P.hd in Agriculture and Food Security:Finding solutions to increase production of underutilized food cropsThe International Development Research Centre
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P.hd in Agriculture and Food Security:Finding solutions to increase production of underutilized food crops
The era of cheap food is ending, higher food costs and more extreme price fluctuations will affect developing countries the hardest. The number of undernourished people in the developing world has increased to over 1 billion (2009 Global Hunger Index). Technological improvements and better agri-food policies are needed, along with scalable innovations and community development. To be effective, these improvements must be economically viable, socially acceptable, and avoid environmental damage that pose risks to present and future generations.
Combating hunger and poverty
The poor spend over 50% of their income on food. Many fail to consume the recommended daily calories and protein. The poor not only eat too little but their diets are often limited and lack essential micronutrients such as iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamin A. Many rural poor depend in whole or in part on purchased food, even when farming is central to their livelihood. In many regions, disparities between the poor and better-off are increasing. Poverty and hunger also have important gender dimensions, affecting women and men differently (both as producers and consumers of food).
Building on experience
For 40 years, IDRC has supported researchers from the developing world in their efforts to combat hunger and poverty. Past IDRC programming has demonstrated that improving conditions for small-scale agriculture without over-exploiting natural resources and damaging the environment is not easy. This research has shown that a range of measures is often needed including: agricultural technologies well adapted to the needs of small scale farmers, better institutions and supporting policies, solutions to resource access issues, more effective watershed management, better use and conservation of biodiversity and more sustainable land-use practices.
The goal of the AFS program is to support research that generates opportunities for more equitable and productive agriculture to improve the food and income security of poor women and men in developing countries. In order to do this, we support interdisciplinary, applied and impact-oriented research that will help to increase food security. We work with research and development organizations from Canada and developing countries to develop and test innovations that are relevant to and can be applied in practice across Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.
As a result of this program, researchers will test a wide range of options to increase and diversify agricultural production and help small-scale farmers and the poor benefit from value chains, while managing their resources more sustainably. It will be necessary to also understand how solutions can be scaled up and fit within rural development strategies and policies.