Food production methods inadequate for hungry world

Development and Peace says small farmers feed 70 per cent of the world, but cannot earn a decent living for themselves.

Development and Peace says small farmers feed 70 per cent of the world, but cannot earn a decent living for themselves.

May 2, 2016

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is among 26 NGOs in the Canadian Food Security Policy Group calling for Canada to help small family farms.

"Our current modes of food production are not only contributing massively to climate change but are also inadequate for feeding a world facing a climate crisis," said Josianne Gauthier, Development and Peace's director of in-Canada programs.

Gauthier said those suffering the impacts of climate change the most are small family farmers who face drought, floods, and pressures from agribusiness and unfair trade policies.

"Indeed, something is very wrong when nearly one billion people are going hungry, and most of those are small family farmers," she said.

"They work to feed 70 per cent of the world, yet can't earn a dignified living - and climate change is only adding to their poverty.

"Women are particularly vulnerable, when simply investing in and recognizing their significant contribution could feed up to 150 million more people," she said.

Gauthier spoke during an April 21 panel marking the release of the food security group's report calling on Canada to re-invest in food security.

The report, Agenda for Food Security and Resilience, notes Canada launched a food security policy six years ago, but investment has dropped to $346 million in 2014-15 from a high of $670 million in 2009.

The report identifies threats to food security such as poverty, climate change, gender discrimination, conflict and natural disasters, diversion of farmland for other purposes, food waste and loss, and unfair trade.

It recommends investing in improving the livelihoods of small landholders; targeting opportunities for women and youth; focusing on nutrition and nutrition-centred agriculture; improving livestock practices; strengthening eco-system resilience in the face of climate change; and linking emergency relief and long-term security.


"Small family farmers know, and are already using practices that produce food that is more sustainable, more reliable, more nutritious and also more climate friendly," Gauthier said.

Seed saving and exchanging is one traditional method that maintains biodiversity and creates natural resilience, she said.

Gauthier noted that Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si' "reminds how all is interconnected, how there is but one crisis which is both environmental and social, and that the cry of the earth is also the cry of the poor.

"But most of all he reminds us of our moral, human responsibility towards one another and the earth, and speaks with hope about finding the solutions together."