Investing in smallholder agriculture – an international priority
Over the past five years, the world has been hit by a series of economic, financial and food crises that have slowed down, and at times reversed, global efforts to reduce poverty and hunger. Today, price volatility and weather shocks – such as the recent devastating drought in the Horn of Africa – continue to severely undermine such efforts. In this context, promoting livelihood resilience and food and nutrition security has become central to the policy agendas of governments. Smallholder farmers need to be at the centre of this agenda, and to play a leading role in the investment efforts needed to achieve it.
The 1996 World Food Summit in Rome defined food security as existing "when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life."
At the time, it seemed realistic to expect to halve the proportion of chronically undernourished people by 2015. This goal was at the heart of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security, and formed the basis of the first Millennium Development Goal.