Each day we run three of your responses to the question: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?
Photo credit: Bernard Pollack
1. Xavier Rakotonjanahary, National Center for Rural Development, Madagascar says:
“There are many ways where more funding could address agricultural development. However, priorities should be understood by donors and agreed between different groups of stakeholders. First is that people in the rural area should be aware of new technologies, have access to them, and apply or scale up them, as part of of education, communication and technology transfer. The second priority is building rural infrastructure which is very essential to facilitate the dissemination of technologies and market accessibility. And third is the system of fund allocation; it could be through farmer organisations working with a private company but the most important objective should be a fair price to small scale farmers, who represent the majority of population in developing countries. Thus, depending on the situation, the technology is ready made, transferred or scaled-up, the funding could be directed to technology dissemination, infrastructure building or to fair price issues.”
2. Tobias Leenaert, EVA, Belgium says:
“I would obviously welcome more funding for research into plant-based alternatives to animal products, and what potential they have for locally solving famine and nutritional problems (see e.g. your post about those African beans). I believe a lot can be gained by studying the traditionally present vegetarian staple products, check how they can be completed (if necessary) without animal animal products, investigate the best ways to cultivate them etc. All this given, of course, my idea that plant-based nutrition is to be preferred, generally speaking, above animal-based nutrition because of sustainability, health and compassion.”
3. Kristof Nordin, Malawi says:
As straightforward as this question seems, it is very complicated to answer. Historically, agricultural “funding” can often be found at the root of many unsustainable practices that have grown out of our current approach to high-input, industrialized, and chemically-dependent food production. Countries such as Malawi, in the name of ‘agricultural progress and development’, have spent millions on research, breeding, and adaptation of a foreign crop—maize—to comply with local growing conditions. All the while, ignoring hundreds of indigenous crops that have naturally adapted themselves over thousands of years, which are often drought resistant, pest resistant, highly nutritious, open-pollinated, and FREE! Many well-intentioned projects often fail primarily due to ‘agricultural funding’. One need only look to the “donation graveyards” scattered throughout the landscape of developing countries; wherein lie the decaying corpses of unusable industrial farm implements, broken down tractors, and inoperable machinery. At the same time we have innumerable households who have neglected to pick up a simple watering can and establish a kitchen garden.
We need to start asking some hard questions: Should we be spending millions of dollars on complex agricultural irrigation projects when millions of people have yet failed to even place a simple clay pot under the eaves of their roof or reuse their grey water? Should we be jumping so quickly to the costly genetic altering of the nutritional structure of foods before people have succeeded in, or understood the importance of growing and eating a balanced diet? Should we allow the continued funding of high-input industrialized agricultural initiatives that often spiral local farmers into ever-growing debt, dependency, environmental destruction, and food insecurity?
There seems to be a groundswell in the number of projects and initiatives throughout the world that are implementing new, innovative, and sustainable solutions. Some of these approaches have been highlighted on the Nourishing the Planet’s blog, while others remain relatively isolated and unknown. “Agricultural funding” can no longer squander its resources on ‘cookie-cutter’ approaches. It needs to be applied towards systems that foster creative and unique thinking skills, a true understanding of natural systems, the utilization of local resources under the tutelage of indigenous knowledge, as well as design systems that reunite agriculture with a community’s needs: food and nutrition security, energy efficiency, renewable fuel sources, natural building supplies, local medicines, fibers, economics, labor, and more. Often times, these are the approaches that take no funding at all.”
To read more responses see:
Part 36: Robert Goodland (USA), Yao M. Afantchao (USA), and Queresh Noordin
Part 37: Richard Twine (UK), Yiching Song, and Abdelmunem Ahmed (Palestine)
Part 38: Bruce Murphy (Australia), Richard (South Africa), and Paul Van Mele (Benin)
Part 39: NM Nayar (India), Abe Agulto (Philippines), Paul Yao Kpai (Ghana)
Part 40: Sophia Murphy, Roland Sundström, Jones Lemchi