| Poverty and hunger are complex problems for which there are no simple solutions. Poverty affects both rural and urban areas, and is associated with social problems such as malnutrition, disease, violence and poor education. The line between cause and effect often blurs as poverty leads to hunger, which leads to violence and conflict, environmental destructions and the displacement of people which in turn lead even to greater poverty and more hunger.
It is not by chance that the first objective of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to eradicate poverty and hunger, which is closely related with the human health goals. If the world is to achieve the targets, massive increases in agricultural productivity in developing countries are required. In countries where agriculture is the basis of economy, more than half of the labor force works in agriculture. Poor agricultural systems undermine development by pushing up the cost of food, capital and other commodities.
The need for rapid agricultural development for poverty alleviation is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa ,there has been no increase in fertilizer use and crop yields, but the population has been increasing, meaning less food for everyone. Many African rural areas are now characterized by a combination of poor soil health, poor crop health and poor livestock health, all major factors contributing to poor human and environmental health.
To lift developing countries out of poverty, large increases in the scale of agricultural research and environmental assessment will be required. Information concerning the soil fertility deficiencies should be readily disseminated to farmers in a timely manner, through their government’s agricultural research institutions therefore enabling them to input the required fertilizers on time and thus increase food production.
With soil fertility issues on check, farmers should be advised on how to use plant diversity to fuel developments. Since the farmers are well aware of the relationship between stability and sustainability of their production systems and the diversity of crops and crop varieties on their lands, their management and use of a diverse range of plants can often help them to survive under the most difficult conditions.
By growing a range of different crops, farmers will have a better chance of having enough of the right kinds of crops to meet their various needs and those of their families. These might include, for example, crops that mature at different times or that can be easily stored, helping to ensure a stable food supply throughout the year.
Growing a range of crops may help farmers provide a nutritionally-balanced diet for their family, exploit different environmental niches that exist on their land, or diversify their sources of income to include, for example, medicines, fuel, textiles, building materials, and "novelty" foods for export, etc.
Genetic resources can improve the livelihoods of poor farmers and forest dwellers by reducing their vulnerability to shocks and seasonal changes. Given access to new varieties of plants that produces higher-yielding disease-resistant crops, farmers can produce more food than their families need so they can sell their surplus crops at local markets. If they have access to the world market they can grow cash crops for export.
That will give them additional income with which to buy more clothing and household goods, thus stimulating other parts of the economy. This will increase demand for services of food processing, storage, transportation and marketing. Thus a small increase in farm output increases demand for other goods and services and becomes a catalyst for broad-based economic growth.
The prosperity then begins to spread. The farm families, as well as those working in other parts of the economy, have more money and their demand for imported goods begins to rise. This stimulates the growth of exports from other countries. Because economic growth requires new market for goods and services, the destinies of countries are intertwined with each other.
By reducing hunger and poverty, the rehabilitation of agriculture can have an important impact on other development scourges, through its role in underpinning economic development, reducing poverty and preventing environmental destruction.
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