Agriculture, food security and poverty alleviation
By Yuba Nath Lamsal
The global food production is sufficient to feed the world population. But hunger exists and tens of thousands of people die of hunger and malnutrition annually in the world. A part of the world dumps the surplus food into the ocean while other parts of the world starve and suffer from chronic hunger. It is not the question of how much the world produces but it is the issue that requires judicial distribution of food to all and fair access to production resources for the people from the lowest economic strata.
The global food balance sheet shows that over 850 million people in the world are undernourished. To look at the present pattern of food consumption, 15 per cent people consume more than 60 per cent food in the world, while 85 per cent people live on less than 40 per cent of food the world produces. The situation, thus, underscores the dire need for taking more concerted and effective measures for food security to ensure that poor people get food even at a time of crisis and save tens of thousands lives, who otherwise would die of starvation.
The world is now gearing up to meet the millennium development goals by 2015 that includes reducing global poverty by at least half. The world, of course, has the resources required to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2015, provided these resources were judiciously managed and distributed. Unless hunger was eradicated through the increased production and fair distribution of resources, guarantee of access to food for the absolute poor and food security, it would be a mirage for the global community to achieve the lofty goal of meeting the minimum basic needs of people by 2015.
The poor countries and poor people in the world are always vulnerable in terms of food security. Although the case of
The food insecurity may be worse this year as food grain production is expected to decline by at least by 300,000 metric tones due to poor monsoon. The growing vulnerability, thus, underscores the need for taking immediate and effective measures to maintain adequate food security at both national as well as local level.
The concept of food security is a new phenomenon in
The agricultural productivity is low in
Moreover, the agriculture is poor men’s job in
Poverty and agriculture are interlinked in
Right to life is the first and the foremost human right of the people. The right to life can be ensured only when we guarantee the right to food. At the absence of sufficient food security and fair distribution, the right to food, which is an important part of right to life, cannot be realized.
In this modern world, knowledge is power. The knowledge is gained though the exchange of information and experience sharing. In this age of information and communication, no sector can remain aloof from the revolution in the filed of information and communication. But one of the problems in
The farmers and food growers are neglected by communication media as well. Despite agriculture occupying lion’s share in
The reasons behind the poor media coverage of agricultural issues are manifold. Media is so far been an urban commercial venture rather than service oriented. The commercial media focuses more on sectors which could be commercially profitable for its business in terms of advertisement and other benefits. Farmers are mostly poor and farming is a rural phenomenon, which can not give commercial return to the media. Moreover, rural issues are of less priority for the commercial media. Secondly, the media houses are owned or controlled by the urban elites or businessmen and the media obliviously serve interest of their masters. Moreover, farming community lacks resources and farmers lack access to the media. The most important of all is the lack of knowledge. Farmers have the knowledge about the issues and problems of the agriculture but they cannot write and report. The media persons have the resources and skill of writing and reporting but have little knowledge about the real issues of the farmers and farming community. There is a huge gap between the media persons working in the mainstream media and the farmers. This is a grim reality of our agricultural country.
The gap between the media persons and the food producers must be bridged by imparting knowledge and forging coordination. Imparting knowledge should be in two ways. The media persons working in the mainstream media need to be given regular knowledge of agricultural issues, problems of the farmers and their remedies, while farming community should also be equipped with the knowledge of communication and skill of disseminating information. Development of farm media would, thus, be an alternative way to focus more on pro-farmer issues, act as a pool between the mass media and the farming community and mobilize the mass media for better and effective coverage of the issues relating to agriculture and food security.