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220 posts categorized "Agriculture"
A severe drought throughout California and other western states has led to lower harvests and higher produce prices. The avocado crop was particularly badly affected — leading to recent news reports suggesting that Chipotle restaurants might stop serving guacamole. However, fans of fast-casual burritos need not panic: according to the company, the avocado issue was merely included on a statement of risks it is required to disclose to investors, and they have no plans to stop serving the popular topping.
But while Chipotle customers might eventually have to pay more for guacamole, low-income families who participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) are already making much bigger sacrifices. This past November, nearly all SNAP households suffered a cut in their benefits because parts of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) were allowed to expire. In addition, the farm bill passed last month eliminated “heat and eat,” a provision that allowed states to distribute utility assistance in a way that expanded SNAP eligibility. This decision will cut benefits a second time for many families in the 15 states and the District of Columbia that had chosen “heat and eat.”
Higher food prices and cuts to SNAP affect low-income families more than others. Skipping meals or switching from fruits and vegetables to cheaper foods can have major effects on health and productivity. It’s especially damaging to children, who are almost half of all SNAP participants. In turn, customers’ lessened purchasing power affects retailers and the people they employ.
But changes to federal nutrition and agriculture policies could help soften the blow.
If the benefits lost when the ARRA provisions and “heat and eat” ended were restored, for example, low-income people would have billions of dollars more to spend on food. A more ambitious policy change would be to begin basing benefit levels on the USDA’s “low-cost” food plan instead of the current “thrifty” food plan, which originally represented a minimum consumption level for emergencies. The federal government could also build on its current responses to the drought by funding research and implementation of climate resilience strategies so future harvests are less vulnerable to drought.
Increases in food prices affect everyone, not just Chipotle investors and guacamole fans. While successful harvests will likely always need cooperative weather, adopting intelligent and compassionate policies could prevent droughts, floods, and less extreme “weather events” from leading to hunger.
Stacy Cloyd is senior domestic policy analyst in Bread for the World Institute.
This past Friday — the eve of International Women’s Day — Bread for the World and the Institute hosted a Twitter chat with senior policy analyst Faustine Wabwire on how women’s empowerment can help end hunger. Research continues to show that, in nations and communities all over the world, gender bias is a principal cause of hunger. In fact, 55% of the reduction in hunger from 1970-1995 can be attributed to improvements in the status of women.
Senior Hunger Report editor Todd Post, Faustine, and other members of the Institute are currently at work developing the 2015 Hunger Report, to be released in November 2014, which will propose policy changes to improve women’s economic, political, and social status. International Women’s Day offered a prime opportunity to expand the discussion to the Twitter-sphere, resulting in a fruitful dialogue that touched on the varied dimensions of women’s empowerment in the United States and around the world and gave us a chance to hear new perspectives.
Here’s a brief recap of where the chat went, with a smattering of sample tweets:
We had a lot of help getting the word out.
We started by asking "Why women's empowerment?"
We examined the role of women in agriculture and the food system.
@breadinstitute .problem is bigger - when investing in food security does not improve nutritional status of women&Kids. focus on nutrition#1— susannecourtney (@susannec_acfCA) March 7, 2014
We looked back to the role of the Millennium Development Goals, and ahead to the threat of climate change.
We pondered where hunger and poverty rates correspond — and where they don't.
We acknowledged the influence of culture.
We heard from health experts on the role of good nutrition and access to health care.
@bread4theworld Good nutrition during pregnancy sets the stage for healthy, thriving children. Decreased access limits successful outcomes.— ProMedica (@ProMedicaHealth) March 7, 2014
We shared resources with each other.
We talked jobs and wages as next steps toward gender parity in the United States.
We had many to thank for a rich online discussion.
Posted by Bread on March 10, 2014 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This blog was submitted by Pirbhu Satyani, who is an intern in Bread for the World Institute. He has a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship through American University and comes from Tharparkar/Sindh, Pakistan.
Pakistan, a middle-income country, has taken the significant step of becoming the 46th member country of the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Movement. An important role of SUN member countries is to collaborate with each other in making the issue of nutrition a top priority. SUN helps member countries design nutrition-focused policies and use resources efficiently to achieve improved nutrition, especially among women and children.
