Canadian Aid to Smallholder Farmers in Developing Countries
In much of the developing world, farmers with two acres of land or less make up the majority of the workforce and produce most of the food. More than half are women. Working with these smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods is an effective way to reduce poverty and hunger. Yet from 1980 until around 2007, the percentage of international aid directed to agriculture declined from about 18% to less than 4%. This under-investment in agriculture is one factor that led to the global food crisis in 2007-08, when fears over food shortages caused prices of rice and other grains to triple in a few months.
What are we trying to do?
The Canadian Foodgrains Bank has been urging the Canadian government to make agriculture a priority in its development work, to increase investment in agriculture, and to target interventions to the most vulnerable, including women and smallholder farmers.
What have we accomplished?
In May 2009, CIDA announced that “food security” would be one of its three priority themes, and in July, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would double aid for agriculture over three years.
The detailed food security strategy
(published in April 2010), includes food aid, nutrition, research and agricultural development. Under agriculture, Canada has indicated that it will focus on smallholder farmers, especially women, and will encourage agro-ecological approaches that boost farmers’ resilience to climate change. Much of this aid will be aligned with the national goals set by the countries that receive the aid.
The Foodgrains Bank is pleased that CIDA has announced food security as a priority theme, and that the strategy will focus on vulnerable smallholder farmers. We see strong evidence that our message (from staff and constituents and through coalitions) has been heard by CIDA and incorporated into its food security strategy.
What are we still working on?
Implementation of the Food Security Strategy – Foodgrains Bank staff is in dialogue with CIDA officials on how the food security strategy will be implemented. Some of the funds will go directly to country-level programming, while others will go through a multi-donor fund at the World Bank. In both cases, we are urging CIDA to ensure that investment targets smallholders, women, ecological approaches and resilience to climate change.
Continued commitment to food security – As it now stands, CIDA’s food security theme is ongoing, but the extra money for food security will end in 2011. The Foodgrains Bank is highlighting the need for Canada to continue its investment in food and agriculture.