The World Trade Organisation’s ninth ministerial meeting at Bali, Indonesia has morphed into a fierce battle between the countries seeking social safety nets for hundreds of millions of poor people and those insisting on having advanced import-facilitation programmes in the developing countries on par with the industrialised nations.
The battle lines are clearly drawn. At a time when food security in the developing countries is snowballing into a major trade conflict between the developed and developing countries, what in reality is at stake is the livelihood security of an estimated 1.5 billion small farmers in the majority world.
When it launched in 2007, the FAO programme known as Food Security through Commercialisation of Agriculture (FSCA) tried to adopt an approach that differed from on-going efforts to achieve food security, which focused primarily on food production.
Datta Dudettu and his seven children know what is like to go hungry. They live in Woliyta, a drought-prone area in southern Ethiopia that has experienced chronic food shortages.
But hopefully, thanks to the successful use of hybrid seed, that is now firmly in the past.
Yukako Harada, an energetic 29-year-old, is part of a small but determined band of women farmers working hard to revitalise Japan’s moribund agricultural sector, which is feeling the crunch of an ageing population and a flood of cheap imports.
Shooing off a quartet of hens that come pecking, 24-year-old Kamala Batra sits guard over a sack of coarse rice spread out on the courtyard. After small black insects slowly crawl away in the sun’s heat, she gathers it to cook for the day’s free midday meal - a pan-India government food security scheme for students.
With their islands devoid of rivers or streams, farmers in Antigua and Barbuda have been building dams and ponds for centuries, harvesting rainwater to irrigate their crops and provide drinking water for their livestock.
Last October, at the beginning of Indonesia’s rainy season, a 37-year-old farmer named Herinurdin took a leap of faith. Instead of planting corn in his entire 1.3-hectare rainfed farm in the Sukabumi town of West Java, as his family had done for generations, he sowed 1,600 square metres worth of rice instead.
For decades, commodity trade has been understood from the point of view of “commodity dependent” exporting countries, those whose revenues are largely generated by commodities exports. The trend of decreasing agricultural commodity prices was the focus of attention. However, from the beginning of the 2000s, there was an upward trend in agricultural commodity prices culminating in the price peak of 2007-08.
Around the world, but especially in the planet’s poorest regions, women represent a life force that renews itself daily, sometimes against all odds.
No-till farming is a response to climate change that fits well with the needs of the Caribbean: it increases the ability to capture water, while withstanding both drought and excessive rains, says expert Theodor Friedrich, representative of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Cuba.
In Africa's Sahel region, agroforestry techniques using traditional plantings known as "fertiliser trees" to increase soil fertility, as well as harvesting and grazing regulations, are offering new solutions to both food and human security.
A recurring question in crisis-stricken Spain is how to ensure that surplus agricultural products reach those most in need. One response is citizen initiatives to protest the waste of food and to advocate efficient management along the full length of the food chain.
With a population of five million crammed on a landmass of just 715 square kilometres, the tiny republic of Singapore has been forced to expand upwards, building high-rise residential complexes to house the country’s many inhabitants.
Qatar may be one of the richest countries in the world, but it has something in common with its African counterparts – food insecurity.