The Role of Women in Achieving the 2020 Vision
Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Rajul Pandya-Lorch
Much is known about the action required to assure a food-secure world. A great deal of thought and effort have been expended to identify priority action at the individual, household, community, national, regional, and global levels. Most recently, at the World Food Summit convened by the FAO in November 1996, leaders from around the world signed the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, reaffirming the right of every person to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger (FAO 1996). They pledged their political will and their common and national commitment to achieving food security for all and to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half the present level no later than 2015. Toward this end, they made seven commitments and agreed on a comprehensive plan of action (FAO, 1996).
The International Food Policy Research Institutes (IFPRI) 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment is a world where every person has access to sufficient food to sustain a healthy and productive life, where malnutrition is absent, and where food originates from efficient, effective, and low-cost food systems that are compatible with sustainable use of natural resources (IFPRI, 1995). Sustained action is required in six priority areas to realise the 2020 Vision:
· Strengthen the capacity of developing-country governments to perform appropriate functions;The first priority area of action is to selectively strengthen the capacity of developing-country governments to perform appropriate functions, such as maintaining law and order, establishing and enforcing property rights, promoting and assuring private-sector competition in markets, and maintaining appropriate macroeconomic environments. Predictability, transparency, and continuity in policymaking and enforcement must be assured. The efforts of the past decade to weaken developing-country governments must be turned around. More effective local and national governments are essential for other partners, such as individuals, households, communities, NGOs, and the private sector, to contribute to food security. Governments must also be helped to relinquish those functions that are better performed by others such as NGOs. Governments should facilitate food security for all households and individuals, not by physically delivering needed foods to all citizens but by facilitating a social and economic environment that provides all citizens with the opportunity to assure their food security.
· Enhance the productivity, health, and nutrition of low-income people and increase their access to employment and productive assets;
· Strengthen agricultural research and extension systems in and for developing countries;
· Promote sustainable agricultural intensification and sound management of natural resources, with increased emphasis on areas with agricultural potential, fragile soils, limited rainfall, and widespread poverty;
· Develop efficient, effective, and low-cost agricultural input and output markets;
· Expand international cooperation and assistance and improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
The second priority area of action is to invest more in poor people in order to enhance their productivity, health, and nutrition and to increase their access to remunerative employment and productive assets.
Governments, local communities, and NGOs should assure access to and support for a complete primary education for all children, with immediate emphasis on enhancing access by female and rural children; assure access to primary health care, including reproductive health services, for all people; improve access to clean water and sanitation services; provide training for skill development in adults; and strengthen and enforce legislation and provide incentives for empowerment of women to gain gender equality. Improved access by the rural poor, especially women, to productive resources can be facilitated through land reform and sound property rights legislation, strengthened credit and savings institutions, more effective rural labour markets, and infrastructure for small-scale enterprises. Social safety nets for the rural poor are urgently needed. Direct transfer programmes, including programmes for poverty relief, food security, and nutrition intervention, are needed in many countries at least in the short-term and must be better targeted to the poor.
Efforts must be made to lower fertility rates and slow population increases. Strategies to reduce population growth rates include providing full access to reproductive health services to meet unmet demand for contraception; eliminating risk factors that promote high fertility, such as high rates of infant mortality or lack of security for women who are dependent on their children for support because they lack access to income, credit, or assets; and providing young women with education. Female education is among the most important investments for assuring food security.
The third priority area of action is to accelerate agricultural productivity by strengthening agricultural research and extension systems in and for developing countries. Agriculture is the life-blood of the economy in most developing countries; it provides up to three-quarters of all employment and half of all incomes. There are very strong links between agricultural productivity increases and broad-based economic growth in the rest of the economy. Research from Africa and Asia shows that for each dollar generated in agriculture, a dollar to a dollar and a half are generated in other areas of the economy (Hazell and Röell, 1983; Delgado et al., 1995). Agriculture has long been neglected in many developing countries, resulting in stagnant economies and widespread hunger and poverty. Yet, there is considerable evidence, particularly from East Asia, that rapid economic growth is facilitated by a vibrant and healthy agricultural sector (World Bank, 1993). The key role of the agriculture sector in meeting food needs and fostering broad-based economic growth and development must be recognised and exploited. To make this happen, agricultural research systems must be mobilised to develop improved agricultural technologies, and extension systems must be strengthened to disseminate improved technologies.