In my country, malnutrition is a serious issue with many causes, including ineffective government policies, a poor health infrastructure system, food insecurity, and widespread poverty. In terms of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), Pakistan is still far behind in reducing its under-5 child mortality rate. Every year, 800,000 children die in Pakistan -- 35 percent due to malnutrition. The risk of death is nine times higher for a child suffering from malnutrition than for a child with a balanced diet. Pakistan’s National Nutrition Survey in 2011 indicated that 58.1 percent of households were food insecure. The government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working on small projects, but there is no comprehensive and focused long-term plan or strategy to address the situation, to scale up successful programs with a goal of reducing the child mortality rate. The provincial governments (there are four) have been trying to make changes in policies and practices to improve the health and nutrition system since the 2010 introduction of the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution, which empowered provinces to take action.
Malnutrition arises when people have little access to food and limited health services. In Pakistan, the majority of the population (around 63 percent) lives in rural areas, where health services are very limited. The main livelihood of most people is agriculture – even though it would seem that being a farmer and being malnourished contradict each other. In Pakistan it is lack of access to a diversified diet that causes malnutrition. An unprecedented natural disaster (flood) in 2010-2011 made poor communities even more vulnerable. An estimated 20 million people were displaced, millions of acres of land were damaged, and there was widespread damage to crops, mostly wheat and rice. Farmers were unable to feed their families and malnutrition increased rapidly.
Malnutrition in Pakistan can only be addressed through collaborative efforts -- by engaging the international donor community and by initiating long–term, sustainable programs such as food security, women’s empowerment, agricultural safety nets, early childhood development programs, and quality health service at the grassroots level (meaning reaching to rural communities). Pakistan hopes that best practices and effective government policies around the world can be shared with and imitated in Pakistan as it seeks ways to scale up successful nutrition actions via the platform the SUN movement has provided.
The commitment of Pakistan’s government to join the SUN movement may open more opportunities for technical support and may mobilize resources by engaging international donors to invest more in improving policies and strategies in the health and agriculture sectors, and in building the capacity of human resources and systems. If that is achieved, effective implementation of services can be ensured at all levels to improve health and nutrition for all in my country.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on February 26, 2014 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The United Nations Children’s Fund, known as UNICEF, released an important report that reminds us of progress being made and challenges still before us as we work to see every child grow to his or her full potential.
The State of the World’s Children 2014 in Numbers is appropriately subtitled “Every Child Counts,” and is an impressive accumulation of data, information and published tables updating this report that was first published 30 years ago.
There are 2.2 billion children in the world, and while much has changed in those three decades, the need for credible data about their situation is more important than ever. It is being used by governments, donors, program implementers and policy makers across the globe as the basis for making decisions about investments and taking actions that are directed to children, especially those who are most vulnerable.
By itself, data changes nothing. But when it is accurate, transparent and widely available it can help decision makers identify needs, support advocacy efforts and measure progress toward stated goals.
What this data enables is a visit to the lives of children in any country you choose, behind the numbers. In an easy-to-view manner, the report provides info graphics that reveal the circumstances under which a child is born, their lives growing up, and the quality of their lives as they enter adulthood.
- About 90 million children have beaten the odds against them according to 1990 predictions, and have in fact reached their fifth birthday
- Improvements in nutrition have led to a 37% drop in stunting since 1990
- Primary school enrollment has increased from 53% in 1990 to 81% in 2011.
But many challenges remain. Eleven percent of girls are married before their 15th birthday. Fifteen percent of children are engaged in labor practices that compromise their rights to protection from economic exploitation and their right to learn and play. And, some 6.6 million children under age 5 died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes.
