If slavery was a scourge to humanity, denying legitimate tenure rights is the cancer eating away the future of smallholder farmers who feed the world, often under trying conditions, say civil society organisations.
The world needs a more sustainable food production system based on knowledge that prioritises the conservation of natural resources to boost agricultural yields over the heavy use of pesticides and other chemical inputs, say experts promoting the concept of agroecology.
Nigeria -one of Africa’s most populous states and a major oil producer - learned hard lessons about under-investing in food security for its people: malnutrition went up; so did prices and corruption in the voucher system for farming inputs.
For Catherine Dube, it is a good time to catch up on village happenings and sing-alongs when she meets with neighbours to dig basins in each other's fields in preparation for the planting season.
The world can satisfy its growing appetite for meat and animal-based products without upsetting livelihoods, especially of developing country farmers, or worsening climate change.
What can savvy global financial market traders learn from humble smallholder farmers in developing countries? Risk management in the face of climate change.
With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expiring in less than 1,000 days, new goals are needed that prioritise support for smallholder farmers to better access markets and increase productivity, nutrition and incomes.
Thanks to food riots in several African cities fuelled by high rice prices between 2007 and 2008, sub-Saharan Africa is growing and eating more rice after governments were forced into ambitious production programmes.
For the past five years, farmer Melusi Mhlanga has spent nearly 200 dollars each season for inputs, but the maize yields have not matched his investment.
It took Gily Ncube’s daughters two weeks to sell enough chickens to raise the 18 dollars needed to buy the morphine tablets their mother takes every four hours.
"Accelerating environmental pressures and growing economic inequality are triggering huge social changes around the world, putting existing democracies to the test,” Halina Ward, director of the London-based Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, tells IPS.
Farmers cannot wait much longer for negotiators to reach an agreement on including a work programme on agriculture in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. And until one is approved, “it will continue to be difficult for farmers to produce the food needed, and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
South African smallholder farmer Motlasi Musi is not happy with the African Centre for Biosafety’s call for his country and Africa to ban the cultivation, import and export of all genetically modified maize. "I eat genetically modified maize, which I have been growing on my farm for more than seven years, and I am still alive," he declared.
There is no political will among rich nations to find funding for developing countries experiencing the brunt of changes in global weather patterns, and the current climate change conference will fail to do so, according to Professor Patrick Bond, a leading thinker and analyst on climate change issues.
Give a woman a hand-out and you feed her for a day. But teach her to farm, and how to add value to her product, and you feed her and her family for a lifetime. And if she happens to be Nigerian smallholder farmer Susan Godwin, she in turn will also provide jobs for her community and become a national food hero.