DuPont Leader Tells United Nations that Barriers to Improved Ag Productivity Can be Overcome
Open Access to Agricultural Inputs, Information, Markets Are Key to Abate Hunger, Reduce Poverty
DuPont Group Vice President James C. Borel told a United Nations (UN) special meeting here today that the public and private sectors must act quickly to knock down barriers and help small-scale farmers in the developing world move out of poverty.
Speaking on behalf of industry for the International Chamber of Commerce at the UN Special Meeting of the Economic and Social Council, Borel said that lack of access to credit and insurance, regulatory constraints, limited product and agronomic knowledge, and lack of secure land tenure are blocking small-scale farmers’ access to critical improved agricultural inputs that are common in the developed world.
“From seeds to fertilizers, farmers need access to high-quality agricultural inputs to increase their productivity and move past subsistence farming in a sustainable manner,” Borel said. “In 2008, farmers in developing countries should not be producing at 20 percent of the production of farmers in the developed world. The good news is that every single one of the limitations can be overcome.”
Borel provided examples of how the private sector is working with local governments and farmers in Malawi, Ethiopia and India to provide insurance, quality inputs and agronomic advice to farmers to encourage investment and expanded development. “Programs like these need to be replicated and scaled up,” he said.
“Access to secure land tenure continues to be a disincentive for production in many countries,” Borel added, “particularly for women. Farmers’ capacity to increase productivity is contingent on their access to secure land tenure.”
Borel told the group that once farmers in developing nations are able to produce enough food to first feed their families, market access is then critical to helping them sell their excess grain and move out of poverty.
“This issue is not just about food production, it’s also about income generation,” he said. “Improving access to markets can help subsistence farmers alleviate the current food challenge.”
In many developing countries, the infrastructure necessary to access markets – such as roads and storage facilities – is either not available or inadequate. There is a dire need to invest in basic infrastructure to link farmers to markets.
Borel warned the group that society must act quickly to increase productivity and efficiency or the current crisis will become chronic. “It is not too late,” he said. “However, we cannot wait another day for these issues to work themselves out.
“We have the technologies and expertise to equip small-scale farmers with the resources they need to help themselves and society. And linking these producers with markets is crucial to paving a path out of poverty.”
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