International Trends

Challenges and Potential Solutions for Agricultural Growth in LDCs By Michael Davidson

Global population growth is projected to increase by 3 billion over the next 30 years, and 80% of that growth will take place in the 49 “least developed coun- tries.”

LDC is a UN designation assigned to nations with personal incomes below $1,035/year, high rates of undernourishment and mortality for children aged five years and younger, low secondary school enrollment, and low adult-literacy rates. All of these countries are in Africa and sub-Asia, with the exception of Haiti in the western hemisphere. These countries are also the most vulnerable to social unrest, climate change, soil infertility and water scarcity.

Between 2011 and 2100, the population of high-fertility countries is projected to triple, passing from 1.2 billion to 4.2 billion and, in that period, projections are that agricultural production needs to increase by 70% overall, and by 100% in LDCs.

This challenge is sobering in view of the fact that agricultural production in LDCs over the past several years has been stagnant, severely threatening food security. Current paradigms for improving the livelihoods in developing

countries have not significantly affected the reduction of poverty in LDCs, and have not reduced the level of greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector.

A new model has been developed to address the social and ecological challenges of various nations, including the LDCs. The model, called “climate-smart agriculture,” consists of a suite of tools and methods that, when implemented in a sustainable manner and locally supported, leads to the achievement of three basic objectives:

• Mitigation of environmental damage caused by traditional agricultural prac- tices.

• Adaptation of farming methods and regimes that cope with the uncertainty and variability of climate change.

• Food security or improved agricultural production and profitability for the grower.

Government agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development, non-government organizations from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Sweden and elsewhere, and multinational organizations like the World Bank have

Official development assistance to LDCs 2000 – 2009 and ag value added by percentage/year

Corazon worked with the agronomists at Amiran and received advice and training. After just four months, he has earned enough income from his first harvest to build an additional room on his house and to pay for a second greenhouse.

poured billions of dollars over the past 20 years to implement programs designed to implement the paradigm of CSA. The outcomes of these funding projects have not been significantly positive.

There are a host of constraints to the successful implementation of these projects, including social, governance, gender bias, corruption, soil infertility, water scarcity, infrastructure, access to credit availability of inputs and environmental uncertainty.

The sum of official development assistance from 2000 – 2009 on the “Y” axis and the growth of agricultural production in LDCs on the “X” axis.

32 Irrigation TODAY | July 2016

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