Whether you are a policy analyst, a data geek who loves infographics, interested in international development, or just someone who wishes to see all children grow to their full potential, I suggest a look through this very interesting report by UNICEF.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on January 30, 2014 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, was launched just before Thanksgiving. For the past month, Institute Notes has featured a series of posts offering previews of the report. We pointed out that widespread hunger now threatens to become a scandalous “new normal” situation in the United States – it’s risen by nearly 40 percent since 2000.We made the case that not only is it an achievable goal to undo the damage the Great Recession did to U.S. food security, but it is also feasible to eradicate hunger entirely by 2030. We presented a carefully researched four-step plan that leaders at all levels, in partnership with local communities, can use to end hunger in our country. Our most recent post, coinciding with the report launch on November 25, offers a brief recap of these four steps.
In just the few days since the launch, we’ve received a lot of feedback -- on the launch presentation, the report, and the exciting new ways we’re presenting its messages on hungerreport.org. Here’s a quick round-up of what our partners and friends have been talking about:
1. An Expert Panel of Perspectives
No one has more authority to speak on hunger in America than those who have experienced it. At the Hunger Report launch, panelists Barbie Izquierdo, Dominic Duren, and Sharon Thornberry helped humanize the effects of even a seemingly small change in policy or funding.
2. No Paper Needed
The executive summary is available for iPad and eReader download, and the entire report can now be read in page-flipping book format at hungerreport.org/downloads.
3. Interactive Stories
The policies examined in the 2014 Hunger Report have very real impact for millions of Americans. At hungerreport.org/profiles we present four stories that combine multimedia and interactive data to make that clearer than ever.
4. Infographics to Share
Hunger’s causes and solutions are complex. That’s why we need the full report to give them the space they deserve. But a good place to start is with the 2014 Hunger Report infographics -- to get the top messages of the report in bite-size form, and pass them on through social media.
The panel of speakers at the launch agreed that it doesn’t have to be this way. Ending hunger is not an impossible dream. With strong commitment and the right tools, we really can end it.
Check out HungerReport.org to explore all of the tools available to Hunger Report readers, and if you missed them, be sure to read blog posts one, two, three, four, and five of the 2014 Hunger Report series.
Posted by Bread on December 02, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
What are the top reasons for global hunger? Gender inequality might not be your first answer, but it’s correct. In fact, it's one of the two principal factors behind food insecurity in Africa, according to the 2012 African Human Development Report. (The other is bias against rural areas).
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that it's harder to build a strong economy and provide for all your people if half your workers have one hand tied behind their backs. It was not until recently, however, that there was solid evidence of just how much harder it is.
Analysts at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) looked back at the years 1970-1995, a period of significant decline in child malnutrition. What made this progress possible? A larger supply of available food per person seems like an obvious answer, and this was, in fact, something that helped. But it was responsible for only about 26 percent of the improvement. Gains in women’s education explained 43 percent of it.
The implications are startling. Women's education contributed significantly more to progress against childhood malnutrition than having more food available.
Bread for the World Institute has long emphasized the importance of investing in smallholder farmers. This has not changed. But producing more food to feed a growing population, while critically important, is only one benefit of such agricultural development.
Another is getting resources -- tools, land rights, access to markets -- into the hands of women. Why? Evidence amassed from research in dozens of countries is conclusive: women are more likely than men to spend additional income to improve household nutrition, health care, sanitation, etc.
The Institute's latest essay in the Development Works series, Development Needs All Hands on Deck, offers a closer look at how to boost women's economic empowerment and ensure that they can participate fully in their local and national economies. What are some of the obstacles and how have people been able to succeed despite them? Read our short essay to learn more about this essential component of ending world hunger.
Photo: A key to ending global hunger is enabling women to get jobs that can support their children. Photo by Jim Stipe.
In a survey of over 800,000 people globally, access to nutritous food ranked among the most frequently mentioned development challenges. (Source: World We Want, A Million Voices report)
Since last year, leadership at the United Nations has been working very hard to find out what development issues matter most to ordinary people around the world. The process of developing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 has been criticized as not inclusive; the U.N. wants things to be different as the world sets successor development goals for the period after December 2015, the deadline for the MDGs.
So they’ve set out to poll everyday people the world over about their priority issues -- and last week they were proud to report that they’ve heard one million voices. And it turns out people had a lot to say.
