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Page added on February 11, 2010

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New investments in agriculture likely to fail without sharp focus on small-scale

NAIROBI

The authors, who include scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the World Bank, urge wealthy countries, which pledged US$20 billion for developing-country agriculture at the G8 summit in Italy last year, to look beyond “business as usual” investments.

“In most regions of the world, farming systems are under intense pressure. But the problems are not the same everywhere,” said Mario Herrero, ILRI senior scientist and the paper’s lead author. “In the past, farmers have developed the ability to adapt to small changes, in terms of weather patterns and access to fertile land and water. But the rapid rates of change seen in many developing countries today outstrip the capacity of many to adapt.”

Smallholder mixed farmers, particularly in Africa and Asia, have been overlooked by donors and policymakers because they typically cultivate small plots of land, where they grow modest amounts of staple crops such as rice and maize while also tending a few cows, goats or chickens. Yet collectively these farmers are feeding most of the world’s one billion poor people and they are the key to any efforts to intensify production in the developing world, according to the paper.

Eurekalert



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