Rethinking the Future of Farming

Today, 400 leading food security experts from 35 countries announced that the world is setting up for a “perfect storm” of increased food demand and dwindling supply. The result will be a devastating amount of people suffering from malnutrition and hunger.

The warning was delivered in a report released by the British Government’s Foresight Programme. The report, entitled “The Future of Food and Farming,” warns of the continuing demands of population growth (which is expected to exceed 8 billion in 20 years). It emphasizes the need to rethink efforts to end hunger now.

It is necessary to revitalize moves to end hunger. Greater priority should be given to rural development and agriculture as the driver of broad-based income growth, and more incentives provided to the agricultural sector to address issues such as malnutrition and gender inequalities.

Though the warnings were dire and the call to action urgent, there was also good news. That news came from a continent more often associated with famine rather than positive food production. The experts assessed 40 success stories from sub-Saharan Africa. They indicated that the spread of existing best practices could treble food production in that region. More detailed information on these success stories is due to be published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability in February 2011.

Planet Aid is proud to have been assisting sub-Saharan farmers in increasing sustainable crop production and raising their income. We have been supporting these farmers through a program known as Farmers’ Clubs. he program creates momentum within rural communities toward positive productive change that decreases poverty and increases food security.

For example, more than 12,000 farmers in Malawi have participated in Farmers’ Clubs since 2006, and more than half (nearly 8,000) of these participants were women. The program has been operating in the districts of Chiradzulu, Zomba, Lilongwe, and Dowa. An independent evaluation conducted in 2009 showed that the program increased average production by 250%, annual cash income by 120%, and access to irrigation by 280%.

Planet Aid is working to expand the model of Farmers’ Clubs across the entire nation of Malawi and elsewhere in the region, and is seeking support in that effort so that more may share in the bounty.