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Editorial (November 2007)

Wheat yields have nearly doubled in parts of Afghanistan, see Focus on (© FAO/Giulio Napolitano)
Wheat yields have nearly doubled in parts of Afghanistan, see Focus on
© FAO/Giulio Napolitano

At the recent international conference "Taking Action for the World's Poor and Hungry People" held in Beijing, China, it was acknowledged that poverty reduction remains strongly connected to agricultural development in many countries.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which co-organised the conference, has stated that "reaching food insecurity and poverty among these most-affected groups will require more resources and investment per capita. It will also require innovative approaches for including the poor and focus on policies and programs that are particularly effective at improving the welfare of the world's poorest and hungry.

There is particular need for innovative approaches in countries that have been affected by civil insecurity. One in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa is currently suffering the effects of armed conflict with over 15 million people internally displaced and a further 4.5 million living as refugees. In Focus on and also in our Podcast we feature just some of the countries worldwide affected by conflict within the last ten years and look at the means by which agriculture is restoring rural livelihoods.

Wars and conflict are associated with many issues, not least the increase in food insecurity. HIV/AIDS, already at epidemic levels in many developing countries, is also seen to increase during periods of insecurity. Good nutrition is essential for HIV/AIDS and, as highlighted by the Points of View, agriculture is intricately linked to providing holistic solutions to patients suffering from the disease.

Organic farming is on the rise in China; see News brief (© FAO/22258/A. Proto)
Organic farming is on the rise in China; see News brief
© FAO/22258/A. Proto

Of all the millennium development goals (MDGs), eradicating extreme hunger and poverty depends on agriculture the most - as outlined in the latest World Development Report published by the World Bank. But even for an agricultural superpower such as Brazil, featured in Country profile, classed as a middle income country, around 80 per cent of rural people still live in poverty.

As reported in Developments, growing jatropha for biofuel production can provide incomes for poor landless farmers. However, the potential for biofuels to help eradicate poverty has drawn controversy as outlined in "Biofuels for transport" although it points out that involving smallscale farmers in the production, processing and use of biofuels is more likely to improve their livelihoods than an industry run by larger agribusinesses.

Jatropha is improving livelihoods in rural india, see Developments (WRENmedia)
Jatropha is improving livelihoods in rural india, see Developments

Improved crop production and agro-processing is not the only means to help improve rural livelihoods. Livestock are also essential for the income-generation of millions of farmers worldwide as featured In pictures from Kyrgyzstan. Diversity of farm animals is, however, under threat and the call to better conserve these important genetic resources for future humanity and agricultural production is also outlined in Developments.

Finally, My perspective features the viewpoint of Megan Rowling, a journalist for a news website, who emphasises the important role of the media in highlighting development issues, particularly in the aftermath of environmental disasters, such as the recent flooding in Uganda and elsewhere across Africa.

Highlighting the development issues that affect the world's poor is also the aim of New Agriculturist and we trust that this edition provides an insight into current challenges faced around the world as well as some of the means of overcoming them. As we come towards the end of another year and look forward to the next, we hope that you will get in touch and inform us of the issues that that you feel should be covered in future editions.

Date published: November 2007


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