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Could Sustainable Intensification Create a Food Secure Future for Africa?

Could Sustainable Intensification Create a Food Secure Future for Africa?



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A Montpellier Panel report calls for the scaling up of sustainable intensification in African agriculture to feed a growing population. Greater outputs can be achieved through efficient inputs, as well as a focus on environmental impacts, resiliency, and equitable access for smallholder farmers.


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


Can we feed an ever more crowded, hungrier, and less spacious world?

For most people reading this, hunger is a feeling of slight discomfort when a meal is late or missed. In developing countries, hunger is a chronic affliction. Images in the media often convey the realities of hunger – emaciated and starving children – in war-torn countries or in the aftermath of droughts, floods, or other calamities. Yet for nearly a billion people in the developed countries, hunger is a day-to-day occurrence, both persistent and widespread.

Achieving food security, having "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life", is not as easy as it might seem. Nobel Prize winner professor Amartya Sen was instrumental in pointing out that food security was not just about producing more food, but ensuring the needy had access to it. There can be plenty of food in shops, as was true of the famines in Ireland in the 19th century and West Bengal in the 1940s, but if poor people cannot afford to buy that food (or produce enough on their own), they will go hungry.

This is not to say that we do not need to produce more food. As Sen acknowledges, the technologies of the Green Revolution helped food production keep pace with population growth. Food prices fell and many (although not all) of the poor and hungry benefited.

Today food prices are rising again and we are experiencing food price spikes. These are caused by an actual or perceived shortage of grains, but are exacerbated by competition between food crops and biofuel crops, by countries rushing to impose export bans and by a degree of financial speculation.

We are thought to be in the middle of the world's third food price spike since 2007. Its effects have been predicted to be moderate, in part because the Agricultural Market Information System (Amis) has given us greater transparency. But recent announcements that the world's grain reserves have fallen to a five-year low and that world grain production for the 2012-13 season is unlikely to match the level of need, due to failing or reduced harvests, have meant the impacts could be worse than originally thought.

In order to achieve a food-secure world, we must feed a population expected to grow to over 9 billion by 2050. We must also feed this population in the face of rising incomes and an increase in resource-intensive western-style diets, declining land and water availability and climate change. All of which decrease our ability to produce food for all. .

Some 400 to 500 million smallholder farmers from around the world will provide the necessary increased food production and access to food. In many countries, 80% of the population are farmers, as are 80% of the chronically hungry. So why can't farmers, whose job it is to produce and grow food, feed themselves?

Mrs Namarunda is an example of the myriad problems faced by smallholder farmers. She farms a single hectare near Lake Victoria in Kenya. She has four children to care for. Without access to fertiliser, or the credit to buy it, she starts each season with a maximum potential harvest of two tons from her land, half of which is enough to feed her family and the other half to generate a modest income. But during the course of the season she is beset by weeds, pests and diseases and is subject to periodic drought, which means she actually harvests less than one ton. She and her children are often hungry and there is no money for schooling or healthcare.

So what can be done to tackle these challenges?


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