Posts Tagged ‘IFPRI’


Sowing the Seeds of a Food-Secure Future

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By Dana Drugmand

Worldwide, 195 million children suffer from malnutrition, which adversely affects their development and overall well-being. Approximately 26 percent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the number of malnourished children in the region will rise 18 percent between 2001 and 2020. Fortunately, innovations such as school feeding programs and kitchen vegetable gardens are working to combat malnutrition and hunger in African children.

Schoolchildren in Uganda are learning how to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens funded by Seeds for Africa. (Photo Credit: Kellogg)

One organization, Seeds for Africa, has been instrumental in helping children gain access to local, nutritious fruits and vegetables. A central part of this organization’s work is teaching children the value of growing their own food by helping them to establish kitchen gardens and fruit tree orchards. Seeds for Africa funds kitchen vegetable garden development at primary schools in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

In Kenya, Seeds for Africa coordinator Thomas Ndivo Muema has helped primary schools in the Nairobi region establish vegetable gardens and orchards of 200 fruit trees and has also supplied water tanks. In Uganda, fruit trees and vegetable gardens have been established at 77 schools around Kampala, the capital city. And in Sierra Leone, Seeds for Africa coordinator Abdul Hassan King has helped oversee tree planting projects in 50 primary schools and advised kitchen vegetable gardens operating at 15 other schools.

In 2011, Kellogg UK donated £6434 (US$9,946) to Seeds for Africa to fund “breakfast clubs” in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia—clubs in which schoolchildren are fed breakfast if they attend class. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, some 60 percent of children come to school without having eaten breakfast, if they attend school at all. By providing a nutritious breakfast, the initiative helps to improve attendance as well as academic performance and student well-being. Results from breakfast club trials indicate that students who participated scored better on school tests and were happier overall than students who did not participate. School attendance also increased to 95 percent.



De Schutter Highlights the Importance of a Rights-Based Approach to Food Security

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By Olivia Arnow

Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food,  spoke yesterday at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) about the “right to food.” According to De Schutter, a rights-based approach is crucial in attaining global food security, particularly in developing nations.

Olivier De Schutter has been instrumental in building discussion about the right to food. (Photo credit: Oxfam)

Addressing recent developments in the right-to-food movements in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, De Schutter described the potential of a rights-based approach in replacing the current supply-and-demand model. This approach is not just about availability, but requires that we pay attention to both food accessibility and adequacy.

By regulating private actors and de-emphasizing state power, De Schutter believes that populations can protect their right to food. “I believe that accountability, participation, and empowerment are absolutely key ingredients in the success of food security strategies,” he said.



2007-2008 Food Crisis: Causes, Responses, and Lessons Learned

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By Jameson Spivack

The world food crisis of 2007-2008 caused a substantial rise in the cost of food, especially staple foods such as rice, wheat, and corn. This rise in price had a devastating effect on hungry people in the developing world.

When food prices rise, poor people in developing countries are hurt the most. (Image source: IFPRI)

Between 2005 and 2011, world prices for rice, wheat, and maize rose 102 percent, 115 percent, and 204 percent, respectively, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). With price increases, people with less disposable income must spend a larger percentage of their earnings on essential staple grains, and less on other food and non-food items. This can have a significant impact on nutrition.

In seven Latin American countries, this increase in price led to an average 8 percent decrease in the amount of calories consumed. Before the crisis, 35 percent of households in Ecuador received an adequate amount of calories; afterwards, only 22 percent were receiving healthy levels of calories. In developing countries, if prices rise 50 percent across the board, and there is no rise in income, iron intake will decrease by 30 percent, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In the Philippines, this 30 percent decrease in iron consumption would mean that only 5 percent of women have adequate levels of iron.



Leading Food Policy Organization Issues 2011 Global Food Policy Report

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By Laura Reynolds

In its first annual Global Food Policy Report, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reflected on the major policy developments of 2011. The report analyzed the year’s food policy progress made and setbacks encountered at the global, regional, national, and local levels.

