Greater investment in small-scale women farmers must be one of the outcomes of the Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development this month if it is to have any chance of tackling global hunger, Oxfam Australia said today.
Launching a briefing paper, What Works for Women – Proven Approaches for Empowering Women Smallholders and Achieving Food Security – Oxfam Australia’s Economic Justice Coordinator Kelly Dent said the Australian Government needed to prioritise aid to small-scale women farmers and support women’s organisations and networks in order to play a major role in tackling global hunger.
The report launch coincides with three inspiring South African women farmers touring Australia to myth-bust on the causes of hunger and how to tackle it. The women are speaking at public events in Sydney (12 June) and Perth (14 June), after speaking in Melbourne last Thursday.
‘Hunger myths’ include that the world doesn’t produce enough food for everyone, that men produce most of the food in the world, that farmers do not go hungry, that small-scale farmers can’t adapt, and that it’s only large-scale agriculture that can feed the world.
“The world soon will focus its attention on the Rio + 20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development to work out how to reduce poverty, advance social equality and ensure environmental protection into the future,” Ms Dent said.
“Women feed families and produce most of the food in many developing countries, yet represent more than half of the world’s hungry, and do not have equal access to land, credit, markets, education and support services.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, closing the ‘gender gap’ in agriculture – or giving women equal access to land and resources – could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 – 150 million people.
Today, Oxfam also publishes the results of a Galaxy survey, which show that almost two in three Australians – 63 per cent – believe that the problem of global hunger is not that we can’t produce enough food to feed everyone. Three in four Australians, or 73 per cent, also are in favour of Australia investing financial and technical support in small-scale farmers in poor countries.
“Clearly, Australians are savvy when it comes to the cause of global hunger – that it’s a problem of distribution, and access to food, not that we don’t produce enough to feed the world,” Ms Dent said.
Women on Farms Deputy Director Colette Solomon said lack of access to land was a critical issue in South Africa for women farmers, as were the impacts of climate change. Farmers can no longer rely on the seasons to know when to sow their crops, and are adapting their growing techniques to cope with the drier winters, hotter summers and erratic weather patterns.
“It’s a travesty that women who produce food experience hunger; it cannot be allowed to continue,” Ms Solomon said.
To find out more about the public events, or to support Oxfam’s work to tackle hunger by donating to the Stop Hunger Appeal, go to oxfam.org.au
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