Enough Food for All

A blog about global food security and my ideal world

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The fear of evidence

After a conference about food security  that I attended recently, some of the audience gathered in the hallway where drinks and small bites were served, allowing a continued discussion, but also the so often offered and widely spread opportunity to network. Small talks were usual with people one is not close. Business cards changed the owner with or without expectation to be used. Old acquaintances met, glasses of drinks held in one hand and helping with the snacks with the other hand.

It was in this fuzzy and noisy environment where I heard several times the praises to the main speaker of the conference. Even amongst my close working colleagues, this view was largely shared. “He was excellent – so strategic and political” said one, while the others nodded and confirmed the appreciation. First I was surprised about the positive spirit, but increasingly I was shocked. Was I the only one that felt that the conference was a disaster? The speaker had no clear message, no development of a new aspect or idea, not a single reference to the many evidences that are out there requiring urgent guidance and vision for implementation or at least an attempt to link tie ideas together to a new fabric. For me it was just ‘hot air’.

Talking and presenting is an art in itself, I thought. Contents seems to be a different one. But I remained hungry for the evidence and the thorough thinking that usually nurtures ignorants. There was no, absolutely no new path laid down for me to continue thinking. Everything seemed just empty shells that require no action whatsoever. Are we all in shallow waters or hot air, blinded by the ability of a speaker that in fact has not succeeded to attract my admiration or nurtured my own way of thinking? What are we doing with evidence that is being produced with research and or evaluations if it does not lead to action? Are we unable to question? Are we becoming blind for the truths or just fearing the evidence, as it could not only change someones life in a positive sense, but also make us think or reconsider our action? I feel lost. I feel alone. I feel one of the last species, while I get the impression that the world around us gets more and more complex and reaching the point of no return of a whole civilisation. I’m scared.


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Document and aggregate results

In many developing programmes and projects, but particularly in rural development as well as food security and nutrition, kandid log-frames often promise high reached results on outcome and even impact level. Documenting the results reached in a programme is becoming more and more important to communicate the efforts to those that fund the projects, which are mainly parliaments and tax payers. Be aware that consistency in indicators, the possibility to aggregate results over an entire programme portfolio or even institution is becoming more important, as ressources become scarce. Paper number 14 (to the right) give some hints on how to improve this important but often neglected step in the project cycle management.

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Pollinators have a hard time to be sexy

26 February 2016, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity (IPBES) calls the UN to urgently contribute to saving pollinators. Important negative impact on global food security can be expected if tendency is not reversed. Harvests worth billions and consequently people could be affected. An estimated 235 to 577 billion USD worth of food might be lost annually if pollinators are not protected.

In a period where funding for protecting biodiversity and public research seems in a constant decline, such news come in a tough context. How to make governments eager to reduce their public expenditures convince that investing in pollinators is an urgent need? Public focus is diverted on completely other issues and we might miss a critical moment. Is global food security not a public interest anymore? Do not laugh at me, but pollinators have a hard time to attract attention by policy makers!

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Human

HumanIn a world of political instability, xenophopia, environmental challenges, and economic distress, we tend to forget some of the basic values that unite humanity. The latest movie from Yann Arthus-Bertrand shows in a wonderful manner human beings in their respective contexts and most different situations. The movie recalls values and the fact that we have something in common: we are humans!

Watch the movie ‘Humans’ right here!


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Food security is about to slide off the policy agenda

While reducing hunger is on the slightly positive trend, global food security and related investments for securing future requirements in food are not guaranteed. In a policy environment where short-term issues prominently make the front pages of the news, people and policy makers seem not to worry about long-term future and the linkages of food insecurity with other current priorities. Issues like international migration, climate change, employment, and professional education are high on the agenda. Economic development seems to happen outside of the primary sector, which is a dangerous approach, as the mentioned issues are all linked to a vibrant agriculture and global food security agenda. Read article number 13 on the right and make up your mind!

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Do not refrain from investment in agricultural innovation

The Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems were approved by the 41st Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on October 15, 2014, giving guidance in how investment in agriculture is best targeted. Public and private investment in agriculture in general is highly effective, if done in a sustainable manner and according to the mentioned principles. Agricultural innovation, in all ist value chain (see article 12 on the right) often requires supplementary measures to build pro-poor institutions and a normative enviornment that is conducive.

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As overseas development is (optimistically expressed) stagnating and the private sector positioning itself in emerging economies, new models of partnerships gain importance. These partnerships are often complex and bear substantial risk, particularly when roles are mixed-up and accountability is becoming blurred. Public-private partnerships (PPP) are fashionable to enhance the needed increase in investment that are required to fit the requirements. If these investments target a clear development objective, public-private-development partnerships are underlining the common goal. To make it easy, the food sector includes the farmers in the partnership. Farmers, considered as largest investors in food security, are a specific part of the private sector. The resulting 4P-approach therefore describes the public-private-producer-partnership. Read article 11 (to the right) to learn about my thoughts, the risks and roles in such endeavors.