Agriculture en Resolving the Food Crisis: Assessing Global Policy Reforms Since 2007 <div data-history-node-id="41680" class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-agriculture has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/timothy-wise" hreflang="en">Timothy Wise</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/sophia-murphy" hreflang="en">Sophia Murphy</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><h3>Executive summary</h3> <p>The recent spikes in global food-prices in 2007-08 served as a wake-up call to the global community on the inadequacies of our global food system. Commodity prices doubled, the estimated number of hungry people topped one billion and food riots spread through the developing world. A second price spike in 2010-11, which is expected to drive the global food import bill for 2011 to an astonishing $1.3 trillion, only deepened the sense that the policies and principles guiding agricultural development and food security were deeply flawed. </p> <p>There is now widespread agreement that international agricultural prices will remain significantly higher than precrisis levels for at least the next decade, with many warning that demand will outstrip supply by 2050 unless concerted action is taken to address the underlying problems with our food system.</p> <p>The crisis certainly awakened the global community. Since 2007, governments and international agencies have made food security a priority issue, and with a decidedly different tone. They stress the importance of agricultural development and food production in developing countries, the key role of small-scale farmers and women, the challenge of limited resources in a climate-constrained world, the important role of the state in “country-led” agricultural development programs, the critical role of public investment. For many, these priorities represent a sea change from policies that sought to free markets from government policies seen as hampering efficient resource allocation. Now that those policies and markets have failed to deliver food security, the debates over how countries and international institutions should manage our food system are more open than they have been in decades.</p> <p>The purpose of this report is to look beyond the proclamations and communiqués to assess what has really changed since the crisis erupted. While not exhaustive, the report looks at: Overseas Development Assistance, both in terms of how much and what is funded; Multilateral Development Banks’ policies and programs; selected U.N. agencies and initiatives, notably the Committee on Food Security (CFS); the G-20 group of economically powerful governments; and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, who has injected a resonant “right to food” approach to the issue.</p> <p> </p> <ul><li>low levels of investment in developing-country agriculture in general and small-scale agriculture in particular; </li> <li>reduced support for publicly funded research and development and increased reliance on private research;</li> <li>a reliance on international trade to meet domestic food needs in poor countries that can ill-afford the import dependence and declining local production; </li> <li> <div>a bias toward cash crops for export over food production for domestic markets; </div> </li> <li> <div>increasing land use for non-food agricultural crops such as biofuels for industrial uses;</div> </li> <li> <div>support for high-input agricultural methods over more environmentally sustainable low-input systems; </div> </li> <li> <div>inadequate attention to the linkages between climate change and food security; and </div> </li> <li> <div>deregulation of commodity markets and increasing financial speculation in agricultural commodities,  including staple food crops as well as land.</div> </li> </ul><h4>Findings</h4> <div>Our review suggests that on the positive side, the food crisis was an important catalyst for change. As high prices persisted and public protest mounted, many governments were confronted with “moments of truth,” the cumulative result of which was to question some of the assumptions that had driven food and agriculture policy over the past few decades. This prompted renwed attention to agricultural development, reversing the long-standing neglect of agriculture as a vital economic sector. It also brought some important new funding, though at levels still far short of what is needed. </div> <div> </div> <div>The stated priorities for much of that funding suggest distinct improvement over the policies of the past few decades. The needs and political voices of small-scale farmers and women; environmental issues, including climate change; and, the weaknesses of international markets now receive more attention. The additional funding for these important areas is also driven by greater openness to country-led programs with strong state involvement, a marked change from past priorities. </div> <div> </div> <div>Our review suggests areas of great concern, though. We see neither the necessary urgency nor the willingness to change policies that contributed to the recent crisis. New international funding is welcome, but only $6.1 billion of the G-8’s pledged $22 billion, three-year commitment represents new money, and those pledges have been slow to materialize and are now threatened with cutbacks as developed countries adopt austerity measures. The overwhelming priority is to increase production. There are reasons to focus on this, specifically within low-income net-food importing countries. The setting of production targets at the global level, however, encourages an expansion in industrial agriculture and the consolidation of land holdings, including land grabs, and ignores environmental constraints and equity issues. </div> <div> </div> <div>Beyond funding, we find that the policies that contributed to the recent food-price crisis have gone largely unchanged, leaving global food security as fragile as ever. The world needs policies that discourage biofuels expansion, regulate financial speculation, limit irresponsible land investments, encourage the use of buffer stocks, move away from fossil fuel dependence and toward agro-ecological practices, and reform global agricultural trade rules to support rather than undermine food security objectives. </div> <div> </div> <div>Unfortunately, we find that the international institutions reviewed have shown too little resolve to address these issues. Although at the G-20 the world’s most economically powerful nations have asserted leadership on food security, their actions have been tepid if not counterproductive. This has had a chilling effect on reform efforts elsewhere in the international system, most notably at the United Nations. This raises important governance issues. The U.N.’s CFS is formally recognized by most institutions as the appropriate body to </div> <div>coordinate the global response to the food crisis, because of both its mandate and its inclusive, multi- takeholder structure. Yet in practice the G-20 has systematically constrained the reform agenda. Similarly, the WTO’s recent efforts to give the Doha Agenda more relevance by including food security issues in the form of restrictions on exporting countries’ use of export tariffs have failed, because many of the exporters (most of the G-20 members) refuse to surrender that policy space. Not surprisingly, importing countries’ wish for the same policy space with regard to their imports are now more determined than ever to insist on their rights.</div> <div> </div> <div>The recent food-price crisis exposed the fragility of the global food system. A paradigm shift is underway, caused by the deepening integration of agricultural, energy and financial markets in a resource-constrained world made more vulnerable by climate change. Powerful multinational firms dominate these markets. Many benefit from current policies and practices and their interests are a dominant influence in national and global policies—slowing, diverting, or halting needed action. This leaves international institutions promoting market-friendly reforms but resistant to imposing the concomitant regulations required to ensure well-functioning food and agricultural markets.</div> <div> </div> <div> <div>Three areas in particular demand decisive action:</div> <ul><li>Biofuels expansion – There is a clear international consensus that current policies to encourage biofuel expansion, particularly in the United States and Europe, are a major contributor to rising demand, tight supplies and rising prices. Yet international institutions, from the G-20 to the U.N. High-Level Task Force to the CFS, have diluted their demands for actions to address this problem.