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Joining hands for no poverty, zero hunger and empowering women

Oct 12,2016

Smallholder woman farmer with her baby in Ethiopia
Some 1.4 billion people worldwide still live in extreme poverty, with less than $1.25 per day. Most live in rural areas and depend on smallholder farming as their main source of livelihood.
 
Smallholder farming is perhaps the single most potent path to make a difference in the lives of rural people and advance the Sustainable Development Goals of no poverty, zero hunger and gender equality.
 
This week, ICARDA joins its agricultural development partners across the drylands to celebrate four international events focusing on these global challenges: International Day for Rural Women on 15 October, World Food Day on 16 October and International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. 
 
ICARDA is working with a wide range of partners to develop improved technologies for drylands agriculture, and accelerate their dissemination to smallholder farmers, the final beneficiaries of ICARDA’s science. These technologies are reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and promoting sustainable management of natural resources, while ensuring equitable benefits for women. 
 
What Can Improved Agricultural Technologies and Systems Achieve?
 
International Day for Rural Women, 15 October 
#InternationalRuralWomensDay, #IRWD2016, #RuralWomen
 
Women make a large fraction of labor for farming in developing countries, on an average 43%, and up to 50% in sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on rural women’s needs to access productive agricultural resources could be a large contributor to reducing world hunger and poverty. 
 
ICARDA’s research and capacity building programs embed women-focused strategies to target the needs of women, and promote their access to and control over productive assets, inputs, services, information, and, market opportunities – actions that will help women to capture a more equitable share of increased income, land, food, and other benefits.
 
One such strategy is empowering rural women in sub-Saharan Africa through the Wheat component of Support to Agricultural Research for the Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC), funded by African Development Bank. The initiative is strengthening the roles of both women and youth across the wheat value chain through training in various activities, such as seed multiplication, variety selection, post-harvest handling, and value addition activities, such as baking, pasta-making, and machine operation. The strategy is helping both empower the women and youth, and draw on their contributions in building prosperous communities. The project trained 4,783 women in 2015 in various activities. 
 
 
In Afghanistan’s patriarchal society, seed production is primarily considered to be the task of men. ICARDA, in partnership with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, is encouraging greater participation of Afghan women through community-based activities, such as Village Based Seed Enterprises (VBSE), funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development. The approach’s success in the province of Parwan has opened the doors for replicating the model and increasing the number of VBSEs to address the huge gap between the supply and demand of certified seeds in Afghanistan, while delivering on an invaluable benefit – empowering the rural women.
 
 
World Food Day, 16 October 
#WorldFoodDay, #WFD2016, #ZeroHunger
 
Climate change challenges are at the core of food insecurity, with the world’s poorest, which include farmers and pastoralists, as the most vulnerable to rising temperatures, scarcity of water and extreme weather events. These challenges are at their worst in the fragile ecosystems of the drylands. 
 
Drylands agricultural research is focusing on adapting smallholder farmers to the hostile effects of climate change, so they are more resilient, productive and sustainable with less resources. 
 
Introducing legumes into cereal-based systems and improving the system’s performance is a key strategy that is helping smallholder farmers in West Asia and North Africa increase their food yields in the face of climate change. Using improved technology ‘packages’, thousands of participating smallholder farmers across eight countries are reaping higher yields and incomes, while conserving natural resources. For example, chickpea farmers in Sudan saw a gain of an average net profit of US$212 per hectare from improved technology package, under the project funded by  European Union and International Fund for Agricultural Development.
 
 
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 
#ZeroHunger, #EradicatePoverty
 
Drylands are home to some of the poorest people, with about 336 million people living in chronic poverty. Variability in climate change, as well as other factors like conflict and unrest, continue to make dryland populations more vulnerable to poverty. ICARDA’s research-for-development programs emphasize reducing poverty by developing higher income generating agricultural technologies and supporting creation of value chains in dry and marginal areas.
 
Long-term investments in agricultural research have big pay-offs in terms of reducing poverty, as is seen in Ethiopia. Improved lentil varieties and associated technologies, outcomes of ICARDA’s decades of research partnership with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), are transforming Ethiopia from a lentil importer to a lentil exporter, enabling a brighter outlook for lentil farmers and the country, with support from  International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Government of the Netherlands.
 
Over a period of a decade, Ethiopian farmers growing improved lentil varieties are seeing almost doubling of yields, from 0.7 t/ha to 1.3 t/ha.