The MDGs were created to drive improvement in the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people -- and they have. More progress was made against hunger and poverty in the 2000s than during any other decade in history. But the exclusive group of officials from donor countries and international organizations that came up with the MDGs largely overlooked a valuable resource -- arguably the most authoritative source -- on how to overcome poverty: poor people themselves. You can read more about the MDG process and its implications in the 2013 Hunger Report.
The World We Want 2015 effort reached its one million voices through a combination of 88 open national consultations, 11 thematic dialogues, and an online global survey amplified by social media. The essential question put to global citizens: “What issues matter most to you?” Here’s a brief look at some of the main ideas expressed:
- Top issues: Education, health care, government accountability, better job opportunities;
- Top values: Universal human rights, equality, justice, and security (underpinned by more accountable governments);
- The urgency of improving people’s lives today;
- Concern about growing inequalities (e.g., income, wealth, access to education);
- The interconnectedness of issues and the need for a holistic, sustainable set of solutions;
- The need for data collection methods that measure progress more accurately.
Although The World We Want is particularly focused on hearing from people in developing nations, who are most urgently affected by development problems, it is intended to collect opinions globally and to include a wide spectrum of views. Americans are not yet well represented in the results – only 26,000 of the first million respondents are from the United States. But people here have more reason than ever to be concerned about “the world we want” – and the country we want. During the Great Recession, hunger in the United States grew by almost 40 percent, and it has barely budged since the recession’s official end nearly four years ago. Today, one in six Americans struggles to put food on the table.
The World We Want reminds us that most people around the world want the same things: quality education, jobs, health care, and yes, food. And we’ve learned from the MDG experience that when we set goals whose progress can be measured, we can accomplish more in less time. That’s why more Americans need to speak up about the issues we care about and press our elected leaders to adopt and carry out realistic plans to solve our most critical problems.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, will be released in less than three weeks here in Washington, DC. Using lessons from the world’s experiences with the MDGs, it lays out a feasible plan for the United States to confront our high levels of inequality, unemployment, and poverty directly and to end hunger in this country by 2030.
If you haven’t yet, take the time to tell the U.N. about the world you want. We’ll keep you posted on the 2014 Hunger Report release here on Institute Notes.
Posted by Bread on November 06, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Last week in Des Moines, Iowa, the 2013 World Food Prize Symposium brought together more than 1,000 international scientific, business, and policy experts from more than 65 countries. The weeklong dialogue on ending hunger has been called the “premier conference in the world on global agriculture." This year's World Food Prize Laureates are pioneers in biotechnology: Dr. Marc Van Montagu of Belgium and Dr. Mary Dell-Chilton and Dr. Robert Fraley of the United States.
Among the many key issues discussed was the need to build resilience: in families, in communities, in nations, and in the world. Bread for the World Institute's recent Briefing Paper, A Global Development Agenda: Toward 2015 and Beyond, emphasizes that responding effectively to climate change means building resilience in communities where people have always struggled to produce enough food. This task demands strong and organized political leadership, infrastructure, and resources at all levels — local, regional, national, and international. At the same time, understanding the interactions between agriculture and climate well enough to know how to respond effectively will require new investments. We need to improve data collection and analysis so that we can create and implement evidence-based adaptation measures that work.
Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, and Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Holy See, The Vatican, at the World Food Prize Symposium. Photo Credit: John Coonrod
- Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson has served as the president of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in The Vatican since 2009. His remarks focused on the importance of addressing long-term food security issues while respecting both the land and rural populations, and of promoting sustainable agricultural development in poorer countries.
- Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, is currently Patron of the Africa Governance Initiative. Mr. Blair spoke on a panel entitled 40 Chances in a reference to the number of growing seasons an average farmer has during his or her lifetime. With the theme of “Redefining the Fight Against Hunger, Poverty, and Suffering,” this discussion focused on the drivers of food security, which include aid effectiveness, trade, private sector investment, and technological innovation. Mr. Blair also announced new joint programs designed to foster market-based solutions to global challenges in the areas of hunger, poverty, and conflict.
- President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland stressed that the need to respond to the problems caused by increasing climate volatility is one of the most pressing current issues worldwide.