</li> <li>Price volatility – High spikes in prices remain a major problem for poor people worldwide, and for foodimporting developing countries in particular. The policy goal, for effective market functioning and for food security, should be relatively stable prices that are remunerative to farmers and affordable to consumers. We find few concrete actions toward this goal. There is strong evidence that financial speculation contributed to recent food-price volatility, though there remains considerable debate on the subject. As an FAO report on the topic noted, there is no demonstrated benefit to the public of allowing such speculation, and the potential costs are huge. Precautionary regulations are warranted but few have been taken. Similarly, the lack of publicly held food reserves contributes to the shortages that make speculation possible while leaving vulnerable countries at risk. Reserves should be explored more actively than simply as emergency regional humanitarian policy instruments. </li> <li>Land grabs – The scale and pace of land grabs is truly alarming, driven by financial speculation and land-banking by sovereign wealth funds in resource-constrained nations. The consensus is that such investments are not good for either food security or development. As laudable as recent efforts are to promote “responsible agricultural investment,” these initiatives risk being “too little too late” for a fast-moving phenomenon. Meanwhile, international institutions, such as the World Bank, must do more to protect smallscale producers’ access to land. </li> </ul><div> </div> <div>Fortunately, many developing countries are not waiting for international action or permission to more aggressively address the problems that can be dealt with at a national or regional level. Many of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) projects in Africa, for example, emphasize the kinds of changes that are needed. CAADP has four pillars: land and water management, market access, food supply and hunger, and agricultural research. Bangladesh and other countries used food reserves to reduce the impact of the food-price spikes in far more ambitious efforts than the G-20 is proposing to support in West Africa. </div> <div> </div> <div>Developing-country governments will be central to bringing about such changes. They need the policy space to pursue their own solutions and they need the support of the international community to demand deeper reform in developed-country policies. The evidence discussed in this report suggests the paradigm shift has started but is incomplete. Many developing-country governments have chosen to step away from the prevailing orthodoxy of the last several decades and are again exploring a larger role for the public sector in governing agriculture and food. Donors, too, have shown some willingness to re-order priorities and to give greater space to agriculture, and to changing priorities within agricultural spending to acknowledge the need for more inclusive and sustainable outcomes. But they still resist more fundamental reform and continue to promote private investment and liberalized markets, relying on humanitarian aid and social safety nets to try to help those who are displaced by the policies.</div> <div> </div> <div>Perhaps not surprisingly, developed-country governments have yet to make the needed changes to their domestic policies. Comfortable with re-ordering development priorities, governments of rich countries have proved unwilling to look at their domestic agricultural economies to see what changes are needed there. If the most powerful countries are not willing to make the changes at home that would help international markets perform better, they should at a minimum stop undermining international efforts, at the U.N. and within </div> <div>and among developing countries, to address the fundamental causes of the food crisis.</div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-upload field--type-file field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Upload</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><span class="file file--mime-application-pdf file--application-pdf icon-before"><span class="file-icon"><span class="icon glyphicon glyphicon-file text-primary" aria-hidden="true"></span></span><span class="file-link"><a href="" type="application/pdf; length=885806" title="Open file in new window" target="_blank" data-toggle="tooltip" data-placement="bottom">2012_01_17_ResolvingFoodCrisis_SM_TW.pdf</a></span><span class="file-size">865.04 KB</span></span></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/agriculture2" hreflang="en">Agriculture</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:48:00 +0000 Andrew Ranallo 41680 at Hundreds of grassroots organizations to oppose the UN Food Systems Summit <div data-history-node-id="44611" class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-agriculture has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <h3 > Civil society and Indigenous Peoples&#039; organizations will launch a global counter-mobilization against the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit from 25 to 28 July 2021 in Rome and online</h3> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><strong>Rome, Italy. 19 July 2021.</strong> Over 300 global civil society organizations of small-scale food producers, researchers and Indigenous Peoples' will gather online (25-28 July) to protest against the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit. The People's Counter-Mobilization to Transform Corporate Food Systems is the latest in a series of rejections of the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), including a coalition of scientists who petitioned to boycott it.</p> <p>The People's Autonomous Response to the UNFSS argues that the Summit distracts from the real problems the planet faces at this critical juncture. Resulting from a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum (formed by the world's top 1000 corporations), the Summit is disproportionately influenced by corporate actors, and lacks transparency and accountability mechanisms. It diverts energy, critical mass and financial resources away from the real solutions needed to tackle the multiple hunger, climate and health crises.</p> <p>Globalized, industrialized food systems fail most people, and the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. According to the 2021 UN Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition, the number of chronically undernourished people has risen to 811 million, while almost a third of the world's population has no access to adequate food. The Global South still reels from Covid-19, unveiling the entrenched structural power asymmetries, fragility and injustice that underpin the predominant food system.</p> <p>Over 380 million people make up the transnational movements of peasants and farmers, women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists, landless, migrants, fisherfolk, food and agricultural workers, consumers, and urban food insecure joining the protest. They demand a radical transformation of corporate food systems towards a just, inclusive and truly sustainable food system. They equally demand increased participation in existing democratic food governance models, such as the UN Committee for World Food Security (CFS) and its High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The UNFSS threatens to undermine CFS, which is the foremost inclusive intergovernmental international policy-making arena. By exceptionally prioritizing a human rights-based approach, the CFS provides a space for the most affected to have their voices heard. Yet the multilateral UN system is being hijacked by corporate interests to legitimize an even more detrimental, technologically-driven and crisis-ridden food system.</p> <p>This counter-mobilization reflects concerns about the Summit's direction. Despite claims of being a 'People's Summit' and a 'Solutions' Summit, UNFSS facilitates greater corporate concentration, fosters unsustainable globalized value chains, and promotes the influence of agribusiness on public institutions.</p> <p>False solutions touted by UNFSS include failed models of voluntary corporate sustainability schemes, 'nature-positive' solutions which include risky technologies such as Genetically Modified Organisms and biotechnology, and sustainable intensification of agriculture. They are neither sustainable, nor affordable for small-scale food producers, and do not address structural injustices such as land and resource grabbing, corporate abuse of power, and economic inequality.</p> <p>The parallel counter-mobilization will share small-scale food producers and workers' realities, and their visions for a human rights-based and agroecological transformation of food systems, highlighting the importance of food sovereignty, small-scale sustainable agriculture, traditional knowledge, rights to natural resources, and the rights of workers, Indigenous Peoples, women and future generations.