ACDI/VOCA applauds the recent G8 nations’ promise to commit $20 billion over three years to reduce hunger worldwide and bolster agricultural development in some of the world’s poorest communities.
“The $20 billion initiative to build farmers’ capacity to develop agricultural productivity and meet growing food needs will go a long way toward ensuring that fewer people are food insecure and hungry,” says Carl Leonard, ACDI/VOCA president.
“The recent groundswell of commitment to agriculture and rural development is overdue but truly welcome," Leonard adds. “The food crisis starkly illustrates how desperate and vulnerable poor people are. Since the vast majority of the world’s poor have agriculture-based livelihoods, broad-based agricultural development is the only route to sustainable food security."
The G8 and other national leaders now must focus their energies on ensuring that the international development community, both private and public players, carry out sustainable programs that build on farmers’ expertise and use market forces and technology to move farmers from subsistence farming to a stronger business orientation and improved competitiveness.
“To succeed, our agricultural development efforts must be smart and have stamina,” Leonard says.
Based on more than 45 years of experience, ACDI/VOCA has learned that increases in agricultural productivity and business development services depend on approaches steeped in the understanding of how markets provide incentives to farmers, producers, consumers and other stakeholders. The company’s proven value chain approach builds on these lessons to strengthen commercial relationships along the full length of the food system. It requires investments not only in farmer organization and production, but also in post-harvest handling and storage, distribution systems, business practices, financing and marketing.
In India, for example, ACDI/VOCA’s Growth-Oriented Microenterprise Development project, with partner ITC Ltd., used the value chain approach and advanced technology to link 500 smallholder vegetable farmers (2-5 acres) with the country’s fast-growing urban supermarket chains, leading to a 30 percent increase in farmers’ productivity and incomes in just two growing seasons.
The value chain approach also can amplify the benefits of emergency food aid. A cooperative in Rwanda’s Northern Province recently celebrated a sevenfold increase in this year’s wheat production, largely because of the unique blend of agricultural and business services it received as part of a USAID food aid program. Such programs transcend food distribution and apply development lessons based on a value chain approach.
“The G8 communiqué underscores the importance of making our agricultural investments as effective as possible,” Leonard adds. “Success will depend on whether our leaders have the staying power to see these commitments through.”
The G8 members (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) met in L’Aquila, Italy, and issued a joint statement last week on food security, which promised increased funding among other investments. The G8 devised the statement with the five largest emerging economies: Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.
ACDI/VOCA is a global leader in agricultural development, dedicated to poverty alleviation and broad-based economic growth. With more than 45 years of experience, we currently work in more than 40 countries to improve agricultural productivity and build developing economies using our signature value chain approach.