Also last week, the 2013 Global Hunger Index report was launched at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. The report, The Challenge of Hunger: Building Resilience to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security, calls for breaking down the silos between the emergency relief and development communities and for focusing on approaches that enable people and systems to better resist, absorb, and transform in response to shocks such as droughts, floods, and food price volatility.
Click here to watch video footage of 2013 World Food Prize sessions (Note - Footage is grouped by day and time.)
Posted by Faustine Wabwire on October 22, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Trade, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The world produces lots of food, and on World Food Day (today—October 16) that seems like something we should be celebrating.
The global hunger rate is falling. Indeed, that’s good news. But it’s not because we’re producing more food. We produce more than enough to feed everyone, and have been doing so for some time.
Hunger is rarely about there not being enough food. It’s almost always about being too poor to afford food. The big reason hunger is going down is because economic growth in developing countries means that other opportunities besides subsistence farming have become available, making it possible for these farm families to escape a life of poverty. Subsistence farmers and their families make up the largest share of people who are hungry. When you have no other way to earn enough to buy food, you grow it yourself to eat and try to sell whatever’s left.
There are billions of people around the world who depend on subsistence farming. World Food Day should be a moment to reflect on the people who produce food. The number of farmers who are actually making a decent living may number a few million. I doubt it’s that high.
Instead of romanticizing them, especially subsistence farmers, we may want to stop and reflect on how many would rather be doing something else if they had a choice. It’s not much different in rich countries than in poor. The reason people left agriculture in America was because it was never much of a way to make a living in the first place. Yes, mechanization (more so than policy) meant you had to “get big or get out,” to quote one of our former Secretaries of Agriculture, but people were already leaving the farm in droves decades earlier when more opportunities sprung up thanks to economic growth.
The U.S. food system is much bigger than farmers, and I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of good things to say about it. Ironically, the system we’ve developed to ensure food is cheap and plentiful for most people in the country also contributes a fair share to the hunger in the country.
The World Bank released its 2014 World Development Report (WDR) last week. Previously, “risk management” was not a commonly-heard phrase in global development, but the WDR makes a good case for why it should be. As the world — developing regions especially — anticipates economic crises and more frequent natural disasters in the context of a rapidly rising population, the World Bank argues that people now more than ever need to be better prepared to cope with whatever the future may bring.
Over the past 25 years, there has been unprecedented progress in improving livelihoods in developing countries. Driven by global efforts such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), national and international leaders have joined with partners across civil society, the private sector, and local communities to identify and carry out effective strategies. The world has met the MDG target of cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half. Other measurements of the eight MDGs also reveal considerable progress. But the World Bank warns that these advancements could easily be lost if national governments do not take decisive steps to identify and prepare to mitigate both existing and emerging risks. New risks are, however, accompanied by a host of new opportunities. Inaction may be the riskiest option of all.
Even after the unprecedented efforts of the past few years, more than half of the population of the developing world lives on less than $2.50 a day. And as we mentioned in Institute Notes last week, there are still 842 million people who are chronically hungry. All are vulnerable to falling deeper into poverty, hunger, and poor health when confronted with economic and environmental shocks or armed conflict.
The focus of this year’s WDR is on reliable information and sound planning. In its own words:
The WDR 2014’s value added resides in its emphasis on managing risks in a proactive, systemic, and integrated way. These characteristics underscore the importance of forward-looking planning and preparation in a context of uncertainty.
Other major players in global development concur with the WDR assessment. For example, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has just released its Global Hunger Index, which argues that greater resilience in international agricultural and economic systems is critical to boosting food and nutrition security.In her recently launched briefing paper, Bread for the World Institute’s Faustine Wabwire also stresses the importance of resilience in whatever post-2015 plan emergesto replace the MDGs. Preparing more effectively for the future – whether in the United States or in developing countries – is (not coincidentally) a major emphasis of our 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, to be released on November 25. Keep a lookout for upcoming Institute Notes posts with more details on this exciting new report as that date approaches!
Posted by Bread on October 15, 2013 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Immigration, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Challenge Account, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, Trade, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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