Topic: food and agriculture

The realtime challenge: some cutting edge data-gathering from the UN (yep, you heard that right)

I’m still reeling from the overwhelming response to yesterday’s post (voting still open, by the way) and will respond in due course, but in the meantime, let’s get back to all that development stuff, shall we? One of the most striking aspects of exploring the human impact of the global financial crisis and food price […]

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Delivering Development: Book Review of a study on 'globalization's shoreline'

In ‘Whose Reality Counts’, Robert Chambers caricatures a typical successful career path in development as ‘tying down, moving inwards and moving upwards’. ‘In rural development, professionals gain direct field experience only early in a career if at all’. After the year in an African village (PhD, living with the people etc), or volunteering in a […]

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How can the UN get its act together on food and agriculture?

On Tuesday incoming FAO boss José Graziano da Silva (right) gave his first press conference, so I did one of those rabbit in the headlights interviews down the line for Al Jazeera on the role of the FAO (results below). Al Jazeera is rapidly becoming my favourite news channel – not just for its unrivalled coverage […]

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Food fight at the WTO: de Schutter v Lamy on whether trade leads to food security

The WTO ministerial (there was a ministerial?) was predictably forgettable, apart from the accession of Russia (the last major economy still to sign up) and a pretty outspoken attack on WTO boss Pascal Lamy (right) by UN Food Security czar Olivier de Schutter (below), who accused Lamy of ‘defending an outdated vision of food security’. […]

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Mobile phones and farmers – what are the benefits?

There’s a ridiculous amount of hype talked about mobile phones, but they clearly are having a significant impact on poor people everywhere in lots of unexpected ways. Last year I met a group of Ethiopian coffee farmers who had no running water or electricity in their homes, but each family had a phone. When I […]

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What's the state of the world's water and land? New FAO report.

This is encouraging. Alex Evans has been banging on for a while about the need for a ‘World Resources Report’ that charts the state of planetary resource stocks (not flows, like all the other reports). Now the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has done exactly that. The State of Land and Water Resources (SOLAW) […]

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So how many of the world's people are hungry? Dunno. Work in progress…….

Richard King, my highly numerate colleague, grapples with the confusion surrounding the FAO’s hunger numbers. Global hunger numbers must be among the most widely quoted and over-interpreted of all the indicators at development wonks’ and campaigners’ disposal. ‘One billion people (one in seven of the world’s population) go to bed hungry’ is a compelling headline […]

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Cambodia: community forestry v land grabs is more complicated than I thought

An edited version of this post appeared on the Guardian Poverty Matters blog yesterday Last week in Cambodia, some questions on forestry and development came into sharp relief. I visited a region where Oxfam’s local partners are helping local indigenous people develop community forestry and resist the encroachment of foreign companies (as well as Cambodian […]

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How can Contract Farming work for poor farmers?

The UN’s hyperactive (how often do you see those words in the same sentence?) special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, has a new report out on contract farming. At first sight, contract farming (expanding fast, apparently) looks a lot more promising than the parallel boom in ‘large scale land acquisitions’ (aka […]

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Small farms can be beautiful – how farmers’ markets changed attitudes and policies in Colombia

As a curtain raiser for this week’s GROW Week at Oxfam (see bottom of this post), this piece appeared on the Guardian Poverty Matters site last Friday, as my contribution to Sunday’s Blog Action Day, which this year coincided with World Food Day. I’ll also be doing on online Q&A (on Facebook) on the issues behind the campaign […]

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Food and Finance: a little less speculation, a little more action please…

Some good sense on a polarised topic from Ruth Kelly, Oxfam economic policy adviser and co-author of a new paper on speculation and food prices. When they work properly, financial markets are great at greasing the cogs of the food system. Why, then, are so many people blaming speculation for recent food price spikes?   […]

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The latest (big) numbers on land grabs, and some powerful case studies

Oxfam adds its voice to the growing clamour about land grabs with two new reports out today. Land and Power: The Growing Scandal Surrounding the New Wave of Investments in Land pulls together some fascinating (and sometimes shocking) case studies from South Sudan, Uganda, Indonesia, Honduras and Guatemala, and adds up some big new global […]

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