Food security and sustainable agriculture
Although the world produces enough food to feed every woman, man and child, one billion people go hungry every day. Tackling hunger, however, is more than just supplying enough food for everybody; the structures which inhibit people from building their own food security must also be challenged.
Poverty is the main cause of hunger. The world’s poor spend on average 70 percent of their daily income on food. Yet, in most cases, this amount of food is still inadequate to maintain good health. Malnutrition significantly increases the risk of disease, infection and mortality.
Over 900 million people are malnourished, the vast majority of whom live in developing countries. Half of all child deaths in developing countries are related to malnutrition. To feed the world’s rapidly growing population, global food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050.
Food security refers to both the availability of food and ability to afford food. Food insecurity is not having a reliable source of food and sufficient resources to buy it and is primarily caused by:
- Price fluctuations in basic foods
- Lack of farming land
- Natural disasters, drought, lack of water and poor harvests
- Unfair trade rules
Food security is inextricably linked to a communities’ access to land. Without land, there is no opportunity to improve agricultural practices, produce enough food and generate an income. Beyond these benefits, land-ownership also brings with it cultural identity and status, political power and participation in decision making processes. If we are to eradicate global hunger and extreme poverty, we must work to address the inequalities
of class, gender, and ethnicity to promote long-term and sustainable development.
Our Caritas approach
Caritas Australia delivers immediate food aid as well as long-term food security strategies to achieve sustainable and self-reliant food production, land management and livestock raising. Some of these strategies include improving technical farming skills, crop management and crop productivity, increasing access to local markets, improving seed selection for different soil types, irrigation techniques, using organic fertiliser and collecting rain water.
Catholic Social Teaching
Caritas recognises the right to food as foundational to sustainable development. We work in partnership with communities to promote their right to food and to ensure they participate in, and have control over, the process of food production.
Our approach draws upon several principles of Catholic Social Teaching including human dignity, solidarity, partnership, the common good and stewardship of the world's resources.
Caritas Australia’s response
Caritas Australia has projects tackling the issues of food security and sustainable agriculture in India, Nepal, Bolivia, Uganda, Peru, East Timor, Malawi, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Fiji and more.
- Communities involved in Caritas Australia’s Rural Development Program in Peru have seen a doubling of crop production, an increase in local food consumption by 80% and improved profits from the sale of excess crops.
- The Sloping Agriculture Land Technique (SALT) project in Oecusse, East Timor has educated 31 villages, including 1,035 families, in the use of farming terraces, the protection of springs and agroforestry techniques which have resulted in significant livelihood improvements and environmental protection.
- The Integrated Pest Management program in Nepal has created 52 Farmer Field schools and trained 1,419 farmers in techniques to achieve greater crop yields, household food security and farm sustainability.
- 89 people were trained in Village Natural Resource Management in Malawi; planting 17,000 seedlings in
14 villages to prevent damage from future natural disasters.
- Over 10,000 families have been trained in sustainable agriculture practices such as improved land use, preservation of the environment and access to water in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
- 15 Fijians graduated from a four-year sustainable agriculture course which established them as self-sufficient farmers.
I have less worries now; I'm more confident of providing for my family,” Kaluram, Nepal
Real life: helping in Nepal
Since 2004, we have suppported our partners in one of South Asia's poorest countries, Nepal. An important program is Caritas Nepal's Farmer Field School, as it teaches local farmers about sustainable agriculture practices, how to form Cooperatives, helps them lease land and provides equipment.
Kaluram, 33, a local farmer and family man, says thanks to Caritas, he can now feed and support his family. "Since Caritas visited, I have purchased tin sheets to improve the roofing on my house and a pair of buffalo to plough my fields and pull the cart.
"I was also elected Chairperson of our Milan Cooperative, and Chairperson of the local School Management Board, which raises additional resources for the school and helps to ensure regular, quality education."
The Cooperative is able to provide loans to farmers. Recently a local was provided to landless peasants (agriculture labourers) to pursue pig-raising as an enterprise.
Kaluram also runs a market stall business and in August 2010 he began an agriculture material shop which sells organic fertiliser, vegetable seeds, veterinary medicine, crop seeds (wheat, maize and rice) and plant nutrients.
"Together we will contine to work for improvement and change."