</p> <p>Discussions will center on real solutions: binding rules for corporate abuses, ending pesticide use, and agroecology as a science, practice and movement. The program will include the following activities:</p> <ul><li>25 July 2021: A Global virtual Rally with small-scale food producers and people's voices.</li> <li>26 July 2021: Political declaration followed by three public roundtable discussions on the COVID-19 context, the hunger and climate crises and the Summit's push for corporate capture of governance and science.</li> <li>27 July 2021: 15 virtual sessions on people's alternatives and visions on food systems</li> <li>28 July 2021: A closing Panel will present preliminary conclusions and discuss the ways to challenge the UNFSS in September.</li> </ul><p>-ENDS-<br /> Further information will be provided during a media briefing on 22 July 2021 from 13:30 to 14:15 CEST, followed by a Q&amp;A session. Please register here to participate.</p> <p><strong>Media contact</strong><br /> Marion Girard | Media officer at the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples' Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS)<br /><a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>Resources</strong><br /> • Program and web streaming of the Counter-Mobilization:<br /> • Call to action launched in May 2021 to coordinate the peoples' response to the UNFSS<br /> • More information about the concerns of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism vis-a-vis the UNFSS</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/agriculture2" hreflang="en">Agriculture</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 23 Jul 2021 21:56:05 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44611 at Q&A: The United Nations agroecology negotiations and Food Systems Summit <span>Q&amp;A: The United Nations agroecology negotiations and Food Systems Summit</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Fri, 07/23/2021 - 15:37</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span><span>Starting on July 26, United Nations delegates and other stakeholders will meet in Rome for a </span><a href=""><span>Pre-Summit</span></a><span> leading up to the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) scheduled to take place this September in New York. This could have been an opportunity for a step towards putting global food systems on a more sustainable and equitable path.</span></span></span></p></div> Fri, 23 Jul 2021 20:37:45 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44612 at New AGRA Reports Offer Little Evidence to Justify Continued Donor Support <div data-history-node-id="44610" class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-agriculture has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/timothy-wise" hreflang="en">Timothy Wise</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has been under fire over the last year after our research revealed that the billion-dollar agency had made little progress toward its stated goals of doubling yields and incomes for 30 million small-scale farming households while halving food insecurity. Since the publication of that research in July 2020, as <a href="" target="_blank">an academic working paper</a> and a related report, <a href="" target="_blank">False Promises</a>, AGRA has failed to provide evidence to refute our findings, withholding outcome monitoring reports after requests by African organizations.</p> <p>Many hoped <a href="" target="_blank">AGRA’s 2020 Annual Report</a>, published July 12 with a companion report on <a href="" target="_blank">“Emerging Results 2017-21,”</a> would finally offer some evidence of its impacts. After reviewing the 66-page annual report and the 37-page companion document, I can report that AGRA provides some data but no convincing evidence of progress toward these three topline goals. The document confines itself largely to reporting not on its 15 years of work but its most recent 2017-2021 strategic plan. The evidence base for the reporting is unclear but it is undoubtedly thin; AGRA has published only one set of Outcome Monitoring reports, based on 2019 surveys.</p> <p>The lack of accountability to its goals is particularly troubling for two reasons. First, the original endpoint for achieving them was 2020, which was then extended to 2021. This leaves African governments and farmers as well as AGRA’s donors — most notably the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Agency for International Development (UKAID) and the German development agency BMZ — with no compelling evidence of AGRA’s impacts.</p> <p>Second, AGRA is now formulating its new strategic plan; it has been drafted and approved by the Board of Directors and is awaiting an implementation plan. That plan will require new funding commitments, and anonymous sources indicate that AGRA will seek another $1 billion in funding through 2030. AGRA’s failure to provide evidence of progress means donors will be asked to continue their support without any assurance that such aid has been effective. As I wrote earlier this month, they will be asked to “<a href="" target="_blank">throw good money after bad</a>.”</p> <p>I was asked by the U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), a transparency organization that has been tracking this controversy, to review AGRA’s 2020 Annual Report and companion document to assess whether it provides the kinds of evidence that have been lacking to date. Below are my findings, which can be summarized as follows:</p> <ul><li>AGRA provides no evidence of its effectiveness in raising yields, incomes and food security since its founding in 2006; in fact, it fails to offer any information about its first 10 years of work, reporting as if the initiative just started in 2017.</li> <li>AGRA does report on yields, incomes and food security, but the data comes from a mix of sources, including “rapid assessments” in an indeterminate number of countries with an indeterminate number of farmers. As such, the data lacks validity.</li> <li>The data presentation is misleading, clearly intended to cherry-pick success stories in selected countries and crops without even pretending to put such outcomes in a larger context.</li> <li>Claimed improvements in food security suffer from these same deficiencies. The progress flies in the face of hunger estimates from a <a href="" target="_blank"><span>recent FAO report</span></a>, released on the same day AGRA published its annual report. The FAO reported a jump of 44 million undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa to an alarming 264 million. The new AGRA documents are disturbingly tone-deaf about the dire and worsening conditions for poor Africans.</li> <li>AGRA’s stated monitoring methodology is deeply flawed, ensuring that future claims of progress will be based on unreliable data collected on selected crops over too short a time period to offer valid results. AGRA’s inability to account for its first 10 years of work renders the organization’s claims of impact anecdotal and impossible to verify. As such, donors should reconsider their continued support for such a poorly run, unaccountable and ineffective organization.</li> </ul><h2>Vague data from undocumented sources</h2> <p>The Annual Report is the fourteenth since AGRA was initiated by the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation in 2006 and all share this same problem of vague data and undocumented sources. This year’s report, titled “Nourishing Change Across African Agriculture,” focuses on the organization’s current 2017-21 strategic plan, which AGRA Board Chair H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn (former Prime Minister of Ethiopia) characterizes as “an integrated delivery model to catalyze agricultural transformation.” AGRA’s goal is to catalyze private sector and government capacities through public-private partnerships to improve the delivery of commercial seeds, fertilizers and other inputs and achieve the kind of productivity revolution AGRA promises.</p> <p>As such, AGRA reports more on “transformation processes” than it does on outcomes. For AGRA, many of those processes <span>are</span> the outcomes: the increasing availability of certified seeds, the rising number of Village-Based Assistants as private extension agents, the rapid approval of policy reforms to speed the delivery of commercial seeds and fertilizers, the capital catalyzed by AGRA for small and medium scale agribusinesses. There is little attention to the outcomes for farmers beyond the numbers of farmers “reached” by AGRA, with no clarity on the extent of those farmers’ engagement nor the impacts on their farming. The companion document on “Emerging Trends” offers little more data or clarity.