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Farming out poverty

Written By : Gregory Rose MediaGlobal. In order to help the 925 million undernourished people in the world, the WorldWatch Institute believes non-profit and Non-government organisations (NGOs) must focus on
18 Feb 2011 12:00

image Written By : Gregory Rose MediaGlobal. In order to help the 925 million undernourished people in the world, the WorldWatch Institute believes non-profit and Non-government organisations (NGOs) must focus on policies that look to long term benefits, rather than focusing on the short term.
After studying agricultural policies around the world for the past two years, State of the World 2011 outlines recommendations that have proven to feed the people living in extreme poverty.
Founded in 1974 by economist and farmer Lester Brown, WorldWatch Institute disseminates information that empowers policy-makers regarding challenges our global environment faces.
The latest edition of State of the World focuses on programmes that create an abundant amount of agriculture in developing countries and analyses which policies have been the most successful.
For report, the WorldWatch team travelled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, where diverse policy innovations in food cultivation are sprouting up to support local farming which can be applied all over the world.
Africa’s people depend on their knowledge of farming practices to feed themselves and also to sell in their local towns and communities.
Presently, only nine countries on the continent allocate 10 per cent of their national budgets toward improving their agriculture.
One programme, Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC), began in Uganda and has strong connections to agricultural practices in the United States and Europe.
DISC educates Uganda’s children on indigenous vegetable gardens, and other local types of crop. Students also eat the food local farmers produce, making sure the children are properly being fed, in areas of Sudan where food can be hard to obtain.
Thirty-three per cent of African children face hunger and malnutrition. If this trend continues, the number will grow to forty-two million by the year 2025. Serving locally raised crops to school children keeps demand for small businesses high and has proven to be a strategy that effectively reduces hunger.
Brian Halweil, Senior Fellow at WorldWatch Institute and State of the World Project director spoke to MediaGlobal about the programmes highlighted in the book.
Halweil pointed out how African countries have looked at policies implemented by developing nations and applied it to their own, and vice versa.
Furthermore, the WorldWatch’s studies illustrate that “the school setting is a perfect setting for feeding children’s healthy meals, and teaching children’s healthy eating skills.”
In the past, many agricultural studies have often focused on growing single types of food to grow and distribute to the population; State of the World argues for greater crop diversification and explores policies that enable farmers to grow a wide and abundant amount of crops.
This will keep more food in the immediate area ensuring a large supply for the country. As more farms are being built and sustained, it will ensure food security for the long term.
In Africa, 14 million people have migrated to cities, making more people rely on food being grown in urban areas. When the DISC project was implemented, WorldWatch found teaching students about farming enabled them to stay in the rural areas. Once they knew how to grow local foods it was easier for them to build a life for themselves.
Halweil believes that “farming empty parcels, and really protecting the farm land right near the city” are actions that will have to be taken.
Investing in soil and water to grow crops for the long term, instead of a specific food in the short term, is also one of the best ways to help those living in poverty.
WorldWatch believes the DISC project is a long-term solution for Uganda’s hungry because it boosts growing farms, and teaches children how to grow food for themselves.
With studies like State of the World new thoughts and ideas can come to fruition. Examples like DISC illustrate an abundant number of ideas that have proven to reduce hunger, and can help millions more around the world.

*MediaGlobal is an independent international media organization, based in the United Nations, creating awareness in the global media on social justice and development issues in the world’s least developed countries.

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