IFPRI's new report highlights the increased role agriculture and food security has on national and international decision-making. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The report focused on seven areas of change, both positive and negative, in the agriculture system over the last year. These include rising food price levels and volatility, natural and human-caused disasters, biofuels policy changes, land management changes, new players entering the food-system reform debate, new commitments to addressing climate change, and an increased recognition of the links between agriculture and nutrition, health, water, and energy.

One reason for optimism highlighted in the report is the increased role agriculture and food security has on national and international decision-making. “After many years of neglect, agriculture and food security are back on the development and political agendas,” according to the report. It pointed out that some 20 African countries, as part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), have adopted national agricultural and food security investment plans, in which they will devote 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture.



For International Women’s Day: An Innovative Agricultural Empowerment Index

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By Stephanie Buglione

Rural women represent, on average, more than 40 percent of the agricultural workforce in the developing world, but they own only 1 percent of the land, and face constant barriers to equality and success.

The Index's brochure. (Photo credit: Feed the Future Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index)

The Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) measures empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in this sector to identify areas for improvement. The index uses the Alkire Foster Method, which measures multidimensional poverty, well-being, and inequality against multiple criteria at both the individual and household level.

Developed by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the project informs Obama’s Feed the Future program, a global hunger and poverty initiative.

Within five different domains, including control of income, decisions about agricultural production, and time use, the WEAI measures the leadership roles and extent of empowerment and involvement of women in the agriculture sector of the developing world.



Global Hunger Index Tells Stories of Progress and Stagnation in Sub-Saharan Africa

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By Jeffrey Lamoureux

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) recently released Global Hunger Index 2011 contains a wealth of information about the state of hunger across the developing world. Combining measures of undernourishment, underweight children, and child mortality, the study creates a picture of the severity of hunger on a nation-by-nation basis.  The measure is designed to help policymakers focus attention on the regions that need it most. According to the latest report, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have the highest levels of hunger, and progress over the last 20 years in these regions has been uneven.

Farmers in Ghana have benefitted from government investments (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Ghana was the only country in sub-Saharan Africa among the 10 best performers in improving their Global Hunger Index (GHI) score since ranking began in 1990. As rated by the index, Ghana has reduced the scale of hunger within its borders by 59 percent. IFPRI attributes this success to sustained investments in agriculture, rural development, education, and health, specifically immunizations. For his efforts on these fronts, former president John Kufuor was awarded the 2011 World Food Prize.

By all accounts, Ghana’s efforts, which included outreach to get more information to farmers, the provision of agricultural inputs, and infrastructure investments, had ripple effects that benefitted all levels of society. The government launched a program to improve the provision of food at its primary schools, using local produce to provide a hot meal to students, which significantly increased school enrollment. Their efforts were conducted alongside political reforms to expand the country’s democratic freedoms, supporting a virtuous circle that has pushed Ghana into the ranks of the world’s middle-income countries. Ghana today is a fast growing and politically stable country, a leading example of what is possible on the continent.



A Success Story in Parched India

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By Kamaria Greenfield

Wankute, a tiny village located high in the Sahyadri mountain range of the Maharashtra state of India, was dry and near-barren in the 1990s. Agriculture was limited to crops that could withstand hot temperate and little water, such as millet and certain legumes. The men worked outside of the village to bring in enough income for their families. Women sometimes walked for a kilometer and a half to obtain the day’s water. During the three months of annual, inevitable drought, the villagers would pay to have water tankers come in. “The Green Revolution that transformed agriculture elsewhere in India had little impact in the semi-arid tropical regions, where agricultural productivity is low, natural resources are degraded, and the people are poor,” says an International Food Policy Research Institute research report.

The villagers of Wankute, especially the women, have had their lives changed by a collaborative effort watershed project. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In 2003, the residents heard about the success of watershed development in similar nearby villages and wanted to try it for themselves. The main problem in Wankute was not that there was no rainfall, but that the limited 450 millimeters that fell every year did so during a short period of time, usually for less than three weeks.

To transform their community, the village partnered with the Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), a not-for-profit NGO that works in several Indian states, to bring much-needed water and prosperity to Wankute. Since 1996, WOTR has conducted 747 watershed projects in India. The first of its eleven developmental sectors is a commitment to Integrated Water Resources Management.