</p> <p>One brief presentation on page 10 of the Annual Report, shown on the next page, summarizes the 2017-21 impact on smallholder farmers. It illustrates many of the limitations of AGRA’s presentation of outcomes. The sources of the data are unclear, the number of farmers reached by what interventions is not disclosed, and the percentages are chosen to overstate AGRA’s impacts.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="summary of the 2017-21 impact on smallholder farmers" data-align="center" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c21dce28-6607-4cc2-8c5d-1044064deca2" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/figure%201_web_0.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <p> </p> <h4><span>What is wrong with this picture from AGRA?</span></h4> <ol><li><span>“Regional impact?”</span> The map shows AGRA’s current 11 priority countries and then the claimed “regional impact,” though rarely is any evidence presented of such impact. In general AGRA assumes that if commercial seeds and fertilizers are more widely available this will spill over into regional economies. A more accurate map of AGRA’s true areas of influence would likely be small blotches within the borders of its 11 focus countries.</li> <li><span>Number of farmers reached: </span>The claim of 10.1 million farmers reached directly by AGRA is not documented and fails to identify how they engaged with AGRA. Some may have attended a training, others perhaps sold to an AGRA-supported buyer, others simply had easier access to commercial seeds and fertilizers, and they are considered “beneficiaries” even if they did not buy any. AGRA should disclose how many farmers were reached by what AGRA intervention.</li> <li><span>No point of comparison: </span>The next four categories — technology adoption, seed use (“replacing open-pollinated varieties” with commercial hybrids), access to credit and producing more than a subsistence — offer percentages with nothing to compare them to. Is this an improvement over time? How much of an improvement? Over how long a period? We do not know.</li> <li><span>Number of farmers unclear:</span> Nor do we know how many farmers are represented by these percentages. The presentation implies that those are percentages of the 10.1 million farmers reached, but that is unlikely to be true and we do not know what is.</li> <li><span>Painting a rosy picture: </span>The last figure in the graphic is particularly misleading, suggesting that two-thirds of farmers (the 10.1 million?) earned higher incomes in 2020 than they did in 2017 from selling surplus crops, presumably the product of higher yields from AGRA inputs. From their own data, it would be more accurate to say that nearly two-thirds of farmers saw little or no income growth. Consider: <ol><li>Later in the report AGRA states that “60% of farmers reached by AGRA have adopted new farming practices.” (page 15) This contradicts the 76% figure in the graphic above. It means that 40% have not adopted, perhaps a testament to the technology being expensive and unproductive;</li> <li>AGRA reports that “60% of farmers with surplus had higher incomes; over 70% had significant income growth, by 20% to over 80% vs. 2017.” (page 15) Again, the picture is far less rosy. We do not know how many farmers they are counting, perhaps the 87% cited in the earlier graphic. If so, 13% did not even produce a surplus;</li> <li>and only 60% of those with surpluses had higher incomes, so just 52% (60% of 87) of farmers — barely half — saw higher incomes;</li> <li>Only 70% of those saw significant increases, so only 36% of all farmers (70% of 52) saw significantly higher incomes;</li> <li>Put another way, 64% of farmers saw zero or only small income gains.</li> </ol></li> </ol><p>The fact that many farmers do not see any benefits is important. One of the findings in the case study research for the False Promises report was that some farmers are buying inputs at least partially on credit, and some are finding themselves in debt when yields fail to rise enough to cover input costs. This is a problem that is endemic to Green Revolution programs, from India to Africa.</p> <h2>Rising crop yields? Picking cherries</h2> <p>One common fallacy in data presentation is to offer selected success stories (“cherry-picking”) without revealing the larger trends or documenting the sources of the data or the time periods they cover. AGRA’s presentation on productivity increases exhibits all of these failures, with the clear intent to present progress toward the goal of doubling yields for 30 million farmers. The graphic below is from page 16, prefaced by the statement: “We can see evidence of higher yields across different countries and crops.” Indeed, they show different countries and crops and they show yield increases. But:</p> <ol><li>AGRA does not identify the number of farmers represented.</li> <li>AGRA does not offer any characterization of broader yield trends beyond the selected crops, an important point. My research showed better results for supported crops like maize and terrible results for crops not favored by AGRA or government input-subsidy schemes. (For example, across all AGRA countries millet yields declined 21%.)</li> <li>AGRA does not identify the time period of the yield growth, presumably since 2017.</li> <li>The figures certainly do not represent national trends. Consider the figures for these same crops and countries in our well-documented national-level data from FAO from a baseline of 2004-6 to an endpoint of 2016-18. I also include my more comprehensive Staple Yield Index which captures a range of staple crops in each country.</li> </ol><p> </p> <p><img alt="Critique of productivity increases" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="af325b67-1a11-482a-ac92-eed0e0b6a7f7" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/figure%202_web_1.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <p> </p> <p>In other words, these are not just cherry-picked figures. Those cherries were picked after an indeterminate growth period and from orchards that may have been very small, i.e., from a small number of farmers unrepresentative of national trends.</p> <p>Again, in yield growth AGRA presents unconvincing data that it is approaching its goal of doubling productivity for the majority of smallholder farmers in AGRA countries. For AGRA as a whole, our data stands unrefuted that over a 12-year period staple yields grew only 18%, not the promised 100%.</p> <h2>Unsubstantiated claims on food security</h2> <p>The final goal against which AGRA fails to convincingly document progress is halving hunger. As we show in our own research, across AGRA’s 13 countries there was a 31% increase in the number of people considered severely undernourished by the FAO over 12 years through 2018. That is a far cry from the promised 50% decrease. Now, after a year that saw dramatic hunger caused by COVID-19 and its related economic impacts, we would not expect to see much progress, though AGRA devoted considerable resources to COVID-19 relief, much to its credit.</p> <p>Using selective and poorly sourced data, AGRA reports dramatic success since 2017. They report only on the unsourced 87% of farmers with a surplus in 2020, so we do not know how many farmers they include. Using one common metric — the number of months a family’s food production lasts — they report that 66% of those with a surplus saw an increase of at least four months in 2020 compared to 2017. That would indeed be a positive outcome, though it does not easily correlate with their goal of halving hunger. Again, we do not know where this data comes from, nor how many countries or farmers it covers.</p> <p>What we do know is that such figures are wildly out of line with national trends, documented most recently by FAO in its annual <a href="" target="_blank"><span>State of Food Insecurity report</span></a>. At a global level, those figures are alarming, showing an increase of as much as 25% in the number of undernourished to 811 million people, an increase of up to 165 million in one year. It is the fifth straight year in which the numbers rose.</p> <p><span>Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole saw 264 million chronically undernourished people, a jump of 44 million</span><span> just since 2019</span>. FAO reports undernourishment by country as a three-year average, so the published data on AGRA countries do not reveal separate 2020 impacts. The 2018-20 average for all AGRA countries remained largely unchanged from the 2016-18 levels we calculated in last year’s report, with 128 million residents in AGRA’s 13 focus countries (including Niger and Zambia) suffering chronic and severe hunger. That remains a major failing for AGRA, which held out the goal of halving food insecurity not just for the farmers it worked with but for a larger group of 20 countries.