Countries must spur more investment in small-scale agriculture

“Investing in small-scale producers is critically important to reduce poverty and improve food security,” Oxfam’s global agriculture advisor, Le Nguyet Minh, said.

Agricultural experts and practitioners urged governments of African and Asian countries to invest more in small-scale agriculture through the adoption of a sustainable rice farming technique that could ensure the security of staple food crops threatened by climate impacts.

They made the call during the opening of a four-day international Rice Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday.

The experts said the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) should be made a top priority for research and development because it required much less water and seeds and it reduced the need for agrochemicals and fertilizers. This was especially important given the trend of environmental degradation and the hazards of climate change, they added.

“The benefits from SRI management are unprecedented, reducing purchased inputs while getting more output,” said Norman Uphoff, SRI’s senior rice advisor, in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

“This is possible by growing plants with better root systems and by enhancing soil fertility with organic matter and aeration,” he went on.

SRI methodology allows farmers to cut their production costs while at the same time they get higher yields – in between 20 and 50 percent and often higher, according to international humanitarian agency Oxfam and the International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice) at Cornell University.

Around 2,000 farmers, scientists, traders, development workers and government officials are expected to participate in the congress, which aims to discuss rice research and trends in response to the changing environment.

“Investing in small-scale producers is critically important to reduce poverty and improve food security,” Oxfam’s global agriculture advisor, Le Nguyet Minh, said.

“Farmers are likely to benefit most from investments in agriculture that start by acknowledging their limited assets, help them adapt to the challenges of climate change and tap into and enhance their knowledge.”

Minh further said: “Without high-tech fixes and costly inputs, we have seen that small-scale farmers in countries around the world can achieve sustainable food security with methods that are well-documented and confirmed now by scientific research in various countries.” (ebf)

Reprinted from www.thejakartapost.com

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