Efforts must be made to lower fertility rates and slow population increases.
While expanded agricultural research is urgently needed for all ecoregions, added emphasis should be placed on sustainable productivity increasers in areas with significant agricultural potential but with fragile soils, low or irregular rainfall, and widespread poverty and natural resource degradation. Interaction between public-sector agricultural research systems, farmers, private-sector companies that conduct agricultural research, private-sector enterprises in food processing and distribution, and NGOs should be strengthened to assure relevance of research and appropriate distribution of responsibilities. Investments in strategic international and regional agricultural research with large potential international benefits should be expanded to better support national efforts.
Biotechnology research in national and international research systems should be expanded to support sustainable intensification of small-scale agriculture in developing countries. Effective partnerships between developing-country research systems, international research institutions, and private- and public-sector research institutions in industrialised countries should be forged to bring biotechnology to bear on the agricultural problems of developing countries. Developing countries can address funding and personnel constraints by providing incentives to the private sector to engage in such research, by collaborating with international research programmes, and by seeking private-and public-sector partners in industrialised countries. They should be encouraged to adopt regulations that provide an effective measure of biosafety without crippling the transfer of new products to small farmers.
The fourth priority area of action is to promote sustainable agricultural intensification and assure sound management of natural resources. Public-and private-sector investments in infrastructure, market development, natural resource conservation, soil improvements, primary education and health care, and agricultural research must be expanded in areas with significant agricultural potential, fragile soils, and large concentrations of poverty to effectively address their problems of poverty, food insecurity, and natural resource degradation before they worsen or spill over into other regions. In areas of current low productivity but significant agricultural potential, public policy and public-sector investment should promote sustainable use of existing natural resources to enhance the productivity of agriculture and other rural enterprises. Incentives should be provided to farmers and local communities to invest in and protect natural resources and to restore degraded lands. Clearly specified systems of rights to use and manage natural resources, including land, water, and forests, should be established and enforced. Local control over natural resources must be strengthened, and local capacity for organisation and management improved. Farmers and communities should be encouraged to implement integrated soil fertility programmes in areas with low soil fertility through policies to assure long-term property rights to land, access to credit, improved crop varieties, and information about production systems; through effective and efficient markets for plant nutrients, and investments in infrastructure and transportation systems; and through temporary fertiliser subsidies where prices are high due to inadequate infrastructure or poorly functioning markets. Integrated pest management programmes should be promoted as the central pest management strategy to reduce use of chemical pesticides, remove pesticide subsidies, and increase farmer participation in developing effective and appropriate strategies of pest management. Water policies should be reformed to make better use of existing water supplies by providing appropriate incentives to water users, improving procedures for water allocation, and developing and disseminating improved technology for water supply and delivery.
Policies and institutions that favour large-scale, capital-intensive enterprises over small-scale, labour-intensive ones should be removed.
The fifth priority area of action is to develop effective, efficient, and low-cost agricultural input and output markets. Governments should phase out inefficient state-run firms in agricultural input and output markets and create an environment conducive to effective competition among private agents in order to provide efficient and effective services to producers and consumers. Governments should identify their role in agricultural input and output markets and strengthen their capacity to perform this role better while disengaging themselves from functions that should be undertaken by the private sector. Policies and institutions that favour large-scale, capital-intensive enterprises over small-scale, labour-intensive ones should be removed. Market infrastructure of a public-goods nature, such as roads, electricity, and communications facilities, should be developed and maintained by direct public-sector investment or effective regulation of private-sector investment. Governments should develop and enforce standards, weights and measures, and regulatory instruments essential for effective functioning of markets. Development of small-scale credit and savings institutions should be facilitated. Technical assistance and training could be provided to create or strengthen small-scale, labour-intensive competitive rural enterprises in trade, processing, and related marketing activities.
