Africa is a world leader in poverty and hunger due to a lack of committed leadership and rampant corruption, said Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in his address to the APPG  on 7 December. 

 “Sub-Saharan Africa has 25 per cent of the world’s arable land but generates only ten per cent of its agricultural output,” Nwanze told group. “Why is this? Lack of leadership, lack of national pride and a blind eye to greed and corruption.” 

Nwanze said that Africa’s leaders are failing the continent due to their lack of investment in smallholder agriculture. 

“Smallholders can be agents of change, but they need the assurance of markets,” he said. “Then they’ll produce.” 

Women farmers are particularly important in building rural agricultural economies, he added. 

“When you invest in a rural woman, you invest in a community,” he said. 

Dr Nwanze was awarded the inaugural Africa Food Prize in September 2016, and will be leaving IFAD at the end of his two terms later in 2017. His address to the APPG was an opportunity to reflect on decades of experience in addressing the issues of hunger, nutrition and rural livelihoods, and he singled out governance as one of the key issues. 

"There's a lack of national institutions that survive politicians," he said. "We have leaders who become institutions. Smallholders are the backbone of rural transformation. But transformation takes time, and the political system is short sighted." 

The meeting was also attended by DFID Minister of State Rory Stewart, who echoed the need to empower smallholder producers to engage with governance within their own countries. 

"The fundamental thing is not just technical skills but how they challenge government and organise themselves, because often these communities are at a disadvantage," the Minister said.  

"There may be challenges of literacy and they will be faced with intimidating bureacracy and legal structures. So one of the challenges is working out how we as an international community might facilitate that conversation." 

The United Kingdom is a founding member of IFAD and shares it’s objective of combating extreme poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest countries. It has contributed more than $730 million to IFAD’s investments in smallholder farming and rural development in developing countries. 

On 2 November 2016, the APPG hosted the Global Panel’s UK launch of its Foresight report: Food systems and diets: Facing the challenges of the 21st century.

The Foresight report sets out how the burden of malnutrition is equivalent to that of experiencing a global financial crisis every year. An estimated 3 billion people across 193 countries have low-quality diets which contribute to poor nutrition and health outcomes, while also slowing economic and development progress. The report outlines the toll that malnutrition takes on individuals, nations and economies today and forecasts the expanding costs and consequences if these trends continue. It provides a guide for governments and decision-makers to change course through action and investment to create food systems that promote health and deliver quality diets.

 “Diet is the number one risk factor for morbidity,” said Lawrence Haddad, author and chair of the project’s Lead Expert Group. “And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Diets don’t get better with improved income, and this is driven by the food system and food environment. It’s complex, but there are lots of levers for policymakers to make a difference. This report puts pressure on policymakers to not do the wrong thing, and guides them to do the right thing.” 

Enhancing the ability of food systems to deliver high quality diets is a choice that is well within the grasp of policymakers.  It is a choice that will help achieve the SDG goal of ending malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. It is a choice that will reap benefits for decades to come, for all people, in all countries. Only a response on the scale and commitment used to tackle HIV/AIDS and malaria will be sufficient to meet the challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

“We must resist the temptation to say you can’t make general recommendations because it’s too context specific,”said Haddad. “The Mexico sugar tax is working. Low income countries don’t have to follow the dangerous route that high income countries have done. So my two-word summary of this report would be: wake up.”


Speakers at the event included:

Lord Cameron of Dillington, Co-Chair of the APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development

Sir John Beddington, Co-Chair of the Global Panel; Former UK Chief Scientific Advisor

Prof Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Advisor, UK Department for International Development (DfID)

Prof Jeff Waage, Former Director of the London International Development Centre and Technical Adviser to the Global Panel

Dr Lawrence Haddad, Chair of the Global Panel's Foresight Lead Expert Group (LEG); Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

Parliamentarians in attendance:

Kerry McCarthy, Countess of Mar, Lord Selborne and Jeremy Lefroy.

The APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development held its AGM on 18 October 2016.

Minutes of the meeting are available here and an income and expenditure statement for 2015/16 is available here.

On 29 June the APPG co-hosted an event with DFID's agricultural research team to mark the launch of a Brucellosis Vaccine Prize.

The launch of this $30m prize - to incentivise animal health companies to develop a more effective Brucellosis vaccine - was an opportunity for the APPG to bring together a panel of experts to discuss the importance of livestock to livelihoods and food/nutrition security in developing countries.

