Expanding the Boundaries of Agricultural Development

Journal Article
FoodSecurity 4 11

The challenges of reducing global hunger and poverty are different today than they were 30 years ago. Current challenges include price volatility associated with increased integration of food, energy, and finance markets; the steady progression of climate change; poorly defined land institutions; and a failure to break vicious cycles of malnutrition and infectious disease. Farmland speculation is occurring globally—often at odds with rural poverty alleviation—and food insecurity remains a pressing issue with the estimated number of chronically malnourished people hovering around one billion. Given these patterns, food and agriculture are becoming increasingly ingrained in international security and policy discussions. This paper explores several ways in which the traditional field of agricultural development needs to expand to address the broader issues of international security and human welfare. It focuses on five key interrelated issues: the macroeconomic and energy contexts of agricultural development; climate change; deforestation, land access, and land markets; farming systems and technology for the ultra-poor; and food-health linkages with a specific focus on infectious disease. Recommendations for investments in capacity building, revised curricula, and development projects are made on the basis of evidence presented for each issue. It is clear that academic programs, government agencies, development and aid organizations, and foundations need to dismantle the walls between disciplinary and programmatic fields, and to find new, innovative ways to reach real-world solutions.

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