The sixth priority area of action is to expand and realign international assistance. The current downward trend in international development assistance must be reversed, and industrialised countries allocating less than the United Nations target of 0.7% of their gross national product (GDP) should rapidly move to that target. Official development assistance, which is only a small fraction of the resources required by developing countries, must be allocated to effectively complement national and local efforts. Official government-to-government assistance should be made available primarily to countries that have demonstrated commitment to reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition and to protecting the environment. International development assistance must be realigned to low-income developing countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where the potential for further deterioration of food security and degradation of natural resources is considerable. In higher-income developing countries, concessional aid such as grants should be replaced by internationally available commercial capital, freeing resources for the low-income countries. To improve effectiveness of aid, each recipient country should develop a coherent strategy for achieving its goals related to food security, poverty, and natural resources, and should identify the most appropriate uses of international assistance.
1 This section benefits greatly from results of research by IFPRI colleagues, particularly Lawrence Haddad and Agnes Quisumbing.Women are key economic actors throughout the world. They play essential roles in agriculture, industry, manufacturing, and services, as well as in the home. Women account for 70-80% of household food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, 65% in Asia, and 45% in Latin America and the Caribbean. They achieve this despite unequal access to land, to inputs such as improved seeds and fertilisers, and to information. Much of womens work is invisible in official statistics, because it is still to a considerable extent concentrated in subsistence production, in the informal sector, and in household production. Partly because it is invisible and partly because high-level decision-makers in development activities are mostly men, womens contributions are frequently overlooked and the human resources provided by women are poorly utilised. Overlooking the potential economic and social benefits from more effective integration of women into mainstream development is costly to developing countries and results in less development gains per dollar spent in development projects in addition to the impact on the wellbeing of the women themselves.
One of the critical lessons from 20 years of research on this topic is that the actual and potential role of women in development is so large that it cannot effectively be dealt with in isolation. Women must be fully integrated as decision-makers, resources for development, and beneficiaries. Many women are self-employed as informal sector traders and micro-entrepreneurs. As micro-entrepreneurs, they face innumerable constraints, many of which are not faced by men. They frequently lack access to credit and savings institutions, and they frequently produce goods and services for local, small markets suffering from demand constraints. Such demand constraints in rural areas are most effectively alleviated through investment in agriculture, which in turn generates incomes among farmers. Small farmers earning more income tend to spend a large share of the additional income on products and services produced locally by the informal sector. This linkage effect between incomes of small farmers and incomes of other rural poor, including women, is very strong in many developing-country settings, particularly when the agricultural sector produces both for the export market and for the domestic market.
IFPRI research in a number of Asian and African countries shows that, for each dollar generated among small farmers, about US$ 1.50 of additional incomes are generated outside agriculture, primarily among the rural poor.
Women from low-income households in developing countries spend much more time working than men. However, the productivity of their work is frequently low. The human resource embodied in women is poorly utilised in the development process. Policies and projects that would upgrade the quality of womens labour, enhance their productivity, and strengthen their participation in decision-making processes will generate more development per dollar spent. Such policies and projects include education of girls and women, skill development for women, generation and distribution of appropriate technology needed to increase the productivity of work done by women both in and outside homes, and empowerment of women in decision-making processes regarding production, reproduction, and distribution. In addition to the greater impact on development in general and on womens own wellbeing, these policies and programmes are also likely to further enhance efforts to alleviate human misery such as food insecurity and malnutrition, partly because of womens strong roles in care giving and partly because of their strong roles in agriculture and other parts of the food system.
Differences in the productivity between men and women disappear when women are given access to the same productive resources, technology, and information. Failure to make available resources, technology, knowledge, and access to decision-making entails a high cost to developing countries in terms of foregone economic growth and foregone improvements in the wellbeing of the disadvantaged groups of developing-country populations including women themselves.
Although women are responsible for a very large share of food and agricultural production and processing, they seldom receive extension services, technical assistance, credit, or input subsidies. They frequently do not have access to financial or capital markets, and they are in most cases barred from obtaining legal rights to land. Laws governing womens rights to land vary widely. Some religious laws prohibit female landownership. Even when civil law gives women the right to inherit land, local custom may rule otherwise. The weakness of womens land rights results in an inability to use land as collateral to obtain access to credit. Social and cultural barriers, womens lower educational level relative to men, and their lack of familiarity with loan procedures may also limit their ability to obtain credit from formal as well as informal sources. Providing women with basic education would help raise agricultural productivity and incomes, for better educated farmers are more likely to adopt new technology.
