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GHI Takes 2016 GAP Report® to UN Committee on World Food Security
By: Ann Steensland, Deputy Director, GHI
The week after the 2016 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) was released at the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, the GHI team traveled to Rome, Italy, for the 43th UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS 43), from October 17-21, 2016. Margaret Zeigler, Executive Director, and Ann Steensland, Deputy Director, were part of a private sector delegation that included more than 170 business leaders from around the world. GHI Member Companies Elanco, Monsanto and Novozymes also had representatives in the delegation.
GHI participated in bi-lateral meetings with ambassadors and country government representatives from around the world, as well as officials from UN agencies. At a high-level dinner attended by 190 ambassadors and UN representatives, Margaret and Ann had an opportunity to present the work of the GHI Members Companies and the GAP Report with officials from the U.S., Norway, South Sudan and Germany.
Ann was invited to speak on behalf of GHI and the private sector at an official CFS Side Event on Reducing Food Losses and Waste while Connecting Smallholders to Markets. The session was organized by the governments of Brazil, China, Costa Rica and Italy, all of whom spoke on the panel. The panel was moderated by Dr. Anna Lartey, Director of Nutrition at FAO.
In her remarks, Ann emphasized the need for farmers of all scales to have access to tools and knowledge that will improve their productivity and sustainability, reduce post-harvest waste and loss, conserve natural resources, adapt to and mitigate climate change and improve livelihoods and nutrition. In some countries, 18% of postharvest cereal crops and 50% of fruits and vegetables are lost before they have a chance to reach the market. In addition, one-fifth of livestock around the world are lost to disease – which is perhaps the greatest untold story of food waste today. This is particularly devastating for small-scale farmers who rely on their livestock for a significant portion of their protein intake and income.
Post-harvest losses are a critical challenge and must be addressed to improve food security and to reduce environmental impact of agriculture and food production.
Improvements in the infrastructures for transportation, electricity, communications and finance are vital for improving productivity, reducing waste and loss and facilitating the connection between farmers and markets. Local, regional and global market opportunities can generate income for farmers to pay for their children’s education, and health care, housing and transportation. This new income can also be reinvested in the productivity of their farms or for developing off-farm businesses.
Drawing from the findings of the 2016 GAP Report, Ann presented strategies for helping small-scale farmers increase their productivity and sustainability, while reducing post-harvest losses. She also shared how the private sector is partnering with the public sector and producers to connect small-scale farmers to markets for their increased output. Examples include:
- National and multinational seed companies are developing improved seed varieties for staple, high-value and orphan crops that can help farmers adapt to changing climate patterns.
- Companies are investing in the development of bio-fortified seeds for sorghum and millet, that allow farms to grow fortified foods for themselves, reducing stunting and undernutrition.
- Weather Index Insurance and other risk protection products ensure that farmers will not have to sell their assets or cut their food consumption to survive a drought or extreme weather event.
- Agro-dealer networks can provide advice and support to farmers as they strategize about what they want to produce, how they produce it and when and where they sell their products.
- Companies are developing a wide range of technologies and practices that promote animal welfare to keep livestock healthy and productive, while providing farmers with a reliable source of animal protein.
- Appropriately-scaled and affordable technologies for storage ensure that the farmers can get their products to market. Innovations in cooling technologies help preserve nutrient content and safety of food as it moves through the value chain.
- Millions of women access agricultural inputs, credit and markets through farmer cooperatives. Cooperatives concentrate the market power of women and can help ensure that women receive a fair price for their products.