</p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Supposed food security impact" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="81e9bf38-ed42-4d91-8894-486adb14e040" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/figure%203_web_0.jpg" width="75%" /></p> <p> </p> <h2>Other observations</h2> <p>Beyond the limited and misleading presentation related to AGRA’s topline goals, I can offer additional observations:</p> <ul><li>To AGRA’s credit, it devoted $11 million to efforts to mitigate the destructive effects of COVID-19, support that was surely needed in such a rapid-onset crisis.</li> <li>AGRA frequently stresses its focus on “farming systems,” acknowledging at one point that it initially had too much of a “technology-focused approach.” (page 13) There is attention to language. For example: “Like any ecosystem, the parts of the agricultural sector must work in concert.” They are clearly referring to functioning markets, not functioning ecosystems.</li> <li>AGRA is very proud of its 32,000 Village-based Assistants (VBAs), privately funded extension agents trained to complement governments’ meager extension services. AGRA’s own mid-term evaluation warned that this system was unsustainable since the VBAs would not continue to work when funding is withdrawn and the government is not able to pick up the tab.</li> <li>There is a constant focus on hybrid maize seed, and even the explicit intent to replace open-pollinated varieties. This combines with a focus on domestic production of hybrid seeds by local agribusiness firms. In one illustrative story, Rwanda proclaims “self-sufficiency” — not in food, but in hybrid maize seed production. AGRA’s obsessive focus on replacing farm-saved seed with commercial varieties, which must be purchased every year, is one of its most objectionable activities.</li> <li>Much of AGRA’s work on “farming systems” involves lobbying national governments to change laws and regulations to allow easier entry and distribution of commercial seeds, fertilizers and other inputs. One of their advertised successes in the annual report is to have “reduced the time required for the policy reform process by 50%.” (page 31) Many Africans see this not as a measure of administrative efficiency but of lobbying muscle.</li> <li>AGRA has traditionally taken the position that it opposes government input-subsidy programs as market-distorting, even though such programs provide direct financial support to farmers to purchase the inputs AGRA is promoting. It is safe to say there would be very little technology adoption without subsidies. In this report, AGRA seems to support “efficient subsidy systems” and claims it has worked with governments to improve them, no longer pretending to bite the hand that feeds their Green Revolution.</li> <li>At one point in the report AGRA President Agnes Kalibata claims AGRA has “touched in some way” 44 million smallholder farmers in its lifetime. She offers no evidence for this, of course. But one of AGRA’s criticisms of our research is that it is unreasonable to use national-level data as an indicator of progress when AGRA is working with only a subset of farmers. Its target of 30 million farmers was already a substantial majority of smallholders in AGRA’s 13 countries, according to the most comprehensive academic survey available. That is why we thought our methodology was justified. 44 million would represent an overwhelming majority, further validating our claim that national-level data is indeed indicative of AGRA’s progress.</li> </ul><h2>AGRA’s flawed monitoring methodology</h2> <p>As I pointed out in my <a href="" target="_blank"><span>analysis of AGRA’s Outcomes Monitoring reports</span></a>, AGRA is now stating that it will rely on three years of such data, from 2019, early 2021 and 2022, to evaluate its progress. This will not generate reliable data. Here is how they explain it on <a href=""><span>their website</span></a>:</p> <p>“The first wave of the outcome surveys carried out in 2019 has provided the first data point in systems assessments and household surveys. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the second data point planned for April 2020 could not proceed. The next round was commissioned in November 2020, implemented through the first half of 2021. The third and final wave of the outcome panel surveys may be carried out through the first half of 2022 depending on AGRA’s next strategy re-investment decisions, providing three data points to initially assess AGRA’s contribution through its programmes.”</p> <p>It is common in agricultural research to measure progress over time by using three-year averages for starting and ending points. This is what I did in my AGRA research, using a baseline of 2004-6 for the pre-AGRA baseline and 2016-18 for the end point, based on the latest data available. Climatic, agronomic and other variations can significantly affect outcomes data in any given year. AGRA is failing to account for this in its monitoring plan, which is partly the result of AGRA having done a very poor job monitoring and evaluating its first 10 years of work. It now scrambles to assemble a quick progress report.</p> <p>Ironically, glowing proclamations about the original Green Revolution in India in the 1960s and 1970s suffered from precisely this error of relying on a skewed baseline. The two years before the introduction of Green Revolution inputs were drought years with severe impacts on production. The rains returned as the Green Revolution technology arrived. Production returned to near-normal levels, but they appeared to be miraculous in comparison to two unusually unproductive years. In fact, when one compares yield growth for wheat in the 10-year period before the introduction of the Green Revolution with the 10-year period after, yields grew faster before than they did after. (Read more on this <a href="" target="_blank"><span>here</span></a>.)</p> <p>AGRA’s four-year time period, 2019-22, is both too short to measure progress and fails to account for seasonal variability year-to-year. As such, the outcomes data they are promising for 2022 will not produce reliable measures of impact.</p> <p>The other telling flaw in AGRA’s outcome monitoring is that for farmer impact they are relying on household surveys of 1,000 AGRA beneficiary farmers growing a given crop, using the 2019 surveys as a baseline and comparing survey data from 2021 and 2022. That means AGRA is <span>not</span> monitoring progress among other farmers growing other crops. Of the 14 surveys reported in their 2020 Outcome Monitoring reports, nine were for the supported crops of maize (six) and rice (three). Another two were for soybeans, with two for beans and one for cowpeas. This means:</p> <ol><li>Over four years their monitoring will heavily favor supported crops such as maize. Our research showed that support for maize, especially government seed and fertilizer subsidies, was undermining other crops such as millet, which saw a 24% decline in production and a 21% decline in yields in AGRA countries.</li> <li>Surveying only favored and supported crops will bias the monitoring results upward. Rwanda, for example, tripled maize production and increased yields 66%, but overall its staple yields languished, rising just 24% as traditional crops lost land and investment to maize. Most important, the number of undernourished people jumped 40%. A survey of Rwandan maize farmers would be very misleading on its own.</li> </ol><p>AGRA’s goal was to double food crop productivity, not just productivity in one or two crops.</p> <p>Given AGRA’s poor record of monitoring and evaluation since its inception in 2006, it is ironic that one of AGRA’s claims of impact in the area of “state capabilities” reads: “We also supported the development and improvement of nine national agricultural monitoring and evaluation systems….” (page 57)</p> <h2>Financial report</h2> <p>The financial documentation in the annual report shows $93,703 in 2020 contributions with $52,728 in grants. Another $16,000 goes to other program costs. Overhead is a relatively high $27,135, 28% of total expenditures of $96,025. As a percentage of direct expenses (a common way of assessing nonprofit overhead burdens), overhead is a very high 39% of direct expenses.</p> <p>As usual for AGRA, there is no breakdown of contributions by donor or even category of donor. Such information is not made public in its tax filings either. Its donors are listed, in a manner of speaking, on the final page of the report. A page of logos present “Resource Partners,” a mixture of bilateral aid donors, private foundations, corporate donors and international agencies. Again, the lack of transparency is troubling and beneath professional standards for nonprofit organizations. We know from our research that over AGRA’s lifetime the largest funder by far is the Gates Foundation (about $650 million of a roughly $1 billion budget), followed by the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and UKAID (contributing maybe $75-$120 million each), followed by German aid organization BMZ (perhaps $11 million in recent years). The Netherlands and Norway’s NORAD are listed as donors as well, but NORAD told the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa that it no longer supports AGRA. So, AGRA’s report on who their donors are also seems to be incorrect.