The participants and speakers who attended the Agricultural Research for Development Conference (Agri4D) 2019 agree – something needs to be done to ensure sustainable and nutritious food for all. The ‘how’ however is not so easy to agree on. Keynote speaker Fred M. Dzanku spoke of increasing yields whilst Eric Malézieux mentioned redistribution of food as a crucial factor. Read below five other lessons learned from Agri4D 2019, all possible roads we can take to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
Connecting Science, Policy and Practice
Achieving dialogue between different stakeholders within the food system is important but also difficult. Within the academic field there seems to exist a connection between scientists and beneficiaries in the field, such as farmers. But where are the policy makers? Connections between scientists and policy makers are rare, and the one between policy makers and farmers even more so. During the thematic sub-session on Translating Science into Policy and Practice for Food Security it was discussed how to strengthen such connections. One method being field trainings which can attract both farmers and policy makers to the rural areas whilst also opening up for dialogue between the two different actors. A course also offers something to farmers, compared with researchers asking farmers questions without giving anything in return.
Is the Future of Agriculture Perennial?
During his keynote speech Lennart Olsson discussed the possibility for perennial crops as the future of food security, our next food revolution. Deeper root systems allow for perennial crops to sustain in harsher conditions and bind nutrients to the soil. Elaborating on other positive aspects with perennial crops, Olsson mentioned perennial rice. The initial stages of rice cultivation are highly labor intensive and leads to much methane. With perennial rice you only go through the initial stages once, thus requiring less labor and being better for the climate. With all these positives with perennial crops, why do we not develop them more? One answer, according to Olsson, is the lack of political will.
Formalizing Community Tenure: for Rights, Conservation or Livelihoods?
Tenure security for local communities and indigenous people is seen as key for their livelihoods and for protecting tropical forests and biodiversity. But there is a complex reality behind the concepts forest guardians and tenure security. In her keynote speech Anne Larson questioned these simplified notions and nuanced the idea of community tenure security as something static or a guarantee for forest protection, explaining how already granted land rights can be challenged and that local communities are affected by different kinds of external developments, such as gold mining. For tenure security to protect tropical forests, biodiversity, the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous people it must be understood that these groups are not homogenous entities. Tenure security implies different things in different contexts, and for different people.
Nourishing the World: the Role of Fish
Sub Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of malnourished people in the world. It is also the region where people eat the least amounts of fish, a highly nutritious food. During his keynote speech Rohana Subasinghe stressed the possibility for aquaculture as one mean for reaching zero hunger, especially in a world with a growing population but a constant access to land.
The Importance of Culture in Food Security
What is food security? The concept was discussed and elaborated during the Agri4D panel discussion where it was stated that food security without sensitivity to culture is not food security. A solution to food security not accepted by the consuming individuals will not be eaten. It is therefore important to have a sensitive bottom-up approach where dialogues are held with people and leaders of communities in order to learn and generate acceptance.
Seemingly, there are several possible roads we can take for a Zero Hunger world by 2030. It was emphasized during Agri4D 2019 that, no matter the chosen road, the ‘how’ must be jointly discussed and agreed on by different actors in the food system, from the small-scale farmer in Yangon to the policy maker in New York.
This story is written in the aftermath of the Agricultural Research for Development Conference (Agri4D) 2019. Read more about Agri4D 2019.