share of women’s commutes in cities are walking trips.

Transportation is a necessary investment to fight global poverty and lift living conditions for those abroad. Governments must work hard to improve access to transportation in impoverished areas. However, foreign aid stands to elevate local governments’ abilities to meet citizens’ basic needs.

Elizabeth Qiao
Photo: Flickr

food security health and nutrition projectZimbabwe has become a country of international focus since UNICEF, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Zimbabwean government have been working together to feed starving people in the nation. The Food Security, Health and Nutrition Project has bloomed from that collaboration and poses a solution to undernourishment in susceptible areas in Zimbabwe.

UNICEF is a charitable organization that people know for its accomplishments in improving living conditions for the world’s impoverished. About 190 countries have benefitted from UNICEF programs, giving millions of children the chance to live, thrive and achieve. The organization has most recently shifted its focus to hunger in Zimbabwe in response to the increasing rates of global hunger in 2016.

Hunger in Zimbabwe

Malnutrition and its consequences are central concerns for policymakers in Zimbabwe. Nearly 650,000 children under 5 years old, or 27 percent, suffer from chronic malnutrition. UNICEF considers this statistic high compared to the rates in other nearby countries, which range from 19 to 31 percent. Children living in urban areas are more likely to suffer malnutrition than those in rural settings because preserving a healthy diet is harder to do.

Natural disasters and disease that plague cultivated areas in Zimbabwe have also inflated the rate of malnutrition. About 92 percent of Zimbabweans living in rural households rely on agriculture as the primary source of food and income. Drought, floods and livestock death all weaken the environment that produces healthful resources.

What is The Food Security, Health and Nutrition Project?

The Food Security, Health and Nutrition Project emerged in March 2019 as a means of solving undernourishment in Zimbabwe. Estimates determine that the initiative benefits nearly 130,000 individuals living in 11 regions of the country.

The program’s formula focuses on building a resilient environment that will remain productive throughout common hardships that eradicate food supply. Droughts and floods result in insufficient water flow, and as such, the project plans to forge weir dams and nutrition gardens that will allow crops to flourish in disastrous circumstances.

In addition, this project identifies women and children as particularly vulnerable groups. The program is providing financial and nutritional support to pregnant women living in maternity waiting homes throughout the country. This aid aims to ensure that mothers can provide a nutritious diet for their children, and thus, mitigate the prevalence of malnutrition in Zimbabwe.

A Recent Advocate

Most recently, Japan demonstrated support for the Food Security, Health and Nutrition Project. In 2018, the Japanese government donated $1 million to the initiative. The country’s funds will go towards crafting infrastructure to preserve water supply in flood-affected and drought-affected communities across Zimbabwe.

Japan’s lofty donation is just one way in which the country has positively contributed to third world development. In 2015, Japan provided $1.5 million for developing irrigation and harvesting systems in rural communities in Zimbabwe. There were more than 9,300 beneficiaries of this new framework. Japan also focuses on instilling a sentiment of independence, as it advocates for the human security necessary for individuals to shine.

While Japan has established a particular passion for curing hunger in Zimbabwe, the country requires more international help to solve undernourishment. In 2018, UNICEF found that nearly 821 million individuals are suffering from an insufficient food supply. The Food Security, Health and Nutrition Project is just one example of an effort to assuage this recorded hunger. A fitted policy that addresses the country’s specific issues is an efficient way to provide relief and development.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

10 International Issues to WatchWith the world always changing, there are some issues that remain constant. Some of these issues are directly related to poverty while other events increase the likelihood of creating impoverished communities. Here are 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.

10 International Issues to Watch

  1. Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa
    The good news is that global poverty rates have been dropping since the turn of the century. Nevertheless, there is still work that needs to be done. Approximately 10 percent of people in developing areas live on less than $2 per day. Poverty rates have declined in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, but more than 40 percent of residents of sub-Saharan Africa still live below the poverty line.
  2. Lack of Access to Clean Water
    There are more than 2 billion people in the world who cannot access clean water in their own homes. Lack of access to clean water increases the likelihood of contracting illnesses. When people get sick, they have to spend money on medicine, which can cause families to fall into extreme poverty. In other cases, people have to travel extremely far to collect clean water. Altogether, women and girls spend approximately 200 million hours walking to get water daily. Access to clean water is one of the 10 international issues to watch in relation to world poverty.
  3. Food Security
    By 2050, the world will need to feed 9 billion people, but there will be a 60 percent greater food demand than there is today. Thus, the United Nations is taking steps to address the problem. The U.N. has set improving food security, improving sustainable agriculture and ending hunger as some of their primary focuses by the year 2030. The U.N. must address a wide range of issues to combat these problems. These issues include gender parity, global warming and aging populations.
  4. Improving Education
    Most impoverished communities around the world lack a solid education system. Some common barriers include families being unable to afford school, children having to work to support their family and the undervaluing of girls’ education. UNESCO estimates more than 170 million people could be lifted out of poverty if they had basic reading skills.
  5. Limited Access to Jobs
    In rural and developing communities around the world, there is often limited access to job opportunities. There is a multitude of factors that can lead to a lack of adequate work or even no opportunities at all. Two common roadblocks are a lack of access to land and a limit of resources due to overexploitation. It is obvious that no available means to make money ensures that a family cannot survive without outside help.
  6. Limiting Global Conflict
    When conflict occurs, it impacts the poor the hardest. Social welfare type programs are drained, rural infrastructure may be destroyed in conflict zones and security personnel moves into urban areas, leaving smaller communities behind. At the state level, impoverished communities have lower resilience to conflict because they may not have strong government institutions. Poverty and conflict correlate strongly with one another.
  7. Gender Equality
    From a financial standpoint, gender equality is vital to improving the world economy. The World Economic Forum states that it would take another 118 years to achieve a gender-neutral economy. In 2015, the average male made $10 thousand more a year than their female counterparts. However, there has been an increased amount of awareness on the issue that may lead to an improved economy for all.
  8. Defending Human Rights
    In 2018, the world saw a decline in global freedom. However, over the last 12 consecutive years, global freedom rights have decreased. More than 70 countries have experienced a decline in political and civil liberties. However, in 2019, steps are being taken to limit this problem. At the International Conference on Population and Development, there will be a focus on human rights. France will also align its G-7 efforts at limiting a variety of inequalities.
  9. Responding to Humanitarian Crises
    The 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview shows a large number of humanitarian crises around the world. Between Syria, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are more than 19 million internally displaced people. In 2019, approximately 132 million people have needed humanitarian help, costing the world economy almost $22 billion.
  10. Climate Change
    From a scientific standpoint, the land temperature has increased by 1 degree C. in the last half decade, and greenhouse gas emissions have risen to their highest levels in more than 800,000 years. This has led to increased storms and droughts throughout the world. In the last 39 years, weather-related economic loss events have tripled.

