For more than 20 years, Anastasia Ngwakun from Bamunkumbit village in central Cameroon has been farming rice the hard way – using only hand tools. But Ngwakun knows that if she were a man, she would have access to the technology that would not require her to work so hard.
Gogo Munthali, from Rumphi, a village over 400 km north of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, dissolves into tears every morning as she worries about what to feed her five orphaned grandchildren, the youngest of whom has full blown AIDS.
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.
Reducing the proportion of undernourished people by half until 2015 was one of the Millennium Development Goals that the international community set in 2000. It will not be reached: At least 870 million people worldwide – and one child in five – still go hungry; this in a world where we already produce enough food today to feed nine billion people in 2050.
Dalchan Singh, a root crop farmer and board member of the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago, says the past year has seen drastic changes in the weather of this twin-island Caribbean nation.
Work by the Group of 4 (G4) union of Haitian peasant organisations, alo
ng with assistance from the Dessalines Brigade - South American peasant leaders and agroecology experts supported by La Via Campesina - has been singled out for promoting “good farming practices and advocat[ing] for peasant farmers” in Haiti.
In the face of global climate change and currency devaluation, improved strategies are being used to combat high international poverty and malnutrition rates, and to increase global food security.
Smallholder farmer Suleman Mustapha Simbia, 40, is pleased with the introduction of an insurance initiative called the Ghana Agriculture Insurance Programme. The programme is being implemented in this West African nation to help farmers who had been suffering from loss of income as a result of the bad weather conditions that affect their yields.
“I would never have believed it possible to get a bumper rice harvest during the drought season,” 43-year-old Mohammad Shajahan Ali, a farmer hailing from the village of Magtapur in Bangladesh’s northern Chapainawabganj district, told IPS.
With little more than a bush knife and an axe between them, a group of young boys between the ages of nine and 18 years have taken food security into their own hands. In Kindu, a community of 5,000 people in the coastal urban area of Munda in the Solomon Islands, these boys, who have been abandoned by their parents, have transformed their lives by establishing a cooperatively run farm.
Separating Maria Gomes Morais’ farm and a school in Rio de Janeiro are fields, hills and dirt roads that are impassable when it rains. But a school meal programme has forged a path linking the fresh produce harvested by small farmers like her with the need to provide nourishment to 45 million schoolchildren around Brazil.
Avelina Elias Mkenda, a 52-year-old small-scale farmer in the Mbarali district of Tanzania’s southwestern Mbeya region, can sense a change in her environment.
"We never used to eat carrots, but now we like them," said Rebeca Soba, admiring her vegetable garden, an island of diversity in the midst of a vast sugarcane plantation.
Vegetable gardening has been introduced at the Capanda Agroindustrial Pole (PAC) as a source of income for local small farmers.
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."
"Canjinjin has special powers," said Deize Coelho de Barros. The recipe for this local liquor, made from a mixture of herbs, was handed down from her African ancestors, and is seen as a sort of traditional "Viagra" in her homeland, the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.