Link social protection  with Agriculture to defeat hunger,  poverty 

By Andrew Wangili 

In the last two decades, Social protection programmes expanded rapidly in developing countries. About 2.1 billion people or one-third of the population receive some form of social protection although with wide variations among regions, with coverage lowest in the regions where poverty incidence is highest. 

Social protection consists of those interventions that provide cash or in – kind transfers to the poor, protect the vulnerable from risks, improve the social status and rights of the marginalized. Social assistance, social insurance and labour market protection are the broad categories of social protection. 

  • Social assistance are protections given publicly with conditions or without  to improve the income or welfare of the household. 
  • Social insurance are protections that households contribute towards which protects the household against risks. 
  • Labour market programmes prepare an individual for employment by improving his/her skills. 

 According to the 2015 State of food and agriculture report(SOFA )  of United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2013, social protection helped lift at least 150 million people out of poverty through diverfication of production. 

But at least 1 billion people are still extremely poor and another 1 billion are poor. Sub-saharan Africa countries have made little progress in fighting hunger and poverty . 

While evidence shows that social protection programmes helped many poor populations out of poverty , they can not defeat hunger and reduce poverty levels in developing countries alone, they have to be complemented with other interventions.

Agriculture is the chief source of livelihood for many rural populations in the world and linking social protection programmes with agriculture will be a path worthy undertaking. 

According to the 2015 SOFA report, agriculture and social protection can be linked in the following ways :

  • Target agriculture  inputs programme to  the needs of the poor and ensure the poor can access them. Combine agriculture input programmes with social cash transfer programmes to provide the poor with cash  to purchase unsubsidized agriculture inputs. 
  • Embrace institution procurement programmes to find markets for the poor farmers to sell products and earn income. 

The 2015 SOFA report also emphasized  that social protection does not directly improve nutrition in the rural areas, several initiatives such as ensuring access to clean and safe water, improving sanitation and health, providing  quality diets for children and adults must be initiated in parallel with social protection programmes to improve nutrition in the world. 

Read more http://www.fao.org/publications/sofa/2015/en/

Climate change is real and is a threat to food security. This year’s SOFA report provides evidence that adoption of‘climate-smart’ practices, such as the use of nitrogen-efficient and heat-tolerant crop varieties, zero-tillage and integrated soil fertility management would boost productivity and farmers’ incomes.
Read 2016 SOFA Report here http://reliefweb.int/report/world/state-food-and-agriculture-2016-climate-change-agriculture-and-food-security

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