Famine and Fortune

Two recent reports on food security are noteworthy: the first from the World Food Programme in Rwanda celebrates  a success story in a country more often associated with crises.  Terrace farming has transformed the once eroded and barren hillsides of the Cyungo area. Now, the farmers are able to grow 2 crops, one to sell and one for their sustenance and so achieve food security. In contrast is the sad report of famine in Niger where 12 million people, about 80% of the population face food insecurity. This situation is the result of several factors coming together. Unexpected heavy rainfall has devastated crops, speculation in commodity prices has spiked food prices and people are unable to buy food, finally, aid has eluded many of those who desperately need it including the alarming numbers of undernourished children.

The impact of climate change on agricultural output is likely to become more pronounced, stock markets are always unpredictable, and aid will often wander away from where it was was supposed to go. This story is a familiar one, almost too familiar and might possibly grow more common in the future. It is possible to empower farmers with the appropriate technology ( in small and big ways) to transform the situation as the Rwanda example shows. There are many success stories such as this one, unfortunately they often seem to go unheard.

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