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State of the World 2011 Shows Agriculture Innovation Is Key to Reducing Poverty, Stabilizing Climate

Report provides a roadmap for food security and agricultural investment, revealing 15 high- and low-tech solutions that are helping to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa

NEW YORK - Worldwatch Institute today released its report State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet,
which spotlights successful agricultural innovations and unearths major
successes in preventing food waste, building resilience to climate
change, and strengthening farming in cities. The report provides a
roadmap for increased agricultural investment and more-efficient ways to
alleviate global hunger and poverty. Drawing from the world's leading
agricultural experts and from hundreds of innovations that are already
working on the ground, the report outlines 15 proven, environmentally
sustainable prescriptions.

progress showcased through this report will inform governments,
policymakers, NGOs, and donors that seek to curb hunger and poverty,
providing a clear roadmap for expanding or replicating these successes
elsewhere," said Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin. "We
need the world's influencers of agricultural development to commit to
longstanding support for farmers, who make up 80 percent of the
population in Africa."

State of the World 2011 comes at a time when many global
hunger and food security initiatives-such as the Obama administration's
Feed the Future program, the Global Agriculture and Food Security
Program (GAFSP), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the
Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)-can
benefit from new insight into environmentally sustainable projects that
are already working to alleviate hunger and poverty.

a half-century after the Green Revolution, a large share of the human
family is still chronically hungry. While investment in agricultural
development by governments, international lenders and foundations has
escalated in recent years, it is still nowhere near what's needed to
help the 925 million people who are undernourished.  Since
the mid 1980s when agricultural funding was at its height, the share of
global development aid has fallen from over 16 percent to just 4 percent

2008, $1.7 billion dollars in official development assistance was
provided to support agricultural projects in Africa, based on statistics
from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
a miniscule amount given the vital return on investment. Given the
current global economic conditions, investments are not likely to
increase in the coming year. Much of the more recently pledged funding
has yet to be raised, and existing funding is not being targeted
efficiently to reach the poor farmers of Africa.

international community has been neglecting entire segments of the food
system in its efforts to reduce hunger and poverty," said Danielle
Nierenberg, co-director of Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project.
"The solutions won't necessarily come from producing more food, but from
changing what children eat in schools, how foods are processed and
marketed, and what sorts of food businesses we are investing in."

locally raised crops to school children, for example, has proven to be
an effective hunger- and poverty-reducing strategy in many African
nations, and has strong parallels to successful farm-to-cafeteria
programs in the United States and Europe. Moreover, "roughly 40 percent
of the food currently produced worldwide is wasted before it is
consumed, creating large opportunities for farmers and households to
save both money and resources by reducing this waste," according to
Brian Halweil, Nourishing the Planet co-director.

State of the World 2011 draws from hundreds of case studies and first-person examples to offer solutions to reducing hunger and poverty. These include:

  • In
    2007, some 6,000 women in The Gambia organized into the TRY Women's
    Oyster Harvesting producer association, creating a
    sustainableco-management plan for the local oyster fisheryto prevent
    overharvesting and exploitation. Oysters and fish are an important,
    low-cost source of protein for the population, but current production
    levels have led to environmental degradation and to changes in land use
    over the last 30 years. The government is working with groups like TRY
    to promote less-destructive methods and to expand credit facilities to
    low-income producers to stimulate investment in more-sustainable
  • In
    Kibera, Nairobi, the largest slum in Kenya, more than 1,000 women
    farmers are growing "vertical" gardens in sacks full of dirt poked with
    holes, feeding their families and communities. These sacks have the
    potential to feed thousands of city dwellers while also providing a
    sustainable and easy-to-maintain source of income for urban farmers.
    With more than 60 percent of Africa's population projected to live in
    urban areas by 2050, such methods may be crucial to creating future food
    security. Currently, some 33 percent of Africans live in cities, and 14
    million more migrate to urban areas each year. Worldwide, some 800
    million people engage in urban agriculture, producing 15-20 percent of
    all food.
  • Pastoralists
    in South Africa and Kenya are preserving indigenous varieties of
    livestock that are adapted to the heat and drought of local
    conditions-traits that will be crucial as climate extremes on the
    continent worsen.Africa has the world's largest area of permanent
    pasture and the largest number of pastoralists, with 15-25 million
    people dependent on livestock.
  • The
    Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network
    (FANRPAN) is using interactive community plays to engage women farmers,
    community leaders, and policymakers in an open dialogue about gender
    equity, food security, land tenure, and access to resources. Women
    in sub-Saharan Africa make up at least 75 percent of agricultural
    workers and provide 60-80 percent of the labor to produce food for
    household consumption and sale, so it is crucial that they have
    opportunities to express their needs in local governance and
    decision-making. This entertaining and amicable forum makes it easier
    for them to speak openly.
  • Uganda's
    Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) program is
    integrating indigenous vegetable gardens, nutrition information, and
    food preparation into school curriculums to teach children how to grow
    local crop varieties that will help combat food shortages and revitalize
    the country's culinary traditions. An estimated 33 percent of African
    children currently face hunger and malnutrition, which could affect some
    42 million children by 2025. School nutrition programs that don't
    simply feed children, but also inspire and teach them to become the
    farmers of the future, are a huge step toward improving food security.

The State of the World 2011
report is accompanied by other informational materials including
briefing documents, summaries, an innovations database, videos, and
podcasts, all of which are available at
The project's findings are being disseminated to a wide range of
agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural
policymakers, farmer and community networks, and the increasingly
influential non-governmental environmental and development communities.

conducting this research, Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet project
received unprecedented access to major international research
institutions, including those in the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) system. The team also
interacted extensively with farmers and farmers' unions as well as with
the banking and investment communities.


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The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Its mission is to generate and promote insights and ideas that empower decision makers to build an ecologically sustainable society that meets human needs.

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