</p> <p>The Gates Foundation’s dominant role is of course obscured by this presentation. This seems intentional. All questions I have directed to the foundation have been referred to AGRA, and in one in-person interview the program officer refused to discuss AGRA, saying that the organization is not the foundation’s responsibility. AGRA also commonly distances itself from BMGF, insisting that AGRA is an “African institution” and even disputing the fact that AGRA was started by the Gates and Rockefeller foundations. One fingerprint in the Annual Report is telling: it shows that AGRA is registered as a nonprofit in Olympia, Washington, a short drive from BMGF headquarters in Seattle.</p> <p><img alt="AGRA's registered address" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f7c84b8c-cbdd-46bf-9ed0-d3853b280ce8" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/figure%204.jpg" width="25%" /></p> <p>Conclusion: Donors should demand better</p> <p>AGRA’s 2020 Annual Report and its companion “Emerging Trends” report provide no convincing evidence that AGRA is making significant progress in its original goals of doubling yields and incomes for 30 million small-scale farm families while halving food insecurity by 2020. The new documents make an effort to assess progress on these topline goals, but the data sources are not disclosed and AGRA’s presentation is selective and misleading. AGRA’s plan for monitoring progress for its 2017-21 strategy is deeply flawed and guaranteed to provide a favorable picture of AGRA’s impacts.</p> <p>The new reports certainly fail to refute our findings in the comprehensive review of AGRA’s progress toward its goals using national-level data:</p> <ul><li>Yields for a basket of staple crops grew just 18% over 12 years through 2018, far below the goal of doubling productivity, a 100% increase.</li> <li>There was no sign of significant increases in farmer incomes thanks to rising yields and marketable surpluses. Overall, poverty remained endemic in most AGRA countries.</li> <li>The attention to favored crops such as maize, supported by government subsidies for the purchase of Green Revolution inputs, resulted in a decline in the land and resources devoted to key staples such as millet, sorghum and sweet potato. This had negative impacts on soil fertility, as well as nutritional diversity.</li> <li>Hunger rose dramatically, with the number of undernourished people increasing 31% across AGRA countries, not decreasing 50% as promised by AGRA.</li> </ul><p>AGRA’s donors should reconsider their support for such an unsuccessful and unaccountable initiative. As AGRA prepares a drive to raise an additional $1 billion through 2030, donors should do their own rigorous assessments of aid effectiveness. They should shift their funding to agroecology and other low-cost, low-input systems. These systems have shown far better results, raising yields across a range of food crops, increasing productivity over time as soil fertility improves, raising incomes and reducing risk for farmers by cutting input costs, and improving food security and nutrition from a diverse array of crops.</p> <p>AGRA’s continued failure to report accurately on progress toward its goals, and its apparent failure to achieve them, represent a challenge to the upcoming U.N. Food Systems Summit, led by AGRA President Agnes Kalibata. By many accounts, the summit is preparing to endorse a set of business-as-usual “innovations” rather than breaking with floundering programs such as AGRA to explore promising new strategies to achieve zero hunger by 2030.</p> <h3>Downloads</h3> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Download a PDF</a> of the policy brief.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/agriculture2" hreflang="en">Agriculture</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 21 Jul 2021 17:43:13 +0000 Colleen Borgendale 44610 at Call for a unifying framework for food systems transformation and agroecology <span>Call for a unifying framework for food systems transformation and agroecology</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/14/2021 - 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span>As we’ve written about in earlier articles, civil society groups from around the world have been working together to lift up agroecology in the U.N. Committee on World Food Security (<a href="">U.N. CFS</a>) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (<a href="">FAO</a><span><span>)</span></span>.</span></span></p></div> Wed, 14 Jul 2021 15:00:00 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44606 at Strengthening Governance of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) <div data-history-node-id="44605" class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-agriculture has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>A letter to António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General; Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy for the UNFSS; and Martin Frick, Deputy to the Special Envoy for the UNFSS sent by the Ad Hoc Committee on UNFSS Governance and signatories. (See the full list of signatories and download a PDF of the letter <a href="">here</a>.)   </p> <p>The UN Food Systems Summit was conceived as an opportunity for stakeholders from multiple constituencies to contribute to the aim of equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems for the future. To date a wide range of activities has been held under the auspices of Summit preparation, but the governance and structures of the Summit itself have also received criticism from a number of internal and external organizations and individuals, many of them with extensive experience, involvement and knowledge of UN processes. The aim of this letter is to offer, with respect to the huge amount of work that has been achieved by the Summit leadership, positive suggestions to strengthen the governance of the UNFSS that will help assuage emergent criticisms, and thus also ensure the Summit’s impact. Given that the UNFSS is intended to establish a model for the inclusivity of future UN Summits, it is essential that the process by which Summit solutions are derived and decisions are made is seen as legitimate by multiple constituencies and Member States.</p> <p>Members of the Ad-Hoc Committee on UN Food System Summit (UNFSS) Governance have engaged in UNFSS preparations and have experience in UN and other international decision-making fora. We include UNFSS Action Track members, representatives of  academia, non-governmental organizations, and colleagues based in international agencies. Having met several times, reviewed publicly available UNFSS documents, sought expert input, and solicited broader perspectives through an Independent Dialogue and crowdsourcing survey (See more details in Appendix B), we have reached the view that the UNFSS decision-making process has yet to implement adequate transparency and accountability principles in line with best practice followed in other UN processes. We draw on these well-established principles of engagement to outline key issues and proposed actions.</p> <h3>ISSUE 1: AMBIGUITY AND OMISSIONS IN SUMMIT PRINCIPLES</h3> <p>The UNFSS Principles of Engagement are presented as advancing the vision of an equitable, sustainable and healthy future and a prerequisite for participation in Summit Dialogues. However, despite the Summit commitment to inclusive processes, the Principles themselves were not subject to comment and agreement from multiple constituencies, even though other international summits have set a positive precedent.1 In failing to draw on precedent and without having been developed via a transparent and participatory process, the Principles themselves are ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations by different constituencies. For example, the Principles state “We will work to ensure the Summit and associated engagement process will promote trust and increase motivation to participate by being evidence-based, transparent and accessible in governance, decision-making, planning, engagement and implementation.” Yet, no detail is given as to what promoting trust means in practice, how transparency can be assured, and how conflicts of interest can be identified and mitigated. Our contention is that trust and transparency can only be developed through a clear set of rules and procedures derived from international best practice in this area, such as we detail under ‘proposed actions’.