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A „revolutionary“ way of feeding the world that is very old

Farmers Future - Revolutionary way of feed the world

„Why Not Just Plant Cassava? – by Erik Simon, London

With a global population soon to reach ten billion, the solution appears surprisingly simple: Traditional foods could offer an alternative to staple crops like maize and barley. A recent report by The New York Times highlights a remarkable shift in the agricultural world. Cary Fowler, the US Special Representative for Global Food Security, passionately advocates for the reintroduction of traditional African crops, including cassava, long neglected due to US policies. Instead of pushing developing countries towards monocultures of staples like maize—a practice prevalent in Africa for decades—Fowler advocates for a renaissance of diverse traditional crops. These include not only maize but also cowpeas, cassava, and various types of millet. Fowler refers to these plants as „opportunistic crops,“ known for their robustness and high nutrient content.

In February 2023, Dr. Cary Fowler, the United Nations Special Representative for Global Food Security, in collaboration with the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), launched the VACS initiative. This initiative aims to support the African Union’s common position on food systems, which includes promoting indigenous agriculture, the AU Green Recovery Action Plan, and the Soil Initiative for Africa.

Dr. Fowler highlights the advantages of traditional plants: they are not only more nutritious for consumers and beneficial for soils but also exhibit greater resilience to the extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change. However, a core problem lies in the neglect of these plants by breeding research. Dr. Fowler’s vision with the new Foreign Ministry initiative is to increase the agricultural efficiency of the most nutrient-rich and climate-resilient plants.

Cassava, also known as manioc, is a solution

Cassava, also known as manioc, exemplifies the numerous benefits that traditional crops can offer in agriculture and nutrition, particularly in rural communities. A study of traditional agrobiodiversity management in Brazil identified cassava as a key element in the biocultural construction of agrobiodiversity managed by traditional communities. Serving as a staple food throughout Brazil, cassava provides a benchmark for diverse ecological and sociocultural contexts.

Farmers Future - CEO Eric Simon

The initial focus of the initiative is on promoting a handful of key crops in various African countries. „These plants have been cultivated on the African continent for millennia,“ explained Dr. Fowler, 74, in a recent interview. „Their resilience speaks for itself—they are deeply rooted in local culture and provide essential nutrients. The challenges they face in terms of yield performance and marketing are largely due to lack of investment.“

Here’s where the Farmers Future project comes in

The influence of commercial plant breeding on smallholder farmers in low-income countries is complex and brings both potential benefits and challenges. Here’s a summary based on recent research findings: New Plant Breeding Technologies (NPBTs) such as genome editing can make a significant contribution to global food security by sustainably increasing food production and distribution. This is crucial for improving the living conditions of rural poor in developing countries who rely on agriculture as a source of food, income, and employment. Despite their ability to promote the welfare of smallholder farmers, they can also reduce dependence on market conditions for food by reducing the risk of displacement of food crops when cash crops displace food crops and reduce the self-sufficiency of staple foods. Rapid growth in agricultural production and income among small-scale commercial farmers is key to reducing rural poverty, with increased spending by small-scale commercial farmers on the labor-intensive, non-tradable rural non-agricultural sector driving this effect.

Author: Erik Simon, CEO – Managing Director, Enhanced Consulting Solutions Ltd.

About the Author:
Erik Simon is a seasoned professional in the banking and financial sector with global experience. After completing his apprenticeship as an insurance clerk and pursuing a part-time degree in economics at the University of St. Gallen, he specialized in accreditation and alternative financing at Bear Stearns in London. Today, he serves as CEO of Enhanced Consulting Solutions Ltd., advocating for independent, qualified consultancy for countries and institutions to achieve sustainable improvements for people through the realignment of financial structures.

This is what Farmers Future stands for:

Farmers Future is an innovative project that has set itself the task of combining sustainability and profitability in agriculture. Farmers Future offers people the unique opportunity to participate as partners in various sustainable agricultural projects and to profit from the sales proceeds. The aim is to make a positive contribution to the future of agriculture by promoting environmentally friendly farming methods and involving partners directly in the value creation process. At Farmers Future, transparency, sustainability and shared success are at the heart of our joint activities.


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