IQ Insigniam Quarterly® Features Winrock Partnerships to Eliminate Food Insecurity
Aaron Sundsmo, Winrock's senior director of Agriculture, Resilience and Water, speaks about innovative approaches in Africa and Asia.
Excerpt from The Insigniam Quarterly piece, “Eliminating Food Insecurity Amid Growing Populations” by Chris Warren, published on Feb. 14, 2022:
Solutions for food insecurity involve governments, nonprofits, and large agriculture and food companies delivering technologies and farming practices that are climate-friendly and more productive to the millions of small farmers around the world. According to a report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 608 million family farms around the world, the vast majority of which manage less than 2 hectares of land. At the same time, the FAO estimates that these small farms produce about 35% of the world’s food.
Many of these farmers grow only enough food to feed their families. Financial and technical support to help small farmers sustainably grow and sell more food can improve food security both by increasing the supply of food and by generating more income for the farmers themselves. One example of a collaborative effort to assist small farmers is in Ghana, where nonprofit Winrock International is working with The Hershey Company and Ecom Agroindustrial Corp. to improve the land management practices of cocoa farmers.
“The work is to demonstrate how improving land tenure, tree tenure and financing cocoa rehabilitation can improve yield, increase carbon stocks through shade trees and reduce deforestation,” says Aaron Sundsmo, Winrock’s senior director of agriculture, resilience and water. “As part of this work, Winrock is developing a payment-for-environmental-services scheme, where farmers receive payment from Hershey to maintain a certain level of shade on their farms and potentially increase tree cover off-farm.” These improved practices could become more widespread if farmers were to also receive payments for carbon sequestration for planting and maintaining shade trees.
Another cause of food insecurity arises when a country is overly reliant on food imports. Removing barriers to international agricultural trade is one way to help address this problem. Increasing national self-sufficiency is also critical—an effort that Winrock is supporting in Nepal.
“In recent years, several events—flooding, earthquakes, border closures—have illuminated the need to boost Nepal’s domestic rice production to reduce reliance on imported grain and unsustainable and inefficient practices,” Mr. Sundsmo says. In response, Winrock is working with the U.S. and Nepali governments as well as small farmers and private milling companies to initiate improved processing technologies and train farmers to produce healthy rice seedlings. In 2020, the collaboration improved rice yields for the participants to a level nearly 30% higher than the national average.
The Insigniam Quarterly piece, “Eliminating Food Insecurity Amid Growing Populations,” was originally published on Feb. 14, 2022.