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Concern Worldwide’s work with smallholder farmers in Africa is now part of a groundbreaking African alliance that will benefit six million farmers. Our CEO, Dominic MacSorley, examines the progress made in climate smart agriculture in the first of this two-part blog post.
In the future we will all be eating maize in Ireland - unlikely? Think again! Scientists estimate that even a two degree centigrade increase in the world’s temperature will fundamentally change our food production systems worldwide.
Climate change is a controversial and frequently debated topic, but two things are clear: the world’s population is growing and is expected to reach nine billion by the year 2050, and an increase in urbanisation across Africa is leading to a decline in rural farming. Without a significant investment in new solutions, there simply won’t be enough food and the potential consequences should alarm us.
There’s a tendency to look for solutions through new science; identifying ways to produce more food on less land and increasing production through large-scale commercial farmers. However, there are other smarter and more sustainable solutions available.
The solution lies with the current network of 500 million small farmers that produce 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Now, through the work of organisations such as Concern, these half million strong food producers are driving a transformation in world agriculture.
Below are the key principles we believe are critical to achieving the goal of increased, sustainable productivity:
- Farming at any scale is a business and smallholders and producers must be treated as entrepreneur
- Businesses need clear links along the value chain, from production to processing, marketing and, ultimately, to consumption
- To increase crop production, farmers in the most marginalised areas need to adapt to changes brought about by climate change
- Increasing crop production is not the whole story; there must be clear links to improving nutrition, especially if we are to reduce malnutrition and stunting
- Making women the focus of training delivers better results; they learn and adopt new ideas and techniques faster
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