The weakness of womens land rights results in an inability to use land as collateral to obtain access to credit.
Education and skill developments aimed at agricultural production are usually focused on men, and research to generate appropriate technology is usually not guided by the needs of women, even though they are responsible for a very large share of the production for which the technologies are being developed. Legislation is needed to guarantee womens rights to inherit and own land. Women should be fully integrated into efforts to expand the productivity in food production combined with sustainable use of natural resources.
Efforts should be made to reduce the conflicts that women face in time allocation.
At a time when international trade liberalisation and policy reforms in many developing countries promote export orientation, it is critical that export-oriented agricultural policies be complimented by measures that facilitate womens access to resources. They should also be given access to savings and loan institutions, and to technical assistance and training. Export-oriented agriculture may expand jobs for women in agribusiness in rural areas. Efforts should be made to reduce the conflicts that women face in time allocation. Efforts should also be made to generate productivity-increasing technology for women in various aspects of agricultural processing and marketing.
Policies, projects, and technology focused on further integration of women into mainstream development must focus on increasing the productivity per unit of time spent by women in both household and other economic activities. Women in low-income households are faced with very severe time constraints and efforts to integrate women into mainstream development by asking them to spend more time are likely to either fail or entail heavy costs in terms of foregone benefits from current activities such as child care.
With respect to the economic access to available food, a large number of recent studies have shown that improvements in household welfare depend not only on the level of household income but also on who earns and controls that income. These studies find that women, relative to men, tend to spend their income disproportionately on food for the family. Furthermore, womens incomes are more strongly associated with improvements in childrens health and nutritional status than are mens incomes. Therefore, greater gender equality in income earning and in decision-making regarding the spending of incomes in low-income households are likely to be more effective in alleviating food insecurity and malnutrition than the existing gender inequality in income earning and decision-making.
Ensuring the nutrition security of the household, through the combination of food, health care, and child care is almost exclusively the domain of women. They spend a great deal of time in these activities, and they are constantly faced with difficult choices in their time allocation. Increased time spent in generating incomes and in using health and education facilities can improve child nutrition, but the loss of direct time spent in child care is likely to have a negative effect. Increasing female employment outside the home may increase womens bargaining power with respect to the use of household incomes and resources. Technology is urgently needed to increase the productivity of women per unit of time spent in agriculture, household maintenance, income earning enterprises, and child care in order to assist women in reducing the overall time requirements for these activities without negative effects on themselves and the household. More details on the role of women in food security is presented by Quisumbing et al., 1995.
Food insecurity has long been perceived by some to be primarily a problem of insufficient food production rather than insufficient access to food. Yet, as enough food is being produced to meet the basic needs of every person in the world, it is evident that the persistence of food insecurity - about 840 million chronically undernourished people and 185 million malnourished children - is increasingly attributable to difficulties in accessing sufficient food, primary health care, education, and good sanitation. Food-insecure people simply do not have the means to grow and/or purchase the needed food and gain access to the services needed. Empowering every individual to have access to remunerative employment, to productive assets such as land and capital, and to productivity-enhancing resources such as appropriate technology, credit, education, and health care is essential. Besides enabling every person to acquire the means to grow and/or purchase sufficient food to lead healthy and productive lives, assuring a food-secure world calls for producing enough food to meet increasing and changing food needs and for meeting food needs from better management of natural resources.
With foresight and decisive action, we can create the conditions that permit food security for all people in coming years. Much of the action required is not new or unknown. For instance, we know that increased productivity in agricultural production helps not only to produce more food at lower unit costs and make more efficient use of resources but also to raise the incomes of farmers and others linked to agriculture and thus improve their capacity to purchase needed food. The action programme outlined earlier will require all relevant parties - individuals, households, farmers, local communities, the private sector, civil society, national governments, and the international community - to work together in new or strengthened partnerships; it will require a change in behaviour, priorities, and policies; and it will require strengthened cooperation between developing and industrialised countries and among developing countries. The worlds natural resources are capable of supporting sustainable food security for all people, if current rates of degradation are reduced and replaced by appropriate technological change and sustainable use of natural resources (Pinstrup-Andersen and Pandya-Lorch, 1996).
