Sun, Apr 07, 2013 - Page 9 News List

We can feed the world, but only if governments pursue the issue

By Gordon Conway

Governments must also develop and implement policies aimed at ensuring that those who are typically marginalized from the formal food industry — women, young people, ethnic minorities and non-landowners — have reliable access to adequate nutrition and opportunities to participate in agricultural production.

As farmers, mothers, educators and innovators, women provide a critical link between food production, consumption and future progress on food security. Indeed, giving female farmers access to the same resources as their male counterparts could reduce the number of undernourished people worldwide by 100 million to 150 million.

Finally, political leaders must consistently pursue this agenda at the international, regional, national and local levels. To that end, they must honor their commitments — made through international institutions, such as the G8, the G20 and the African Union — to increasing investment in agricultural development and to combating global hunger.

Likewise, they must offer sustained support to ongoing national initiatives, thus encouraging further investment and cooperation.

Former Ghanaian president John Kufuor, who was in power from 2001 to 2009, exemplified such leadership, boosting investment in agricultural research, farmer education and infrastructure projects, such as roads, warehouses and cold storage.

As a result, the proportion of Ghanaians living in poverty fell from 51 percent in 1991-1992 to 28.5 percent in 2005-2006. Over the past 25 years, Ghana’s agricultural sector has grown at an average annual rate of 5 percent.

Such experiences provide grounds for optimism. By investing in and spreading innovative technologies, strengthening market linkages, encouraging visionary leadership and targeting those most in need — and thus with the most potential — we can feed the world.

Gordon Conway is a professor of international development at Imperial College, London.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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