</p> <p>Our crowdsourcing survey reinforced these concerns, based on results from 69 respondents representing diverse stakeholder groups across 17 countries (see Appendix B). Survey respondents provided additional suggestions, concerns and comments that were explored in our Independent Dialogue (77 participants from 17 countries). While these exercises highlighted broad support for the norms embodied in the Principles of Engagement, they also indicated widespread concern about specific Principles and about their collective adequacy as an effective and legitimate basis for Summit governance. A majority (61%) of respondents viewed one or more of the Principles as posing a significant obstacle to the Summit’s work, with concerns focused on 5: Embrace multi stakeholder inclusivity and 7: Build trust. Written comments and Dialogue discussions highlighted the operationalization of these particular Principles, reflecting perceived inadequacies in UNFSS governance with respect to managing conflict of interest and to defining terms of engagement with commercial sector actors. These themes are consistent with academic and civil society<br /> critiques of the opacity of the UNFSS process. A majority of respondents to the crowdsourcing survey<br /> agreed or strongly agreed with claims that:</p> <p>● The legitimacy of UNFSS is undermined by lack of clarity about the process by which its Principles of<br /> Engagement were developed (74%),<br /> ● The organizational structure of UNFSS lacks accountability and transparency (81%),<br /> ● The process for implementing Summit-generated solutions is unclear (79%), and<br /> ● UNFSS governance risks neglecting rights-based approaches (76%).</p> <p>Importantly, however, this exercise also suggests that such concerns could be effectively addressed by norms and practices that are already familiar in related policy contexts. A substantial majority of respondents (84%) agreed that UNFSS governance would be enhanced by the principles of engagement developed for the Nutrition for Growth process. Similarly, there was near unanimous agreement that the Summit would benefit from utilizing UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) principles for managing interactions with the private sector, including:</p> <p>● Identification and management of potential conflict of interest (95%),<br /> ● Ensuring independence from commercial interests (95%),<br /> ● Differential safeguards to protect policymaking and to identify private sector organizations whose<br /> activities best align with nutrition objectives (97%), and<br /> ● Promoting and respecting human rights principles, treaties and covenants (100%).</p> <p>Proposed actions: Recent internal discussions to add a “do no harm” clause to the UNFSS Principles and to<br /> establish principles to guide the refinement of proposed “solutions” are a positive step in the right direction. The following actions, based on existing principles used by UN or other recognized international bodies would ensure that the Summit is in line with international and UN best practice:</p> <p>1. Incorporate human rights in the Principles to require, not just recommend, that any engagement with the UNFSS promote and respect human rights principles, treaties and covenants; and explicitly refer to key agreements, such as UNDRIP, UNDROP, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) High Level Panel of Experts Global Narrative report represents one guiding framework to help ground food systems work in human rights as do the FAO’s PANTHER framework; and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights’ ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. We further suggest engaging in already existing human rights monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, to hold Member States accountable to the progressive realization of human rights principles in food systems, through the Universal Periodic Review and monitoring exercises implemented through the UN Human Rights Council and the CFS.</p> <p>2. Adopt a clear definition and management of “conflict of interest”. Of use might be the definition developed by the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN) Conflict of Interest Guide (p. 7-8) and the SCN’s Principles of Engagement with the Private Sector (Box 3, page 16 of this SCN report). The tool recently developed by WHO to manage conflict of interest in nutrition policy offers another guide that could be adapted to the UNFSS goals.</p> <p>3. Engage in a “risk and opportunity assessment” (International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Operational Guide for Business Engagement, p. 2) to identify business entities that should not be invited to make UNFSS pledges nor be represented at the pre-Summit, Summit and in Coalitions of Action. Adopting both IUCN and SCN criteria, this assessment should consider “the reputational and management risks linked to the engagement with [a] business entity” based on their impact on: “Environmental concerns; human rights concerns; [public health concerns, including violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes], extortion, bribery and corruption; [and] labor concerns” (IUCN, p. 2).</p> <h4>ISSUE 2: GAPS IN TRANSPARENCY AND CLEAR, DOCUMENTED PROCEDURE/PLANNING</h4> <p>Many aspects about the Summit process and its structures have been unclear to internal and external participants alike, apparent in our Ad Hoc Committee and Independent Dialogue discussions. The confusion caused by this has only added to critiques of the Summit process. Despite positive existing efforts to ensure transparency, it has been difficult to track who and how the vast amount of material produced ahead of the Summit by Action Tracks (AT), dialogues and other mechanisms, is being synthesized and analyzed. Furthermore, it is still not clear how and why people were appointed to the Summit’s key governance structures (and we appreciate that this criticism thus applies to signatories of this letter involved in the summit ATs and to this ad hoc group itself) and how they might unnecessarily duplicate other UN bodies such as the CFS, a point that has been made by the Chairperson of the CFS and HLPE members. Each of these issues reinforces the point that transparency in all aspects of the Summit is critical for maintaining the buy-in and motivation of anyone involved in day-to-day planning and the legitimacy of the Summit for those observing the outputs from the outside.</p> <p><strong>Proposed actions</strong>: The following actions would begin to improve transparency regarding past, current and future decisions:</p> <p>1. Explain who is helping to plan the Summit and why. This includes offering:</p> <p>● a list of all Action Track Leadership Team names along with their affiliations and an explanation of why representatives from these organizations were invited;<br /> ● an explanation of how members of the UNFSS Scientific Group were selected. If similar scientific groups are established for future one-time or ongoing UN summits, we suggest using a similar process to the one used to establish the CFS High Level Panel of Experts (as explained in this report page 10, point #44);<br /> ● an explanation of how the original Advisory Committee was selected;<br /> ● an explanation of the involvement of various UN bodies in leading the summit and how coordination between their different mandates is taking place, including the FAO Committee for World Food Security and the UN’s Human Rights obligations; and<br /> ● an agreement for full transparency on the use of consultants, ensuring that any commissioned outputs are routed first via the appropriate Summit structures, such as the ATs and Scientific Group.</p> <p>2. Offer a clearer public explanation of the activities leading up to and why particular inputs have been prioritized for consideration in the Pre-Summit and Summit events and outcome documents (e.g., how are Action Clusters being formed?). Public UNFSS website explanations of these remain outdated. The Scientific Group Reports, National Dialogues and Independent Dialogues also appear to be working in parallel, rather than feeding into one another.</p> <p>3. Allow for appropriately timed (not rushed) opportunity for public input and scientific review of final texts relating to action areas/solutions, rather than input only at earlier stages.</p> <p>4. Include author names/affiliations on each National Dialogue Synthesis Report, Synthesis Reports for the Wave 1 and 2 “Game Changing and Systematic Solutions”, and each individual (2-page) Game Changing Solution to further increase transparency, mitigate conflict of interests and recognize the extensive contributions of particular participants.</p> <p>5. Post on the website all sources of funding and how funds are being allocated and committed. Current information on the Q&amp;A page about funding is vague.