Welcome to Farming Solutions: the website that presents real solutions to hunger and poverty.
Farming Solutions brings examples of successful, environmentally responsible farming systems to life from all over the world, illustrating how farmers can protect the environment while at the same time increasing food supply where it is most needed.
Opportunity for Change
If we agree that crisis provides opportunity for change, then now is the perfect time
Never before have the global problems of agriculture been so apparent. It is surprising then, that compelling visions for a change in agricultural methods are rare. One set of reasons might be the humbling diversity of climates, ecosystems and cultures. Another might be the dimension of the hunger problem and the complex policies and regulatory frameworks. All these, together with entrenched vested interests, compete over strategic advantages in the global marketplace while offering minimal concern for social justice and the environment.
The aim of Farming Solutions is to help bring about an agricultural system that is ecologically sound because it is best adapted to a particular environment and produces healthy, nutritious food.
Although agriculture is always an intervention into natural ecosystems, it can foster biological and cultural diversity, adapting to ecosystems rather than controlling them. In the section on the future of farming we look at basic principles that try to point the way in which agriculture has to go.
Change must happen on a global level – how it can be implemented is shown through a set of examples from all over the world in the success stories section. Here we demonstrate that our vision of transforming the way we farm and the way we eat is not an illusion – change really is possible.
800 million people are malnourished across the globe today because they lack access to food and the means to produce it. Farming Solutions addresses the role agriculture can play in successfully fighting hunger and malnutrition.
Genetic Engineering and Corporate Control
The agro-chemical industry argues that genetic engineering has a central role to play in enhancing agricultural productivity in poor countries. Yet the claims made by industry in this area are unproven, while the risks – to public health and the environment – are high.
The agro-chemical industry, in putting forward its argument, ignores the fact that most hungry people live in countries that have food surpluses rather than deficits. It also overlooks the fact that transnational companies such as Du Pont and Monsanto have sought to discover transgenic manipulations designed solely to enhance the value of their own patents.
Farming Solutions celebrates the huge diversity of ecologically sound and productive farming practices that are already being applied by farmers and their local communities around the world – practices that do not damage the environment or pose a threat to the health of farmers, farm workers and consumers by the excessive use of toxic chemicals or genetically engineered organisms.
This site provides the opportunity to see and hear farmers, researchers, community workers and activists tell their own stories and enjoy the stunning images of the environment they have made it their business to protect.
Our Vision: Food for All in a Safe and Healthy Environment
After 30 years of rapid growth in agricultural production, the world can now produce enough food to provide every person with more than 2 700 calories per day – a level which is normally sufficient to ensure that all have access to adequate food. Yet 800 million people are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition in the world today. (FAO)
High-input chemical farming is failing.
Large segments of the populations in the poorest countries cannot afford to purchase additional food. Thus the vast majority of new staple food supplies will need to come from domestic production in developing countries facing high population growth rates and increased threats to agricultural ecosystems. (World Resources 2000-2001, People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life, IFPRI)
This challenge to achieve food security without damaging the environment and depleting and polluting soils, water and biodiversity, will have to be met largely by the affected people themselves.
The attempt by industry and governments to find a middle course between producing enough food and protecting the environment has failed. In reality only if agriculture is practiced sustainably now, will future generations have a chance to exercise their right to food. The permanent degradation of agricultural lands, the increased incidence of crop and livestock diseases, and the uncertainties of their economic prospects, are now making the farmers themselves ask where they should be going.
Changes in the role that agriculture plays culturally, politically, economically and environmentally are seen differently in the North and in the South. What unifies farmers all over the world today is the challenge that a handful of agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Syngenta and Aventis present: an ever increasing use of toxins, genetically engineered one-size-fits-all crops and a vertically integrated food production chain redefining the role of the farmer – from independent small scale entrepreneur to agribusiness contractor.
Changing Consumer Patterns
However, a sense of crisis does not exist only on the farmers’ side. In the wake of the BSE scandal and low consumer confidence in the North, changing consumption patterns towards more processed food everywhere, higher meat consumption in East-Asia, malnutrition not only in the South but also in Northern, wealthy countries, highlights the fact that it is not only what we farm but also what we eat that determines the future of agriculture.
Farmers have to better understand for whom they farm and consumers need to think harder whether their own diet is healthy and nutritious, and whether it is also sympathetic to the planet’s ecosystems.