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A lack of access to basic infrastructure is a major obstacle for rural smallholders attempting to improve their livelihoods. More than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (two-thirds of the population) live without electricity and two thirds of rural Africans live more than two kilometres from an all-season road.

Rural smallholders need better access to energy, irrigation, storage and transport infrastructure if they are to increase yields and participate in markets. These issues are all explored in the APPG’s latest report, Rural Infrastructure for Smallholders.

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The APPG visited Uganda from April 1-5, 2017, with funding from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK.

Lord Cameron of Dillington, Kerry McCarthy MP and Patrick Grady MP joined the delegation. The visit included meetings with the Parliamentary Agriculture Committee in Kampala and DFID, as well as trips out of Kampala to see the work of HarvestPlus, World Food Programme, One Acre Fund and the Africa Innovations Institute. 

A full report is available here.

worldfoodprizeOn March 14, 2017 the APPG hosted the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates for a panel discussion on their work on biofortification, specifically orange-flesh sweet potato (OFSP). 

The 2016 World Food Prize was the first ever awarded to four laureates: three scientists from the International Potato Center (Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga and Jan Low) as well as Dr. Howarth Bouis (IFPRI). 

On 23 January 2017 the APPG hosted a private roundtable discussion addressing the question: ‘Is global agricultural research making a difference to the rural poor in developing countries?’

The roundtable was held on the eve of the General Assembly in London of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Founded in 1971, CGIAR is a consortium of global agricultural research centres aimed at reducing poverty and achieving food security in developing countries. It is made up of 15 centres including the International Livestock Research Institute, the International Water Management Institute, World Agroforestry Centre and Bioversity International.

IMG 4608Africa 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.” 

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.

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.