ROME, Mar 31, 2010 (IPS) - While agricultural research has made massive strides over the years in helping the world produce more food from the same amount of land, around one in six people, the 1.02 billion hungry, have not noticed.
The populations of wealthier countries have abundant cheap food thanks to researchers' efforts and, no doubt, many more people in the developing world would be undernourished if states such as India, Mexico and the Philippines had not imported modern farming practices and technologies. These advances have not done enough, though, to help the rural poor, who account for three-quarters of the world's hungry, to feed themselves or escape from poverty.
"Poor people don't have a voice and rural people don't have a voice, urban tends to dominate and yet all of our food comes from rural areas," said Noel Magor of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), one of the participants at this week's Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) in Montpellier, France.
"Often it is considered that technology will magically make its way through to poor households and that doesn't happen. Poorer households actually get ignored by the system and so they fall by the wayside."
Research failings are only part of the reason why so many people have empty stomachs in a world of adequate aggregate food supplies, along with a series of social, gender, justice, dissemination and economic issues and long- running underinvestment in agriculture as a whole.
Nevertheless, a part of the problem they are and the obvious solution, is to turn agricultural research 'bottom-up', based on the real needs of smallholder farmers, rather than trying to make solutions developed for other demands work for them. ...