Policies and projects must empower women in production, distribution, and in reproductive decisions.
Women are key to food security. As an integral part of development efforts, women must be given equal access to productive resources and to education, health care, and other factors that increase their wellbeing and their human capital. Education and skill development for girls, and access to land, credit, and appropriate technology for women must be accelerated. Policies and projects must empower women in production, distribution, and in reproductive decisions. Strategies must be developed to increase womens productivity per unit of time both in paid work and in domestic production so that women can increase their incomes without sacrificing additional time, their childrens welfare, or their own health and nutritional status.
A fuller understanding of the gender-specific relationships in development and incorporation of such understanding in the design and implementation of policies and programmes will help achieve the 2020 Vision for the benefit of all, independent of gender.
Delgado C, Hopkins J, Kelly V (1995) Agricultural Growth Linkages in Sub-Saharan Africa. IFPRI, Washington, DC.
FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) (1996) Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action. FAO, Rome.
Hazell PBR and Röell A (1983) Rural Growth Linkages: Household Expenditure Patterns in Malaysia and Nigeria. Research Report 41. IFPRI, Washington, DC.
IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) (1995) A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment: The Vision, Challenge, and Recommended Action. IFPRI, Washington, DC.
Pinstrup-Andersen P and Pandya-Lorch R (1996) Food for all in 2020: can the world be fed without damaging the environment? Environmental Conservation 23(3): 226-234.
Quisumbing AR, Brown LR, Feldstein HS, Haddad L, Peña C (1995) Women: The Key to Food Security. Food Policy Report. IFPRI, Washington, DC.
World Bank (1993) The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and the Public Policy. Oxford University Press, New York.
Tim Frankenberger (CARE): The emphasis of the 2020 vision has focused on agriculture, but one thing we cannot lose sight of is urbanisation. By the year 2020 the majority of African people will be living in cities. How can this issue be integrated more into the 2020 vision?
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: I agree with you. We do have to pay much more attention to the urban areas because there is an excessive rural-to-urban migration. The urban areas have serious problems absorbing the inflow of people, so we are seeing a tremendous increase in urban food insecurity and urban poverty. We are doing much more at IFPRI in the area of urban food security. However, what worries me is that if we stress the urban problems, we are giving licence to urban decision-makers to continue the urban bias that has existed for so many years. I think the emphasis is still too heavy on urban problems. There are all kinds of political reasons for that. So I wish to continue to stress the rural areas with due emphasis being given to the urban areas. One of the main reasons we have excessive out-migration - excessive in the sense that the urban areas cannot absorb the people as fast as they come in - is that living conditions are so poor in the rural areas. I dont think we have a disagreement, its a matter of what you emphasise. There is still a tremendous urban bias in most poor countries.
Christian Drevon (Institute for Nutrition Research, Oslo): I would like to point out a topic that hasnt been discussed very much, that is, the very heavily-subsidised farming production of dairy products and meat. In Norway, for example, close to US$ 1 billion is spent per year in support of the dairy industry. Dairy products create a lot of coronary heart disease. This is also projected to happen in developing countries. Would you care to comment on that?
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: Im not sure that I see the link between agricultural subsidies and chronic diseases because most of the agricultural subsidies result in higher prices for animal products than what you would otherwise have in the areas where the subsidies exist. But I think that the agricultural subsidies in the European Union, Japan, the United States and a few other places have done damage to developing countries. I dont think that theres any question about that. Its not only that they keep the international prices slightly lower than they would otherwise be, its also a problem of getting rid of the surplus production that results from these subsidies. There has been a considerable amount of damage done, for example, in Africa, from dumping surplus food from the United States and from Western Europe. But I dont quite see the link with chronic diseases. We do talk about agricultural subsidies in developed countries and it does have some negative effects on developing countries. Hopefully, they will be replaced gradually as part of the WTO round, as trade liberalisation occurs. Hopefully, we will eventually get rid of agricultural subsidies because they are not helping poor people in developing countries.