The event was attended by the following Parliamentarians:

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

Countess of Mar

Duke of Montrose

Lord Trees

Lord Cameron of Dillington (chair)

Click here for a full report of the event.

From 2 - 7 April 2016, the APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development conducted a field study in Rwanda, together with the APPG on Trade out of Poverty.

Agriculture is the backbone of the Rwandan economy, contributing 35% of total GDP. Almost all (90%) of the population depend on the sector for their livelihoods. And in spite of the great strides made by Rwanda since the genocide of 1994, rural populations still suffer food insecurity and poor nutritional outcomes. Access to inputs, problems of land tenure, climate change and access to value chains are just some of the issues stifling the livelihoods of Rwandan smallholders.

On this trip, the APPGs - including several Parliamentarians - looked specifically at the challenges faced by women smallholders and cross-border informal traders in accessing markets, credit, technology, knowledge and training.

The delegation met with organisations including:

  • Rwanda's Ministry of Agriculture
  • the Rwandan Parliamentary Agriculture Committee
  • DFID's country office
  • World Food Programme
  • TradeMark East Africa
  • Hand in Hand International
  • CARE Rwanda

A full report on the visit - with policy recommendations - is available here (PDF).

20151001 143641 resizedLord Cameron of Dillington, co-chair of the APPG, visited Brussels for a day of meetings on 1st October. He met with Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit for Rural Development, Food and Nutrition at Europaid, Dr. Jurgen Anthofer, Executive Secretary for Agricultural Research for Development and the Secretariat for the Committee on Development in the European Parliament. The meetings focused on the importance of support for smallholder farmers to achieve the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals and the role of profitable smallholder agriculture as an engine for growth in rural communities in sub-Sahara Africa.

This article has been written by Francesca Fryer, Campaigns and Parliamentary Officer at Concern Worldwide UK, and has been published with permission from Concern Worldwide UK.

Together with The All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, Concern Worldwide convened a round table discussion in June to discuss how to tackle natural disasters and others crises that prevent the world's poorest people from lifiting themselves out of poverty.

Joanthan Dimbleby chairs roundtable with Desmond SwayneThe event was chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby and attended by 12 parliamentarians, including International Development Minister Desmond Swayne, as well as researchers and officials from the Department for International Development. The discussion started with a presentation from Concern's Dom Hunt who explained why we need to build resilience to disasters at a community level:

'The world is changing, there are more disasters in the world. These are driven by climate change, changing consumption patterns, environmental degradation. There are also more people in the world and these people are living in inherently vulnerable areas – such as large cities on active fault lines. Disasters are not just a bump in the road for development; they derail the whole process with regard to agriculture and food security. If we allow disasters to happen, we derail everything we've been doing. We need to get a handle on disasters or we will not be able to help people develop.'

Building resilience means being prepared for the predictable disasters that affect communities, like climatic shocks. If we prepare for a disaster before it turns into a crisis, communities have a better chance of recovering quickly. And the research shows that it not only saves lives, but saves money too. DFID's own research in Ethiopia shows that for every £1 spent on building a community's resilience to prevent food crises, £8 is saved in future emergency response. See how resilience works in practice in our 'Resilient Village'.

Resilience isn't something that can be imposed from outside; it's something that emerges out of collaboration with communities, experts, donors and government at all levels. Helping people to build their assets and their livelihoods so that they can pull themselves out of poverty and prevent themselves from falling into crisis is a collaborative process. Donor countries, national governments, local governments, local and international NGOs and the communities most at risk need to all work together to confront an increasingly hazardous world.

Our campaign, Growing Resilience, asks governments to scale up funding for programmes that build community resilience to food crises. It also asks national governments in countries in East and West Africa to include resilience building in their national policy frameworks. Working together, we can tackle predictable and preventable food crises so communities can access sufficient, nutritious food.

The round table opened up opportunities for us to collaborate further with the UK government and parliamentarians to tackle hunger by ensuring that the poorest communities are better prepared for, and can recover from, disasters. You can read more about what we're asking the UK government to do here.

APPG AgDev Banner Final Design page 001On Thursday 2nd July the APPG was formally reconstituted for the new Parliament.

Jeremy Lefroy MP (Conservative) was elected as Chair, Lord Cameron of Dillington (Crossbench) was re-elected as Co-Chair, and Lord Boateng of Akyem and Wembley (Labour) was relected as Secretary.