Efforts were at first met with some skepticism and resistance. Villagers were especially uneasy when WOTR mandated a ban on tree felling and the free grazing of cattle. But this was necessary for the planting of new trees and grasses, which would hold the soil and moisture in place. The main idea of the watershed development in Wankute was to build a water treatment structure composed of bunds (ridges and ditches in the soil) and check dams. Today, the results are clear. The water tables have risen significantly and the villagers have not imported tankers for water since the project was finished. The vegetation planted eight years ago continues to thrive on the hillsides. And overall employment has increased because farmers can work with their crops for eight months out of the year instead of a meager three. A wide variety of more water-intensive crops now flourish, including wheat, tomato, onion, and potato. Because of this bounty, the export of foodstuffs and the import of agricultural labor have both increased.



UN Expert Asks World Leaders to Crack Down on Non-Communicable Diseases

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By Sheldon Yoder

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food is calling on world leaders not to miss the chance to crack down on bad diets. “Our food systems create sick people,” Olivier De Schutter said. “Failure to act decisively on this issue kills almost 3 million adults each year.”

Approximately 80 percent of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, occur in the developing world (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

De Schutter, who is a contributing author to State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, calls for the adoption of a host of initiatives, such as taxing unhealthy products, regulating harmful food marketing practices, and standing up to the food industry.

“It is unacceptable that when lives are at stake, we go no further than soft, promotional measures that ultimately rely on consumer choice, without addressing the supply side of the food chain,” De Schutter said.

Low- and middle-income countries often face a double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition, but while these nations receive a great deal of attention for high malnutrition rates, researchers and policy makers have paid less attention to the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart, cardio-vascular, and respiratory disease, as well as type II diabetes.



IFPRI’s seminar on “Leveraging Agriculture to Tackle Non-communicable Diseases” anticipates UN high level meeting

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By Isaac Hopkins

On September 7th, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) hosted a seminar and panel discussion about the role that food and agriculture research can, and should, play in the high level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on September 19-20. It was a continuation of their large “Leveraging Agriculture for Improving Nutrition and Health 2020 Conference,” held in New Delhi, India, this past February.

IFPRI's seminar last week is a continuation of their conference in New Delhi this past February, focusing on leveraging agriculture to improve global health. (Image Credit: IFPRI)

Last week’s seminar addressed the alarming escalation of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in developing nations. Once perceived as threats only to developed countries, conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and cancer actually afflict a higher proportion of people in poorer areas of the world. As many as 80 percent of NCD deaths occur in developing countries.

“We’ve got a gap between evidence and policy,” explained Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University in London during his presentation. He discussed how the seeds of today’s problems were sown 70 years ago, when policy makers established the concept that the best way to fight malnutrition and increase health would be to produce more grain. The developed world certainly did increase raw production, but “this doesn’t fit the 21st century,” said Dr. Lang. We now know that a focus on overproducing a select few grains has many drawbacks for the health of consumers, especially those in poverty.



IFPRI Millions Fed Technical Compendium

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By Amanda Strickler

In 2009, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), published Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Millions Fed project analyzed over 250 agricultural success stories from developing countries over the past 50 years. Based on a set of criteria focused on agriculture including scale, proven impact and sustainability, the success stories of 20 countries were selected and presented in the final Millions Fed report.

Intercropping of fodder along contour lines in Ibumila village, Njombe, Tanzania. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

As follow-on, IFPRI published a second volume to Millions Fed. Proven Successes in Agricultural Development: A Compendium to Millions Fed provides readers with technical insight into the pros and cons of each agricultural success story featured in the original publication. The book also features a chapter on measuring overall gains or losses when carrying out projects in the field-a term known as impact assessment. Using impact assessment is especially important in agricultural projects to determine positive and negative relationships between farming and the environment. Many of the case studies reviewed in Proven Successes in Agricultural Development: A Compendium to Millions Fed are success stories in this way. The studies prove that agriculture, development and the environment really can work hand-in-hand.