Even though the world still has many issues to address, progress is being made in a variety of areas that may help limit global poverty. These are but 10 international issues to watch in relation to global poverty. The global awareness of poverty-related issues is something that continues to be extremely important for the advancement of our world.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Google Images

Agri-tech innovations in AfricaAfrican agri-tech is in a major growth period, totaling $19 million in investment over the past two years, resulting in the number of start-ups to double. With 65 percent of the world’s remaining arable land located in Africa, many African countries have major potential to become not only agriculturally self-sufficient but also major food exporters.

In 2017, African countries spent over $65 billion importing food. Current and future agri-tech innovations in Africa will play a large roll in reducing this trade deficit and improving the lives of small scale farmers in the process.

A Boom in Agri-tech

Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana are leading agri-tech markets, accounting for over 60 percent of active startups in the sector. The agricultural industry has consistently been a crucial component of economic systems throughout Africa, but until recently has been untouched by technological innovation.

Over 80 percent of Nigerian farmers are smallholder farmers, producing 90 percent of domestic output. Nearly half of all working Nigerians are engaged in small-hold farming and account for the poorest 40 percent of the population. This level of poverty among smallholder farmers can be attributed to the low use of mechanized tools, inadequate market information, and lack of access to credit and financing options.

This is changing in recent years, following an increase of 121 percent in fundraising for agri-tech from 2016 to 2017. Nearly a third of all agri-tech startups are e-commerce agricultural focused platforms, connecting farmers with investors, markets, training and mechanized tools. These platforms help to lift many small scale farmers out of poverty while also mitigating food insecurity in local communities.

The Benefits of Crowdfunding

Given the massive potential for growth, crowdfunding has the possibility of ushering the African agricultural industry to the forefront of the world market. There is a public perception issue with smallholder farmers, as many people associate this brand of agriculture with poverty. Crowdfunding, however, can change how people throughout Africa look at farming.

The average age of a farmer is currently 60 years old. This in large part is due to younger people’s inability to secure financing for farming as well as a lack of willingness to participate in the sector. The rise of these crowdfunding agri-tech innovations in Africa is providing young Africans with financial support, technical training and improved mechanical tools needed succeed.

The Startups Making a Difference

Nigeria’s first digital platform for agricultural crowdfunding, Farmcrowdy, launched in September 2016. This platform connects Nigerian smallholder farmers with investors who select the farms they want to invest in. Farmcrowdy then uses the accrued funds to hire additional farmers, lease land, and provide valuable inputs to farms, such as fertilizer, seeds and technical support from sowing through harvest.

Agri-tech solutions such as Farmcrowdy have introduced Nigerians to a trusted platform used to pool resources and support small scale farmers in an effort to alleviate poverty and expand food production capacity. Farm supporters using the Farmcrowdy platform can invest in farms producing rice, maize, poultry, cassava and soya beans. The return on investment typically ranges anywhere from six percent to 25 percent. This allows urban Nigerians to invest directly in the livelihood of their fellow communities and the future of their food security.

Local farmers are appreciative of Farmcrowdy’s advanced training in modern farming practices and the use of mechanization to increase productivity. As a result of this training, many farmers have seen an increase in yield by over a third. These agricultural goods are even selling at a higher price due to access to more stable markets and reputable buyers.

Agri-tech innovations in Africa, such as the rise of crowdfunding, have linked different aspects of the agriculture value chain, improving efficiency and food security in local communities. This is just the beginning of what crowdfunding can do for the agriculture industry. African countries such as Nigeria have massive untapped potential when it comes to food production. The introduction of financing and new farming technologies to small scale farmers can unlock this potential and make a massive impact on the lives of impoverished farmers throughout Africa and potentially the world.

– Peter Trousdale
Photo: Flickr