Joining the executive, Kerry McCarthy MP (Labour), Mark Durkan MP (SDLP), Pauline Latham OBE MP (Conservaitve), Lord Chidgey (Liberal Democrat) and the Countess of Mar (Crossbench) were duly elected as Vice-Chairs.

Following the election, Officers discussed the APPG's priorities and strategy for the year ahead. It was agreed that the APPG will focus on the following broad areas:

  • Access to and sources of finance for smallholder farmers and on- and off-farm agribusiness development;
  • Infrastructure facilitating smallholder participation in markets;
  • The impact of climate change on food security and smallholder agriculture and support for smallholders to adapt and build resilience;
  • The implementation of proposed Sustainable Development Goal 2 and the role of different actors and partnerships in its delivery;
  • Nutritious food systems.

Parliament event 4On Wednesday 24th June Bill Gates addressed MPs and Peers in the State Rooms, Speaker's House in an event hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Development APPGs and BOND. Bill Gates was introduced and the Q&A chaired by Jeremy Lefroy MP (Chair of the APPG AgDev). Prior to the event, Bill Gates had met with several MPs and stressed how important supporting smallholder farmers is to the Gates Foundation, saying 'Agriculture is really big for us.'

In his wide-ranging address to parliamentarians, Bill Gates thanked the UK government for their generosity and leadership and thanked the APPGs for their partnership and role in keeping parliamentarians engaged. During his address Bill Gates focused on health issues and achievements such as reducing the number of deaths from malaria by 50%, and talked about the importance of solving malnutrition, saying that until malnutrition is no longer an issue, Africa will not be able to become self-sufficient. Bill Gates also talked about the need to increase contraception in developing countries and the role of women's groups in achieving this, as well as highlighting how vitally important it is to create functioning tax collection systems to increase domestic resource collection and funding of public services.

20150624 131420 resized 1In an equally wide-ranging Q&A, Bill Gates answered questions centred on the role of data collection and transparency, the need for modern health care systems, the impacts of climate change on development and corruption. Lord Cameron (Co-Chair of the APPG AgDev) asked about the importance of knowledge sharing, access to knowledge and the role of ICTs for smallholder farmers. Bill Gates' responses agreed and in addition highlighted the importance of accessing seed, credit, adequate soil quality and land rights, as well as talking about the positive role that agro-dealers can play.

The event concluded with the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP thanking Bill and Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation for their leadership and their commitment to ending poverty.

APPG AgDev Parliamentary Briefing thumbAs Parliament springs back into action following the General Election, the APPG AgDev is actively recuriting new members from across the political parties. The APPG AgDev has produced and is distributing a new briefing 'All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture & Food for Development: Promoting smallholder agriculture to end poverty and boost food security' to new and returning MPs. The briefing sets out of the vision and objectives of the Group, keys facts about smallholder agriculture, achievements of the Group to date and, most importantly, how parliamentarians can play a vital role in supporting smallholder farmers in this parliament.

Having worked hard to push DFID and other donors to pay more attention to smallholder agriculture, we want it to remain a priority in this parliament. Over the coming weeks the APPG will be seeking to recruit new members to the Group ahead of a busy schedule of events and meetings in July.

Lord Cameron Sylvia Banda Kola MashaThe final week of this Parliament has been a busy and exciting one for the APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development. On Tuesday members of the APPG met with Sylvia Banda from Zambia and Kola Masha from Nigeria – two inspirational African agribusiness entrepreneurs whose visit to Parliament coincided with the second roundtable in our Smallholder Agribusiness Development inquiry.

Sylvia Banda is the Managing Director of Sylva Food Solutions in Zambia. Since 1986 Sylvia has created small businesses like Sylva Professional Catering Services Limited, which offers courses in hospitality and food processing and production and has trained over 16,000 students since its inception. Her businesses have successfully created markets for local farmers and emphasised local cooking methods. Her innovations include the 'Sylva Solar Dryer' for processing traditional vegetables, fruits and other food products, and the 'Matebeto Mobile Kitchen' – a kitchen on bicycle wheels. Sylvia founded Sylva University, the first and only university offering courses in catering south of the Sahara. Sylvia is an Ashoka Fellow and was awarded the Fellowship in recognition of innovation and intelligent methods of promoting nutrition in Zambia food through Post Harvest Training workshops. Earlier this year Sylvia was appointed as a Board Member of the Industrial Development Corporation by the President of the Republic of Zambia.