Anna Ferro-Luzzi (Italy): I would like to raise the issue of biotechnology - in particular of the GMO, the genetically modified organisms. In your talk you addressed this issue from the point of view of improving agricultural yield and productivity. I do not question how much of that improvement is truly in the reach of the poor African farmer, rather, my concern relates to the issues. As member of the Scientific Committee on Food of the European Commission, I am often asked to express an opinion on the safety of food products that have undergone genetical modification. Such a judgement obviously includes their nutritional adequacy. Currently, however, our judgement of safety and nutritional adequacy is based on what is called substantive equivalence. In brief, this equivalence requires that the composition of the genetically modified product does not differ from that of the unmodified product. From the nutritional point of view, this is habitually referred to in terms of macronutrients. The micronutrient composition, such as vitamins and trace elements, is usually not taken in consideration. And even less attention is paid to the presence, type and amount of several non-nutrients - such as the polyphenols - which are now being recognised as playing an important role in relation to human health. Dont you think that before we change the compositional profile of the food we consume, we should be concerned with trying to know more of what this food contains before it was modified? And should we not be obliged to enlarge the concept of substantial equivalence to include micronutrients and other bioactive compounds?
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: The concern that I have is that the risk levels that individual households are willing to accept differ a great deal among households. Let me explain what I mean. If the agricultural research community could develop a drought-tolerant maize variety that would triple or quadruple yields in West Africa and reduce the losses during drought periods by means of genetic engineering, let us not outlaw that possibility before we see whether it is possible. Right now, nobody is working on that. The private sector, which is responsible for most of the biological engineering for agriculture, is not working on that. Partly because there is very little profit to be had in the short-term in West Africa from this kind of thing, and partly because they are being told by governments where they operate that they cant even field test it. Therefore, what Im suggesting is, that while we in Europe may choose to outlaw genetically modified maize, even though all scientific evidence and all common sense tells us that it is no more dangerous than the maize produced using traditional plant breeding methods, shouldnt we give the West African farmer who is trying to feed her children from one or two acres of maize the choice to say Im willing to take the chance on this genetically modified maize because the alternative is a lot worse? I dont want to be dramatic about it, but we should be careful not to impose those kinds of values that we may be able to afford in Europe on other parts of the world. I could give many other examples of this. If the research community decides that it is going to use modern science to solve poor peoples problems, we will see tremendous progress during the next 10 to 15 years. But right now, there is virtually nothing invested in solving these problems - thats what worries me.
Richard Jolly: I want to thank you for mentioning the World Trade Organization. I would like to ask a question and to make a point. The question is, in your experience, what are the ways to get across politically the importance of nutrition, and particularly actions that would help undernutrition in developing countries, in discussing issues of the sort that go before the WTO? The point I want to make is that one of the greatest economists of the 20th century, John Maynard Keynes, in sketching out over 50 years ago how an international trade organisation should work, took the issue of how to stabilise agricultural policies. When discussing at what level agricultural policies should be stabilised, he said (1) at a level that is efficient, and (2) at a level sufficient to guarantee peasant producers adequate income and nutrition. This brought into the very heart of economic policy making, concern for nutrition. I think we should all be aware of that.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: There are a number of points that I would like to make. If poor countries are to improve their food security through trade liberalisation, there are many domestic policies that would have to be dealt with in those countries. You cannot solve your domestic policy problems by liberalising international trade. We have done considerable research to prove that point. In particular, for a period of time, West African countries thought that they could live with very bad domestic policies if they could integrate regionally. It doesnt work that way. There are so many internal constraints in poor countries that make it very difficult to benefit from international trade liberalisation. But one of the things that we need to tell policy makers from poor countries, is that when you do participate in WTO negotiations, insist on industrialised nations opening up their markets for the products that you can export. Take the new initiative by the United States for expanded trade with Africa. Look at what commodities the Americans are willing to accept from Africa on concessional terms, and granted, textiles are in there - they are very important for some African countries. But guess whats not in there? Peanuts, groundnuts, tobacco, sugar, among others. Latin America over the last 10 years has opened up its markets much more than Europe and North America have opened up theirs, and lets not forget Japan. There has to be more equality in opening up markets. Good nutrition is an investment in future economic growth that can benefit everybody - it is not just a hand-out to poor people. Using that as an argument to get into international trade would be helpful as well.
