When we talk statistics, let’s talk solutions.
According to FAO, about 75% of the world’s poorest people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. And 50% of the world’s hungry people are farming families. Many of these families grow barely enough food to eat – much less have any left over to sell. Further, their current situation isn’t working, whether they simply can’t grow enough food, lose it because of lack of storage or don’t have adequate access to markets. This is the crux of the poverty cycle. Approximately 223 million people go to bed hungry in sub-Saharan Africa, and for many, hunger is fatal. Of all childhood deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, one-third is caused by hunger, according to the U.N.’s 2013 MDG Report. We can talk hunger statistics all day, and they’re helpful. But when we talk about hunger, let’s talk about solutions. In our view, the solution rests on four basic pillars: increased yields, improved farm incomes, enhanced crop nutrition and lowered environmental impact. If these four are not achieved, farmers will remain poor and malnourished. Hunger, poverty, malnutrition and, yes, even environmental degradation cannot be separated from one another. Sustainable agricultural development is involved from import (of fertilizers) to export (of food) in the agricultural value chain. Malnourished people can’t work. Degraded land can’t produce good yields. Building on all these pillars at once helps break the poverty cycle. And once they move into a prosperity cycle, driven farmers continue to thrive. Their families eat nutritiously and have shelter. The children go to school, greatly increasing hope for a better future. In addition, the Earth benefits, as enviro-friendly agriculture replenishes nutrients and reduces pollution. It’s easier said than done. But when we talk statistics, let’s talk solutions. When we talk facts, let’s talk food (and fertilizers!). Many farmers are already succeeding. Across the globe, organizations are helping farmers build better futures with sustainable solutions. In Nigeria, for example, a program that began just last year has already linked 4.5 million farmers to better fertilizers. In Bangladesh, many fertilizer dealers are becoming self-sufficient and creating jobs. In Kyrgyzstan, on farmland that once lay degraded and unused, farmers have participated in restoring thousands of hectares that can now produce plenty of food. So when we talk about hunger, let’s talk about hope.