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Food Security and the little farmers

Food security, gender, Post harvest, women, agriculture

Litlle farmer and post harvest handling

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences. But who are the people responsible for food security?
The FAO estimates that women produce over 50 percent of all food grown worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, women grow 80-90 percent of the food. The post harvest handling is predominantly the women and girls work. Children as young as 5 to 6 years old are involved in post harvesting- taking out the produce for drying, bringing it in etc. in whatever condition.
In their statement on food security, The G8 group of countries committed to US$10 billion to support food aid, nutrition interventions, social protectionactivities and measures to increase agricultural output in affected countries.

They committed to:
  • look for opportunities to help build up local agriculture by promoting local purchase of food aid;
  • reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector; promote agricultural research and development;
  • develop food security early warning systems;
  • ensure the compatibility of policies for the sustainable production and use of biofuels with food security; and to
  • achieve significant increases in support of developing country initiatives, including - in Africa - through full and effective implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) amongst other commitments. 
The G8 statement  however does not mention women……………………….
The questions we need to be asking ourselves as practitioner is?
  • Have we ever considered who really handles the post harvest at household level?
  • When training in agricultural techniques at extension level, do we ever consider that these little  farmers need the techniques as well?
  • And finally to what extent does the domestic economic and social policies ,food, agricultural and rural development policies take this kind of reality into consideration?
Further readings
Gelb, Alan. “Gender and Growth: Africa’s Missed Potential.” Development Outreach. World Bank Institute, September 2001.
 “Rural women and the right to food.” The Right to Food in Theory and Practice. FAO, 1998. (accessed August 2nd 2008).


Kampala, Uganda
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