George Kent (University of Hawaii): You spoke about the 2020 vision for food and agriculture, with a world where every person has access to sufficient food, and then you proceed to say that if that is indeed the vision and the motivation, then we need to take the following steps. The problem is that is not the driving vision. In most places in the world, agriculture and food production systems are not there for the purpose of alleviating malnutrition. They are there for an entirely different purpose, leading to the question how are you going to bridge that gap. We have repeatedly said here that if the political priorities and will were there, we could get these programmes up to scale and solve the problems, but that is not, in fact, the driving vision. You then also mentioned briefly the question of the right of every person to have adequate food and nutrition, but then we didnt speak about the corresponding obligations. I think we need more clarity here about the exact role of governments and their obligations in this system.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: Yes, but I think that a number of the governments that we are interacting with, do respond to better information. Even if they dont wish to respond to better information, it is much more difficult to ignore it. The best opportunity for a bad government to continue to be bad, is ignorance. What I am arguing is, lets get the information on the table for everyone to see; that 50% of the worlds poor people and x% of the poor people in a particular country are in rural areas. You, governments, are ignoring the rural areas, and here are the consequences.
George Kent (University of Hawaii): If good governments are defined primarily in terms of maximising economic growth, then the fact that the poor people are not visible is an important consideration.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: What we have been talking about all day is that better nutrition is an investment in broad-based economic growth. I dont think that theres a conflict there - it may be that governments do not accept that.
Fernando Viteri (UNU): There has been a push in many developing countries in promoting cash crop productions by communities and by cooperatives in those communities. I am aware of a study in a cooperative in Guatemala, which was promoting cash crop products. It turned out to be unsustainable and it also did not improve the nutrition of that community. Can you explain to us why, whether this is a generalised trend, and what to do to avoid it?
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: The project you mentioned in Guatemala, I suspect, was the project that IFPRI participated in. IFPRI has done research on cash cropping projects around the world, and what we find is that most of the cash cropping projects end up improving the economic wellbeing of the small farmers participating. Not all of them improve nutrition and where they dont, its because the economic wellbeing was not the constraint for better nutrition - it was access to primary health care, to sanitation, to clean water, or to other things. Again, we cannot sit here and design magic bullets for solving the problems because the solutions will vary from one location to another. What was consistent across all, or almost all of the studies we did, was that the small farmers gained economically, but nutrition did not improve in all cases. But nutrition did not deteriorate. Theres an old story that goes back 20 years that cash cropping is bad for nutrition. We could not find any evidence of that anywhere.
Fritz Kaferstein (WHO): A very short comment to echo the concern of Per with regard to biotechnology and its importance for developing countries. The WHO has gone through a consultative process with FAO, to provide guidance with regard to the assessment of the safety of foods produced by biotechnology. It has also looked at the importance of biotechnology - the recombinant DNA technology (rDNA) - for developing countries. In 1996, we had a consultation on biotechnology and food safety, and in the consultation report there is a paragraph devoted to the application of rDNA technology in developing countries. It is five lines, if I am permitted to quote from this report. Recombinant DNA technology has broad applications in developing countries and has a potential for very positive impact on their economies, which are frequently agriculturally-based. In this context, a view was expressed that rDNA technology might be of greater importance for developing countries than for industrialised countries. In particular, developing countries look to rDNA technology as a means for addressing the need to produce sufficient quantities of nutritionally adequate and safe food for their growing populations. The benefits of this technology are likely to impact directly on people at the production level as this technology is extremely easy to transfer.
Bill Clay (FAO): I would like to make a quick point. I would like to make the case for the need to continue to invest in high potential areas. There can be tremendous improvements and very quick returns from that, both in terms of expanding and diversifying food production, ensuring adequate food for cities and developing market structures, and for creating the employment and wealth that will continue to support the investment needed in health, water, and education. I wouldnt quite make the case that we always need to be under the spotlight - we need to make more light.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen: I didnt mean to say that we should stop investing in high potential areas, and Im glad you pointed that out to give me an opportunity to comment. Im talking about the balance. The balance is skewed too far towards the high potential areas. We need to invest much more in the low potential areas than what we have done in the past.