Part 47: Where Would You Like to See More Agricultural Funding Directed?

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. Reed Sims, USDA-NRCS Geographic Info Systems, USA says:

“Often I hear of the problem that farmers can produce more crops than needed to feed their families, but have trouble getting their marketable produce to markets, for instance in nearby urban centers.  Often a bicycle with a rack provides a platform for transporting the harvest that saves them a lot of precious time.  The Pedals for Progress program, begun by former Peace Corps workers (many are also involved as volunteers to receive and fix up the bikes), seems to fill a niche that is important.  I am not directly involved in Pedals for Progress, but have donated a couple of usable bikes.  I’d like to hear from you whether this program has made a visible dent in the problem, and if so, perhaps one place to direct Agricultural funding, as you ask, would be toward some sort of shared bike infrastructure.  Thinking in terms of the city bike programs in Paris and other places, but on an Africa scale and style.  Shared cargo bikes that villages can learn to maintain themselves.  Or micro-loans to allow farmers to purchase such things either as a co-op or in an entrepreneurial setting.  In such an arrangement, is sharing a workable model?  I lived as a child in Pakistan, and after a huge monsoon flood that ruined the entire country’s crop base, USAID sent over seeds of all kinds.  Our school packed them into village packages and sent them on, only to later find out that corrupt leaders in many villages wound up selling the seeds instead of distributing them freely.  Might a shared bike program encounter similar corruption in Africa and be rendered less effective?  I hope things are different there.”

2. Karen Soeters, Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation, Netherlands says:

“Agriculture subsidies aimed towards the large-scale production of animal derived protein must be abolished, as the large-scale factory farming industry is disastrous for people, animals and the environment. Instead, funding should go towards the promotion of plant-based proteins and animal-friendly, sustainable, small-scale and regional products. This would not only be better for people and animals, but would also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, as livestock farming is responsible for the emission of more greenhouse gases worldwide than all the cars, trucks, trains, boats and planes added together. This relationship between livestock farming and climate change is addressed in our documentary “Meat the Truth“.

3. Kebebe Ergano, International Livestock Research Institute says:

“From my innovation systems centric research experiences with International Livestock Research Institute; I am convinced that the supply of agricultural technologies is not a serious problem any more. The problem lies more in the enabling environments (infrastructure, institutions and policy) which facilitate or hinder the use of technologies for economic and social change. Substantial investment is needed in irrigation; road, electricity, and telecommunication infrastructure by governments if farmers are to reap the huge benefit that agricultural technologies entail. Investment in research capacity alone will do little to enhance agricultural transformation unless the capacity to broker multi-stakeholder processes is developed. The conventional agricultural extension has become obsolete in many African countries. The old extension model of brokering between researchers and farmers is not good enough. Now agricultural extension has to see its role as partnership facilitation among multiple stakeholders (researchers, farmers, private sector, policy makers, civic organizations, etc). Investment is badly needed to undertake action research that tests effective ways of facilitating multi-stakeholder processes and harnessing knowledge from multiple sources for economic and social benefits. Most researches in innovation systems are weak in methodologies. Funding may be required to develop well grounded research tools in innovation systems. Influencing policy has always been a tricky issue. Generating promising outputs from innovation systems research is a key to influencing policy makers. More importantly, engaging decision makers in the research process from the outset would likely influence their policy decisions. Providing competitive grants for action research on innovation systems to research and university system would create a lot of innovation champions. That would also trigger curriculum change and produce a generation of professionals with conviction in innovation systems thinking.”

To read more responses, see:

Part 42: Nazeer Ahmed, Willie Tuimising (Kenya), & Sara Scherr (USA)
Part 43: Caroline Smith, Klaus Droppelmann (Malawi), & Ashley Colpaart (USA)
Part 44: Huriye Kara, Pat Lanyasunya (Kenya),& Prince Charles Dickson (Nigeria)
Part 45: Dyno Keatinge (Taiwan), Gizachew Sisay (Ethiopia), & Anne Woodfine (UK)
Part 46: Faruq Banna, Arnold Kauk (Australia), & Shahul Salim (India)

What is your answer? Email me at Dnierenberg@Worldwatch.org or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg

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