Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘agricultural’

Feeding the World

Dear Gabriel,

As the election season builds to a finish here in the U.S., the farms across the developing world have been plagued by drought, with the often before seen results of hunger and despair for millions of people. Though they may be far away, you can make a difference for these millions. The decisions we take – or shirk – have real consequence, and not just at home. Today, you can take action designed to help end extreme world hunger forever.

Yes, of course we need governments to focus on the causes of extreme hunger and to help local farmers grow their way from dependency to self- sufficiency. But at FINCA, we don’t wait for governments to solve problems – we take direct action, and we invite you to join us today.

The U.S. State Department has confirmed what FINCA has witnessed for years. Although women in many countries frequently make up a majority of those working in agriculture, they are a tiny minority of land owners. Moreover, poor women are frequently denied access to credit, preventing them from hiring employees, buying seed and fertilizers, and expanding or improving the land that they work.

This is not just hurting women. It is strangling the economies of poor countries and the prospects of thousands of families struggling to escape poverty.

The exclusion of women from a full and equal role in farming leads to the loss of as much as 20-30 percent of crop yields according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). When so many families are just one drought from disaster, the marginalization of women farmers is not just a tragedy but a preventable scandal.

The FAO asserts that the equal access of women farmers to credit, farming tools and land rights, “could raise total agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 4 percent and reduce the number of hungry people in the world by as much as 17 percent, up to 150 million people.” That’s almost half the population of the United States.

And let’s be clear, the term “hungry people” is very literal. These are hard-working women, men and – far too often – children, whose ability to plan for a better future takes a distant second to planning for their next meal. It’s not right, it’s not necessary and, with your help, we can change this.

FINCA is not campaigning for equal access to credit for women farmers – we are providing it, making loans in rural communities from Mexico to Malawi that help women put food that they have sown and grown on the table.

As we stand on the verge of funding our one millionth microfinance client, you can stand with us.

Together, we can end the injustice of women farmers being denied access to life-changing credit solely because of their gender. By providing micro-loans, we can reap life-changing yields in agricultural output. Please help FINCA support women farmers today.

Thank you for your support,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President,
New Business Development

Earth’s Human Welfare

From Nation Of Change
by Bjorn Lomborg – Op-Ed
16 May 2012

The Smartest Ways to Save the World

If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?

That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project. The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.

Over the past year, more than 50 economists prepared research on nearly 40 investment proposals in areas ranging from armed conflicts and natural disasters to hunger, education, and global warming. The teams that drafted each paper identified the costs and benefits of the smartest ways to spend money within their area. In early May, many of them traveled to Denmark to convince the expert panel of the power of their investment proposals.

The panel’s findings reveal that, if spent smartly, $75 billion – just a 15% increase in current aid spending – could go a long way to solving many of the world’s challenges.

The single most important investment, according to the panel, would step up the fight against malnutrition. New research for the project by John Hoddinott of the International Food Policy Research Institute and Peter Orazem of Iowa State University focuses on an investment of $3 billion annually. This would purchase a bundle of interventions, including micronutrient provision, complementary foods, treatment for worms and diarrheal diseases, and behavior-change programs, all of which could reduce chronic under-nutrition by 36% in developing countries.

In total, such an investment would help more than 100 million children to start their lives without stunted growth or malnourishment. And comprehensive research now shows that such interventions would stay with them for life: their bodies and muscles would grow faster, their cognitive abilities would improve, and they would pay more attention in school (and stay there longer). Studies show that, decades down the line, these children would be more productive, make more money, have fewer kids, and begin a virtuous circle of dramatic development.

Such opportunities come sharply into focus when you ask some of the world’s best minds to find the biggest bang for the buck. Micronutrient provision is rarely celebrated, but it makes a world of difference.

Likewise, just $300 million would prevent 300,000 child deaths if it were used to strengthen the Global Fund’s Affordable Medicines Facility-malaria financing mechanism, which makes combination therapies cheaper for poor countries. Put in economic terms, the benefits are 35 times higher than the costs – even without taking into account that it safeguards our most effective malaria drug from future drug resistance. Later this year, donors will decide whether to renew this facility. The panel’s findings should help to persuade them to do so.

For a similar amount, 300 million children could be dewormed in schools. By not sharing their food with intestinal parasites, they, too, would become more alert, stay longer in school, and grow up to be more productive adults – another cause that needs much more public attention.

Expanding tuberculosis treatment and childhood immunization coverage are two other health investments that the expert panel endorses. Likewise, a $100 million annual increase in spending to develop a vaccine against HIV/AIDS would generate substantial benefits in the future.

As people in the developing world live longer, they are increasingly experiencing chronic disease; indeed, half of all deaths this year will be from chronic diseases in Third World countries. Here, the panel finds that spending just $122 million could achieve complete Hepatitis B vaccine coverage and avert about 150,000 annual deaths from the disease. Getting low-cost drugs for acute heart attacks to developing countries would cost just $200 million, and prevent 300,000 deaths.

The expert panel’s findings point to a compelling need to invest roughly $2 billion annually in research and development to increase agricultural output. Not only would this reduce hunger by increasing food production and lowering food prices; it would also protect biodiversity, because higher crop productivity would mean less deforestation. That, in turn, would help in the fight against climate change, because forests store carbon.

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

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