The value and growing importance of working the land in the informal sector.
In the Solomon Islands several communities have realized the value of working in the informal sector and started to grow crops bring economic benefits. I think in particular of the rewards gained from kava crops.
If any gains have come from the fight against coronavirus it is the potential for agricultural productivity and a return to the land.
I recall what the late Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, had to say about the need for greater agricultural investment in developing countries to help feed growing populations, while creating jobs and incomes across rural areas, particularly for young people.
Mr. Annan was speaking in Brussels in 2017 and what he said then has much relevance to how I see the needs in the Solomon Islands today.
I will quote his speech at the time.
“We need greater investment, particularly in developing countries where the need and potential for increasing agricultural productivity and production are greatest.’
“We have to make sure that smallholder farmers, who produce nearly 70% of all food consumed worldwide, are at the heart of all our efforts. Government and the private sector can and must form innovative partnerships with farmers’ organizations and smallholders, providing access to better seeds, sustainable farming techniques, and modern technologies.
“We must ensure that agriculture and food systems become nutrition-smart, because it’s not just about the amount of food we grow, it’s also about the type of food that we consume. Evidence shows that nutrition is crucial for economic growth as better nourished populations are more productive. We need governments to urgently adopt the right policies and mobilize resources to scale-up nutrition.
“We need food systems that produce more food but with fewer resources as we are reaching a point where our capacity to meet current and future needs is seriously jeopardized. Governments have to adopt, enforce and strengthen policies that promote responsible natural resource management and prevent the loss of natural habitats, forests and biodiversity. I am glad that the European Landowners’ Organization and other institutions are promoting a balanced approach between economic performance and a sustainable use of natural resources. It is crucial that businesses source, process and manage resources efficiently to meet growing demand, while preserving our environment and climate. This must include responsible water stewardship, striving for zero waste and using energy resources more sustainably.
“We must seize this moment to push for climate-smart agriculture and food systems. Cutting down agriculture’s climate footprint and shifting towards renewable energy sources will not only help to avert climate catastrophe, but also create new opportunities for investment, growth and employment. At the same time, we need to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate-related shocks, including through weather information systems and crop insurance programmes.
“There are many challenges to overcome, but shifting to sustainable food systems and agriculture is possible if sustained and bold leadership from every sector can be ensured. We have the expertise, the technologies and the evidence needed to succeed.”