The State of Food and Agriculture 2012 says farmers are the largest investors in agriculture. Photo by: Alessia Pierdomenico / ©FAO

Do agricultural policies and investments address the needs of small-holder farmers? The Food and Agriculture Organization, in a new report, maps out a way toward a better future for agriculture starting with its pillars — the farmers.

This year’s State of Food and Agriculture report focuses on farmers’ capitals and governments’ agricultural investments and how these can be maximized to promote environmental sustainability and further reduce hunger and poverty. To do so, the following should be kept in mind:

  • Agricultural investment is among the most effective development strategies. Farmers are the largest investors in agriculture and must be central to any strategy in the sector.

  • An appropriate investment climate in agriculture should be fostered by the public sector — both for small holders and for large-scale investors.

  • Governments and donors share a “special” responsibility to improve small holders’ access to savings and investments and both need to focus funds on essential public goods with high returns.

  • Social benefits and sustainability of large-scale investments should be monitored by governments, organizations and investors.

Luca Chinotti, a spokesman for Oxfam’s GROW campaign, said theFAO is “sending exactly the right message” in identifying the role of farmers and the various forms of support they need along with proper treatment.

“In all of this, it is fundamentally necessary to prioritise women producers. With equal access to resources, women producers could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by up to 150 million,” Chinotti further noted.

FAO’s flagship annual publication, the State of Food and Agriculture report assesses major issues affecting agriculture and food security. Last year, the report discussed ways to close the gender gap in agriculture.

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About the author

  • Adrienne Valdez

    Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.