Policy changes key for smallholder farming

Dr. Per Pinstrup-Anderson at Borlaug 100

Per Pinstrup-Anderson, professor emeritus at Cornell University, speaking at the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security. Photo by Kathryn Ingerslew

By Kathryn Ingerslew

CIUDAD OBREGON, Mexico – Three specific steps will help small farmers worldwide, Per Pinstrup-Anderson, 2001 World Food Prize Laureate and professor emeritus at Cornell University, said at the Borlaug Summit on Wheat for Food Security on Tuesday.

First, governments need to invest in infrastructure such as roads and water management, as well as provide primary education, health care and improved sanitation, Pinstrup-Anderson said.

Farmer associations, and other groups, formed to help enforce contracts and increase accountability give farmers more access to proper fertilizer and pesticides as well as global market information.

Second, Pinstrup-Anderson said, government policy needs to provide incentives for the private sector to invest in agriculture and the supply chain. By creating savings and credit institutions for farmers and traders, as well as market and production risk management tools, farmer purchasing confidence will increase due to less unpredictable investments.

Lastly, international trade distortions need to be removed. Pinstrup-Anderson said that many times countries protect their own people at the expense of others.

Foreign corporations, he said, are buying large plots of land in developing countries to ensure food security elsewhere at the expense of native markets. Hence, global clarity on water and land tenure needs to be formed to improve food security in developing countries.


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