Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. For March 2017, the featured blog post is "Future Jobs for youth in Agriculture and Food Systems: Learning from our backyard in DC" by Iftikhar Mostafa and Parmesh Shah.
Surajkund in Faridabad, Haryana on the outskirts of New Delhi, is famous for the International Crafts Fair held annually that showcases the richness and diversity of India’s handicrafts and cultural fabric. This year it was also the venue for the 2nd Agri Leaders Summit-2017 held from 18-20th March, 2017. Doubling farmers’ income is one of the top most priorities of the Government of Haryana. In this context, the Summit aimed at providing agri leaders a platform for recognition, facilitation and incubation. Within the objective of accelerated, inclusive and sustainable growth in the State, the Summit, more importantly, aimed at creating a direct linkage between farmers, agricultural workers and the agri market to enable learning about value creation chains. Further, with technological innovations revolutionizing agri- industry/business, the Summit was also a forum for farmer leaders and achievers to display their best practices and innovations.
The Summit’s stakeholders included the political leadership in central/state Government; farmer leaders (growers, producers, processors and entrepreneurs); Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs)/Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs); agri and allied companies, departments and agencies of the Central and State Government; national and international Institutes/ Universities; eminent scientists; foreign governments/businesses and consumers. This vast amalgam of stakeholders was supplemented by mobilization of over one hundred thousand farmers from all parts of the State who too participated in the three day Summit in its exhibition, seminars and mass engagement sessions with the political leadership!
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), annually around the world 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted. In the world, where about one in nine people do not have enough food (that’s some 795 million people), food waste presents an enormous opportunity for tackling food insecurity.
In order to bring more attention to the issue of food loss and waste and promote food loss reduction, FAO is leading the Save Food global initiative, partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and others in the private sector and civil society.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
In India, animal husbandry and dairying are important economic activities accounting for approximately 33 percent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP). India is the largest producer of milk having achieved an annual production of 146.3 million tons in 2014-15. As the economy grows and income increases, a World Bank study points out, per capita consumption for milk and milk products in the country is projected to rise to more than 350 grams per day by 2020.
Dairying is also a major source of livelihood for approximately 80 percent of small and marginal farmers in India (typically owning one to three milk producing animals) who contribute approximately 70 percent to the total milk production. In addition, women play an extremely critical role in multifarious dairying activities at the household level in both rural and urban areas. The country’s livestock sector is one of the largest in the world with 56.7% and 12.5% of world’s buffaloes and cattle respectively.
An important milestone in the significant growth of the dairy sector in the past decades has been a series of ‘Operation Flood Programs’ spearheaded by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) through promotion of dairy cooperatives across the country. In addition, the World Bank funded National Dairy Plan 1 (NDP) run by the NDDB for the period 2011-12 to 2017-18, is a scientifically planned multi-state initiative. It aims at increasing the productivity of milch animals and providing rural milk producers greater access to the organized milk-processing sector. It is estimated that only 30 percent of the marketable surplus is sold to the organized sector. Small producers in rural areas, who account for 70 percent of milk production, are particularly affected.
Our Green Competitiveness Launchpad team is looking at agriculture supply chains in Bangladesh and how they’re affected by climate change – as farmers change the crops they plant owing to drought or flooding. As a result, we’ve been exploring the supply chains of a number of crops from guavas to sunflower and mung beans.
There’s a fascinating infographic from CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) that illustrates the geographical diversity of the common foods we eat every day. It shows that the globalization of food began centuries ago. Many cultures incorporate foods that originated thousands of miles away. For example, sunflower originated in North America and is now widely produced in Eastern Europe, and guava originated in Central America and is now mainly produced in South Asia.
One of the projects I was proudest of getting off the ground while in (nominal) charge of Oxfam’s research team was ‘Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility’, a four year study of the impact of the chaotic food prices of recent years on the lives of poor people and communities in rural and urban communities in ten countries. DFID funded it (thanks!), and IDS were our main research partners. Ace Oxfam researcher Richard King worked his socks off managing the project, before going off to a well-earned rest at Chatham House. Now the project has published its findings in a special issue of the IDS Bulletin. And it’s free online, because unlike lots of other journals, IDS has taken the Academic Spring seriously and has gone full open access (but that’s a topic for another rant).
The research is fairly unique because we went back to the same communities year after year to see how the food price story unfolded, and combined this micro level research with macro number crunching to try and put together a more complete story than usual about how a global phenomenon like the food price spike of 2008 (and subsequent price volatility) fed through into poor people’s lives and then affected the wider society. In her article on the research methodology, Naomi Hossain (the brains behind a lot of it) captures this analytical framework in a diagram.
The scale of the global land grab is staggering. While international actors have made excellent progress establishing complaint boards, issuing principles for responsible investment, and securing commitments from multinational corporations, these protections do not chart a clear course of action that communities can follow to protect their lands and natural resources before an investor arrives seeking land.
The problem is that once an investor arrives to “consult with” a community, it may be too late. After a deal has been made in capital city conference rooms or in clandestine meetings between chiefs and company representatives, communities are forced on the defensive. At this point, all they can do is try to mitigate the negative impacts of investors' plans rather than assertively proclaiming their legal rights, demanding that the investor abide by FPIC principles, and then choosing whether to reject the investment or accept it on terms that ensure that the community benefits and prospers.
Meanwhile, many of the “investors” grabbing land are national or local elites unaccountable to international institutions – the cousin of the President or the nephew of the Minister – who operate with complete impunity, protected by powerful connections to government, the judiciary and the police. Such individuals do not answer to shareholders or complaint boards, and are not the least bit concerned with principles of corporate social responsibility. If a community’s land claims are unrecognized or undocumented – and if the community’s leadership is weak or corrupt – the easier it is for these elites to manipulate their power to claim what land they want.
To have a fighting chance against elites’ badfaith actions, communities must proactively take steps to know and enforce their rights, prevent their leaders from transacting land without community approval, and seek legal recognition of their land claims. And they must do so before elites and investors arrive.
Nevertheless, they are too small in size and quality to make the kind of dent in jobs and employment that is needed. Agriculture accounts for 32% of total employment globally, according to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends Report 2014. In 2013, 74.5 million youth – aged 15-24 - were unemployed, an increase of more than 700,000 over the previous year. That same year, the global youth unemployment rate reached 13.1%, which was almost three times as high as the adult unemployment rate. One contributing factor in these rates is the lack of interest in agriculture among youth cohorts. Simply put, agriculture is not a preferred job and livelihood option for young people.