</p> <p>6. Describe what will happen post-Summit. How will Member States be held accountable for their commitments and what role will private bi- and multi-lateral donors and philanthropy play, such as Rockefeller’s “Food Systems Game Changers Lab”? Moreover, a guarantee in writing is needed to ensure that no entity formed for the UNFSS will supplant the CFS post-Summit, and that the CFS should also be given the opportunity to review, refine and monitor UNFSS “solutions” and commitments.</p> <p>Ultimately, addressing current weaknesses in the Summit’s transparency and Principles of Engagement is not only critical for meeting the UNFSS stated vision – to advance “bold new actions… [to support] healthier, more sustainable and more equitable food systems” – but also because of the potential conflicts with existing UN level processes and the Summit’s precedent setting role.</p> <p>Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to realizing the Summit’s bold vision.</p> <p><strong>To continue reading, please <a href="">download a PDF of the letter</a>. </strong></p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/agriculture2" hreflang="en">Agriculture</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 12 Jul 2021 17:37:15 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44605 at Throwing good money after bad: Failing Green Revolution program readies billion-dollar fund drive <span>Throwing good money after bad: Failing Green Revolution program readies billion-dollar fund drive </span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Thu, 07/01/2021 - 16:21</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span>According to an anonymous inside source, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is preparing a campaign to raise $1 billion in the coming months to fund its promotion of industrialized agriculture through 2030. The organization, which has spent $1 billion since its founding in 2006, is reportedly counting on the September United Nations Food System Summit as a key platform for its fundraising. AGRA’s president, Agnes Kalibata, was named Special Envoy last year by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to lead the summit.</div> Thu, 01 Jul 2021 21:21:12 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44600 at New territory: USDA puts spotlight on food supply chain resilience <span>New territory: USDA puts spotlight on food supply chain resilience</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Thu, 06/24/2021 - 16:19</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span><span><span>An under-the-radar executive order signed by the Biden administration in late February could have big implications for our food system. <a href="">Biden’s order</a> called for more “resilient, diverse and secure supply chains” and asked federal departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to submit recommendations to achieve this goal. A deep examination of food supply chains and their current vulnerabilities is long overdue.</div> Thu, 24 Jun 2021 21:19:02 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44585 at There could be billions of dollars coming for conservation: What does that mean for rural communities? <span>There could be billions of dollars coming for conservation: What does that mean for rural communities?</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/34897" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Cecelia Heffron</span></span> <span>Mon, 06/14/2021 - 09:29</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><span>Congress and the Biden administration are working on a sweeping infrastructure package known as the American Jobs Plan. This package is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix what’s broken in the United States, create good-paying jobs, combat the climate crisis and invest in rural places. In order to be truly transformative for farm country, specific investments need to be made. </span></p></div> Mon, 14 Jun 2021 14:29:39 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44581 at IATP Comments on Recommendations for Integrating Climate Information into MEPA Program Requirements <div data-history-node-id="44569" class="node node--type-document node--view-mode-rss field-primary-category-climate-change has-field-primary-category no-field-teaser-image title-not-empty ds-1col clearfix"> <div class="field field--name-field-author field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Author</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/about/staff/ben-lilliston" hreflang="en">Ben Lilliston</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><em>To read the full comment, <a href="">download a PDF of the comment</a>.</em></p> <p>The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) thanks the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) for the opportunity to comment on the draft recommendations for integrating climate change information into Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) program requirements.</p> <p>IATP is a 35-year-old organization based in Minneapolis. We work at the local, state, national and international levels to create fair and sustainable agriculture and trade systems. IATP was born in response to the family farm crisis of the 1980s, and we continue to pursue policy solutions that benefit family farmers, rural communities and the climate.</p> <p>The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that agriculture accounts for 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a 2019 MPCA report says that agriculture accounts for approximately one-quarter of Minnesota’s GHG emissions. As one of the largest agricultural states in the country, Minnesota must take action to reduce agriculture’s climate footprint. The EQB’s effort to integrate climate change into environmental review is one of the first in the country and can set an important precedent for how state governments respond to agriculture’s contribution to the climate crisis.</p> <p>We want to thank the EQB for this process and for putting forth these proposed changes to require all projects to consider climate change as part of Environmental Review. They are critical to guide state agencies and future climate policy in the state. And essential if the state is going to meet its climate goals.</p> <h3>Minnesota is missing the mark on the Next Generation Energy Act</h3> <p>Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act requires the state to reduce GHGs by 80% between 2005 and 2050. Minnesota missed the Act’s goal of a 15% reduction by 2015 and is far off-track from meeting the 2025 goal of reducing emissions by 30%. Since 2005, Minnesota’s emissions have only reduced 8%. Worse, emissions since 2016 actually have been increasing, signaling that strong and additional efforts are needed to reduce Minnesota’s GHG emissions.</p> <p>While most other sectors, like electricity, are reducing emissions, agriculture and forestry emissions (the state combines the two) are flat and in recent years have risen. Agriculture is the highest source in the state of two potent GHGs, methane and nitrous oxide. In MPCA’s January report to the state legislature updating data on the state’s GHGs, the agency reported that since 2005 methane emissions from animal agriculture have increased 15% in the state, and nitrous oxide emissions related to both manure and synthetic fertilizer use have increased 12%. The MPCA reports that methane and nitrous oxide emissions sourced to feedlots, fertilizers linked to feed production, manure, manure soil application, ruminants and runoff all increased from 2005 to 2018. Much of this increase in emissions is linked to the state’s continued approval of permits for new and expanding feedlots.</p> <p>Over the last several decades, Minnesota has seen significant losses in the number of pork, dairy and beef producers — even as the number of animals has increased. According to the latest USDA Agriculture Census, Minnesota lost 130 hog producers from 2012 to 2017, but the annual number of hogs produced in the state grew by 850,000. The state lost 16% of its dairy farms from 2016-2019, while dairy herd size grew 16% over the same period, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). The shift toward large-scale confined operations has steadily reduced the number of farmers, while taking animals off pasture. Since 2012, Minnesota experienced a 27% loss of pasture land.</p> <p><strong>To continue reading the comment and footnotes, please <a href="">download the PDF</a>. </strong></p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-primary-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field--label">Primary category</div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/issues/climate-change" hreflang="en">Climate Change</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 09 Jun 2021 21:41:37 +0000 Cecelia Heffron 44569 at