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Agricultural transformation in Asia

Policy and institutional experiences

FAO. 2021. Agricultural transformation in Asia – Policy and institutional experiences. Bangkok.

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    Promoting agricultural inputs under the Food Aid Convention to increase food production in emergency-prone developing countries 2010
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    Assistance needs for the rapidly increasing emergency situations require more judicious responses on the part of donors, including the provision of critical agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and farming implements for reconstruction and recovery of the agriculture sector. The institutional framework governing food-related assistance has been at an impasse for some time, with the renegotiation of the Food Aid Convention (FAC) remaining in suspense, awaiting the conclusion of the un certain Doha Round of negotiations, although there have been fresh efforts to move the FAC process forward. The Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations is the key agency within the multilateral system responsible for coordinating donor efforts in the rehabilitation of agriculture in the aftermath of emergencies. The Organization has a keen interest in seeing that the FAC process is concluded soon, taking on board the new realities on the ground, in particular assisting affect ed communities to resume agricultural activity and return to self-reliance. An analysis of trends in natural and human-induced disasters over the last 30 years confirms the large increase in protracted emergency situations, whereby several countries experience a food emergency year after year. In addition, many of these countries suffer serious chronic food insecurity and these two problems (the transitory and the structural) cannot be addressed separately. A stop-gap approach based on sho rt-term food assistance is not sustainable in these situations. Interventions should also aim to break the cycle of long-term structural problems feeding into greater vulnerability in the short term. Increasing donor support in the form of agricultural inputs, together with meeting immediate food needs, is critical in expediting recovery and helping agricultural communities getting back on their feet. Meeting immediate food emergency needs has become the main priority of donors with nearly 80 percent of total food aid now used for that purpose compared with well below 20 percent up to 1990. At the same time donors’ funding arrangements have become more flexible with a large majority of donors providing cash resources to facilitate local purchases and triangular transactions, as well as funds for the purchase of agricultural inputs. While support for the agriculture sector within the United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process has increased in recent years, agriculture remains he avily underfunded in relation to identified needs and other sectors, with only 41 percent of the sector’s needs being met in recent years. Overall, FAO’s efforts in rehabilitation and recovery of the agriculture sector have been compromised by a lack of adequate funding. An analysis of a multitude of arrangements governing food-related assistance (the Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal [CSSD], World Trade Organization [WTO] and FAC) shows that although they are guided by the legiti mate objective of food aid doing more good and less harm, often for a variety of reasons they are not conducive to a coherent framework and may compromise the effectiveness of this assistance. Among them, the FAC is much broader than the CSSD and the WTO, both as regards its food security objective and the specific provisions contained therein. Recognizing the importance of the FAC and expediting its negotiation to better meet its objectives has been the focus of attention by the internationa l community for some time and recent intensified 6 efforts by the Food Aid Committee aim at launching formal negotiations. This would also respond to recent policy initiatives and strategies of donors whereby humanitarian food assistance is increasingly seen as an integral part of efforts to address the structural causes of chronic food insecurity. The FAC is no longer seen as simply having an ‘instrument focus’ (i.e. food aid) but also a ‘problem focus’ (i.e. food security), becoming a part of the broader processes of needs assessment and the related longer-term developmental responses. This paper aims at making a contribution in the process of renegotiating the FAC, in particular as regards the recognition of the importance of agricultural inputs for the recovery and rehabilitation of the agriculture sector.
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    Ending poverty and hunger through investment in agriculture and rural areas 2017
    While there has been an unprecedented achievement in poverty reduction in the last three decades, eradicating extreme poverty and halving poverty by 2030 are still two of our greatest challenges. Today, about 767 million people continue to live in extreme poverty. Roughly, two thirds of the extreme poor live in rural areas, and the majority are concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In the past 30 years, private and public investments in agriculture and rural areas have remained stag nant or have declined in most developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where poverty and hunger are most prevalent. With the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, countries have renewed their commitment to fight poverty, hunger and malnutrition, recognising that equitable and sustainable growth and inclusive structural transformation are key to achieving sustainable development and moving lifting people out of poverty. The 2030 Agenda is th us an opportunity to focus public and private investments in reaching the poorest of the poor, particularly in rural areas of the developing world. This task will not be simple and will require changing the way we think and act in relation to rural development. Investments today need to take into account natural resource conservation and sustainable agricultural production, including investing in climate smart technologies. To achieve SDG 1 and SDG 2, each country and region will have to evaluat e its own pathways out of poverty; however, country experiences suggest that both social and economic interventions are equally important in reducing poverty . Economic growth (e.g. in agriculture) is not enough. To promote rural development and inclusion, countries must take specific policy and programmatic actions that reach the poor directly. This should include a combination of social and economic policies that address today’s challenges and enable and empower rural people to earn a living a nd shape their livelihoods.
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    The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012
    Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition
    The 2012 edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World focuses on the importance of economic growth in overcoming poverty, hunger and malnutrition. We are pleased to note that many, though not all, developing countries have enjoyed remarkable rates of growth during recent decades. High growth rates of GDP per capita are a key factor in reducing food insecurity and malnutrition. However, economic growth per se does not guarantee success. As Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen stated recently, it "r equires active public policies to ensure that the fruits of economic growth are widely shared, and also requires - and this is very important - making good use of the public revenue generated by fast economic growth for social services, especially for public healthcare and public education."� This report provides convincing evidence that poor, hungry and malnourished people use some of their additional income either to produce or purchase more food, aiming to increase their dietary ener gy intake and to diversify their diets. Against this background, we are glad to note significant improvements in food security and nutrition outcomes worldwide. The trend in the prevalence of undernourishment has been declining, and we have seen some progress in key anthropometric indicators of child underweight, stunting and nutrition-related child mortality. There has also been progress in overcoming some types of micronutrient deficiencies or 'hidden hunger'� in a number of countries. These e ncouraging developments are made possible by the combined effects of increased attention to world hunger, overall economic and agricultural growth, and targeted policy interventions.

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