Harnessing Agriculture For Development

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This report reflects Oxfam's emphasis on the role of sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, particularly agriculture, in reducing poverty and inequality. It also analyses the main challenges we face in the 21st century: identifying which actors have the power to promote the necessary political changes and setting out the elements of a political agenda able to strengthen an agricultural sector made up of millions of small farmers from around the world. Harnessing Agriculture for Development is the result of a process of consultation with Oxfam teams and counterparts in 10 countries (Burkina Faso, USA, Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and Tanzania) involved in developing national awareness-raising and mobilisation campaigns demanding agricultural reform.
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  Harnessing Agriculture for Development Arabella Fraser OXFAM RESEARCH REPORT    Contents   Introduction....................................................................................................................2   Executive Summary......................................................................................................4   Part 1: Why Agriculture?..............................................................................................8   Part 2: Threats and Opportunities............................................................................17   Part 3: What Policy Agenda?.....................................................................................29   Part 4: Who and How? Effecting Change in Agricultural Policy.......................44   Annex 1: A Gendered Lens on the Harnessing Agriculture for Development research report.............................................................................................................56   Annex 2: Background papers commissioned for this research report, available on request.....................................................................................................................59   Notes..............................................................................................................................60   Bibliography/References...........................................................................................68   Acknowledgements....................................................................................................73   Harnessing Agriculture for Development Oxfam International Research Report, September 2009 1  Introduction Harnessing Agriculture for Development  is the result of a process of research and consultation conducted within Oxfam International from the end of 2007 to mid 2008, before the full impact of the current financial crisis was felt across the developing world. It is being published at a time when we face a particularly uncertain and unstable future, with heightened perceptions of risk, but when we also have a unique opportunity to generate the kinds of policy change required to achieve a new global balance. For those of us who work to reduce poverty and inequality, it is imperative to support the most vulnerable people, those worst hit by the current crisis. Between 2007 and 2008, the food crisis increased the number of hungry people by 119 million, meaning that a total of more than one billion people around the world are living in hunger in 2009. The crisis, which srcinated with the increase in food prices in late 2007 and the first half of 2008, has exposed the structural weaknesses of agricultural, trade and social protection policies. As a result of the food price crisis, the problem of food security has become more relevant and has put agriculture back onto the development agenda after years of neglect. In this sense, it is essential to see the present crisis as a moment of opportunity to move to a more just model of economic growth and development. At the same time, it is an opportunity to shine a light on practices such as agriculture “outsourcing” that are of increasing concern for food security in poor countries that are nevertheless land-rich. Land-grabbing by countries and companies to increase food security in one region or country at the potential expense of another, while not new, has received increased attention as a response to the food price crisis. This highlights the importance of land rights and sustainable access to land for reducing poverty and increasing food security. The purpose of this report is to contribute to the debate on agriculture, firstly with Oxfam’s partners on the ground on whose experience it is based, as well as through its publication and subsequent discussion with other relevant actors in the field of agricultural policy. The report reflects Oxfam’s emphasis on the role of sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, in particular through farming, in reducing poverty and inequality. It analyses the main challenges we face in the 21 st  century, identifies which actors have the power to promote the necessary policy changes, and sets out the elements of a policy agenda to strengthen the agricultural sector that includes millions of small farmers around the world. Both the content of this report and the process of consultation were agreed with Oxfam teams and counterparts in 10 countries involved in developing national campaigns to raise awareness and mobilize to demand agricultural reform. The first draft formed the basis for consultations with partners in 10 countries (Burkina Faso – regional consultation in West Africa, United States, Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Tanzania) and sought inputs from many others, which served to test the report’s findings against national realities and allowed us to incorporate those national experiences in the final version, improving the paper. In several cases, the consultations also became the spark for new campaigns and alliances. As a result, this document reflects most of the policy change priorities identified in these countries. The development and consultation process has also allowed us to identify common challenges in different regions, as well as those areas where an Oxfam International campaign could add value. Each of the areas analysed in the report has great potential for combined programme and campaign work and provides strong linkages with trade and climate change issues. It is worth mentioning some of the issues that emerged during the consultations. Participants stressed that for many communities, the role of agriculture goes beyond the economic meaning of ‘livelihood’ to include their whole way of life, something Harnessing Agriculture for Development Oxfam International Research Report, September 2009 2  particularly important for many indigenous and pastoralist communities. In addition, the lack of opportunities in rural communities was seen as provoking mass migration to the cities or abroad. Although very relevant, we decided not to deal with this issue as it would imply a massive extension of the ambit of the study. The importance of trade rules to the current state of agriculture and its future potential was another strong message from the consultations. While we agree that trade rules play an important role in agriculture, particularly in light of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign that focused in the impact of trade rules in agriculture on development, we decided not to include a separate chapter on the issue – both to avoid getting into excessive levels of technical detail that might detract from the core message on the role and challenges facing agriculture, and because of Oxfam’s array of publications on the theme elsewhere. If we were writing this report today, and not in 2007-8, we would probably root it more squarely in the context of crisis and change. We would take up the lessons learned from the food price crisis of 2008, in the context of a national and international system that recognizes agriculture as central to development, but which spawned a financial crisis that seriously threatens the ability of poor countries to promote their farm sectors after decades of neglect. Nevertheless, we publish this report because it deals with the underlying structural problems that increase the vulnerability of countries and their citizens, factors that existed long before the crisis and that still remain in place. Teresa Cavero Oxfam International Harnessing Agriculture for Development Oxfam International Research Report, September 2009 3
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