Closing the Gap

It was very disappointing that the Commission on Status of Women failed to deliver an outcomes document on rural women. Female farmers could feed another 150 million people if the gap was closed in access to productive resources. It is put simply by FAO in this video:

Next Committee on Food Security Meeting

October 15-20, 2012 | Rome, Italy


Call for Private Sector Delegates

The International Agri-Food Network is looking for high level representatives of the private sector (including farmers) who can participate in the Committee on World Food Security meeting. In particular, nominations are needed for private sector experts in the areas of:

    • Responsible agricultural investment
    • Global Strategic Framework
    • Land tenure

Submit nominations to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by September 1, 2012.

International Year of Family Farming

Get ready to celebrate the family farm! 2014 will be the International Year of Family Farming. It is a great chance to leverage national, international, farmer, and corporate events to mark the importance of the family farm to global food security. Start thinking about your plans and I welcome any contacts with ideas about planned events that can become part of the global campaign.

The Manyinga Project

The Manyinga Community Resource Centre Orphan and Vulnerable Schools Project has kicked off its fundraising efforts for 2012, and we hope you will consider making a donation to this very worthwhile project. We saw some great successes with the project in 2011, thanks to the generosity of our donors, and we hope to keep the momentum of progress with our project going in 2012.

The highlights of our successes in 2011 include:

  • 32 Lima (about 32 acres) of land was planted, with yields increasing by 200-300% over last year.

  • A portion of the harvest has been marketed and the monies have been put in an account for reinvestment in the schools.

  • The remaining portion of the harvest has been stored for use in a nutritional program. After harvest the kids were served a lunch (at left) as the first fruits of their harvest. A goat will also be used at each school at Christmas this year to provide extra protein.

  • Enrollment at Chinema school is currently 317 children.

  • Enrollment at Samafunda school is currently 96 children.

Our primary fundraising efforts for 2012 include:

  • $30 pays for a year’s garden seed.

  • $50 gets 3 months worth of extra school supplies for each school.

  • $50 adds papaya and banana trees to the orchards, supplementing the student's nutritional needs.

  • $150 puts a first aid kit in a school.

  • $200 buys the tools needed for the agriculture programs at each school.

  • $250 provides for the annual veterinary care of the animals the schools own.

  • $500 pays for the hired help and oxen to prepare the fields for planting at each school.

  • $1,100 pays for a teacher for the year.

  • $5,000 supports our capital improvement project. Grain storage will be our major building project over the next 12-14 months.

It seems amazing, but for under $30,000 the Manyinga project is able to fund two schools, provide essential training in agriculture, address basic health and nutritional concerns for the students and work toward program self-sufficiency. The cost is very little, but the need is very great.

The Green Economy

The Farming First coalition has produced an excellent video and infographic on the Green Economy. Focused on what is needed to make farming work from an economic, social, and environmental perspective, walk through the issues escorted by a woman in the video. All these issues are central to a constructive international agreement at the Rio+20 UN Conference in June 2012.

Food Price Volatility

It may seem that commodity prices are down, but countries remain nervous about food price volatility. At the United Nations, they passed a resolution (A/RES/66/188) that will keep food pricing at the top of the agenda. In a process led by the Dominican Republic, there has been good G77 support for a variety of measures including:

  • Establishment of a special open-ended working group to present recommendations towards "reducing excessive price volatility and speculation in food commodity markets, including derivatives such as futures and over-the-counter transactions, taking into account relevant work done at national, regional and international levels"

  • Asking the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), FAO, and the United Nations Development Programme and others "to continue their research and collaboration with relevant international organisations, to continue their research and analysis on this matter" and submit a joint report by March, 2012.

The resolution includes agreement to have food price volatility as an agenda item for the next General Assembly of the United Nations.

The Female Face of Farming

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I am happy to share with the CFS the infographic “The Female Face of Farming” developed by the FAO and the Farming First coalition. We hope this will be a useful tool to further the cause of women farmers.


The Farmers Major Group statement at the Rio+20 conference highlighted the need for the outcomes of the Rio Conference on Sustainable Development to link the concept of food security more effectively to farming.

"On behalf of the Farmers Major Group, we wish to congratulate the member states for having stressed clearly, in the preparatory process, and now in the Zero Draft, that agriculture in all its dimensions will be a core issue in Rio. The member states made clear that there is no sustainable development, there is no 'green economy', without sustainable agriculture. Farmers are key for poverty reduction, decent livelihoods, eradication of hunger and it is crucial if we want to safeguard the natural resources to ensure a sustainable future for all. However, the section on food security and sustainable agriculture still lacks in urgency and political commitment. Quite simply, food security cannot happen without farmers."

It was an honour for me to deliver the statement as a representative of the World Farmers Organisation, an organizing partner of the Farmers Major Group at the United Nations.

Women's Day

Ahead of Women's Day on March 8th, Farming First and FAO have launched a new infographic on the gender gap in agriculture:

They have already received coverage in the Guardian and we hope this will be a useful tool to help spur the discussion on the role of women in sustainable agriculture in the lead to the Rio Conference in June.

Please visit the Farming First website and share the link with your contacts!

Rural Women’s Education

There is a pressing need for general education for women in developing countries. Education for women has a lagged behind in many countries, and there is evidence that literacy rates for rural women are even lower than their urban counterparts. For instance, in Bangladesh, the adult literacy rate for rural women is only 36.2 percent, compared to 60.0 percent for urban women, and 56.1 percent for rural men compared to 75.4 percent for urban men (Pal, 2001).

As is well captured in the FAO study "Rural Women and Food Security in Asia", the impacts of poor access to education for women are manifold and undoubtedly not restricted to Asia. Poorly educated rural women are more likely to encounter the adverse effects of structural changes in the economy, particularly in an agriculture sector. As the study notes: "Prevailing shortfalls in rural female literacy achievement, coupled with trends towards the feminization of farming, underline the urgency for taking action to improve the skills and knowledge of rural women as a means to advance their technological and economic empowerment. National actions to empower women with education will be investments in human capital for agriculture and rural development with consequent positive outcomes for household and national food security." Multiple studies have also found women’s education plays a positive role in achieving goals for child schooling and nutrition.

Agriculture is fundamentally knowledge-based. Women need an education to participate fully and successfully in farming, for instance to achieve good production and acquire business skills are required to sell grain and manage household income. Women who lack access to basic education are likely to be excluded from new opportunities and their families will lag behind.

It is important to have gender sensitive approaches to increase access to literacy, basic math skills, and agricultural extension services. Specific training with mechanisms to manage gender-based biases on access to land, micro-credit, and marketing opportunities are needed to close gaps for women rural women and avoid perpetuating long term gender inequities.