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Sustainable Food Systems

Large-scale industrial agriculture remains the most touted solution to global hunger in development discourse. However, an increasing number of reports and research, endorse agroecological approaches that prioritize smallholder crop production to successfully meet the challenges of climate change and hunger.

Overview

The current development landscape is dominated by Green Revolution ideals—improved or genetically modified seeds used in capital-intensive large-scale agriculture schemes with a prominent role for pesticides and fertilizers. Rather than contributing to food security and sovereignty, these efforts lead to large tracts of monoculture that prioritize export crops, require increased mechanization, and depend on multinationals for chemicals and seeds.

Agroecology provides another path. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers' livelihoods. Agroecological systems like the Rice Intensification implemented along the Niger River in Mali, can double small farmers’ agricultural output. Supporting smallholder farmers, who already produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in many developing regions, is the quickest way to lift over one billion people out of poverty.

What we are doing about it

Adhering to a high investigative standard with consideration of local impact and international trends, The Oakland Institute documents and advocates for agro-ecological farming methods that empower local producers.

The Institute’s thirty-three case studies released in 2015 shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.

Publications

Dignity or Exploitation – What Future for Farmworker Families in the United States?

Dignity or Exploitation — What Future for Farmworker Families in the United States? documents the systematic abuse of workers in the H-2A program and its impact on the resident farmworker communities, confronted with a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. H-2A workers also face disproportionate exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report describes some of the most acute situations, and analyzes the basic reason for the...

Jadu'I: The Lost Watermelon of Jenin, Cover

Jadu'I

Jenin is a city located in the northern West Bank where Palestinian farmers used to grow the ba'al succulent watermelon known as Jadu'I. Under the occupation, the Jadu'I was nearly lost. But today, a new generation of agriculturalists are trying to revive it.
Canaan Palestine: Cover

Canaan Palestine

Caanan Palestine helps Palestinian farmers to grow organic crops and get fair trade certification. Improved market access and increased returns on their crops makes it possible for thousands of Palestinian farmers and their families to earn a better living. The project gives hope for the future of food producers living and working under Israeli occupation.

Voices From Africa: African Farmers & Environmentalists Speak Out Against a New Green Revolution in Africa

This report issues a direct challenge to Western-led plans for a genetically engineered revolution in African agriculture, particularly the recent misguided philanthropic efforts of the Gates Foundation's Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and presents African resistance and solutions rooted in first-hand knowledge of what Africans need.

The High Food Price Challenge: A Review of Responses to Combat Hunger

High food prices in 2007-2008 threatened the livelihoods and food security of billions of people worldwide for whom getting enough food to eat was already a daily struggle. All over the world, individuals, civil society groups, governments and international organizations took action to cope with the crisis triggered by skyrocketing food prices.

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Blog

Farmer protests against the land reform, December 2020.

Who Really Benefits from the Creation of a Land Market in Ukraine?

Friday, August 6, 2021 Ben Reicher and Frederic Mousseau

Imposing the creation of a land market in Ukraine will further concentrate control of land in the hands of oligarchs and large agribusinesses, while favoring the interests of foreign investors and banks.

Ghana’s Green Revolution has not been as successful as portrayed.

Ghana’s Farmers Aren’t All Seeing the Fruits of a Green Revolution

Thursday, July 1, 2021 James Boafo and Kristen Lyons

Realities on the ground tell a different story from the claim that a Green Revolution ensures food security and increased income for smallholder farmers in Ghana.

Kenyan tea farm. Photo: Samuel Phillips

World Bank's COVID-19 Assistance to Kenya Benefits Multinational Agribusiness and Agrochemical Firms

Thursday, July 2, 2020 Frederic Mousseau and Andy Currier

Despite the unprecedented nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank continues to drive "private sector solutions to development" under the faulty assumption that catering to multinational companies will trickle down and benefit all.

Image: Essential Workers. Copyright: Dignidad Rebelde

Ensure Basic Rights of the Working Poor on Cesar Chavez's Day

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Andy Currier

Forced to continue working in conditions that place their lives at risk, the harsh realities these workers face in daily life are coming center stage.

A seed fair in Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Alexa Reynolds, ACF DR Congo

Emperor Has No New Clothes

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The EBA program was not created to help farmers. The Bank's claims to support farmers via the EBA is inherently contradictory to the own raison d'être of the program. The best way for the World Bank to assist farmers would be to disband the EBA program altogether.

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