How much do you know about agriculture in the developing world? Did you know, for example, that agriculture accounts for about 70 percent of the labor force in sub-Saharan Africa? Or that if we hope to feed 9 billion mouths on Earth we’ll need to boost agricultural output by 70 percent by 2050?
The number of hungry people in the world has reached the 1 billion mark, and global food prices that were beginning to fall last July—signaling some relief—are starting to creep up again. According to estimates, small farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa can double or almost triple their crop yields, respectively, in the next 20 years, translating into roughly 400 million people lifting themselves out of poverty.
Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work with what’s called “The Green Revolution” credited with saving one billion people from starvation, once said, “Without food, all other components of social justice are meaningless.” The time to act is now.
In advance of the keynote speech by Bill Gates at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), one of the three Rome-based UN agencies working to fight hunger and poverty, we put the call out for powerful facts about agricultural development to help us in our own work.
We reached out to our partners, organizations such as Borlaug Global Rust, Conservation International, and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), to send us some facts of their own. Below is a quick rundown of some of the tweets we highlighted this week.
Make sure to read Bill’s speech, or watch it on IFAD’s site, where he underscores the need for investing in agriculture:
“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Gates. “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering and build self-sufficiency.”
What do you think?